Forest certification body revokes Swiss logging company's certificate over alleged Congo abuses

mongabay.com
May 21, 2013



The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a body that certifies forest management practices, has revoked all certificates granted to the Danzer Group, a multinational logging company, over alleged human rights abuses by one of its former subsidiaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), reports Bloomberg.

According to a complaint filed by Greenpeace, the subsidiary, Siforco, provided financial and logistical support to Congolese police and military forces in a May 2011 attack against a community protesting the company's logging operations. Security forces committed acts of violence, including rape, and destroyed property in the village.

Danzer, which sold Siforco in February 2012, said that Siforco was "forced" to provide support during the attack. It added that the police went to the village to recover equipment stolen from Siforco, according to Bloomberg.

Greenpeace filed its complaint 18 months ago. In a statement issued today, the FSC said it will terminate all of its contracts with Danzer. The "disassociation", as the termination is known, "is the most severe sanction that FSC can impose", according to the body.

“Based on the unanimous recommendation of the Complaints Panel, which spent several months analyzing the case, and whose work was also reviewed by a Board Complaints Resolution Committee, the Board of Directors decided that Danzer was in violation of FSC’s Policy for Association,” said Kim Carstensen, Director General of FSC, in a statement. “Our continued association with the Danzer Group clearly puts FSC’s credibility and reputation at risk.”

Greenpeace welcomed the move.

"Greenpeace is pleased the FSC is showing that its Policy for Association has teeth and is not risking its reputation by being associated with the Danzer Group due to its involvement in human rights violations. We find this landmark decision critical for the credibility of the FSC," said Judy Rodrigues, senior forest campaigner with Greenpeace International.
 "This case shows that the FSC needs to urgently establish certification safeguards in high risk areas where there are high levels of corruption and where good governance, the rule of law and organized civil society are all lacking."


Deforestation in the Congo Basin
Deforestation in the Congo Basin. Click image to enlarge.

According to Bloomberg, the disassociation affects Danzer’s subsidiary Industrie Forestiere de Ouesso (IFO), which has the largest FSC-certified logging operation in the Congo Basin.

The FSC has certified some 154 million hectares (380 million acres) of forests worldwide based on "environmental, economic, and social" criteria. The standard, which is set by membership, has seen a fair share of controversy over the years. Some industry groups view it as too restrictive, while some environmentalists complain the standard is too weak and allows first-time logging of primary forests. Greenpeace, which is an FSC member, says it is trying to strengthen the environmental aspects of the standards from within the body.













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mongabay.com (May 21, 2013).

Forest certification body revokes Swiss logging company's certificate over alleged Congo abuses.

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