In the recent Forest forum meeting we shared Complicit in Corruption - a recent report written by non-profit Earthsight, highlighting the widespread corruption in Ukraine's forests, and revealing how illegality permeates the timber supply chain in Ukraine from harvest to export.
Earthsight spent two years running field and undercover investigations in Ukraine. Approximately 70% of Ukraine's timber exports enter the EU and Earthsight's investigations indicate that 40% of this timber is being illegally harvest or traded. The report also claims that a significant volume of illegally harvested timber has received the FSC stamp - the former chief of one of the largest timber producing state-forest enterprises admitted to Earthsight he had found it easy to circumvent FSC checks.
FSC has sent a "come clean" ultimatum to APP and its billionaire Indonesian owners, the Widjaja family, following evidence it continues to cut down tropical forests and operate through corporate proxies. A letter was sent to the pulp and paper giant on Monday which sets out the demands FSC expect APP to meet if they want to be readmitted to the council. The ultimatum comes after Greenpeace ended a five year truce with the company earlier this month following an investigation that revealed the company had been destroying tropical forests the entire time the two parties were cooperating on conservation. FSC have demanded APP respond to their letter by Monday, stating publicly their high level commitment to the council’s standards and proposing remedies to Greenpeace’s evidence of deforestation. By June 11th the company will also have to fully disclose their corporate structure and any other violations of the standards.
The publishing initiative run by Carnstone, The Book Chain Project, held its second Asia Summit on 24th of April in Shenzhen, China. It was an opportunity for all the stakeholders in the paper and pulp industry to get together to discuss the latest developments in responsible fibre sourcing. Among the 70 delegates there were paper mills, printers, publishers, retailers, timber experts, and NGOs. The aim of the Summit was to discuss the latest developments on responsible forest sourcing and to share best practice.
The first session included speakers from Carnstone, Chronicle Books, and Donnelly, who shared their understanding on forest sourcing and provided the customer perspective. Next, WWF introduced their work on increasing demand of certified and recycled paper products. IKEA also presented their forest traceability system. Then, IPE and China Water Risk provided their insights on industrial pollution and the water-use pressures present in China.
The next session focused on three major paper mills; UPM, APP and Chenming Paper, sharing their response to the growing expectations and regulations around paper manufacturing. This panel was also joined by TFT who shared their insights on how mills can develop and implement sustainable sourcing systems and encourage engagement further up the supply chain.
The certification schemes, FSC and CFCC, explained how they are evolving to ensure transparency and traceability in global forest supply chains. And the event closed with practical sessions from the Carnstone team, who guided mills and printers to get the most from the online Book Chain Project database. Printers and mills had an opportunity to ask questions, share feedback, and offer ideas and improvements for the future.
Speakers’ slides: https://bookchainproject.com/event?event=5
IPE’s Companies environmental performance monitoring database: http://www.ipe.org.cn/IndustryRecord/Regulatory.aspx?keycode=343j9f9ri329293r3rixxx
China Water Risk website: http://chinawaterrisk.org/
An introduction to FSC certification scheme: https://v.qq.com/x/page/g0639hql3zp.html
Hardwood Dimensions, a timber importer in the U.K., violated the EU Timber Regulation by not properly verifying the legality of a shipment of Cameroonian ayous in January 2017. A judge ordered Hardwood Dimensions to pay 4,000 pounds ($5,576) plus court costs in the case. The case calls into question the effectiveness of Forest Stewardship Council certification, which Hardwood Dimensions has held since 2000.
The Summit is going to take place on Tuesday 24th April 2018, which brings together organisations across the pulp, paper and publishing supply chain. The Summit will focus on learning about the latest developments in responsible forest sourcing, and an opportunity to share practical advice for paper makers on sourcing fibre responsibly. A wide range of attendees including paper mills from across Asia, participating publishers of Book Chain, NGO’s, representatives from certification schemes (FSC and CFCC) and technology providers will be invited. To register for the event, please sign up here.
Motion 7 passed at the FSC General Assembly meeting in Vancouver on 13 October, indicating that the organization will pursue a change to its rules allowing companies that have converted forests to plantations since 1994 to go for certification, which is not allowed under current rule. Proponents of a rule change say it would allow more companies to be held to FSC standards and could result in the restoration or conservation of ‘millions of hectares’ in compensation for recent deforestation. Opponents argue that FSC is bending to industry demands and that a rule change will increase the pressure for land conversion on communities and biodiversity.
FSC in Brazil is now working with BVRio, the organization that set up the Responsible Timber Exchange in late 2016. BVRio pulls together data on the pricing, supply chain and certification of timber and wood products through its Responsible Timber Exchange. Since opening in November 2016, the exchange has fielded more than 400 offers for 5 million cubic meters of timber, 30% of which was FSC-certified. The partnership with FSC is aimed at bolstering the market for certified forest products.
Gender inequality is still widespread in the forestry industry and existing roles for women are poorly supported by current forestry policy. The current issues for gender equality are the widespread misconceptions that forestry work is too physical or the environment is too dangerous for women to work in, and also a significant lack of gender-balanced and women-friendly policies in developing countries. Learning from developed countries where affirmative action in offering education, training, and childcare to working women is a suggested way to bring gender equality to forestry. Recently, FSC released a Guidance Document on Promoting Gender Equality in National Forest Stewardship Standards.
The FSC International Board of Directors agreed to important changes to the new Controlled Wood standard (FSC-STD-40-005 V3-0) and its implementation. Requirement for “Simplified Risk Assessments” was removed. Instead FSC will allow certificate holders maintaining company Controlled Wood Risk Assessments to continue to employ these for sourcing from countries where a National Risk Assessment (NRA) or Centralized National Risk Assessment (CNRA) development process is already underway.
FSC is declaring its intention to more than double its share of global forest-based trade in the next five years to 20 per cent. The strategic plan was developed through consensus by the FSC International Board of Directors, and included extensive consultation with FSC staff, members, and stakeholders. The new FSC Global Strategic Plan 2015-2020 has an emphasis on increasing FSC certification in tropical countries, and providing a voice to those most affected by mismanaged forests – Indigenous Peoples, workers, communities, women, and smallholders - while meeting the needs of current certificate holders. The three strategies that make up the strategic plan are 1) Strengthen the FSC framework and governance, 2) Increase market value of FSC, and 3) Transform the way FSC works.
A study by FSC has found that approximately 300 million cubic metres of FSC certified wood are harvested every year, making up 16.6% of the total global industrial roundwood market.
In a move to bolster links with the Malaysian forestry sector last week FSC held a media conference in Kuala Lumpur to bring together its Malaysian stakeholders, discuss the specific issues in the country’s forests, and how parties can work together to tackle these challenges. FSC opened a new office in Kuala Lumpur in November 2014 and seeks to grow its existing certificate holders from 12 forests and 173 Chain of Custodies.
Rainforest Alliance has extended the suspension period of the Resolute Forest Products certificate for PF Résolu Canada Inc. in Lac St-Jean Quebec by one year. The extended suspension will provide additional time to Resolute to resolve its’ past discrepancies. For the certificate to be re-instated, Resolute must continuously conform to the FSC criteria and their current outstanding non-conformities must be audited as closed. If these terms are not met by the end of the suspension period, Rainforest Alliance will terminate FSC’s certificate agreement for Lac St-Jean Quebec.
A meeting between the International Board of Directors of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) acknowledged positive signs shown by Resolute Forest Products (Resolute FP). The meeting was held in response to an open letter from FSC to Resolute FP requesting they stopped discriminatory activities against FSC and demonstrate respect to their requirements after repeated public attacks by Resolute FP on FSC’s management policies. These attacks followed the suspension of three of Resolute FP’s FSC certificates. The meeting proved to be constructive and the two parties agreed to continue to work together to help the restoration of the suspended certificates.
This article explains how FSC certification can help to increase the levels of trust in due diligence systems. FSC material is recognised as carrying a low (negligible) risk if the FSC certificate is valid; the material in question is covered by the scope of the certificate; and that there is access to the required information.
Building on the sustainability achievements of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Rio 2016 and FSC Brazil announced that all forest products that will be acquired by the Organising Committee will be certified. This includes overlay structures, furniture, communication materials and stationary. The partnership between FSC Brazil and the Organising Committee is expected to boost the market for FSC certified wood in Brazil, and also to provide a push for responsible forest management in Brazil.
Canada’s Resolute Forest Products have had 3 of its forest management certificates suspended following complaints filed by the Grand Council of the Crees; the representing body of the First nations communities, as well as Greenpeace. The certificate suspension is due to the company failing to meet various FSC requirements including the protection of high conservation values and support from stakeholders for its operation. The suspended forest management certificates mean that Resolute can no longer label their pulp, paper and wood products as FSC-certified.
Global Witness has accused Danish timber company, DLH, of illegal timber purchases worth $305,000 in 2012. The investigation showed that the timber was felled using outdated permits that were deemed illegal in Liberia because of widespread misuse, fraud and corruption. These accusations put DLH in breach of its FSC certification, and any further imports of this kind would make the company liable to criminal sanctions under the EU Timber Regulation.
The Indonesian Forestry Ministry claims that Indonesian forestry companies are yet to benefit from FSC certificates, particularly when compared to their involvement with the country’s own mandatory legality certification, SVLK. The ministry’s secretary general said FSC certification had not affected product prices, and advised companies that it wasn’t necessary to acquire FSC certification. The Government is obviously keen to promote its own national scheme and made these comments following FSC’s decision to revoke all certificates held by pulp & paper group, APRIL. The company has since decided to focus on legality through the SVLK scheme.
APRIL still holds chain-of-custody certificates granted through the industry-led PEFC forest certification scheme.
Unlike FSC, PEFC does not have a policy of association or a process to dissociate itself from companies engaging in large scale deforestation.