The National Forest Stewardship Standard (NFSS) for Indonesia was published recently after years of development. It applies to all types and scales of forest management, including timber, non-timber forest products and ecosystem services. It will become effective on 1 December 2020. The transition window for FSC-certified forests is twelve months and will last until 30 November 2021.
Collected news links from external sources related to topics concerning the Book Chain Project.
This report by independent environmental charity Earthsight finds illegal logging in FSC-certified supply chains in Ukraine. Focussed on the Carpathian forests, it found around 100 sites are being felled illegally each spring, when silence periods should protect several endangered animal species including brown bears, wolves and Eurasian lynx. While regulations require Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) before sanitary felling is conducted, no EIAs were found to have been carried out. Evidence sited by Earthsight includes the Ukrainian State Environmental Inspectorate (SEI), local environmental organisations, and research commissioned by WWF Germany.
Earthsight claims this illegal logging has not been picked up in FSC audits because of systematic issues with FSC that go beyond Ukraine: conflicts of interest as auditing bodies are paid by the logging companies they certify; inadequate oversight by Assurance Services International (ASI) which should be holding the auditing bodies to account but is argued to have failed to do so. The report documents a wide array of cases where FSC-certified firms have been accused of illegal logging, clearance of High Conservation Value (HCV) forests, and human rights abuses from all over the world – including in places such as Brazil, China, Congo, Indonesia, Peru, Romania, Russia, Ukraine. Earthsight highlights that FSC has only investigated 13 companies in its 27-year history – 0.02% of the more than 44,000 it has certified.
In response, FSC states it is fully aware of the issues in Ukraine, and insists that whenever illicit acts are identified or reported they are investigated. IKEA says it has started its own investigations, commissioned audits from a 3rd-party independent audit company, asked questions to ASI, and pledges that if any illegal wood is indicated in its product it will take immediate action.
Earthsight’s report focuses on IKEA because, as the biggest buyer of wood in the world, it has the most influence to drive positive change. However, the issues found by Earthsight apply to the publishing industry as much as they do to IKEA. Therefore, the Book Chain Project will further look into Earthsight’s findings and update you as soon as we decide what further action to take.
According to an investigation by the environmental charity Earthsight, in the area of forest - Velykyi Bychkiv within Ukraine, loggers appear to be taking advantage of loopholes that allow for “sanitary felling” during the silent periods in the spring and early summer from 2018 to 2020. Some of the wood in question is found in the supply chain of Swedish furniture maker Ikea, who denied wrongdoing and immediately began their own investigations into all parties mentioned in Earthsight’s report.
The UK is to spearhead a major global crackdown on illegal timber and deforestation, with plans to form a coalition of developing countries against the trade as part of its hosting of crunch UN climate talks this year. All countries are expected to come forward with tougher plans to reduce global emissions as part of COP 26, and experts have said this will only happen if the UK takes the lead in forming a coalition of small and big developing countries, including forested African nations and Indonesia, as well as major economies such as the US, China, India and the EU. Offering assistance to developing countries, in the form of finance and technical expertise, will be vital to that effort.
This speech by Brian Schatz, Senator from Hawaii (D) was part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 21—24 January 2020. Seeing that half of tropical deforestation is illegal, illegal and unsustainable timber and goods are flooding global markets. Voluntary commitments cannot achieve zero-deforestation without regulation. Regulation is one of the key drivers of sustainable forestry. This year, Schatz will introduce legislation that will make it illegal for companies to import the products of illegal deforestation.
Growing demand for timber as construction material, fuel and charcoal is devastating Cambodia's forests. In 1975, forests covered 73 per cent of the country’s surface; last year it was down to only 46.84 per cent. Cambodian government has recognised the importance of forests and extended the natural protected area, under the Cambodian Environment Ministry, to 7.2 million hectares – the equivalent of 41 per cent of the Kingdom’s land surface.
China, the world’s largest timber importer, issued a new draft of its first Forest Law update in 20 years that adds a prohibition on buying illegally sourced timber. It will be effective on 01 July 2020. Issues around enforcement, such as the burden of proof being on government departments, traders being out of scope, and low penalties, remain.
Please find more details about the law here. (EH&CH)
P.S. Recently, we attended an APEC region workshop hosted by APEC Expert Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (EGILAT) in Malaysia on forest law governance. This table captures the major and emerging forest law regulations in the region.
SPOTT released their 2019 timber and pulp assessment results, which show the tropical forestry sector needs to improve public disclosure of policies and practices. Although average scores were just 20.4%, compared to 31.1% in 2018, companies assessed since 2017 have, on average, increased their score over time, showing some progress towards transparency. A full summary of this year’s assessments is available at this link.
Around 150 Yong’an residents are suing the local government and its partner forest management company, Guangxi Lee & Man Forestry Technology Ltd, for violating a clause in contract law where a business must not damage public interests. Villagers claim the eucalyptus, a thirsty plantation species, is draining the local water supply from three mountain springs, leaving very little for farming and domestic use in the village. This is the first case of this kind in China.
A four-year investigation by the US Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) uncovered evidence of an illegal timber trade stretching from Chinese-owned Dejia Group in West Africa to major hardware stores located across the USA.
The timber was from the okoumé tree, classed vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, with a range limited to just four African countries. US Federal officials are investigating the importers, Evergreen Hardwoods and Cornerstone Forest Products. The Dejia Group also exports to European countries where the EU Timber Regulation is in force, including France, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Greece.
- Forest Sourcing
- United States
- Chinese-owned Dejia Group
- Cornerstone Forest Products
- Evergreen Hardwoods
- hardware stores
- illegal timber trade
- IUCN Red List
- okoumé tree
- The Dejia Group
- Timber Regulation
- US Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)
- US Federal officials
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.
A new study finds that illegal logging, coupled with weak state-run timber licensing systems, has led to massive timber harvesting fraud in Brazil, resulting in huge illicit harvests of Ipê trees. Ipê wood is largely shipped to the U.S. and Europe with the high value (up to $2,500 per cubic meter at export). Buyers all along the timber supply chain turn a blind eye toward fraud, with sawmills, exporters, and importers trusting the paperwork they receive, rather than questioning whether the lower prices they pay for Ipê and other timber may be due to timber laundering. This process is doing major damage to the Amazon. To reduce document fraud, the Brazilian federal government required that all states register or integrate their timber licensing systems within a national timber inventory and tracking system known as Sinaflor. While this should reduce fraudulent paperwork, better oversight of forest management plans and more onsite inspections of timber operations are needed also.
Earlier this year Vietnam initialled a timber trade agreement with the EU that will see Vietnam implement legislation to address imports of illegally harvested and traded timber in return for timber exports to the EU. According to a recent EIA investigation, Vietnam continues its role as a serial offender in the illegal timber trade, with large volumes of illegal timber still flowing across the Cambodian border unhindered. EIA have identified three main areas within Cambodia where substantial illegal logging operations continue. EIA tracked timber from these sites is being smuggled out of Cambodia and into Vietnam across informal crossings.
A RM1.2 billion takeover has saved about 1,500 workers’ jobs at ailing India-owned pulp and paper mill Sabah Forest Industries Sdn Bhd, which was owned by India-based Ballarpur Industries Ltd previously. The takeover by Pelangi Prestasi Sdn Bhd entails the transfer of all SFI assets, land titles and timber licenses and is made possible by strong support of the Sabah state government. The takeover is targeted to be completed by end of this year. Pelangi Prestasi committed to retain all SFI workforce and undertake workers’ back-wages, providing training and support as well as enhance access to basic amenities. For the next five years, it will focus on sustainable development of the forest concession area to maximise value through integrated processing and diversification of products.
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
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. Further reading and speakers’ slides: https://bookchainproject.com/news
The Draft National Forest Policy 2018 is now open for public comments, and will replace the older 1988 policy once it comes into force. Critics are apprehensive about how the draft policy deals with community participation and industrial forestry. The current draft is bereft of knowledge-driven solutions, some experts say.
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.
Following the evaluation of the effectiveness and functioning of the EUTR during its first two years of application, it was noted that the EUTR covers a significant number of timber products, but not all are included in its scope. The evaluation concluded that the European Commission may consider amending the product scope, subject to an impact assessment of options. The European Commission is therefore undertaking an impact assessment to analyse possible changes to the EUTR product scope. As part of this impact assessment process and in line with the European Commission's Better Regulation Guidelines, an extensive consultation of stakeholders is being carried out. The main aim of this public consultation is to gather views and evidence on possible changes to the EUTR product scope.
Long known as a hotspot for rapid and largely illegal deforestation, Cambodia was singled out in a May 2017 EIA report. The report was the result of months of undercover investigations which found that from November 2016, more than 300,000 cubic metres (nearly 10.6 million cubic feet) of timber have been illegally felled in a wildlife sanctuary and two protected areas in Cambodia. Most of the timber was sold to Vietnam and generated $13 million in payments from Vietnamese timber traders. Environmental experts believe that a much-publicized crackdown on illegal logging launched in Cambodia in early 2016 had very little effect.