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FSC responses to Greenpeace International statement
“We have seen very uneven implementation of FSC principles and criteria globally. In some regions FSC certification improved forestry practices, but in others it fell short of its goals of conserving forests and protecting traditional rights. Weak implementation is seen particularly in “high risk” regions where democratic and civil society institutions are weak, and corruption is high.”
- FSC has several strict requirements in place that ensure that certified forest managers maintain their forest cover, and maintain or enhance their forest’s structure, function, biodiversity and productivity. These include indicators for planning and monitoring forest management interventions, assessing risks and evaluating the impacts on forests.
- FSC does not allow deforestation, the conversion of natural forest areas into plantations, or any other forms of forest ecosystem degradation in FSC-certified forests. This is complemented by specific requirements for the maintenance and/or enhancement of areas with high conservation value.
- FSC requires forest owners/managers to minimize the negative impacts of forest management interventions to avoid and compensate for any form of forest degradation.
- FSC’s Principles and Criteria, which form the basis of all FSC’s National Forest Stewardship and Certification Bodies’ Interim National Standards, are applied universally and with the same criteria to all FSC certified companies in every country. Although each NFSS / INS reflect the local realities of the different countries where they apply, all must abide by our Principles and Criteria, a guarantee that they reflect the robustness of the FSC scheme.
- FSC ensures that an extra layer of precautionary measures are taken under circumstances that increase the risk of non-compliance by certificate holders, by requesting an increased audit frequency in such cases.
- Further, our globally operating accreditation body ASI applies a global risk framework based on various criteria that CBs are appraised against (including factors such as the client portfolio and number of complaints and incidents) which determines the assessment intensity for CBs but also whether additional compliance assessments are carried out considering the performance of their certificate holders.
- Since 2016, FSC has been applying International Generic Indicators to address each of the criteria that apply to NFSS, increasing their consistency and adapting them to specific contexts depending on the forest type and state, the size of the forest management units, and specific social and ecological situations. These IGIs have already been approved in some countries and full approval continues. They will be of special value in countries that constitute a high risk due to low governance as they add more implementation.
- FSC requires certification bodies to operate a comprehensive and effective complaints management system, particularly important in areas where there are issues connected to low governance and the ecological or social sensitivity of the resource. Incidents can further be logged with ASI directly who will use it to inform their oversight, allowing to also take rapid response measures.
“Further, we do not have confidence that FSC is the appropriate tool to achieve large scale forest protection in all the forest regions of the world. FSC is primarily a tool for forestry and timber extraction, as opposed to protection. While it has rules for conservation built-in, and can contribute to conservation outcomes, the FSC system is focused on rules for commercial forest operations.”
- FSC is a tool for responsible forest management, which includes forestry and harvesting. This is the core mandate of the organization but FSC is also a safeguard against widespread illegal logging, deforestation and ultimately, forest degradation. We will continue to excel in delivering the most robust standards in responsible forest management worldwide.
- FSC certified forests are much better protected than managed forests that do not enjoy FSC certification. FSC certified concessions are documented to offer enhanced wildlife protection measures as well as social benefits for local populations such as hospitals, schools, and better housing.
- FSC does not allow for deforestation to take place and certificate holders must commit to specific environmental protection measures as embodied in our Principles and Criteria.
- In today’s forest reality, FSC has become a necessary tool for enhanced protection and a deterrent against widespread illegal logging, deforestation and ultimately, forest degradation.
- To minimize the risk of non-compliance with our standards in high risk areas, FSC has specific mechanisms like the Policy for Association that draws the line on the fundamentals of responsible forest management that FSC certified companies must commit to by regulating unacceptable activities.
- FSC’s positive effect on forest biodiversity has been demonstrated and documented by independent rigorous scientific research. For example, In Malaysia, researcher Rahel Sollmann (Sollmann, R. et al., 2017) teamed up with 11 other researchers to develop and test methodologies to quantify mammal biodiversity co-benefits in certified tropical forests. Focusing on rain forest mammals, which are particularly threatened by illegal logging, the researchers found that many threatened species occupied larger areas in an FSC certified forest in Deramakot, and that species richness was higher there than anywhere else.
- J. Spilsbury analyzed for CIFOR in 2005 FSC public certification assessment reports coupled with a review of findings published in recent literature. Spilsbury found that FSC certification in developing countries:
- Helped to secure or improve environmental services in certified forests;
- Improved worker conditions within certified forests;
- Acted to reduce social conflict in and around certified forests;
- Helped in securing land tenure and usufruct rights (in certified community forests);
- Improved the image of the forest management enterprise locally and in associated
- Provided greater access to premium timber markets (where they exist); and
- Helped promote sustainable forest management more generally through dialogue between
- the private sector and government
Finally, we believe transparency is the foundation of accountability and responsible sourcing of products. It is now the norm across commodity supply chains. To be considered credible, a forest certification scheme must publish digital maps for certified forest management units and sourcing areas deemed by the system to be ‘low risk’. Neither FSC, nor any other timber certification schemes, currently publish maps globally, or make audit reports publicly available for all Chain of Custody certificates.
- As part of FSC’s implementation plan on reaching our FSC 2015-2020 Global Strategic Plan, FSC is working on developing digital tools to increase the credibility of FSC certification by developing and implementing a digital global verification system that incorporates tools such as Earth Observation systems, transaction verification and enhanced product labelling and cataloguing. With FSC 2.0 we also seek to provide stronger assurance from the forest to finished labelled products so that consumers can be confident of the origin of the products they purchase. To lead this change, FSC recently incorporated a new Director of Knowledge Management and IT.
- During the FSC 2014 General Assembly, FSC members unanimously voted for Motion 45, which calls for developing mechanisms intended to enhance transparency and consistency in the public reporting of assessments and audits carried out under the FSC system. Work in this area is already under way.
- Few international organizations are as transparent as FSC. One of the preconditions for FSC certification is that the forest operation has a management plan and FSC certified companies are required to have and make publicly available details of their forest management plans where they operate. This is a fundamental strength to our system and one that adds an important measure of transparency.