Keeping ‘green’ labels ‘green’: working together for a stronger FSC
June 26, 2013
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was created in 1993 to allow companies and the public to identify products coming from responsibly managed forests. Two decades later, the FSC remains the only credible forest management certification system, but it's not perfect. Greenpeace fears that as the system has grown, the FSC's implementation and interpretation of its standards have been watered down. This is why we have just published the first set of a series of case studies that highlight both the best practices and the areas where FSC has to improve in order to maintain its reputation and ensure it is a logo that consumers can trust. The first case study looks at good forest management practices and the other case study looks at the murkier side of what FSC calls 'controlled wood'. The good side A great example of FSC-certified forest management can be found in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada where Ecotrust Canada has a certificate for a group of small forest managers located on Vancouver Island and in the Kootenays region in B.C. The Ecotrust Canada certificate is an example of FSC doing what it was created to do: extract wood using low impact methods that conserve the forests ecological and social values which is economically viable because consumers are indeed willing to pay extra for good wood products. The certificate members are actively working to conserve habitat for species at risk, as well as restoring old-growth forests and natural tree species diversity, which has declined through decades of destructive 'status quo' industrial logging practices. Ecotrust Canadas members also have a positive track record of relationships with First Nations communities including a formal agreement with the Hupacasath First Nation, which recognises its rights and title to the land and has its consent for forestry practices. This group certificate is an example that highlights how the FSC does play a very positive role in forest management that benefits forest ecosystems, forestry companies and communities. This is the high bar that the FSC must be held to for all its certificates. The not so good Unfortunately, in Scandinavia the mismanagement by companies of FSC-controlled wood is threatening the survival of species at risk. What is "controlled wood" you ask? As a consumer you see it as a FSC 'MIX' label in products in your DIY or bookstore a small label assuring you that 'this product comes from responsible sources'. It is wood supply screened by companies to avoid controversial wood from 'uncontrolled' sources such as illegal logging, conversion of forests to plantations or non-forest uses, high conservation value (HCV) forests, social conflict and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). This wood is either mixed or matched with FSC fully certified wood to produce FSC 'MIX' products. The three largest forestry companies in Finland have continued their business as usual. They are designating the whole country as low risk for all FSC-controlled wood categories. This is unbelievable for several reasons which we list in the case study published today:
- Finnish experts say that the majority of the countrys threatened species are dependent on forests and are threatened by Finlands intensive forestry.
- Two thirds of all forest types are threatened and again the main reason for this is 'status quo' destructive forestry.
- There is a very high risk that wood from habitats for hundreds of species at risk, including high conservation value forests, is entering the FSC system as "controlled" wood.