Greenpeace documents FSC progress on key problems

Press release - 3 November, 2008
Following two years' of research, Greenpeace's 'Holding the Line' report lists key recommendations for improvement of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and its progress towards a new level of performance and credibility.

The recommendations are centred on the need for a significant increase in Accreditation Services International's (ASI)(1) resources to ensure proper compliance monitoring, and the revision and simplification of several FSC standards and policies to achieve high consistent on-the-ground performance and resolve disputes swiftly.  Improving consultation processes in order to restore trust and encourage greater stakeholder engagement, and implementing tighter controls to prevent high risk companies from entering the system for greenwashing purposes, are also pivotal proposals. FSC agrees with over half the recommendations, and partially agrees with most of the others.

"Since its inception, FSC has been innovative and adaptive in meeting the challenges to transform forest stewardship worldwide,' said Judy Rodrigues, Forests Campaigner, Greenpeace International. "However, this process needs to be ongoing and this report provides constructive criticism to contribute towards its continuous improvement."(2)

Over the past 12 years, FSC has created the leading global system for credible certification of environmentally and socially responsible managed forests. Its success and the reality of rapid growth and demand have lead to FSC facing an increased number of challenges.

Greenpeace has been concerned that, with this rapid growth, a growing number of certificates do not meet FSC performance standards.  A majority of the problems stem from the rigour of the audit processes of the FSC accredited certification bodies (CBs), the ability and capacity of ASI to monitor and correct any such failures.

"We always welcome the input of our members and other stakeholders, and believe that this report will contribute to improve FSC," said Andre de Freitas, Executive Director, FSC. "We agree with most of its recommendations and in fact are already implementing some of them. For example, the 2009 budget has significantly more resources for ASI, FSC is now getting feedback on a new dispute resolution mechanism and since June 2008, accreditation decisions have been solely taken by ASI and its accreditation committee."

Greenpeace is confident that FSC will continue to build on the report's recommendations to strengthen its system, inspire its supporters and maintain its position as leader of global forest certification systems.

Other contacts: Judy Rodrigues, Forests Campaigner, Greenpeace International:
+31 646 166299

Greenpeace International pressdesk: +31 20 718 2470

Notes: (1) FSC operates an Accreditation Program that audits Certification Bodies against FSC system standards and rules.

(2) Aiming at working constructively and collaboratively, Greenpeace consulted ASI and FSC staff and Certification Bodies regularly to answer questions about the specific case studies and consulted them to identify action taken on its recommendations.