Greenpeace accuses wood certification group of being tool for timber industry

Business | 27 Mar 2018 3:55 pm

Greenpeace is withdrawing from the main global group for certifying sustainable wood products, saying it is failing to protect natural forests from exploitation.

Greenpeace, a founding member of the Forest Stewardship Council, said the organization "fell short'' of its goals of conserving forests and benefiting society.

The FSC mark, a stylized tree, is sought by paper producers and other wood users as an endorsement they can use in the marketplace to promote their products as sustainable and charge a premium.

The council had successes in some regions, the environmental group said, but was failing in "high risk regions where democratic and civil society institutions are weak and corruption is high.''

Greenpeace International said in a statement on its website that the council has become a "tool for forestry and timber extraction'' and it wouldn't renew its membership. It said national branches of Greenpeace that are members will make their own decisions about continuing to work with the council.

In Indonesia, where rainforests are being felled at an epic rate, the FSC has given certifications to Korindo, a Korean-Indonesian joint venture that has been clearing rainforests in Papua for logging and palm oil plantations.

In 2007, the FSC withdrew its certification of Asia Pulp & Paper, the global paper products arm of the family-owned Sinarmas conglomerate that was notorious for deforestation and land grabs in Indonesia.

However for the past decade it continued to certify diary and notebook company Nippecraft and its Collins Debden brand, which is owned by the Sinarmas family through APP. The council is now reviewing those specific certifications.

Greenpeace said a major deficiency in FSC's systems was lack of transparency such as failure to publish digital maps that locate the commercial forests certified by the council.

"To be considered credible, a forest certification scheme must publish digital maps,'' it said. "Neither FSC, nor any other timber certification schemes, currently publish maps globally, or make audit reports publicly available.''

FSC, which is based in Bonn, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. -AP

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