FSC--Still To Be Trusted?
This photograph caught my attention as I was investigating reports of some lowering of the standards and performance of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). I found it at Heart of Green, a website that addresses a wide variety of environmental issues and events.
It’s founder, Nadine Weil, is an ardent FSC fan. Here’s what she says: “This photo shows the difference between a forest managed under the independent third-party Forest Stewardship Council certification program and one managed under the industry-backed Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). The difference is as clear as a smog-free day and shocking.”
The site does a nice job of listing the differences between the two programs.
Photo by Milan Reska, FSC.
Here are the principles of FSC forests:
- Never harvests more than what grows back
- Protects biodiversity and endangered species
- Saves rare ancient trees
- Guards local streams
- Supports the local people
- Uses narrow skidding trails so as not to disrupt the rest of the forest
- Prohibits replacement by tree plantations
- Bans toxic chemicals
- Bans genetically modified trees (no GMO)
- Allows large clearcuts
- Allows logging close to rivers and streams that harms water supplies
- Allows use of toxic chemicals
- Allows conversion of old-growth forests to tree plantations
- Allows use of genetically modified trees
So why the criticism of FSC? A recent report on the ABC News outlet in Boston details the damage that logging under FSC certification is doing to Massachusetts state forests. Other problems are reported on FSC-Watch, a site dedicated to encouraging scrutiny of the Forest Stewardship Council’s activities in order to increase its integrity. These include accusations that FSC is certifying old-growth forests and monoculture planations.
You can read what I believe are credible responses to the criticisms in an interview with FSC international communications manager Nina Haase on Mongabay.com. Bottom line, according to Haase: "As the need for timber resources is growing and predicted to continue to do so, some [of our critics] are concerned about plantation forests, others about logging in natural forests. At FSC we understand the concerns and crucial importance of these issues extremely well. But we are also realistic enough to understand that faced with massive demand for timber resources, neither are going to stop. So based on the fact that FSC has developed the highest and most widely supported social and environmental standards, we engage to make sure this happens in the best and most sustainable way possible."
Only 7 percent of the world’s productive forests are FSC certified. This global organization, active in 79 countries, has an ambitious agenda, a long way to go and MUST do everything possible to keep itself above reproach.