"PL's annouced they have been certified by
a timber products Industry sustainable certification group, not
FSC. The feel good public relations gimmick behind their certification
process is a joke. As information below illustrates, even the more
eco-friendly FSC process has it's flaws and is obviously not sustainable.
Green washing in progress. Watch out! Why is my species still going
the coho salmon
FOREST CONSERVATION NEWS TODAY
BACKGROUNDER: Serious Concerns Regarding Forest Certification
By Glen Barry, President, Forests.org, Inc.
July 14, 2001
Many forest conservationists, myself included,
have eagerly embraced forest certification, particularly standards
set by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), as a promising tool
to protect forests. However, it is rapidly becoming apparent that
certification is no panacea, and serious flaws in the principles
of forest certification pose real dangers to the World's forests.
FSC received the support of many forest conservationists
because it was believed that placing value upon forests - tropical
forests in particular - would lead to more forest conservation and
protection. It was thought that by empowering local people to pursue
small, community based "eco-forestry" initiatives, certification
would provide an alternative to more destructive land uses. To date,
FSC has not lived up to this ideal. Industry and government are
the owners of some 96% of currently certified forests. Non-industrial
or communal logging operations are only 34% of the total number
of certificates, covering 3% of the certified forest area. It appears
that FSC is supporting expansion of industrial scale logging of
the world's remaining primary forests.
A variety of important additional criticisms
are being voiced. Natural patterns of plant diversity and wildlife
are not well protected in certified commercial logging operations.
Increasing numbers of grassroots environmental organizations are
being excluded from FSC decision-making processes. Dissent is not
welcome and is rarely heard. Overstated rhetoric regarding ecological
sustainability threatens to legitimize increased commercial logging
and ultimately the final demise of the World's remaining large forest
wildlands. The voice of wildland and old-growth protection is not
Failure to respond to these criticisms will
lead to widespread withdrawal of support for certified forestry
from forest conservationists and their grassroots organizations,
and resumption and intensification of campaigns to boycott all tropical
and old- growth timbers.
Recently both "Conservation Biology" (April
2001) and "The Ecologist" have featured scientifically rigorous
examination of certified forestry. In particular the article in
"The Ecologist", entitled "Seeing the Wood from the Trees" by Nicole
Freris and Klemens Laschefski, provides an excellent critique of
the FSC movement and its implications for forest conservation. This
article is made available exclusively on the Internet at the request
of the authors on Forests.org's Forest Conservation Portal at http://forests.org/.
The article's URL is http://forests.org/pdf/fsc_feature_internet.pdf.
The article deconstructs the highly touted "Precious Woods Amazon"
logging operation in Brazil, widely touted as one of the best examples
of successful certified forestry in primary tropical rainforests.
The article addresses a series of ecological,
social and economic myths found within the rhetoric used by supporters
of forest certification. What impact does certified timber extraction
have on native old-growth forests? Does buying certified tropical
timber products really contribute to saving the world's rainforests?
The tone of the article is set with the rhetorical question, "If
certified logging of the disappearing rainforests is the answer
perhaps we have forgotten what the question was... "
The case is compellingly made that certified
forestry is highly intensive commercial logging that threatens the
ecology of most if not all remaining natural forest wildlands. They
conclude that certification does not halt predatory logging practices
in tropical forests, that it is rejuvenating the tropical timber
trade that had been hurt by environmental boycotts, it is profoundly
impacting tropical ecosystems, and local social benefits are minimal.
"Certified tropical timber sold to an ecologically conscious elite
of the first world has little influence on the global dynamics of
the timber business... buying certified tropical timber is no more
than an additional pressure on primary forests."
It is becoming apparent that certified forestry
profoundly changes old-growth forests and there are real biological
costs that are not well incorporated into FSC criteria. However,
the most problematic aspect of FSC certification comes long before
actual management activities, when decisions are made to log any
particular old-growth forests. There are serious questions regarding
possible widespread certification of logging of the World's remaining
old-growth wildlands - in the Amazon, Congo Basin, Papua New Guinea,
Russia and Canada in particular; and remaining smaller old-growth
forest remnants found elsewhere - that are not being addressed.
What is to become of the World's remaining
large forest expanses? Does more benign management such as FSC certification
legitimize large areas of old-growth forests being logged for the
first time, and thus irreversibly ecologically diminished? Because
certified forest management is more careful and follows more reasonable
management principles, should more forests be managed and less preserved
than otherwise would be the case? Are there procedures for certifying
agencies to recommend that a particular forest not be logged at
all, based upon outstanding natural values, and despite the intention
of the owners to do so?
Forest stands are not sustainably managed
- forest landscapes and ecosystems are. FSC's principles must be
expanded and strengthened to consider larger questions of best use
of remaining forest wildlands, and their landscape level sustainability.
Mechanisms must be developed to ensure that promotion of certification
is not providing incentives, nor establishing pressure, to increase
supply of certified timber by opening more wildlands to logging.
There must be criteria to determine when strict preservation is
favorable to management of any type - even if there is pressure
to log the area.
For certification to be a positive force
for protection of large forest wildlands and landscape level sustainability,
certified management of any one area must be coupled with widespread
establishment of much larger, adjacent and encompassing strictly
protected areas. 10% conservation set asides is not adequate. More
attention must be paid in the certification principles to the ratio
and spatial arrangement of preserved forests relative to certifiably
managed forests - seeking to meet the scientific requirements for
upscale sustainability of the forest ecosystem. Otherwise the World's
forest wildernesses will become tree farms.
The degree to which mainstream environmental
groups such as WWF and Greenpeace have embraced forest certification
is shocking. It does not seem to have been based on sound scientific
analysis of the requirements for forest sustainability. But rather
seems to be based upon being seen as doing something, anything;
and enlarging their memberships and financial resources. Apparently
FSC, WWF and Greenpeace are working with Malaysian loggers to certify
some of their massive and rapidly expanding rainforest logging operations.
These companies such as WTK, Rimbunan Hijau, Samling and others
are notorious eco-villains, with an appalling history of environmental
and social abuses. Should environmental groups be in the business
of reforming predatory loggers? Can they be reformed? Regardless
of the management practices, is logging of this scale justifiable?
These environmental conglomerates ultimately are legitimizing extensive
commercial logging of most of the World's forest wildernesses.
Despite this scathing critique, this author
continues to hope that FSC certification will realize its potential
as a force for sustainable forestry AND forest protection. Certified
forestry in concept clearly shows great potential to be ONE component
of a strategy for the eventual elimination of deforestation and achievement
of global forest sustainability. But not until rules are developed
that clearly state and promote preservation of most remaining old-growth
wildlands, limit most certification to regenerating secondary forests,
and place any certified management of wildlands that does occur within
a matrix of protected areas adequate to guarantee sustainability of
ecosystems across landscapes. Furthermore, FSC must not take for granted
the support of ardent conservationists that seeks to protect the World's
remaining old- growth forest heritage.
Until FSC can amend its criteria to ensure
the World's remaining forest wildlands are not diminished due to
forest certification, there should be no certification of commercial
forestry in remaining wildlands and old-growth forests. Unless FSC
quickly develops procedures to leave most wildlands and old-growth
unlogged, they will witness renewed calls to the World's citizens
to boycott all tropical and old-growth timbers. Forests.org will
be leading the charge.
Forests.org works to end deforestation, preserve
old-growth forests, conserve all forests, maintain climatic systems
and commence the age of ecological restoration.
Copyright 2001, Forests.org, Inc. This article
may be reproduced granted the author and Forests.org are cited as