Forestry Certification - the reality
The importance of managing the world’s forests in a sustainable way led to the development of eco-labelling or certification for forestry. People wanted to feel that they could identify and buy timber products originating from sustainably managed forests. Certification has moved on and is now a market (business) driven system and a wide range of certification schemes are available.
No doubt eco-labelling schemes start off with the best of intentions but in Ireland we see Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) eco-labelling given to intensive plantation forestry management with large clearfells that has very high environmental and social impacts. Over the last ten years attempts made by Irish environmental and social stakeholders to address the serious issues of soil erosion, water pollution, habitat and amenity loss have been largely unsuccessful. Many plantations are not even economically viable but are still harvested and reforested despite the environmental and social costs.
Irelands high impact forest management practices do not comply with FSC principles and criteria as evidenced by numerous reports and studies. The FSC process is not resolving these issues, stakeholders valid concerns are disregared and to date Irelands FSC process for sustainable forestry has failed.
The recent article in the Irish Examiner which highlighted forestry contractors protests over environmental damage is more evidence of the failure of FSC.
Friends of the Earth (FoE) became the first major international NGO to confirm that it no longer recognises the value of FSC certificates. FoE England's website advises that FoE "is deeply concerned by the number of FSC certifications that are now sparking controversy and threatening the credibility of the scheme. We cannot support a scheme that fails to guarantee high environmental and social standards. As a result we can no longer recommend the FSC standard".
FIE fully support this position and would encourage other international NGOs such as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund to withdraw their support for FSC and give a voice to the many small national NGOs protesting about FSC greenwashing.
The organisation FSC Watch monitors FSC globally and highlights stakeholders concerns.
See below for a summary of The History of the Development of an Irish FSC Standard and The Status of the Certification of Coillte Teo.