Forest Stewardship Council Sustainable Forestry Standard Comes Under Attack

The world's leading sustainable forestry certification, that of the Forest Stewardship Council or FSC, is little more than a sham, according to an analysis from civil rights group CORE, which claims that the FSC standard results in the loss of threatened and endangered forest and species and entraps small, indigenous groups in a cycle of poverty.

The Forest Stewardship Council's sustainable forestry certification program (FSC) comes under attack in the Congress of Racial Equality's, "Stop the War on the Poor -- FSC and NGOs: Environmental Mythology."

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CORE's analysis comes at a time when the UN and other international organizations and forest industry businesses are trying to hash out sustainable forestry standards and put them into practice, the most prominent of which is the UN's REDD+, for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forestry Degradation.

"This new research reveals FSC paper products are far more environmentally-harmful than FSC would like people to believe," according to CORE's press release. Formed in 1942, CORE is the third-oldest and one of the largest civil rights groups in the US.

CORE's criticism essentially boils down to a claim that the FSC and its certification program amount to little more than greenwash while serving as a front for large "industrial forestry" business interests aiming to dominate the global forest products market by squeezing out small, local alternative providers that would serve as better models for sustainable forestry practices and management.

"With FSC products containing red lauan (shorea) – among the world's most critically endangered tropical species – FSC is hardly a practitioner of responsible environmental stewardship. 'Big Green', in promoting FSC, has been selling the American people a bag of coal," said the author of the report, CORE spokesman Niger Innis.

In the report, CORE seeks to expose three FSC myths: that the FSC process is transparent, that it protects endangered species, and that it helps the world's poor.

"FSC certification poses a lose-lose scenario for developing countries: fail to meet the excessive costs and restrictive criteria of FSC certification and be forced out of the global timber trade by a system that favors the rich; or, gain FSC certification and fall victim to a Green agenda that restricts the much-needed development of your natural resources. Now what kind of choice is that?" Innis concluded.

Photo courtesy of Biology Blog.

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