FSC, Gold Standard for Certification, Gets Tarnished

I know, gold doesn't tarnish, but we certainly have always looked at certification by the Forest Stewardship Council to be the best there is. That doesn't mean that it is perfect; The Wall Street Journal notes that if you set the bar too high, then you don't get anyone reaching for it. Thus one can now buy paper with an FSC label on it, but only 50% of the pulp has to come from certified forests, the rest can come from "mixed sources"

Then there is Singapore-based Asia Pulp & Paper Co. Ltd. -- one of the largest paper companies in the developing world and a target of criticism for its forestry practices. Environmentalists have charged that APP has devastated a Delaware-size portion of natural forest on Indonesia's Sumatra island, putting the survival of orangutan, tiger and elephant species there at risk. Yet it got certification for a 472,000 acre tree plantation.

According to the WSJ, some environmentalists were dismayed. "If they [APP] can get an FSC accreditation, there must be something wrong with the system," says Nazir Foead, director of the Indonesian-species program at the Geneva-based World Wildlife Fund, a co-founder of the FSC.

The rules are now being changed to prevent any company that destroys rain forests or engages in illegal logging from using the FSC's label, and APP's approval has been rescinded. "This is a significant change in the FSC systems, although it addresses an issue which has concerned FSC stakeholders for many years," the FSC said in a statement to members. APP now plans to seek certification for its products from a standards-setting organization that competes with the FSC.

So how much damage has been done to the FSC brand by this? Probably not much. It is still independent of the forest industry (unlike SFI or Green Globes) and it has changed the rules to keep this from happening again. It is still the best we've got.

Behind a fence at the Wall Street Journal; we will link when someone else picks it up....

Tags: Construction