FSC Forest Stewardship Council
Member: Society Free
Charles de Gaulle Straße 5, 53113 Bonn, Germany
FSC statement on report by Earthsight
Following the publication of the Earthsight report on corruption and timber trade in Ukraine, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) declares that it strongly condemns and will take action against any corrupt practices linked to the use of its certification standards in Ukraine or any other country where FSC is present.
FSC is aware of the challenges that responsible forest management certification represents in Ukraine and the risks associated to the country’s limited governance structure. As a voluntary model for responsible forestry, FSC’s presence in countries that pose these challenges is the best assistance available to forest managers to improve the way forestry practices are carried out.
During the past year, FSC in Ukraine has been focusing its efforts on a nation-wide integrity project to strengthen the way that certification is conducted in the country. In particular, the orientation of forestry enterprises to individual certification in recent years has led to an increase in the number of audits per area, which contributes to improving the transparency and quality of forest certification.
Ukraine’s national risk assessment (NRA) for the new controlled wood Standard has been significantly strengthened, with the controlled wood category for illegally harvested wood defined as a specified risk in the country. This means that to source controlled wood in Ukraine, organizations must implement a set of control measures designed to mitigate the specific risks present and verify that the measures are effective. Until the low risk is confirmed, the organization in accordance with the requirements is not allowed to sell wood as FSC Controlled Wood.
The report also raises the issue of illegal sanitary fellings in FSC-certified forests. The indicators related to sustainable forest management that have been developed for the FSC Ukraine national standard, currently being finalized, will significantly contribute to avoid abuse of sanitary fells at certified State Forestry Enterprises (SFE). As a further strengthening element to this standard, concepts related to scale, intensity and risk have been applied. The document has already been approved by the national working group and is pending review and approval by the FSC Performance and Standards Unit.
Regarding some of the allegations contained in the report related to forest audits within FSC-certified Ukrainian SFEs, FSC has requested Accreditation Services International (ASI) - the accreditation body responsible for checking certification body conformance with FSC’s rules and procedures - to analyze these audits. Any non-conformances detected on certification bodies will be subject to disciplinary measures against these companies.
FSC collaborated with Earthsight during its research to produce this report by providing information related to its certifications in Ukraine. FSC is willing to extend this collaboration to local authorities, international organizations including the European Union’s bodies responsible for EUTR, stakeholders and companies sourcing from Ukraine to find viable and definitive solutions to corrupt practices related to forestry in Ukraine.