Increase Quality and Consistency in Practice
Improving the quality and consistency of our standards is an important step in strengthening our certification scheme. Improving the application of these standards is just as important.
Rethinking Controlled Wood
Controlled wood was introduced into the FSC system in 1997 to meet the demand for FSC material in the marketplace, while continuing to avoid material from unacceptable sources. Since then the FSC system has grown significantly. Now it is time for our membership to provide clear guidance on the future of controlled wood, in the form of a strategy.
Following a year of consultations and workshops, the controlled wood strategy is due to be released in the final quarter of 2018.
In addition to the work on developing the strategy, by the end of 2017, FSC risk assessments for 15 countries were approved and will be used for sourcing controlled wood.
Other training and training-related programmes included:
- Knowledge testing for to ensure compliance with updated requirements relating to auditor qualiﬁcation. This is in alignment with FSC-PRO-20-004 V1.0, and included both forest management and chain of custody auditors. Some independent freelance auditors and more than 1,200 auditors affiliated to 39 certification bodies completed the test.
- Two new online certificate courses, one for auditors and another for practitioners on controlled wood FSC STD-40-005 V3.0 were launched.
Maintaining our Quality Standards
One of the ways we protect the integrity of our system is through our quality assurance programme. This initiative collaborates with Accreditation Services International (ASI) to maintain the high bar against which our certification bodies are measured; and works to ensure FSC meets the high standards set by various bodies and authorities across the globe.
In 2017, we carried out the second annual assessment of ASI. The assessment showed that important improvements have been made since the first assessment, and very few of the areas that were expected to show progress did not fully meeting expectations.
To facilitate more regular communication between the annual certification body (CB) meetings, we created and coordinated the ‘CB Trialogue’, a platform to enhance coordination between certification bodies, ASI and FSC.
In addition, FSC also:
- showed conformance against the ISEAL Assurance Code through an external evaluation (with only two minor non-conformities); and
- developed an assurance risk registry and the first annual assurance risk management plan.
The integrity of our system is our core consideration in everything we do. Without it, we cannot operate. This means we will take action against certificate holders – whether a small forest owner or a multi-national business – should they not manage their forests in accordance with our rules.
2017 was no exception to this rule.
In February, we disassociated from the Schweighofer Group. The decision was based on an investigation that concluded the Group was involved in illegal timber trading and illegal logging.
For Schweighofer to gain back its FSC association, it must meet certain conditions set by FSC. Schweighofer has agreed to work towards fulfilling these requirements, and if successful, an end of its disassociation from FSC would be considered.
In March 2017, a further investigation into the Schweighofer Group’s activities began following additional complaints from stakeholders. The investigation was conducted by an independent panel of experts with expertise in the forestry and timber trade industry, as well as in Romanian legislation. In September 2017, the investigators concluded that there were no additional wrongdoings – other than those already included in the original disassociation – and this part of the Schweighofer case was closed.
The Schweighofer Group remains disassociated from FSC.
FSC disassociated from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) in October 2007 because of substantial, publicly available information that APP was involved in destructive forestry practices.
FSC has developed a draft set of conditions to provide APP with a framework for compensating social and environmental legacy impacts and improving its forest management practices. In 2017, this set of conditions and a related stakeholder engagement plan were available for public consultation. In addition, two stakeholder working group in-person meetings were held.
APP remains disassociated from FSC.
In November 2017, a panel of experts began investigating the alleged involvement of the Korindo Group in conversion of forests to plantations or non-forest use, destruction of species of high conservation value, and violation of traditional and human rights in Indonesia.
The case is still under investigation by FSC.