Two email communications were circulated this week by the Forest Stewardship Council – International (FSC-IC) staff. They seem, at first, to address different topics. But on further examination, we can see that they are closely related and very interesting.
Both relate closely to the ongoing, and seemingly endless, update to the primary FSC Chain of Custody Standard (FSC-STD-40-004). This update process has been underway for over 3 years and the 3rd round of public consultation is currently open. MixedWood posted some short comments on this lastest consultation round in June. You can also find commentary on earlier rounds by following these links.
In our last post (23 June 2016), we included a mention of a “Stakeholder Dialogue & Reception” that had been recently announced by the US affiliate of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC-US) for 19 July 2016 in Charleston, South Carolina, USA. We were unclear at the time that the reason for this meeting – which includes members of the FSC International Board of Directors (BoD) – was the occasion of a scheduled BoD meeting beginning the next morning, also in Charleston.
That Board of Directors meeting has since been announced, and an agenda circulated to the membership. The agenda includes a number of important topics, one of which we wish to call attention to here.
We last wrote about The Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) seemingly endless attempt to update its central Chain of Custody (CoC) standard last October. At that time, we mistakenly called attention to the “last round” in a long and tiresome process to re-write the key traceability standard that over 30,000 certified companies rely upon to buy, sell, produce, and trade in FSC-certified goods around the world.
It is a real pleasure to be able to share some promising news from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). After many years of hard work, SFI staff – with support from key players in the building materials industry – have succeeded in persuading the USGBC LEED program to take a balance and positive approach to recognizing the environmental benefits of wood in commercial construction.
LEED (Leadership in Environmental & Energy Design) is a rating system administered by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) that scores and recognizes environmental performance in building construction. Over the past decade it has become extremely influential in guiding design decisions in (mostly) new commercial projects in (especially) the public sector around the western world.
The ugly and rather public dispute between FSC-Canada and one of its largest and most influential stakeholders continues to generate real concerns for SFM stakeholders around the world. MixedWood wrote about this “drama” in December, and provided another followup early in the new year. At that time, we expressed hope that the parties would come to appreciate their shared interests, that cooler heads would prevail, and that the very real and challenging issues of concern would be resolved over time. Recent signs, however, are not encouraging.
Many in the business (including MixedWood) were encouraged at FSC’s offer to facilitate a “mediation” process with Resolute Forest Products and some of its critics. Resolute publicly expressed some reasonable concerns about the role of the provincial government – particularly Quebec. Unstated, but clearly important, was the role Greenpeace. We expressed hope that this story would drift into background as the players found ways to communicate directly and stopped debating in the press. So far, we are disappointed.
Just after the turn of the new year, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) posted this news release – calling attention to the publication of an updated version of a document entitled The Development and Revision of FSC Normative Documents (FSC-PRO-01-001 v.3-1).
FSC has had a “procedure for writing procedures” for many years. This is just the latest of many versions. We think it is significant to mention because – in spite of the best of intentions – FSC staff continue to find it difficult to follow their own protocols. A long, long list of major policy changes are underway, and the careful processes FSC has designed to manage them are falling rather short. Those of us who are trying to follow along are baffled, bewildered, and behind.
On 18 December 2015, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) published the final version of a long-awaited update to its Controlled Wood standard (FSC-STD-40-005 v.3-0). You can link to the announcement here, and download a copy of the new standard document here.
This update has been in the works for nearly 5 years and the subject of seemingly endless discussion, debate, analysis, and hand-wringing. Two discussion drafts were released – the first in fall of 2013 and the second in late 2014. This final, approved document – sadly – bears little resemblance to either of them. More importantly, because the FSC system relies on a complex series of interconnected documents and guidelines, this new approved standard represents only a piece of an ongoing revision process for the Controlled Wood System that promises to continue for some time to come (click here to see lots and lots of detail). It is, nonetheless, a very important step forward and worthy of a closer look.
Last month we wrote about a troubling and quite public debate that has been brewing in the press and social media recently. It concerns challenges and concerns being raised by some Canadian timber companies (in particular, Resolute Forest Products) and involving major international ENGOs, a Quebec government minister, and the president of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). We are writing again because this issue is important to the whole FSC community – not just those who follow the Canadian press. Also to call attention to some additional independent commentary on the subject that we have seen recently, and to share some related ideas of our own.
If you missed our first post on this subject (FSC, Resolute, and Canada’s Boreal Forest), please take a few minutes to click back and read it. It is an interesting story and worth your time. It is also a story that is still evolving.
An interesting and rather disturbing drama has been unfolding recently, within the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) community in Canada. Long-standing anxieties concerning the viability and sustainability of FSC certification in the Canadian forest have come into public view in ways that are, at the very least, awkward.
We have been watching an embarrassing series of exchanges between and among the key players in forest industry, FSC International, FSC Canada, and even members of the Quebec provincial government. The story is far from complete, but deserves our attention.
Among those who are following the pending update of the FSC Chain of Custody standard (FSC-STD-40-004 v.3-0 D2), one item has risen to the top of everyone’s list. That item is called Transaction Verification.
Transaction Verification exists – officially & currently – in 2 forms:
1) as clause 1.7 in the latest draft of the standard
2) as described in a 20 page Discussion Paper released by FSC-IC last month.
It also exists in the extensive (and very expensive) 3-year effort by the FSC-IC staff to develop and promote an online transactional database called the Online Claims Platform.