By far the most consistent theme explored in this space has been the persistent and frustrating insistence on the part of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to complicate and confuse the subject of supply chain traceability. Our principal tool for supply chain traceability is, of course, Chain of Custody (CoC) certification. And at its root, CoC is simple, or at least it ought to be.
The comment period for the latest round of public discussions by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) on their proposed update to the new Chain of Custody (CoC) stand ends soon. The 3rd draft was published on 15 June, and the official public consultation period ends on 31 August 2016.
We strongly recommend that everyone take part in this consultation. The details of the FSC Chain of Custody standard are important to over 30,000 participating companies around the world. Typically, only a few hundred firms will provide direct feedback in consultations like this. If your company has an interest in this process (if you read this blog, you probably do), then you should take the time to tell FSC what you think.
In a perfect world, the challenges of certified Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) would focus on large, consequential matters like the role of commercial forestry in climate change, or the rights of vulnerable, rural economies. Chain of Custody (CoC) standards – by contrast – seem rather dry, petty, and inconsequential.
But our world is not yet perfect. Chain of Custody certification ought to be simple, but we know it is not. Even minor procedural details – multiplied by more than 30,000 certified companies around the world – add significant effort and cost to the process of bringing sustainable wood products to the worlds markets. And some details are not minor.
Those of us to participate in this business have an important opportunity to improve this situation right now. Our biggest SFM program – the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – is nearing the end of an important update of its primary Chain of Custody (CoC) standard. Their 3rd discussion draft is available for review until the end of August, and FSC is actively soliciting comments from the community.
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.