FSC in Russia: Certifying the destruction of Intact Forest Landscapes

                                                      

A new Greenpeace report launched today reveals that the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is failing to protect Russia’s remaining wild intact forest landscapes (IFLs). Greenpeace analysed 11 years of satellite data (2002 – 2013) for the area between the Northern Dvina and Pinega Rivers in the Archangelsk region of northwest Russia, which has a high concentration of former or current FSC-certified forestry operations. Our study shows how the high conservation value Dvinsky Forest intact forest landscape (IFL) is being destroyed, despite much of the area being formerly or currently FSC certified.
Read the blog here – press release below.
 
The case study area: Dvinsky Forest (IFL) is located at the centre of the area between the Northern Dvina and Pinega Rivers, and has an area of just under one million hectares. Dvinsky Forest (IFL) is one of the largest non-fragmented natural forests in Europe and is well known for the same high conservation values that the FSC system pledges to preserve.
Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs): The world’s remaining large intact forest landscapes are irreplaceable and play a crucial role in mitigating climate change, conserving biodiversity, supporting the livelihoods of forest dependent peoples and providing ecosystem services such as carbon storage, water resources and soil stability.
 
Key findings of the study:
– FSC is certifying logging practices that are destroying irreplaceable forests, including areas slated for legal protection, and has become a serious threat to Russia’s taiga IFLs.
– FSC is failing to distinguish good forest management practices from the typical model of unsustainable forest exploitation widely employed in Russia’s taiga forests
– The destruction of intact forest landscapes is widespread throughout Russia’s taiga.
For immediate release
FSC is certifying the Destruction of Russia’s Intact Forest Landscapes
Moscow, 4th August 2014 – The Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) failure to protect Russia’s remaining wild intact forest landscapes (IFLs), including areas slated for legal protection, while widely certifying companies using destructive forest practices has been revealed today.
Tatiana Khakimulina, Forest campaigner for Greenpeace Russia said:
“We hoped that FSC would reform the Russian forest industry’s ‘wood mining’ practices, whereby trees are extracted from forests in much the same way as minerals are mined. Instead of endorsing sustainable forest management and protecting Russia’s irreplaceable IFLs, FSC is providing green cover for their destruction, including Dvinsky Forest – one of the largest unfragmented natural forests in Europe”.
The FSC’s failures and complicity with forest destruction were revealed in the latest in a series of six Greenpeace International case studies highlighting both good and bad examples of FSC certified forest management.This case study shows how the Dvinsky Forest intact forest landscape (IFL) in Arkhangelsk region, northwest Russia, is being destroyed, despite much of the area being formerly or currently FSC certified. With an area of just under one million hectares,Dvinsky Forest is well known for the same high conservation values that the FSC system pledges to preserve.3
“FSC must stop driving the destruction of the Dvinsky Forest (IFL), especially while a formal protection process is underway,” continued Khakimulina.
In June, the Ministry of Natural Resources of Arkhangelsk Region established a special working group to help implement Dvinsky Forest (IFL) protection and to address ‘wood mining’ issues.
Although the study focuses on the scandal of ‘wood mining’ in frontier areas of northwest Russia with high concentrations of FSC certificates, this problem is widespread throughout Russia’s taiga. Russia is second only to Canada in having the largest area of FSC certified forest in the world – almost 38.5 million hectares. FSC has clearly been more focused on increasing its certified area in Russia than building trust in its label to provide consumers with the assurances of responsible forest management and forest protection that they expect.
The FSC has become a serious threat to Russia’s last remaining taiga IFLs. The world’s last large intact forest landscapes play a crucial role in mitigating climate change, conserving biodiversity, supporting the livelihoods of forest dependent peoples and providing ecosystem services. It is time for FSC to set clear thresholds for IFL protection.
Dr Christoph Thies, Senior Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace International said:
“If FSC cannot even comply with its own standards and give clear guidance on how to protect irreplaceable forests like IFLs, then its logo will become greenwash, indistinguishable from bogus certification schemes such as PEFC. FSC must act to turn this situation around immediately if it has any hopes of salvaging its credibility”.
Greenpeace urges FSC to take action to ensure the protection of IFLs and prevent forestry disasters such as the one that has occurred in Russia’s taiga during its triennial General Assembly, which takes place this September in Seville, Spain.
 
Notes to Editor
1 Forest plan of Arkhangelsk Region. Approved by the decree of the Governor of Arkhangelsk region on 20 of December 2011 # 175:http://dvinaland.ru/files/laws/175u.zip
The Russia FSC case study, along with previous case studies can be viewed here:
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/Campaign-reports/Forests-Reports/FSC-Case-Studies/
3 Dvinsky Forest is considered HCV2 by the FSC, and therefore its intactness must be maintained or enhanced under Principle 9.
 
Contacts for more information
Dr Christoph Thies, Senior Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace International. Tel: +49 1718831107
Tatiana Khakimulina, Forest campaigner, Greenpeace Russia. Tel: 
+7 (495) 988 74 60
Martin Baker, Communications Manager, Greenpeace International (based Jakarta [CET +5hrs]. Tel: +62 8131 582 9513
 
Images available:
 

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