If you are looking for EIA UK, it's overhere.

Stolen Wood, Certified: FSC allows certification to continue, despite illegalities

Despite finding timber giant awash in stolen wood, FSC allows certification to continue

WASHINGTON, DC – A scathing investigation report released today by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) details systematic illegal timber sourcing by one of Europe’s largest timber processors, the Austrian firm Holzindustrie Schweighofer. FSC’s 110-page report, produced by a panel of experts over nearly one year, states that Schweighofer “developed a culture” that incentivized illegal timber sourcing by putting cheap wood above legality in their sourcing of logs in Romania. FSC’s Board of Directors refused to accept the panel’s recommendation that Schweighofer lose its FSC status, instead putting the company on a three-month probation which allows products to continue to be sold under the FSC label.

The FSC’s comprehensive investigation responded to a complaint by the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) Germany, based largely on the findings published by EIA in the October 2015 report Stealing the Last Forests.

The FSC’s expert panel confirms the wealth of evidence of illegal timber sourcing levelled against Schweighofer by EIA, other NGOs, investigative journalists, and the Romanian Government. On page 73 of the report, the FSC panel describes “clear and convincing evidence” that among other things, Schweighofer:

  1. Purchased illegal timber;
  2. Has an inadequate due diligence system for assessing the legality of its timber purchases;
  3. Has “itself violated several laws and regulations” in its timber sourcing;
  4. Sourced timber from stolen forests;
  5. Continues to associate with “individuals and companies with criminal and corrupt backgrounds;
  6. Developed a bonus system that encourages illegal logging.

The FSC panel recommended that Schweighofer be disassociated from the FSC, and further that the company “make appropriate environmental and social compensation for the damages it has caused to the Romanian forest and its people as a whole.” Despite these findings, the FSC today decided to ignore the panel’s recommendations.

“It is now unfortunately clear that the FSC logo is used to launder illegal wood,” said Alexander von Bismarck, Executive Director of EIA. “It is all the more shocking that the FSC comes to this conclusion itself, and yet allows it to continue.”

In April, 2015, EIA released an undercover video showing Schweighofer’s main sourcing officials in Romania repeatedly accepting offers of illegal wood. EIA’s October 2015 report Stealing the Last Forests documented numerous cases in which Schweighofer had received illegally logged timber.

Schweighofer is selling its wood products to clients around the globe, including Japan, the United States and the European Union.

“Now that the FSC has come to the same conclusion as EIA that Schweighofer’s products are filled with illegal wood, customers in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere must immediately stop buying from this company if they want to avoid breaking various laws around the world prohibiting the trade in stolen wood,” continued von Bismarck.

A new investigation conducted by EIA in September 2016, shows that Schweighofer continues to buy and sell illegal wood. In a series of short videos, EIA documents illegalities linked to trucks that investigators witnessed delivering logs to Schweighofer’s Romanian sawmills.

“Companies seeking to comply with the EU Timber Regulation and the US Lacey Act have been looking to FSC certification for assistance,” said von Bismarck. “The FSC’s choice to certify illegal timber makes it clear this is currently not a good idea.”

###

Contact: Maggie Dewane, EIA Press Officer, +1 202 483 6621, mdewane@eia-global.org

View all Press Releases

Recent Blog Posts

South Korea Says "아니요" (No) to Illegal Timber
11/08/2018
South Korea has joined the ranks of countries prohibiting the import of illegal timber.
EIA Statement: CFC-11 Production in China
06/25/2018
As noted in the New York Times story, In a High-Stakes Environmental Whodunit, Many Clues Point to China, EIA sources on the ground uncovered criminal actors in China illegally producing and using banned gas, CFC-11 for the foam industry.

Recent Reports

Authorized Plunder
12/12/2018
A new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Authorized Plunder, documents how the sale of 180,000 rosewood logs in Guinea-Bissau, enabled by the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), is fueled by high-level corruption, encourages illegal logging, and threatens local communities.
New legal risks for Japanese timber sourcing from Eastern Europe
09/28/2018
Eastern Europe’s Carpathian Mountains may seem remote for most Japanese, but lumber stolen from these ancient forests permeates Japan’s housebuilding sector. New reports from Romania and Ukraine reveal the extent of illegal logging, corruption, and bribery practiced by some of Europe’s largest wood processors.

Recent Press Releases

Alert: The Peruvian Government backs down in the fight against illegal logging
12/18/2018
While the Agency for Supervision of Forest Resources and Wildlife (Osinfor) has continued to identify illegal harvest and trade of timber in Peru, providing key information that has compelled other agencies to recognize and act upon the seriousness of illegality in the Peruvian forestry sector, on Wednesday, December 12 the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (PCM) approved a Supreme Decree that undermines the independence of Osinfor by removing it from the PCM and relocating it within the Ministry of Environment (MINAM).
Alerta: El Gobierno Peruano retrocede en la lucha contra la Tala Ilegal
12/14/2018
Mientras el Organismo de Supervisión de los Recursos Forestales y de Fauna Silvestre (Osinfor) continúa identificando la extracción y comercio de madera ilegal en el Perú y difundiendo información clave que obliga a otras autoridades a reconocer la grave situación de ilegalidad en el sector forestal peruano y a tomar acciones, el Consejo de Ministros aprobó el miércoles un Decreto Supremo que corta la imprescindible independencia del Osinfor al retirarlo de la Presidencia del Consejo de Ministros (PCM) y reubicarlo bajo el Ministerio de Ambiente (MINAM).

Recent Videos

The 'S' Files
02/16/2017
EIA's series of videos exposing Holzindustrie Schweighofer's involvement in illegal logging in Romania,
The 'S' Files, Case #3: Depot Deception
12/21/2016
The latest in EIA's video series, The 'S' Files, Depot Deception shows that Holzindustrie Schweighofer, one of the largest timber companies in Europe, appears to be systematically...
Follow us @eiaenvironment on twitter for the latest updates!