Conservation & Environmental Matters

------ Forwarded Message
From: Phillip Owen <owen@soft.co.za>
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 2005 22:33:52 +0200
To: <sawac@geasphere.co.za>
Subject: Open letter asking moratorium on certification to FSC

GEASPHERE
www.geasphere.co.za

Apologies for X postings.

October 3, 2005

Open letter asking moratorium on certification to FSC

We, the undersigned environmental and social justice organisations, call
on the FSC to immediately institute a moratorium on the certification
and re-certification of industrial timber plantations, until the
findings and recommendations of the present “Plantations Review” have
been incorporated into the FSC certification system and are being
properly implemented.

Industrial timber plantations established as large scale chemical and
mechanical intensively managed monocultures, have a wide range of
negative environmental and social impacts that have not yet been
adequately assessed and comprehensively quantified, and that cannot
therefore be meaningfully mitigated against.

The problems caused by industrial timber plantations are often more
acute in the south, where trees grow fast and high yielding alien
plantations have rotation cycles as short as seven years. These short
rotations result in abnormally high depletion of soil nutrients, leading
to long term soil impoverishment, together with accelerated top-soil
losses.

In South Africa, more than 1 million hectares of industrial timber
plantations have been certified by the FSC and timber companies use the
FSC label to promote their products as “environmentally friendly”. Yet
these plantations have been responsible for major impacts on the scarce
local water resource, lowering the groundwater table and drying out
countless wetlands, fountains and streams - which severely limit land
use options and thereby jeopardise rural people's livelihoods. All
industrial timber plantations in South Africa have been established in
areas with the highest rainfall and deepest soils, replacing valuable
grasslands, and disrupting or displacing the traditional communities
that occupied those areas.

Such problems are not confined to the south. In Ireland, the FSC has
certified extensive plantations comprising 90% exotic species, mainly
Sitka Spruce from North America - with apparent disregard for ecological
impacts and nature conservation principles.

The negative impacts associated with timber plantations (and FSC
certification thereof) have come increasingly under the spotlight during
the past decade. As early as 2001 the FSC position on plantations was
listed as an issue which needed clarification. In May, 2002 Tim Synott
produced an FSC Plantation Policy Draft, which acknowledged that
"Disputes have arisen around plantation certification, and some of the
disagreements and confusion has been caused by different interpretations
of the FSC Principles and Criteria and other policies." At the FSC
general assembly in November, 2002, FSC members passed a motion which
stated that "The current version of the FSC Plantation Policy Draft (30
May 2002) is not clear enough and needs improvement." The motion
continued to state that FSC should produce a revised plantation policy
"after a broad consultation with the membership" to give "concrete
guidance on the interpretation of P10 [principle 10]". This was to have
taken place within 18 months, i.e. by May 2004. In September 2004 the
FSC launched the present plantations review in Bonn.

Please provide full details of the area of Industrial plantations that
has been certified since November 2002 when the organisation’s
membership passed a motion which clearly stated that the FSC policy on
plantations needed improvement.

There is growing and justified opposition to the spread of industrial
timber plantations world-wide, and we cannot endorse continued FSC
certification of industrial timber plantations using the current flawed
principles and criteria. Therefore, the FSC board of directors must
suspend certification of industrial timber plantations until the review
process has been finalised and the broadly approved findings and
recommendations incorporated. It is essential that the social and
environmental concerns of the non-industry stakeholders are fully
addressed in this process. Continuing to certify industrial timber
plantations while the Review is in progress undermines the legitimacy of
the review and the reputation of the FSC.

Signed:

Leonie van der Maesen
Native Forest Network,
FoE, Australia

Lydia Bartz
Urgewald, Germany

Peter Gerhardt
Robin Wood, Germany

Chris Lang
WRM Plantations Campaign, Germany

Simone Lovera
Friends of the Earth International, The Netherlands

Philip Owen
Geasphere, South Africa

Godfrey Silaule,
Geasphere, South Africa

Wally Menne
Timberwatch Coalition, South Africa

Maria.Rydlund
Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Sweden

Ricardo Carrere
World Rainforest Movement, Uruguay

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