Open Letter to the FSC members
The undersigned wish to urge members of the Forest Stewardship
Council (FSC) to urgently resolve the serious problem of FSC
certification of monoculture tree plantations, at the FSC general
assembly to be held in Cape Town, South Africa.
One of the topics for discussion at the general assembly is a Review
of FSC Principles and Criteria, and there is therefore an opportunity
for changing those principles in such a way as to exclude the
certification of monoculture tree plantations by FSC.
FSC members –particularly from the environmental and social chambers-
must be made aware that certification of that type of plantation is
not only eroding the FSC's credibility but –more importantly- that it
is undermining local people's struggles against plantations.
Those peoples are struggling to protect the same things that FSC
members from environmental and social organizations agreed needed to
be protected when they joined the FSC: indigenous, traditional and
peasant communities' rights and livelihoods; forests, grasslands and
wetlands; water, soils and biodiversity.
All large scale tree plantations impact heavily on most –and usually
all- of the above. There is now more than sufficient documented
evidence of those impacts in a large number of countries, ranging
from South Africa and Swaziland to Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador,
Uruguay, Spain, Ireland and others.
The obvious conclusion must be that large scale tree monocultures are
In spite of that, time and time again FSC-accredited certifiers have
awarded the FSC seal to them. Little has mattered that those
plantations were being opposed by local communities and that the FSC
label would result in further strengthening already very powerful
companies whose activities are destroying Nature and peoples'
Four years after having launched the FSC Plantations Review, nothing
has changed. In spite of abundant documentation demonstrating the
negative social and environmental impacts of plantations, there are
currently at least 8.5 million hectares of plantations already
certified, as well as an unknown area within the 37.7 million
hectares grouped under the category "semi-natural & mixed plantation
and natural forest", which hides a large number of plantations.
The time has now arrived for FSC members –particularly from the
social and environmental chambers- to take sides: to continue to
allow business as usual, or to fight for change; to protect the
interests of large pulp and timber corporations or the rights of
local peoples and Nature; to carry on accepting that plantations are
a "type of forest" or to agree that they have nothing in common with
them; to greenwash a most harmful land-use, or to oppose social and
We therefore call on those FSC members who share with us the desire
to protect local peoples and Nature from the damage caused by the
expansion of tree plantations to raise their voices at the upcoming
general assembly and to help bring about the change that is needed.
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