Rainforest Action Network (RAN) Responds to Pivotal Votes That Alter Forest Stewardship Council Standards

Members issue call for improvements to Remedy Framework to protect the FSC’s credibility

San Francisco––the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)––one of the world’s largest certification schemes for pulp and paper and timber products––has held its General Assembly meeting this past week in Bali, Indonesia. RAN staff participated in the meeting, issuing a media briefer in advance of the talks. RAN has issued the following statement in response to pivotal votes that have now taken place that alter the standard used by the FSC to certify responsible forest management.

Rainforest Action Network’s Forest Policy Director, Gemma Tillack, issued the following statement:

“With the passing of motion 37, the FSC has opened its doors to certifying lands that have been converted or deforested since 1994––including industrial scale logging operations of some of the world’s most notorious rainforest destroyers, Asia Pulp and Paper and APRIL. Together, these companies have cleared more than 2 million hectares of Indonesia’s rainforests for pulp plantations and incited hundreds of ongoing social conflicts with Indigenous Peoples and traditional communities*(citations below). Moving forward with efforts to end the dissociation of APP and APRIL is a massive risk to the reputation of the FSC system. 

“RAN attended the General Assembly to call on members of the FSC to strengthen the Remedy Framework that will be used by the FSC to remedy the harm caused by these companies, and others it certifies or associates with. RAN applauds the move by the FSC membership to pass Motion 45 to enhance and improve the Remedy Framework, before its implementation. 

“It is critical that the actions called for in Motion 45 are implemented in full and the voices of impacted communities are heard to ensure that the procedures are further developed to serve their needs and ensure that long-overdue justice and remedy is delivered. 

“While the FSC claims that moving the cut-off date will enable it to play a role in restoring previously converted forests and remedying social harm, FSC’s track record does not inspire confidence. Countless communities who have filed complaints against FSC certified members have still not received remedy. 

A delegation of affected communities from Indonesia attended the GA, including communities affected by APRIL and Korindo. The delegation delivered a collective a letter, calling on FSC members to strengthen the remedy framework because the shared hope of the communities is to resolve their land conflicts and protect their remaining forests. The letter was read by a representative of the FSC’s Permanent Indigenious People’s Committee during the vote on Motion 37. 

“So the question remains, can the FSC do what it has never done before and deliver remedy for Indigenous Peoples and communities affected by its members and FSC certified organizations? 

“And can it secure remedy at a scale commensurate with the scale of destruction caused by the biggest corporate groups in the forestry sector on Indonesia’s forests and communities? 

“FSC’s credibility can only be measured by its actions, not by its hopes or ambitions. The legitimacy of the FSC hangs in the balance in the coming eight months––the timeline set to implement improvements to the remedy framework. Once regarded as the world’s leading forestry certification scheme, the FSC can only remain so if it delivers remedy and proportionate restoration at scale from APP, APRIL, Korindo and other controversial companies prior to ending disassociation, granting membership or forest management certification. Failing to do so will cast the FSC as irrelevant in the eyes of the world market and those who care about the world’s forests and forest communities.”