(Updated: On 17 November 2017 ASI announced the reversal of the suspension decision of NEPCon’s FSC accreditation in Russia. This is followed by the SBP announcement on 20 November 2017 that the SBP suspension, as a consequence of the FSC suspension, is deleted from the records. Read more here.
FSC’s accreditation organisation ASI has suspended our FSC certification for Forest Management and Chain of Custody in Russia. We disagree with ASI’s decision to suspend us and filed an appeal within 24 hours of being notified of the decision. The appeal was accepted for a review process by ASI yesterday.
What does this mean?
We can continue our normal operations all over the world. We can also continue to conduct annual audits and re-assessments of all organisations that have already been certified, as usual. We can continue to offer PEFC, SBP, SAN and LegalSource certification to existing and new clients.
However, we may not enter into new contracts or perform initial assessments for FSC certification in Russia while suspended. We are in close contact with our clients in Russia who may be affected by this to support them through this process.
ASI has set three conditions for us to lift the suspension in Russia. We are working on these and have already begun to respond.
Here is what happened
In September 2016, ASI conducted what is called a compliance audit of one of our Chain of Custody-certified organisations in Siberia, Russia. This is part of ASI’s normal efforts to monitor the work of Certification Bodies like us.
During the audit, the Auditor from ASI asked the Certified Organisation for copies of emails between our staff and the organisation. The emails showed that:
- our Lead Auditor had sent a sample of FSC Chain of Custody procedures to the organisation.
- during the desk review portion of our audit, our Lead Auditor entered comments into the procedures, identifying gaps and providing an example of text for missing sections.
Later, the Manager of the Lead Auditor told the ASI Auditor that it is normal practice to provide samples of procedures and do a desk review of procedures prior to the first assessment. ASI has reported to us that they consider this activity as “consultancy” and a violation of FSC impartiality requirements. On this basis ASI decided to suspend our FSC accreditation in Russia from 1 December 2016. We disagree with this characterisation. We have filed an official appeal to ASI regarding their suspension decision.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your NEPCon contact person or our local NEPCon offices.
You can see a timeline of the event here. We will update our website with any further important developments.
Note: This announcement has been approved by ASI.
For more information on our FSC suspension in Russia, and our progress in resolving the matter please see this FAQ page which we are updating periodically.