Yesterday was the first voting day at the 2011 FSC General Assembly. We present some of the key decisions made by FSC members, asking for changes that are set to change the directions of FSC or strengthen its core activities
FSC General Assembly 2011
Yesterday was the first day of voting at the FSC General Assembly. Below we present some of the key decisions made by FSC members, asking for changes that are set to change the directions of FSC or strengthen its core activities.
Newsflash 2020:“FSC certified GMO products now on sale”
… this could be the headlines in a decade but unlikely in the next three to six years. A negative vote on a motion to explore the genetically modified organism (GMO) science and its application within FSC framework (Motion 15) indicated that the FSC community is not yet ready to take steps towards GMO usage.
Still, a significant share of the members supported the motion and various opinions emerged even among the environmental chamber. While the economic chamber was split equally over the issue, there was a very low level of support among the social chamber for the motion.
Due to strong economic incentives, pressures to explore GMO usage in the FSC system will very likely increase. No surprise if the topic re-emerges at the next General Assembly in three years time.
As the position by some environmental organisations is changing, opposition towards GMO appears to be weakening. There is no telling what the results will be in three years time. Should FSC maintain the precautionary approach or engage in this controversial topic? For the next three years or perhaps even longer, it will remain food for thought. For now, GMOs are out.
Small-scale operations: big efforts – small success
FSC members yesterday approved Motion 44 urging FSC to improve access to Chain of Custody (CoC) certification for small forest enterprises. FSC will need to get creative to find effective ways to engage and keep small players in the game. Everybody agrees, yet nobody seems to have a perfect answer to “how”?
During the past decade, we have seen a development of the Small and Low Intensity Managed Forests (SLIMF) procedures; yet, uptake of forest management certification among small-owners has not increased much. Group certification has been available for small enterprises since 1997 with little improvement in the level of access.
With Motion 44 approved, FSC now has double-the-challenge: making certification work for small players at both the forest and supply chain level. The existing model needs a transformation to make FSC work for small enterprises. We remain optimistic, however, this challenge requires innovative thinking and will require the whole FSC community to pull together to find a solution.
Walk the talk: field performance
An overwhelming majority of members agreed that FSC and Accreditation Services International (ASI) need to place more focus on the field performance of certificate holders. The motion asks ASI to pay special attention to the quality of certification bodies’ verification of field compliance. FSC’s Policy and Standards Unit has been asked to ensure that FSC requirements primarily focus on favouring good field performance. By passing Motion 34, FSC members are repeating a message given at previous General Assemblies.
FSC to step in line with timber regulation
FSC members voted in favour of FSC delivering a system that complies with existing and upcoming timber legislation, which aim to curb illegal logging. FSC has already embarked on this process, but the motion demonstrates members’ support and formally obliges FSC to ensure compliance with the EU Timber Regulation, US Lacey Act and in future and Australian timber laws.
FSC has already begun looking into how the Controlled Wood system can be fully aligned with the EU Timber Regulation, and the online traceability platform under development could further help FSC-certified companies fulfil legality requirements and marketplace demands.
Green light for carbon motions
Two motions where accepted by the membership on climate change. Motion 16 request the FSC Working Group for the Principles and Criteria review (FSCs “constitutional” document – see also CWU issue 27/6 2011) to recognise carbon as an environmental value and to address responsible stewardship of carbon storage and management.
The motion was backed by a vast majority of the membership after some debate. One concern is whether small forest owners will be expected to carry our expensive carbon inventories. This was rejected as not being the intention of the motion, but rather that it seeks to set up general criteria for the management of carbon stock.
Motion 17 asks FSC to explore the feasibility and wider consequences of including natural ecosystems with globally, regionally and/or nationally significant amounts of carbon stored in vegetation as High Conservation Value. This motion also passed the voting, though with less overwhelming support, but still a safe margin within the two-thirds majority needed by the voting rules. A concern raised by one member is whether high carbon, exotic monoculture would subsequently be considered as an HCV. However, this has been considered in the motion by the wording “…national ecosystems…”.