Forest Stewardship Council cuts ties with Austrian timber giant over illegal wood
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) dissociated from the Austrian timber trader Holzindustrie Schweighofer ( one of largest in Europe) because of its involvement in illegal logging in Romania. FSC’s investigation was prompted by a WWF complaint following an investigation by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). The company is involved in illegal timber trade is contradictory to FSC’s objectives (e.g. to exclude illegal logging and trade).
A new investigation conducted by EIA in September 2016 shows that Schweighofer continues to buy and sell illegal wood. In a series of short videos, EIA documents illegalities linked to trucks that investigators witnessed delivering logs to Schweighofer’s Romanian sawmills.
“For several years, WWF and other NGOs have raised alarm bells about HS’s links to illegal logging in Romania. The allegations are so serious that the decision announced by FSC is the only correct consequence,” said Johannes Zahnen, of WWF. “It is our view that despite being given the window of opportunity to take responsibility and take concrete steps to change its practices, Schweighofer failed to properly acknowledge responsibility for irregularities and illegalities in its supply chain and convene a formal stakeholder engagement, both of which were part of FSC’s pre-conditions.”
“Europe’s last great forest is under threat due to illegal logging, and Schweighofer has been the main culprit,” said Alexander von Bismarck, of the Environmental Investigation Agency. “With this decision, FSC is taking concrete action to avoid certifying trade in stolen wood.”
The Romanian government has taken groundbreaking action towards increasing forest sector transparency and law enforcement, by creating a new website which allows public tracking of timber shipments and logging activities, by raising penalties for illegalities and by restructuring the forest law enforcement department.
“Romania has taken amazing steps over the last two years to help expose what’s happening in the forest, giving hope for a sustainable future,” said von Bismarck. “Now it’s absolutely critical for Romania to build on that progress.”