FSC Allowing Groups Engaged in Deforestation to Continue Profiting from its Eco-friendly Forestry Label

Sydney Jones

Press Secretary

[email protected]

Carole Mitchell

Sr. Director Communications

[email protected]

Mighty Earth today condemned the Forest Stewardship Council, a global certification body for responsible forest management, for its failure to police its standards by allowing companies it knows to have engaged in deforestation and human rights abuses to profit from its eco-friendly forestry label.

After recently completing a two-year investigation process prompted by a complaint filed by Mighty Earth on May 11, 2017, the FSC Board has once again delayed its announcement of a decision on the cases against the Korindo Group, a notorious Indonesian-Korean palm oil and timber conglomerate involved in massive-scale deforestation in Papua and North Maluku, Indonesia.

The complaint highlights how Korindo has violated the FSC’s ‘Policy for Association’ by engaging in three of the prohibited activities on its palm oil plantations: carrying out large scale deforestation (more than 10,000 hectares in the previous five years), destroying critical wildlife habitat (high conservation values), and violating traditional and human rights.

“We provided extensive photographic, video, and satellite evidence of 30,000 hectares of deforestation over just two years that was carried out in violation of FSC’s policies. It’s shameful that the FSC continues to allow Korindo to profit from its eco-friendly forestry label,” said Deborah Lapidus, Campaign Director at Mighty Earth. “This is pure greenwashing. FSC is acting like a PR agency for one of the world’s worst forest destroyers. If FSC doesn’t make its determination public soon, it will cease to be a credible certification body.”

Mighty Earth first exposed Korindo’s rainforest destruction in its September 2016 report, ‘Burning Paradise.’ Despite its known scandals, Korindo has been selling timber, plywood, pulpwood, biomass, and newsprint – carrying the FSC’s prestigious label for responsibly produced wood products – to customers like Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and APRIL (Indonesia), Oji Corporation and Marubeni (Japan), and News Corps Australia. The Japanese company Sumitomo has been buying Korindo’s plywood for use in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which has set a “Sustainable Sourcing Code for Timber” that specifies FSC certification as an acceptable standard.

In recent months, Korindo has resorted to hiring lawyers to threaten organizations that have continued to investigate and expose its deforestation activities. In September 2018, Korindo’s Singapore-based law firm served notice on Mighty Earth and several other NGOs around the world, citing claims made by the organizations in reports, letters, and the FSC complaint against Korindo.

“By attempting to intimidate and silence its critics, Korindo is trying to bury the truth,” said Lapidus. “Korindo’s customers, financiers, affected stakeholders, and the public deserve to have access to the FSC’s independent findings.”

Mighty Earth is calling on the FSC to immediately expel Korindo and pursue new investigations into the many other FSC-certified groups engaged in deforestation and human rights abuses. To that end, Mighty Earth today filed a new complaint against the KTS Group for its continued violation of the FSC Policy for Association. The complaint documents evidence that KTS’s oil palm business, BLD Plantation, has cleared more than 10,000 hectares of carbon-rich peat forests in Sarawak (Malaysia) in the last five years and violated the rights of local indigenous people. KTS pulpwood customers include the Indonesian paper giants, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and APRIL, which both have commitments to No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation policies.

“The world lost about 30 million acres of forest last year – an area roughly the size of the state of New York,” Lapidus said. “With this destruction continuing around the world, organizations with the power to do something, like the FSC, must take swift decisive action to protect forests. Now is not the time for the FSC to let these scandals keep piling up.”

U.S. and European Carmakers Drive the Transition to Sustainable Steel, While Asian Automakers Lag Behind
A post-Chevron strategy for protecting the environment
Better protecting people and forests in the race to electrify