Foundation, which was set up by Sting and his wife, Trudi Styler, fell foul
of other environmental groups yesterday by declaring that a scheme to promote
ecologically sound timber was deceiving consumers.
The foundation claimed in a report that the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
had failed to police the system for certifying that timber bearing its logo had
been produced in a way that did not add to the destruction of rainforests or the
exploitation of local people. The FSC was set up in 1993 to reassure consumers,
and it has the support of groups including Friends of the Earth and the Worldwide
Fund for Nature.
But the foundation claimed that timber companies certified by the FSC were
implicated in human rights abuses, were logging in the rainforest habitats of
endangered wildlife such as the Sumatran tiger and that "uncertified" wood had
been labeled as environmentally friendly. The report also accused the FSC of marginalizing
local communities in its decision-making process.
In its response, the council said it would investigate any abuses of human
rights and asked the foundation for further details. It said the claim about the
Sumatran tigers referred to concerns about a particular company in Indonesia which
had already been dealt with by the local certification body.
But it added: "Concerns over tigers were not upheld as repeated audits have
found evidence that wildlife, including tigers, are actually moving into the certified
area as a result of improved forest management in the certified area."
The FSC said that when breaches of the certification system were found, action
was taken immediately. "Whilst we welcome the Rainforest Foundation report for
its extensive research we find that it cites many cases that have long been solved
and in some cases major rule changes in FSC have resulted.''
Beatrix Richards, forests policy officer of the Worldwide Fund for Nature,
said: "We have faith that this system is the best one available and that any faults
can be dealt with. We can't do away with the council because what would you replace
A spokesman for Greenpeace, which is not a member of the FSC's council, said
it still backed the body. "It's the only credible system that exists. The report
does identify some failings and if that helps to strengthen the FSC, it can only
be a good thing."
© 2002 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd