Washington, D.C. — In a recent field investigation in Romania, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) found evidence of illegal logging in Romania’s second-largest national park linked to the Austrian timber giant Holzindustrie Schweighofer.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) disassociated itself from Schweighofer in early 2017 due to “clear and convincing evidence” that the company had sourced illegal wood in Romania. The FSC’s Expert Panel recommended that Schweighofer not be allowed back into the FSC until they could trace all their timber supplies from the forest stand to the company’s mill gates.
Germany’s largest weekly, Der Spiegel, published EIA’s findings on Saturday (“Einfach unverbesserlich”, Der Spiegel 49/2017, P. 69).
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is meeting this week in Bonn, Germany, to decide whether to start Schweighofer on the path to re-association. Romanian groups have circulated the news widely on social media, calling on the FSC to not let the company back until it makes real changes.
In response, Schweighofer stated that in August they had detected and suspended two suppliers who had delivered wood from a national park. However, the company made this announcement only after the publication of EIA’s report. The fact that the company only divulged this information after public pressure illustrates the lack of transparency that has plagued the company for many years.
Schweighofer claimed this wood, which entered into production in its Romanian sawmills, was legal because the supplier had valid paperwork. However, EIA’s 2015 report, [Romanian media] (https://eia-global.org/blog-posts/schweighofer-timber), and the Romanian government have documented how Schweighofer suppliers have systematically used fake paperwork to cover illegal deliveries.
Alexander von Bismarck, Executive Director of EIA, said, “The company took steps in the right direction, but still lacks the most basic ability to trace its wood back to the forest origins. Schweighofer needs to immediately track all its wood back to the specific concessions, for all their products.”
Despite over two years of international public scrutiny, significant gaps remain in Schweighofer’s international timber sourcing procedures. The company buys over a third of their Romanian wood from third-party log yards, the vast majority of which lack systems for keeping track of the logs’ origins. EIA’s new report highlights how Schweighofer remains exposed to both illegal and unsustainable logging in Europe’s most biodiverse forests.
The FSC’s Board of Directors will soon decide whether Schweighofer to allow the company to begin a path to re-association. This process cannot be started until Schweighofer can meet the FSC’s most basic requirement – to trace its wood back to the forest.