Hong Kong Customs displays 82.5kg of rhino horns from South Africa and destined for Malaysia. Photo: ISD

FSC Announces Holzindustrie Schweighofer is Under Active Investigation for Trading Illegal Timber

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) posted a statement on their website today announcing it is carrying out an investigation into “serious allegations against Schweighofer of trading and processing illegal timber in Romania.”

The announcement comes after Schweighofer publicized a new chain of custody (CoC) certification as a sign that its problems were behind it.

Schweighofer’s new certification is in effect a step backwards from FSC’s strict 100 percent certification, to a weaker “mixed sources” category. The new “CoC Controlled Wood standard” allows Schweighofer to label any of its products with the FSC logo, even if it contains large amounts of uncertified wood. In its press release, the company claims, “FSC Controlled Wood means that Holzindustrie Schweighofer subjects all suppliers to a strict audit and assesses all timber origins meticulously.” But elsewhere, Schweighofer themselves point out that in fact only a small fraction of suppliers would actually be required to be audited. According to FSC’s Controlled Wood standard, out of Schweighofer’s over 1,000 suppliers; only about 25 would require an audit.

Quality Austria’s granting of this certification despite clear evidence of Schweighofer’s involvement in illegal logging and FSC’s ongoing investigation appears to call into question this certification body’s ability to fulfill its obligations to uphold FSC standards. It also contributes massively to the confusion of consumers, who cannot be certain that products with the FSC label are coming from legal, let alone sustainable forestry.

Maggie Dewane, [email protected], (202) 483-6621