VIENNA—The certification body “Quality Austria” has been barred from issuing Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificates worldwide, following a complaint by WWF Austria regarding its recent Chain of Custody certification of Austrian-based company Holzindustrie Schweighofer (Schweighofer). Quality Austria’s suspension by Accreditation Services International (ASI) came into effect on May 29 and is valid for up to six months.
WWF Austria filed a formal complaint with ASI in March 2016 requesting a review of Quality Austria’s January 1, 2016 issue of a new FSC Chain of Custody / Controlled Wood certificate for Schweighofer’s multiple operations in Romania and other countries. Quality Austria awarded the certificate despite glaring evidence from Romanian and international media, NGO, and government reports documenting Schweighofer’s sourcing of illegal timber in Romania.
A separate investigation into Schweighofer by FSC for violations of the organization’s Policy of Association remains open. In February 2016, FSC announced it is investigating Schweighofer for “serious allegations of trading and processing illegal timber in Romania.”
“ASI’s action sends a clear signal to Schweighofer’s customers and to the public that allegations leveled against Schweighofer are solid and deeply troubling,” said EIA Executive Director Alexander von Bismarck. “This action marks an important success for the Romanian people in their struggle to regain control of their forest sector from illegal loggers and those companies who profit from illegal logging.”
In April, the Romanian government confirmed that its year-long investigation into Schweighofer for purchasing illegal timber and for involvement in organized crime remains ongoing. Preliminary reports indicate that government investigators documented over 100,000 cubic meters of stolen logs in just one of Schweighofer’s mill.
For more on this story, read EIA’s post Papering Over Illegalities: EIA assessment of new Holzindustrie Schweighofer report.
Maggie Dewane, EIA Press Officer, [email protected], +1 202 483 6621