Illegal logging in the Russian Far East is of particular concern because the forests are home to the last 450 wild Siberian tigers. The Lumber Liquidators case was investigated jointly by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Homeland Security Investigations and prosecuted by the Department of Justice under the name “Operation Oakenshield.”

Groups urge Forest Stewardship Council to cut ties with Austrian timber giant

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter directed to the Board of Directors of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), EIA has joined other organizations, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), and Campact in urging the FSC to follow its expert panel recommendation to disassociate from Holzindustrie Schweighofer. In December 2016, an FSC expert panel found “clear and convincing evidence” of Schweighofer’s illegal activities and stated that the company had “developed a culture” that incentivized illegal timber sourcing. The panel’s investigation came in response to a complaint filed by WWF Germany.

The FSC’s Board of Directors ignored the experts’ recommendation and instead put the company on probation, allowing it to continue to carry the FSC label while preparing an action plan of proposed changes. This week, the FSC Board is meeting again to decide whether to continue the company’s probation.

On February 7, organizations from Romania, Austria, and Germany handed over 250,000 petitions signed by European citizens at the FSC’s headquarters in Bonn, Germany asking the FSC to cut ties with the Austrian logging giant.

EIA has documented Schweighofer’s illegal sourcing in Romania’s forests for years. Recent investigations, conducted in September 2016 and released in a series of videos, show that Schweighofer continues to source illegally cut timber.

“Until the company is able to trace all its Romanian log purchases from forest stand to their mills – the first and most basic condition set by the FSC panel – and ensure legal sourcing, it should not be permitted to carry the FSC logo,” said Alexander von Bismarck, Executive Director at EIA.

“By continuing to allow illegal wood to be sold under the FSC label, the FSC is eroding its credibility and losing consumers’ trust in it,” continued von Bismarck. “The FSC Board must immediately disassociate from Holzindustrie Schweighofer until the company can prove that its supply chains are clean.”

Contact:

Maggie Dewane, EIA Press Officer, +1 202-483-6621, [email protected]