MEDIA RELEASE September 10, 2015

Auditors for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) have undermined the credibility of the world-leading forest certification by endorsing clearfell logging in Western Australia’s Karri forests that threatens endangered species including the Western Ringtail Possum, the Baudin’s Cockatoo, the Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo, and rare mainland Quokka populations.

UK-based FSC auditor Soil Association Woodmark endorsed logging by Western Australia’s Forest Products Commission (FPC) despite known risks to threatened species, overlooking basic information such as government Recovery Plans, according to a report released today from the Western Australian Forest Alliance (WAFA), the Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation.

The report, Ticked off: How Karri forest logging threatens endangered wildlife and the credibility of the FSC forest standard, was prepared after Woodmark gave FSC ‘Controlled Wood’ accreditation to FPC, Western Australia’s state-owned logging agency. ‘Controlled Wood’ is FSC’s second tier endorsement, with standards substantially less rigorous than FSC’s world leading Forest Management, or ‘full certification’ standard.

“FSC’s reputation for rigorous environmental standards and community engagement has been undermined by this bungled process in the Karri forests,” said report author and WAFA convener Jess Beckerling.

“Controlled Wood accreditation is supposed to guarantee critical protections, including that old-growth forests and endangered wildlife are not being threatened by logging.

“The Forest Products Commission has achieved accreditation in spite of readily available evidence that its logging practices are having profound impacts on endangered wildlife. The auditor has somehow overlooked scientific literature and government Species Recovery Plans and made findings that betray a disturbing lack of understanding about logging practices and their impacts on Karri forest wildlife.
“FSC is now associated with clear-felling operations that are destroying vital habitat for endangered Western Ringtail Possums and nesting hollows for endangered Black Cockatoos.

“Based on the fundamental failures in Western Australia there are now serious questions about whether the second-tiered FSC ‘Controlled Wood’ accreditation scheme can ever be effective in protecting environmental values in Australia’s native forests.

Wilderness Society national forest manager Warrick Jordan said: “When customers look for the FSC logo on paper or furniture, they expect a quality product that isn’t made from demolishing the homes of endangered species such as the Western Ringtail Possum.

“If flawed, second-rate endorsements keep getting handed out consumers will lose faith in the FSC brand and vote with their wallets.

“FSC auditors need to pick up their game and FSC needs tighter rules so that controlled wood rigorously assesses threats to wildlife and engagement with stakeholders is improved. Forestry companies need to seriously consider whether the second rate controlled wood standard is worth the risk compared to high quality full FSC certification.

“The scientific literature and the government Species Recovery Plans show the Western Ringtail Possum, the Baudin’s Cockatoo and the Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo need old-growth trees in which to make their homes. They have lost much of their habitat and FPC plans to clearfell another 10,000 hectares that contain old-growth trees. Even FPC admitted it had to stop knocking over all the older trees to gain FSC accreditation, yet Soil Association Woodmark signed off this habitat destruction.”

Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner Jess Abrahams said: “The Australian Conservation Foundation has for some time raised concerns about FSC’s reliance on fly-in fly-out auditors, and this case provides an alarming illustration of the problem.

“That an auditor accredited by FSC has clearly failed to incorporate information from government recovery plans and published scientific literature is astounding and demands explanation.

“The quality of the FSC brand is at stake, with implications for the entire Australian forest industry.”

Download the Report Here

The report examines current logging practices and the impacts on high conservation values and makes a number of findings and recommendations.

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For further comment, information or copies of the report contact:

WAFA convenor Jess Beckerling on 0488 777 592

Wilderness Society National Forest Campaign Manager Warrick Jordan on 0451 633 197

ACF media adviser Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992

Endorsement of WA clearfell logging threatens endangered species and FSC’s credibility: report