Rainforest Rescue undermines efforts in favor of FSC-certified industrial logging in primary forests

Mar 4, 2010

Open letter by BUND, Nabu, Oro Verde & WWF

The local authority in Nuremberg, southern Germany, had planned to save money by having 3,500 park benches made from tropical hardwood from the Republic of Congo. They were looking to purchase timber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) from CIB, a subsidiary of the Swiss company TT-Timber which has been involved in industrial logging in rainforests in the Republic of Congo, with disastrous consequences for indigenous pygmy communities, biodiversity and the climate.

After several months of campaigning by Rainforest Rescue, and protest emails sent by 20,000 people, and a joing demonstration with the Society for Threatened Peoples and Verein Lebensraum, the local authority dropped its position. They decided not to use tropical hardwood but instead to purchase European timber.

Four large environmental NGOs, BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany), Nabu (German member of BirdLife International), ORO VERDE Die Tropenwaldstiftung (tropical forest foundation) und WWF have always backed the Nuremberg's tropical hardwood plans. They support FSC-certified industrial logging of rainforests. With their and the FSC's blessing, industrial loggers are able to enter the last virgin rainforests with bulldozers and chainsaws.

Below an Open Letter by these organizations to the Mayor of Nuremberg.

Letter by BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany)
NABU (German member of BirdLife International)
ORO VERDE Die Tropenwaldstiftung (tropical forest foundation)
WWF

To the Mayor of Nuremberg
23rd February 2010

Open Letter:
Procurement of tropical hardwood from the Republic of Congo

Dear Mayor,

This letter refers to yesterday’s demonstration by the organisations Rettet den Regenwald e.V. (Rainforest Rescue), Verein Lebensraum Regenwald (Society for Rainforest Habitat) and Gesellschaft fuer bedrohte Voelker (Society for Threatened Peoples) in Nuremberg. Rainforest Rescue opposes the planned procurement of tropical hardwood from the Republic of Congo which has been certified under the criteria of the Forest Stewartship Concil (FSC). Our view is that discrimination against FSC-certified wood by Rainforest Rescue is not factually justified. This action undermines our efforts to make socially and environmentally sustainable forest management in the tropics a reality. The organisations which have signed this Open letter consider forest certification according to the criteria of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to be the most important instrument to verify environmentally and socially sustainable use of forests. This also applies to forests in the Congo region. The FSC is currently the only credible certification scheme. It is the only label which allows consumers to make a positive choice for the protection of forests. Given that no EU legislation exists so far which prevents wood imports from illegal sources, the voluntary FSC system offers a good alternative. We regard demands to reject in general all use of those forests or to call for a relevant moratorium as unrealistic. Most of the forests are classed as production forests in the forest plans drawn up by Congo Basin states (except for the Democratic Republic of Congo) and concessions for them have been awarded to commercial forestry companies. Protected areas are an important measure for the conservation of these forests, however such areas cannot be expanded indefinitely. We therefore consider a responsible, certified use of forests to be a complimentary strategy for the conservation of forests. In recent years, progressive companies have allowed for a change in the Congo-Basin towards responsible management of forests. The number of companies which have been certified by the FSC or are on the path towards certification is growing. WWF and the other signatories of the Open Letter welcome this development. The FSC-certified forest area in the Congo Basin was around five million hectares in mid-2009. We regard this development as a historic window, given that it allows companies to invest-long term in the sustainable management of natural resources in countries with enormous investment risks. This makes standards for good forest management a reality across large areas. If a city or community in Germany makes a well-considered decision to use tropical hardwood for public buildings, the signatories to his letter would not be against the use of tropical wood if this comes from FSC-certified forest management.
Please contact the organisations which have signed this letter if you have any further questions.

Yours sincerely, …