28 • 06 • 2010

LVM Supports Termination of FSC Certificate in Latvian State Forests

Having looked into all “pros and cons” AS “Latvijas valsts meži” decided to support the termination of the FFSC certificate in Latvian state forests unless the transparency of certification procedures and quality of the auditing process is radically improved. Currently, the FSC Audit Report is made public and most of reasons for the above decision are clearly outlined there.

The decision is based on a scrupulous quality assessment of the last two FSC audits, impact assessment of certification process on critical environmental, social and economic aspects as well as on the former experience exchange with other state forest management undertakings represented in EUSTAFOR - European State Forest Association.

Over the last year, the direct costs of certification process for the company have grown while the qualification levels of the auditors from abroad have decreased significantly not only as regards the actual audit procedure, including field visits, documenting and recording thereof, preparation of findings and conclusions, but also as regards the auditors’ qualifications related to silviculture and forest management. Auditors have demonstrated inequitable attitude to different proposals on the part of stakeholders and have not assessed them according to substance.   LVM has repeatedly pointed to the fact that one and the same observations in the field are often interpreted differently, proclaiming their conformity to all criteria in one case, while establishing a non-conformity in another case. The extensively applied practice of the auditors of making generalised state-level conclusions on the basis of a scraped tree or a similar “irregularity” and further formulating infeasible requirements for the company on the basis of such conclusions the implementation of which would cause serious economic impacts, is totally inacceptable.

LVM has repeatedly reported this issue, both in writing and verbally, to the auditors who have acknowledged the mistakes, yet the audit quality has not improved.This has resulted in increase of the human and money resources required in connection with the audits.

The inconsistency and incompetence of the experts involved in the audit process as regards the issues of Latvia’s forest management has led to a situation where the experts’ recommendations impede the implementation of the plan for environmental impact mitigation developed by the company and reduction of fossil fuel consumption in forest management operations and such recommendations also hamper the supply of sufficient quantities of firewood to Latvia’s rural population.

The discussions with forest management companies of other European countries indicate that the most part of states with serious forestry traditions (e.g. Austria, Germany, France, Finland etc.) use PEFC certification system. PEFC certification, according to forestry experts of those countries, is much more suitable for the forestry in Europe characterized by long-standing sustainable forest management traditions. Separate countries, at the same time, have decided to certify their forest management according to criteria of  both the above systems.

Right now it is clear that we are terminating the FSC certified wood sales and within 30 days. We are fully aware of inconvenience this situation may cause to our customers therefore we have started an active communication both, with clients and a number of stakeholder organizations in our sector, uniting the service providers and timber buyers. LVM will take all measures possible to mitigate any adverse impacts our partners may suffer due to the termination of the present certification.

LVM will continue active operations within the FSC process, carrying on work on both the Latvian FSC standard and on development of more accurate certification procedures. If the partners of LVM - wood processors and service providers - are interested in the certification of the state forests according to the FSC standard again, we would encourage them to get actively involved in the development of neutral, transparent and reasonable certification procedures and formulation of balanced, unequivocal requirements conformable to the situation of Latvia within this system.

For further information, please, get in touch with:

Tomass Kotovičs,
AS“Latvijas valsts meži”
Head, Communication Division
+ 371 67805432
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