FSC certifications suspended in Russia and terminated in Belarus

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) International Board of Directors has released a statement that they will suspend all trading certificates in Russia and block all controlled wood sourcing from the country.

This means that wood and forest products from Russia cannot be used in FSC products or be sold as FSC-certified anywhere in the world as long as the armed violence of Russia invading Ukraine continues. However, to continue to protect forests in Russia, FSC will allow forest management certificate holders in Russia the option of maintaining their FSC certification of forest management, but no permission to trade or sell FSC-certified timber.

Belarussian FSC certificates were also suspended initially, but FSC has released a new statement announcing that all FSC certificates in Belarus will have to be terminated. This is a result of the decision by Assurance Services International (ASI) to exclude the country from the scope of all certification bodies.

Following its investigation, ASI announced its inability to credibly assess conformance with certain FSC social requirements based on International Labour Organisation (ILO) core conventions due to unacceptable risks to the safety or livelihood of individuals involved in FSC certification that such assessments could pose.

FSC has further decided to no longer uphold a local presence in Belarus and operate a standard development group for the development of a national forest standard. The certification organisation explained that it is currently unable to bring the various interests to the table to develop and promote FSC. Since it works in a stakeholder-driven fashion bringing together the environmental, social and economic interests, it is a fundamental principle for FSC to function and ensure that all voices are heard.

The operations in Belarus will be reinstated once FSC has sufficient evidence that the fundamental values for FSC are in place and functioning again.

According to FSC, the termination of certificates will become effective 30 days after the publication of the revised risk assessment on 8 Mar 2022.