Ukraine has significant forest areas with high environmental, social and economic value. But for years, its forestry sector has battled with critical issues, including corruption, that directly impact the country’s forests.
Together with its various stakeholders, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) addressed the root of the problems that pose a threat to Ukrainian forests, and began implementing remedial projects with the goal of creating a long-term positive change in the country’s forestry sector.
Launching the Ukrainian Forest Stewardship Standard
FSC launched a new, robust national forest stewardship standard in Ukraine. The standard is the result of a transparent multi-stakeholder approach with mandatory indicators that are interpreted and adapted to the specific national circumstances in Ukraine.
The standard includes an indicator requiring the systematic assessment of corruption risks related to all activities by certificate holders. This provision builds on the anticorruption legislation in Ukraine.
Pilot testing new measures to avoid potentially problematic certificates
FSC and FSC-accredited certification bodies have begun field testing new initiatives related to integrity risk assessments. The new initiatives aim to prevent applicants that intend to misuse their certificate from entering into the FSC system, and to identify certificate holders who could potentially defraud the system.
Combating illegal amber mining with Geographic Information System
In an effort to stop the infringement of applicable laws in amber mining in Ukraine, FSC conducted a monitoring of all forest management units (FMUs) affected by illegal mining using a Geographic Information System.
The State Agency of Forest Resources of Ukraine, forest managers and certification bodies are now provided with analytical reports that show the intensity, dynamics and size of illegal amber mining in each FMU.
Precautionary approach towards conflicting legislation and differing interpretations of laws and regulations
Some of the Ukrainian issues are related to the different positions taken by Ukrainian government authorities with respect to regulations restricting sanitary fellings during a so-called annual “period of silence”. FSC accredited certification bodies have to date followed the official interpretation by the State Agency of Forest Resources of Ukraine, which considers that such a period needs to be confirmed at the local level to take effect. Other relevant government authorities, however, have adopted a stricter interpretation and consider sanitary fellings per se as prohibited during this period.
To address this issue on a broader scale, FSC will release an advice note this week, which requires certification bodies to take a precautionary approach and follow the more or most restrictive interpretation by public authorities, and to consider the more or most restrictive official requirements as constituting the relevant legal basis in a country.
Later in the month, a normative interpretation to provide specific clarification on the Ukraine situation and how to proceed, for certification bodies will follow.
Activating the charcoal supply chain integrity project
Following an FSC and ASI investigation into the charcoal supply chain in Ukraine in 2018, FSC terminated 63 certificates in the country and suspended many others due to violations of certification requirements or errors in the supply chain.
Engaging with key stakeholders
In September 2020, FSC Ukraine organized a multi-stakeholder roundtable discussion to set the priorities and tools for overcoming crises in Ukraine’s forestry sector. The roundtable allowed for multi-lateral dialogue and created a conceptual vision of ways to prevent and overcome this crisis in the country’s forest sector.
FSC works with stakeholders from various parts of the society (government, NGOs, social groups, local communities, and businesses) to discuss and shape the future of sustainable forest management in Ukraine.
Source: Forest Stewardship Council