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FSC will change processes following Resolute dispute


December 10, 2014
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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Following legal action by Resolute Forest Products against Rainforest Alliance to prevent an audit report of Resolute’s activities from being published, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has decided to amend its processes so that…

Following legal action by Resolute Forest Products against Rainforest Alliance to prevent an audit report of Resolute’s activities from being published, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has decided to amend its processes so that similar actions cannot be repeated by FSC certificate holders in the future.

In April 2014, Resolute’s FSC forest management certificate for the Caribou Forest in Canada was audited by the Rainforest Alliance, as part of an annual assessment to ascertain if the management of the forests continued to adhere to FSC’s standards. At the same time, Rainforest Alliance undertook an assessment of the certificate of the Black Spruce Dog River-Matawin Forest, which had been suspended in December 2013 due to several non-conformities.

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According to FSC’s principles, all audit reports must be made public as verification. However, Resolute gained a legal injunction against any communication of the final audit report for the Caribou Forest. This action prevented the publication of the audit report and, FSC states, was a serious deviation from FSC’s dispute resolution process. 

In a statement released in late November, FSC strongly objects to the effect that this legal injunction has on its system, “as it has not allowed for a transparent certification decision to be made based on audit results.”

The organization also said it takes no side, at the present time, in the dispute between Resolute and Rainforest Alliance. However, FSC “deeply disapproves of Resolute opting for legal action rather than following the dispute resolution process provided by FSC.”