ECOLOGISTS AND TIMBER INDUSTRY DISCUSSED SOCIAL ASPECTS OF FSC CERTIFICATION
At the present stage of development of voluntary forest certification under the FSC scheme in Russia, enterprises are experiencing some difficulties in meeting the social requirements of the standard. They are primarily concerned with the identification of Indigenous peoples, public awareness and the allocation of high conservation value forests (HCVF) of particular social value.
At the round table "Social aspects of FSC-certification: stakeholder view", held with the support of WWF-Russia, FSC Russia and JSC Solikamskbumprom, Russian ecologists, representatives of the scientific community and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, Forestry and Ecology for Perm Region, certification experts, members of the Technical Committee and the FSC Coordination Council, as well as Russian companies certified under the FSC scheme, raised critical issues on working with the local communities. The timber industry shared their experience in addressing social issues in the certification process, and identified objective and subjective difficulties in working with the local communities.
"The most acute discussion was the issue of overcoming the passive attitude of the local people in identifying forest areas of key social importance to local communities that is performed by employees of logging companies and invited experts. As it turned out, this passive attitude could be explained that it happens quite often that local people with an active civil position either simply do not know about the ongoing consultations or do not fully understand why they are held. The participants of the round table developed practical recommendations on changing this situation," said Nikolay Shmatkov, Director of WWF-Russia’s Forest Programme.
The participants of the meeting were asked not only to analyze the examples of cooperation between the enterprises and stakeholders, but also to identify common problems when working with the local communities and Indigenous peoples on the part of the enterprises, certification bodies and NGOs, as well as to find practical solutions aimed at clear understanding of the requirements of the National Standard. A separate discussion was devoted to informing the local communities about the certification process, their rights and responsibilities within the system, as well as the practical aspects of identification of HCVF of special social value.
All the participants of the meeting noted the high importance of information openness and purposeful information work with the local communities, as well as the need of developing additional explanatory guides for the companies that are in the process of certification or already have FSC certificates. At the end of discussion, the recommendations to various stakeholders were made, and a strategy was developed to form a common vision for solving social issues that are becoming increasingly important in the FSC system.
WWF-Russia supports FSC certification,
as it helps prevent forest degradation and depletion of forest resources of our
planet. An open discussion of social
aspects of the FSC certification with participation of all stakeholders will
help improve compliance with the FSC requirements, increase confidence in it,
and thus will allow conserve HCVFs even more effectively, taking into account
the interests of all parties.
Headline photo: (c) FSC Russia