WWF statement on FSC certification of Forestal Venao in Peru

Posted on 13 August 2007

This statement is to clarify WWF’s position and involvement regarding the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificate issued by SmartWood to Forestal Venao in Peru.

The Facts
Forestal Venao is a Peruvian logging company operating in the Yurua region of the Peruvian Amazon, close to the border with Brazil. It was issued a FSC certification by SmartWood in April 2007. SmartWood is an independent certification body accredited by the FSC to conduct assessments according to FSC standards.

Forest certification is a system of forest inspection, plus a means of tracking timber and paper through a 'chain of custody' – following the raw material through to the finished product. This is ensures that the products have come from forests which are well managed and take into account environmental, social and economic principles and criteria. The certification process involves qualified forest management experts undertaking an independent assessment of the particular forest to see if it is managed according to the agreed principles and criteria.

WWF never provided any assistance whatsoever to Forestal Venao for the certification of its operations in the Sawawo and Nueva Shahuaya communities in the Peruvian Amazon. WWF, through its Global Forest & Trade Network, did however conduct its own evaluation in October 2005 to assess the readiness of Forestal Venao to meet the stringent requirements of the FSC standards, and to identify any improvements needed to achieve FSC certification.

Based on this evaluation, especially in regard to concerns raised about Forestal Venao's operations in these 2 communities, WWF made the decision not to support the company. WWF made these concerns known to Forestal Venao, SmartWood and other stakeholders via several public fora leading up to, during and following the assessment conducted by Smartwood.

In recent weeks, serious allegations of illegal logging and other non-conformities to the FSC standards have been raised about Forestal Venao operations in Peru and abroad and these allegations are now the subject of official inquiries by the relevant authorities on both sides of the Peru-Brazil border.** 

SmartWood and FSC have announced that they will conduct a joint monitoring visit to assess these allegations during the week of 24 August 2007.

WWF’s position:
• WWF believes that forest certification is a valuable tool to promote both sustainable forest management and the fair, legal and responsible trade of forest products. Forest certification thereby provides a credible and transparent way of assuring consumers, the forest industry, investors and other stakeholders that the products from certified forests come from forests managed according to high environmental, social and economic standards.
• WWF shares the public concern about Forestal Venao´s operations and believes that this situation seriously threatens the integrity of the certification process in Peru and beyond, as well as the integrity of the particular entities involved.
• WWF urges both the certification body, SmartWood, and its accreditor, FSC, to exercise their utmost due-diligence in the planned evaluation in the week of August 24, 2007, and to meaningfully engage with the relevant stakeholders on both sides of the Peru - Brazil border.
• WWF supports the due process of assessing these allegations within the FSC system. 

** See also the following:
http://www.larepublica.com.pe/content/view/168259/483/; http://www.larepublica.com.pe/content/view/168096/483/;

For further information:
Gisella Valdivia, WWF-Peru
E-mail: gisella.valdivia@wwfperu.org.pe