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February 26, 2014

What does Lidl's paper bags, Libresse's sanitary towels and Arla's milk cartons have in common? According to forest companies and the forest certification FSC, the pulp used in these products originate from responsibly and sustainably managed forests. Misleading marketing, says the organization Protect the Forest which now files a complaint to the Swedish Consumer Agency against FSC Sweden, SCA, Sveaskog, Stora Enso, Arla and Lidl.

"FSC forestry respects people and the environment" says FSC Sweden in its brochure. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international organization for certification of forestry and forest products.1 FSC Sweden is supposed to guarantee that wood and paper products derive from environmentally sustainable forest management, enabling consumers to make an environmentally friendly choice. The Swedish forest companies SCA, Stora Enso and Sveaskog are FSC-certified.2 The pulp in Arla's milk cartons and Lidl's paper bags are FSC-certified and promoted as responsibly produced.3

"Our complaint to the Swedish Consumer Agency is based on the marketing of the FSC and the forest companies where they incomprehensibly claim that their forestry and products are responsibly sourced", said Stig-Olof Holm, spokesperson for FSC issues, Protect the Forest. "The FSC standard allows large clear-cuts and converts natural forests into monotonous production forests, which disfavor the biodiversity and might lead to loss of plant and animal species. At the same time the forest companies are not even able to comply with the low requirements of the FSC standard. Instead they log high conservation value forests and use poor environmental forestry practices."

Environmental NGOs have kept an eye on the FSC and the forest companies for years. Protect the Forest presents long lists of violations carried out by the forest companies in its complaint to the Swedish Consumer Agency.

"Strangely enough, not a single forest company in Sweden has been completely suspended from FSC Sweden, despite systematic violations of the Swedish Forestry Act and the FSC standard", said Johannes Söderqvist, Protect the Forest. "Recently, for the first time, the forest company Bergvik Skog’s FSC certificate was withdrawn in one district of Dalarna in Sweden. Why Bergvik did not lose its entire FSC certificate can be highly questioned and proves that FSC lacks credibility and is not working. Bergvik, including the forest companies we now file a complaint against, should have lost their FSC certificates ages ago."

Stora Enso, one of the companies Protect the Forest is filing a complaint against to the Consumer Agency, conducts forest felling on Bergvik's forest land. Protect the Forest anticipates that the Swedish Consumer Agency will act forcefully against the forest companies' and FSC's misleading and incorrect marketing. The organization also puts hope to companies such as Arla and Lidl to pressure FSC Sweden to enforce forest companies to live up to their sustainability goals.

"Natural values are disappearing while FSC and forest companies deceive consumers by using their virtuous words about responsible forest management", said Stig-Olof Holm. "Consumers need to know what the reality looks like. The forestry of FSC Sweden and the forest companies are just as unsustainable as the forest policy run by the Swedish government where freedom without responsibility prevails."

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Contact:

Stig-Olof Holm, Board member and Spokesperson for FSC issues, Protect the Forest, +46 (0)90-786 55 46, Den här e-postadressen skyddas mot spambots. Du måste tillåta JavaScript för att se den.

Johannes Söderqvist, Protect the Forest, +46 (0)73-038 34 11, Den här e-postadressen skyddas mot spambots. Du måste tillåta JavaScript för att se den.

More info:

Slideshow FSC (with quotes and examples of the FSC forestry)

Free Press photos

Palvara

SCA is planning to log the natural forest at Palvarabäcken in Viksjö in the Municipality of Härnösand. Here 21 indicator species, of which 10 are red-listed, have been found. Photo: Björn Mildh.

melak

Sveaskog logged parts of the natural forest at Melakträskliden in the Municipality of Arvidsjaur in 2013. Photo: Björn Mildh.

An 800 hectare big clear-cut on previous natural forest grounds in northern Värmland during the 2000s. Stora Enso has placed several large clear-uts next to each other, which reates this huge clear-cut. Photo: Viktor Säfve/Skydda Skogen 2011

Footnotes:

1) The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is one of several forest certification schemes in Sweden. Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is another forest certification scheme. Environmental NGOs have chosen not to support PEFC since they consider the certification requirements too weak. Read more about the environmental NGO's criticism of PEFC in the report "On The Ground 2011 - The controversies of PEFC and SFI" (2011):

2) FSC-certified products are found amongst building material, garden furniture, barbecue charcoal, books, paper and printed matter.

3) Swedish SCA is a big global company which mainly produces consumer products such as hygiene articles and tissue paper, but also, for example, printing paper and solid wood products. Famous SCA brands include Tena, Tork, Libero, Edet, Libresse and Bodyform. SCA Skog manages SCA's forest holdings and supplies SCA's Swedish forest industries with raw material. SCA Skog is a part of SCA's business unit Forest Products, which produces printing paper for newspapers, magazines and catalogs, pulp, sawn timber and renewable energy.

Stora Enso is one of the world's leading manufacturers of paper, packaging and forest products. Its customers include publishers, press and paper merchants, as well as packaging, carpentry and construction companies. Stora Enso Skog supplies Stora Enso with wood. The company buys wood from private persons and the forest company Bergvik Skog. Stora Enso Skog manages and conducts forest felling on the forest land of Bergvik Skog.

Sveaskog is owned by the Swedish state. Sveaskog is Sweden's largest forest owner and leading supplier of timber, pulpwood and biofuel, primarily to the pulp, paper and sawmill industry. One of Sveaskog's objectives is to be a leader in sustainable forestry.

3) Examples of quotes (free translation of quotes in Swedish):

FSC: "The FSC trademark guarantees that a wood-based product derives from responsibly managed forests."

SCA: "SCA wants to take advantage of what the forest offers but not at the expense of its flora and fauna."

Stora Enso: "We respect biodiversity."

Sveaskog: "The future is bright for threatened species on Sveaskog's land."

Arla: "The FSC-label you see on this package guarantees that the forest is taken care of and renewed in a fair way."

Lidl: "FSC-certified", "I am environmentally friendly", "Paper from responsible sources"