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22. Januar 2007
BRUNO MANSER FONDS, BASEL / SWITZERLAND
MEDIA RELEASE:
Forest Stewardship Council suspends Samling certification
The Malaysian Samling Group's most important certificate for forest management has
been suspended following an audit by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This was
learned from a news publication by FSC-Watch, an independent observer of the FSC's
activities.
In February 2006, Barama Co. Ltd., a wholly owned Samling subsidiary in the South
American nation of Guyana, was granted a FSC certificate for the management of 570'000
hectares of tropical forest in the Northwest Region of Guyana. The certificate was issued by
SGS-Qualifor and related to the largest tropical forest certified according to FSC's standards.
The certification was made possible through funding from the Dutch and the French
government as well as from the conservation organization WWF.
The recent FSC audit found that the Samling subsidiary "could not demonstrate compliance
with FSC certification requirements" due to "systematic major nonconformities". Criticism of
the Malaysian company includes its dealings with the local indigenous communities, its
environmental performance and its failure to comply with basic health and safety
requirements for the company workers.
According to the report written by FSC auditor Hubert de Bonafos, representative
stakeholders of the indigenous communities were not consulted prior to the certification and
there was evidence that the local communities had delegated control over forest management
on their land "without free and informed consent". As a consequence, "some local people are
not allowed to perform forest management operations on their own land and it is Barama Co.
Ltd. that is currently harvesting on these indigenous lands."
The company had not undertaken appropriate environmental impact assessments prior to
"performing activities with a very high and significant environmental impact". Its poor waste
disposal and hydrocarbon (oil and diesel) management were found to result in "severe
environmental pollution".
The WWF issued a statement last week saying it was "deeply disappointed" with Barama's
failure to comply with the certification and criticized the fact that the Samling subsidiary "did
not carry out nor give priority and resources to many of the improvements the company had
committed". The non-compliance of Barama with the FSC standards is a setback for the
WWF and a major embarrassment for the Switzerland-based SGS group whose assessment of
Barama was condemned by the auditors for not having adequately addressed various FSC
certification requirements.
On its website, the Samling group fails to mention that Barama's FSC certificate was
suspended and continues to praise the "fruitful results" of the "long and laborious journey to
certification" of its South American subsidiary. It is likely that the FSC's decision will
intensify pressure on the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) to withdraw the
highly controversial Certificate for Forest Management granted to Samling for its operations
in the Upper Baram River area of Sarawak.
Sources: www.fsc-Watch.org; http://guyanaforestry.blogspot.com; www.samling.com.
Bruno Manser Fonds
for the Peoples of the Rainforest
Heuberg 25
4051 Basel / Switzerland
+41 61 261 94 74
info@bmf.ch
www.bmf.ch


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