NEW YORK - The Rainforest Alliance expressed its disappointment over Resolute Forest Products' decision to file a lawsuit over RFP's failed Forest Stewardship Council certification audits conducted by the Rainforest Alliance.

In a three-paragraph statement dated May 21, the Rainforest Alliance said this was the first time it has ever been sued by an FSC certificate holder.

Resolute Forest Products filed a Notice of Action in Ontario on May 6 and the following day obtained a court order prohibiting the Rainforest Alliance from releasing its FSC audits of the company's Caribou and Black Spruce Dog River-Matawin forests. Based on those audits, the Rainforest Alliance suspended three of Resolute Forest Products' FSC certificates in January.

"Whenever we conduct an audit of an FSC certificate holder’s operations, we adhere strictly to FSC rules," the Rainforest Alliance's statement reads. "Certification is based upon demonstrated conformance with FSC Principles and Criteria through audits against adapted national standards. When we identify a certificate holder’s failure to meet certification criteria and indicators, we are required to issue non-conformances. When the certificate holder does not address the non-conformances within the time period established by FSC, we are required to suspend the certificate. We may not lift a suspension unless and until the certificate holder has demonstrated to us that it has taken the necessary corrective actions."

Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products, a producer of pulp and wood products, filed the lawsuit against the Rainforest Alliance because it believes the certification audit was "biased" and unfairly critical of its operations in northern Ontario.

Founded in 1987, the Rainforest Alliance is an independent, nonprofit organization accredited for FSC auditing.

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