The Rainforest Alliance has lifted the suspension of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificate of Swedwood Karelia LLC, a subsidiary of Swedish home furnishing company IKEA. The decision follows an independent appeals committee evaluation of the company’s 2013 annual audit.
Swedwood’s certificate, related to nearly 300,000 hectares (700,000 acres) in the Karelia Forest, in northwestern Russia, was recently suspended as a result of a series of non-conformances with the FSC standards identified during Swedwood’s last annual audit.
The suspension of Swedwood’s certificate resulted from the identification of six major non-conformances following the annual audit conducted by the Rainforest Alliance in October 2013. FSC certification rules require suspension when five or more major non-conformances are identified during an audit process. In the FSC certification system, major non-conformances are issues that are systemic, occur over a long period of time or issues that cover a wide area and/or cause significant damage, whereas minor non-conformances are issues that indicate a temporary lapse, are unusual/ non-systematic, or the impacts of which are limited in their temporal and spatial scale.
The six major non-conformances were related to facilities and equipment issues, forestry management and the training of forestry workers. Swedwood filed an appeal of the suspension arguing that four of the six non-conformances should have been graded as minor rather than major and that two of the six major non-conformances were not justified.
The Rainforest Alliance appointed an independent appeals committee to investigate whether the grading of the non-conformances was in line with FSC standards. The committee was comprised of experts external to Rainforest Alliance and its representative in Europe and Russia, NEPCon. The conclusion of the appeal investigation was the downgrading of one of the six major non-conformances to minor and the withdrawal of two other major non-conformances. The committee presented its recommendations to the Rainforest Alliance on March 5, 2014 and the Rainforest Alliance took a decision to lift the suspension based on the committee’s recommendation.
“The strength of the FSC system results from the various checks and balances, and therefore the scrutiny, it provides to forest management the world over,” said Richard Donovan, Rainforest Alliance Senior Vice President and Vice President of Forestry. “In this case the right balance has now been struck and the certificate holder is working to improve its forestry practices.”
Swedwood was the first company to be FSC certified in Karelia in 2006 and is annually inspected for compliance with the FSC standard. IKEA is one of the biggest purchasers and producers of FSC-certified wood in the retail sector.
Source: The Rainforest Alliance
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