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Forestry Reported For Misleading Marketing

Forestry Reported For Misleading Marketing

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 "Recently, for the first time, the forest company Bergvik Skog’s FSC certificate was withdrawn in one district of Dalarna in Sweden.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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