FSC CERTIFIED TIMBER, ..............OR IS IT?
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international network designed to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. It was established in the mid 1990's. Worldwide, more than 88 million hectares of forest in 76 countries are certified according to FSC standards and over 5000 companies have an FSC Chain of Custody certification.
Why undertake a Chain of Custody Certification?
In many parts of the world such as the EU and USA the Chain of Custody (COC) certification is becoming an industrial standard for companies buying and selling timber, furniture, panel and paper products to demonstrate that they source their products with responsibility. Over 50% of timber brought into the EU is now legal and responsibly sourced. The demand for certified timber is increasing as more and more central and local government and private development projects insist on it.
Companies that complete the Chain of Custody Certification are seen to be environmentally focused and to have proved they run a responsible businesses. Having completed the requirements of the Chain of Custody, they will be allowed to use the FSC logos on their products and stationary, which will add credibility to their company.
Why should a company have an FSC Chain of Custody certification in place if the timber itself is not FSC certified up to the final shackle of the chain? In other words why should a wooden house supplier, like us, pay thousands of dollars for an FSC Chain of Custody certification while none of the timber felling concessions supplying the wood used in wooden house prefabrication is FSC certified? A certification seems to be waste of money and only to the advantage of the accreditation body who "takes care" of all the paperwork, like in the 80's with the ISO Certification. As long as the timber at the felling sources is not FSC certified, any Chain of Custody certification for that particular wood species can be considered useless and does not have any meaning.
In order to back our statement above we sent an e-mail to the FSC organization. This is their answer: "If the timber isn’t certified, no FSC claims may be made in relation to products deriving from it, whether or not a certification is in place".
We kindly inform the visitor that so far only a few wood species in Indonesia have been FSC certified, such as Sulawesi Teak, Java Teak, Mahogany and a few more (non structural timbers). These wood species are mainly used for cabinetry and furniture, but NOT ANY of the species which are generally used for the fabrication of prefab houses are FSC certified, timbers such as Bangkirai (except some flooring), Merbau, Iron wood, Nyatoh, Kempas, Keruwing, etc. We condemn the activities of some wooden house manufacturers who flatly claim that their houses are built from FSC certified wood. This is potentially very misleading and it undermines the FSC system, which is designed to give you, as consumer, the confidence that you’re buying a responsibly-sourced product.
Now we wonder what is closer to the truth.......Having the FSC logo used on wood products and company letter heads for wood species which are not at all FSC certified or, - as what we do -, use timber which is obtained from legal timber felling concessions, overlooked by the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry as to guarantee the compliance of the timber felling concession with the Ministry's reforestation program and comply with the v-legal system.
Nonetheless, we will forthwith join the FSC club at the very moment that timber felling concessions for either Bangkirai, Merbau, Iron wood, Keruwing, Kempas, or Nyatoh and others have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
If you wish to verify which wood species are FSC certified click <here> and check the table at the end of the article. You will not find any FSC certified hardwood for structural purposes.
New DNA technoloy
A new verification system will shortly be available to trace any piece of wood back to its origin. This will become world's most secure chain of custody system. Each timber batch is audited from the forest to the end user by sophisticated tracking technologies. This will imply that a customer will have the guarantee that the wood used in the product that he bought (say a wooden prefab house) will be genuine and not a replacement or resembling wood.