Forest Stewardship Council disassociates from the Danzer Group

Decision Due to Involvement in Human Rights Violations in Democratic Republic of Congo

BONN, Germany -The Board of Directors of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has decided to disassociate from the Danzer Group, after in-depth research by a Complaints Panel found evidence of involvement of former Danzer subsidiary SIFORCO in human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"Based on the unanimous recommendation of the Complaints Panel, which was also reviewed by a newly established Board Complaints Resolution Committee, the Board of Directors decided that Danzer was in clear violation of FSC's Policy for Association," said Kim Carstensen, Director General of FSC. "The way Danzer acted on the ground clearly put FSC's reputation at risk," he added.

Disassociation means that the Danzer Group - and all of its subsidiaries - loses its FSC certification and the right to use FSC trademarks. As FSC is a voluntary, market-based approach to promote responsible forest management, disassociation is the most severe action the organization can take. Given the significance of the decision, the FSC Board of Directors applied a high "standard of certainty," requiring clear and convincing evidence to support the decision.

The disassociation stems from a complaint filed by Greenpeace, alleging that the Danzer Group, and its former subsidiary SIFORCO, repeatedly violated human and traditional rights of forest communities, as well as forest workers' rights. The alleged events occurred in 2011 in and around the community of Yalisika in the DRC. The FSC Director General appointed an impartial Complaints Panel to conduct an in-depth investigation of the allegations. Danzer and Greenpeace both agreed to the experts on the Complaints Panel.

Based on the investigation, and the Complaints Panel recommendations, the Board of Directors decided to disassociate from the Danzer Group. The FSC Board Chair and Director General communicated the decision to the Danzer Group and to Greenpeace in person.

The disassociation may be temporary and reviewed once independent verification finds that Danzer has met the following conditions:

  • The Danzer Group has performed fully on the obligations the company promised to the people at Yalisika, including construction of a school and health center, and construction of a road. Danzer must not only supply equipment and materials, but also expertise to build the facilities.
  • The Danzer Group has implemented clear conflict-resolution procedures to prevent conflicts of the sort that occurred in and around Yalisika. Procedures must take into account FSC Guidance on Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
  • The Danzer Group has agreed to have its progress toward these goals monitored by a third-party organization appointed by the FSC Secretariat.

The Board further decided that SIFORCO shall not be granted a new FSC certificate until the Danzer Group has performed fully on their obligations towards the community, and independent monitoring verifies that SIFORCO is not involved in illegal logging activities.

The Danzer Group is one of the largest producers of decorative veneer worldwide and one of the top-ten producers of hardwood lumber in North America. This decision also affects the largest FSC forest management certificate in the Congo Basin, managed by Danzer subsidiary IFO.

"Danzer did not fulfill its social responsibilities and did not have a robust mechanism for dialogue with communities surrounding the forests they managed," Carstensen said. "Where conflicts with communities arise, it is important to make all possible efforts to resolve the issues peacefully and through direct negotiation, especially where legal frameworks are weak and their enforcement known to be controversial," he added.

For more information, please visit: https://ic.fsc.org/siforco-democratic-republic-of-congo.355.htm.

Forest Stewardship Council

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent non-governmental organization that promotes environmentally sound, socially beneficial, and economically prosperous management of the world's forests. FSC was created in 1993 to help consumers and businesses identify products from well-managed forests. FSC sets standards by which forests are certified, offering credible verification to people who are buying wood and wood products. Currently more than 175 million hectares and 25,000 companies are certified to FSC standards worldwide. For more information visit www.fsc.org.


Marcelle Peuckert

Director of Communications


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