to the critique by Tasso Rezende de Azevedo, IMAFLORA, Brazil, Andre Giacini de Freitas, IMAFLORA, Brazil, Richard Z. Donovan, Rainforest Alliance, USA
We are disappointed that the response of supporters of FSC, Tasso Rezende de Azevedo, Andre Giacini de Freitas, IMAFLORA and Richard Z. Donovan, Rainforest Alliance, USA, simply avoid addressing the questions we raised in our article. Firstly, the objective of the article was to dismantle some of the myths used in the marketing of FSC. Tasso and Co. have not directly contested any of our assertions, which we thus assume, stand firmly. The article was NOT a promotion of a Boycott campaign, although we assert that given the present problems with FSC, a tropical timber boycott in overdeveloped nations, such as Europe and the States would be an appropriate disincentive for the continued economic culture of logging in regions such as the Amazon. Secondly, we argue that industrial scale logging operations of the worlds remaining rainforests is not the means for their preservation. We question the effectiveness of voluntary market orientated schemes for controlling logging and suggest that effort might better be invested working with the State environmental agencies in tightening the legal and fiscal constraints for logging and investing in more socially and environmentally sustainable economic alternatives. We feel that the innovations of "pratical tropical forestry' (which we understand as logging), should focus on enriching species in degraded secondary forests or creating forests on deforested land for commercial logging. We are frustrated to see the good intentions and undoubted capacity of the supporters of FSC, being channelled into supporting industrial scale logging of the worlds remaining native forests.
The fact that 80% of tropical timber is for internal consumption was a point made in our article to demonstrate that presently, certification schemes interact marginally with the real dynamic of the logging industry in these regions. We suggest that those wishing to help preserve native rainforest better identify the real causes of uncontrolled logging and deforestation, investing in means to contain and reducing incentives for damaging exploitation of forest resources. With its demand for a well maintained infrastructure of roads and damaging silviculture practices (which in effect double the timber extracted per hectare), we feel that the benefits of certified over non certified logging operations are at best marginal. With the lack of real data on the impact of certified logging on the complex tropical forest ecosystems, we question the audacious claims that certification is a "catalyst of forest conservation". We thus are perturbed at the possibility of expansion of certification schemes to involve national markets.
The boycott campaign was a tool to raise awareness in European consumers, about a logging industry threatening the worlds remaining rainforests. As far as we know, non of the groups participating in boycott stated that it will be "the solution to tropical deforestation or degradation". Clearly deforestation and logging is influenced by a series of other factors, reflected in the data presented by Tasso and Co. However, evidence shows, that the boycott did have a significant impact on targeted companies. Gethal and the other sawmills in Itacoatiara were in economic crisis due to the lack of demand for tropical timber and problems with fining of illegal operations by state agencies. These companies, are now the driving force for certified logging being promoted as a means to "save the world's forests".
Citing a detailed list of the minimal technical social and environmental advantages of certified logging operations does not address the issues that we are concerned with. It is in fact, the impact that the promotion of certified logging has outside of the neat, computer controlled management areas that most concerns us. The "cult-ure" around the FSC has become a serious diversion from discussions on and interaction with the real issues of forest destruction. Through certification, massive human, financial, academic and technical resources are being pumped into promoting the foresters future for the remaining rainforests' `rational` logging (we could have another protracted debate about what we understand as rational!). We agree that for local peoples dependent on forest resources, forests need to be managed. However we do not understand management, as the defenders of FSC seem to, exclusively as logging. We assert that the resources spent on Certification of industrial scale logging might be better directed to supporting use of forest resources within a more holistic and less linear manner in order to avoid damaging sequels. Without defining one particular category of forest product, we support the diversification of land use systems, based on the traditional knowledge of local peoples who should be the main beneficiaries of any economic intervention. Here a quote from the article: "Traditional people value most highly, intact forest which needs to be preserved in its entirety to continue to yield the enormous diversity of products. This land use represents an efficiency and sustainability that industrial forestry will never be able to attain."
In the dismantling of Myth 2, the article questions the certainty of the assertion made by FSC supporters, and repeated here by Tasso and Co. that if native forest if not handed over to certified logging operations, it will be turned over to more damaging land use. We feel that this statement is at best naive in the context of the forces determining the expansion of logging, agricultural and colonisation frontiers. We suggest that through establishing well maintained infrastructure in remote forest regions, certified logging operations may in fact encourage the more damaging land conversion it is purporting to avoid.
We are yet to receive any real evidence that contests our arguments. We suggest that with the growing controversy surrounding FSC, individuals and organisations who have been involved in its support should have the courage to re-evaluate its REAL objective. If this is to simply open new markets for tropical timber, then the marketing currently used is extremely deceptive. If however the objective is to contribute to the conservation of tropical rainforests, we argue that FSC is failing on various fronts.