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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > Think tank defends forestry definitions

Think tank defends forestry definitions

Date : 8th August 2002, Source : Newsgroup

From Santiago Times, Chile (6th Aug 2002):


Fundacion Chile, the right-leaning technology transfer agency, defended Chile's "home-grown" system of certifying forestry exports Monday in the face of fierce environmental criticism.

Fundacion Chile general director Eduardo Bitran said a campaign by environmentalists attacking the system of certification was based on "misinformation". He said CertforChile certificate, developed by Fundacion Chile, was on a par with the rigorous Pan Europe standards.

His comments come after environmentalists, led by prominent journalist Isabel Allende, started a campaign for higher environmental standards by lobbying suppliers in the U.S. - Chile's chief markets for forestry exports. The environmentalists want Chile's companies to conform to the Forestry Standards Commission (FSC) whose standards guarantee woodland sustainability.

But business groups are loath to work by the stringent FSC standards, in part because of close ties between the lobby group Greenpeace and the FSC, and in part because of the additional costs FSC standards imply.

Bitran defended the non-obligatory CertforChile standards. He said the standards were kept by "people with sufficient criteria, with the capacity to take decisions in an autonomous, independent and transparent form." He also said several forms of public participation underscored the standards' relevance - rejecting the accusation that CertforChile was rigged in forestry companies' favor.

He then denied that CertforChile was a forestry industry construct, saying such allegations were an insult to the "prestigious" academics who "were unable to put their reputation and prestige at the service of a determined interest." He added that the project's financing came from the Forestry Corporation (Corfo) the Ministry of Agriculture and Fundacion Chile, with only a small contribution from forestry companies.

Bitran also attacked the FSC for its attempts to gain absolute control of a forestry certification monopoly, saying the CertforChile standard "will permit competition in the market."

The certification controversy has upset Chile's wood exporters. The non-governmental organization heading the U.S. environmental campaign, Forest Ethics, has had success pressuring U.S. wood suppliers into complying with sustainability certification in the past.

Chile's forestry companies, already with tarnished reputations because of their conflicts with Mapuches in Chile's south, fear high sustainability standards could undermine their competitive advantage in the U.S. market.

But environmentalists point to a report by Marcel Claude, the head of the progressive Terram Foundation, pointing out the unsustainable nature of forestry exploitation in Chile, and the need for strong regulation and certification.

Document last updated on Wednesday 01 August 2018

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