Hundreds of Finnish forest species at risk under forest certification scheme

Last edited 11 October 2004 at 8:00am
11 October, 2004

Hundreds of species face extinction in the Finnish forests in the coming years without further revision of the Finnish Forest Certification System (FFCS). This is the key finding of the report "Certifying extinction? - An assessment of the revised standards of the FFCS" which was released today jointly by Greenpeace, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation and the Finnish Nature League.

"Certifying extinction?" compares key environmental criteria of the FFCS (1) scheme with the internationally recognised Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification scheme. The study confirms that, even with recent revisions of the FFCS standard, the scheme fails to prevent logging of old-growth forests, allows the destruction of important habitats for endangered or red-listed species in the Finnish forests and fails to protect forest areas essential for reindeer herding.

According to Sini Harkki, Finnish Association for Nature Conservation forest campaigner:

"Unless the current logging practices change rapidly in Finland, a mass extinction of species is likely. The Siberian jay is already almost extinct in Southern Finland."

Greenpeace Forest Campaigner Andy Tait said

"The Finnish research community, environmental organisations and increasingly the international market are rejecting the destructive forestry practises certified under FFCS. It is time for the Finnish forest industry to move towards a more sustainable system such as the Forest Stewardship Council."

Despite promises to safeguard the indigenous Sámi culture, the FFCS standard allows logging of old-growth forests, which are crucial as reindeer grazing areas. Through the continued logging of old-growth forests, the Finnish government jeopardises the reindeer-herding livelihood of both Sámi and Finnish people living in the North of Finland.

The FFCS system has been used by the Finnish Forestry industry to convey an 'environmentally friendly' image to its customers. But increasingly companies buying Finnish forest products are realising that FFCS cannot guarantee that timber and paper products are coming from well-managed forests. The German postal service, Deutsche Post, has stopped buying envelope paper from northern Finnish mills, which are linked to timber from old-growth forests and started to offer FSC-certified envelopes. Meanwhile DIY retailer B&Q has this year amended its timber purchasing policy, meaning that Finnish products will be phased out.

Further information
Andy Tait, Greenpeace Forests Campaign 0207 865 8250
Greenpeace Press Office 0207 865 8250
Sini Harkki, forest campaigner, Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, 00358-50-582 1107

1 The FFCS-system is a nationally developed system for forest certification, which has been adopted by the Finnish forest industry and is endorsed by the industry led certification body 'Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification' (PEFC). 95% of all Finnish forests have been certified according to this standard.

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