IKEA's FSC certificate suspension lifted

IKEA's Swedwood Karelia forestry operation has regained its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificate, following a successful appeal by the company.

Karelia is home to one of Europe's last great forests

Karelia is home to one of Europe's last great forests

The Rainforest Alliance said it lifted the suspension based on the recommendation of an independent committee comprised of experts external to Rainforest Alliance and its representative in Europe and Russia, NEPCon. This independent appeals committee evaluated the firm's annual audit.

The furniture giant's FSC certificate was suspended in January following an October 2013 audit which found six major non-conformities relating to facilities and equipment issues, forestry management and the training of forestry workers.

Swedwood, IKEA's forestry subsidiary, filed an appeal of the suspension arguing that four of the six non-conformances should have been graded as minor rather than major and that two of the six major non-conformances were not justified.

According to the Rainforest Alliance, IKEA is one of the biggest purchasers and producers of FSC-certified wood in the retail sector.

Speaking about the news, IKEA Group forestry manager Anders Hildeman said: "We are pleased to get the suspension of our FSC certificate withdrawn since it is important for us to demonstrate a responsible forest management. Our focus is now to continue our work with good forest management and make sure that the outstanding deviations are closed.

"Thorough controls and follow-ups show the strength of the FSC system and we consider the evaluation of the appeal committee to be in line with the FSC principles. We continue to stand firmly behind the FSC principles. We believe it is the most credible forest certification system available as its foundation is to strike a balance between economically viable forest management, safeguarding environmental values and the rights and needs of people who work and live in the forests."

Swedwood was the first company to be FSC-certified in Karelia, which is near the Russian-Finnish border, in 2006. In a statement the FSC, said: "FSC's certification system is a robust one, designed to ensure that once certification is granted, all the criteria that allowed it to be certified in the first place, are upheld. Where audits detect these are not sufficiently upheld, the certificate is suspended to protect the rest of the system. The FSC system also allows for appeals to be made against certification decisions, as has happened successfully in this case."

"We urge Swedwood to continue its pressing work to address the remaining corrective action requests. This will further demonstrate its continued commitment to responsible forest management and to the principles of the FSC," said FSC managing director Kim Carstensen.

"The strength of the FSC system results from the various checks and balances, and therefore the scrutiny, it provides to forest management the world over," added Rainforest Alliance senior vice president and vice president of Forestry Richard Donovan. "In this case the right balance has now been struck and the certificate holder is working to improve its forestry practices."

Liz Gyekye
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