A scathing investigation report released by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) details systematic illegal timber sourcing by one of Europe’s largest timber processors, the Austrian firm Holzindustrie Schweighofer. FSC’s 110-page report, produced by a panel of experts over nearly one year, states that Schweighofer “developed a culture” that incentivized illegal timber sourcing by putting cheap wood above legality in their sourcing of logs in Romania. FSC’s Board of Directors refused to accept the panel’s recommendation that Schweighofer lose its FSC status, instead putting the company on a three-month probation which allows products to continue to be sold under the FSC label.
The FSC’s comprehensive investigation responded to a complaint by the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) Germany, based largely on the findings published by EIA in the October 2015 report Stealing the Last Forests.
The FSC’s expert panel confirms the wealth of evidence of illegal timber sourcing levelled against Schweighofer by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), other NGOs, investigative journalists, and the Romanian Government. On page 73 of the report, the FSC panel describes “clear and convincing evidence” that among other things, Schweighofer:• Purchased illegal timber;
The results of the independent investigation commission are clear: Schweighofer was involved in illegal wood trade and new film reports strongly suggest that the violations are currently ongoing," says Johannes Zahnen, of WWF Germany. "The fact that FSC does not dissociate itself from Holzindustrie Schweighofer, but still wants to work with the company, definitely does not meet our expectation. Today's decision by FSC is like an incentive for Schweighofer and other companies to use illegal business methods - without risk of losing the FSC logo, "says Zahnen.
In April, 2015, EIA released an undercover video showing Schweighofer’s purchasing managers in Romania repeatedly accepting offers of illegal wood.
A new investigation conducted by EIA in September 2016, shows that Schweighofer continues to buy and sell illegal wood. In a series of short videos, EIA documents illegalities linked to trucks that investigators witnessed delivering logs to Schweighofer’s Romanian sawmills.