Sustainable forestry: Hessen no longer wants the FSC seal

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Written By Maya Cantina

The black and red state government finds the regulations of the FSC quality mark too rigid in times of climate change. The nature conservation organizations are shocked.

Mossy tree trunks

Place of desire, living space, source of wood: a forest in Hesse Photo: dpa

BERLIN taz | The state government of Hesse wants to suspend the FSC certification of its forests until 2028. The government factions of the CDU and the SPD submitted a corresponding application to the Hessian state parliament on Thursday. Environmental associations expressed their disgust: “The Hessian nature conservation associations NABU, BUND, the Hessian Association for Ornithology and Nature Conservation and the IG BAU Hessen Association responded to the application with great incomprehension.”

The Forest Steward Council (FSC) sets environmental and social standards in the forest and carries out independent auditsto verify these standards. They are developed equally by stakeholders from the three areas of economics, social affairs and environmental protection. The FSC Germany takes note of the project “with great regret”.

Hessian Forestry Minister Ingmar Jung (CDU) wants to suspend FSC certification because “the FSC standard is currently not flexible enough” to adequately take into account the consequences of climate change. Requirements such as the FSC quality mark would make it even more difficult for the forest to adapt to climate change.

Martin Häusling, EU representative from Bad Zwesten in Hesse, sees it differently: “Especially in times of Twin crises of climate crisis and species extinction “More ecological management is the order of the day.” Solutions could be found with FSC. The FSC certification “should therefore not be suspended in Hesse and should remain the benchmark for Hessian state forests,” says Häusling.

Liberation or clarity?

The FSC fears that the suspension of external controls will be interpreted by some as a ‘liberation strike’ and that, for example, nature and soil protection may become less important compared to economic interests. Without FSC certification, areas can be driven, the land can be cultivated and exotic tree species can be planted on large areas.

The Hessian state government wants to evaluate the standards during the suspension. It should be examined “whether forestry and nature conservation objectives can be achieved more efficiently and less bureaucratically without applying these standards and taking into account the effects of climate change,” the application said. From the perspective of the nature conservation associations, an evaluation would also be possible without suspending certification.

The associations such as BUND and NABU emphasisthat if certification is suspended, confidence in the forestry sector in particular will suffer. The FSC certification “has pacified a long-standing dispute between forestry and nature conservation,” said Maik Sommerhage, state chairman of NABU. “The state’s obligations remain the same, as do the costs. There is only a major loss of image for the state of Hesse and its state-owned company HessenForst,” emphasizes Andrea Pfäfflin, forest expert at the NABU state board: “Who would want to buy a car without a TÜV sticker? “Just because the seller promises that everything is fine?”

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