“A funny place to store carbon” Chapter 6

30 Dec

FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL CERTIFICATION

By Chris Lang and Timothy Byakola, published by WRM, December 2006

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On 21 March 2002, SGS Qualifor issued a certificate of good management under the Forest Stewardship Council system to the UWA-FACE project. SGS assessed the project in December 1999 and in January 2002.

The certificate applies only to the UWA-FACE project. The Public Summary of SGS’s assessment effectively ignores the ongoing conflicts between the management of the national park and local people. SGS states in its Public Summary that the “project is not planting in areas where the boundary is under dispute and the project is not engaged in any significant disputes.”[240] But the Uganda Wildlife Authority participates in the UWA-FACE project. It is simply not possible to separate the act of planting trees along the boundary of National Park from the management of the rest of the Park.

Does the project comply with FSC standards?

In order to qualify for a certificate under the FSC system, SGS’s assessors must be satisfied that the project complies with FSC principles and criteria.[241] In fact, there are several clear breaches of FSC standards, as the following section shows.

FSC’s Principle 1 requires that “Forest management shall respect all national and local laws and administrative requirements.” Yet nowhere in any of the public summaries of SGS’s report does SGS discuss the implications of the legal proceedings started by the Benet in 2003, a case that they won in October 2005.

SGS’s Public Summary acknowledges that there were “disputes over park boundaries in some areas”.[242] However, according to SGS, these “are not the responsibility of the project and are being dealt with in the legally correct manner.”[243] While it may be true that this is not UWA-FACE’s “responsibility”, this ignores the fact that the UWA-FACE project is planting trees around the boundary of the national park. Unless the boundary is clearly defined to the satisfaction of local people and the management of the park, conflicts will continue. The park boundary is an ongoing source of conflict between park management and local people (see Chapter 3).

SGS’s assessors side with the park management and against the villagers. “The encroachers have never had legal rights to farm the land and UWA are legally entitled to evict settlers from inside the boundary,” states the Public Summary.[244] No mention is made of the violent nature of these evictions, or the fact that people evicted are not given land or any assistance with resettlement.

As a result of the 2004 surveillance visit, SGS raised four new minor corrective action requests, concerning bamboo harvesting within the park, monitoring of water quality, worker’s accommodation and the fact that sites of cultural, ecological, economic or religious significance have not been documented. None of these are directly related to the UWA-FACE project, but concern the management of the national park.[245] A year later, after another surveillance visit, SGS found that of the four, only the worker’s accommodation issue had been addressed. SGS issued three major corrective action requests.[246]

After the surveillance visit in 2005, SGS’s assessors concluded that “UWA FACE has not adequately demonstrated their commitment to FSC principles and criteria.”[247] This could have resulted in SGS withdrawing the certificate. Instead, they issued another corrective action request.

Before SGS could issue the certificate in 2002, SGS required that UWA-FACE had to comply with criterion 1.6, which states that “Forest managers shall demonstrate a long-term commitment to adhere to the FSC Principles and Criteria.” As demonstrated by the history of conflicts surrounding Mount Elgon National Park (see Chapter 3), UWA’s management of the national park is in serious breach of FSC standards. Yet the fact that the Executive Director and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of UWA signed a statement confirming that UWA agreed to adhere to FSC Principles and Criteria was apparently enough to convince SGS of UWA’s long-term commitment to FSC. SGS made no comment on UWA’s track record.

I asked SGS’s Gerrit Marais to clarify why SGS did not withdraw the certificate in 2005, given the fact that the UWA-FACE could still not demonstrate their commitment to FSC Principles and Criteria. Here’s his response:

    “The initial ‘lack of commitment’ was raised in terms of the fact that there was no public policy that documented the commitment of the project to the FSC Principles and Criteria. This was addressed soon after the main assessment when this policy was made available, as is clearly indicated in the main evaluation report (refer CAR 01). Important to note: this related to a required document not being available and not commitment per se.”[248]

But FSC’s criterion 1.6 does not ask for a public policy or signed statement of forest managers’ commitment to FSC Principles and Criteria. It asks that forest managers shall demonstrate such commitment. In the case of Mount Elgon, the only proof that SGS had of this commitment was the signed statement from UWA. A few days before SGS issued the certificate in March 2002, UWA evicted hundreds of people from their homes at Mount Elgon. SGS fails to notice that such brutal evictions might indicate a lack of commitment to FSC Principles and Criteria.

Marais continues:

    “In 2005, commitment per se was questioned directly because of the fact that 3 of the outstanding CARs [Corrective Action Requests] had not been closed. These two issues are totally unrelated.”[249]

Just in case you’re getting confused, Marais is saying that UWA-FACE’s “commitment per se” is demonstrated by the fact that they have failed to address the corrective action requests. This failure is totally unrelated UWA-FACE’s “public policy that documented the commitment of the project” to FSC Principles and Criteria.

Marais continues:

    “In 2005, the outstanding CARs were raised as major CARs which were subsequently closed out by the certificate holder. The question of ‘commitment’ was also directly addressed and these actions will be reported in the next public summary for this certificate.”[250]

We have no choice other than to take Marais’ word for this. SGS’s most recent surveillance visit was in April 2006, but the public summary of the visit is still not available on the SGS website.[251]

When discussing whether the UWA-FACE project complies with FSC Principle 2 (which covers land tenure issues), SGS’s Public Summary makes the following statement:

    “Since 1993 encroachers have been evicted from the National Park. Due to the high population pressures in the area, it has not been possible to relocate farmers, which has meant that people have been pushed back out of the park, increasing the population pressures in the surrounding areas. For this reason, the boundaries of the park remain under constant threat.“By re-establishing forest up to the boundary, the project will help to secure the boundary in the long term. Local inhabitants will also benefit from the non-timber forest products in the forest, again in the medium to long term. In the short term, this is creating significant pressures for additional resources. However, this is not the responsibility of the UWA Face project. The decision to evict encroachers from National Parks was taken in 1992 prior to the start of the project. The encroachers have never had legal rights to farm the land and UWA are legally entitled to evict settlers from inside the boundary. There are active discussions about the park boundaries taking place at several levels within the administration and government and UWA-Face will respect those decisions once they are made.”[252]

This clearly shows the biases of SGS’s assessors towards park management and against the people living around the park. According to FSC criterion 2.3, “Appropriate mechanisms shall be employed to resolve disputes over tenure claims and use rights.” No such mechanisms exist at Mount Elgon, as the ongoing conflict over the boundary and the between park management and local communities clearly indicates (see Chapter 3). SGS maintains (falsely) that “The project is not planting in areas where the boundary is under dispute and the project is not engaged in any significant disputes.”[253]

According to SGS, “The intense pressure over access to the park’s resources is being addressed through the CRM [Collaborative Resource Management] Agreements and re-negotiation of park boundaries.”[254] But, as we saw in Chapter 5, there are serious problems with the Collaborative Resource Management Agreements, problems which SGS fails to mention. The Collaborative Resource Management Agreements are not addressing the conflicts over access to the national park. SGS describes the “re-negotiation of park boundaries” as if this were a solution to the problems villagers are facing. In fact the resurveying of the boundaries is a major source of ongoing conflict (see Chapter 3).

FSC criterion 2.3 continues: “The circumstances and status of any outstanding disputes will be explicitly considered in the certification evaluation. Disputes of substantial magnitude involving a significant number of interests will normally disqualify an operation from being certified.” SGS’s Public Summary does not document the ongoing conflicts around the national park and there is no evidence that SGS has “explicitly considered” these conflicts in its certification evaluation. Yet, surely, the fact that villagers have been shot at and killed would indicate that there are “disputes of substantial magnitude” at Mount Elgon.

During the first phase of the project (1994-1997), the UWA-FACE project planted an area of 3,482 hectares with indigenous species. A second phase (1997-2000) ran into difficulties, as SGS notes:

    “The second Phase project activities did not flow smoothly due to conflict from agricultural encroachments. An estimated 1,000 ha planned for restoration in the second phase was not available for replanting. In Kapchorwa District due to local politics the area earmarked for restoration was made inaccessible to project activities. During Phase II, 2581 ha were planted.”[255]

The “local politics” that SGS’s assessors mention in Kapchorwa District is the struggle of the Benet for the recognition of their land rights – a dispute that has been going on for decades and which is more evidence of “disputes of substantial magnitude” involving the UWA-FACE project.

FSC’s Principle 3 deals with Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. Criterion 3.1 states, “Indigenous peoples shall control forest management on their lands and territories unless they delegate control with free and informed consent to other agencies.” Here is SGS’s statement on how the UWA-FACE project complies with this criterion:

    “The Benet Tribe is indigenous in the northern part of the park. They have customary use rights to graze cattle on the high pastures within the park boundaries. Originally they were gatherers and pastoralists rather than settled cultivators but when they were allocated land, outsiders took advantage and obtained much of the allocation with the result that the Benets continue to roam within the park. The government is reviewing the position of the park boundary in this area and the project has delayed plans to plant in this area.”[256]

At no stage since the British declared Mount Elgon a Crown Forest have the Benet had any control over the forest management on their lands and territories. When the Benet were evicted from their land on Mount Elgon, they did not delegate control of their lands with free and informed consent. No one asked them whether they wanted their land to become a national park. The UWA-FACE project did not ask the Benet for their consent before starting planting trees around the boundary of the national park. “Delaying plans to plant in this area” does not constitute free and informed consent on the part of the Benet.

In the report of a Surveillance visit in 2004, SGS writes that

    “The issue of the Benet Tribe re-settlement needs to be monitored until it is resolved. Briefly, the Benet Community had customary use rights of the heath and moorland vegetation belts within the Park. In 1983, the Government excised 6000ha of the (then) Mt Elgon Forest Reserve to resettle the Benet Community. Unfortunately, the re-settlement exercise was not successful due to numerous reasons, and people from the Benet area have continued to live and practice agriculture within the Park.”[257]

SGS makes no mention of the fact that the Benet had taken the government to court for recognition of their rights. (The court case, had SGS considered it, would have provided further evidence for SGS’s assessors of a dispute “of a substantial magnitude”, which would mean that the certificate would have to be withdrawn.) SGS recognises the Benet’s “customary use rights of
heath and moorland vegetation belts within the Park.” But by writing about these rights in the past tense, SGS is once again siding with park management against local people – in this case against the Benet.

In the April 2006 surveillance report, SGS’s assessors mention the Benet only once: “Outside the FMU [forest management unit], the Benet tribe has moved into Mt Elgon national park boundaries. The extent of this needs to be evaluated . . . to assess the serious [sic] of the boundary dispute.”[258] This statement shows that SGS has little regard for wither the spirit or the letter of FSC’s Principle 3.

To SGS, what is unfortunate about the “resettlement exercise” is that the Benet “have continued to live and practice agriculture within the Park”. FSC criterion 3.2 explicitly recognises indigenous peoples’ tenure rights: “Forest management shall not threaten or diminish, either directly or indirectly, the resources or tenure rights of indigenous peoples.”

SGS comments that “Face is not planting in any of the areas where park boundaries are under discussion.”[259] In 2002, SGS stated that “good progress” had been made “in defining the park boundaries” and the project is “preparing to return to Kapkwata where seedlings were up-rooted in the past.”[260] No mention is given in SGS’s Public Summary of whether the Benet have given their free and informed consent to this new planting.

In the 2004 Surveillance Report, SGS’s assessors note that “The latest initiative to resolve the issue was a meeting between UWA and Kapchorwa District Leadership on 16 March 2004.” They mention that the park boundaries are being surveyed “since one of the problems was that the community was not shown the actual boundary”. In SGS’s 2005 Surveillance report there is no mention whatsoever of the Benet.[261]

During stakeholder meetings organised by SGS as part of its assessment of the UWA-FACE project, villagers raised the problem that they had lost access to grasslands inside the national park. Once again, SGS sided with park management and against local people. “This is contrary to the conservation objectives of the National Park,” SGS’s assessors wrote in the Public Summary.[262]

In any case, according to SGS, “This is a result of the gazettement [sic] of the park, not the project.”[263]

SGS acknowledges in the Public Summary that villagers graze their cattle in and around the park. However, their concern is not with finding a balance between grazing and growing trees. There is no mention in the report of the conflicts between villagers looking for grazing land for their cattle and park management. Instead, SGS’s assessors state bluntly that “[p]rotection from grazing by domestic animals is afforded through the enforcement of National Park Laws that strictly forbid the grazing of animals within the park.”[264]

SGS then refers to an IUCN project: “Nevertheless, UWA and IUCN are introducing improved varieties of cattle and stall feeding in conjunction with Napier grass.”[265] Villagers requested grazing land, but received stall feeding with Napier grass. SGS does not explain which part of this arrangement involves the “free and informed consent” of the villagers.

SGS’s assessors discuss the way the UWA-FACE project is replanting in various vegetation types. They look at riverine vegetation, ferns, creepers and climbers. The final vegetation type is “Encroached”:

    “Rehabilitation in these areas requires the eviction of encroachers before the work can begin. Mt. Elgon National Park is moving in this direction, though more speed may be required to ensure the evictions are carried out successfully.”[266]

SGS does not discuss whether such evictions would comply with FSC’s Principles and Criteria. Nor does SGS discuss the problems people face after eviction from the national park. A few days before SGS issued the certificate, UWA started a wave of brutal evictions (see Chapter 3). These evictions are not mentioned in any of the public summaries of SGS’s reports.

FSC’s Principle 4 is about community relations and worker’s rights. It states that “Forest management operations shall maintain or enhance the long-term social and economic well-being of forest workers and local communities.” It’s difficult to imagine how anyone who has talked to villagers about the UWA-FACE project can believe that the project complies with this principle. Nevertheless, SGS manages to do so.

Before issuing the certificate, SGS’s assessors noted that only people directly employed by the project see any benefits from the project. SGS issued a major corrective action request which UWA-FACE had to comply with before the SGS issued the certificate. This was “closed out” because SGS’s assessors were assured that money from carbon sequestration would eventually be spent on “local infrastructure, facilities and social programmes”. SGS comments that

    “Face Foundation has recently signed a revenue sharing agreement with the UWA that entitles UWA to a share of the revenues from the sale of the carbon benefits. UWA and therefore the communities surrounding the park will benefit from the resources derived from the project in direct proportion to the size of those resources.”[267]

SGS’s observation that a benefit sharing agreement between the FACE Foundation and UWA will automatically benefit local people living around the park displays a staggering lack of understanding of the realities of the conflict between UWA and local people. In any case, no money has changed hands as a result of the revenue sharing agreement. In October 2006, the FACE Foundation’s Martijn Snoep told Jutta Kill that

    “Revenue sharing has been discussed but has still not been applied. The major reason is that the sale of the carbon credits is still not profitable: the revenues do not outweigh the investments made in the past. But in fact it already takes place, because the Face Foundation finances the planting and the maintenance of the forest, resulting in direct employment of local population.”[268]

In none of the public summaries of SGS’s reports does SGS discuss the fact that four years after the revenue sharing agreement was signed, no money from the sale of carbon credits has reached villagers.

According to SGS, “UWA-Face is widely recognised as being one of the few significant sources of income in the area. They employ a permanent labour source of approx. 250 workers and during peak season, take on an additional 1000 casual labourers.”[269] However, in recent years, little new planting has taken place.[270] In July 2006, UWA’s Richard Matanda told us the number of people employed under the project:

    “The project provides employment for local people. Workers earn 50,000 shillings a month (about US$28). Originally about 1,000 workers were employed. Now there are about 100 workers employed for the tending. People come from the area where the planting takes place. The workers are casual and not permanent.”[271]

In the villages that we visited on the southern boundary of the park no one had worked for the UWA-FACE project.

FSC’s Principle 5 considers benefits from the forest: “Forest management operations shall encourage the efficient use of the forest’s multiple products and services to ensure economic viability and a wide range of environmental and social benefits.” The UWA-FACE project plants trees to store carbon. The trees are not there for the benefit of local people. Cutting grass or collecting firewood from the planted areas is banned. Criterion 5.2 states that “Forest management and marketing operations should encourage the optimal use and local processing of the forest’s diversity of products.” Criterion 5.4 states that “Forest management should strive to strengthen and diversify the local economy, avoiding dependence on a single forest product.” These two criteria should make the certification of almost any carbon sink impossible under the FSC system. Only one product, carbon, is sold from the trees planted under the UWA-FACE project. The carbon is marketed via a Dutch company’s website. It is difficult to imagine anything more remote from “local processing”. In response to criterion 5.2, SGS simply comments that “There are no commercial products extracted from the project area. Carbon will be sold without being ‘harvested’.”[272]

SGS’s response to criterion 5.4 is revealing: “Local communities are keenly aware of the opportunities to access resources from the park.” But the resources in the national park are not part of the UWA-FACE project. SGS adds that the Collaborative Resource Management Agreements “are likely to become an important management tool in the future and the project is urged to take part as actively as possible.”[273] These agreements are also not part of the UWA-FACE project. When aspects of national park management outside the UWA-FACE project might help give reasons for SGS to award the certificate, SGS’s assessors consider the entire national park. However, as we discuss below, when the management of the national park is clearly in breach of FSC principles, SGS states that this is outside the scope of the certification.

FSC criterion 6.2 states that “Inappropriate hunting, fishing, trapping and collecting shall be controlled.” SGS comments that “There is no hunting within the park,”[274] which raises the awkward question of who exactly park rangers are shooting at when they claim to be shooting at poachers inside the park. SGS, of course, doesn’t mention the fact that UWA’s park rangers occasionally shoot at (and sometimes kill) people inside the park (see Chapter 3). Earlier in the report, SGS’s assessors write that “Hunting was not common and the project does not own or use any firearms.”[275]

FSC Principle 7 concerns the management plan, which must be “written, implemented and kept up to date”. According to criterion 7.4, “forest managers shall make publicly available a summary of the primary elements of the management plan”. In order to meet this criterion, the UWA-FACE project produced an eight-page brochure, which SGS notes is available on the FACE Foundation website.

SGS also notes that “A summary of the Mt Elgon National Park Management Plan has been prepared. Whilst this does not specifically cover the activities of Face Foundation, taken in conjunction with the brochure it provides sufficient information.”[276],[277]

While we were at UWA’s office in Mbale, we asked for a copy of the management plan. Although we were assured that there was a copy in the office, we received neither the management plan, nor the summary of the management plan, nor the UWA-FACE brochure.

FSC’s Principle 10 covers plantations. SGS comments that “the project is re-creating an ecosystem that does not meet the FSC definition of a plantation.” Nevertheless, SGS assessed the project against each of the criteria under Principle 10.

Criterion 10.4 discusses the selection of species to be planted and states that exotic species “shall be used only when their performance is greater than that of native species”. The UWA-FACE project is planting a 10 metre-wide strip of eucalyptus trees around the boundary of the park. According to Dennis Slieker, the Director of the FACE Foundation, this is to provide poles and firewood for local communities.

According to the FACE Foundation’s Martijn Snoep,

    “The Eucalyptus boundaries have been initiated in a project carried out by IUCN/UWA. In some cases Face has facilitated the planting of the boundary. The trees are meant to demarcate the project area and are meant for use by the local population, which is arranged by UWA in Collaborative Resource Management Agreements. The boundary trees are not included in the carbon monitoring.”

Yet SGS’s Public Summary states that “Only indigenous species are used.”[278]

SGS’s visits to Mount Elgon

The UWA-FACE project covers a 211 kilometre long boundary to a national park which in parts is quite remote. Richard Matanda told us a few details about SGS’s visits to Mount Elgon.[279] When SGS carries out its assessments or surveillance visits, SGS’s assessors drive with UWA staff to look at selected areas of planting. They also visit communities to find out whether there are any problems – in the company of UWA staff. Three days is the longest that they spend looking at the planting operations.

SGS’s assessors then write up a report of their visit. It appears they conduct no other research into what may have happened since their last visit (such as reading the local newspapers, contacting NGOs working in the area and so on). Perhaps the biggest omission in SGS’s Public Summaries of the two surveillance reports is failure to discuss the Benet’s legal proceedings against UWA, aiming for recognition of their land rights, which started in 2003.

Certifying the trees or certifying the park management?

SGS’s certificate covers only the UWA-FACE project and not the rest of the park. Whether this is acceptable under FSC guidelines is not at all clear from SGS’s reports.

In the 2002 Public Summary of the assessment, SGS makes clear that the UWA-FACE project must be considered as part of the management of the entire national park:

    “The project is in the process of being integrated into UWA as part of the on-going restructuring of UWA under the leadership of the current Executive Director. As a consequence, when this process is complete, the scope of the certificate will have to be expanded to cover the whole area of Mt Elgon National Park as it is not permitted to certify only part of a Forest Management Unit. It is anticipated that this extension to scope should take place in late 2002 or 2003 when the integration is complete.”[280]

Yet to date, SGS has not assessed the management of the whole park.

In April 2004, SGS carried out a surveillance visit at Mount Elgon. During this visit SGS’s assessors should have assessed whether the certificate could be expanded to cover the entire national park (according to the statement above from the 2002 Public Summary). In the public summary of the Surveillance Report, SGS’s assessors noted that “Eventual extension of scope to include the whole management unit is an FSC requirement in terms of demonstrating long-term commitment to adhere to the FSC P&C [Principles and Criteria].” However, SGS’s assessors decided not to attempt to assess the whole national park, on the grounds that had they done so, they would have found that the park would not comply with FSC’s Principles and Criteria:

    “Extension of scope to incorporate the whole of Mt Elgon National Park was investigated, but it was found that there were too many problems in the commercial softwood areas (Kapkwata and Suam) that would need to be rectified first. The possibility of extending the scope to the rest of the park, excluding the commercial plantation areas could be considered.”[281]

This is an extraordinary statement on at least two levels. One, it appears that to SGS the fact that UWA had been involved in a series of brutal evictions since the certificate was issued was no reason to withdraw the certificate. This is despite that fact that the 2002 Public Summary states: “The extension of area means that all park boundaries, social impacts and disputes will be considered under the under the scope of Principles 2 and 3 and 4.”[282] Two, SGS acknowledges that the plantations do not comply with FSC standards, but issues no corrective action requests, instead deciding that it is after all possible to certify part of a Forest Management Unit.

When it comes to storing carbon, SGS notes in the Public Summary that one of the FACE Foundation’s long-term objectives is to:

    “Restore the natural vegetation in the area of Mt. Elgon National Park through reforestation and conservation activities. This does not only include the areas in the restoration zone adjacent to the park boundary. It also covers all areas within the National Park, which are positively influenced (from the point of view of carbon fixation) through restoration and/or protection activities directly and/or indirectly executed or assisted through UWA-Face Project.”[283]

In their 2005 surveillance visit, SGS’s assessors once again did not assess the whole national park for compliance with FSC standards. The only mention of assessing the national park in the Public Summary of the 2005 surveillance visit is in these two comments:

  • “No CARs [Corrective Action Requests] were raised on the plantation areas, but they don [sic] not currently qualify for certification. Clarification needed on the exact scope of the certificate.”[284]
  • “Attention should be given to the change of scope aas [sic] was proposed in the 2004 report.”[285]

I asked SGS’s Gerrit Marais when SGS plans to assess the whole of the forest management unit and why SGS has not so far assessed the whole of the Mount Elgon National Park for compliance with FSC principles and criteria. I also asked Marais why SGS did not withdraw the certificate given the fact that the rest of the national park does not comply with FSC Principles, and that under FSC guidelines, certification of part of a forest management unit is not permitted. Here’s his reply in full:

    “SGS was contracted by FACE to certify the ‘forest restoration’ zone of the National Park as this is the only physical forest area over which the FACE/UWA partnership has effective control with UWA having independent control over the rest of the park. Unless this partnership can be sufficiently integrated and evolved to allow decision making in both the forest restoration zone and the rest of the park to be wholly combined, the scope cannot be enlarged. This has nothing to do with ‘commitment’, but is purely based on practicalities related to responsibilities and sphere of influence. Even if FACE were willing to carry the additional cost of certifying the whole park, they would still not have sufficient control for certification purposes whilst UWA is not able to carry this responsibility on its own. In addition, the only area that may potentially compromise full compliance with FSC requirements is the plantation in the north-east of the Park, comprising just over 1% of the total park area. Although the 2004 report included evidence of non-compliance within this plantation area, the auditor did not regard this as significant enough to raise a major CAR (see below for explanation) and for this reason it is not currently regarded as evidence that there is not ‘sufficient commitment’ to the P&Cs [Principles and Criteria] of FSC. FSC does not require a forest owner to include all its holdings in the scope of a certificate, but the rule states that you cannot certify part of an FMU. As I have however outlined, the certificate holder does not have management control over the rest of the FMU. The current certificate expires on 20 March 2007 and should FACE and/or UWA decide to renew the certificate, the question of scope will be reviewed before the next certification contract is signed.”[286]

Marais’ reply is inconsistent with SGS’s reports of the assessment and surveillance visits, as noted above. In effect, SGS will have allowed the certificate to remain in place for five years, in spite of the fact that SGS assessors knew of breaches of FSC standards. Once again, SGS ignores the fact that UWA is involved in ongoing violent conflicts with local people which are also in breach of FSC standards.

Marais’ reply is undermined by the fact that in 2004, SGS issued a series of corrective action requests on activities within the national park but which have nothing to do with the UWA-FACE tree planting project. After the 2005 surveillance visit, SGS commented that “Technically the CARs were raised outside the jurisdiction of the FACE rehabilitation project. However it is still with the same management in the park.”[287]

SGS’s assessors really have got themselves into something of a pickle. They know that in order to comply with FSC guidelines, they need to assess the entire national park. They know that the entire national park does not comply with FSC standards. They know that the only course of action is to withdraw the certificate, on the grounds that the operation they are certifying does not comply with FSC standards. However, instead of withdrawing the certificate, SGS’s assessors issued three major corrective action requests and two new minor corrective action requests. The certificate remains in place based on hoped for future improvements, not based on whether the operations comply with FSC standards.

The FACE Foundation appears to believe that the entire national park is certified. FACE Foundation’s Martijn Snoep told Jutta Kill in October 2006 that “The certification covers the whole area of the National Parks (Kibale and Mt. Elgon) – i.e. not only the Face development area.”[288]

An UWA-FACE brochure also implies that the entire park is certified: “the forests are certified on the criteria for sustainable forestry of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). Mt. Elgon and Kibale National Parks are among the first parks in Africa to obtain this certificate.”[289] This is the brochure that SGS describes as providing “sufficient information” together with the management plan for the national park to close out a major corrective action request for a publicly available summary of the management plan. The fact that the brochure makes a misleading statement about the scope of the certificate appears to have evaded SGS’s assessors’ attention.

SGS visited Mount Elgon in April 2006, for the third surveillance visit. The certificate remains in place. The certificate is due for renewal in March 2007. To state the obvious: SGS must assess the management of the park against FSC standards. If it fails to comply, SGS must withdraw the certificate – something they should have done long ago.

REFERENCES AND FOOTNOTES

[240] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 23.

[241] FSC’s principles and criteria are available here.

[242] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 20.

[243] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 20.

[244] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 21.

[245] SGS (2004) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Management Surveillance Report. Public Summary Information“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, pages 13-14.

[246] SGS (2005) “Forest Management Surveillance Report. Section A Public Summary“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 8-9.

[247] SGS (2005) “Forest Management Surveillance Report. Section A Public Summary“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 10.

[248] E-mail from Gerrit Marais (SGS) to Chris Lang, 18 July 2006.

[249] E-mail from Gerrit Marais (SGS) to Chris Lang, 18 July 2006.

[250] E-mail from Gerrit Marais (SGS) to Chris Lang, 18 July 2006.

[251] At the time of writing, 3 November 2006, the surveillance report was not available on SGS’s website. I checked again just before sending this report for printing (15 December 2006). The fourth surveillance is now available on SGS’s web-site. Regarding UWA-FACE’s commitment to FSC Principles and Criteria, the surveillance report comments that “All outstanding CAR’s were addressed and a workshop was presented to management on the FSC on 23 and 24 September 2005 attended by about 23 persons on day 1 and 25 persons on day 2, including 8 senior staff members. All previous CAR’s, with the exception of minor CAR 16, were closed during surveillance 4.” SGS (2006) “Forest Management Surveillance Report. Section A Public Summary“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, April 2006.

[252] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 21.

[253] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 22.

[254] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 22.

[255] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 5.

[256] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 22.

[257] SGS (2004) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Management Surveillance Report. Public Summary Information“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 4.

[258] SGS (2006) “Forest Management Surveillance Report. Section A Public Summary“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, April 2006, page 12.

[259] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 22.

[260] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 22.

[261] SGS (2005) “Forest Management Surveillance Report. Section A Public Summary“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980.

[262] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 36.

[263] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 31.

[264] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 11.

[265] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 31.

[266] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 9.

[267] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 23.

[268] Martijn Snoep, FACE Foundation, e-mail to Jutta Kill, 26 October 2006.

[269] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 16.

[270] At the time the certificate was issued (March 2002), a total of 7,063 hectares had been planted. In the last four years less than 1,500 hectares has been planted.

[271] Interview with Richard Matanda in Mbale by Timothy Byakola, Jutta Kill and Chris Lang. 19 July 2006.

[272] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 26.

[273] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 26.

[274] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 27.

[275] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 20.

[276] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 30.

[277] In October 2006, FACE Foundation’s Martijn Snoep confirmed to Jutta Kill that the link from the English part of the FACE Foundation website to the summary management plan “does not work indeed”. He sent copies of summaries of the management plans of Mount Elgon and of Kibale. (Martijn Snoep, FACE Foundation, e-mail to Jutta Kill, 26 October 2006.)

[278] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 37.

[279] Interview with Richard Matanda in Mbale by Timothy Byakola, Jutta Kill and Chris Lang. 19 July 2006.

[280] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 3.

[281] SGS (2004) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Management Surveillance Report. Public Summary Information“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 8.

[282] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 33.

[283] SGS (2002) “Mount Elgon National Park Forest Certification Public Summary Report“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 4.

[284]SGS (2005) “Forest Management Surveillance Report. Section A Public Summary“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 11.

[285] SGS (2005) “Forest Management Surveillance Report. Section A Public Summary“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 12.

[286] E-mail from Gerrit Marais (SGS) to Chris Lang, 18 July 2006.

[287] SGS (2005) “Forest Management Surveillance Report. Section A Public Summary“, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) Forestry Qualifor Programme, Certificate number SGS-FM/COC- 0980, page 11-12.

[288] Martijn Snoep, FACE Foundation, e-mail to Jutta Kill, 26 October 2006.

[289] UWA-FACE (no date) “Let the earth remain green”, UWA-FACE brochure.

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