Austrian parquet manufacturers accused of importing illegal timber from Ukraine

Austrian parquet manufacturers accused of importing illegal timber from Ukraine

Recently, WWF Austria accused four Austrian parquet manufacturers of importing illegally harvested timber from the Ukraine. The WWF relies on a report from the search platform "Addendum", which allegedly found traces back to two Ukrainian suppliers.

The allegations are directed against Weitzer, Scheucher, Admonter and Parador. Over a period of 18 months, according to the report, 436 truckloads from Ukraine worth $ 35.9 million were delivered to the four parquet manufacturers.

Ukraine is known as a high-risk country, with large proportion of logging being illegal, while the EUTR controls in Austria are insufficient, according to the WWF. The environmental organization therefore calls on the Austrian Ministry of the Environment and its competent authorities to significantly tighten both controls and sanctions.

Due to the media reports which examined the Austrian parquet market and its Ukrainian suppliers, some have raised doubts about the effectiveness of FSC controls in Ukraine. They suggest FSC certification is not an effective means of punishing or exposing violations of FSC standards in cases where companies or forestry operations are associated with corruption and organized crime.

In a press release responding to the reports, FSC said that it is a voluntary certification system for social, economic and ecologically sustainable forest management. By means of supply chain certification, FSC ensures a direct link between end products and positive incentives for forestry. All certified forest owners and companies are bound to comply with the relevant FSC standards. These forestry standards are based on international principles and criteria.

According to FSC's press release, as a voluntary instrument, FSC certification alone cannot solve all the problems associated with poor forest management or the illegal timber trade. FSC certification is an additional control instrument for safeguarding timber supply chains. FSC condemns any criminal acts or unfair behaviour on the part of its certificate holders.

FSC is aware of the difficult environment in Ukraine, the organisation says in its press release. As a result, the country is already subject to additional control procedures for FSC certified forestry and supply chains. For example, the independent, FSC-accredited auditors (controllers) are regularly accompanied by controllers from the international quality assurance organisation Assurance Services International (ASI). This also includes unannounced company inspections.

Following the media reports, FSC lodged a complaint with ASI regarding the companies in question. If the allegations are confirmed, this may lead to further review of the certificates and, if necessary, to additional consequences. Early in December, “Zunami” – a company named in the media reports – was investigated, and investigations will continue.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *