Press release from Quercus in Portugal. Why does FSC keep allowing this sort of operation to be certified?
Quercus alerts for problems
in Altri Florestal S.A. forest management
FSC and PEFC sustainable forest management certification systems at stake
Quercus has found several problems on Altri Florestal S.A. (former Silvicaima) forest management, due to its strong impacts, namely soil erosion, lack of discontinuity on the eucalyptus monocultures and impact on protected species, and still it holds its certification for sustainable forest management.
Quercus has detected several aspects not complying with a responsible forest management and although it has contacted Altri Florestal and especially its auditing company – Sativa, almost nothing has been done and the re-certification procedures still do go on.
The main issues are related to the new reforestation projects, undertaking a super intensive farming with the installation of huge areas of eucalyptus monocultures, without respect for some conditions, namely:
- The promotion of enormous areas of continuous soil mobilization, causing acute soil erosion;
- The plantation, in some areas, of hundreds of hectares and cultures without any discontinuity, without strips of leafy species more resistant to fire, in order to promote the protection of the forest against fires (between 20 and 50 hectares), and according to the legal norms (Portaria no. 528/88 and the Portuguese National Plan for the Prevention and Protection of Forest Against Fires);
- The cutting down and the depreciation of cork oak trees, protected by law, without the necessary authorization;
- The plantation of eucalyptus by temporary water lines, on public hydric domain;
- Installation of a large barbed wired fence, to enclose the property of Galisteu, inside the International Tejo Natural Park, increasing the risk of injuries and death among the wild fauna, namely the deer, a large mammal that exists in the premises.
Quercus considers that Altri Forestal forest management should not be certified
Recently, Quercus came across several management problems, with some illegalities, on a new reforestation project in Vale Mouro, a 280 hectares property by the highway A1, in the municipality of Azambuja, where two bulldozers were found carrying out continuous soil mobilization, moving the soil from top to bottom, on slopes steeper than 25 to 30% (partly included on the National Ecological Reserve –REN), which has caused an increase on soil erosion over the water lines, a situation which apart from technically incorrect, is definitely illegal according to Portaria no. 528/88, and thus totally inadmissible on a responsible forest management.
Under this context, and throughout several occasions, Quercus has had the opportunity to address the auditing company Sativa, stating that as there were “no changes to the issues we have brought up since last year, and due to the seriousness of the situation, we consider that the FSC Certificate to Altri Florestal should not be renewed, and even the current one should be revoked.”
We regret that, despite the several warnings to the auditing company Sativa (Soil Association Woodmark for Forest Certification), with so many evidences on Altri Florestal bad management, in flagrant violation with the FSC principles and criteria, beginning on Principle 1 – Compliance with the Rules and Principles of the FSC, all the way to the Principle 10 concerning plantations, including environmental impacts on the resources, Altri Florestal has been FSC re-certified by Sativa, which unveils not only the fragilities of the auditing procedures, but also the very lack of accuracy of the implementation of the FSC system in our country.
Although Quercus does support the national initiative of FSC Portugal, we consider that, in order to support the FSC system, companies such as Altri Florestal cannot be certified, otherwise the system is at a serious risk of being discredited apart from the fact that it may turn out to be unfair to those who comply with the principles and criteria of a responsible forest management.
Quercus makes a public statement and requests an audit to the FSC International
Due to the seriousness of this situation, Quercus has requested the Directive Board of FSC International (ASI) to carry out an autonomous audit to both the Altri Forestal management and the audit undertaken by Sativa.
In order to illustrate the problems caused by Altri Florestal management, a document was prepared, which can be downloaded on the Quercus website: http://www.quercus.pt
Lisboa, the 9th of May of 2011
The National Directive Board of
Quercus – Associação Nacional de Conservação da Natureza
For more information, please contact:
Domingos Patacho: (+351) 937 515 218
Altri Florestal S.A. is a company producing paper pulp from eucalyptus, carrying out forest management, and it is rated on the Lisbon’s Stock Exchange, where it is a part of its main index PSI-20. Forest management is one of Altri’s main activity, currently managing in Portugal around 82 thousand hectares of forest certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and also by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).