FSC Acts on Uncertified Wood in Snowboard Industry Supply Chain

FSC / Iván Castro
FSC / Iván Castro
January 30, 2020

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a global leader in forest certification, has uncovered false claims by suppliers of Paulownia wood.

Among the most impacted by this issue are snowboard brands that use Paulownia for snowboard cores. This means that the Paulownia wood used in the cores of affected snowboards is not FSC certified, even though the snowboards carry the FSC label.

Paulownia wood is often mixed with other species to build a snowboard core, which represents roughly 10-20 per cent by weight of a finished snowboard. Uncertified Paulownia wood does not adversely affect the product’s performance. It simply means that the uncertified Paulownia wood does not originate from responsibly managed forests that have been audited against FSC’s high social and environmental standards.

After months of investigation, FSC found that a small number of Chinese wood suppliers claiming to source FSC-certified Paulownia had in fact sold uncertified Paulownia as certified. This uncertified wood was then passed along the snowboard manufacturing supply chain, with many businesses along the chain acting in good faith and unaware they were buying uncertified material.

Jeremy Harrison, FSC Chief Marketing Officer, stressed that many parties along the supply chain were unaware of the fact that the product claimed to be FSC-certified, was in fact not certified.

“The affected snowboard brands are suffering the consequences of misconduct that occurred at the start of the Paulownia supply chain and should now be acting with honesty and integrity to communicate this issue transparently to their customers.

“The impacted brands should be commended for their leadership in sustainable purchasing to date and for their efforts, working closely with FSC, to identify and secure valid, certified sources of Paulownia for future production,” said Harrison.

Following an extensive investigation into Paulownia supply chains, FSC recently acted against suppliers that were found to have traded non-certified Paulownia as FSC certified. The certificates of these suppliers were terminated or suspended pending further investigation.

The misconduct was identified by FSC using its transaction verification procedure. Transaction verification is the process of comparing and verifying all transactions relating to a specific product type, group or region over a given time period.

FSC prioritizes the integrity of its brandmark, which distinguishes responsibly procured wood and wood-based products. 

About Paulownia

Paulownia is the collective name for a group of fast-growing species native to Eastern Asia. It is commonly cultivated in plantations in northern China for its light wood, which offers specific characteristics. Paulownia wood is used for a wide variety of purposes, such as housing components, sports equipment, furniture and musical instruments.

About FSC

As the pioneer of forest certification, FSC has 25 years of experience in sustainable forest management and is widely regarded as the world’s most trusted forest certification system. FSC uses its expertise to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests, bringing together experts from the environmental, economic and social spheres. FSC develops the standards that define how forests can be managed sustainably and provides a label for businesses to show their products originate from these certified forests. FSC standards are based on ten core principles designed to prevent deforestation and degradation, and safeguard biodiversity, water quality, carbon storage, and Indigenous Peoples’ and workers’ rights, among other key environmental and social values.