FSC to maintain association with WOB Timber with conditions

FSC GD / Arturo Escobar
FSC Solid Timber
FSC GD / Arturo Escobar
July 18, 2023

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has decided to set conditions for maintaining association with WOB Timber GmbH based on the recommendations of a panel of external experts (decision panel), which were approved by the FSC International Board of Directors. In June 2023, FSC and WOB Timber signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which stipulates the conditions that WOB Timber shall fulfil within 12 months for maintaining its association with FSC.

According to the conditions agreed in the MoU, WOB Timber shall undergo a compliance audit demonstrating its business practices are aligned with the FSC principles. Depending on the findings of the audit, the independent auditor will, if necessary, provide recommendations on corrective measures to WOB Timber which they will be required to implement. FSC will review the final verification of implementation of corrective measures resulting from the legal compliance assessment and decide on the completion of the conditions for maintaining association.

In April 2021, a German lower court had passed a judgement that implicated persons working for WOB Timber of violating specific European Union sanctions on Myanmar timber (no longer in force since May 2013) by imports between 2008 and 2011. WOB Timber appealed against this decision to the German Federal Supreme Court, and a legal proceeding is currently underway at the European Court of Justice. Therefore, the conditions set for maintaining association make provisions for the FSC International Board of Directors to reassess the case once the ongoing legal proceedings have been concluded.

In January 2023, based on an assessment of the German lower court ruling, FSC decided to proactively launch a Policy for Association case against WOB Timber.

Implementing a new process for resolving Policy for Association cases called Direct Decision, FSC constituted a decision panel whose expertise was relevant to this case. The decision panel reviewed the available evidence and shared their recommendation that FSC should maintain association with conditions.

According to FSC’s procedure on Processing Policy for Association Complaints (FSC-PRO-01-009), if the conditions agreed in the MoU are not fulfilled,  the FSC Board of Directors may decide to disassociate from WOB Timber GmbH.

For more information about FSC’s Policy for Association violation case against WOB Timber, click here.

For more information about the normative requirements around FSC maintaining association with conditions, click here.