Updates from an investigation into African Aucoumea supply chains

FSC / Iván Castro
FSC / Iván Castro
January 25, 2022

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Assurance Services International (ASI) identified several instances of potential false claims and significant volume mismatches in the FSC-certified Aucoumea (Aucoumea klaineana) supply chain, originating in Africa.

ASI and FSC initiated a transaction verification process for FSC-certified African Aucoumea supply chains, in 2020, after receiving multiple allegations about illegally obtained high-value African species that were potentially being laundered as FSC-certified.

The first stage of the transaction verification process revealed that:

  • Gabon is the main source of FSC-certified Aucoumea roundwood, which is processed into veneer.
  • Europe is the major market and secondary processing center for FSC-certified Aucoumea plywood.
  • The supply of FSC-certified Aucoumea roundwood does not appear to be sufficient for the quantity of finished products (veneer and plywood) sold in Europe and North America.

In the first stage of this investigation, business transactions of 521 certificate holders were collected and analyzed, for the period January – December 2019. Based on the findings of this analysis, ASI started a more in-depth investigation. The ongoing ASI investigation is expected to reveal the companies that are in violation of FSC standards and certification requirements.

In the next phase of this investigation, FSC plans to use wood identification techniques to confirm the provenance of timber used by the potentially non-conforming companies identified by ASI. FSC will revoke the trademark license agreement of non-conforming certificate holders within the African Aucoumea supply chain. In addition, these companies may also be blocked or suspended from the FSC system. For more details about the definition of a blocked organization and associated clauses, please see ADVICE-40-004-18, which is available within this document.

FSC believes that wood identification techniques can help the FSC’s certification system to become more robust and credible. FSC is a member of a consortium of organizations called WorldForestID, which is an initiative that aims to develop an open-source georeferenced database of wood species from across the world. FSC is also supporting the University of Wageningen’s Timtrace Project for wood sample collection in Africa.