World Rainforest Movement

Brazil: FSC certification of Aracruz suspended

The news that giant bleached eucalyptus pulp producer Aracruz Celulose had applied for FSC certification had an enormous impact in the two Brazilian states -Bahia and Espirito Santo- where it operates. As a result, a large number of organizations and individuals concerned with the spread of extensive monoculture plantations in the region -which include those of Aracruz, Bahia Sul and Veracel- got together to prevent the company from receiving FSC approval.

The ensuing networking activities brought people together at a seminar which took place in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, on October 15-16. Participants included representatives from indigenous peoples organizations, NGOs, trade unions, fisherfolk, academics, Afro-Brazilian communities, journalists, parliamentarians and others. The seminar analized the impacts of the activities of Aracruz in the framework of the FSC principles and criteria and agreed to actively participate in the consultation process being implemented by the certifying firm SCS. Given that SCS had not complied with a number of FSC’s requirements for participation and consultation, they decided to send a letter requesting the postponement of the consultation meetings. The letter was sent on October 22nd  and to date (November 16) no reply has been received. FSC-Brazil has now informed that the certification process has been temporarily suspended due to the procedural deficiencies denounced by civil society organizations.

At the same time, the “agreement” imposed by Aracruz on the Tupinikim and Guarani indigenous peoples in the state of Espirito Santo is beginning to be questioned and on November 11, the indigenous peoples staged a demonstration to show their discomfort.

In spite of its enormous power, Aracruz is in a weak position. Knowing its record regarding indigenous peoples, it is trying to get FSC certification only for its plantations in Bahia, thus avoiding the issue of the dispossesion of indigenous peoples’ lands in the neighbouring state of Espirito Santo. But even in Bahia, the impacts of plantations have shown to be so great, that it is highly improbable that it can be certified. For the FSC, its own credibility is at stake in this certification process. If Aracruz were to be eventually certified, most NGOs participating in the scheme would almost certainly withdraw, thus losing the necessary support to achieve credibility.