The Transcript: RAN Dodges Regarding Support for Ancient Forest Logging

Following is a full chronology of EcoInternet's (EI) negotiations with Rainforest Action Network regarding their support of ancient forest logging certified by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The conversations commenced upon an open letter sent by EI to RAN on October 4, 2007 entitled “Open Letter of Concern Regarding RAN's Support for Ancient Forest Logging, and Notification of Impending Campaign“. In that letter the following demands were made:
1.) RAN must disassociate itself publicly from any further support for any industrial scaled logging, certified or otherwise, of primary and old-growth forests.
2.) Begin developing a rigorous rainforest campaign, linking full preservation and small scale community based eco-forestry activities that protect large, intact and contiguous rainforests with climate protection; similar in scope and ambition to your coal campaign.
3.) Removal of all scientifically misleading statements from RAN web site and campaign materials falsely suggesting that FSC certified ancient forest logging is “sustainable”; and that “sustainable logging” of ancient forests is compatible with their protection.


After some month of discussions, these and simple questions such as “how does certified industrial logging of ancient rainforests protect them” were not addressed. Below is the entire chronology of discussions on this matter between RAN and EI. You be the judge. Has RAN been forthwith with their justification for supporting ancient forest logging?
EcoInternet will be launching a full-scale campaign at the time of our choosing against RAN for their unquestioning support of FSC's program of greenwashing ancient forest logging. Our opening salvo was an essay by our President entitled ” EARTH MEANDERS: Exclude Ancient Forest Logging Supporters from Holiday Gift List“.
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10/4/07 — EI to RAN
Dear Mr. Brune,
A snail mail copy of the enclosed letter was sent to you today. I look forward to discussing RAN's policies in regard to ancient forest logging with you. Please let me know when is a good time to talk.
Warm regards,
Dr. Glen Barry
**************************
10/4/07 — EI to RAN
Hi Glen,
This is a good campaign, and a great letter. Let's definitely talk.
Next week is bad for me, as we're launching a new campaign that I think
you'll like. Sometime early in the week of October 15? I'll bring in one
of our campaigners, Brant Olson.
Mike
*************************
10/4/07 — RAN to EI
Mike,
Early in the week of October 15 works fine. The earlier the better as we are also preparing a campaign,
that I hope we can avert. Could we set a time on the 15th?
Regards,
Dr. Glen Barry
*************************
10/5/07 — RAN to EI
Mike,
I am available on October 16th at 1:30pm. Please confirm this works for you and Brant. You can call me at 920 776 1075 , or give me a # to call you if you prefer. Come prepared please to talk critically and honestly regarding what we can do to get RAN to engage the message that industrial scale logging of primary and old-growth forests must end.
Regards,
Dr. Glen Barry
***********************
10/15/07 — RAN to EI
Dr. Barry,
Please see the attached letter responding to your October 4
correspondence. Please feel free to share this on your website or with
any other interested parties (including Chris Lang and FSC-Watch.org).
We look forward to our talk tomorrow afternoon.
Cheers,
Brant
============================
Brant D. Olson
Director, Old Growth Campaign
Rainforest Action Network
221 Pine St. #500
San Francisco, CA 94104
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
415.659.0514
415.596.6581
415.398.2732
http://ran.org
============================
NOTE: response on web at http://understory.ran.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/barryresponse.pdf
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10/17/07 — EI to RAN, includes notes from telephone meeting
Dear Mike and Brant,
Thank you so much for a good meeting yesterday. I learned a lot about RAN and your forest policy, and was thrilled to receive confirmation that despite web statements to the contrary, that RAN generally does not support industrial ancient forest logging. I look forward to working with you to help make this message more prominent, to identify ways we can campaign together on these issues, and to jointly do additional research into the extent to which current and future FSC timber volumes depend upon primary and old-growth forests. I look forward to seeing your take on notes of our meeting. Would it be more appropriate for me to do my own, or could I look at and add to a draft of yours?
As part of your response to EI's open letter, and to put that firmly in the past, I would suggest that either RAN singly, or jointly, we issue a statement similar to the following:
Following expressions of concern re: the importance of ending industrial ancient forest logging by EcoInternet (EI), the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) wishes to confirm its long-standing opposition to first time industrial logging in primary and old-growth rainforests. We remain committed to ending ancient forest logging as a critical response to climate change, biodiversity and ecosystem loss, and to maintain intact rainforests for community based ecologically sustainable development by local peoples. Unlike EI, RAN does believe that in some cases certified logging of ancient forests may be justified within negotiations that achieve verifiable and long-term strict protections for large areas of adjacent forests. It is our intent to define more clearly under what circumstances this may be appropriate and desirable. We share concerns that Forest Stewardship Council logging should not depend upon ancient forests to meet current and expected market demand, and will be working with EcoInternet to ascertain to what extent this is the case. There is no such thing as environmentally sustainable industrial scale logging of ancient forests.
I suggest this as a starting point for a joint statement, and am hopeful that we can reach consensus on such a statement to then move forward with working more closely together in several manners including:
1.) Clarifying the degree of FSC's dependence upon industrial, certified primary and old-growth forest logging to meet current and growing market demand. And then taking these concerns that FSC not be dependent upon industrially scaled primary rainforest logging to the broader rainforest movement and FSC secretariat.
2.) Discussing and sharing EI's positions and past actions regarding biofuels and rainforests.
3.) EI and RAN working together regularly on joint Internet protests and actions to highlight the need to end ancient forest logging.
Have I left anything out?
Warm regards,
Glen
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10/17/07 — RAN to EI
Thank you for preparing this Glen. I think it will serve as a useful basis
for dialogue moving forward.
As I said yesterday, I'll be out of the office 'till Friday, but will
compose a proposal at that time based on your thoughts here.
Regards,
Brant
___
www.ran.org
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10/20/07 — from EI to RAN
Dear Brant,
No problem, but lets try not to let it slip more as I think this is important to wrap-up. I do have some
additional news for you and Mike on three topics.
1.) I have spoken with Simon Counsell of FSC Watch and he has confirmed my concerns and the
likely scope of the extent FSC depends upon ancient forest timbers currently, and will more in the
future to meet market share. He confirmed that FSC, not surprisingly, does not provide figures
regarding the extent of their certification of first time industrial logging of primary and old-growth
forests. However, Simon suggests some rather commonsense observations to begin scoping the
problem:
* Out of a total of 80 million certified hectares thus far, 30 million are for very large certifications
in Russia and Canada which Simon knows to be ancient forests
* FSC categorizes forests as a) natural forest, b) semi-natural and mixed plantation, and c)
plantation. It is Simon's observation after years of following the matter that “more or less
all the certificates classified as 'natural forest' taking place in tropical countries are ancient/
old growth forests.” The full list of FSC certifications can be found at:
http://www.fsc.org/keepout/en/content_areas/92/1/files/2007_10_08_FSC_Certified_Forests.pdf
It is certain that at least 60% of FSC certified timbers originate in ancient forests, as I had indicated,
and it quite possibly is much more. FSC's desire to grow to 300 million hectares can only be
achieved through even more ancient forest logging — there are simply not anywhere near enough
plantations or secondary natural forests to meet the demand RAN and others have helped build.
My question to RAN (as first raised in the open letter): now that you are aware of this fact, how
can RAN be for ending ancient forest logging at the same time as you are an FSC supporter?
I do accept that you genuinely do not want to support first time industrial logging of primary
forests. Yet the facts are the facts. What are you willing to do get yourselves out of this dilemma
and not face a campaign on the matter?
2.) A question for Mike. Now that you are aware that the Great Bear temperate rainforest
compromise achieved protection of 1/3 at the expense of 2/3 for industrial logging that was not
even to a certified level, do you still think the trade-off was worth it? Or is RAN willing to
disavow itself fully from supporting deals that allow industrial “ecosystem based” industrial
logging which is essentially business as usual best management practices and is NOT even
FSC certified logging? Please clarify.
3.) This was not the focus of the open letter, but you picked up on the fact that RAN's new
biofuels/rainforest campaign I did not think had been properly consultative. In particular it
was disturbing that I was not approached on the matter. Yes, by all means touch base
with developing country organizations, but not to the exclusion of those leading in your
own country on the matter. EcoInternet was the first to campaign internationally on
biofuels in orangutan habitat and highlight the threat to the climate of oil palm plantations
on peatlands in Indonesia. We have done half a dozen alerts sending millions of protest emails,
including to all UNFCCC national contacts! We also spearheaded international support for
the Uganda Mabira rainforest campaign, which just successfully stopped sugar cane
production in an important Ugandan protected area. And we have written extensively on the
matter including the dangers of celluloisic ethanol. Please put your campaigner on this topic
onto our organization and lets work together. We have been the leading American
campaigners on biofuels and rainforests for four years!
I am sure you need to recover from your revelry! But lets get this nailed down soon please.
I have provided two extensive follow-up materials to draw from for notes and a joint statement.
Regards,
Dr. Glen Barry
**********************************8
10/22/07 — from RAN to EI
Hi Glen,
Here's a draft statement. As a next step, I'd propose that we take our
statement, the information you provide from Simon below and any
subsequent dialogue on this issue over to FSCWatch.org where others can
offer their input on this stuff.
What do you think?
Cheers,
Brant
DRAFT STATEMENT:
Recent online posts from EcoInternet and others have caused some
to ask Rainforest Action Network for clarification about our position on
industrial logging and certification in native forests. We're happy to
join the debate and encourage conscientious observers to join the
discussion.
Rainforest Action Network (RAN) opposes industrial logging of primary
and old-growth rainforests. We remain committed to ending ancient forest
logging as a critical response to climate change, biodiversity and
ecosystem loss, and to maintain intact rainforests for community-led
ecologically sustainable development.
RAN also supports the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a system we view
as the most democratic forum internationally for decisions about how and
where certified logging should be permitted. We acknowledge that the
FSC may certify logging within primary forests in certain circumstances
but do not view these certifications as cause to withdraw our support.
To the contrary, when we see certifications at odds with RAN's core
values, we look for opportunities to engage and improve the system.
We act on these interests. RAN regularly monitors FSC certifications,
files appeals and recommends standards revisions where appropriate. We
are active members of the FSC, and continue to push the system toward
more stringent protection for endangered forests, stronger limits on
clear cutting, and other destructive practices within native forests. As
long as we are members, RAN will always push FSC toward stronger
protection for native forests and away from industrial logging of these
critical ecosystems.
This is a critical time for FSC. Success over the last decade is
straining the system under the imperative meet growing market demand.
These growing pains require renewed effort by earth advocates everywhere
to ensure that FSC certifications promote better forestry, not weaker
standards.
****************************
10/23/07 RAN to EI
Hi Glen,
Thanks for you continued attention to this.
Reasonable people can disagree. These disagreements can either produce
great debate or nasty attacks. We seem to disagree about the efficacy of
the FSC as a means to reducing the harm of industrial forestry. In
think it's a reasonable disagreement that could produce a quality debate
that would be of value to a wider audience, and I'd propose that we move
this online. Why not?
But until then…
Our engagement with FSC includes formal appeals filed as recently as
2005. We're currently scoping a Canadian appeal with a First Nation in
Canada to be filed next year. I did an interview with Wall Street
Journal last week raising specific concerns about recent certifications
in Peru and Indonesia. This work, to me is sufficient to establish our
credibility as an advocate stronger FSC standards.
Stating that “FSC depends upon primary forest logging for its existence”
is like stating that organic standards depend on factory farms for
theirs. Not true. Perhaps we can settle on a basic statement of fact:
“the FSC certifies logging within primary forests”
We just don't ascribe to the positions in your statement below, and I'm
not comfortable making statements that don't reflect the current and
best thinking of the organization. Bottom line is that we'll choose to
fight within the FSC until we have suitable alternative, and are happy
to debate the merits in the meantime. At some point the alternative may
be to fight from outside, or to help build something in its place–but
we're not there yet.
Thanks,
Brant
*****************************************
10/25/07 — EI to RAN
Brant and Mike,
I am deeply saddened that it appears we have not been able to come to terms to avoid a protest
campaign by EcoInternet against the Rainforest Action Network — highlighting the lack of
coherent policy regarding industrial logging of ancient forests by RAN. FSC exists to allow primary
and old-growth forests to continue to be logged. You have been presented with information showing that
60-80% of FSC's certifications are for first time industrial logging in ancient forests.
It is astounding that your organization pursues “forest protection” that includes a goal to “end
ancient forest logging” while still supporting FSC. It is like doublespeak to think you can be for
FSC and against ancient forest logging. Our campaign will further be highlighting the fact that
top RAN management still defend participation in the Great Bear rainforest sell-out without knowing
that the 2/3 of ancient forest relegated to logging were not even to the level of certification.
EcoInternet after studying the matter for years has come to the conclusion that more
primary and old-growth forests have been lost than can be while still maintaining planetary
climatic and other ecosystem services. Ending ancient forest logging is not about doing the
best that we can without rocking the system, it is working for the global ecological necessity
for survival of the biosphere and humanity. As such, RAN has been identified as one of the
leading impediments to doing what must be done to save the Earth.
Unfortunately the campaign to end ancient forest logging has identified RAN as a first
major target. This can be ended at any time by critically examining, if possible within an
organization so deeply involved with the failure, your relationship with FSC and speaking out
against certification being equated with sustainability, as your organization continues to
state publicly. The campaign will go on as long as necessary.
With concern,
Dr. Glen Barry
10/25/07 — RAN to EI
Glen,
We have some good points to follow up on and as you acknowledge, there's much that we agree on. Why toss this aside to rail against us?
-Brant
*****************************************
10/25/07 — RAN to EI
Glen,
Do what you think is best. It hardly seems strategic to me for you to be
targeting RAN, but that's your call.
I actually appreciated your initial letter and our conversation on the
phone. You brought up some good issues, and as you know, we found many
areas of strategic alignment.
If you think the most effective thing that you can do right now to save
rainforests and the biosphere is campaigning against RAN, then knock
yourself out. But don't expect much of our time from here forward. We
just launched a campaign against arguably the world's largest rainforest
destroyers – Cargill, ADM, and friends, and will be spending our time
giving them hell.
For the forests,
Mike
**********************
10/26/07 — EI to RAN
Dear Mike and Brant,
I am pleased that RAN is willing to clarify you are working to end ancient rainforest logging.
Now what is needed is an equally strong and truthful statement acknowledging that FSC logging takes place largely in ancient forests, that you are concerned with the matter, will be researching with EI and FSCWatch current and future trends in this regard, and you will be working to ensure FSC limits its impacts, and does not expand, at the expense of ancient forests.
To address one without the other is intellectually dishonest. It is simply not possible to be against ancient rainforest logging and for FSC. Not with a goal of 300 million hectares under certification in the next several years of which at least 180 million is first time logging of primary forests.
We are not demanding an immediate pull-out from FSC. And I am compromising by not making demands that you to commit to leaving if the ancient forest logging in FSC continues and expands. But a clear statement that you intend to investigate and raise the matter widely is non-negotiable.
I am convinced after 2 decades of full-time study on the matter that all remaining ancient forests need to be protected if climate, ecosystem and biodiversity loss are not to lead to widespread regional and and possible global ecosystem collapse.
It would be very tragic to target RAN on the matter. But please spare me the allusions to victimhood, indifference to a campaign, and warnings you will not have time for me if this continues. You have brought this upon yourself with callous inaccurate references to “sustainable” FSC logging, selling out large areas of ancient temperate rainforests for business as usual logging, etc.
You cannot win this debate. Ultimately as ecological crises bite, remaining ancient forests will be protected. How about making a real gesture to have this happen as soon as possible, and making sure that when it does we have protected as much as possible.
I offer you an honorable way out, that allows you to speak truthfully while remaining in FSC, and allows RAN to be at the forefront of cutting edge rainforest policy-making. And you avoid having to defend your misguided ancient forest policy publicly over long time periods of dogged David vs. Goliath campaigning. I strongly advise you to take it.
Regards,
Dr. Glen Barry
*********************
10/31/07 — EI to RAN
Brant,
Thank you for getting back to me. I am pleased you have not yet implemented your plan of trying to ignore EcoInternet's concerns with RAN's support of primary forest logging. We are committed here to talking until we have exhausted all avenues of making sure our work is committed to maintaining ancient forests in an intact condition. I will respond to your email with inline comments preceded by ***
Brant Olson wrote:
Glen,
We're willing to work with you in the ways that we discussed including revisiting language that used to characterize FSC and 'sustainable logging' generally in our communications and pursuing joint efforts with you including a statement and campaign-related initiatives.
*** Our concerns with RAN's FSC policies are not primarily with language on a web site, it is with your ill-defined policy in regard to when ancient forest logging is acceptable, including by FSC. I do not know how you got the impression that all we were demanding in regard to FSC was changing web site language. It would be pleasant to pursue joint efforts, but we would never work closely with groups misleadingly promoting ancient forest logging — either knowingly or out of willful ignorance.
To do so effectively, I need some assurance from you that we're working forward from the principal of advancing our mutual interests, acknowledging our differences and investigating issues to the extent that doing so informs a productive dialog.
*** Ditto on our end. We have been raising these concerns for years and have been ignored. There are many differences that we are acknowledging and respecting, but our bottom line is we will not respect doublespeak that suggests first time commercial logging is rainforest protection.
You're entitled to your prerogative on whether we're maintaining good faith on these counts, as are we. I continue to maintain that this dialog would be more valuable if it were published to the web where others could offer perspective and insight.
*** It would be very valuable to continue a wider dialogue. Prior to doing so we need to see good faith indications that RAN is committed to 1) ending greenwashing suggesting ancient forest logging as sustainable, 2) and if you must maintain membership within FSC, commit to working to get FSC out of the business of ancient forest logging.
We've agreed to specific items to move forward. I suggest we build good faith on all sides by starting with what's easy and working our way through the more difficult bits. Addressing the language on our website seems the easiest place to start.
Specifically we currently state “Wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is sustainablly obtained and guaranteed not to come from Indigenous lands without communities' free, prior and informed consent.” You have expressed concerns about these claims and we're willing to consider your edits.
*** Willing to “consider” the edits? Brant, you and your policy is wrong. Your web site speaks untruthfully and in a misleading manner. There is little progress or good will in you stopping doing so. You should have done this already. This is about changing your campaigns, your actions, more so than your web page. sWe need more.
As for your recommended statement below, I'd need to see reliable statistics before characterizing the FSC certified logging as reliant on ancient forest logging. In the boreal, where I have the most first-hand experience for example, FSC-certified tenures have generally required protection for intact areas, limiting industrial harvest to previously fragmented landscapes.
*** We would all like to see “reliable statistics”. But the organization of which you are a member does not provide any in regard to their activities. I gave you my estimate — 60% — of the amount of FSC timbers that are from ancient forests. This was born out as a likely minimum by FSC-Watch. As a supporter and member of FSC, why have you not already, and why are you unwilling to commit to, on your own initiative using your FSC membership to get a figure from them? Are you afraid to find out what you have been unquestioningly supporting all these years? You have been confronted with the best known information on this matter. You can accept it as truth, or contest it. But you need to present more than allegorical personal experience evidence, and commit to finding out the extent that current and proposed expansion of FSC is based upon first-time industrial ancient forest logging.
As you know, these issues invariably lead quickly to a question of definitions. I feel that it's also important to address and exchange perspectives here too before we would be able issue a joint statement with the kind of specificity you seem to be pushing toward.
Do you feel that there was insufficient grounds in the statement I suggested last week for a productive platform for mutual work?
*** Yes.
If so, why?
*** Because you state RAN is against ancient forest logging as RAN supports logging of ancient forests. Good God man, is this so hard to understand? FSC IS A SYSTEM THAT OKS LOGGING MILLIONS OF ACRES OF ANCIENT FORESTS INDUSTRIALLY FOR THE FIRST TIME.
Is this about weighing the merits and demerits of certification or about getting us off the FSC?
*** No hidden agendas — this is about getting groups that claim to be protecting rainforests to commit to ending ancient forest logging. And making sure they are doing so in more than words. We do not care whether you pursue this agenda within or without FSC; but again we would need to see the following to avoid making this a campaign issue: 1) agreeing to a statement expressing concern that FSC not certify logging of ancient forests, 2) using your RAN membership to get FSC to release their own estimates on the percentage of their timbers that come from ancient forests, 3) work within or without RAN to keep FSC out of ancient forests, and 4) better define on what basis RAN supports certified logging and trading away ancient forests for logging (hopefully at least certified !) as elements of rainforest “protection” campaigns.
This is about taking your blank statement that you are against ancient forest logging and giving it meaning. It is easy to be against something, and often difficult to examine your or organizational behavior that in fact is the very problem you are against. It was your choice to support FSC some 15 years ago. You have to take responsibility for this choice, and defend it. We simply cannot work with RAN or hold off on campaigning if there is not commitment to fully review forest certification of ancient forests as a rainforest protection strategy and your membership in FSC, and I would suggest the best was to doing so is a joint statement including the four points above.
This last point (#4) is not something that can just be accepted on good faith. Why are you and others supporting FSC so unwilling to engage and defend on the merits your support? Is it because there is little or no factual basis that FSC protects forests? I keep waiting for you to state natural forest management is better than outright deforestation, that indigenous rights must be respect even if they want to industrially log, etc.; providing something, anything, on how first time logging protects ancient forests. But instead you dodge and weave and deconstruct.
We are not demanding you leave FSC. We are stating strongly that you owe your members, the forest protection community and ancient forests; an honest reassessment of your policy and if you decide to stay in FSC, using your position to defend ancient forests from first time logging, certified or otherwise. Myself and others are taking a firm stand that we need ancient forests to survive — and this is important enough to many of us that we are confronting our brethren on the matter.
I do think we need to continue our engagement prior to a joint statement or a protest campaign, if only to build trust. I am arrogant and prone to flying off the cuff, but if you know anything about me you should know I am deeply committed and have made extreme sacrifices over decades to protect ancient forests as the basis of biological being and global ecological sustainability. This is my only motivation.
Here is an interesting piece of news for you: are you aware that RAN is a beneficiary in my will? I bear you and your organization no ill-will. Indeed, I am a devoted supporter and long-time collaborator. When you love something you intervene and confront it when you see it going astray.
So why is it exactly that RAN is unwilling to explicitly examine and strengthen in fact its commitment to ending ancient forest logging including its support for FSC?
Regards,
Dr. Glen Barry
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10/31/07 — RAN to EI
Glen,
We're willing to work with you in the ways that we discussed including revisiting language that used to characterize FSC and 'sustainable logging' generally in our communications and pursuing joint efforts with you including a statement and campaign-related initiatives.
To do so effectively, I need some assurance from you that we're working forward from the principal of advancing our mutual interests, acknowledging our differences and investigating issues to the extent that doing so informs a productive dialog.
You're entitled to your prerogative on whether we're maintaining good faith on these counts, as are we. I continue to maintain that this dialog would be more valuable if it were published to the web where others could offer perspective and insight.
We've agreed to specific items to move forward. I suggest we build good faith on all sides by starting with what's easy and working our way through the more difficult bits. Addressing the language on our website seems the easiest place to start.
Specifically we currently state “Wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is sustainablly obtained and guaranteed not to come from Indigenous lands without communities' free, prior and informed consent.” You have expressed concerns about these claims and we're willing to consider your edits.
As for your recommended statement below, I'd need to see reliable statistics before characterizing the FSC certified logging as reliant on ancient forest logging. In the boreal, where I have the most first-hand experience for example, FSC-certified tenures have generally required protection for intact areas, limiting industrial harvest to previously fragmented landscapes.
As you know, these issues invariably lead quickly to a question of definitions. I feel that it's also important to address and exchange perspectives here too before we would be able issue a joint statement with the kind of specificity you seem to be pushing toward.
Do you feel that there was insufficient grounds in the statement I suggested last week for a productive platform for mutual work? If so, why? Is this about weighing the merits and demerits of certification or about getting us off the FSC?
-Brant
*********************************
11/02/07 — RAN to EI
Glen, I've been tied up with other matters and will plan to get a response to you next week. Meantime you may be interested to see my comments on my recent post to the understory: http://understory.ran.org/2007/10/31/forest-stewardship-council-credibility-on-thin-ice/
Feel free to offer any of your thoughts there also.
Thank you,
Brant
*******************************
11/04/07 — EI to RAN
Hi Brant and Mike,
We have launched a campaign with Rainforest Relief to get NYC out of the rainforest timber market for park benches and boardwalks. Is this something RAN can support? We would welcome you putting the attached email alert notification out to your network.
I appreciate the first public RAN acknowledgment that certified ancient forest logging is an issue on RAN's blog. This is the first public pronouncement from RAN or any FSC supporting organization on the matter of which I am aware. However, I have to fully agree with Simon Counsell's observations, and build on them, that unless you are willing to fight for a future for FSC that does not justify first time industrial logging of primary and old-growth forests, you are part of the problem. Why be there if you don't use your platform? And at what point would a threshold be crossed, and you would have to leave?
It is good to see RAN launching a critical review process. Yet time is not indefinite, we have been working on this now with you for months, and we need to see some indication of a public response to our protest and open letter. The next salvo is ready for launch.
Regards,
Dr. Glen Barry
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11/06/07 — EI to RAN
Mike and Brant,
The ball is still firmly in your court to respond re: what you are going to do with your FSC involvement. It would be premature to make an announcement to the public, or to release our discussion note, as we are not in agreement and it is unclear whether a campaign will or will not be occurring. We need to see some progress by mid next week in resolving issues re: your stance that you are against ancient forest logging while staunchly supporting an organization that certifies ancient forest logging. There are at least two substantive emails that I have sent you that you have not yet made any real in-depth response. Over to you…
Dr. Glen Barry
****************************
11/06/07 — RAN to EI
Glen,
I've continued our rather lengthy exchange below. Briefly, I'd like to
get cracking on defining our terms and outlining some specific
next-steps. My thoughts follow the ~~~ below.
> We're willing to work with you in the ways that we discussed including
> revisiting language that used to characterize FSC and 'sustainable
> logging' generally in our communications and pursuing joint efforts
> with you including a statement and campaign-related initiatives.
*** Our concerns with RAN's FSC policies are not primarily with language
on a web site, it is with your ill-defined policy in regard to when
ancient forest logging is acceptable, including by FSC. I do not know
how you got the impression that all we were demanding in regard to FSC
was changing web site language. It would be pleasant to pursue joint
efforts, but we would never work closely with groups misleadingly
promoting ancient forest logging — either knowingly or out of willful
ignorance.
~~We're opposed to industrial logging of ancient forests and in favor of
biologically appropriate restoration of forests degraded by industrial
logging. We acknowledge that the FSC certifies industrial logging of
ancient forests in certain circumstances but don't feel that this
position is inconsistent with our membership in the FSC. Rather we view
the distance between these positions as reason to push for stronger
standards that more closely align with our position.
> You're entitled to your prerogative on whether we're maintaining good
> faith on these counts, as are we. I continue to maintain that this
> dialog would be more valuable if it were published to the web where
> others could offer perspective and insight.
>
*** It would be very valuable to continue a wider dialogue. Prior to
doing so we need to see good faith indications that RAN is committed to
1) ending greenwashing suggesting ancient forest logging as sustainable,
2) and if you must maintain membership within FSC, commit to working to
get FSC out of the business of ancient forest logging.
~~~we're committed to working with you to describe the FSC and our
position on the standard. We're also committed to improving the FSC
including pushing for stronger protections for ancient/native/old-growth
forests. The best way we see to do this is though active dialogue with
the FSC US board over issues like National Forests. There may also be
an opportunity do file a formal complaint in Canada depending on whether
we can find a suitable partner.
> We've agreed to specific items to move forward. I suggest we build
> good faith on all sides by starting with what's easy and working our
> way through the more difficult bits. Addressing the language on our
> website seems the easiest place to start.
>
> Specifically we currently state “Wood certified by the Forest
> Stewardship Council (FSC) is sustainable obtained and guaranteed not
> to come from Indigenous lands without communities' free, prior and
> informed consent.” You have expressed concerns about these claims and
> we're willing to consider your edits.
*** Willing to “consider” the edits? Brant, you and your policy is
wrong. Your web site speaks untruthfully and in a misleading manner.
There is little progress or good will in you stopping doing so. You
should have done this already. This is about changing your campaigns,
your actions, more so than your web page. sWe need more.
~~I've been waiting on your suggestions for language on the website
because you had indicated a willingness to do so. I'm reviewing content
this week.
> As for your recommended statement below, I'd need to see reliable
> statistics before characterizing the FSC certified logging as reliant
> on ancient forest logging. In the boreal, where I have the most
> first-hand experience for example, FSC-certified tenures have
> generally required protection for intact areas, limiting industrial
> harvest to previously fragmented landscapes.
*** We would all like to see “reliable statistics”. But the organization
of which you are a member does not provide any in regard to their
activities. I gave you my estimate — 60% — of the amount of FSC
timbers that are from ancient forests. This was born out as a likely
minimum by FSC-Watch. As a supporter and member of FSC, why have you not
already, and why are you unwilling to commit to, on your own initiative
using your FSC membership to get a figure from them? Are you afraid to
find out what you have been unquestioningly supporting all these years?
You have been confronted with the best known information on this matter.
You can accept it as truth, or contest it. But you need to present more
than allegorical personal experience evidence, and commit to finding out
the extent that current and proposed expansion of FSC is based upon
first-time industrial ancient forest logging.
~~~I can't accept estimates from you and Simon as truth because your
estimates are at odds with my experience in the US and Canada where
we've been paying the most attention. If we can get our definitions
straight, determining where/how much ancient forest logging FSC is
certifying becomes a relatively simple matter. One relatively painless
method would overlay existing certifications over the Ancient Forest
maps developed by Global Forest Watch.
> As you know, these issues invariably lead quickly to a question of
> definitions. I feel that it's also important to address and exchange
> perspectives here too before we would be able issue a joint statement
> with the kind of specificity you seem to be pushing toward.
~~~This is a critical point. What do you define as Ancient forests?
Those 'frontier forests' mapped as such by Global Forest Watch, or
something more than that?
> Do you feel that there was insufficient grounds in the statement I
> suggested last week for a productive platform for mutual work?
>
> *** Yes.
>
> If so, why?
*** Because you state RAN is against ancient forest logging as RAN
supports logging of ancient forests. Good God man, is this so hard to
understand? FSC IS A SYSTEM THAT OKS LOGGING MILLIONS OF ACRES OF
ANCIENT FORESTS INDUSTRIALLY FOR THE FIRST TIME.
~~~ Glen, our disagreement is clearly over whether pushing FSC from
within is better/worse than pushing from the outside. I'm thus far
unconvinced that pushing from the outside is a better strategy, but I'm
willing to have the debate–preferably with the benefit of more brains
than yours and mine.
> Is this about weighing the merits and demerits of certification or
> about getting us off the FSC?
>
*** No hidden agendas — this is about getting groups that claim to be
protecting rainforests to commit to ending ancient forest logging. And
making sure they are doing so in more than words. We do not care whether
you pursue this agenda within or without FSC; but again we would need to
see the following to avoid making this a campaign issue: 1) agreeing to
a statement expressing concern that FSC not certify logging of ancient
forests, 2) using your RAN membership to get FSC to release their own
estimates on the percentage of their timbers that come from ancient
forests, 3) work within or without RAN to keep FSC out of ancient
forests, and 4) better define on what basis RAN supports certified
logging and trading away ancient forests for logging (hopefully at least
certified !) as elements of rainforest “protection” campaigns.
~~~ These demands are different than your initial demands issued in your
open letter. We'd like to work with you on a reworking our
communications about the FSC–both on our website and in subsequent
emails and other communications. We'd also like to work together on an
alert (I'm thinking possibly targeting the new FSC US President).
Finally, I'm eager to take this debate online so that we can hear
feedback from more corners of the movement.
This is about taking your blank statement that you are against ancient
forest logging and giving it meaning. It is easy to be against
something, and often difficult to examine your or organizational
behavior that in fact is the very problem you are against. It was your
choice to support FSC some 15 years ago. You have to take responsibility
for this choice, and defend it. We simply cannot work with RAN or hold
off on campaigning if there is not commitment to fully review forest
certification of ancient forests as a rainforest protection strategy and
your membership in FSC, and I would suggest the best was to doing so is
a joint statement including the four points above.
This last point (#4) is not something that can just be accepted on good
faith. Why are you and others supporting FSC so unwilling to engage and
defend on the merits your support? Is it because there is little or no
factual basis that FSC protects forests? I keep waiting for you to state
natural forest management is better than outright deforestation, that
indigenous rights must be respect even if they want to industrially log,
etc.; providing something, anything, on how first time logging protects
ancient forests. But instead you dodge and weave and deconstruct.
We are not demanding you leave FSC. We are stating strongly that you owe
your members, the forest protection community and ancient forests; an
honest reassessment of your policy and if you decide to stay in FSC,
using your position to defend ancient forests from first time logging,
certified or otherwise. Myself and others are taking a firm stand that
we need ancient forests to survive — and this is important enough to
many of us that we are confronting our brethren on the matter.
~~~My experience with FSC indicates that it's been a reasonably
effective tool for protecting caribou habitat and upholding Indigenous
rights in the Canadian Boreal. My experience also shows it to be the
best lever available in the marketplace to pull the industry as a whole
toward better practices, and I've witnessed it accomplish as much.
I do think we need to continue our engagement prior to a joint statement
or a protest campaign, if only to build trust. I am arrogant and prone
to flying off the cuff, but if you know anything about me you should
know I am deeply committed and have made extreme sacrifices over decades
to protect ancient forests as the basis of biological being and global
ecological sustainability. This is my only motivation.
Here is an interesting piece of news for you: are you aware that RAN is
a beneficiary in my will? I bear you and your organization no ill-will.
Indeed, I am a devoted supporter and long-time collaborator. When you
love something you intervene and confront it when you see it going
astray.
So why is it exactly that RAN is unwilling to explicitly examine and
strengthen in fact its commitment to ending ancient forest logging
including its support for FSC?
~~~I appreciate your candor. I think some humility and patience and
perspective on both our parts would help make this dialogue more
productive. Specifically, I'd like us to consider if we can agree on any
specific next steps before the end of the month.
*********************************8
11/07/07 — EI to RAN
Brant and Mike,
It is clear that RAN is not holding these discussions in good faith. You appear more interested in
stalling that in providing thoughtful, meaningful answers to reasonable questions that you should
have answered long ago re: your support for FSC ancient forest logging (defined as primary
forests which have never been disturbed, and old-growth which is over 100 years old).
EcoInternet's original open letter some month ago, as well as an earlier email protest,
expressed clearly that we were concerned with RAN's support of FSC's program of certifying
ancient forest logging. Despite many opportunities to do so, you have not provided a detailed
rationale for thinking that certified industrial logging protects rainforests.
You continue to assert you do not know much about FSC outside of North America, and
deny that at least 60% of FSC logging is in ancient forests, despite clear evidence from leading
experts that have studied the matter for years.
I am deeply saddened at the degree to which RAN's rainforest protection policies, or
lack-there-of, has become a significant part of the rainforest crisis rather than solution.
RAN supported the Great Bear compromise that gave away huge areas of temperate
ancient rainforest apparently without even knowing the terms, and blindly lend support
to FSC without even knowing their policies.
Shortly we will be issuing a call to the forest protection movement to not renew memberships
in RAN until such time as you come clean regarding your misinformed support for FSC's
program of logging the world's remaining primary forests. At a time of our choosing, this will
escalate to include other measures.
The campaign will persist until such time as RAN commits to ending industrial first time logging
of ancient forests, and either leaves FSC or begins using its membership to investigate the
degree to which FSC promotes logging ancient forest logging and works to end this practice.
Ending ancient forest logging is a requirement to address climate change and ecosystem loss.
Besides a complete failure to defend your unquestioning support of FSC, what strikes me most
about our conversation is the stunning intellectual weakness of your arguments, a complete
lack of boldness and imagination and, most importantly, the profound lack of belief that anything
can be changed. RAN has sold out the international rainforest protection movement.
Sincerely,
Dr. Glen Barry
President
EcoInternet, Inc.

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2 Responses

  1. EARTH MEANDERS: Exclude Ancient Forest Logging Supporters from Holiday Gift List

    Environmental groups embracing certified logging of primary and old-growth forests threaten climate, biodiversity, ecosystems, sustainability and humanity — stop giving them money

    What do Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Gr…

  2. Ursula PEZEU says:

    When the last tree will be cut down and the last animal be killed, we all will understand that we can't eat money !

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