The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is threatening to throw Resolute Forest Products entirely out of its green forestry certification program after a January meeting with company CEO Richard Garneau.

FSC director-general Kim Carstensen said “there were no signs that Resolute is willing to engage in efforts to resolve the problems they pointed out so eloquently. This confirms the consistent, negative signals we are receiving from Resolute, and for this reason, FSC is abandoning the idea of a mediation process involving Resolute Forest Products.”

Carstensen went on to say that, in March, the FSC board would be “asked to consider Resolute Forest Products’ destitution as a member of FSC, or whether there are other means in FSC’s statutes of making it clear that FSC does formally require from its members to share the same values of cooperation and constructive engagement that the FSC system is built on.”

It’s understandable that an organization that places a premium on the values of cooperation and constructive engagement would have a hard time with the criticism Resolute has directed at it.

But we have to ask what action the FSC is taking with Greenpeace, a founding member of the Council.

Greenpeace, when it comes to Resolute, has been the antithesis of cooperative, and has shown no willingness to constructively engage with the forest company.

At one point, Greenpeace and Resolute were also partners in the Canadian Boreal Forest Initiative (CBFA). When Greenpeace didn’t like what Resolute had to say about forest management there, it quit the CBFA and launched a spurious attack on specific Resolute actions in Quebec forests.

Resolute proved the Greenpeace accusations were false. Greenpeace eventually did admit it was wrong (rather quietly, at least compared to the media voice it used to make the accusations), but a short time later started an even bigger campaign (with less specific complaints) about Resolute’s forestry operations.

Greenpeace went on to use rather questionable tactics to attack Resolute in the marketplace.

The Forest Stewardship Council cannot possibly believe Greenpeace’s actions show a spirit of cooperation, or a willingness to constructively engage with Resolute.

In theory, at least, Greenpeace and Resolute are partners in the Forest Stewardship Council.

The “consistent, negative signals” sent by Resolute toward the FSC pale in comparison to the flat out attack Greenpeace has launched on Resolute. Yet the FSC has made no public attempt to rein in Greenpeace as it attacked a partner within the Council.

Is it any wonder Resolute seems to be losing faith in the processes of the Forest Stewardship Council?

Fair is fair.

If the FSC wants to call Resolute to the carpet for a failure to meet its values of cooperation and constructive engagement, it needs to do the same with Greenpeace.

~ Michael McKinnon