The Gap Fishers Phony Green-Label Certification
Press Release Talking Points Opinion Piece/Letters to the Editor "Certification" Document

Forest Defenders Around the Globe!

SPECIAL EDITION: The Gap Fishers' Phony "Green Label" and the Scam of
FSC certification!

As many of you know, the Fishers of Gap, Inc have bought a meaningless
"green label" for their forest destruction--from the Forest Stewardship
Council, private timber-friendly "certifiers," who meet in secret,
excluding the public, and base their certification on the mere PROMISE that
the logging company will phase out clearcutting, old growth logging,
herbicide use and other damaging practices SOME DAY.  (No kidding--this is
what the FSC documents say!)

The Public is confused--some think that WE pressured the Fishers into
getting "certified" and that it means that they've cleaned up their act.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

This WORTHLESS "green label" permits the Fishers to CONTINUE their extremely
damaging logging practices, as is--with no change except for ridiculously
vague promises. The FSC does not justify their claims about sustainable
logging with any data whatsoever.  In fact, they ADMIT that the Fishers do
not have the inventory data to justify their 40 million boardfoot annual
cut, and they say that once the Fishers have compiled the inventory
data--they give them till the end of calendar year 2001!--they expect the
cutting level to be adjusted DOWNWARDS: This means that the certifiers
themselves believe that the Fishers are currently logging at an
unsustainable rate--yet they have "certified" them, and so the Fishers can
claim their wood was logged sustainably with the FSC's blessing.

This so-called "certification" is merely another trick in the Fishers' P.R.
bag -- their biggest one yet. Furthermore, it is tainted with Fisher money
connections: The Fishers are members and big contributors to the NRDC.  Bob
Fisher sits on the NRDC board; the NRDC was instrumental in creating the
FSC, the group that "certified" his logging company.

The Gap Fishers are not the first liquidation loggers to be certified by the
FSC. (The notorious forest destroyer, J.D. Irving, Ltd., in Canada, for
instance, was "certified" by the same fellow, Robert Hrubes, who did this
one.) With the FSC, we are witnessing another successful attempt by the
corporations to subvert public process and control public policies and
public trust resources. The FSC has become another cog in corporate economic

All of this is a DISTRACTION.  The FSC is there to DISTRACT everybody
from what is really happening--the Fishers' profiting from destruction of
the last bits of decent wildlife habitat.  The Fishers LOGGING, instead
of CONSERVING.  The Coho salmon and the Marbled Murrelet going down
forever--and the Fishers LOGGING MORE OF THEIR HABITAT, extinguishing these
species.  What the FSC has done here is truly appalling.  What the Fishers
are doing is even worse.  Keep your eyes--and keep the public's eyes--on
what is REALLY happening.

We are putting together an entire packet to help activists in their efforts
to counter this BIG LIE in your dealings with the public and the media. The
packet will include the ludicrous certification documents which reveal that
the Gap Fishers were "certified" on a wink and a promise that SOMEDAY
they'll meet the Forest Stewardship Council's low standards--SOMEDAY
they'll have that inventory data and --Scout's Honor-- they'll adjust
logging levels downward accordingly--SOME DAY. Meanwhile, they are logging
like there's no tomorrow, and can now charge more for the wood.

Our packet on the scam of certification will be available at our web site
soon--tonight we will be begin posting documents. In the meantime, please
use the information and talking points below.

The Skinny:

"This is how private 'green-label' certification works. You be the judge.
The label is paid for by the timber company. The organization that "awards"
it, the Forest Stewardship Council, is heavily influenced by the timber
industry (almost half its members are timber companies and foresters), which
has succeeded in lowering certification standards to permit clearcutting,
old-growth logging, and the use of toxic herbicides, among other
unsustainable logging practices. To get certified, all the logging company
has to do is pony up the money and promise that they will phase out these
damaging practices someday. The evaluation process is secret, and the public
has no say in how the timber company is impacting public trust resources.
The criteria used and the financial relationship between the timber company,
the FSC, and its member groups are tightly kept secrets. The certifiers
issue a "summary" document for public consumption, which provides no data to
support their claim of "sustainable" logging. The logging company can now
charge you more for the wood. The FSC's loose guidelines and secret process
have been sharply criticized by many, including Sierra Club Canada."

Talking Points plus elaboration:

1.) The Forest Stewardship Council (the certifying body) is heavily
influenced by the timber industry.

Elaboration: Of the FSC's 443 members, 201 are timber companies or
foresters. As a result of timber industry influence, the FSC has failed to
adopt guidelines that actually promote sustainability. For example, Big
Creek Lumber of Santa Cruz, CA, has effectively blocked the adoption of
regional guidelines for the Coast Redwood forest that would prohibit
old-growth logging--with less than 3% left, and species that rely on
old-growth habitat, such as the Marbled Murrelet and Northern Spotted Owl,
facing imminent extinction.

2.) FSC guidelines permit clearcutting, old growth logging, the use of toxic
herbicides, among other extremely harmful logging practices.

Elaboration: In addition, certified timber companies may log without regard
to the state of the watershed: no cumulative impacts assessment or watershed
assessment is required, no sustained-yield plan needs to be in place, nor
fish and wildlife surveys. (Given point 1, the influence of the timber
industry, none of this should be too surprising.)

3.) Certification is "awarded" on the mere promise by the logging company
that they will phase out these unsustainable forest practices someday.

Elaboration: Inexplicably, the certifiers give the Gap Fishers till the end
of calendar year 2001 to justify their 40 million boardfoot annual cut with
timber inventory data. That's right, page 25 of "SCS Public Summary
Certification Report" states that the Fishers do not have the inventory data
to justify their program of 40 Million boardfeet per year--which they have
been implementing since they took ownership in July 98. The certifiers give
them till the end of 2001 to have this inventory data complete and to adjust
their level of cut accordingly. They say that they expect this to be a
downward adjustment. Meanwhile, they can and are logging at this
unsustainable rate and calling it sustainable--stamping the wood

When it comes to toxic herbicides, including Garlon, known to be toxic to
endangered salmonids, the certifiers give the Gap Fishers four years to
REDUCE their use by 60%. The summary document vaguely states that the Gap
Fishers are required to stop using herbicides entirely "over the long run."
Further, the certifiers do not require the most basic protective measures to
be in place until years down the road: for example, fish and wildlife
surveys are not required for 2 years and a sustained-yield plan is not
required for 2.5 years.

Meanwhile, the Fishers can and are continuing their damaging logging
practices--clearcutting, old-growth logging, herbicide application,
high-grading, etc. --calling it sustainable and stamping the wood

***By the time the Fishers are required to make good on their promises, the
last pockets of viable forest habitat, and the endangered species hanging on
by a thread there, will be gone--they are taking this forest right now. This
is a matter of public record. Local watershed groups, members of the Redwood
Coast Watersheds Alliance, read and recon Fisher timber harvest
plans--public documents, which reveal these facts. ***

Detailed elaboration: The Fishers' unsustainable logging practices include
clearcutting (80% of their 200+ plans contain some form of clearcutting),
old-growth logging, high-grading (taking 25% of their annual cut from 7% of
their holdings, where the last big trees--the last viable forest habitat on
these holdings--is found), herbicide application, exorbitant road
construction (for all those lucrative subdivisions), and overlogging (40
million boardfeet annually). This information is all a matter of public

The Fishers' inventory is extremely thin--they admit to less than 10,000
boardfeet/acre (local environmentalists believe this figure is closer to
5000). A healthy commercial forest contains 40,000 bf/acre, an ancient
forest, 400,000. Former owner Louisiana-Pacific's Sustained Yield Plan
reveals that 97% of Fisher holdings is in average stands of very young,
small trees, 1-21 inches in diameter, and that the endangered Coho salmon
have disappeared in 90% of the streams. Other endangered species, such as
Marbled Murrelets (only FOUR detections in the whole of Mendocino County,
because their old-growth habitat has been devastated by overlogging), are
also facing extinction. This information is all a matter of public record.

****It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this vastly
depleted forestland can no longer be logged sustainably, let alone withstand
the Fishers' assault.****

4.) The public is completely shut out from the certification process--we
have no rights whatsoever in assessing the impacts that the timber company
is having on our public trust resources. The certifiers, who are paid by the
timber company, decide that for us. The certifiers have a vested interest in
promoting certification: They cannot be impartial with so much self-interest
at stake.

Elaboration: This private certification process, in which the public has
absolutely no rights, is no less a subversion of the democratic, public
process than the WTO. Private, i.e., corporate, control of public policy and
public trust resources is the corporate global economic agendum, as
manifested in NAFTA, the WTO, FTAA, World Bank, IMF, etc--and the FSC and
private certification plays right into this scenario.

In the public process, public oversight is built into environmental laws,
such as NEQA (National Environmental Quality Act) and CEQA (California
Environmental Quality Act). We have strong environmental laws in place, such
as the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act. They are not being
enforced because corporations have bought our politicians, just like they've
PRIVATE ONE. The solution is to reclaim our government, reform campaign
financing, outlaw corporate lobbying, and demand enforcement of
environmental law!!!

5. The certification process is secret, opaque--the criteria used, the cost
of the assessment, the financial relationships between the applicant, the
FSC and its member groups are tightly kept secrets. Without complete
transparency, especially with regard to the money that has changed hands,
private certification is meaningless.

***We can win in an open and transparent process. We cannot win in backroom

Elaboration: If you follow the money you will see that the Fishers are big
funders of the Natural Resources Defense Council (Bob Fishers sits on their
Board), which helped to create the FSC and is one of its mainstays. We know
that the NRDC's affiliations with corporations and their track record of
compromise (supporting NAFTA, Big Oil in Equador, de-regulation of energy)
have made their name anathema to grassroots activists.

6.) We are not alone in our distrust and criticism of the FSC and private

Refer to the following URLs of SIERRA CLUB CANADA press releases: One
expressing their SERIOUS DOUBTS about FSC certification, and the other, a
BLISTERING ATTACK of Scientific Certification Systems for certifying J.D.
Irving, Ltd, liquidation loggers whose methods are very similar to the Gap
Fishers. ***Scientific Certification Systems is the FSC for-profit company
that certified the Gap Fishers.***


Forest Defenders, one disturbing thing is the number of big environmental
organizations that have bought into this subversion of public process and
the big lie of private "green-label" certification. There are a number of
reasons for this:

1.) The fat-cat non-profits already in bed with Big Money, like the NRDC and
WWF, are notorious for environmental compromises (NAFTA, Big Oil in Equador,
nuclear bail out/energy deregulation, acceptable kill levels for dolphins
and other species, etc.). They helped create the FSC's timber-friendly
"green label" and are naturally going to support it.

2.) Aspiring fat-cat non-profits, like Greenpeace. These non-profits start
out small and good, but become big and unfocussed. They insist on butting
into situations about which they are clueless. They should be SUPPORTING
grassroots activists in the field, who are getting the real work done, who
know the score, but instead they have lunch in D.C. with the fat-cat enviros
and their corporate patrons, and wind up espousing those views. How else can
you explain this remark by Mike Roselle of Greenpeace, Washington, D.C., who
endorses Fisher logging and writes off the possibility of a wildlife
preserve, without ever having spoken with us; furthermore he regurgitates
timber industry propaganda directly from the mouths of the Fishers: "They've
reduced the harvest level and rejected clearcut forestry...It's still going
to be a working forest. I would have a preferred a national park and to
restore it to its natural state, but that was never an option here." I guess
he never read the L-P SYP or the Fishers' 200+ THPs like we have. I guess he
never heard of the Gap Boycott, either. Get a clue, Mike.

3.) The groups that have some integrity, like American Lands Alliance,
obviously haven't thought about it very deeply (they are primarily involved
in public forest protection)--however, it's ironic that ALA was out in force
at the WTO Showdown in Seattle, but is blind to the parallels between the
WTO and the FSC. There may be a little Gore-vs.-Bush syndrome here (the
lesser of two evils--it isn't!); maybe it's the end-justifies-the-means
syndrome (they have some absurd rationale that if they certify liquidation
loggers now, they'll somehow save the forest in the end).

People are so disenchanted by the failure of government to protect public
trust resources that they are foolishly turning anywhere--in this case to
the private sector, where susceptibility to corporate corruption is even
more acute; and that's exactly what we're witnessing: The FSC is dominated
by timber interests and is certifying liquidation loggers in a process that
subverts environmental law and the public trust.

4. Finally, there are non-profits like Rainforest Action Network. Randy
Hayes, founder and President of RAN, made the following pronouncement at a
recent meeting that I attended: "FSC certification is worthless!" Here,
here. Yet when I visited the FSC web site, Rainforest Action Network was
listed as a member group, lending credibility to the FSC. Activists have
come up to me for an explanation of this, and I just tell them what Randy
said in my presence. Hopefully this is just an oversight on RAN's part and
that they intend to pull their name from the membership list. WE ENCOURAGE
ALL ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS who have a grain integrity to do the same!

Stay Strong, Forest Defenders!!!

refuge, and we are going to make it happen through consumer pressure aimed
at Gap Inc!!! Shout it from the City Squares and from the Mountaintops:


Mary Bull
Save the Redwoods/Boycott the Gap Campaign
252 Frederick Street, San Francisco, CA 94117 415-731-7924
Other Contacts/Information Sources:
Mary Pjerrou, Redwood Coast Watersheds Alliance
Mark Hilovsky, Builders Action Network
Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters
510-835-6303 Listserve
(message text = Subscribe BACHlist,
followed by email address, then name)
Info on Gap Sweatshops:

"God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there..."


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