The UK Homebase company and some German and Dutch firms are among the most interested customers for FSC-certified timber, Assi Domän says. Out of some six major Swedish forest enterprises, the firm has moved the furthest towards adopting newly recognised Swedish FSC standards - the first national rules so far- supporting environmentally and socially beneficial management of forests.
The success of FSC-certified products has surprised some in Sweden's forestry business since one of the major objections raised by hesitant companies in Sweden and other countries has been high costs for achieving certification. The Swedish FSC rules came into force in January after years of negotiations between all the major forestry companies, minority groups like the Sami people and the main environmental NGOs.
So far, four of the six major forest companies have started the certification process. Apart from Assi Domän the group include Korsnäs Marma, Mo Domsjö and Stora, while Graninge and SCA are pursuing a wait-and-see policy.
Small forest owners are continuing to criticise the FSC approach, however. Sven Sjunnesson of the Swedish Federation of Forest Owners, which represents small firms and private owners, told ENDS Daily that the FSC rules were designed for large scale forestry. He said that environmental management systems such as the EU eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) and ISO 14001 worked "well enough".
But Jonas Rudberg of the Swedish FSC Council challenged Mr Sjunnesson's scepticism. Standards other than the FSC scheme "do not guarantee environmentally managed forests," he said. "They leave companies free to decide on their own standards."
Most Swedish companies seeking FSC certification combine ISO 14001 and EMAS standards with the FSC rules. With few setbacks so far, Anders Linde at WWF Sweden thinks the FSC-process is working reasonably well in Sweden. "We expect 30% of forest concessions to be certified by the end of this year and more than 50% by the year 2000," he said.
Mr Linde is hoping for a "domino effect". "When hesitating companies realise that FSC certification pays, they will also come along," he said. Sweden holds a major part of the certified forests in Europe with some 2 million hectares so far approved.
Please enter your details
Not a subscriber?
Take a free trial now to discover the critical insights and updates our coverage offers subscribers.