The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has decided to cut its association with Austrian timber giant Holzindustrie Schweighofer (Schweighofer) due to the company’s constant and indiscriminate sourcing of illegal timber in Romania.

Taken by FSC’s international board of directors after a year-long investigation, the decision also includes the revocation of Schweighofer Group’s probation status with the council.

The FSC's expert panel report, published in December last year, confirmed Schweighofer’s involvement in favouring cheap wood in its Romanian sourcing. The panel also recommended FSC should disassociate itself from Schweighofer until the company could meet certain conditions.

However, FSC allowed Schweighofer to continue using its logo during a period of probation, which was followed by another follow-up investigation of Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). This revealed Schweighofer’s continuing involvement in illegal wood sourcing. 

Environmental Investigation Agency's executive director Alexander von Bismarck said: “Europe’s last great forest is under threat due to illegal logging and Schweighofer has been the main culprit.

"Europe’s last great forest is under threat due to illegal logging and Schweighofer has been the main culprit."

“With this decision, FSC is taking concrete action to avoid certifying trade in stolen wood.”

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Schweighofer currently sells sawn lumber, laminated timber, and pellets to clients worldwide, including Japan, the US, and the EU.

Forest Stewardship Council's director general Kim Carstensen said: “FSC will begin to build a permanent presence in Romania to effectively engage with its members and stakeholders to secure the right mechanisms, such as the establishment of a dedicated solutions forum, to identify long term solutions to the challenges of responsible forest management in the country.

“To this effect it will engage in a constructive dialogue with the Schweighofer Group and all relevant stakeholders in the country.”

FSC also noted that Schweighofer Group has accepted its latest decision.