RELEASE: deRANged II The Sequel -- Rainforest Action Network Endangers World's Rainforests
(EARTH) -- Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has unexpectedly pulled out of nearly completed secret negotiations with Ecological Internet to work jointly to reform the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to stop certifying as environmentally acceptable the first time logging of old forests . After fifteen years of FSC membership, RAN still cannot say how much first time industrial primary and old growth forest logging FSC has certified as "well-managed" while implying environmental sustainability (no one including FSC board members can, or at least they are not talking). Estimates place it as high as 60 million hectares of old forests having been cleared with FSC certification for such necessities as toilet paper and lawn furniture, with an equal amount imminently threatened.
RAN's tropical rainforest campaign has collapsed into irrelevancy. For several years there has been no activity other than working on oil palm, fund-raising and throwing lavish parties. A year ago, after two years of protests and threats to disrupt their REVEL celebrity studded fund-raiser, they pledged to reinvigorate their rainforest campaign, starting with writing to FSC to find out just how much old forests they are destroying. Apparently being an FSC member has few benefits, as no response has been received. By supporting FSC, Rainforest Action Network is greenwashing rainforest destruction globally. FSC is only marginally better than competing industry certification schemes in that it depends upon old forest logging to meet market demand for throw-away consumer items. Old forest logging must end.
In past weeks, RAN launched their long awaited new rainforest campaign, focusing upon Indonesia. With Indonesia's rainforests ablaze releasing huge amounts of carbon, in what constitutes a global ecological emergency, RAN did what they do best and threw another party -- this time in New York City with super-models! After a year of planning and expenditures, the best campaign RAN came up with was to target Tiffany and the fashion industry's use of shopping bags. They succeeded in getting this high-end consumer luxury brand to pledge to only use FSC certified bags -- which means Canadian forests rather than Indonesian will be clearcut with FSC certification to abet continued over-consumption.
Ecological Internet calls for the immediate resignation of Michael Brune as RAN Executive Director, and Lafcadio Cortesi as Forest Campaign Director. An organization founded by a taxi-driver, and headed by an accountant and religious studies major, cannot be entrusted to develop the comprehensive and ambitious policies necessary to protect old forests as a keystone response to climate change and ecosystem collapse. RAN has no desire, willingness or ability to change its tired market campaigns, which legitimize continued over-consumption, to bring them in line with the new ecological knowledge.
"In RAN's cloistered little world of celebrity parties, failed market campaigns, and banner drops; there is no ecological science to be found. As climate change has been shown to be abrupt, and rainforests the key to solving this and other eco-crises, RAN has shown no willingness to re-examine their strategies and tactics in light of looming biosphere collapse. RAN is called upon to present a compelling vision of how logging 500 year old trees in tens of millions of year old ancient forests protects them or they should disband their forest campaign," states Dr. Glen Barry. "Otherwise RAN will continue to endanger the world's rainforests by supporting FSC and other marginal reforms of rainforest logging."
Dr. Barry is an expert on the global ecological system, rainforest and climate policy, and holds a Ph.D. in "Land Resources" and a Master's Degree in "Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development", both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ecological Internet has a global network and reach several times larger than RAN, committed to ecologically sufficient policies to achieve global ecological sustainability. Despite this, RAN continually denigrates EI's work as "one guy on the Internet", repeatedly trying to vilify Dr. Barry. There is a clear difference of opinion, and RAN had best start owning and defending publicly their failed FSC policy, rather than resorting to tangential distractions to hide their negligence.
Ecological Internet is committed to creating a political ecology space to discuss ecological science based solutions to global eco-crises. This includes academically discussing whether more robust resistance may be necessary to obstruct ecocide -- we have done so for years. Rather than dialoguing on our differences, RAN has chosen to find excuses to continue stonewalling and vilifying ecological difference of opinions. RAN is committed to being glamorous and using rainforests to fill their coffers for other campaign purposes, rather than ending ancient forest logging. Concern over RAN's failed rainforest campaign is not going away anytime soon, as their continued unthinking support for old forest timber product consumption makes them a legitimate target of protest.
 Here is the final draft joint statement which RAN pulled out of at the last minute after wasting months of time negotiating:
Getting the Forest Stewardship Council to Stop Certifying Old Forest Logging, a Joint Statement from Ecological Internet and Rainforest Action Network
Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Ecological Internet (EI) are pleased to have found common ground regarding shared goals and strategies to fully protect and restore old forests globally (defined as primary and regenerating old growth forests which are largely ecologically intact). We affirm both organizations are committed to ending industrial logging of old forests, whether certified or not.
The extent to which the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies as environmentally acceptable the first time logging of old forests remains untracked and unknown, and this lack of transparency is unacceptable. In light of current and emerging ecological and climate science, EI and RAN oppose continued FSC certification for such logging -- except under specific conditions such as small scale community eco-forestry practiced by local peoples.
RAN is committed to using its FSC membership to determine the extent of FSC's dependence upon primary and old growth forest logging, and ending such practices. RAN will renew its request that FSC develop a tracking and disclosure system that monitors, quantifies and verifies percentages of certifications -- based upon both certification numbers and timber volumes -- that occur in old forests. RAN expects that its concerns regarding data collection by FSC will be addressed within six months.
RAN will work with others in FSC’s environmental chamber to recognize that all old forests should be declared High Conservation Value Forests under FSC principles and criteria. Failure by the FSC to develop these monitoring and reporting metrics systems, or to address weaknesses relating to the principles and criteria in relation to old forests, will result in RAN lobbying FSC customers, certifiers and key stakeholders to adopt an "FSC Plus" approach which is free of old forest timbers. EI and partner organizations outside of FSC will make similar demands. Lack of meaningful progress will result in other strategic remedy actions –- including RAN revoking their FSC membership.
Further Areas of Cooperation
Rainforest Action Network and Ecological Internet are committed to ongoing communication and joint initiatives to swiftly end deforestation and degradation of old and intact primary and old growth forest ecosystems, and the ecological restoration of old growth forests, as keystone responses to the climate and biodiversity crises.
Copenhagen represents a unique and hugely important opportunity to advance both forest and climate protections. Industrialized nations must commit to major emissions reductions, recognizing their historical carbon debt, even as emerging economies take responsibility for massive increases in emissions from deforestation and industrialization. We acknowledge the potential of REDD to protect forests and their carbon stocks, but recognize that ecologically and socially rigorous elements of "Good REDD" have not yet been defined, and are not yet assured.
We agree there should be no REDD funds for logging (SFM) of either old or other natural forests, or for conversion of natural or semi-natural forests and other ecosystems to plantations. Other elements of "Good REDD" necessary for our organizations' support include science based forest definitions, explicit land tenure and rights (particularly recognition of Indigenous Peoples rights as articulated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), equitable benefit sharing for local communities, and a focus upon governance and corruption issues, transparency and equity. Further, there should be no REDD offsets market mechanisms as part of any REDD agreement.
We share the vision of action on climate change that is ecologically sufficient and thus includes both ending societal addiction to coal and oil AND stopping deforestation and degradation as keystone responses. We agree regarding the need to continue addressing underlying causes of forest loss and diminishment including developed country consumption of timber; pulp, paper and palm oil as major drivers for the expansion of industrial logging into intact natural forests, and the relative timidity of policy responses to date given the magnitude of the problem and threat to the planet. We intend to lobby other forest groups to express support for this old forest protection vision.