Friday, 28 October 2011

The Narrative Sat Nav

The Narrative Sat-Nav has some suggestions for improving the fantasy classic "The Lord of the Rings."

COUNTRY:         ENDOR    UK    EUROPE      

From:  The House at Bag End, The Shire
To    :  The Grey Havens, Eriador

 Add Via Point: Go Direct!
OK. I admit that might be taking things a teensie bit far. But editing rocks. And is hard. And he does go on a bit, doesn't he?

Friday, 7 October 2011

UK 'Sustainable' Forests company in Ugandan land grab (allegedly)

I posted on Facebook yesterday that according to an Oxfam report the UK based forestry company New Forests had been involved in the forcible eviction of up to 22000 in  central Uganda. Since slackivism is as close as I get to Doing Something About Stuff, I emailed both New Forests ( and the Forest Stewardship Council ( which according to its international website  "is an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world's forests", you know the guys that tell you your B&Q garden furniture doesn't have an environmental and social cost much greater than the price tag.

I got this reply back from FSC. I might be too easily please, but I found it a little reassuring.  I don't know how any of this helps the people who got evicted, but although it's easy to be cynical about slackivism, I think there is an important function here; namely that people can (sometimes) be held to higher standards if they think someone is watching. Where they exist, we can influence the regulators, which is why it is so important we have the regulators, what ever the area or industry. That said, we must also be able to trust those bodies, as there have to be limits to regulation too. What I think those might be, could perhaps be another blog post...

Hi Barbara

Thank you for your email.

FSC takes the findings of the Oxfam report very seriously, and will investigate the issue thoroughly to ensure that FSC Principle 2 requiring demonstrated land tenure and use rights, as well as all other relevant principles and criteria, are upheld.

The findings from the recent Oxfam study were brought to the attention of FSC in late September. The Oxfam report reveals serious land tenure concerns. The certified operations in question are related to licenses held by the New Forests Company operating FSC certified plantations covering 12,607 hectares. The operations were certified by FSC accredited certification body SGS Qualifor in March 2009, and are in the Mubende and Kiboga districts of Uganda.

Accreditation Services International (ASI), who monitor FSC accredited certification bodies such as SGS, performed an assessment audit of NFC in February 2010 with local experts and a full stakeholder consultation. FSC has determined that the process of certification made by SGS did evaluate the change in land use on the government owned land where NFC obtained a land lease from the National Forestry Authority.

Findings from the Oxfam report indicate that outstanding claims related to land ownership and use rights were not fully considered and may have escalated since the evaluation. FSC will thoroughly investigate the situation in Kiboga and Mubende in a transparent process where all findings are publicly available to stakeholders. Our priority is to ensure that any contradictions with the FSC Principles and Criteria are remedied.

The FSC system is designed so that stakeholder concerns are addressed in the certification process. Where this intention is not fully realised, additional measures exist to ensure that concerns and disputes are addressed to the fullest extent required by the FSC Principles and Criteria. Working with all relevant stakeholders, FSC will ensure that the concerns regarding the NFC certified operations will be given full consideration and that any disputes or non-compliance will be resolved.

I forward updates on this issue to you as soon as they are available.

Best Regards

Business Advisor
Forest Stewardship Council UK