I’ve just started the FM audit this year for some companies in the north. There’s not much to share about the lessons or experience since all aspects of sustainable forest management (core part of certification) were the same pace as compared with previous years. From discussion and observation, here are some observations of the possible underlying reasons.
- Most of certified companies were state-owned forest companies (SFC) which the state owns 100% or majority of the stock. It means that the state will decide/approve who is manager, how the operational system runs and how benefits will be distributed. As a result, incentives for doing well (effective) and doing long (sustainable) were absent in most of company’s staff. The equitization process was so slowly and unclear about the roadmap for the ending line. Some companies were at high risk of losing their business because the former leader created a big debt (somehow 40 bil. VND) before they retired or being resigned (!). Compared with a story I heard from Thuy Son’s Vice Director (Can Tho), it is very crucial to transform all SFCs to Private/Joint-stock companies if the government wants to promote FSC certification/SFM as they stated in the sustainable forest development strategy (Decision 886/PM).
- The company’s staff do not fully understand the nature of SFM and thus they do their jobs as a routine without any critical viewpoint. Take M&E as an example. Monitoring staff is making monitoring sheets all the time without knowing why he needs to do that, and how his work can contribute to effectiveness of the company’s operation. So much paper-work was produced just for coping with the audit team (!). In this sense, they need to organize a thorough scanning of all company’s activities and simplify their M&E system to make it more practical and feasible rather imposing a bureaucratic system as present.
- The absence of a quality consultancy service to help the company understand and implement properly all aspects of SFM/FSC Cert. Some companies just copied documents and materials from other models in previous WWF/GIZ projects. They forgot that documents are only the first step and the implementation/execution of activities is more important. Finally, changing the mindset of the leaders as well as all staff is crucial to help maintain certification in a long term.
So how the current situation can be improved? Well, they may need (i) a good leadership (a dedicated and excellent leader) and (ii) supporting team/advisor to make a long-term capacity building strategy for their staff. A good leader is someone who simply understand the mission and know how to mobilise capable staff to do right things. An advisor is not easy to find but possible provided that they’re practically experienced and enthusiastic with forestry development. In any situation, the company itself needs to be independent in both financial investment and personnel recruitment. Otherwise, they will always find SFM/FSC certification a challenging mission even though they’ve hold the certificate for years.
De Syloia, Sat. 02.06.2018