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FSC Ukraine remains resilient despite the obstacles of the war

 Wednesday, August 2, 2023

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After more than a year of war, FSC Ukraine is as resilient as Ukraine’s forests.

Russia’s invasion in February 2022 forced FSC Ukraine and other FSC actors to adapt and evolve.

“Our guiding principle was that we should find opportunities to act, rather than using the war as a reason to do nothing,” said Pavlo Kravets, Director of FSC Ukraine, “With the number one priority to keep people safe.” Pavlo added further.

That included finding safer places to work, adapting to hybrid working at home and in the field, sourcing electricity at times and co-working spaces that could offer internet access.

Oksana Pavlishchuk, forest management certification manager, says they quickly turned fear and worry into resilience and endurance.

“The new reality of the war required different organization of work processes and everyday issues, combining offline and online work,” she explained.

Adapting FSC requirements to support certificate holders

As soon as Russia invaded Ukraine, FSC agreed to adapt its framework to allow certification in Ukraine to continue in areas not affected by the war, allowing the country to continue to benefit from its standards.

Certificates in zones of armed conflict were suspended to protect foresters and auditors from life-threatening risks such as land mines. The remainder of Ukraine continues to maintain and protect their forests using FSC certification. In this way, people can undertake usual activities in areas where risks are mitigated to keep the country economically viable.

Forest strategy in Ukraine

The FSC Global Strategy 2021–2026 sets out priorities that are especially relevant in Ukraine, where the state policy on sustainable forest management is currently working to integrate FSC’s National Forest Stewardship Standard not only in forest management but also in legislation and government decision-making.

Viktor Smal, acting Head of the State Forest Resources Agency of Ukraine which oversees forest management units of ‘Forest of Ukraine’ said “We are grateful for the support of the efforts to obtain the certified status by our branches. We hope that the application of FSC tools will continue to help us maintain responsible forest management and integrate into the EU”.

Continuing to provide value during difficult time

FSC-certified companies are utilizing the value of certification to access European markets and continue selling products outside of Ukraine. FSC opens doors to clients who care for sustainable sourcing and thus keeps their economy viable in times of economic crisis.

Natalia Pokinska, Managing Director of Kronospan Ukraine LLC, highlighted that it is vital to persuade companies that stopped doing business in or with Ukraine to re-evaluate their decisions. “We are doing things in the best possible way, and we can set a due diligence system that identifies all threats and takes them into account’’, she says. “We insist foreign clients can work with Ukraine and buy our products – it will help our economy”.

FSC brings Ukraine closer to the EU

Ukraine’s forestry sector is seeking tighter ties with Europe in the future. FSC’s tools to increase transparency and openness will be fundamental to this desire for greater European integration, ensuring zero tolerance for corruption and improving traceability in supply chains.

Responsible forest management will play a crucial role in sustainable economic growth in Ukraine once the war is over. To that end, the focus will continue to be on bringing stakeholders together jointly to develop forest policy and ensure its appropriate implementation, which will occur in the context of a multilateral discussion platform.

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