The decision means all of Danzer’s FSC forest management and chain-of-custody certificates will be revoked for a minimum of one year.

The FSC board of directors decided on the “disassociation”, its most severe punishment, following research by an independent Complaints Panel which concluded that former Danzer subsidiary SIFORCO has been involved in “unacceptable activities” in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2011 (while it was still part of Danzer).

Danzer said it disagreed with the Complaints Panel’s conclusions but committed itself to resolving the DRC issues and develop robust new conflict avoidance and resolution procedures before applying for re-association with FSC.

“Though this imposes substantial financial consequences on our company, we believe in the principles for responsible forest management defined by FSC and will seek re-association as quickly as possible,” said Danzer Group CEO Hans-Joachim Danzer.

FSC said it had taken its decision reluctantly but firmly.

“Our continued association with the Danzer Group clearly puts FSC’s credibility and reputation at risk,” said Kim Carstensen, FSC director-general. Danzer is one of the world’s largest decorative veneer producers and a top 10 hardwood producer in North America.

The decision affects the largest FSC forest management certificate in the Congo Basin, managed by Danzer subsidiary Industrie Forestiere de Ouesso (IFO).

The disassociation has resulted from a complaint made by Greenpeace that SIFORCO was involved in the violation of human rights of forest communities in Yaliskia, DRC.

Greenpeace alleged that SIFORCO was linked to violent acts by local authorities against local communtities protesting against the company’s logging operations.

Danzer says the Yaliskia dispute was not a protest against its logging operations but a dispute over the re-scheduling of social infrastructure.