Australia’s New Forest Stewardship Standard Unifies Conservation Groups and Timber Companies

Australia’s New Forest Stewardship Standard Unifies Conservation Groups and Timber Companies

Communities, green groups and timber companies have long been at loggerheads with one another over the protection and management of Australia’s forests, most recently in Victoria where activists have been protesting Australian Paper’s logging of Victoria’s forests. However, old scores seem to have been settled with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Australia announcing the launch of its groundbreaking version of the world’s strongest forestry standard, a framework jointly supported by industry, environment and community groups.

“The Forest Stewardship Council label is the global gold standard. FSC is recognised by consumers worldwide as guaranteeing that timber and paper products – from furniture to flooring, to books and printing paper – are produced sustainably, in a way that protects forests and supports workers and communities,” FSC Australia CEO, Sara Gipton.

“The new FSC National Forest Stewardship Standard gives consumers confidence the Australian wood products they buy are from forests managed to the world’s highest standard.”

By balancing the interests of all key stakeholders, such as the need for consumer products and sustainable employment, whilst addressing complex issues such as the protection of indigenous rights and sacred sites and threatened species, FSC Australia has been able to secure this historic deal, signalling a new era of collaboration around the management of Australia’s forests.

“The FSC standard has been developed over five years, by representatives of economic, environmental, and social interests. The development process has included extensive consultation, expert input, and testing in the field,” said Gipton.

When Australian wood is certified by FSC, it indicates that it has been legally harvested from a well-managed forest and plantation that is committed to reforestation practices (planting more trees to replace the harvested ones).

Australia's first FSC National Forest Stewardship Standard
Images supplied.

  The Forest Stewardship Council Australia Logo

Currently, FSC Australia certifies 1.22 million hectares of Australian forests to full FSC Forest Management standards, an increase of 37 percent since 2012 and a sign of sustainability’s increasing importance in the business community.

Australian consumers too are increasingly aware of environmental issues and altering shopping behaviour to match their environmental values. With Australians using about 1.72 million tonnes of printing and writing paper each year (the equivalent of more than 40 million trees) and 146kg of paper consumed per Australian each year, ethical certifications such as FSC play a crucial role in helping customers determine which products to buy. With one in three Australian consumers now recognising the FSC logo, a sustainable timber future seems inevitable.

'According to The Global Paper Industry Report 2018, Australia consumes 146kg of paper per person, per year, which is more than double the global average.' Click To Tweet

“Everyday Australians love the forests and the wildlife that live in these forests. Australians want to know that the products sourced from production forests have the highest possible standards of environmental management. The creation of this national standard, after many years of negotiations between conservationists and industry, provides the highest standard of environmental management of production forests on offer in Australia,” said The Wilderness Society National Director Lyndon Schneiders.

The Forest Stewardship Council is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation and is the world’s most trusted forest certification standard; its logo can be found on reams of FSC-certified paper found in Officeworks through to timber products sold at Bunnings. An estimated half of all pulp used in Australian paper and paperboard is FSC certified contributing $1.6 billion to the Australian economy from responsibly sourced paper products alone.

For more information about the FSC Australian National Standard or to access a copy of the standard, visit their website.

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Title image of HQPlantations Beerburrum Plantations courtesy of FSC Australia.

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