Photo by Kevin Rheese

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: I am writing to you after reading the very detailed special feature which appeared in the Thursday, the 11th of March 2021 edition of The Fifth Estate:

The wood from the trees and what we need to know about natures gift

First and foremost, Responsible Wood would like to thank The Fifth Estate for raising awareness and providing viewers with an insight into the matter of Sustainable Forest Management.

The Responsible Wood certification scheme, through the Australian Standard for Sustainable Forest Management (AS 4708) and Chain of Custody Standard (AS 4707) covers more than 11.4m hectares of Australian native and plantation forests. This represents over 90 per cent of Australia’s commercial forest production.

The majority of Australia’s commercial plantation forests participate in the Responsible Wood certification scheme.

Like The Fifth Estate, we have an interest in raising awareness about the importance of promoting sustainable forest management through the supply chain.

Under the Responsible Wood certification scheme organisations are assessed by independent certification bodies who are accredited by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) for ongoing compliance against the two standards.

JAS-ANZ is a member of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the Association of Accredited Certification Bodies (AACB) and was established via an international treaty between Australia and New Zealand with the purpose of enhancing national, Trans-Tasman and international trade via accreditation to international standards.

Responsible Wood is endorsed by, and mutually recognised by, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), the world’s largest forest certification scheme.

To achieve endorsement, the Responsible Wood certification scheme is subject to rigorous assessment by PEFC to confirm it was developed in line with PEFC sustainability benchmarks, meets global expectations and the PEFC International benchmark standards (PEFC ST 1003 – Sustainable Forest Management principles and PEFC ST 2002 – Chain of Custody for Forest and Tree Based Products).

For more information about PEFC Standard Setting, including the specific steps of the standard setting process, the composition of working groups developing standards and the process for reviewing and revising standards, please review the PEFC ST 1001 – Standing Setting.

We would love to assist where we can in providing further information about the PEFC endorsement process.

In recent years, several independent reviews have been commissioned comparing various forest certification schemes. These include but are not limited to the following: The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Guidelines for Promoting Responsible Investment in Food, Agriculture and Forestry (November 2020). The ASEAN RAI gave PEFC top marks across all forest certification schemes, with a 9.5 score across the 10 ASEAN RAI Guidelines.

In addition, PEFC recently received top marks from the Dutch Government Timber Procurement Assessment Committee (TPAC) (July 2020). The TPAC assessed PEFC against the criteria “Sustainable Forest Management”, “Chain of Custody” and “Development, Application and Management of a Certification System”.

And finally, the United Kingdom (UK) Government Timber Procurement Policy Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET). The CPET gave PEFC top marks across all forest certification schemes, with 96 per cent compliance with the UK government’s policy.

Responsible Wood is currently in the process of revising the Australian Standards for Sustainable Forest Management (AS 4708) and Chain of Custody for Forest Products (AS 4707).

Responsible Wood would welcome the opportunity to brief The Fifth Estate viewership on the standard development process.

Kind regards

Jason Ross

Responsible Wood marketing and communications officer

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  1. Thanks for the rundown Jason,
    As a sustainable builder I am interested in this topic and want to know that my timber choices are not adversely contributing to biodiversity loss/habitat degradation.
    3 questions for you:
    1) Are our forest reserves growing and are log diameters getting bigger over time. Or is this not a good way to assess our stewardship and the health of our forests?
    2) Why is Australia not moving to the more stringent FSC certification?
    3) Where is the industry failing and what needs to be improved?
    Timber choice is an important, but often confusing area. Your thoughts are welcome.
    – Jeremy