Today (March 21) is World Forestry Day.
This year the day has particular importance because it is the UN International Year of Forests; a year that celebrates international action to sustainably manage the world’s forests. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in Australia is marking this day by launching its public appeal to raise funds to complete work on an FSC accredited Australian forest management standard.
FSC has played a key role in changing the debate over forests in Australia. The FSC standard would be another step in resolving forest conflict nationally by bringing people with an interest in forests together to agree how good forest management is defined and what the indicators are that an auditor would use to check and verify that a forest is being well managed.
FSC is scaling up its standard development work with a view to completing the process by 2012. It needs to make sure all people with an interest in forests are engaged in the process; have an equal opportunity to contribute their views and; the process is well facilitated to achieve consensus between environmental, social and economic interests.
CEO Michael Spencer said FSC Australia was asking for community support to develop what will be a ‘community standard‘for forest management. “Development of an FSC standard for responsible forest management in Australia is an appropriate and worthwhile project for the community in the International Year of Forests. It has the potential to contribute to resolving forest conflict; ensure important environmental and social values are protected, and; industry can set a course for a sustainable future without conflict.”
“FSC can also contribute to customers for forest products being able to buy wood and paper products with peace of mind knowing an independent organisation is verifying compliance with a responsible forest management standard that has been agreed by environmental groups, community groups, trade unions, indigenous people and responsible businesses in the forestry, wood and paper products industries.”
To date, the standard’s development has been supported by environmental philanthropists but with growing interest in FSC, the organisation needs to scale-up the process to meet a two year time frame. Development is budgeted to cost about $1 million over two years. That is the target for this appeal - $1 million.
FSC Australia generates income from membership and events and receives a small amount from FSC International but has not received support for this process from government and cannot depend on the forest industry to fund this process because of the potential for conflict of interest.
FSC is an international, not for profit organisation that drives responsible forest management for social, economic and environmental benefits. In response to increasing public concern for forests, FSC was founded in 1994 by environmentalists, trade unions, indigenous peoples’ groups, responsible retailers and forest companies. The impact of FSC is global. More than 130 million hectares of forest have been certified to FSC standards and about 20,000 companies participate in the system.
FSC Australia was established in 2006. More than half a million hectares of forest are certified to FSC standards in Australia, including native forests and tree plantations. About 240 Australian companies participate in the FSC supply chain. FSC Australia has almost ninety members including some of the country’s major environment groups, forest product companies, wood wholesalers, paper and printing companies, a trade union and timber community organisation.
FSC Forest Management Standards are based on the globally recognised ten principles and 56 criteria for responsible forest management that have been agreed upon by all relevant stakeholders. Currently Australian forest managers are certified under interim FSC standards. FSC Australia is developing an Australian forest management standard that reflects Australian conditions and has been widely considered an endorsed by the full range of forest stakeholders.