Media Releases - 14 August 2020
Response to VicForests abandoning bid for FSC certification
The first step in addressing a problem is admitting that you have one. But VicForests hasn’t been able to take that crucial first step. It instead seems intent on blaming its repeated failures to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification upon anything other than itself—possums, environmentalists, internationally-renowned scientists, the Federal Court, and now even FSC.
“It is VicForests’ unsustainable logging practices and failures to follow the law that mean the FSC standard has eluded VicForests certification—not only in the current FSC audit, but in previous audits going back over a decade,” says Amelia Young, National Campaigns Director for the Wilderness Society.
“VicForests’ claim that the FSC board may influence awarding of FSC certificates shows a blatant misunderstanding of the FSC system. Certificates are awarded, or not, by independent auditors, not the FSC Board.
“We take VicForests postponement as proof that its operations are not able to meet even the most basic of the FSC standards requirements—that logging be legal and not impacting on high conservation values. Victorian mills have already started to lose major customers as a result of VicForests’ shortcomings—it is a rogue operator that is unable to provide any certainty to the industry.
“VicForests’ numerous excuses for its failure to obtain FSC certification includes the 2019-20 bushfires. The catastrophic bushfires should have provided a sense of urgency to improve the sustainability of VicForests operations, not as an excuse to abandon any planned improvements.
“The wider story here is that VicForests is forced to log to unsustainable levels to meet its contracted supply agreement with Nippon Paper Group owned Opal Australian Paper. Incredibly, the huge volumes guaranteed to Opal Australian Paper have not been reduced since the bushfires, which burnt over 1.2 million hectares of the states’ forest, severely affecting threatened wildlife populations across a much larger area. Nippon Paper Group and the Victorian Government need to urgently agree on a reduction of these volumes, and commit to bringing forward the government’s commitment to exit from native forest logging in 2030.
“Rather than attempt to clean up its operations, VicForests appears to have instead chosen to launch a rather extraordinary attack on the FSC, and to blame environmentalists for its failure to achieve certification for its operations.
“VicForests operations are currently certified by the ‘Responsible Wood’ standard, which is not highly-regarded for having high standards in what it determines to be a sustainable timber operation. For example, a French media outlet was able to have a pig farm, a nuclear power plant, an airport, a supermarket parking lot, and France’s largest open air night club as being sustainable, legal timber operations,” concluded Amelia.
For more information please contact Tim Beshara, Federal Policy Director 0437878786