Media Releases - 26 November 2021

Steep slope logging evidenced as unlawful, yet timber certification scheme green-lights the wood

  • Responsible Wood certification scheme ‘green ticks’ VicForests’ steep slope logging

  • Ability of scheme to guarantee sustainability uncertain

  • VicForests’ board must be stood down and an independent investigation undertaken into the agency

Evidence is mounting that VicForests’ logging is unlawful, with data showing uncontained logging on steep slopes in violation of state regulation. The steep slope stands of forests torn down by VicForests were certified as sustainable by “Responsible Wood”, Australia’s Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) scheme.

Amelia Young, National Campaigns Director for The Wilderness Society says: “This week’s coverage occurs in a context of increasing numbers of community-led legal cases prompted by ongoing failures by the Victorian Government regulators to undertake effective investigations, and by VicForests’ belligerent approach to log in the face of community opposition, in defiance of conservation and wood modelling science, and, the evidence shows, persistently in breach of laws.

“It is deeply problematic that the Australian arm of a global certification scheme claiming to ensure to customers that products are responsible and sustainable, is certifying these environmentally destructive activities.

“Victoria’s forests, under the stewardship of VicForests for the past almost two decades, have been plunged into an environmental and wood supply crisis. Yet the Responsible Wood scheme still sees fit to certify timber and paper products sourced from Victoria’s public native forests.

“Buyers, manufacturers, processors and retailers of timber and paper products produced by VicForests’ harvested wood patently cannot rely on the Responsible Wood certification to guarantee sustainability, let alone guarantee legality—which only demonstrated adherence to laws can deliver.

“Following the ABC’s coverage of state logging corporation surveillance of community conservationists on 7:30 last night, The Wilderness Society reaffirms its calls for the VicForests’ board to be stood aside, and for a thoroughly independent investigation into the agency be urgently undertaken.

“The notion that the appropriate course of action is VicForests reviewing itself is farcical. There must be consequences: a line has been crossed and the Andrews government must bring this rogue agency to heel,” concluded Ms Young.

For further comment contact Tim Beshara on 0437 878 786