Critical part of the timber economy
GARY FEATHERSTON is a forester trained at Creswick and Melbourne University. He worked as a public sector forester for 29 years managing and caring for the forests of Gippsland in Victoria. During this time he was surprised by the entrenched opposition to the use of native forests for productive use. “I was amazed that two groups with many shared values were always in opposition. Both groups love and value forests as places to visit, or work and for their intrinsic value. Both recognise the benefits of timber as a building product and for its natural qualities. I see forest certification as a way to recognise these values and get the groups together to find solutions to the common problems,” says Gary.
The two forest certification schemes operating in Australia provide a competitive framework that offers choice between the strengths and weaknesses of both schemes. “My aim of establishing the group schemes was to ensure that more certified timber can be generated and more certified timber can get to market. Small growers and producers are a critical part of the timber economy but struggle to keep up with regulatory and compliance systems of certification. Group schemes provide access to the benefits with the costs shared,” he said.
Australian forestry is some of the best in the world but gets very little recognition as such. Gary’s work life has been trying to address this issue via his consultancy work, roles with the Institute of Foresters Australia and more recently through his support of certification.