Cost-competitive certification a boon to many in timber industry
CERTIFIED TIMBER is becoming an important recognition of the legal and responsible sourcing of timber and wood products. Many small and medium sized enterprises have been priced out of the certified timber market due to the high compliance costs of obtaining and maintaining certificates.
All of the three most important certification schemes that operate in Australia, Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) have provision in their scheme rules for small enterprises to band together and share certificates. This option has been slow to get to the market but this has recently changed.
A privately owned and operated Group Scheme has recently been established and is now holding certificates for Chain of Custody for FSC® and PEFC which mutually recognises AFS.
“There have been several attempts to get cooperative certification going in Australia with limited success. A privately operated group allows a business-tobusiness connection to drive the relationship and makes certification more affordable to members,” said Group Manager Gary Featherston who operates the small consultancy business that is offering group scheme membership for both forest management and chain of custody.
“I started a forest management group in 2008, working with a small group of western district farmers who had their sugar gum windbreak plantations certified to the Forest Stewardship Council® standards and a small sawmill cutting this wood. We added a chain of custody certificate to the group to allow the sawmill to sell certified timber to his customers. Recently we added a PEFC chain of custody certificate, and are now ready to take the group to the wider market,” Mr Featherston said.
The original driver for the company to get certification was to demonstrate that good forestry practices were possible in Australia and they could be demonstrated to independent auditors that the highest environmental and social standards could be met. Membership of the forest management group is available to forest or plantation owners willing to comply with the standard and to get access to the growing markets for certified timber.
FSC® operates in 82 countries and is a stakeholder-owned system for promoting the responsible management of the world’s forests. There are more than 190 million hectares certified around the globe. Certification allows forest growers to label their products with the prestigious FSC® logo. Consumers buying products with the label can be assured that the timber has come from responsibly managed forests. Certification is the best tool to stop illegal logging.
Mr Featherston said PEFC has endorsed the forest certification schemes in 33 countries and has 300 million hectares certified. The Australian Standard for Sustainable Forest Management AS 47082013 has been endorsed by PEFC and is a scientific and technical standard developed according to the Australian standard setting procedures.
Timber buyers can be assured that buying from either scheme provides confidence that good forestry has been practiced and environmental harm is minimised.
Timber processors can now pre-empt or meet their customer’s needs for certification in a simple and affordable manner by joining a group scheme.
For more information
available from Gary on 0428 408 144 or email [email protected]strategy.com.au
Certified Sugar Gum plantations near Lismore, Victoria.
Gary Featherston, Forester and certification supporter.
Nests in remnant trees are critical.