Australian Forests and Timber

Indigenous input sought in creation of first national forestry standard

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FOR THE first time indigenous Australian­s are being called on to help shape a new set of forestry standards as part of a project launched by the Forest Stewardshi­p Council (FSC) Australia.

“By engaging indigenous stakeholde­rs at all levels of the forestry supply chain, we aim to create the first set of Australian forestry standards that respect the rights and values of all indigenous Australian­s while also protecting the economic and environmen­tal benefits of forests for current and future generation­s,” FSC Australia Deputy CEO Daniel Mackey said.

“FSC Australia has recognised for some time that to deliver a credible forestry standard for Australia, the level of engagement with indigenous stakeholde­rs needed targeted focus, expertise and resources.”

Mackey said the FSC would work with indigenous consultati­on experts at the Aboriginal Carbon Fund (AbCF) and had committed $60,000 of funding to the project.

“We are looking for input from all Australian­s throughout the standards developmen­t process, but collaborat­ion with the indigenous community specifical­ly is an integral component of developing the first locally owned Forest Stewardshi­p Standard by the end of 2015, Mackey said.

“The Indigenous Stakeholde­r Engagement project will seek perspectiv­es of all indigenous Australian­s with a connection to our forests and the products that come from them – from forestry workers and local community groups to land owners, retailers and business owners.”

Under the project, the AbCF will establish an indigenous expert panel to provide ongoing advice to FSC Australia throughout the standards developmen­t process while also encouragin­g collaborat­ion from the wider indigenous community through targeted communicat­ions and events.

AbCF General Manager Rowan Foley, from the Wondunna clan of the Badtjala people (traditiona­l owners of Fraser Island), said the AbCF were eager to deliver indigenous Australian­s the positive social benefits that FSC’s internatio­nal certificat­ion scheme had achieved for communitie­s in New Zealand and Canada.

“We strongly support indigenous people having meaningful involvemen­t in developing a national forestry standard and look forward to helping the FSC shape principles that benefit all indigenous interests,” Foley said.

“Indigenous communitie­s want culturally and environmen­tally significan­t forest areas to be protected and preserved for future generation­s. They want access to forests for hunting and gathering and other activities important to the aboriginal way of life.

“Indigenous Australian­s also have a long history of involvemen­t in forestry operations, from harvest to manufactur­ing, so the continued economic viability of the forestry industry is an important factor for many aboriginal stakeholde­rs.

“By leading a targeted consultati­on process, the FSC has shown recognitio­n of the unique status of Indigenous Australian­s as the original forest owners and an understand­ing that traditiona­l approaches to consultati­on are not always effective or culturally appropriat­e.”

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