Australian Forests and Timber
Indigenous input sought in creation of first national forestry standard
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.”