FSC certification for Victorian native timber

Victorians will be unable to buy native timber from their own state at major retailers within two years because the local product is environmentally unsustainable, throwing the future of the industry into further doubt reports the ABC.

Bunnings and Officeworks have both announced they will only stock Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified products by 2020, ruling out timber and paper from the state-owned logging company VicForests.

Bunnings director of marketing and merchandise Clive Duncan said the company wants to ensure all its timber and wood products come from legal and well-managed forest operations. "The recent update to our policy and the 2020 timing is a significant milestone that reflects our continued focus on responsible timber procurement," he said.

"We believe customers and team members have the right to expect that timber is sourced from well managed forestry operations." Officeworks said it has a long-standing commitment to sustainability, with a goal to have all copy paper either 100 per cent recycled or FSC-certified by 2020.

The native timber industry has been a tough policy issue for the Andrews Government, which last year took the unusual step of buying a private mill to avoid job losses. The Government is under pressure to protect forests in the Central Highlands by creating a new national park, dubbed the Great Forest National Park by campaigners, while also juggling the need to protect blue-collar jobs.

The decision of Bunnings and Officeworks is a blow to VicForests, which first applied for FSC accreditation in 2008 and has been denied it multiple times. The organisation went through an FSC audit in December last year but is yet to release the results. In a statement, VicForests said it had received the FSC audit report and was considering the contents, with a response to be released "in due course". A spokesman said VicForests was committed to achieving FSC certification.

The decision by two major retailers to demand FSC standards raises questions about the future of Victoria's native forest timber industry. Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford referred questions to VicForests, while the Victorian Association of Forest Industries said only that it supported forest certification.

Source: abc.net.au

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