Driving new trans-Tasman certification standard

Friday 19 Jun 2020

This month marks the first anniversary of the formation of the strategic trans-Tasman sustainable forest management standard reference committee, the first of its kind – and no one is more passionate about AS/NZS 4708 than its chair Dr Gordon Duff, a Tasmanian-based scientist, professor and researcher.

The new standard will be audited for acceptance by PEFC International to meet the rigorous requirements of a fully-fledged JAS-ANZ accredited sustainable forest management system and to meet current and future expectations for forest management in both countries.

With more than 25 years’ experience in forest management, Dr Duff understands how important it is for stakeholders in the forest products industry to have a standard they can trust, one that balances expectations for social, environmental and economic outcomes.

“The committee is doing a great job of balancing the interests of all stakeholders, taking into account key differences in sustainable forest management between the two countries,” Dr Duff said. One example, he said, was fire management which, in the Australian context, was a key tool for protection and maintenance of forest biodiversity and ecosystem function. “The focus in New Zealand is more on fire suppression or exclusion,” he said.

Dr Duff, who edits the Australian Forestry Journal, is well versed in corporate governance and has chaired the Tasmanian Forest Practices Authority, the Forest Education Foundation and the Northern Territory Environmental Protection Authority. With a focus on producing a standard that balances stakeholder expectations, as well as one that is clear, unambiguous and auditable, the committee is working towards a release of the draft standard for public comment in August-September this year. Once released, the public will have more than nine weeks to review the draft and provide public comment.

“Drawing on the combined experience of the committee, the standard will use wording that is transparent and easily understood and interpreted by all involved in the certification process,” Dr Duff said. Following the expiration of the public comment period, the committee will give serious consideration to all comments and determine which proposed changes will be incorporated into the standard. The draft standards are freely available on the Standards Australia and Responsible Wood websites.

Standard reference committee nominating bodies In Australia: Association of Accredited Certification Bodies. Australian Forest Growers, Australian Forest Products Association, CFFMEU, CSIRO, Environmental Farmers Association, Institute of Foresters of Australia, Independent biodiversity/conservation expert, National Retailers Association, National Timber Council Association, South East Timber Association (community group), University of Melbourne, University of Sunshine Coast.

In New Zealand: Federation of Maori Authorities, First Union- NZ, Forest Certification Associaton, Forest Contractors Association, Farm Forestry Association, Forest Owners Association, Institute of Forestry, Ministry of Primary Industries, Timber Industry Federation, Wood Product and Manufacturers Association, Wood Product and Manufacturers Association.

Source: Responsible Wood

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