VicForests’ focus on sustainability has 60,000 years’ worth of experience backing it.
Sustainability Manager for Responsible Wood (RW), Matt de Jongh recently spent a week in Victoria observing an independent, third-party audit of VicForests’ operations. The audit is part of a process that ensures compliance for the certificate held by VicForests under the RW standard for sustainable forest management.
As part of the visit, de Jongh took the opportunity to gain a close-up first-hand look at both the auditing process and the sustainable forest management practices undertaken by VicForests.
“I was very impressed with not only the focus by VicForests on ensuring positive biodiversity outcomes through their active and adaptive forest management, but also their work and engagement with the Traditional Owners,” says de Jongh.
“It is well known that for about 60,000 years Traditional Owners have actively and adaptively managed Australia’s forests, which have evolved with and adapted to this active management.
“It was wonderful to hear from the Owners on the meaningful partnerships they have formed with VicForests, ensuring their knowledge and practices are carried on for generations to come.”
VicForests is one of 28 forests certified under AS 4708 – Sustainable Forest Management. This standard is used by Australian forest growers to make RW and PEFC claims on forest and tree-based products. Underpinning certification is a commitment by forest growers to the management and rejuvenation of forests.
In addition to the input from Traditional Owners, VicForests ensures its forests are managed sustainably through a comprehensive forest management framework, which includes overarching policy and legislation and institutional and administrative arrangements.
“There is a lot of planning and monitoring that goes into forest management, including surveys for plants, animals and cultural heritage sites, as well as stakeholder engagement and monitoring and review mechanisms,” de Jongh says.
“These aspects are all taken into account as part of the audit process.”
In December 2021 Responsible Wood published the latest version of the AS/NZS 4708 Standard for Sustainable Forest Management – requirements, which can be downloaded by registering at www.responsiblewood.org.au/sustainable-forestry-management-standard-form/.
Published for the first time as a Trans-Tasman Standard, the new Standard provides common benchmarks for sustainably managed Australian and New Zealand forests.
The Australia-New Zealand Standard (AS / NZS 4708), along with the Australian Standard for Chain of Custody for Forest Products (AS / NZS 4707) are key components of the Responsible Wood Certification Scheme.
In coming months, de Jongh is planning to meet with all SFM certificate holders in Australia and New Zealand to describe and explain the new standard.