In Australia, the concept of Sustainable Forest Management has a long and evolving history. As our understanding of forest ecology has increased and community attitudes have changed, forest management practices have also changed to ensure forests are conserved and managed responsibly so they deliver social, environmental and economic benefits now and in the future – balancing people, planet and profit.
The 1992 UN Earth Summit in Rio, defines “sustainable development” as a common goal of human development. Forest Certification arises in response to concerns about the preservation of the world’s forests.
The Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is established to promote sustainable forest management around the world.
The first national certified system is recognised, with forest owners and managers in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Austria certifying their responsible management practices.
To assist the Australian forestry industry to comply with the global push for sustainability, the Australian Forestry Standard Ltd, a not-for profit standards development organisation, is established to develop the Australian Forest Certification Scheme.
The scheme is underpinned by two Australian Standards® – Forest Management (AS 4708) and Chain of Custody (AS 4707) – which provide guidance and accountability to forest managers, manufacturers and suppliers. They protect and promote Australia’s unique environments by ensuring a forestry industry that is environmentally, economically, socially and culturally sustainable.
Australia’s Federal, State and Territory Ministers endorse the Forest Management Standard as “the first purely Australian Standard designed to define environmental performance and sustainability in the forestry industry.”
Australia joins the global Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), the global authority on sustainable forest management. Along with Chile, Australia becomes the first non-European certification system to be endorsed by the PEFC.
The Australian Forest Certification Scheme, is subsequently revised, reviewed and re-endorsed in 2009 and again in 2015.
Australian Forestry Standard Ltd becomes Responsible Wood and commits to broadening the message of forest sustainability and promoting sustainable forest products to a wider audience in Australia. As a result, the Australian Forest Certification Scheme becomes known as the Responsible Wood Certification Scheme.
Over 24 million hectares* of forest are now certified in Australia providing sustainable building materials to architects, builders and retailers, and timber and paper products to craftsmen and all Australians.
*PEFC Global Statistics: SFM &CoC Certification, September 2017