Canberra, Australia – The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) recently hosted its annual dinner in the nation’s capital. The event provided a platform for Responsible Wood to connect with certificate holders and key industry stakeholders to discuss the role of sustainable forestry in a world that is facing challenges in meeting net-zero targets. The dinner featured notable speakers, including the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Peter Dutton, and Senator the Hon Jonathon Duniam.
Simon Dorries, the CEO of Responsible Wood, briefly addressed attendees at the beginning of the evening, shedding light on the significance of sustainable forest certification and the recently released Responsible Wood community grants initiative.
Throughout the evening both speakers and members asserted that the forest products industry is a cornerstone of renewable resources, protecting forest health, providing essential products, employment opportunities, and substantial revenue that fuels the nation’s economy.
During his address, the Hon Peter Dutton emphasised that the vilification of the forest industry, often devoid of factual basis, has hindered progress and perpetuated misconceptions. He underscored the contributions of the forest products industry to regional communities, stating that it stands as a responsible sector that adds approximately $24 billion to the Australian economy annually.
He acknowledged that Australian forest management standards exceed international standards, with no net loss of forests from harvesting within the country. He highlighted that the decisions in Western Australia and Victoria on native forest matters appear to pursue what could be considered a populist approach, reflecting a lack of understanding of the environmental benefits and economic implications of a certified sustainable sector. These decisions, unfortunately, will undoubtedly lead to the offshoring of jobs and production, resulting in greater environmental impacts in other less-developed countries. He emphasised that importing forest products from other countries does not result in environmental gains.
The dinner highlighted the growing demand for sustainably built timber homes throughout Australia, due to increased population through migration as planned by the current government.
Responsible Wood Sustainability Manager Matt de Jongh emphasised the critical role of sharing positive member stories, stating,
“Sharing positive member stories that are based on science and independently verified through the Responsible Wood Certification Scheme is essential in building public trust and understanding the significant impact of responsible forest management on our environment and forest health.”
Beyond the supply of a responsibly sourced renewable product, sustainable forest management plays a vital role in mitigating bushfire risks.
Marketing and Communications Manager for Responsible Wood, Jonathan Tibbits reflected,
“These certification schemes provide a strong framework for ensuring that the economic benefits derived from forests continue to support local communities, while safeguarding the ecosystems for future generations. Through collaboration with local stakeholders, these systems can improve regional economies while maintaining the delicate ecological balance of forests.”
Setting globally recognised standards tailored to national operating conditions and regulations is integral for the effectiveness of forest certification systems. By acknowledging the unique characteristics and challenges of each nation’s forestry industry, these standards ensure that sustainability practices are both feasible and impactful. Such an approach accounts for the varying ecological, social, and economic contexts, allowing for flexible yet responsible forest management strategies; all whilst based on the internationally agreed upon criteria and indicators for sustainable forests outlined in the Montreal Process.
Throughout the evening concerns were expressed about the challenges of more regulations and taxes on the industry, potentially hampering future prosperity should ideas of green radicalism continue to be perpetuated despite a rational approach to forest management that is evidence-based.
In discussions about improving Australia’s manufacturing base, it was acknowledged the challenges posed by high wage, energy and regulatory costs. The evening also delved into the concept of market externalities, emphasising the need to consider carbon, biodiversity, and natural capital in the industry’s narrative and value proposition.
First time event attendee, Responsible Wood Communications Manager Jonathan Tibbits reflected on the event,
“Certification has the opportunity to become a powerful tool in shaping a positive narrative around active and adaptive forest management. It not only validates sustainable forestry practices but also highlights the tangible benefits on forest health, reinforcing the connection between responsible forestry and environmental well-being.”
The AFPA dinner provided a great platform for open dialogue about the forest products industry’s role in Australia’s economy and its commitment to sustainable practices. While celebrating its contributions, members in attendance commended the efforts of AFPA and supported the continuation of informed decision-making to ensure the industry’s continued growth and its positive impact throughout the nation.