Responsible Wood certification from the Forest Manager’s perspective
Kath Crowe, in a young Blackbutt plantation

In the NSW North Coast hinterland behind Woolgoolga, within the Gumbaynggirr nation, North of Coffs Harbour, lies the Wedding Bells State Forest; a leading example of how a forest can be managed for multiple uses. Since its dedication as a state forest in 1917 Wedding Bells State Forest has operated not only as a successful source of timber production, but as a major recreational asset for the local community and popular attraction for tourists visiting the region.

Timber production is an important part of the management of Wedding Bells State Forest and over the past twenty years around 9500 cubic metres of timber has been harvested each year. This timber is produced as part of a cycle of stands of trees harvested and then regrown using natural regeneration techniques. Over the past hundred years these stands have been harvested and regrown multiple times. The majority (around 90%) of the timber produced is sold to local sawmills and used to produce high value products including bridge girders, poles, veneer and sawn timber. This timber production supports the regional economy and produces a product that stores carbon for life, assisting in the fight against climate change.

Responsible Wood Certification of this timber is the Forestry Corporation’s irrefutable proof that they employ sustainable forest management practices. The Responsible Wood mark also provides reassurance for the end consumers of the wood to demonstrate to their customers that the timber comes from a sustainably managed forest.

Justin Black, Forestry Corporation of NSW’s Strategic Projects and Programs Leader regards Responsible Wood certification as “very important to us because we invest in ensuring our forest management is robust. Across the business we have three staff dedicated specifically to the Forest Management System but of course all staff are engaged in this process as it is a fundamental part of what we do each and every day.”

“Forestry Corporation promotes our Responsible Wood certification on our website and in our Sustainability Report each year because we recognise that people are becoming more aware of, and concerned with, how to source environmentally responsible products. Increasingly consumers are looking for and environmentally sustainable products and certified renewable timber is just that;” Black explains.

Wedding Bells State Forest is a mixture of natural forest and eucalypt plantations. The natural forest includes stands of Blackbutt, Spotted Gum, Ironbark/Grey Gum, Flooded Gum, Tallowwood/Sydney Blue Gum and Brushbox with small areas of lowland subtropical rainforest restricted to damp gullies and southern facing slopes. Most of the eucalypt plantations were established in the 1960’s and were predominately Flooded Gum plantations which have been harvested over the last twenty years and replanted with Blackbutt.

Forests with Responsible Wood accreditation to Australian Standard 4708 have proven that they are conserved and managed responsibly to ensure they deliver not only environmental but social and economic benefits now and in the future – balancing people, planet and profit and it is this successful balance of multi uses for varying stakeholders that Wedding Bells State Forest is showcasing.

Forest visitors enjoying the final leg of the World Rally Championship

This forest, like all State Forests in NSW, is a place for people to connect with nature. The Forest is popular with visitors who explore the forest by driving, walking, horse riding and mountain biking. There is even an Archery area within an arboretum managed by the local Archery club. Different events are held in the forest by sporting clubs throughout the year including endurance horse riding, four-wheel driving and mountain bike riding but the biggest event of the year is the Kennards Hire Rally Australia, part of the World Rally Championship, which has been held in this forest for the last six years. ‘Flooded Gums’ rally village is the forest’s major spectator area during the event and brings in over two thousand spectators for the last stage of the competition. In 2018 this stage decided who became the world champion.

Gumbaynggirri people during cultural burn

Wedding Bells State Forest is just part of over 11.4 million hectares of Australian Forests now certified under the Responsible Wood Sustainable Forest Management standard (AS 4708) whilst more than 250 operators carry Responsible Wood’s Chain of Custody for Forest Products certification (AS 4707).

For more information about the Responsible Wood Certification Scheme, the Responsible Wood Sustainable Forest Management standard (AS 4708) or the Responsible Wood Chain of Custody for Forest Products standard (AS 4707) please visit the Responsible Wood website.