Responsible Wood took to the archives as it celebrates the 5th anniversary of this most prestigious prize…

Friday Offcuts –  04/11/2016, SYDNEY

Mark Leech accepts the Richard Stanton Memorial Trophy and Award from AFS Ltd retiring chair Kate Carnell OA while new interim chair Dr Hans Drielsma (right) and CEO Simon Dorries offer congratulations.

An auditor and ‘guardian’ of Tasmania’s scarce but value-rich specialty timbers industry has won the 2016 Richard Stanton Memorial Award for Excellence in Forest Management. Mark Leech is a driving force behind Fine Timber Tasmania, a sustainability-focused, non-profit association which represents the state’s specialty timbers supply chain – growers, processors, design makers and retailers – and promotes Australian Forestry Standard (now Responsible Wood) certified products.

The award and trophy were presented in Sydney on 25 October during the annual general meeting of AFS Ltd by retiring chair Kate Carnell AO. The award recognises the life of a man who was devoted to the forest industry in Australia and internationally.

Mr Stanton was CEO of AFS Ltd. He had previously held key roles in the Australian Plantation Products and Paper Industry Council (A3P); Australian Paper Industry Council; Plantation Timber Association of Australia; National Association of Forest Industries; and State Forests NSW.

Mr Leech also received a $1000 bursary to assist him in future work in sustainable forest management. The inaugural award was presented last year to Dr Marie Yee, senior conservation planner with Forestry Tasmania.

For more than a decade, Mark Leech has played a pivotal role in the development, and now strong uptake, of AFS (now Responsible Wood) chain-of-custody certification in Tasmania. Fine Timber Tasmania owns a CoC certificate certified to AS4707 and recognised under the Australian Forest Certification Scheme (now Responsible Wood Certification Scheme),  an assurance of the legal and sustainable origin of logs and a key selling point for high-value timber products.

“Increasingly, consumers are demanding that the wood products they buy are made from timber that can be traced back to a sustainable and legal source,” Mr Leech said. The Fine Timber Tasmania chain-of-custody system provides that assurance. “It’s a simple, yet rigorous system that covers all steps in the supply chain, Mr Leech said.

The Fine Timber scheme now covers more than 40 sites ranging from the smallest user of high end specialty timbers building custom guitars to the largest sawmilling enterprises and wood fibre exporters.

Mr Leech serves in a voluntary capacity on the management committee of FTT, and since 2011 has provided internal auditing services. Through his consulting business, Brueckner Leech, he has now taken on the responsibility of system coordinator, and provides the vital role of promoting and marketing AFS (now Responsible Wood) chain-of-custody certification to Tasmanian businesses. He regularly provides updates to AFS (now Responsible Wood) certificate holders on matters of interest, including opportunities for networking.

Mr Leech is a passionate and vocal advocate for the management of Tasmania’s forest and timber resources to internationally-accepted standards and that timber products going to market carry and satisfy the claims of certification. His enthusiasm and commitment has encouraged many other individuals and businesses to embrace chain-of-custody certification.

“Mark embodies the type of personal contribution which really does make a difference in the forests and beyond,” AFS Ltd chair Kate Carnell said.

Nominations for the 2019 Richard Stanton Memorial Trophy close COB, October 4th 2019. For more information about the Richard Stanton Memorial Trophy please visit the Responsible Wood website.