Sustainability Manager for Responsible Wood Matt de Jongh has spent a week in Victoria observing an independent, third‑party audit of VicForests operations under the RW standard for sustainable forest management.
This provided an opportunity to gain a first‑hand look at the auditing process and the sustainable forest management practices undertaken by VicForests, a Responsible Wood sustainable forest management certificate holder.
“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,” Mr de Jongh said.
“It is well known that for about 60,000 years Traditional Owners have actively and adaptively managed Australia’s forests, which have evolved to and adapted to active forest management.
“It was wonderful to hear from them on the meaningful partnerships they have formed with VicForests, ensuring their knowledge and practices are carried on for generations to come.”
Mr de Jongh said it was great to see VicForests was ensuring its forests were managed sustainably through a comprehensive forest management framework, which included 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,” he said.
“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.
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.
Mr de Jongh is planning to meet with all SFM certificate holders over coming months to describe the new standard, both in Australia and New Zealand.
VicForests is one of 28 forests certified under AS 4708 – Sustainable Forest Management. This standard is used by Australian forest growers to make Responsible Wood and PEFC claims on forest and tree based products. Underpinning certification is a commitment by forest growers to the management and rejuvenation of forests.