Published on 13 August 2019

Western Australia has joined Tasmania to become the second state government to adopt a state-wide Wood Encouragement Policy (WEP).

A WEP requires responsibly sourced wood be considered, where feasible, as the primary construction material in all new-build and refurbishment projects. It does not in any way mandate the use of timber, but rather seeks to ensure that wood is at least considered as the primary structural component in buildings.

In addition there are two local government authorities and 16 local councils – five in Western Australia – which have adopted WEP’s in Australia.

Planet Ark, through its Make It Wood campaign, encourages the use of responsibly sourced wood as a building material.

A key part of this initiative is the promotion and advocacy of Wood Encouragement Policies (WEPs) throughout Australia, which encourage the use of responsibly sourced wood in construction.

‘Responsibly sourced, certified wood is the only major building material that helps tackle climate change,’ said Make It Wood campaign manager David Rowlinson.

‘It’s renewable, it stores carbon for the life of the building, and it has much lower embodied energy than conventional, more carbon-intensive building materials,’ Mr Rowlinson said.

The state-wide WEP is part of the state government’s introduction of The Djarlma Plan for the Western Australian Forestry Industry. The plan was inspired by the indigenous Noongar people’s concept of Djarlma, which reflects the interconnected relationship of people, forests and woodlands.

Speaking about the announcement, Simon Dorries – Responsible Wood CEO, spoke of the power of wood encouragement policies in promoting sustainably sourced timber on construction projects.

‘WEPs provide an important incentive for the use of wood in building projects, and when it comes to responsibly sourced wood forest certification plays an all-important role in demonstrating that timber is sourced from forests that meet acceptable environmental standards for practice.’

‘We commend the Western Australian government in showing leadership in this field, and note the adoption of similar policies around the world including Canada, Japan, France, Finland, The Netherlands and the UK.’

‘Responsible Wood, PEFC in Australia, is Australia’s largest forest certification scheme, with more than 90% of Australia’s commercial forests currently involved in the scheme, however just 12% of global forests are certified under PEFC and / or FSC forest certification,’ Mr Dorries said.

Embodied within the Responsible Wood certification scheme, forest growers, processors, merchants and retailors are assessed by independent certification bodies and must meet the Australian Standard for Sustainable Forest Management (AS 4708 – 2013) and Chain of Custody for Forest Products (AS 4707 – 2014) to achieve and maintain ‘Responsible Wood’ certification.

In total there are four Responsible Wood certified forests in Western Australia including the Bunbury Treefarm Project, Forest Products Commission (WA), WA Plantation Resources Pty Ltd (WAPRS) and WA Sandalwood Plantations Pty Ltd.

Ian Telfer CEO WAPRES and FIFWA Chairperson welcomed the decision by the Western Australian government to adopt a Wood Encouragement Policy.

‘We are pleased with the announcement of the Wood Encouragement Policy for Western Australia and its adoption by Government. This gives impetus to growing the use of responsibly sourced timber & wood fibre in design and construction projects and many other applications.  Wood is a desirable, sustainable, renewable resource which stores carbon – it is the ultimate renewable,’ Mr Telfer said.

Forest Products Commission (WA) Manager Strategic Projects, Annelies De Ruiter, said wood grown in Western Australia is a renewable resource and is becoming increasingly popular for use in building and construction, due to its strength, aesthetics, health benefits and carbon storage properties.

“An increased demand in responsibly sourced wood will support Western Australia’s forestry industry, create employment opportunities and have a positive impact on regional communities,” Ms De Ruiter said.

WA Sandalwood Plantations spokesperson, Marian Drage, emphasised the importance of government in promoting the use of timber from certified and responsible sources.

‘WA Sandalwood Plantations are delighted to hear that State Governments including the Western Australian State government are encouraging the use of sustainable timber for commercial use.   This helps in promoting the use of timber from certified, responsibly sourced wood,’ Ms Drage said.

Wespine Industries, one of Western Australia’s largest sawmills, currently manages a Responsible Wood Chain of Custody certification for forest products (AS 4707 – 2014). 

Patrick Warrand, Managing Director of Wespine Industries congratulates the WA Government on the adoption of a Wood Encouragement Policy.

Mr Warrand commented that Wespine manufactures timber predominantly from the local WA based Forest Products Commission plantations.

Mr Warrand encourages the community to consider the many benefits of using responsibly sourced wood in our world, including that it is local, sustainable, renewable, versatile, affordable  and efficiently stores carbon. Wood is just one of those amazing natural products that we should all be using more of.

For more information about the Western Australian Wood Encouragement Policy (WEP) please download the brochure, for more information about Responsible Wood or PEFC forest certification please visit the Responsible Wood website.