VicForests response to recent media reports on its 2019 FSC® audit report results
12 October 2020
VicForests is aware of recent media reporting regarding our 2019 FSC® audit report results.
We note that our audit against the FSC® Controlled Wood Standard has found significant and large-scale improvements which help demonstrate VicForests' commitment to achieving conformance to the Standard.
Such changes include our shift to smaller harvesting coupe sizes and improved high conservation value management comprising of a new habitat tree assessment and retention strategy.
The audit team also unanimously commended the following behaviours:
VicForests staff and contractors demonstrated consistent commitment to positive change and supporting new approaches in efforts to achieve FSC certification. This support of innovation and changing practices was found throughout all levels of the organization.
Notwithstanding some further refinements that were identified, stakeholder engagement was assessed to be greatly improved compared to prior audits.
VicForests staff maintained high levels of professional behaviour during the audit despite very stressful circumstances (SCS Global Services Report 2019, p.39).
Against this backdrop, VicForests was found to have complied with the vast majority of the 44 applicable criteria used to assess compliance against the Standard.
In relation to claims made in the media regarding old growth forests, VicForests has worked with the Office of the Conservation Regulator to develop, test, and implement a new Old Growth Regulatory Guide and Old Growth Assessment Tool. This included extensive stakeholder engagement including input from DELWP’s Scientific Advisory Committee to develop a clear framework. This approach is now being applied to all coupes as part of pre-harvest assessment processes.
This is in addition to VicForests already implementing corrective measures for the non-conformances raised in the audit report as these findings were based on outdated harvesting methods.
VicForests maintains its commitment to achieving the FSC® Controlled Wood Standard at an appropriate time.