In October 2018, VicForests released the results of its May 2018 FSC® Controlled Wood Audit (Central Highlands and East Gippsland).
The audit was undertaken by independent evaluators, SCS Global Services (SCS), which is a certified body accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®). The audit included analysis of a large range of written material as well as interviews with VicForests staff and stakeholders, and field and office audits.
The audit found VicForests conformed with a majority of indicators. However, it raised a number of areas which required further attention by VicForests in order to achieve FSC® Controlled Wood standard. The report found VicForests conformed in 15 of 23 key indicators with 3 minor non-conformities pertaining to largely administrative matters; and 4 major non-conformities.
The areas the report raised requiring further attention were:
Accidental encroachments into sensitive areas
Clear-felling and regeneration burns that impact old growth, threatened species and High Conservation Values (HCVs)
Enhanced consultation with stakeholders
In addition to the full audit occurring across its Central and East operations, VicForests also conducted a preliminary “gap-analysis” assessment of its Western Community Forests operations. This was not an official audit but a tool used to assess the likelihood of VicForests’ western operations conformity with Controlled Wood standard.
VicForests achieved similar results in its Western operations pre-assessment except where only 3 major non-conformities were identified. This pre-assessment will help inform VicForests’ strategy going forward.
What these results show is that while FSC® certification is a journey and there remain areas for improvement; VicForests is well on its way to achieving FSC® Controlled Wood standard. VicForests was now within striking distance of adding Controlled Wood standard to its Responsible Wood certification.
VicForests announced it would resubmit for certification of FSC® Controlled Wood standard by 2020 and released a roadmap to drive organisational activities towards addressing those issues raised in the 2018 report.
The roadmap commits VicForests to:
Develop and implement new practices to further reduce boundary encroachments
Review harvest methods and regeneration practices including in relation to their impact on High Conservation Values and Old Growth stands
VicForests will work with all stakeholders – government, industry, environment groups and the community – as it implements its roadmap and prepares for a future bid for FSC® Controlled Wood standard.
VicForests is committed to delivering on its supply arrangements and contracts and working with customers to ensure the ongoing future of the native timber industry.
Investing In Our Communities: VicForests Community Support Program 2018
VicForests, this month, announced 34 community groups or organisations across Central and East Victoria will receive funding under the 2018 VicForests Community Support Program.
The VicForests Community Support Program provides grants and funding of up to $2000 to not-for-profit organisations and community groups which encourage community connectedness and community development. Grants are available for a range of activities and events including sport and recreation, health and education and community development.
Announcing this year’s winners, VicForests Chief Executive Officer, Nathan Trushell, said since its inception, VicForests Community Support Program has provided over $350,000 in grants and funding to more than 200 community groups or organisations.
“The VicForests Community Support Program recognises the important role VicForests plays as a business, employer and valued partner in so many communities across Victoria,” Mr Trushell said
“VicForests is a proud regional organisation. Regional communities are a big part of who we are as a business and as an organisation.
“Our workforce is regional, our customers are regional, and our communities of interest are regional.
“VicForests Community Support Program connects us back into the community and provides an opportunity for us to show our support for many of the groups or organisations which do so much for their local community.
In 2018, VicForests also announced the renewal of 16 Community Partnerships under the program; providing longer-term funding agreements with individual groups, clubs or organisations.
“Our community partnerships are a great initiative. For many local clubs or groups, having a two or three-year commitment enables them to look ahead and plan their events or projects over a longer period.”
“Forestry is not just a job for me, but an important part of my life" - that is how VicForests’ General Manger of Strategy and Business Development, Anne Geary, reflects on her extraordinary career to date in the forestry and wood products industry.
In 2018, the Institute of Foresters of Australia chose to honour Anne with the forestry profession’s highest and most prestigious award – the NW Jolly Medal – in recognition of her more than 35 years of service working in the native timber and forestry products industries.
Anne was one of the first women to receive a forestry degree in Victoria and one of the first four women to break into the then male-dominated Forests Commission Victoria, opening its doors for many more women to pursue a career in forestry in the decades that followed.
VicForests Chief Executive Officer, Nathan Trushell, congratulated Anne on her achievement and recognised the integral role she played as part of the VicForests Executive.
“Anne is a truly outstanding woman who has achieved so much in what has typically been a male dominated industry,” Mr Trushell said
“Anne has been an exceptional leader and mentor to so many across the business and a source of valued counsel whose advice is always thoughtful, considered and accurate.
“I cannot think of a more deserving recipient for this year’s award.”
Anne began at VicForests with its formation in 2004 and has worked across the business as a strategic planner, auctions manager and executive director before being appointed General Manager of Strategy and Business Development in 2018.
In response to the award, Anne said she was humbled by the honour and paid tribute to those who mentored and supported her throughout her career.
“When you work in a field where so many people extend themselves above and beyond the parameters of their job, you develop a huge attachment to the industry and the work you do,” Anne said.
The NW Jolly Award is named in recognition of the Normal William Jolly in acknowledgement of his contributions to the development of forestry as a profession in the first half of the 20th century.
Responsible Wood Surveillance Audit Gives VicForests Tick of Approval
VicForests has released the results of its May 2018 AFS Surveillance Audit which showed VicForests conforming across all AFS indicators.
The report noted VicForests’ continual improvement of its management systems and the emphasis it placed on harvest planning and preparation, and the protection of biodiversity values.
General Manager of Corporate Affairs, Alex Messina, said VicForests was proud of its Responsible Wood AFS certification which has been maintained for more than 10 years.
“This is a clear endorsement of VicForests’ management systems including harvesting operations and protection of biodiversity such as the Leadbeater’s Possum and Greater Glider,” Mr Messina said
“VicForests harvests native timber resources in a sustainable manner which protects local biodiversity and ensures the long-term future of Victoria’s forests.
“We go to great lengths to regenerate harvested areas with the same forest type that was there prior to harvesting. What we harvest, we grow back.”
VicForests has maintained Responsible Wood (Australian Forestry Standard) since 2007 and undertakes regular independent audits to monitor its management systems and operations in accordance with these requirements.
Responsible Wood Timber Centrepiece of new Heyfield Community Centre
Responsible Wood certified timber from the local ASH mill will feature prominently throughout the new Heyfield Community Centre following Wellington Shire Council’s decision to ensure the building was both sustainable and beautiful.
The pavilion is a central hub for the Heyfield community supporting the local football, netball, basketball, cricket and pigeon racing club and a key aspect of Council’s masterplan upgrade to the Gordon Street Recreation Reserve.
To meet the sustainability brief, 100 per cent of the timber used in the project is certified to Responsible Wood standard including flooring, battens, kitchen bar and server joinery and all sourced from the local ASH mill.
Growing A Better Australia – Australian Government’s National Forest Industries Plan
The Australian Government has released its National Forest Industries Plan – Growing a better Australia.
The $20 million plan sets out the Australian Government’s plan to support and grow plantation forestry across Australia with a commitment to plant a billion new trees.
The plan also recognises the need for native forestry to remain an important part of industry going forward with the requirement for highly valued native timber products such flooring, furniture and architectural veneers and features.
The plan highlighted:
Australia’s proud forestry history
Australia’s forests are continually growing wood and fibre that provide products used in our daily lives
Forestry products are natural, recyclable and renewable, making them an excellent substitute for more carbon-intensive materials
Forestry provides a stable, long-term employment in rural and regional Australia
Announcing the plan, the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Hon Richard Colbeck, said the plan will also support sustainable access to native forests to supply highly valued appearance grade wood products such as flooring, stair treads, furniture, boat building and architectural veneers and features.