Australian Forestry Standard announces that the revised Australian Standard for Chain of Custody for forest products has been published.
Consistent with international best practice, the revised Standard (AS 4707:2014) ensures the traceability of wood or forest products originating from sustainably managed, certified forests through all phases of ownership, transportation and manufacturing to the end consumer. Sustainably managed forests are certified under the Australian Standard for Sustainable forest management (AS 4708:2013).
These two Australian Standards form the core of the Australian Forest Certification Scheme (AFCS) managed by Australian Forestry Standard Ltd (AFS), which has been endorsed by the PEFC (Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification).
The revised Standard is based on the recently revised PEFC Chain of Custody Standard (PEFC ST 2002:2013) with some modifications to suit Australian processes.
AFS National Secretary Richard Stanton explains the Standard helps businesses in the wood and paper products sectors demonstrate that their products are sustainable, given the increasing interest from consumers about the source of their wood products, as well as the requirements of the new illegal logging laws.
According to Richard Stanton, the Standard can be voluntarily used by any organisation seeking to assure its customers about the certified nature of their wood and forest products.
In addition to the traceability advantages of the Standard, businesses can also ensure that the timber is not illegally logged; the Australian Government’s illegal logging due diligence test, which comes into effect in November 2014, requires businesses to assess and manage the risk of importing or processing illegally logged timber, or face prosecution and heavy fines.
However, when timber is imported or purchased from forests certified under the Australian Standard or other PEFC endorsed Standards, businesses can be confident they are meeting the due diligence requirements of the Australian Government.
Businesses that manufacture, convert or repackage wood from certified forests can become certified under the Chain of Custody standard to demonstrate the sustainable use of timber along the entire supply chain.
The review, which happens approximately every five years, ensures the Australian Standards remain consistent with any changes in technical and operational knowledge and reflect community expectations at both the national and international level. The Australian Standard for Chain of Custody of forest products, which was reviewed and republished for the second time, followed the standards development procedures and requirements set down by the Accreditation Board for Standards Development Organisations (ABSDO).
The latest review was undertaken by an independent Standards Reference Committee made up of experts and representatives from a broad range of stakeholders, including forest managers, wood processors, traders and wood/paper products customers.
Certification bodies can continue to issue certificates against AS 4707:2006 until 31 December 2014. From 1 January 2015 all new Chain of Custody certificates must be issued against AS 4707:2014.
Following the publication of AS 4707:2014, existing certified clients may choose for their next scheduled audit, to be audited against either AS 4707:2014 or AS 4707:2006. Transition from AS 4707:2006 to AS 4707:2014 may occur during a surveillance audit. If the client chooses to be audited to AS 4707:2006 a transition plan must be discussed with the audit team and described in the audit report.
All clients should comply with AS 4707:2014 by 31 December 2015.