Australia’s Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has launched an Australian certification standard for responsible forestry, achieving a ground-breaking first in the protection and management of the nation’s forest wealth.

FSC Australia CEO, Sara Gipton described the Forest Stewardship Council label as the global gold standard, recognised by consumers worldwide as guaranteeing that timber and paper products are produced sustainably, in a way that protects forests and supports workers and communities.

Gipton says, “The new FSC National Forest Stewardship Standard gives consumers confidence the Australian wood products they buy are from forests managed to the world’s highest standard.”

“Everyday Australians love the forests and the wildlife that live in these forests. Australians want to know that the products sourced from production forests have the highest possible standards of environmental management. The creation of this national standard, after many years of negotiations between conservationists and industry, provides the highest standard of environmental management of production forests on offer in Australia,” said The Wilderness Society national director Lyndon Schneiders.

Welcoming the new Australian Standard, New Forests CEO, David Brand said they will support the Australian forest sector in demonstrating responsible forest management.

“As investment managers, our responsible investment policy includes the adoption of the FSC Principles & Criteria and has led to the certification of over 450,000 hectares in Australia since 2010. The new standard provides greater clarity and reflects the characteristics of the Australian forest sector, including our unique environments, biodiversity, and the ways in which our forest sector works together with local communities and traditional owners of the land,” he added.

Currently, FSC certifies 1.22 million hectares of Australian forests to full FSC Forest Management standards, an increase of 37 percent since 2012.

According to Gipton, the FSC standard was developed over 5 years, by representatives of economic, environmental, and social interests.

Observing that increasing numbers of Australian forest managers have been certified to international FSC standards over the last two decades, she said they can now be certified using an FSC standard tailored to Australian conditions.

The FSC Standard sets out rigorous requirements, including strong protections for (i) Indigenous rights and sacred sites; (ii) old growth forests, threatened species, and waterways; and (iii) workers’ health and safety. Strong provisions have been made for stakeholder consultation and local jobs.