Certification for WA logging agency a grave error

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Australian Conservation Foundation has called for the international Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to withdraw environmental certification awarded to Western Australia’s state logging agency and launch an investigation into how it was issued.

The environmental tick of approval was granted by UK auditing firm Soil Association despite evidence from environmental stakeholders that WA’s Forest Products Commission continues to log old growth Karri forests which are habitat for threatened fauna including Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, Mainland Quokkas and Western Quolls (or Chuditch).

This is the second time high conservation value Australian forests have been erroneously allowed into the FSC system by a fly-in-fly-out audit team, raising questions about whether FSC is able to properly police its own standards.

“Consumers buying products with the FSC logo would be shocked to discover their product could be made from rare 600-year-old Karri trees,” said Mr Jess Abrahams, Healthy Ecosystems Campaigner.

“This is a significant threat to the credibility of the FSC brand. FSC is the only forest certification scheme in the world that has the support of independent conservation groups, but this support is jeopardised by poor decisions like this.

“The auditors who issued this certificate have serious questions to answer, and FSC needs to make sure they answer promptly and fully, or the quality of the FSC brand will be damaged, with implications for the entire Australian forest industry.

“Lowering the bar to let in poor performers drags down the value of the FSC brand and reduces its value for companies that have done the right thing and improved management practices to protect the natural values in their forests.

“ACF calls on FSC to withdraw the certificate and launch a swift, full investigation,” he said.

This is not the first time FSC’s auditors have let down the international body in Australia. Paper manufacturer Australian Paper fed high conservation value eucalypts from Melbourne’s water catchments into FSC-branded Reflex paper for five years until FSC cracked down. In the case of Australian Paper, the delays and eventual cancellation of the certificate caused enormous damage to FSC’s credibility.

AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION MEDIA RELEASE

23 October 2014

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