Readers will be aware of government and logging industry attempts to give wood products that come from destructive clearfelled areas a green tick of approval. This is to con both domestic and overseas buyers that the timber they purchase is from nicely logged forests. To achieve this, they invented the Australian Forestry Standard or AFS. The fact that this group has no conservation reps at all shows what a farce it is. What’s even more telling is the list of AFS directors.
1. First off we have Geoff Gorrie as Chair (Fed Govt). He is also responsible for providing policy advice to ministers on farming, fisheries and forests. Geoff resigned as a Director on the Australian Wheat Board in July 1999 but a week later was appointed as a member of the Wheat Export Authority to monitor and report back on the AWB. Mark Vale, Federal Agriculture and Forestry Minister who appointed Geoff Corrie said “The WEA will play a vital role in demonstrating the integrity of Australia’s wheat marketing arrangements,”
2. Dr Hans Drielsma (Tas Govt). Executive General Manager for Forestry Tasmania and is a member of St Mary’s Cathedral Parish where he and his wife sing in the choir each Sunday.
3. Michael Bullen (NSW Govt). Acting General Manager, Forest Policy & Programs, State Forests of New South Wales.
4. Matthew Dadswell (Fed Govt). Manager, Industry Development and Private Forestry, Forest Industries Branch Dept. Ag, Fisheries and Forestry.
5. Ian Miles (Vic Govt). Director, Forest Information and Management Services, DSE.
6. Les Baker – Gunns pulp mill General Manager.
7. Malcolm Tonkin – Manager of Environmental Services, Hancock Plantations.
8. Warwick Ragg – Australian Forest Growers.
9. Michael O’Connor (logging union). CFMEU Assistant Secretary.
10. David Fisken – Executive Officer, Central Victorian Farm Plantation Committee.
Elsewhere in the world, forest certification schemes have compulsory participation of community and environmental groups. AFS has neither. Not only are overseas timber and woodchip buyers realising the ‘untruths’ of the AFS claims, but even large companies such as Paperlinx and ITC are not interested in AFS. They are instead looking at the more honourable global group, the Forest Stewardship Council.
Also – despite giant woodchipper, Gunns, having been given AFS accreditation, they aren’t proudly displaying their AFS logo to us.
In early June, the National Association of Forest Industries claimed that the Japanese government is accepting AFS as credible. Now we all know how credible Japanese government claims are on things like scientific whaling. In the end it’ll be the consumers who demand the truth behind claims and the goodwill of companies that will bring about real change. Not the Japanese Government’s buying policy.
Sarah / Jill