VicForests attempts to influence global wood sustainability group

VicForests, as we all know, is ruthless in its logging management and in its pursuit of access to our forests. Despite its markets shrinking and despite its customers demanding a sustainable certification tick, VicForests is pushing ahead. It is pursuing an eco-label for its wood and has been a controversial member of the international Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for the last 7 years.

VicForests’ membership goes against FSC requirements “that members support FSC’s mission and/or demonstrate compliance with FSC’s Principles and Criteria”. Despite numerous formal complaints and evidence presented to the international HQ of FSC, VicForests remains.

VicForests has failed three sustainability assessments of their logging practices, is a government owned entity and does not promote the principles of the FSC. Yet they remain strangely protected as a member. This has now been put under the spotlight. They were also nominated for the board of FSC, by a previous VicForests manager, now the Chair of FSC.

VicForests is desperate to gain the FSC certification label to allow its main customer, Nippon-owned Australian Paper, to sell the processed wood product Reflex paper into an increasingly environmentally aware market. Hence its attempt to gain a position of influence within this certification body.

This Age article has been one of the best exposés we have seen for years of this welfare dependant logging industry and its defenders – VicForests.

On the 29th May, FSC Australia held its AGM where VicForests’ nomination was strongly objected to by EEG and MyEnvironment. Despite the unresolved dispute over its membership, it was allowed to stand for the board. They lost the vote fortunately – with 2/3rds of the economic chamber voting for VicForests and the Social and Environment chambers voting for another rep from Tetra Pak. VicForests is a forest destroyer that’s been proven to have regularly breached environment laws. It can’t return a dividend to the public purse or pass audits or environmental assessments. Had they been given a board position, FSC Australia would have had their credibility destroyed.

If there weren’t determined enviro campaigners working to keep FSC’s operations above board, it would become a new front for the logging mafia in no time. As it is, the way FSC Australia is being run needs a serious investigation to keep it from being undermined or destroyed.

Read the letter that EEG and MyEnvironment sent to FSC International here (PDF)

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