Along with representatives of Markets for Change, Huon Valley Environment Centre and Still Wild Still Threatened, I attended a meeting with Forestry Tasmanian (FT) CEO Steve Whiteley and other FT staff on 16 October, to discuss FT’s impending application for Forest Stewardship Council certification.
The good news is that FT confirmed that it is committed to full forest management certification for its native forests and pre-1994 plantations. This is the first time that this has been made clear and we congratulated FT on this. It is inexplicable that this has not previously been publicly stated, because others, including FSC Australia CEO Natalie Reynolds, have said publicly, incorrectly, that FT was seeking ‘controlled’ wood certification for its entire forest estate first.
We have also been given a map which clarifies very accurately the area of forested land for which FT will be seeking FSC certification – referred to in FSC speak as the Forest Management Unit. We have been told previously that FT would not be seeking certification for Forestry Reserves that are to be transferred to the Parks and Wildlife Service or proposed new reserves under the Tasmania Forests Agreement Act. It will seek certification for all native forests and plantations under its long-term management control (about 800,000 hectares). The proposed reserves under the TFA Act are deemed by FT not to be under its long-term management control.
FT will seek controlled wood certification for the plantations established through native forest conversion after November 1994 (about 17,900ha) and full forest management certification for all native forest (about 800,000ha) and plantations established prior to November 1994 or from previously cleared land (about 15,500ha). The eligibility of a further 11,500ha of plantations is yet to be determined but it is likely that some will end up in controlled wood and some in forest management certification categories.
Interestingly FT’s Forest Management Unit includes the ‘once-off-log, restore and reserve’ (20,183ha) and ‘log-of-last resort’ (1,228ha) areas established by the TFA Act.
Perhaps the key achievement of this meeting was to forcefully state our expectation that FT must, in order to obtain FSC certification, commit to achieving best practice forest management, especially by implementing the long-stalled upgrade of the biodiversity provisions of the Forest Practices Code. It seems clear that, if FT were to implement new measures being developed by the Forest Practices Authority to protect mature forests across the landscape and special provisions for old-growth-dependent threatened fauna, this would further restrict the amount of forests available for logging and threaten FT’s capacity to fulfill its wood supply obligations under the TFA Act.
FT gave no indication of how the competing requirements of wood volumes and best practice forest management could be reconciled but it seems clear to the TCT that wood volume commitments and/or area of new reserves must be reduced.
There was discussion about the appropriateness of FT’s current Forest Management Plan for use in the FSC consultation process. FT informed us that a new plan is being developed and we offered to provide advice about appropriate content for such a plan.