VicForests has progressed rapidly down the path of preparing to be re-audited and achieving the Forests Stewardship Council (FSC) Controlled Wood standard by the end of this year.
An enormous and concerted effort has been underway to prepare our plans during the last 3 months of 2018. This year, we began our implementation phase, by preparing two lynch-pin documents in draft that describe a new approach to harvesting and regeneration and to protecting high conservation values.
In the meantime, an intensive stakeholder engagement campaign has been launched with nearly 100 direct invitations to the full range of stakeholders to be briefed on our FSC 2020 campaign, and to comment and influence the two draft key documents upon their public release.
About a dozen major briefings have already occurred, some with environment groups and agencies and some with industry and government. More are scheduled.
The key draft documents – called VicForests Harvesting and Regeneration Systems and the VicForests High Conservation Values Management Systems – have just been made public on our website.
All stakeholders are being notified and again invited to input and influence the documents during an initial consultation and feedback period to 26 April 2019. Any stakeholder is invited to review and provide input by sending feedback to email@example.com.
FSC Controlled Wood Audit
In October 2018, VicForests released the results of its FSC Controlled Wood audit. The process identified three key areas which required additional attention from VicForests to achieve Controlled Wood standard.
VicForests Chief Executive Officer, Nathan Trushell, said the results show that FSC certification is a journey and while there remains areas for improvement; VicForests is well on its way to achieve FSC Controlled Wood standard. In conjunction with the audit reports, VicForests released its FSC 2020 roadmapoutlining the steps the organisation would take to improve its processes and practices. VicForests also announced it would resubmit for Controlled Wood standard by 2020.
Mr Trushell said he accepted more work was needed and that VicForests would redouble its efforts to address outstanding issues raised in the 2018 audit.
VicForests FSC 2020 project is now underway with a focus on improvements and change across three work streams - Adaptive Silvicultural Regimes, High Conservation Values (HCV) Retention, Protection and Compliance; and Enhanced Stakeholder Engagement. FSC 2020 is a core focus for the organisation over the coming year and, through the three workstreams, will drive a number of important changes to VicForests practices.
“VicForests is heeding the results of that audit and moving rapidly to modify its approaches to harvesting practices to meet the necessary standards. In line with our continuous improvement, this is part of what we believe will be a better Victorian native harvesting operation,” CEO Nathan Trushell said. "To that end, we have completed internal planning and have begun reviewing and modifying our silvicultural methods to ensure demonstrable protection of High Conservation Values.
“As this process evolves, we also seek to improve our stakeholder engagement through increasing opportunities for major stakeholders to provide input and to influence the direction of VicForests’ forest management activities. “The FSC 2020 project ensures we are in the best position to achieve Controlled Wood standard in the future and I am confident we can do so.”
VicForests is continuing to engage with a wide range of stakeholders seeking their input into its strategies and plans going forward. This work will continue throughout the year and involves environmental organisations, community groups, industry and government.
VicForests has announced its successful three-year re-certification under the Responsible Wood standard.
An audit, conducted across the business in December 2018, has recommended VicForests re-certification highlighting its thorough workplace and contractor safety standards, contractor management and continued contribution to research.
The Responsible Wood standard is endorsed by the international Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) – the largest such system in the world which covers more than 300 million hectares of forest, has 49 national members and equates to around two-thirds of the world's total certified forest area.
General Manager of Corporate Affairs, Alex Messina, said VicForests was proud of its Responsible Wood certification which has been maintained for more than 10 years. “This is a terrific result which shows VicForests continues to be a responsible native timber harvesting business,” Mr Messina said.
“Over the past twelve months, VicForests has shown itself to be agile and adaptive in the face of an ever-changing environment.
VicForests harvests native timber resources in a sustainable manner which protects local biodiversity and ensures the long-term future of Victoria’s forests. Mr Messina said the result was a clear endorsement of VicForests’ management systems and protection of biodiversity.
“We go to great lengths to regenerate harvested areas with the same forest type that was there prior to harvesting. What we harvest, we grow back,” Mr Messina said. “Our practices are based on a scientific approach to forestry management. VicForests also actively contributes to research and knowledge-building across the biodiversity and forest management professions.”
VicForests has maintained Responsible Wood certification since 2007 and undertakes regular independent audits to monitor its management systems and operations in accordance with these requirements. All major commercial native timber harvesting enterprises across Australia are certified under this system including Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.
Under the standard, VicForests’ operations are assessed against nine criteria, including its management systems, biodiversity and stakeholder engagement. To achieve re-certification, VicForests demonstrated a commitment to revised and adaptive harvesting and regeneration systems which focus on more consistently using greater retention harvesting methods and lower intensity burning; revised High Conservation management and responsive stakeholder engagement.
VicForests is audited under the Responsible Wood standard every nine months to ensure it continues to meet the Australian standard of environmental protection, safety and corporate compliance. The re-certification audit proved very useful in identifying two major non-conformities, which VicForests responded to with immediate corrective actions. The two major non-conformities were:
The availability of a publicly available map of the Defined Forest Area; and
Monitoring of Heavy Vehicles mass management requirements for measured sawlog loads.
These non-conformities were subsequently closed. Corrective action is also being progressed on one minor non-conformity relating to associated non-conformities that require further work. This will be completed before the next audit in nine months.
Yarra Valley’s Patchwork Collections will continue to thrive and undertake their vital work thanks to a grant from VicForests going toward the purchase of backing fabric, wadding and threads.
The $2000 grant delivered under VicForests’ Community Support Program ensures Patchwork Collections Yarra Valley can continue their work providing hand-made quilts, free of charge, to local community members impacted by hardship, illness and given to very sick children at the Royal Children’s Hospital.
Patchwork Collections Yarra Valley President, Pat Biggs, said the group lovingly produced up to 300 hand-made quilts per year.
“Quilts give comfort and hope to members of the community who are seriously ill and in need,” Mrs Biggs said. “There is a lot that goes into making every quilt with thousands of dollars’ worth of fabric, wadding, backing and thread used by the group each year. “VicForests’ contribution is a huge help towards continuing our work over the coming year.”
VicForests Regional Engagement Manager, Liz Langford, said 34 community groups and organisations across Central and East Victoria had received funding under the VicForests Community Support Program 2018. ““The Community Support Program is an important part of VicForests’ connection with local communities, particularly in rural and regional Victoria,” Ms Langford said. “We are proud to support Patchwork Collections Yarra Valley and the work they do offering kindness and hope to those in need.”
VicForests Community Support Program has provided over $350,000 in funding to more than 200 community groups and organisations across regional Victoria.
For more information on the VicForests Community Support Program including a full list of recipients, visit the VicForests website at www.vicforests.com.au.
Victoria’s native timber industry plays an important role in protecting our forests and parks from fire as it provides trained personnel and highly skilled machinery operators.
VicForests would like to acknowledge and thank all those involved in recent firefighting efforts.
Victoria’s native timber industry plays an important role in protecting our forests and parks from fire as it provides trained personnel and highly skilled machinery operators. It also maintains access to many of the roads through the State forest.
VicForests staff, contractors and their machines have been deployed across a range of fire events in 2019, supporting efforts to keep Victorian communities safe. This has supported the Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) fire response which has been significant in the 2018/19 season.
FFMVic includes emergency services, CFA and DELWP working together to manage and contain bushfires across the state.
Victorian Government is currently undertaking a major program to reform forest management and modernise the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs).
This project is being led by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) which is conducting an online survey to understand the community’s views on forest management, how it can be improved, and forest uses.
Australian Paper recently announced an exciting new partnership with SUEZ to develop the $600 million Maryvale Mill Energy from Waste (EfW) project. This followed the successful completion of its $7.5 million feasibility study co-funded by the Australian and Victorian Governments.
Australian Paper’s CEO, Peter Williams said Australian Paper was committed to its mission of Sustainable Growth for the Next Generation. “As the largest industrial user of natural gas in Victoria and a significant energy consumer, we must develop alternative baseload energy sources to maintain our future competitiveness,” Mr Williams said. “Creating Energy from Waste is a perfect fit with our operations because in addition to electricity we require significant quantities of thermal energy to generate steam. An EfW facility at Maryvale would secure ongoing investment at the site, support employment growth in the Latrobe Valley and also provide the missing link in Victoria’s waste management infrastructure.”
Australian Paper will partner with SUEZ, a global leader in waste management, to secure the long-term access to waste required to power the facility. SUEZ currently operates more than 55 EfW facilities globally and is a world leader in the field.
Australian Paper’s study examined the technical, social, environmental, and commercial feasibility of establishing an EfW facility at Maryvale. Australian Paper and SUEZ will seek to finalise waste supply arrangements for the project by 2020 with construction planned to begin soon after. The project is expected to be completed in 2024.
A new report has found that Australia’s renewable pulp and paper industries are leading the way in global sustainability and innovation. Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) CEO, Ross Hampton, said the 2018 National Pulp and Paper Sustainability Report confirms Australia’s renewable pulp and paper industries are setting the agenda with ambitious investments in renewable energy and cutting-edge technology to underpin local manufacturing, and many regional jobs.
Mr Hampton said the report reinforces the many socio-economic benefits the pulp and paper industry deliver to their associated communities.
Australia’s pulp and paper mills support almost 61,000 full time jobs, mostly in rural and regional areas, and generate more than $1 billion in exports.
The 2018 National Pulp and Paper Sustainability Report is prepared by independent pulp and paper industry consultant, IndustryEdge, and published by AFPA. The report can be found on the AFPA website.