Monday, 28 October 2013
FSC® receives independent audit reports relating to the welfare of koalas in FSC certified plantations
Bonn, Germany - Independent audit reports by Rainforest Alliance on the compliance of Australian Bluegum Plantations (ABP) and The Green Triangle Plantation Forest Company of Australia Pty Ltd (GPFL) have found non-conformances by both companies with standards set by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Audits of ABP and GPFL
The audits covered ABP and GPFL’s operations in the Green Triangle region of south-east South Australia and south-west Victoria, an area which is home to Mt Eccles National Park, a significant koala population and some 171,000 hectares of eucalypt plantations.
The audits were conducted following concerns raised by local stakeholder groups regarding the welfare of koalas in the eucalyptus plantations. As a result of preliminary findings, further audits were conducted.
The independent auditors’ reports into the FSC certification of ABP and GPFL were publicly released by the independent auditors last week. The audit reports found non-conformances by both companies, to differing degrees.
Based on the number of its major non-conformances, ABP has received a notice of suspension of its FSC certification. This provides ABP with a 30-day notice period that its certification will be suspended, giving it opportunity to manage its affairs such as contacting customers and removing the FSC brand mark from its products and marketing collateral.
Responses by FSC Australia and FSC International
“The FSC System, which is recognised globally as having the most rigorous environmental and social standards for responsible forest management, provides the most effective way to work with FSC certified plantations and operators to improve practices”, said the Director of FSC Australia, Natalie Reynolds.
“These companies having FSC certification has enabled local stakeholders to raise concerns, for independent certification bodies to conduct audits for action to be taken. The same cannot be said for non-FSC certified plantations and operators in the region”, she added.
Ms. Reynolds further declared that “The welfare of koalas in this particular region of Australia is a serious concern and needs to be addressed by all responsible parties – the government, the timber industry and the community”.
FSC International Director General, Kim Carstensen said he stood behind the system and the robust processes that were in place to ensure issues were identified and addressed:
“FSC exists to protect biodiversity through responsible forest management, so we take the issue very seriously. Our system is built on engaging diverse stakeholders, examining all the available information and providing solutions for any problems identified.”
Pat Groenhout, new Chair of FSC Australia
FSC Australia also confirmed Pat Groenhout, FSC Director and Managing Director of PF Olsen, had been appointed Chair of FSC Australia. His appointment as Chair replaces Tony Price, FSC Director and Managing Director of ABP, who voluntarily stepped down in August and recently resigned from the position.
“When this matter was first brought to the attention of FSC Australia, Tony Price voluntarily stepped down from his role as Chair while this matter was being investigated”, Mr. Groenhout declared.
“ABP have accepted the findings of the audit report and will be taking measures to remedy the non-conformances identified as soon as practicable. ABP have thrown their weight behind the FSC system and its processes and will be seeking to address the issues and have their certification reinstated as soon as possible”, he said.
The audit reports can be viewed in FSC Certificate Database: ABP, GPFL.
Marcelle Peuckert, FSC Director of Communications
About The Forest Stewardship Council
The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) promotes environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world's forests. Our vision is to ensure that the world’s forests meet the social, ecological, and economic rights and needs of the present generation without compromising those of future generations. FSC runs a global forest certification system with three key components: Forest Management, Chain of Custody certification and Trademark Licensing. This system allows consumers to identify, purchase and use timber and forest products produced from well-managed forests. For more information, visit www.fsc.org.