The concept of certification of timber stems from consumers seeking assurances that the product they purchase comes from wood that has been harvested from sustainably managed managed forests with due care for the environment.  There are a number of international certification schemes covering  timber harvesting and value-added products with the two most well known being PEFC and FSC.  The PEFC system endorses national standards, and in Australia, PEFC endorses the Australian Forestry Standard.

At the end of 2016, FSC reported a total certified area of 196 million hectares and PEFC, 301 million hectares, for a combined total global area of 497 million hectares.  Approx 69million hectares are double certified with both PEFC and FSC.

The Tasmanian Special Timbers sector also has a state based certification scheme  – the Fine Timbers Tasmania Chain of Custody system which is specifically for Tasmanian special timbers.

Despite claims of one certification scheme being superior to another, it is not the certification scheme that actually achieves sustainable forest management.  Sustainable forest management and good environmental practices are delivered through a robust forest practices system.  So regardless of choice of certification scheme, Tasmanian specialty timbers are sustainably harvested under the stringent requirements of the Tasmanian Forest Practices Code and harvesting operations are overseen by the independent Forest Practices Authority.

Certification is not mandatory or required by law; it is a commercial business decision.  For example, any special timbers harvested from Sustainable Timbers Tasmania’s (STT) Permanent Timber Production Zone (PTPZ) are certified under PEFC, AFS and the Fine Timbers Chain of Custody System, as these are the certification schemes that STT has chosen to affiliate itself with.  STT is also currently pursuing FSC certification for their operations.

For special timbers sourced from areas outside the PTPZ, the choice of certification will be a commercial decision made by individual businesses involved in harvesting, milling and manufacturing special timber products.


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