Letters to the Editor-Tuesday, October 22: FSC accreditation

I REFER to Patricia Edwards' article in your October 14 edition calling for consumers to purchase only products that carry Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation and praising Bunnings for only carrying such products.

Quite inconsistently, she also recognises the need to support local businesses.

Patricia obviously knows little about the requirements for FSC accreditation. External consultants must be engaged at great expense to carry out an initial assessment of the proposed operation.

This includes the holding of community meetings to verify community support. I kid you not. If accreditation is approved, annual audits, also carried out by external consultants, are required to retain accreditation.

The costs are totally disproportionate to the earnings of small local log producers most of whom only harvest at long intervals, in some cases decades. As a result, no Clarence producers are accredited, nor will they be under these requirements simply because it has an enormous cost and no benefits.

The actual management requirements of FSC are almost identical to those of the EPA Code of Practice which must be followed by all local native log producers. However, for reasons known to itself, EPA refuses to allow its audits to be used for FSC requirements. So the FSC system is a boon to environmental and other consultants, but not to the environment or to consumers who ultimately bear the cost of this ridiculous overkill.

As for Bunnings being the eco hero of the piece, one must remember it is owned by Wesfarmers and, as such, is a stablemate of the Curragh coal mine in Queensland and Coles. Neither of which is renowned for their public spirit.

Patricia's implication that our long-established timber industry is unethical just because it has not embraced FSC is insulting as well as inaccurate. Her siding with big business against smaller operators also shows dubious values.

She is a published and well- reviewed author of romantic fiction. This is no small achievement and I congratulate her. However, she should not write in this genre when commenting on important matters such as this.

If she can tell us how to support local industry and buy only FSC-accredited timber products, that will be a triumph of romantic fiction.

Disclosure: I own shares in Wesfarmers and also native forest.

Ken Woodward

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