The ANZ bank recently released it Forest and Biodiversity Policy as part of its corporate responsibility on the environment.
The bank developed the policy over the last few years in consultation with its customers and stakeholders.
The policy demands that its customers when engaged in the forest industry must meet extensive criteria including independent environmental certification and the protection of high conservation value forest. Forestry must be legal and not be undertaken in World Heritage Areas, National Parks and conservation reserves.
In terms of high conservation values the policy looks at international and national definitions. High conservation value forest is not defined by lobby groups such as the Wilderness Society or by the forest industry but by a fully open and transparent process. In Australian identifying HCV forest has its roots in the 1992 National Forest Policy Statement, defined in what is known as the JANIS criteria, and implemented by the Regional Forest and Community Forest Agreements.
In terms of sustainable practices, ANZ will engage customers involved in large scale forestry activities to advocate credible sustainable forest management (SFM) certification. However, the bank acknowledges it is the customer’s choice on which internationally recognised certification scheme is adopted.
Forest certification schemes provide a way of defining sustainable forest management as well as third party, independent verification that a timber source meets the definition of sustainability. Certification schemes include a mechanism for tracing products from the certified source forest to the end use.
A number of certification schemes operate throughout the world. Operating in Australia are:
• Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
• Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)
So it’s a bit surprising that our national broadcaster The ABC is running claims from the Australian Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) that ANZ’s new forest policy is too broad. And that “the bank’s new guidelines on providing funding for forestry and timber processing projects lacks detail.”
The FSC in Australia is run by a board of Directors including representatives from Timber Workers for Forests, Timber Communities Australia, The Wilderness Society, Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Paperlinx, Timbercorp, Integrated Tree Cropping and one independent. It is chaired by Sean Cadman, the National Forest Campaigner of the Wilderness Society.
The other certification scheme is the Australian Forest Standard that is part of the PEFC. Its Board comprises 10 Directors, with representation being four from government, three from the Forestry and Wood Products Sector, one Employee Representative, one General and up to two Independent members, one of whom is the Chair of the company, currently Geoff Gorrie.
In light of these schemes it is difficult to understand the motive of such criticism by the FSC, perhaps it is due the inclusion of a competing scheme by the Bank or perhaps it is due to fact the Wilderness Society is currently targeting the ANZ bank about the Tasmanian Pulp Mill?
In Tasmania, Forestry Tasmania, Gunns Ltd and Forest Enterprises Australia have been externally certified as complying with the international standard for environmental management systems (ISO 14001) and have also been externally certified against the Australian Forestry Standard (AS 4708) rather than the FSC.
Gunns Ltd has received Commonwealth and Tasmanian approval to build a pulp mill to value add woodchips that would other wise be exported from forests covered by the Regional forest Agreement.