In a story titled “Chipmill gets green tick’ printed in the Eden Magnet last week, the auditors for the Australian Forestry Standard praised South East Fibre Exports for complying with the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS), Chain of Custody (CoC) and Environmental Management System (EMS) certification.
SEFE general manager Peter Mitchell correctly points out that “These certificates don’t come out of Cornflake boxes”. Rather, the AFS is accredited by the Federal Government under the Regional Forest Agreements and the standards have been developed by the native forest and plantation industries, in association with forest managers like Forests NSW.
Amongst other things the AFS requires that ” . . . Forest managers managing native forests shall, where appropriate, use fire and other disturbance regimes that are applicable to the forest type or community to support the protection and maintenance of biological diversity values.”
An issue with this requirement is the unproven assumption that logging and/or fire protect and maintain biodiversity. Another is that the AFS can only operate because of the licences issued by the state government. One of these is the Threatened Species Licence provided by the NPWS who also claim that fire will and does, protect and maintain biodiversity.
Unfortunately the ‘elephant in the room’ is extensive canopy dieback and the fact that the NSW Environment Protection Authority also provides a licence that cannot and therefore does not, account for the real reasons forests are in trouble.
So while AFS forest certification may not have come directly out of a cornflake box, the state governments licences may as well have, for what they are worth.