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Opinion: Jason Ross – Global supply chains and the search for sustainable wood

Jason Ross

The forest products industry has never been too far from the headlines during the Covid-19 pandemic. Whether it be the pulp and paper sector, top-of-mind during the run-on toilet paper, or more recently the surge in demand for sawn wood and panels for housing we are amid a shortage in timber supply – not only in Australia but increasingly around the world.

Timber supply chains has been further complicated with the fallout from the 2019/20 Australian bushfire season and Covid-19 related international trade complications adding to the unpredictable environment.

With timber in short supply, the search for resource security is more competitive than ever with suppliers competing for an increasingly scarce resource.

It really is the perfect storm!

Now for the inconvenient truth – the emergence of uncertified timber in new and established supply chains.

Left unchecked, suppliers run the risk of introducing uncertified timber into supply chains.

Potentially this timber is illegal in their country of origin and risks jeopardising its chain-of-custody management systems.

But why does this matter?

Certifications schemes such as Responsible Wood in Australia and PEFC internationally play an important role in protecting global forests, ensuring forests remain forests and biodiversity and conservation values are preserved.

Certified timber provides assurance that the timber originates form a certified forest and the rights of indigenous peoples and workers are recognised.

Through the emergence of the UN Sustainability Goals, ratified by the UN member states in 2015, climate change mitigation and the circular economy will play an important role in the post Covid-19 recovery.

Responsible Wood and PEFC both provide a universal framework for the forest products supply chain to unlock the full potential of forests and meet the UN Sustainability Goals.

So, when reviewing supply chains be sure that the timber is certified with a Responsible Wood or PEFC claim on product.

Responsible Wood manages the Australian Standard for Sustainable Forest Management and is endorsed as the National Governing Body for PEFC in Australia.

Jason Ross is the marketing and communications officer for Responsible Wood.