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Responsible Wood answering to COVID-19 issues in Australia and NZ

Simon Dorries

Representatives from Australia and New Zealand met to discuss AS/NZS 4708 as the historic Trans-Tasman forestry standard moves a step closer. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, representatives from up to 26 different organisations participated in a teleconference instead of face-to-face due to travel restrictions. Source: Timberbiz

Following three full days of meetings, 16-18 March 2020, Responsible Wood CEO, Simon Dorries, reflected on what has been a productive round of talks.

“Our latest round of meetings marks an important milestone for the standards reference committee, the fourth meeting of the full committee, and we are working towards presenting a draft standard for public comment later this year,” Mr Dorries said.

The new standard will be developed as a fully recognised joint Australia and New Zealand standard, will be accepted by PEFC International and will meet the system requirements for a fully-fledged JAS-ANZ accredited Sustainable Forest Management system.

“This is unique, the new standard will cover Sustainable Forest Management and will underpin PEFC forest certification in Australia and New Zealand.

“The new standard will be an endorsed Australian and New Zealand Standard, it can be used for PEFC and/or Responsible Wood claims and it can be used to meet timber legality requirements for import and export,” Mr Dorries said.

The standards reference committee is due to meet again at a date soon to be determined.

For more information about Sustainable Forest Management or the standard development process please contact Responsible Wood.

Due to the spread of COVID-19 worldwide, travel and medical restrictions are affecting auditing activities. In order to give some flexibility to certification bodies and certified companies affected by the disease, Responsible Wood has issued the following guidance:

COVID-19: Guidance for certification bodies and certified companies 103.04 KB

The main methods to ease the consequences of travel restrictions are the implementation of remote audits, and where this is not sufficient, the extension of time periods affecting the certificate.

This guidance is based on IAF documents and the recently revised PEFC requirements for certification bodies operating chain of custody audits: PEFC ST 2003:2020.

This guidance enters into force and can be applied by certification bodies from the day of its publication (10/03/2020) and is applicable until PEFC Council revokes the guidance.

The document provides general procedures for the application of this guidance, as well as specific rules for initial and re-certification audits, surveillance audits and verification of corrective actions.

Responsible Wood is responding to challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to operate while cooperating with all government requirements for social isolation, distancing, travel bans and quarantines.

Some staff will work from home and until further notice, the Responsible Wood team will no longer travel domestically or internationally and will arrange teleconference and/or video conferencing rather than face to face meetings wherever possible.