Australia’s wood and wood products industry has launched a multi-million dollar program to highlight the important role wood products play in tackling climate change, and to dispel misconceptions about the material.
The Wood Naturally Better campaign – a first for the Australian market and the largest joint activity undertaken by the forest and wood products industry – was launched recently by Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA). It follows the launch of similar initiatives around the world – in what has become a global drive – to highlight the sustainable, renewable and carbon storage benefits of wood.
Ric Sinclair, FWPA managing director, said it was astonishing that while Australians were voicing their concerns about global warming, many were still oblivious to the environmental benefits of wood products.
“We hope that through the Wood Naturally Better initiative we can educate professionals and consumers about the environmental benefits of using wood and help further the sustainable development of the forest and wood products industry in this country.
“Not only is wood an environmentally sound option, it also provides employment for thousands of Australians. There are currently more than 83,000 people directly employed in Australia’s forest industries,” said Sinclair.
Wood Naturally Better is a long-term program that will incorporate advertising campaigns and promotional activities nationally to drive its messages. In addition to its educational aspects, industry members hope to use Wood Naturally Better as a platform to discuss and create awareness of industry issues.
However, the campaign hasn’t received total blessing elsewhere in the industry.
A tick of approval came from the Australian Plantation Products & Paper Industry Council. “A3P is delighted to welcome the launch of the Wood Naturally Better campaign. We have been a part of the process right from the beginning and played a fundamental role in the transition to FWPA and putting in place the funding and rationale for the campaign,” said Richard Stanton, chief executive officer.
“I look forward to further development and refinement of the campaign and encourage companies and sectors of the industry to use the overarching FWPA program as leverage for their individual marketing and promotion efforts.
“Overall, we think the campaign is a really good start and the bottom line is we hope it will increase the market for sustainably-produced Australian plantation timber. We will be very interested to see how it is received by the market as measured by the monitoring FWPA has put in place,” Stanton said.
Timber Communities Australia (TCA) said the move should prove beneficial. “TCA supports the successful delivery of the campaign.
Something that is well researched and well delivered can only be beneficial for all in the industry,” said chief executive officer Jim Adams.
“TCA obviously supports those attempts and we welcome the opportunity to partner FWPA in the design, preparation and delivery of that material wherever possible,” Adams said.
The Australian Forest Contactors Association (AFCA) gave cautious approval to the concept but maintained there was more that could and should be done on a global scale.
Speaking on behalf of AFCA, Col Shipard said that one of the fundamentals of marketing was to know your enemy and, in this campaign, the enemy was to be found in two places – ACF, WWF-Australian Wilderness Society; the steel and concrete industries.
He said the FWPA would spend about $2million per year on the campaign and yet the annual turnover just for the ACF, WWF-Australia and the Wilderness Society was nearly $45 million in 2007.
“In contrast, FWPA is starting out with the first year levies of $2million.
“Worldwide steel production for 2007 was 1.34 billion tones, and cement production for the same year was 2.5 billion tones, and those two industries are starting to weigh in to the carbon debate with claims relating to green cement and a new process of steel manufacture that claims to be CO2-free.
“In context, worldwide industrial wood production is about 500 million tonnes per year,” said Shipard.
Shipard argues that a public advertising campaign spending $2 million each year would fail.
He suggested that, as a starting point, the FWPA must cooperate with the English, NZ and other European campaigns. “You won’t get a much rounder wheel spending $2 million on your own but with combined resources (research, advertising material, market feed-back etc) you might be half a chance!
“A better way to go and, as AFCA chairman Colin McCulloch has long advocated at various industry fora, as an industry we get at least one (but preferably two) of the big three onside with the aim to combine resources to do a cooperative spend with them. A challenge maybe, but not impossible with the science emerging increasingly on our side and especially if the steel/concrete industry claims to be carbon friendly prove to be questionable/undeliverable,” he said.
“Failing that, we will get more bang for our 2 million bucks using the network of groups like TCA, the CFMEU, Hoo Hoo Clubs and the members of A3P and NAFI to directly address the opinion leaders in our communities (service clubs, P&C Associations, Careers Advisors, TAFEs etc) to get the WOOD, NATURALLY BETTER story out.