Making the Right Choice

Forest regrowing Europe © Planet Ark

When choosing wood it is important to make the right choice in order to avoid buying illegally logged imported wood or wood from forests of high conservation value.

The best options are to use recycled wood or to choose wood that is certified. 

Recycled Wood

Using recycled wood extends the life of the wood so there is no need to use newly sourced wood. In addition, the carbon contained in this recycled wood is stored for the life of the new product.

Recycled wood is salvaged from demolished houses, old buildings, sheds, factories, warehouses, wharves, boats and other wood products.  It is available from specialist wood suppliers, secondhand building material outlets, larger demolition companies and demolition sites. 

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Forest Certification in Australia *

Forest certification has developed as a way of demonstrating the implementation of sustainable forest management practices. To have a forest certified as being sustainably managed, an audit is undertaken by an independent, third party certification body. The audit assesses the forest management practices of a forest manager or owner against the standard for certification. Both native forests and plantations can be certified.

The two major global forest certification bodies are the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) schemes and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Both the PEFC and FSC are internationally recognised forest certification networks that provide for the mutual recognition of regional and national standards that meet their criteria for sustainable forest management.

In Australia, forest managers and owners have the option of certifying their forests under either the Australian Forest Certification Scheme (AFCS), which is recognised under the PEFC, or the FSC. The AFCS uses the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) as the relevant standard for certifying forest management. FSC currently uses two interim, regionally adapted forest management standards in Australia but is in the process of developing a national FSC standard for Australia. This is expected to be available in 2017.

The AFCS is administered by AFS Ltd whereas FSC certification in Australia is administered by FSC Australia.

Internationally around 300 million hectares of forests are certified under PEFC and 195 million hectares under the FSC system. In Australia 26.8 million hectares certified under the AFCS and 1.2 million hectares under the FSC system. A number of these forests are certified under both systems.

Wood and wood-based products sourced from certified forests are tracked through the supply chain using chain-of-custody certification provided by both forest certification schemes. This provides consumers with an assurance that the wood product they are purchasing comes from a sustainably managed and certified forest. For consumer products these are then labelled with a chain of custody certificate number.

Like many governments, including the Australian Government, Planet Ark supports all credible internationally recognised forest certification schemes that provide for legal and sustainable forest management and believes that the choice of forest certification scheme(s) is a decision for forest owners/managers.

For further information on these schemes please click on the links below.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Australian Forestry Standard (AFS)

Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)

* Courtesy of Australian Government – Department of Agriculture and Water Resources