The Wood - Profile of an FSC Chain Of Custody supplier - Simon Goldacre, Director, Urban Design Systems

Date: 09-Mar-12
Author: Chris Philpot

Simon Goldacre © Simon Goldacre

Simon Goldacre, Director, Urban Design Systems

Using wood is a great way to help tackle climate change but it is important to make sure that the wood we choose is certified. Look for the FSC logo, or ask the supplier if it is FSC Chain of Custody certified. Chain of Custody FSC certification tracks the progress of the product you have bought all the way from its source in a well-managed forest.  It ensures that areas of high conservation value forest stay protected. The carbon benefits of wood products are based upon trees being responsibly harvested.

Simon Goldacre, an Aussie designer from Sydney's Northern Beaches, has been working with wood for the last 15 years and now heads up his own company, Urban Design Systems. Mr Goldacre says Urban Design Systems is committed to supporting responsible forest management practices, producing street furniture that is 100% FSC certified.  ‘The Wood' investigates:

Hi Simon, thanks for talking to us. You're in the wood business - so where do you source your wood from? Urban Design Systems only deals in timber harvested from ethical and ecologically responsible sources. As a Chain of Custody certificate holder under Forest Stewardship Council* (FSC) guidelines we are fully committed to supporting ecologically sustainable and socially responsible forest management (*Cert code: SCS COC 003929).

What do you think about certification and its current status in Australia? Certification has been slow to take off in Australia, but is now gathering momentum as more mills become certified. We still need to encourage buyers to question where the timber they purchase is sourced from and demand certified material. Put simply, more FSC demand means more FSC supply, which in turn means more forests being managed responsibly and therefore protected into the future.

As a business owner in the wood industry, why do you see it as important to supply certified wood? If wood supply isn't certified then we just don't know what harm and devastation might have been caused to world forests, ecosystems and forest communities in obtaining that material. It is estimated that some 40% of the world's wood production comes from illegally logged tropical (always tropical?) forests - a staggering statistic and one that must be reversed. Only when buying certified material such as FSC certified timber are you provided a legitimate and accountable guarantee that your timber has been sourced from responsibly managed operations.

We can tell you're truly passionate about wood, but what exactly is it that you like about working it? Responsibly sourced wood offers a beautiful and versatile material with great durability. It is renewable as well as being recyclable and due to its carbon storage properties has a positive impact on climate change. There's a lot to like about using responsible wood.

Why do you think wood is an attractive material? Wood has an honest and natural beauty as well as character and personality that most other materials simply can't compete with. The timeless allure of wood is testament to a material that has continuously adapted over time with changing styles and cultural tastes to always remain in vogue.

Wood is obviously a big part of your life. How has working with wood shaped your career and who you are? Since becoming involved in FSC timber and Good Wood* over a decade ago, I have become increasingly passionate about raising awareness in the marketplace about the importance of buying certified wood.

(*Greenpeace Good Wood refers to timber grown in plantations or harvested from well-managed forests. Good Wood enables consumers to continue using wood products without causing forest destruction).

In a construction industry crowded with many materials, why do you want to encourage people to choose wood? Consumers have the purchasing power to save the world's forests and help protect the climate. Using responsible wood in your project, whether for a large building development or a small fence or deck project, adds up to make an important difference to our future.

You must have many interesting stories about your wood projects. What is your most exciting project so far?  My current venture is proving to be my most interesting to date - designing economical yet environmentally responsible products that offer viable alternatives to cheaper non-environmentally responsible options in the market place.

You could say the wood space is an interesting and dynamic one. How do you see the future of wood products? Only with increased awareness of the catastrophic harm illegal logging is causing along with the essential introduction of government legislation and improved trade policies, can the world's forests possibly stand a chance so that future generations can enjoy the beauty of wood products as past generations have. The import of illegal forest material into Australia has to be stopped. Consumers need to become more aware of where their timber is sourced from. Whether buying for yourself, or for an organisation, demand products with an FSC label from FSC certified forests and start helping to protect the world's forests.