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More time to respond to sustainable Standard

More time to respond to sustainable forestry draft standard

The National Initiative Working Group (NIWG) is giving stakeholders another month to respond to the draft National Standard for Plantation Forest Management. The interim national co-ordinator, Bill Dyck, says the main reason for extending the deadline until 7 March was to allow more time for discussion among interested stakeholders.

“We’ve had considerable interest expressed from stakeholders wanting to comment on the draft standard,” said Mr Dyck.

“However, many of them didn’t initially appreciate the amount of detail contained in the document and how long it would take for them to comment, and felt they needed more time to do it justice.”

The standard will enable third party verification of forest management practices to an acceptable standard that is recognised by international wood products markets. The working group prepared the draft standard following guidelines from the international certifying body, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

However, other certification authorities will be able to use the standard, as well as FSC. Mr Dyck said the standard covers a wide range of issues, including environmental sustainability, health and safety conditions for workers, public access to forests, protection of Maori cultural values and employment for local people.

“Some of the criteria and indicators are reasonably obvious and logical, such as the ones that basically say, obey the local laws,” said Mr Dyck.

“Others may seem less obvious. For example, one criterion discusses the need to assess ‘visual landscape elements’, which will be new terminology for many people.

“However, the draft standard has had vigorous debate and attention from a very conscientious technical committee, and represents a consensus of thinking.”

The NIWG includes representatives of forest owners, environmental organisations, Maori and social groups to ensure that it considers the impact of forestry operations from all angles.

Interested stakeholders can download the draft standard from the website www.nzcertification.com.

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