ForestFit: Taking Forestry Certification to the Next Level

ForestFit is aligned to PEFC and FSC standards.

Wed 05 Apr 23


With the competition across all sectors to retain employees, the introduction of industrial manslaughter laws and amid growing environmental concerns regarding climate change, forest contracting businesses are getting their systems and practices certified as one way to assure they are getting it right.

ForestFit is an agreed national standard certifying the systems and practices of forest contracting businesses (FCBs). As ForestFit emerges in the industry it has the unique challenge of demonstrating the benefits to be gained, by forest growers and forest contracting businesses (FCBs), through its implementation.

“We have taken a strategic view,” says Ian Reid, Managing Director, Austimber Harvesting and Haulage

“We accepted the challenges and costs of being an early adopter because we believe the ForestFit standards and criteria provide a risk-based approach to address our business, safety and environmental concerns,” he said.

However, there was an added business benefit discovered after the company’s first annual surveillance. 

“The next time I talked to one of our crews that participated in the audit, their immediate questions were about the audit outcome and any provided feedback,” Mr Reid said.

“They were even more interested than usual, and I attribute this to it being ‘our’ audit.”

Collaborating with 16 of the top national forest growers and managers, a steering committee is working with the ForestFit team to achieve national agreement of an optimal auditing process of FCBs through the alignment and integration of existing forest grower processes with ForestFit.

Mangan Logging was one of the FCB involved in the ForestFit Industry Reference Group. In July 2021, Chris Mangan, Director of Mangan Logging spoke of the importance of national standards. Footage courtesy of @ianfowlerentertainment8573

Part of the challenge for the industry is moving past the ’tick and flick’. 

To make auditing meaningful a review is under way that identifies intent, value and outcome of current processes and practices. 

By reviewing and mapping current practices it has highlighted areas of duplication.

“We are looking at the bigger picture; as a grower and processor we spend considerable time undertaking internal and external audits,” says Malcolm Hatcher, General Manager Technical Services at Midway

“ForestFit is a key step forward for us,” Mr Hatcher said.

“The ability to streamline our processes by using ForestFit certified contractors that are verified by an independent third party means we don’t have to duplicate the audit process.”

Forest growers are also using ForestFit as a lead indicator assurance that FCBs have all the necessary systems in place. 

“ForestFit strengthens the viability of FCBs by providing support and resources that allow them to deliver on their business outcomes,” explains Carlie Porteous, AFCA General Manager.

“Providing a whole-of-business approach to support sustainable, safe and environmental business practices is a ‘win-win’ for the future viability of the whole industry,” Ms Porteous said.

A bonus and cost savings for forest growers is ForestFit’s formal ‘deemed to comply’ status with Responsible Wood AS/NZS 4708 that will be finalised upon completion of ForestFit’s current accreditation by JAS-ANZ. 

ForestFit is 'deemed to comply' with Responsible Wood certification, Australia's largest forest certification scheme. In addition ForesfFit is working with FSC on a similar pathway.
ForestFit is ‘deemed to comply’ with Responsible Wood certification, Australia’s largest forest certification scheme. In addition ForesfFit is working with FSC on a similar pathway.

Maintaining alignment with existing certifications and standards is a key part of the ongoing management of ForestFit criteria.

“Our criteria are aligned to PEFC and FSC,” says Dionne Olsen, ForestFit Project Manager. 

“We are very interested in the Australian FSC revision process that is about to get under way.”

Dionne Olsen, ForestFit Project Manager

“The latest draft of the US FSC standard provided guidance that growers can use contractors that have been verified by a non-FSC third-party certification scheme as part of the evidence of conformance to some or all Principle 2 indicators,“ says Ms Olsen. 

“We encourage growers to consider proposing a similar approach in the revision of the Australian FSC standard.”


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