Australian Forestry Standard Limited (AFS Ltd) has announced the commencement of the first public comment phase of the revision process of the Australian Standard for Sustainable Forest Management(AS 4708), scheduled from 19 March to 18 May 2012.
The Standard Review Committee has already distributed the draft revised standard to a broad range of stakeholders in forest management seeking their comments. The Committee is seeking additional public comment on the draft standard via two public comment periods. In addition to this first public comment period, a second period will be based on a revised draft and is currently scheduled to be undertaken from June to August 2012.
"The Australian Forestry Standard is recognised as a world class standard and regular review and improvement is required to maintain this recognition," said the Chairman of the Standard Review Committee, Dr Paul Biggs.
"The Committee is made up of a broad range of interested and affected stakeholders and they are keen to get public feedback on the draft Standard to compare with their own views on how the Standard can be further improved," he added.
The Australian Forest Certification Scheme, of which AS4708 is a key component, is endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). PEFC is the world's largest certification system for sustainable forest management and, as the only global forest certification system, requires and implements regular revisions of all endorsed standards every five years. PEFC's Sustainability Benchmarks have also continued to evolve in recent years and the Standard Review Committee has sought to ensure that the revised Australian Standard (AS4708) continues to be consistent with PEFC requirements.
The intensive public participation plan for the project is fully engaging all stakeholders groups and interested parties within and connected to sustainable forestry and the supply chain of wood and wood products. Couple this with rigorous adherence to international processes and guidelines, as well as an emphasis on science and evidence, this review project will ensure that this internationally recognised Australian Standard continues to be regarded as the most credible and robust forest certification tool.
The draft revision of the Standard and a submission form can be downloaded from theAFS Ltd. website.