Wednesday, 07 March 2018
Innovative uptake of FSC standards with Australian rural community – Lismore.
An FSC Smallholders Story - produced in collboration with RMIT.
FSC certified forests come in all sizes, big and small. Situated in the Australian rural community of Lismore, a town with a population just over 500, are plantations in an agricultural landscape that are holistically managed to FSC smallholder standards.
While on a small scale – smallholders are not so tiny; they are an integral part of the FSC system and part of what makes FSC unique. In Australia, FSC smallholders are commonly local and small business in rural communities.
The Lismore site is bordered by eucalypt plantations that form narrow corridors on the property edges and alongside the road. Planted are Sugar Gums – a species fit for purpose for solid wood products for architectural projects. The site is FSC certified under a group scheme managed by Forest Strategy.
What is a group scheme?
Group FSC chain of custody and forest management schemes have been developed to help smaller enterprises achieve FSC certification by reducing the costs of certification.
What are smallholders?
FSC defines smallholders as small forest producers, and local and traditional communities and Indigenous Peoples engaged in FSC-certified value chains. This definition includes forests held by local communities, small woodlots and plantations less than 100 hectares, and forests managed for low-intensity wood and non-wood harvesting.
The plantation serves dual purposes – timber yield, providing a supplementary income to the farm and acting as a windbreak to protect the crops it surrounds.
Certified to FSC standards – the Plantation also serves a further purpose, a current and future home to wildlife. Since undergoing FSC certification, the site actively manages biodiversity values of the property through official documentation and evaluation.
For example, selected trees have been protected as potential sites for hollows for wildlife. Pictured is an eagles nest on the site – turning this wide break into more than just a plantation.
Along with the environmental benefits - FSC certification was provided economic advantages, through the increased capital value of timber produced for solid wood markets. Demonstrated as the local Timber mill in Lismore offers a premium for certified solid wood timber over uncertified. Under FSC, the smallholders also were able to take advantage of the provided best practice documentation for good financial planning and economic viability.
Through consultation, the local community now has an increased and informed awareness of FSC certification and its benefits. The local timber mill is FSC certified and ensures delivery of certified solid timber makes it to market. Lismore is an example, where FSC certification is supporting an increase in the overall capital gain of the timber community.
This situation is a testament to the power of consumer demand, request for FSC certified solid wood has connected timber merchant, mill and this smallholder, which has seen on-ground improvements, in the most unlikely of forests – an agricultural farm.
About Forest Manager: Forest Strategy Forest Strategy provides consultancy services to forestry industries and strategic resource advice for hardwood timber industries. Forest Strategy also provides sales and marketing advice to forest growers and commercial forestry businesses. However, Forest Strategy’s key purpose is to provide certification services across the industry.
Authored: Adele Townsend & Cameron Thomson