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Wednesday, 01 December 2021
Media Statement: FSC ANZ and the ABC’s allegations against VicForests

Last week, several allegations were raised by the ABC against the Victorian government agency VicForests. These allegations were aired as part of a series of investigative reports on the ABC’s 7.30 TV programme.

The reports relate to forest management practices and allegations of regulatory non-compliance and unsustainable operations in Victorian native public forests. Click here for the full ABC article.

In the second part of the series, VicForests was “accused of 'spying' on protesters and environmentalists.” In particular, the ABC alleged that VicForests had hired a private investigator to carry out surveillance on an environmentalist who was at the time a member of the board of FSC Australia. Click here for the full ABC article. While most of these allegations were not linked to the FSC, the FSC ANZ Board of Directors make the following observations.

FSC ANZ’s relationship with VicForests:

VicForests became an FSC ANZ member in 2011, but their membership ceased in 2020 when they unfortunately failed to meet FSC ANZ’s membership requirements. This was the result of a failed attempt by VicForests to achieve FSC certification.

Allegations regarding the surveillance of an FSC Board Member:

The FSC ANZ Board were unaware of the surveillance allegations that were brought to light in the ABC’s investigation. The alleged surveillance operation of our board member is considered inappropriate. If this surveillance operation did occur, a public apology to the targeted person should be forthcoming from VicForests. We look forward to the results of the external investigation that has been commissioned by the VicForests Board.

Publication of confidential correspondence:

In response to the ABC reporting, on 26 November 2021, VicForests chose to publish and publicise a “highly confidential” letter that had been sent from FSC ANZ to VicForests. The FSC ANZ Board is disappointed by this breach of confidentiality. VicForests should not have made this letter public as it discussed the confidential conclusions of our Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC). This DRC process is deliberately confidential to ensure that the privacy of all parties is respected and appropriately protected. At no time did FSC ANZ give permission for this confidential letter to be made public.

About FSC:

FSC is the world's most trusted forest certification scheme backed by our globally consistent standards that address important social, environmental, and economic issues in the production of forest products.

FSC is a global not-for-profit organisation that sets the standard for responsible forest management. Our mission is to promote environmentally sound, socially beneficial, and economically prosperous management of the world's forests.

Our globally consistent standards address important environmental issues, including the maintenance of forest biodiversity, the protection of water catchments and habitat preservation for native wildlife. In Australia, this includes the preservation of rare old growth forests and habitat protection for endangered species such as the swift parrot, and the Leadbeater’s possum.

FSC’s strict standard requirements mean that certified forests must benefit local communities through employment, training, and business engagement wherever possible. Certificate holders are also required to demonstrate consultation with local Indigenous Peoples with the intention of protecting and maintaining their rights.

Our mission is to promote and drive responsible forest management to ensure the preservation and protection of forests for future generations to come.

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