Japan calls for eco-safe chips
JAPANESE companies have demanded Tasmania provide them with Forest Stewardship Council accredited woodchips.
The move has led to talks between Forestry Tasmania chief executive Bob Gordon and FSC Australia chief executive Michael Spencer.
Forestry Tasmania and Tasmania's dominant timber company Gunns Limited have previously shunned the internationally recognised FSC certification standard because of its close links with global green groups.
Forestry Tasmania developed its own alternative, the Australian Forestry Standard, to prove to its customers that all timber logged and sold from the state came from sustainably managed forests.
However, pressure from affluent Japanese and European consumers keen to buy only FSC-approved paper from Japanese manufacturers because of its top green credentials appears to have forced Forestry's hand.
Mr Gordon yesterday described his talks with FSC Australia on Tuesday as "preliminary and exploratory".
He said Forestry Tasmania had long held the view that the battle should not be between the two certification schemes used in Australia but between certified and non-certifiable wood products sold by different nations into world pulp markets.
He said Forestry's aim was now to market woodchips to Japan that held dual certification "ticks of approval".
The FSC demand is crucial to Tasmania selling its native forest woodchips at good prices into oversupplied world markets.
Mr Spencer said it remained unclear if all wood products sold by Tasmania could gain FSC "good wood" approval.
He said any timber logged from native forests where harvesting activities were deemed to endanger high conservation values could not attain the FSC standard.
Mr Spencer said high conservation values may be judged to have been damaged by the impact of logging on threatened native plant and animal species, such as the Tasmanian devil, or by changing natural landscapes and forest biodiversity.