In March 2018, Kim Carstensen, the FSC International Director General, visited Japan, New Zealand and Australia for a Board of Directors meeting and attended a series of events to strengthen ties and gather feedback from FSC’s stakeholders in the region. Here is a short summary of his productive visit.
JAPAN (13-17 March)
The FSC Board of Directors meeting took place in Hamamatsu City, Japan, along with a series of successful engagement events.
One of the highlights was the visit paid by Carstensen, FSC International Chairperson Rulita Wijayaningdyah and other board members to Shuji Oki, the Director-General of Japan’s Forestry Agency. The group exchanged views on the importance of Japan’s role in responsibly using forest resources, with FSC representatives explaining how the FSC could assist the Agency in helping Japan fulfil this role. “We recognise the importance of forest certification schemes and are expecting increases in the use of certified wood in the domestic market,” said Oki. He also expressed his hope that through their on-site visit to Hamamatsu City, the FSC board members would learn about the challenges faced at the local level.
The visitors also called on the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and met with its Sustainability Manager, Yuki Arata. During their meeting, they discussed the possibility of further collaboration. Arata said, “We would like to see more promotion [of FSC] among the industrial sectors to ensure more appropriate implementation of the sustainable procurement policy”. She continued, “We are trying to make the Olympic and Paralympic Games a great occasion for promoting forest certification at the consumer level. We would like to cooperate with FSC to enhance the recognition of forest certification systems in Japan.”
The group then met with Yasutomo Suzuki, the Mayor of Hamamatsu City, who expressed enthusiasm to make Hamamatsu the host city of the FSC General Assembly in 2020. They then went on to visit FSC-certified forests and a local sawmill, conducting frank and open conversations with forestry industry stakeholders. FSC received a great deal of constructive feedback regarding cooperation with FSC promotions and flexibility around regulations for promoting FSC-certified products.
NEW ZEALAND (19 – 21 March)
Immediately after the Japan visit, Carstensen headed to the FSC New Zealand Business Forum. Held in Auckland, the forum was also attended by event partners Bunnings Warehouse and TetraPak, as well as Wellington Zoo, SCION, JasMax and BJ Balls. A video of forum highlights can be viewed here. The participants appreciated the opportunities they were given to learn about the steps being taken by FSC, hold engaging discussions with their business counterparts, learn from each other about the growing global trend of certified forest products, and discuss strategies to boost their sales.
During the visit, Carstensen, Sara Gipton, the CEO of FSC Australia / New Zealand, and several forum participants took part in a cycling field trip to the Timberlands Kaingaroa Estate. Here, the group experienced first-hand the encouraging social, environmental and economic outcomes created by implementing FSC forest management standards in this FSC-certified forestry operation.
The Timberlands Kaingaroa Estate is teeming with wildlife. Home to 21 areas of High Conservation Values(HCVs), including a number of rare species and ecosystems, one of its inhabitants are the endangered New Zealand falcons. Managers of this falcon’s breeding programme chose the Whakarewarewa region of the estate as the habitat for their release. The estate’s fertile volcanic ash soil and plentiful rain, which reaches two metres per annum on average, makes it one of the world’s most productive areas, with perfect growing conditions for many species including radiata pine – which helps the plantation produce an impressive amount of timber.
The plantation is a partnership between Timberlands, an FSC certificate holder, and several landowners, the majority of which are various Iwi (Māori nations) that support the plantation’s work. The estate is an outstanding example of how indigenous communities and plantation companies can work together in harmony. Another innovative aspect to the estate is its provision of recreational opportunities: a number of areas are open to off-road biking and horseback riding.
Carstensen also met with several New Zealand ministers, including Shane Jones, the Minister for Forestry, and James Shaw, the Minister for Climate Change. During their meeting, Carstensen and Jones discussed the additional benefits brought by FSC certification as part of the government’s policy to expand its forest estate by one billion trees.
AUSTRALIA (22 – 23 March)
Carstensen then headed to Australia. A particular highlight of this visit was the FSC Australia Public Forum which took place in Melbourne. The forum brought FSC members together with more than 100 stakeholders from various businesses and the government, academia and environmental sectors. The group conducted productive discussions on the current status of and way forward for responsible forestry in the country.
The major themes of the forum included the general outlook for forestry in Australia, as well as consumer awareness and perception of FSC certification and sustainability. Several sharing sessions were also conducted by companies that are using the FSC label to add value to their brands.
Carstensen emphasised the importance of dialogue and embracing diverse opinions to shift paradigms in the forest industry. Warrick Jordan, FSC Australia Board member (Wilderness Society, Environment Chamber), introduced the forestry sessions by reminding everyone that open and respectful conversation is a fundamental strength of FSC’s system.
Adam Morton from event partner Bunnings Warehouse, a well-known Australian home improvement DIY store, spoke about their Merbau/Kwila supply chain in Indonesia and the positive impacts that have come from encouraging Indonesian forest owners to adopt responsible management through FSC certification. TetraPak opened its session on branding by sharing information about how they engage with their customers and prove to them how FSC labelling has added value to their brand.
During the Australia trip, Carstensen and Sara Gipton, the CEO of FSC Australia, also met with other forestry heavyweights, including the Assistant Minister for Agriculture (Forestry) Senator Anne Ruston; Jane Calvert, the National President of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union(CMFEU)’s Forestry, Furnishing, Building Products and Manufacturing Division; Indigenous FSCA member Phil Duncan and other members. FSC Australia members also had the opportunity to listen to Carstensen’s insights and discuss local issues in various chamber meetings.
There are currently more than 11 million hectares of FSC-certified forests and over 10,000 Chain of Custody (CoC) certificates in the Asia Pacific region – making it the region with the highest number of CoCs after Europe. The demand for responsibly-sourced forestry products from Asia Pacific is increasing exponentially, and FSC believes that this region will soon become a game changer in the fight to halt global deforestation.
Further debate and discussion on these and other topics will take place at the second FSC Asia Pacific Regional Business Forum, which will be held in Mumbai, India on 25 and 26 September of this year. Stay tuned for further news about the forum by subscribing to our newsletter, or follow this blog for more updates.