Timber Industry Loses $Millions; Green Rating Costing Industry

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Byline: TIM HOWARD tim.howard@dailyexaminer.com.au

MILLIONS of dollars in lost orders and timber industry jobs will be at risk unless an anomaly in guidelines for environmentally sound use of wood products in buildings is straightened out.

The managing director of the Big River Group, Jim Bindon, said his business had lost between $2 and $3 million in orders because it used the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS), not the internationally recognised Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) rating, favoured by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).

Mr Bindon, whose company runs the only two plywood mills in NSW, said the GBCA was a private organisation that provided guidelines for environmentally sustainable building practices. Governments and businesses keen to prove their green credentials used the GBCA rating system to ensure their buildings met environmentally sound standards.

He said some clauses in these guidelines on timber use have forced companies to boycott NSW North Coast timber.

"The science of the AFS and the FSC is virtually identical," he said. "Yet because of a few clauses in the GBCA guidelines, we cannot supply timber products that meet their guidelines.

"Only one place in north-east Victoria and maybe some others in South Australia have this accreditation. None of them are of commercially high value."

Mr Bindon said this anomaly has led to ludicrous situations, such as state governments using imported wood instead of products sourced from their own forests. …