A well-managed forest can have multiple benefits for society. Forests represent some of the richest biologically diverse areas on Earth and play a critical role in regulating not only the global environment, but also the population and the economy.
Australia has 2 million hectares of forests. Over 90 per cent of these forests are certified as being sustainably managed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
New Zealand has 2.1 million hectares of plantation forest, of which just a little over 1.7 million hectares is productive area. 1.2 million of these hectares are certified by the FSC and the PEFC. There are 8 million hectares of indigenous land that is preserved1.
A well-maintained forest can provide renewable raw materials to make wood products, renewable energy, natural carbon capture, livelihoods for millions of people and other ecosystem services such as controlling floods and droughts. The PEFC estimates that 60 million indigenous people depend on forests for their livelihood across the world and this is growing.
A new study has found that forests could have the potential to boost rainfall. The study conducted by Nature Geoscience has found that the conversion of agricultural land to forest can boost summer months’ rainfall by up to 7.6%. An explicit explanation behind this correlation is unclear, however, it is believed to have links to forest interactivity with cloudy air. Due to climate change over the recent years, a reasonable amount of precipitation is crucial to forests as it is required in order for ecosystems to maintain growth and provide resources for people and production.
The print and paper industries across Australia and New Zealand recognise that healthy forests are essential for the production of paper and paper-based products. This is why forest certification schemes such as FSC and PEFC are ingrained in the way the industry works, to ensure the raw material of wood fibre is sourced from sustainable forests.
The notion of ‘reforestation’ is extremely important in the wake of climate change. Reforestation in the form of planted forests conserve natural forests by reducing deforestation, improving degraded land, reducing carbon dioxide which in turn combats climate change, and it can also provide employment and revenue, supporting national economies. The PEFC helps to guarantee that Australian and New Zealand paper is coming from sustainable sources. All forest harvesting in Australia is conducted sustainably, and almost all of the original fibre for printing and communication paper is sourced from softwood plantations and land that has undergone reforestation.
Both the FSC and PEFC schemes have similar objectives: the certification of forests to credible, independently verified standards of responsible forest management, conserving the natural habitats of plants and animals and respecting the rights of forestry workers and local communities. Both PEFC and FSC operate a robust chain of custody schemes that track wood and wood fibre through every step of the supply chain, for the forest to the end-user.
Forests are a pivotal element of the environment, population and economy, and certified sustainability is crucial to ensuring the longevity and prosperity of this fundamental part of nature.
SOURCES AND REFERENCES
1Global Forest Resources Assessment, 2020