Gunns seeks to optimise shareholder value, economic growth and contribute to our community for the future through responsible management of our renewable, sustainable resource. Our plantation estate has expanded from 90,000 hectares in 2003 to over 200,000 hectares today. This demonstrates our commitment to ensuring ongoing operational sustainability through harvesting plantation based resources. This reduces our reliance on regrowth, native forest. Gunns have voluntarily reserved 45,000 hectares of our estate for a range of flora and fauna, cultural heritage, geodiversity, soils, water quality and landscape values.
Gunns continues to plant and regenerate significantly more forests than it harvests to ensure ongoing operational sustainability. In the last financial year, Gunns’ Somerset Nursery, located in north western Tasmania, celebrated its 10th anniversary, as well as the despatch of its 100 millionth seedling. That is almost five seedlings for every man, woman and child in Australia.
Gunns estimates that it and its predecessor companies have grown over 200 million seedlings, to plant in its softwood and hardwood plantations in Tasmania since plantation development first began in the 1940s. This amount of plantation establishment is equivalent to the sequestration of seventy two million CO2 equivalent tonnes each year when mature. This is enough sequested CO2 to offset the emissions generated by 120,000 Australians over a period of 21 years.
Gunns has a strong and ongoing commitment to sustainability principles in its forest management and resource procurement activities. Gunns is setting new benchmarks through continuous improvement in environmental management with ongoing certification to ISO 14001 and the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS). Gunns was the first forestry company in Australia certified under these standards. During the past year surveillance audits have been undertaken for both ISO 14001 and AFS, with certification to both standards successfully retained.
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