Gunns is committed to pursuing industry best practice in environmental performance. We seek to eliminate harm to our environment where possible and to be proactive in implementing measures to minimise the impact of our operations. Our Environmental and Sustainability Policy outlines our commitment to minimising our impact on the environment. We are subject to continuous auditing by external parties to ensure our performance meets the standards that have been set for us by Government and other regulatory bodies. To complement this we continually review our own performance and implement any improved practices through our environmental management system.
Gunns currently manages over 200,000 hectares of plantation estate, the foundation for our sustainable business in the future. We only establish plantations on cleared or existing plantation lands. To guide us in the responsible management of our renewable resources we adopted the ISO 14001 standards for environmental management in 1998. We were the first forest company in Australia to achieve accreditation to this standard. We are continually monitored against this standard by external parties. We were also the first company in Australia to gain certification to the Australian Forestry Standard (AS4708), the national benchmark for independant verification of environmental, economic and social sustainability in forest management. This followed an exhaustive three year review and independent audit of forest management practices in relation to environmental, economic and social elements. International Certification body Det Norske Veritas (DNV) undertake an independent audit of Gunns business practices against this standard every year. In addition, Gunns operates under the "Chain of Custody Standard" which is the national benchmark for independent verification to guarantee a trace back system from the finished product to the forest. This ensures that products from Gunns originate from sustainably managed AFS and PEFC (world's largest sustainability recognition framework) certified forests.
All Gunns forest activities are governed by the Tasmanian Forest Practices Act 1985, which is operationally implemented via the Forest Practices Code, one of the toughest and most comprehensive such codes in the world. Tasmania's Forest Practices Code was first published in 1987 and revised in 1993. The Code has undergone recent revision and a new Code was launched on 24 November 2000.
The Forest Practices Code prescribes the manner in which forest operations are to be planned and conducted so as to provide reasonable protection to the environment, and applies equally to operations on private land as well as public forests.
The Code deals with:
The establishment and maintenance of forests, including standards to be complied with in the stocking or restocking of land with trees;
The harvesting of timber;
The construction of roads and other works (including quarries) connected with the establishment of forests or the growing of timber, and
Reforestation including plantation establishment and maintenance and afforestation of cleared land.
The Code provides guidelines for the conservation of natural and cultural values such as:
Flora and fauna, including threatened species;
Soils and water;
Cultural heritage; and
All these issues must be addressed in a detailed Forest Practices Plan (FPP), and signed off by a warranted Forest Practices Officer before any harvesting or related activities can commence.
Forest operations carried-out under a FPP are closely monitored by the Forest Practices Board, which audits 15% of all FPP's. The results of these audits are reported to the Tasmanian Parliament as a public report.
"I am proud of my role as Gunns' Conservation Planner. Our commitment means that the environment is protected, forests are well managed, wildfire potential is minimised and our industry is sustainable.
We are very confident that, like us, future generations will find work and recreation opportunities in the forests."
The Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) was concluded between the Australian and Tasmania governments in November 1997 after an extensive round of public consultations. The aim of the RFA was to achieve a balance between economic, social and environmental objectives. It has received the full support of both political parties at both state and federal level as a broad community consensus on how Tasmania forests should be managed for a sustainable future.
The RFA applied the internationally recognised JANIS criteria to the creation of conservation reserve systems. The RFA was further enhanced by a supplementary Community Forest Agreement reached between the Australian and Tasmanian governments in May 2005. Under these combined agreements 42% of the land area of Tasmania, and 45% of its forest cover are reserved in national parks and reserves. One seventh of the land area of Tasmania is covered in old growth forests, reserved from any harvesting. There is a program to protect conservation values on private land.
Performance under the RFA is measured through a five-yearly review that assesses progress against a wide range of social, economic and environmental criteria, which was established on implementation of the Agreement.
Tasmania's $1 billion forest products industry is the State's second largest employer. The RFA laid the foundation for the creation of 550 jobs in plantations, intensive forest management and infrastructure development and was accompanied by a Commonwealth funding package of $110 million to help develop exports and value adding.
Gunns has 45,000 hectares under management for conservation reserves, the equivalent of 21,000 football stadiums.