19 January 2010

Green Stars Under Cloud

Reposted in full from Environmental Manager News, 18 January 2010

'The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has accused the Green Building Council of Aust (GBCA) of endangering native old-growth forests by "caving into pressure" from Australia's forest practitioners.

GBCA late last year said it had settled a three-year dispute over its refusal to accredit domestic sustainable timber products for its "six-star" green building credit rating.

In response to lobbying by the CFMEU, Australian Forestry Standard Ltd and other stakeholders, GBCA recognised the Aust forest certification scheme (AFCS), effective from January 1.

ACF Healthy Country campaign co-ordinator Lindsay Hesketh said GBCA's new criteria would not help exclude illegal timber from being used to construct Aust buildings.

"GBCA's core business is to drive the adoption of green building practices through market-based solutions," he said. "How can we trust that GBCA will represent the sustainable property industry when they approve use of timber from old-growth forests?"

The issue revolves around the definition of sustainable timber. In the past, GBCA backed the Forestry Stewardship Council's (FSC) certification scheme. FSC is a strict international code that classifies just 5% of global timber as coming from sustainable sources.

AFCS is an industry-backed scheme and accredits 90% of all timber logged in Australia as sustainable. ACF, which has a seat on the board of FSC's Australia chapter, wanted GBCA to maintain its backing of the FSC. A GBCA spokesperson said she was confident its accreditation process was fair and reasonable.'

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