Timber is great but you need to make sure it’s certified sustainable

Responsible Wood

The soaring popularity of timber is helping the building and construction market embrace sustainability certification. 

“All the planets have aligned,” says Simon Dorries chief executive of Responsible Wood. His organisation can provide the certification to give you peace of mind about the sustainability of the timber.

A Responsible Wood certification means you can trust where your timber or timber product has come from, including where the timber has been grown, how it’s harvested, and the way it’s been processed. Has the system met all the environmental targets around protection of biodiversity, protecting water catchments, and avoiding logging of protected areas and threatened species?


Overall, there are more than 200 criteria involved in assessing the triple-bottom line sustainability of the timber.

Ultimately, Responsible Wood “is a trust mark”, he says.

This mark has gained rapid traction among industry players across the supply chain, and also with end users, all interested in timber as the “go-to” material for low carbon building.

Rating systems including Green Star and Living Building Challenge specify credits around the source of timber that include independent third-party verification of its provenance and production.

Responsible Wood late last year rebranded itself from The Australian Forestry Standard to make the purpose of its work so much clearer, especially to core clients who might include consumers, specifiers, architects and builders.

The name itself tells people what the certification is about, Simon says.

Standard practice has come a long way in recent years – more sustainability less pillaging of the forests, Simon says.

“The industry has to have a social licence to operate.”



And the organisation is practising what it preaches: its new offices in Brisbane feature Responsible Wood certified timber.

Along with the new logo and name, comes a new website that offers users a range of case studies and resources including details of the key standards behind the certification –  AS 4707 (Chain of Custody) and AS 4708 (Sustainable Forest Management).

A searchable database lets you find products by supplier, certification type, species or application.

Responsible Wood is licensed by Standards Australia as a standards development organisation. The standards are rigorous, and involve a range of stakeholders in the development and review process, including Planet Ark, Greening Australia and individual wildlife and bird species protection organisations. Industry representatives, CSIRO and academics are also part of the consultation process.

The standards are subject to periodic review and update, and according to Simon, the most recent iteration saw “the bar lifted quite substantially”.

One of the new focus areas is accounting for carbon in forestry and timber products. This includes not just the carbon stored by the growing of timber for uses such as building products, but also the emissions generated during forestry and processing.

For instance, there is now a new push towards reducing emissions through the use of solar and biodiesel during harvesting and processing.

On the drawing board is a new Trans-Tasman standard that can be applied to both Australian and New Zealand timber and forestry operations and products.

NOTE:  The Green List is working on an extensive explainer on timber, certification and the environmental and economic issues that surround it, for publication in the new year.

Responsible Wood

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