The RIC Good Wood Guide


­ from the RIC Good Wood Project

For more definitions, refer to books such as: Wood in Australia by Keith Bootle, A Glossary of Wood by Thomas Corkhill, and Horticultural Information by Jones.


Forest Certification

According to the Forest Stewardship Council, forest certification is the process of inspecting particular forests or woodland to see if they are being managed according to an agreed set of (FSC) standards.

'High Conservation Value Forest'

High Conservation Value Forests are those that possess one or more of the following attributes:

1) forest areas containing globally, regionally or nationally significant concentrations of biodiversity values (e.g. endemism, endangered species, refugia), and/or large landscape level forests, contained within, or containing the management unit, where viable populations of most if not all naturally occurring species exist in natural patterns of distribution and abundance;

2) forest areas that are in or contain rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems;

3) forest areas that provide basic services of nature in critical situations (e.g. watershed protection, erosion control);

4) forest areas fundamental to meeting basic needs of local communities (e.g. subsistence, health ) and/or critical to local communities' traditional cultural identity (areas of cultural, ecological, economic or religious significance identified in cooperation with such local communities).

'Natural Forest'

Forest areas where many of the principal characteristics and key elements of native ecosystems such as complexity, structure and diversity are present, as defined by FSC approved national and regional standards of forest management.


This forest requires a high level of soil moisture. The canopy is virtually continuous but may be arranged in severals distinct layers. A prominent feature is the frequent presence of epiphytes and vines on the tree trunks. Because of the thick canopy of the leaves, little sunlight penetrates to the forest floor, so there is an absence of grasses and herbage.

­ Wood in Australia by Keith Bootle

'Regrowth Forest' #1

A forest which has had many if not most of its mature trees cleared or cut and felled for timber or woodchips. Often, the area will be burned after logging before the regrowth can take place.

Any large holes in the forest canopy as a result of logging, etc, may allow the too-vigorous regrowth of certain understorey species such as creepers, which can smother young trees. These same holes allow the invasion of potentially destructive weed species and greater susceptibility to fire and disease.

Therefore, regrowth forests are often places where, due to human intervention, there has been a species-shift towards an unnatural dominance of any one or several species - particularly in a situation where the species-shift creates a forest type that is antagonistic to the primary forest that most closely resembles the nearest 'best example reference-site'. For example, the intrusion of eucalypt species into what were originally rainforest areas, due to a deliberate program of logging then burning-off by State Forests or private foresters can permanently block-out the regeneration of the species indigenous to a particular region. In such instances, 'regrowth' should indicate the need for the forest to be assisted to grow more biodiverse, not just for each tree to grow in height and girth.

'Regrowth Forest' #2

"A native forest dominated by early stages of succession following natural or artificial disturbance." - Clark, 1995.

It has been suggested that there is a strong case for logging of some regrowth forest by removing a portion of the dieback trees, whenever they occur. Much of the dieback in regrowth forest is due to inappropriate, unnatural burning regimes with consequent exposure of the trunks of once-healthy trees to disease organisms. By removing these trees (but not habitat trees), utilising them as a valuable timber resource, and re-planting or re-seeding the site with those rainforest species which so often were endemic to the area, the threat of fire could be progressively reduced while the forest biodiversity could steadily increase. This could create a 'well managed' forest from one which was previously mismanaged. (There has been the suggestion put forward that the logging of regrowth forest could sometimes be greatly preferable to plantation establishment and harvesting, due to many plantations causing far more damage to the ecosytem than would a native (regrowth) forest logging operation.)

Virtually all 'regrowth' forest areas ­ to which access for restoration forestry practices might be justified on ecological grounds ­ are areas where human intervention to cause species-shift has taken place. Consequently, appropriate human interaction could greatly assist in restoring endemic species and species biodiversity. (See also the references to species-shift in the article Eucalypt Plantations in NSW in this section.)

Note: Any logging or thinning of so-called regrowth forest would need to be carried out on the say-so of independent expert forest ecologists (such as Lindenmeyer, Norton, Kirkpatrick, etc). A forest that an ecologist deems to be 'old growth' may be called 'regrowth' by the timber industry, since it would be in their interests to do so. The industry has a vested interest in being reductionist and minimalist in its definitions of the so-called "resource".

In NSW, much of our soon-to-be-classified High Conservation Value forest areas run the risk of being defined as 'regrowth' or 'secondary' forest and even 'plantation' by big industry players and bureaucrats. Thus the traditional cynicism shown by green groups to the use of the words 'regrowth' and 'sustainable' in the same sentence. The Guide looks forward to the time when 'well managed regrowth forest' means universally that human interaction is causing forest health and biodiversity to be restored in an area which is still producing timber.

Sclerophyll Forest

'In this forest there is a continuous canopy of the tree crowns. The length of the tree trunk is greater than the depth of the leafy crown and most of the trees have sclerophyllous leaves (ie, they are of relatively hard and stiff texture). The main eucalypt forests are of this type. '

­ Wood in Australia by Keith Bootle


Plants as those found in deserts, which have leaves with thickened protective tissue.

­ Encyclopedic World Dictionary

Species Shift

The still-current practice of "species-shift" plantation-establishment is by no means an acceptable method. The species-shift method involves firstly the extraction of a majority of viable sawlogs and then leaving seed-producing trees of only desired species. Fire is used to kill-off all other unwanted species, leaving only the very few adult specimens to propagate themselves and thus replace the original, diverse forest ecosystem with a virtual monoculture. This attack on the biodiversity of our native forests is still continuing!

'Well Managed'

On the face of it, 'well managed' would appear to be a fairly nebulous term. However, in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council's Principles & Criteria, this term describes a process which will: " the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations".


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