The RIC Good Wood Guide


The following is a collection of positive affirmation statements and strategies from forestry groups, conservationists, government bodies, deep ecologists, etc, which demonstrate their intention to do the right thing by forests, the earth, people, plants and animals.

Contents at a Glance...


The Biodiversity of Australia's Forests

NSW Public Works New Timber Policy


Forest Stewardship Principles

Plantation Principles of the Forest Stewardship Council


THE ECOFORESTERS' WAY - An Oath of Ecological Responsibility


PLATFORM PRINCIPLES of the Deep Ecology Movement

MISSION STATEMENT of the Ecoforestry Institute

MISSION STATEMENT of the Good Wood Alliance

A SEVEN POINT 500-YEAR APPROACH to Global Forest Protection, Certified Logging & Wood Supply ­ Rainforest Action Network




The Biodiversity of Australia's Forests

The following is an excerpt from a document published by the Department of Environment, Sport & Territories (DEST), titled The National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's biological Diversity.

The 'Strategy' referred to is part of a nationwide effort since 1989 to encourage extensive consultation between State and Federal Governments, green groups, big business, small business, the national local government body, and scientists, in order to formulate a national strategy.

The goal of the Strategy is protect biodiversity and maintain ecological processes and systems, by bridging gaps between what's going on now and what needs to happen to protect what nature, not people, created.


Objective 2.4

Achieve the conservation of biological diversity through the adoption of ecologically sustainable forestry management processes.

The National Forest Policy Statement provides a framework for governments to take action to implement ecologically sustainable management of forestry in Australia. The Statement is a primary means by which the objectives of the National Strategy for the Conservation Australia's Biological Diversity will be accomplished in forest habitats.


2.4.1 Improving the Knowledge Base

Improve the knowledge base underpinning forestry in a coordinated way, by:

a) Undertaking regional surveys of forests for old growth values, and of forested and other lands for wilderness values;

b) Undertaking assessments of forest to identify their value for the conservation of biological diversity;

c) Developing methods for assessing the positive and negative contributions of silvicultural systems to the maintenance of biological diversity;

d) Ensuring improved analytical techniques and greater accessibility and compatibility between databases and techniques and between local government, regional, State, Territory and Commonwealth agencies;

e) Undertaking research and long-term monitoring of the impacts on biological diversity and ecological processes resulting from the commercial use of native forests and the effectiveness or otherwise of management prescriptions (relating to, for example, habitat trees and streamside reserves) in conserving biological diversity.

2.4.2 Improved Management

As agreed in the National Forest Policy Statement, governments should apply to all public and private native forests in Australia the Australian Forestry Council's set of national principles for forest practices related to wood production in native forests.

This set of principles includes principles of enviromental care to foster the maintenance of biological diversity values. They ensure that State and Territory land management legislation and administrative arrangements take into account the conservation of biological diversity.

They increase the resources devoted to the conservation of biological diversity in forests, and give priority to:

a) Ensuring that State and Territory forestry management legislation and administrative arrangements take into account the conservation of biological diversity;

b) Better control of pests, weeds and disease in public forests;

c) The management of plantations to minimise impacts on adjacent ecosystems;

d) Providing to private forest owners technical advice about improved ways of managing for the conservation of biological diversity and offering incentives to promote conservation activities, including rehabilitation programs;

e) Promoting integrated catchment management objectives among public and private forest owners through the application of codes of practice, forest management plans and, where appropriate, land-clearing controls. In addition, by disseminating information through landcare and other community groups, promote among landowners the objectives of establishing and maintaining forest cover;

f) Ensuring that the relevant forest management agencies develop regional plans to protect the biological diversity, wilderness and old growth values determined in forest surveys;

g) Ensuring that management of public native forests outside the reserve system will complement the biological diversity objectives of conservation reserve management.

NSW Public Works New Timber Policy

The NSW Department of Public Works now has the following new timber policy:

"It is Government's clear agenda to protect our natural environment whilst supporting and developing more diversified forest industries. There are growing opportunities to use recycled timbers, manufactured timbers, and plantation timbers. The accessibility and viability of these options will continue to improve as the market demand increases.

"The Dept of Public Works & Services is committed to the guiding principles of ecologically-sustainable development, to protect ecosystems and enhance biodiversity and to ensure the ongoing viability of the Australian Forest Industry. Therefore, preference should be given to timber products from forests managed in compliance with the National Forest Policy Statement 1992, or the requisite State statutory approvals.

"In line with specific Government objectives, all contract documentation from today must ensure that:

- From 1st July 1995, no formply with a rainforest component, either Australian or imported, is used on any project, or in the construction process, unless certification can be provided that the rainforest component is plantation-grown.

- From 1st July 1996, no rainforest timbers or their products are used in any project, or in the construction process, unless certification can be provided that they are plantation-grown 1.

- From 1st July 1996, no timber from Australian high-conservation forests are to be used in projects undertaken or managed by the Dept of Public Works & Services.

"Wherever possible, designers should specify the use of recycled timber, engineered and glued timber composite products, timber from plantations or timber from sustainably managed regrowth forests."

- Signed: R. D. Christie - Acting Director-General

Forest Stewardship Principles

The FSC's ten Draft Principles of ethical forestry

Certification of timber is now clearly on the world environmental agenda. It is now crucial for NGO's to determine what constitute acceptable standards for certification and labelling. The Forest Stewardship Council's 2 ten Draft Principles (summarised below) constitute a starting point for the ongoing debate which will be generated by the need to know what happens to people and forests when we buy timber from 'somewhere'.

1. Management Plan

A written management plan must exist which clearly states management objectives for each forest, the means for achieving those objectives, and provides for responses to changing ecological, social and economic circumstances. Management and harvesting activities must operate within all national and international laws, treaties and agreements which apply, including the payment of all legally prescribed fees, royalties, taxes and other charges.

2. Forest Security

The ownership of the forest must be clearly defined and documented, and (so must) the areas dedicated by the owners to permanent forest cover.

3. Social and Economic Benefits

Participating parties should receive an equitable share of the benefits arising from forest production activities.

4. Local Rights

The legal and/or customary rights of indigenous peoples and other long-settled forest-dependent communities must be protected, and forest management planning and implementation must provide for full and informed consent in relation to activities that affect them.

5. Environmental Impact

Forest management must minimise adverse environmental impacts in terms of wildlife, biodiversity, water resources, soils, and non-timber and timber resources.

6. Sustained Yield

Harvesting rates of forest products must be sustainable in the long term.

7. Maximising the Forest's Economic Potential

Forest management should take into account the full range of forest products (timber and non-timber) forest functions and services, and should maximise local, value-added processing.

8. True Costs

The cost of forest products should reflect the full and true costs of forest management and production.

9. Appropriate Consumption

Forest production should encourage judicious and efficient use of forest products and timber species.

10. Forest Plantations

Plantations should not replace natural forest; they should augment, complement and reduce pressures on existing natural forests.

The FSC's Plantations Principles

The Forest Stewardship Council first drafted a set of Plantation Principles at their board meeting in April '95 . Subsequently, they have revised this first draft - on the strength of input from Greenpeace International, among others:


Plantations shall be planned and managed in accordance with Principles & Criteria no's 1-9 , and the Criteria of Principle 10. While plantations can provide an array of social and economic benefits, and can contribute to satisfying the world's needs for forest products, they should complement the management of, reduce pressure on, and promote the restoration and conservation of natural forests.

10.1 The management objectives of the plantation, including natural forest conservation and restoration objectives, shall be explicitly stated in the management plan, and clearly demonstrated in the implementation of the plan.

10.2 The design and layout of plantations should promote the protection and conservation of natural forest resources, and not increase pressures on natural forests. Wildlife corridors, protected watercourses and a mosaic of stands of different ages and rotation periods shall be used in the layout of the plantation, consistent with the scale of the operation. The scale and layout of plantation blocks shall be consistent with the patterns of forest stands found within the natural landscape.

10.3 Diversity in the composition of plantations is preferred, so as to enhance economic, ecological and social stability. Such diversity may include the size and spatial distribution of management units within the landscape, number and genetic composition of species, age classes and structures, and product types.

10.4 The selection of species for planting shall be based on their overall suitability for the site and their appropriateness to the management objectives. In order to enhance the conservation of biological diversity, native species are preferred over exotic species in the establishment of plantations and the restoration of degraded ecosystems. Exotic species, which shall be used only when their performance is greater than that of native species, shall be carefully monitored to detect unusual mortality, disease, or insect outbreaks and adverse ecological impacts.

10.5 Appropriate to the scale of the plantation, a proportion of the overall forest management area (to be determined in regional standards) shall be managed so as to restore the site to a natural forest cover.

10.6 Measures should be taken to maintain or improve soil structure, fertility, and biological activity. The techniques and rate of harvesting, road and trail construction and maintenance, and the choice of species shall not result in long term soil degradation or adverse impacts on water quality, quantity or distribution.

10.7 Measures shall be taken to minimize outbreaks of pests, diseases, fire and invasive plant introductions. Integrated pest management shall form an essential part of the management plan. Prevention and biological control methods shall be used whenever feasible, rather than chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Plantation planning should make every effort to move away from chemical pesticides and fertilizers, including their use in nurseries. The use of chemicals is also covered in Criteria 6.6 and 6.7.

10.8 Appropriate to the scale and diversity of the operation, monitoring of plantations shall include regular assessment of potential on-site and off-site ecological and social impacts (e.g. natural regeneration, effects of water resources and soil fertility, and impacts on local welfare and social wellbeing) in addition to elements addressed in Principle 8. No species should be planted on a large scale until local trials and/or experience have shown that they are ecologically well-adapted to the site, are not invasive, and do not have significant negative ecological impacts on other ecosystems.

The Ecoforesters' Way: An Oath of Ecological Responsiblity

- Endorsed by the Pacific Cascadia Ecoforestry working Group, 1993

1. We shall respect, hold sacred, and learn from the ecological wisdom of natural forests with their multitudes of beings;

2. We shall protect the integrity of full functioning forests;

3. We shall not use agricultural practices on forests;

4. We shall remove from forests only values which are in abundance to meet vital human needs;

5. We shall remove individual instances of values only when this does not interfere with full functioning forests: when in doubt, we will not;

6. We shall minimize the effects of our actions in forests by using only appropriate, low impact technology practices;

7. We shall use only non-violent resistance (for example Gandhian methods) in our protection of forests;

8. We shall do good work and uphold the Ecoforester's Way as a sacred duty and trust.

A Global Forest Strategy

From the joint WWF - IUCN Forests for Life Policy

WWF and IUCN have defined a challenge for the world community which summarises their priorities for the remainder of the century:

To halt and reverse the loss and degradation of forests and all kinds of woodlands (particularly old growth forest) by the year 2000.

Objective 1. Establishment of a network of ecologically-representative protected areas.

Objective 2. Environmentally appropriate, socially-beneficial and economically-viable forest management outside protected areas.

Objective 3. Development and implementation of ecologically and socially appropriate forest restoration programs.

Objective 4. Reduction of forest damage from global change, including a decrease of pollution below damage thresholds, as measured by critical loads.

Objective 5. Use of forest goods and services at levels that do not damage the environment, including elimination of wasteful consumption, to attain a level of use of forest goods and services within the regenerative capacity of the forest estate.

Getting forest management right - for people and the environment - is in the interests of everyone. We call on governments, industry and the public to respond positively to the challenge of forest sustainability, and to work with the environmental movement in realising the vision of a world full of high quality forests.

Platform Principles of the Deep Ecology Movement

The following principles are quoted from the book Deep Ecology by Bill Devall and George Sessions:

1. The wellbeing and the flourishing of human and non-human Life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.

2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realisations of these values and are also values in themselves.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital human needs.

4. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.

5. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.

6. Policies must therefore be changed. These policies affect basic economic, tehnological, and ideological structures. the resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.

7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent value) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation to directly or indirectly try to implement the necessary changes.

- Arne Naess and George Sessions

Mission Statement of the Ecoforestry Institute

The mission of the Ecoforestry Institute is to foster ecologically responsible forest use through education and related programs and services. The Institute has the following specific purposes:

a) To engage in dialogue with interested persons aimed at deeper understanding of ecocentric forestry (ecoforestry);

b) To develop an educational process to facilitate a paradigm shift from industrial forestry to ecoforestry;

c) To educate and train interested persons in the knowledge, techniques and arts of ecoforestry so that they may serve as ecoforestry practitioners, consultants, and teachers;

d) To develop and monitor demonstration ecoforests on private and public forestlands where members of the public can see working models of ecologically responsible forestry and fully functioning natural forests from which forest goods are being harvested in a sustainable manner;

e) To develop, in co-operation with others, criteria for ecologically responsible forest uses, and standards for certifying ecoforestry practices, practitioners, materials, products and artefacts;

f) To research and communicate to a wide audience the deepening knowledge of the multitudes of values and functions of natural forest ecosystems, as reflected in leading-edge work in conservation biology, landscape ecology and related disciplines;

g) To respect and co-operate with indigenous peoples, to learn from them the wisdom of the places where they have dwelled for centuries.

Mission Statement of the Good Wood Alliance

The mission of the Good Wood Alliance is:

  • To conduct research and disseminate information about sustainable forest management and responsible wood use.
  • To initiate and support fieldwork programs that promote value-added processing, local control of forest resources and sustainable wood harvesting.
  • To promote independent certification of well managed forests and forest products, according to international standards established by the Forest Stewardship Council.

  • A Seven-Point, 500-Year Approach to Global Forest Protection, Certified Logging & Wood Supply

    by Randy Hayes - Rainforest Action Network, USA

    4th draft - August 23, 1995

    Dynamic, diverse and wild forests are an essential component of the biosphere's life-support system. Forests fulfill the vital ecosystem functions of climate-control, water-distribution and carbon storage. They are also home to most of the world's vast array of life forms. Forests must be viewed as integrated systems, not as nature's smorgasbord, in accordance with the tenets of conservation biology and ecology.

    The positions outlined below are biologically necessary to reverse the tragic tide of deforestaton. What remains is to make these positions politically and economically feasible and socially just.

    1. Institute an immediate moratorium on all commercial logging in all remaining Primary Forests worldwide, whether on public or private land.

    Low-scale, traditional local use can and should be carried on.

    The people and local communities in countries with a 10 percent or more original primary forest cover that agree to protect all remaining primary forest from logging and other forms of deforestation should be compensated for protecting these forests.

    Countries that have reaped financial benefits from massive deforestation should provide compensation as a way to offset the ecosystem services they no longer provide to the biosphere.

    Compensation should be paid on a periodic basis upon verification that the primary forests still stand.

    2. Institute the dedicated, gradual reduction of wood and wood-paper use of 7.5 percent yearly for the next 10 years. This process alone will create a more sustainable economy and generate new jobs in developing alternative resources.

    The general sectors of industrial wood-use are:

    Paper and packaging;


    Pallets and other shipping uses;

    Finished wood products - furniture.

    Categories of activity to reduce wood-use in the above general sectors are:

    Decreased per capita consumption;

    Increased re-use;

    Increased recycling;

    Increased efficiency in processing;

    Increased use of alternative materials;

    Product durability and design improvements.

    3. Conservation logging of secondary forests should be discouraged.

    Use conservation biology principles and silviculture (where needed) to return these forests to old growth, primary forest values.

    Local people and current private land owners should be trained and employed in this process.

    4. Natural selection ecoforestry practices should be used whenever commercial logging is carried on in secondary forests.

    Independent certification should be mandatory using the Forest Stewardship Council model.

    5. Utilize a transparent, public participation process to convert existing plantations to Commercial Restoration Plantation Forests (CRPF).

    Local community values and rights of approval must be incorporated in this process;

    Independent certification for CRPF's shold be mandatory, using the FSC model;

    Society should plan on CRPF's for the primary wood-fibre supply for the next 200 years.

    6. Convert some marginal or unused agricultural land to CRPF's where this would be socially, ecologically and economically acceptable.

    This will help build desperately-needed carbon sinks.

    7. In about 100 years, start a 300- to 400-year process to manage an appropriate percentage of commercially logged secondary forests and CRPF's for a return to old growth, primary forest values.

    This should be done especially in areas adjacent to primary forest to help enlarge forest tracts and create better wildlife corridors.

    No set of universal principles can adequately address the political and economic reality of every local community. Exceptions to the above approach will need to be made on a case-by-case basis. However, adherence to this seven-point approach will orchestrate an environmental "u-turn", stabilise existing primary and secondary quantity and quality of forest ecosytem services on Earth.

    Along with our practical day-to-day work, we in the ecology movement need first and foremost to tell the truth about nature's needs. Additionally, we need to orchestrate ecological policy-shifts in a manner that achieves social equity within and between nations.

    Nature - with her ecological systems and myriad life forms - cannot speak for herself in the chambers of our governments or corporate boardrooms. It is our responsibility to speak for Her as best we can. We cannot ask for too much, and we had better not ask for too little. We must demand what is needed to support all life on Earth.

    The Tomales Bay Declaration for Forests

    A conference of wood conservationists set a goal of reducing timber consumption by 75 percent within 10 years. Participants set forth their goals and principles in the historic Tomales Bay Declaration 3:

    &laqno;» We know that forests are a fundamental expression of the natural world and are the key to supporting all life on earth.

    &laqno;» We believe that unnecessary and wasteful consumption of wood and wood-based paper is destroying the world's forests, degrading the quality of human life, and undermining the prospects for a productive and vibrant economy.

    &laqno;» We call for a 75 percent reduction of wood and wood-based paper use (in the US) within ten years with the expressed purpose of increasing meaningful employment, creating a healthy society, and restoring natural habitats.

    &laqno;» Additionally we call upon the people, communities, industry and government to work together to achieve this goal.

    The Building Code of Hammurabi

    (The following is an excerpt from a translation of what is possibly the earliest known code of law. The Code 4 was originally recorded in cuneiform writing during the reign of the lawmaking Babylonian King Hammurabi who lived about 2,000 years before the Christian era in his southwest Asian empire.)

    228. If a builder build a house for a man and complete it, that man shall pay him two shekels of silver per sar (approximately 12 square feet) of house as his wage.

    229. If a builder has built a house for a man and his work is not strong, and if the house he has built falls in and kills the householder, that builder shall be slain.

    230. If the child of the householder be killed, the child of that builder shall be slain.

    231. If the slave of the householder be killed, he shall give slave for slave to the householder.

    232. If goods have been destroyed, he shall replace all that has been destroyed; and because the house that he built was not made strong, and it has fallen in, he shall restore the fallen house out of his own material.

    233. If a builder has built a house for a man, and his work is not done properly and a wall shifts, then that builder shall make that wall good with his own silver.

    1. More accurate wording of this paragraph might be: " rainforest species or their products... ...unless they can be identified as certified and/or plantation-grown." NB: Not all certified timber is plantation-grown.

    2. The FSC has several other documents of interest available, including: the full text version of these Principles; a Glossary of terms used; 'Guidelines for Certifiers'; 'Process for Accrediting Certifiers'.

    3. Forty international experts and strategists gathered for a Rainforest Action Network-sponsored conference in Tomales Bay, California in 1994. They set out to devise a strategy which would link the work of people protecting forest with that of individuals and groups in cities who were working to promote recycling and prevent the creation of more landfill areas. Promising options included wood fibre substitution (kenaf, hemp, strawboard, etc), use of recovered waste, earth building, construction with recycled building materials, wood-efficient homes, waste prevention and recycling promotion, encouraging environmentally sound purchasing policies for governments and industries and encreasing efficiency at mills and factories. Also looked at were job-creation through conservation and use of alternative materialss; legislation to reduce packaging waste. The fruit of their labours was the book Cut Waste Not Trees, published by the Rainforest Action Network.

    4. Published in the book Shelter in 1973.


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