Revision of the New Zealand plantation forestry standard nearing completion

To ensure FSC’s standards remain relevant and effective, it is important that they are reviewed regularly.
To this end, FSC New Zealand’s Standard Development Group (SDG) was convened in 2014 to review New Zealand’s current plantation forestry standard. The SDG’s focus in the revision has been to strike an appropriate balance between an existing “best-in-class” standard and practical and achievable improvements, with targeted refinements to streamline the standard where possible. The SDG has also incorporated changes that bring the standard into alignment with developments in the international FSC framework.
This comprehensive revision process will ensure that the new standard provides certified forestry operations with the tools needed to succeed and continue to deliver top-notch environmental, social, and economic outcomes.

Progress Update

The extensive revision process is nearing a close, and the draft standard is currently in its final stages of development. FSC’s International Performance and Standard Unit (PSU) recently assessed the most current draft of the standard and have indicated that it will be approved following the closure of a handful of conditions.

For now these conditions are being worked through by the NZ SDG where after a new draft will be submitted to PSU. Barring unforeseen obstacles, we expect the standard to be approved later this year or in the beginning of next year.

Following the standard’s approval, stakeholders can expect a comprehensive roll-out. This will include (where possible) in-person symposiums for foresters and stakeholders and in-depth training and analysis for certification bodies.

Key changes in the new standard
While the standard is still pending final approval, it is possible to highlight some of the changes the revised standard will introduce:

Living wages: forest workers and contractors who are not already being paid at least a living wage can expect to receive one when the new standard is implemented. This should help raise the overall standard of life for anyone working in FSC-certified forests.

Riparian zones: detailed and stringent riparian setbacks where historic, steep hill erosion has been mapped and modelled are included in the new standard. This should mitigate the risk of damage caused by eroding hillsides.

Non-timber forest products (NTFPs): the scope of the standard has been extended to include NTFPs. These represent all products other than timber that come out of forests and include pine needle oil (essential oils), honey, medical herbs, meat from hunting etc. The scope of the current standard does not explicitly include NTFPs which has made it very cumbersome for certified organisations to produce NTFPs with an FSC claim. NTFPs offer a potential additional revenue stream and could make certification more attractive for smallholders.

Enhanced processes for communicating with local stakeholders: FSC standards rely on stakeholder feedback and local communities to assist foresters in their everyday activities. The revised standard makes available robust tools for stakeholders to provide feedback, providing better opportunities for cooperation and progress between forests and the people living around them.

Better protections for high conservation values: high conservation values (HCVs) represent the things we love most about forests. In the FSC system they come in six flavours; species diversity, landscape level ecosystems, rare, threatened, and endangered habitats, critical ecosystem services, community needs and cultural values. Each of these HCVs play an essential role in making our forests the abundant life-bringers that they are. The revised standard contains systems, based on the most up-to-date data to identify, maintain and/or enhance and monitor these HCVs.

What can I look at now?

For access to the latest version of the standard please refer to "National Standard for Certification of Plantation Forest Management in New Zealand version 3.9" under "Downloads" on this page. version 3.9 is dated September 2020.

A copy of the Forest Test Report is at the following link: Forest Test Report

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