'Green glitch' hurts our timber

A 'GLITCH' in a federal green certification process is favouring imported tropical timbers over locally grown sustainable forestry.

As a result local sawmillers are at a loss to explain their predicament to potential buyers.

Grafton-based Big River Timbers owns the only two plywood mills in NSW and supplies form-ply to the construction industry.

According to Big River union delegate Gerald Tory, who met with Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union forestry and furnishing products division national secretary Michael O'Connor on Wednesday, his company was at risk of losing contracts with developers keen to promote a 'green' awareness in the market.

Mr O'Connor said timber in general should be promoted as a 'green' product simply because it had the ability to store carbon.

“Locally-grown sustainable timber is being discriminated against by imported products because of a current situation which promotes 'green' building,” he said. “But the way it is being implemented is having the opposite result.”

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is behind the accreditation scheme which, according to local sawmillers, does not currently recognise state-managed forestry as being 'sustainable'.

“Companies have lost work as a result because they are being pushed to source timber from overseas,” Mr O'Connor said.

However, GBCA green star executive director, Robin Mellon, denied the timber credit discriminated against Australian timber.

He said the Green Star 'Sustainable Timber' credit encouraged the use of timber products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

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