VicForests court win fails to sway Bunnings’ position on responsibly sourced timber

By Melissa Coade

May 26, 2021

(Image: Adobe/Wirestock)

Bunnings has responded to a union plea for the Victorian government’s help to negotiate with the hardware store over a ban to stock local hardwood on its shelves, by maintaining that a successful VicForests court appeal does not mean the state-owned forestry company is meeting timber sourcing best practice. 

In a statement provided to The Mandarin, Bunnings general manager merchandise Toby Watson said the store would not be reversing its decision to ban the use of trees logged in Victoria at this time. 

Watson explained that Bunnings’ timber policy required suppliers to source from legal, responsibly sourced and well managed forest operations. While the recent Federal Court decision to uphold VicForests’ appeal meant it had acted according to the law, this did not necessarily mean the operations met other standards under the store’s policy, he said.

“We’ve reviewed the court’s decision in detail to understand the implications in relation to our timber policy

“While the court reversed a single finding relating to the EPBC Act, it upheld the trial judge’s 21 other findings regarding the effect of VicForests’ forestry operations on the environment,” Watson said. 

VicForests’ current practices continued to fall short of the requirements of Bunning’s timber policy, Watson noted, saying that the store was open to working with stakeholders to find some future solution. He added that Bunnings remained committed to sourcing most of its timber supplies from within Australia and New Zealand. 

“We’re committed to working closely with industry, government and environmental organisations to continue to improve our timber sourcing and help ensure the long-term sustainability of Australian forestry.

“This includes continuing to purchase the majority of the timber we sell from sources within Australia and New Zealand that meet our policy requirements for legal, well-managed and responsible forest operations,” Watson said.

On Tuesday The Mandarin reported that the CFMEU was lobbying the Victorian government to help persuade Bunnings that its ban on Victorian hardwoods was unfairly punitive. The union’s Michael O’Connor argued that since the logging was done in accordance with the law, ‘the ban had no real justification’.

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