Final report Small research and development activity project Australia–Laos Timber Chain of Custody Capacity Building Project

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The 2011 Australia–Laos Timber Chain of Custody Capacity Building Project was designed to promote development and improvement of sustainable forestry systems in Lao PDR, and focused on

  1. Improving approaches to sustainable forest management practices

  1. Strengthening compliance and governance approaches and processes

  1. Improving supply chain efficiencies for both state and private forest resources

  1. Improving engagement with private industrial and smaller plantation manager

  1. Improving market access and address issues of legality for small forest managers

  1. Strengthening professional links between Australian and Lao PDR foresters.

7.Project delivery

The project was delivered in two parts: a study tour in Tasmania and Queensland from 31 October to 18 November 2011, and a follow-up meeting in Laos to finalise outcomes, recommendations, and further outreach to provincial and district offices. These meetings were held 1–9 December 2011.


The participants in the study tour were senior officials from the two Lao government agencies that are responsible for forest management: the Department of Forest Inspection (DOFI) and the Department of Forestry (DOF). They were

  • Mr Khamphout Phandanouvong, Deputy Director General, DOFI

  • Mr Phomma Pathoummavong, Coordinator of Forest Certification, Division for Forest Production, DOF

  • Mr Bounthanh Philachanh, Director Investigation Division, Wildlife and Aquatic life Inspection Division, DOFI.

The Australian coordinator was Mr Aidan Flanagan, General Manager of the Forests and Forest Industry Council of Tasmania, and the Chairman of the Institute of Foresters of Australia Tasmania Division.

7.2.Study tour

This project supported representatives from GoL DOFI and DOF agencies to participate in in field-based supply and value chain operations and assessments in Tasmania and Queensland. Presentations by visiting and practising experts provided strategic training in forest management and policy development. Topics included Australian forest management, certification and Chain of Custody systems, research and development, market development, regulations, law enforcement and governance.

Field inspections of Tasmanian forest practices provided participants an opportunity to examine an established Australian system whose Code of Forest Practice requirements are applied equally across all land tenures, and which is supported through an independent regulator and audit and compliance system. The Tasmanian Forest Practices Authority’s (FPA) responsibilities and authority are similar to that being developed within DOFI.

The project provided Lao participants with access privately and publicly certified forests, and examined the role and benefits of Chain of Custody along the forests-to-consumers supply and value chains. Participants had opportunities to discuss private and public landowners’ experiences in obtaining accreditation under both the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) certification systems. Participants also examined market access and development issues with a range of forest managers, processors, exporters and designers. Responsibilities across supply chains under the forest practices system, and funding mechanisms for biodiversity conservation and forest compliance were also examined.

Forest practices in Queensland provided a contrast to the Tasmanian approach. In Queensland, there is no Code of Forest Practices for private forest managers, nor an independent regulatory body akin to the FPA. In addition, the Queensland Government has a policy to phase out public native forest use by 2020 under the South East Queensland Forests Agreement, replacing it with plantation forestry. In Laos there is great interest in developing tropical plantations to reduce the pressure on native forests. There is currently around 135,000 ha under plantation established by private companies at a cost of around US$750 million (see Appendix 1 for more detail).

Queensland’s reliance on remote satellite land use assessments for compliance provided participants with a useful example of an alternative approach to compliance activities. However, as the GoL mapping capability is spread across a number of un-coordinated agencies, and the cost of on-ground compliance activities is currently prohibitive (see Section 7.3) this approach has, in the short term, limited application. As the GoL’s capacity in this area increases, such approaches may become viable.

Overall, consideration of Queensland's approach provided benefits to the participants in that it has climatic similarities to Laos, is actively promoting an expansion to existing industrial plantation resources, and has yet to develop a a Certificate of Compliance for private forestry. Queensland’s approach to plantation development and processing diversity also provided a broader understanding of different approaches to the management of private and public forests which should assist the GoL to improve their plantation systems, and encourage the development of private plantation forest estate.

Table 5.1 presents an outline of the program, organisations visited, topics and issues.

7.3.Progressing discussions in Lao to build on participant’s experience and transfer knowledge

The Australian counterpart travelled to Laos for in-country discussions 1–9 December 2011 to develop an agreed position on outcomes arising from the exchange, to agree on progress actions, and to develop a framework for disseminating new knowledge to provincial and district offices.

Extensive discussions were held between authors and the Directors General of DOFI and DOF to reach agreement on the key lessons arising from the exchange and to identify which elements were consistent with GoL objectives and policies. Actions were developed to improve current approaches to forest management, compliance, certification, and the engagement of private individuals and companies (see section 6.2).

Co-authors also developed a series of presentations for provincial and district officers which highlight the key messages and benefits arising from the exchange. These were presented to a meeting of 14 senior central and provincial DOFI and DOF officers in Vientiane on 8 December, 2011. Four presentations were delivered, including one from Aidan Flanagan. At the meeting’s conclusion, there was strong agreement by representatives of both organisations to provide further briefing to provincial and district offices in 2012.

Table 5 Overview of study tour program, presenters, topics and issues







31 October

Overview of Australian and Tasmanian forest management and supply chain interactions


Prof Peter Kanowski

Australian National University

Australian forestry, research and policy

Mr Andrew Blakesley

Director, Forest Policy

Department of Industry and ER

Tasmania’s forests and practices system

Mr Martin Stone

Senior Manager, Forest Management

Forestry Tasmania

Tasmanian forests and management, Forestry Tasmania’s policies, objectives and approaches to sustainable forest management.

A Prof Gregory Nolan

Centre for sustainable architecture with wood

University of Tasmania

Supply chain interactions, building codes and standards, architects and specifiers’ requirements

Ms Ann LaSala

Sustainability and Systems Manager,

SFM Forestry Services

Certification (Australian Forestry Standard, Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification, Forest Stewardship Council), chain of custody and group certification for smaller private forest managers

1 November

Tasmania’s forest practices system


Mr Graham Wilkinson,

Chief Forest Practices Officer

Forest Practices Authority

Tasmania’s forest practices and the Forest Practices System

Mr Mick Scofield

Manager Compliance

Forest Practices Authority

Monitoring, compliance, law enforcement, and Code of Forest Practices

Dr Peter McIntosh

Specialist in soils and geology

Forest Practices Authority

Approaches to monitoring and protecting natural and cultural values under the Forest Practices Code, research approaches and cooperative work with private forest owners

Wildlife management


Ms Anne Chuter,

Specialist in biodiversity

Forest Practices Authority

Field visit to Bonorong Wildlife Park. Discussions on endangered species protection, role of private organisations and research

2 November

Tasmania’s compliance system


Mr Mick Scofield

Manager, Compliance

Forest Practices Authority

Field investigation of reported illegal and unauthorised native forest operations using Tasmania’s Investigation and Enforcement Protocols

Discussions of private forests standards and obligations under the Tasmanian Code of Forest Practices

3 November

Tasmania’s auditing system


Mr Mick Scofield

Manager Compliance

Forest Practices Authority

Field investigation of reported illegal and unauthorised native forest operations using Tasmania’s Investigation and Enforcement Protocols

Discussions of private forests standards and obligations under the Tasmanian Code of Forest Practices

4 November

Forestry Tasmania

Private speciality timber craft manufacture


Mr Gary Button,

Forestry Tasmania

Overview of the Huon District

Mr Lindsay Wilson,

Forestry Tasmania

Outline of occupational health and safety

Mr Richard Russell,

Forestry Tasmania

Outline of contractor compliance practices

Mr Chris Emmet,

Island Speciality Timber

Outline of special species timber management

Mr P. Voss,

Forest Contractor

Discussion of ground-based harvesting operation, responsibilities, compliance and chain of custody system in native forest coupe AR054H

Mr T.P Bennett Logging,

Forest Contractor

Discussion of cable harvesting operation in native forest coupe AR060D

Mr Peter Pepper,

Community Liaison Officer, Huon District

Forestry Tasmania

Southwood site and tour of Forestry Tasmania’s merchandising yard and the Ta Ann rotary peel veneer mill

7 November

Private exotic plantation and paper mill


Mr Arnold Willems,

Managing Director

Norske Skog Australia

Overview of Norske Skog Tasmanian operations and tour of pulp and paper mill facilities

Ms Katy Edwards and Ms Sandra Hetherington

Norske Skog Australia

In field examination of certification and Chain of Custody processes, discussion of approaches adopted by AFS and FSC, and how forest practices are being adapted to reflect these systems requirements.

In-field examination of plantation harvesting and re-establishment, development of forest practices plan, and community engagement

National park management and tourism development

Visit to Mt Field National Park tourist centre. Discussion included the role of national parks within Tasmania’s Regional Forest Agreement, and priorities for forest conservation

8 November

Forest conservation and protection


Mr Shane Breen,

Regional Operations Manager - South

Parks and Wildlife Service

Overview of park and reserve management structure, objectives and programs

Ms Shannon Fox,

Planning Officer

Parks and Wildlife Service

Overview of park and reserve planning requirements, research and programs

Mr Justin Helmich,

State Coordinator Compliance

Parks and Wildlife Service

Overview of compliance / technical surveillance practices, remote surveillance technologies, authority and legal processes.

Mr James Wood,

Manager, Seed Bank,

Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

Examination of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens seed bank facility and the development of an endangered species nursery.

Fire management

Mr Barry Hunt and Mr Ben Merritt,

Forestry Tasmania, Derwent District

Overview of fire management, and fire fighting and detection technologies.

9 November

Private mill operations


Mr Robert Torrenius,

Torrenius Mill

Mr Brett McKay,

McKay Mill

Native forest mill processing

Discussions on certification, chain of custody and compliance under the Forest Practices System

Discussion on market demands for sustainability and value-adding benefits

Discussion on the role of private forestry resources, contribution and challenges

10 November

Private forestry


Mr Ian Dickenson,

Private Forests Tasmania

Mr Arthur Lyons,

Regional Forester, North East

Private Forests Tasmania

Examination of integrated plantation, native forest and agricultural grazing and cropping farm

Discussion on market access, certification, financial returns and quality issues

Discussion on compliance under the Code of Forest Practices, the cost of compliance and benefits

Discussion on the role of Private Forests Tasmania, funding and objectives

11 November

Export markets


Mr Andrew Wye,

Smart Fibre

Tasmania’s Fine Timbers Centre

Examination of export facility for woodchips

Discussion on market demand for legality, certification (FSC and PEFC), chain of custody systems and the role of private forestry in supply chain

Retail outlet and chain of custody

Examination of a private retail outlet whose forest products are certified under a chain of custody system, the benefits of such systems and price differentiation in the market


14 November

Overview of Queensland forestry system


Mr Barry Underhill,

Principal Policy Officer

Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation

Overview of forest policy and objectives, including discussion on transition out of public native forestry by 2020

Mr Geoffrey Kent,

Director Forest Products

Native forest management, biodiversity protection, land classification and compliance system

Mr Dave Barbour

Acting Manager, Sustainability & risk management,

Forest Plantation Queensland

Industrial plantation management

Mr Jim Burgess,

Resource and environment manager,

Timber Queensland

Private sector forestry and forest processing

Dr Kevin Harding,

Science Leader, Forestry Science

Agri-science Queensland

Forest research and development initiatives, Salisbury Research Centre

15 November

Role of Local Government


Cr Ron Dyne,

CEO Regional Council

The support role of Local Government for private forestry, legislative authority and general benefits from mature forest growing and processing sector

Role of private industrial plantation development

Forestry Plantations Queensland P/L

Forest certification (AFS, FSC) and chain of custody, internal standards, community engagement and access to land, fire and forest management

16 November

Forest mills


Mr Greg Mawn,

Resources Manager,

Hyne Imbil Mill

Discussion on private native and plantation resources for mill processing, chain of custody, certification, regulations and markets

Mr Ross Lakin,

Resources Manager,

Parkside, Wondai

Discussion on supply variability from small private forest owners

17 November

Small private native and plantation forest management


Mr Sean Ryan,

Executive Officer,

Private Forestry Services Queensland

Examination of small private native and plantation forest development, discussion of role of PFSQ in group certification under AFS and FSC, challenges for market access and consistency of quality

Role of private conservation organisations


Australia Zoo

Examination of the role of private companies in biodiversity conservation and breeding programs for endangered species

18 November

International demand for sustainability and legality


Mr Tadahiro Kinoshita,

General Manager, Forest Products and Plantation Department,

Sojitz Australia Limited

Discussion on changing requirements for certification, sustainability and legality.

Discussion on the role of Lao resources in meeting requirements to attract investment and supply the Japanese market

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