Being Australia's leading retailer of home improvement and outdoor living products and a major supplier of building materials carries certain responsibilities. With reach and influence across timber supply chains, it also provides a major opportunity to help drive sustainable forest management all over the world.
Bunnings adopted a zero tolerance approach to illegal logging in 2001 and WWF has been working with the company since 2007 to help carry out risk assessments and supplier surveys as part of the journey towards responsible sourcing.
Bunnings is a founding participant of WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) in Australia, which provides technical advice and fosters links between companies committed to responsible forestry and trade. Independent forest certification is a key part of this process.
Bunnings has been committed to responsible timber sourcing for well over a decade. We understand our responsibility to ensure that communities where we source timber derive direct and long-term benefit from well-managed forestry operations.
Clive Duncan, Bunnings Chief Operating Officer
Bunnings is committed to making responsible forest management and trade more mainstream. In 2009 the company was a signatory to a joint industry, community and conservation group statement calling for an Australian ban on the importation of illegally logged timber, which ultimately resulted in the passage of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012.
Driving responsible forest management is not as simple as walking away from high-risk sources. More challenging, but ultimately more rewarding, is to work with suppliers to ensure their operations are not linked to deforestation, biodiversity loss or social conflict. Simply dropping a supplier might leave the forest to markets that demand no such safeguards. Ironically, a well-managed, profitable timber industry can be one of the most effective ways to conserve tropical forests.
Since 2010 Bunnings has engaged closely with PT Sinar Wijaya Plywood Industries (SWPI), operating in Indonesia’s West Papua Province, which supplies much of the company’s merbau timber decking. Merbau is a timber species historically linked to illegal logging and over-exploitation. In January 2016, SWPI’s Wijaya Sentosa concession became the first supplier of merbau certified as sustainably managed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
By providing a secure and ethical market for responsibly produced merbau, Bunnings helps the local community to benefit from this resource in a sustainable and legal way. WWF-Australia and WWF-Indonesia supported both Bunnings and SWPI through the certification process.
The bottom line
The responsible sourcing of timber is not only the right thing to do. It’s also good for business, good for forests and good for the communities living in and around them.
Bunnings’ experience with merbau epitomises this. As a quality and hard-wearing timber, it is in high demand all over the world, which has made it a vulnerable species due to illegal and unregulated logging practices. By securing a consumer market for sustainably managed merbau, Bunnings provides the local population with an alternative to illegal logging or conversion of the forest to other land uses.
The independently audited standards of FSC certification are globally recognised and scientifically sound. They provide a framework for achieving and verifying sustainable management practices, even from thousands of miles away on the retail shop floor.