“DO you wake up and wonder which country you are in?”
“Actually, no – not yet anyway,” came the reply in a distinctive Edinburgh burr.
Globe-trotting Scottish-born Ben Gunneberg, secretary-general of PEFC International, was in Australia recently meeting stakeholders and visiting paper and packaging operations in Sydney and Melbourne, as well as addressing AusPak, the largest processing and packaging event in the southern hemisphere at Sydney showgrounds.
He has taken 25 flights and visited more than 100 countries this year carrying the standard of the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, the world's largest forest certification system, supported by 750,000 forest growers with 300 million ha certified.
A total 46 national members and 38 endorsed national certification systems have joined forces under the PEFC umbrella to collaboratively promote sustainable forest management.
Mr Gunneberg said an increasing number of companies were keen to demonstrate that the fibre they used in packaging came from a certified sustainable source.
“This is important as consumers are increasingly conscious of the impact of their purchasing decisions on the environment,” he said.
“There is a growing demand for more environmental information on packaging, to help consumers make informed choices; 54% of consumers trust environmental labels.”
He said Ecuador was the latest country to show interest in PEFC certification. Situated on South America’s west coast, the country is considered one of the world’s ‘mega diverse’ countries, with the Amazonian region in particular containing large tracts of intact natural forest of global conservation significance.
The majority of forest biomass – about 9.8 million ha – is in the Amazon region (80%), with about 13% near the coast and the remaining 7% in the Andean highlands.
Based in Geneva, Switzerland, Mr Gunneberg has spent most of his working life in forestry, starting as a forestry worker. He has held positions with the Timber Growers Association in the UK where he dealt with technical and policy aspects of forestry.
While in Australia, Mr Gunneberg is being hosed by Australian Forestry Standard Ltd chair Dr Hans Drielsma and CEO Simon Dorries. His itinerary includes the Forestry Corporation of NSW and visits to building and construction sites.
Welcoming Ben Gunnberg (third from right) at a dinner in Sydney this week are Andrew Dunn, CEO, Timber Development Association, Dr Hans Drielsma and Suzanne Little, AFS board directors, Simon Dorries, AFS CEO, and Rob De Marco, marketing manager for Ta Ann Tasmania