Annual FSC® Audit completed with good results

PF Olsen runs the country's only current Forest Stewardship Council Group Scheme. Unlike FSC certification undertaken by other companies who obtain certification for their own forests, the group scheme framework is principally established to enable smaller forest owners or those with an investment but not direct day-to-day management interest in a forest estate to still obtain certification.

The biggest advantages of the group scheme are that the costs of the annual audit process can be shared amongst a larger number of players as can the costs and time involved in setting up and maintaining the infrastructure and systems required to support certification such as detailed stand and environmental performance records. The biggest disadvantage from a management perspective, but the very basis for having a group scheme, is that the certified estate is usually very fragmented and relatively complex, a factor that highlights the need for good and efficient information management systems and shared cost.

PF Olsen has now been holders of a group scheme certificate on behalf of the group members since 2002. Like all certificate holders our operations are subject to an annual audit which this year was completed in July. It encompassed 6 full days of field and office "system" based audits.

It was pleasing that this year we received no corrective actions or "non-conformance requests" and only three observations. An observation is a recommendation to look at a particular situation to consider whether an improvement can or should be made. In this years observations two were an administrative process clarification which will be easily addressed. The other related to chemical use where by we have a good chemical active ingredient tracking system but no automatic flag was raised when the rate of application for one particular chemical increased above the past average. This is a useful observation and a technical information technology adjustment to address that aspect is being made now.

PF Olsen's Environment Manager, Kit Richards, said other aspects of this year's audit that were particularly pleasing and good to be able to pass back to staff were firstly that a completely impromptu visit was made to an extra forest (outside of the planned audit schedule) and best practice was easily observable in engineering, sediment and erosion control and archaeological site management. Secondly, the auditors cold call their own selection of stakeholders from the very large lists of stakeholder that we engage with. There appear to have been numerous very positive comments made about the efforts to which PF Olsen's staff are going to "get it right" in the field. This is great encouragement to our harvest planning and operational staff for whom such requirements are an increasingly complex part of their work that often goes unrecognised. As with any business, we all know very quickly if things don't go right, but rarely get much attention when it goes well!

Good sediment and erosion control in practice.

Comments from stakeholders interviewed by the FSC auditor

PF Olsen would like to thank all stakeholder's that were contacted by the auditor for feedback. Almost all the comments were very supportive and positive – here are some examples.

"PF Olsen staff are very committed to the protection and management of historic heritage. "

"PF Olsen is a forest management company that epitomises the way our industry should behave. "

"PF Olsen is very professional and do things to high standards in my experience."