Looking at social aspects, First observed that sustainable forestry supported major regional communities in Australia by employing people, and improved the national balance of payments. This contrasted with some offshore timber and wood industries, which run to much lower environmental and labour standards than those in Australia, and were unlikely to be sustainable.

For governance, the fund found that the use of land in Australia is highly regulated, with 11 million out of 149 million afforested hectares available for use, of which 9 million hectares had been qualified under global forest certification standards. “Government policy and private investment in the industry is highly transparent, and there is nothing shortterm about it.” The fund also applied normal corporate governance tests. The result of First’s ESG analysis was that sustainable forestry was a viable industry for investment. “Rejecting investment in these industries may fail the objectivity test.”

 

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