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VicForests stakeholder engagement system
VicForests aspires to build a competitive and responsible business that generates the best community value from the harvesting of eastern Victoria's State forests and that operates in a framework consistent with Victorian Government’s policy and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) principles. It also aims to be a leader in a sustainable Victorian timber industry and is committed to developing, implementing and promoting a Sustainable Forest Management system that is compatible with the requirements of the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS). Native forest harvesting is a contentious activity and VicForests has a very complex base of interested stakeholders and stakeholder issues. The future of the native forest timber industry in Victoria relies partly on VicForests' ability to build and maintain constructive and clearly defined relationships with its key stakeholders who have significant reach in the wider community. In doing so, VicForests will secure its social license to operate. Under its Sustainable Forest Management Policy, VicForests is committed to developing a stakeholder engagement strategy that allows for meaningful consideration of relevant stakeholder views and perspectives, in the context of VicForests’ business objectives. VicForests aims to foster on-going relationships, provide for public participation, and to be a good neighbour. Sustainability principles also call for the organisation to protect and maintain the natural, cultural, social, religious, and spiritual heritage values of the forest for indigenous and non-indigenous people.
“Futureye has demonstrated capacity to understand the issues and challenges for our organisation and the fundamental transition required to effect integrated communications and stakeholder engagement. Futureye applied their understanding of our industry, the changing issues environment and their well developed networks within other industry sectors to recommend ways forward for VicForests that goes beyond the traditional means of stakeholder engagement. As a new organisation, VicForests was required to reimagine the future of the native hardwood industry in Victoria and its place in this. This included development of a more comprehensive set of engagement tools to enable the organisation to work effectively with a broader range of stakeholders. Futureye was instrumental in helping VicForests to confront this and in providing sound encouragement in terms of how the organisation might engage and lead the industry in working together. Futureye's work on the stakeholder engagement package for VicForests was key to its recent attainment of certification to the Australian Forestry Standard.”
Teena Cardillo, Communications Manager
To ensure ongoing knowledge-sharing, Futureye recommended incident reports and other existing databases be linked and integrated into an overarching communications register. A provision was made in this communication system to facilitate knowledge retention and capture lessons learned, with key stakeholder issues and related risks channelled into VicForests’ Risk Management Process. In partnership with VicForests, Futureye designed an audit program to assess performance of the SES as a whole and ensure compatibility with sustainable forest management criteria was established, and defined roles and responsibilities to ensure the effective implementation of the SES. A “How To” communications toolkit was devised, along with a training program for regional staff to ensure the stakeholder engagement system was embedded throughout the organisation.