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Hans Drielsma to retire

DATE 08/07/2011

Forestry Tasmania will lose a leader whose wisdom and intellect has ensured our business has continually met the most rigorous of standards, as Dr Hans Drielsma steps down as Executive General Manager and transitions into retirement today.

Hans came to Forestry Tasmania some 15 years ago, following a six-year stint as Managing Director of Forests NSW. As Executive General Manager for the past five years, Hans has been responsible for our scientific research program, planning, resources, business and environmental systems and information technology.

Perhaps Hans’ most enduring legacy will be the role he played in developing the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS).

Hans has put a lot of time into its development over the last ten or more years and will continue as a member of the AFS board. He firmly believes it’s the best, most transparent, consistent and objective standard that we have for forestry in Australia, and globally through the PEFC.

The AFS sets stringent, scientifically based criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, which reflect Australian forest ecology and legislative frameworks. There are now almost 10 million hectares of AFS-certified forests across Australia – that is, 90 per cent of our country’s production forests.

Contrary to popular belief, the AFS was not developed by the forest industry. Rather, it was developed under accreditation by Standards Australia, a process that ensures conformity with international protocols and broad stakeholder representation. To date, it remains the only forest certification system to be approved by Standards Australia.

It has also met the more than 200 criteria for international endorsement by the world’s largest forest certification program, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Under the PEFC standard, the AFS accepted in many countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland, Germany, France and Japan, as verifying both legal and sustainable timber supply.

Despite his personal involvement in the AFS, Hans has always been a believer in healthy competition between certification programs. As he has said on many occasions, competition is the best way to ensure choice for growers and consumers and continuous improvement in standards.

Hans doesn’t see his departure from FT as retirement, more a transitioning phase to retirement. He’s stepping back from full time employment into something that provides a little bit more flexibility around the things he and his wife would like to do, particularly developing close relationships with their soon to be six grandchildren who are scattered around different parts of Australia and the world.

I am encouraging Hans to maintain his participation in the forest sector, particularly through PEFC and AFS and the CRC for Forestry. He is too valuable an asset to surrender lightly.

We will all miss Hans’ advice and mentoring. On behalf of the staff, management and Board of FT, I hope he enjoys some time away from the pressure cooker environment that is forest management in Tasmania.