AUSTRALIA'S best-known brand of paper, Reflex, is to be stripped of its international green certification after its maker, Australian Paper, watered down its commitment to the Forest Stewardship Council system.
Australian Paper's decision means it will continue to use wood sourced from native forest to make Reflex - welcome news for Victorian state government-owned logger VicForests, which counts the company among its largest customers.
While auditor SmartWood, a division of the Rainforest Alliance, said Australian Paper now has six months to remove the FSC logo from Reflex packaging, a company spokesman said it had not used the logo for about six months.
SmartWood said existing plantation and recycled paper FSC certifications held by Australian Paper were not affected.
The company's certification under the rival Australian Forestry Standard was also unaffected.
Australian Paper's decision follows a long-running stoush between the company and conservation groups over the interpretation of an FSC clause forbidding the use of wood from ''high conservation value'' forests.
Australian Paper chief executive Jim Henneberry said the company had decided to withdraw its ''controlled wood'' from its FSC certification because of ''uncertainty'' over interpretation of the standard. Company spokesman Shaun Scallan denied the move was a backflip from a written commitment given by Mr Henneberry in May last year, in which he promised Australian Paper would not obtain ''wood harvested in forests where high conservation values are threatened by management activities''.
''We're hopeful that we'll get a definitive position on the issue that caused us to withdraw from the controlled wood standard,'' Mr Scallan said.
''We'll continue to work with them.''
Sarah Rees, a director of Healesville-based green group MyEnvironment, said Australian Paper had ''dumped their green tick in order to continue to buy wood from VicForests''.