Environmental Sustainability Disclosures by Australian Forestry Companies

By Noor Lazar and Anne Abraham.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

There is a growing consensus that a consistent approach to sustainability reporting would improve stakeholder decision making, yet such disclosure is of a voluntary nature. This paper seeks to explore the extent to which Australian forestry companies both report their sustainability practices and attempt to apply the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting guidelines, despite the absence of sector specific indicators. A web document analysis approach was employed to examine the sustainability practices of the six forestry companies listed on the Australian stock exchange (ASX) as well as to identify the subliminal messages that Australian forestry companies use to send out specific messages to their stakeholders. Text and images provided in their publically available annual reports, sustainability reports and website information were analysed using an interpretative lens to understand the ways in which companies were attempting to influence the perceptions of the stakeholders. The findings suggest that while all forestry companies display an implicit understanding of the importance of sustainability to their stakeholders, only a few actually report comprehensively on these issues and follow the GRI guidelines. The research conducted was based on the collection of secondary data and not primary data as well. This study provides two specific contributions. First, it demonstrates the extent to which the Australian forestry industry has responded to the call from the GRI to implement the sustainability reporting guidelines in order to facilitate transparency and accountability which in turn provides their stakeholders with a universally-applicable, comparable framework from which to understand disclosed information. Secondly, the study reveals ways in which companies seek to influence the perceptions of shareholders through their use of images rather specific data.

Keywords: Accountability, Australia, Environmental Sustainability, Forestry Industry, GRI, Stakeholders, Web Analysis

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.313-332. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 945.355KB).

Noor Lazar

Associate Lecturer, School of Accounting, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Noor Lazar is an associate lecturer in accounting at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, with research interests in social and environmental accountability and accounting measurement for biological assets. Noor is an early career researcher who is currently embarking on a doctorate examining stakeholder perceptions of corporate social reporting practices in the Australian forest industry using an interpretative approach. Her outstanding achievements in her previous degrees has been recognised by full membership in the Golden Key International Honour Society.

Dr. Anne Abraham

Associate Head, School of Accounting, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Dr. Anne Abraham is an associate head of school and senior lecturer in accounting at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, with research interests in social and environmental accountability, financial management in the third sector and student-focussed teaching in higher education. Her established research profile is demonstrated by more than seventy publications spread over high quality international journals, books, book chapters, curriculum resources and websites. Her work has been published both internationally and nationally and is available in printed form, online and on CD/DVDs. Anne holds professional affiliations with the Accounting and Finance Associations of Australia and New Zealand (AFAANZ), the British Accounting Association (BAA), the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) and the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR). She is currently supervising doctoral students undertaking research in the areas of corporate social responsibility, microfinance, local government auditing and third sector governance.

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