Queensland’s Newman declares “war” on native forests

What’s hot this week? Here’s to re-post Queensland’s new forest controversy:

The South East region of Queensland is home to a vast reserve of native forest providing a sanctuary for various kinds of flora and fauna. It is a bioregion known for its significant number of rare, threatened, and endemic species– the highest numbers of all regions assessed around Australia under the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) process.

QLD Premiere Campbell Newman (Photo: SBS)

The Queensland State Government has been highly commended for its conservation efforts marked by the historic South East Queensland (SEQ) Forestry Agreement signed  in 1999 to stop logging in protected areas. The pact protects an additional 425,000 hectares in the conservation reserve system. It also envisions that all logging activities on native forest on public land will cease by 2024. Within 25 years, the area of forest reserved in SEQ is expected to be more than one million hectares.

There has been a ceasefire from forest wars over the past 14 years. The forest remains undisturbed by commercial activities– until recently the Campbell Newman government stirred the hornet’s nest.
This week, conservationists uncovered a clandestine document (credits to Indymedia.org.au) signed by Agriculture Minister John Mc Veigh to re-open the protected areas for logging.

Greens Senator Larissa Waters warns logging will destroy koala habitat. (Photo: SMH)

Greens Senator Larissa Waters lambasted a leaked letter from Agriculture Department Director-General Jack Noye to National Parks Department Director-General John Glaister that says Agriculture Minister John McVeigh has approved the logging. The letter also notes that the proposed logging would be conducted without Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service approval for codes or harvest plans.

Green peace is under threat and if logging resumes, it will affect southeast Queensland, the western hardwoods area, cypress regions in the west, central Queensland and north Queensland—all habitats of threatened species.

The Glossy Black Cockatoo is now listed as “vulnerable” in SEQ. (Photo: Supplied)

A report from Daniel Burdon both published in the Sunshine Coast Daily and Gympie Times said McVeigh had offered new 25-year contracts to 14 licensed timber companies to log cypress forests across state forests in southern and central Queensland.

Rod McInnes, Timber Queensland CEO (sic), said the renewal of the sales permits was essentially guaranteeing a longer contract for companies which already have an allocated licence to log such areas.

“Anyone who’s already got a Crown Wood Allocation now simply has a 25-year sale guarantee for their allocation,” he said.

“That doesn’t actually change how much timber is logged in the cypress forests each year, just how long the contracts are.

“What I’d be expecting in the next few years, are that rather than each of the 14 companies keeping their contracts, they might sell them now they are long-term, and four or five bigger commercial operators will take those allocations on, through amalgamations.”

Greens Senator Larissa Waters blasted Queensland Premier Campbell Newman for orchestrating the move which she said was tantamount to initiating forest destruction. She noted the forests as an important habitat for vanishing species.

A survey of endangered species in the SEQ bioregion

Wilderness Society denounces the move

Wilderness Society National Director Lyndon Schneiders denounced the move saying, “This is a short-sighted and counterproductive decision by the Queensland Government that undermines past agreements between conservation groups and the timber industry.”

He called on the Newman Government to stop sending chainsaws into up to two million hectares of high conservation value forests throughout Queensland.

A timber industry spokesperson said the forest was used to be harvested for sustainable logging and shutting it down all these years had hurt badly the timber industry. The spokesperson added that the state needs to create more jobs.

The Wilderness Society said, “Timber imports and the high dollar are challenging enough for the industry without stoking a conflict that was resolved a decade ago.

“If logging occurs in these areas, Queensland timber will become synonymous with forest destruction. The market has little taste for wood sourced from native forest destruction, and the Queensland timber industry will lose markets.

“We understand access to existing hardwood plantations is a key issue. The Wilderness Society will work with key stakeholders, including SEQFA signatory Timber Queensland, to convince the Queensland Government to abandon this foolhardy path.”

Houn Valley Environment Centre decries forest destruction

Green activists denounces Ta Ann’s involvement in “forest destruction. (Photo: The Observer Tree)

Meanwhile, the Houn Valley Environment Centre continues to decry Tasmania’s “forest destruction.” The Centre expressed fears over the State Government’s permission to allow logging operations in a World Heritage nominated site to supply wood exports. The Centre has been contentious about the logging operation of Forestry Tasmania who supplies wood to Malaysian-based Ta Ann Group.

Centre spokesperson Jenny Weber said, “Ta Ann asserting that they won’t receive timber from the World Heritage nominated forests is one thing, but a commitment by Forestry Tasmania that they will not deliver wood from these coupes has not been officially announced. Until the guarantee that the timber from the proposed logging areas in the Huon district is given by Forestry Tasmania, the assertion by Ta Ann cannot be verified.”

Weber claimed Ta Ann had previously admitted that they have to take what Forestry Tasmania supplies them regardless where the wood products were sourced out.

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent

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Tarkine Wilderness begs Govt protection

What’s the fuss about Tarkine?

“Here, some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world are being logged for woodchips — irreplaceable virgin forests converted into toilet paper.” – The Green Left

Discover the hidden treasures of the Tarkine (Photo: Carol Haberie/Tarkine Wilderness of Tasmania)

This is one of the uncomfortable truths about the current state of the Tarkine, one of the last remaining pristine wilderness of Tasmania and claimed to be disturbed by logging and open cut mining operators.

Tarkine could be an unfamiliar destination to most intrepid travelers, but to those who know this place by heart, Tarkine can match the beauty and historical significance of iconic spots such as the Ayers Rock (Uluru), Sydney Opera House, or Bondi Beach.

The Tarkine is the largest wilderness in the north-west region of Tasmania sprawling over 477,000 hectares. It is dominated by pristine rainforests with dramatic view of wild rivers, deep gorges, and waterfalls. About 70 percent of the total area is rainforest, 90 percent of which is regarded as old-growth forest.

Arthur River rainforest in the Tarkine (Photo: Tarkine.org)

The Tarkine is considered by conservationists as one of world’s oldest rainforests. It hidden treasures contain relics from the ancient super-continent, Gondwanaland. It is home to more than 60 rare species. Unique animals include the Giant Freshwater Lobster – the world’s largest freshwater crustacean; the Tasmanian Wedge Tailed Eagle – Australia’s largest Eagle; and the famous Tasmanian Devil.

However, environmental groups lament its lack of government protection. Increased commercial activities in area are claimed have posed a serious threat to various species, some of which are now considered endangered.

Green groups believe Tarkine should be given equal importance like other great Australian landmarks. As such, Tarkine has been pushed for listing in the World Heritage Site. But its listing faces no paved road – hampered by the Government’s dilemma between conservation and economic pursuits.

The fact is both the Federal and State governments do not think Tarkine should be listed.

The Tasmanian Devil is one of the species under threat.

The Federal Government said it has enough protection while the Tasmanian State Government said logging and mining will create and sustain jobs and livelihood.

Early on, The Mercury reported the State Government supports mining ahead of the environment in a submission to the Federal Government on whether the Tarkine Wilderness Area should be protected by national heritage laws.

The report said Energy and Resources Minister Bryan Green admitted the State Government “desperately wanted to see lucrative projects such as the multi-million-dollar Mt Lindsay tin mine reach fruition.”

Dollars generated by mining can surpassed dairy, beef, and wine combined. The mining ventures of St Lindsay mine, for one, aims to target the world’s second-largest tin deposit that overlaps part of the Tarkine in the state’s North-West. It could generate up to $250 million annually, the report added.

Tasmania Priemiere Lara Giddings also admitted mining industry is a crucial source of income for the Government. The ABC reported she is adamant the Tarkine’s proposed listing should not compromise future mining operations.

She says low impact operations similar to MMG’s new Southern Hercules open cut mine at Rosebery can occur in the Tarkine without compromising the region’s environmental values.

“Mining is an essential part of the Tasmanian economy, it has a royalty benefit to the State Government which helps to contribute to our state budget as well, so we’re keen to see mining continue.”


Rare species inhabit the Tarkine (Photo: Discovertarkine.com)

The Age has traced back the history of the campaign to protect the Tarkine. It says it started from Tasmanian forests disputes way back the 1980s. Former Green Senator Bob Brown suggested the name “Tarkine” to honour the memory of the local indigenous Tarkiner people. The campaign was initially dubbed “For the Forests”. Since then frequent skirmishes over its protection have become common.

Ever since there has been skirmishing over its protection – no more so than in the case of the ”Road to Nowhere”. This 70-kilometre, north-south link road cutting across the wilderness’ western side took seven years to build – and was stopped and restarted by successive governments.

When the road opened in 1995, then Premier Ray Groom claimed it as proof the tide was turning against environmentalists. It remains little used.

Logging into the northern fringes of the Tarkine has a long history and has met few protests. Its most contentious timber is the rainforest myrtle – a deep-red cabinetmaker’s delight. Under the Howard government, 70,000 hectares of myrtle rainforest was reserved in 2005.

Guided tours are provided in the Tarkine (Photo:tarkinelodge.com)

The Tarkine Wilderness has been waiting for enlistment as a national park for the past three decades, but the Federal Government is delaying it for further consideration.   UK-based The Independent noted the Government is unconvinced of its listing while the the WWF, among with other Green groups have been watching for the development of  the Tarkine’s listing. View timeline here.

While the Tarkine awaits, the Tarkine National Coalition fears ten new mines will put up over the next five years.

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent

Tasmanian senator visits Sarawak to support illegal logging?

It has been a quiet winter for Green advocacy, but here’s a media release from the Huon Valley Environment Centre (HVEC):

Penan man standing next to a Shin Yang Timber passing truck loaded with logs. (Photo: Greenpeace)

The HVEC has released a statement by Penan people in Sarawak, who names Ta Ann as the company leasing their land for logging without prior consent or knowledge by the indigenous Sarawakians.

The group has also exposed that Liberal Senator Eric Abetz has visited Sarawak in the past weeks, and travelled to the contested area with Ta Ann.

“Our organisation has released a letter fingerprinted by Penan peoples tating they want Ta Ann off their land, this is an unprecedented show ofopposition to Ta Ann logging of their land, after the company has leased theland without the knowledge and consent by the indigenous Sarawakians,” spokesperson Jenny Weber said.

The letter from the Penan people states; “This area should not be re-logged as it wasbeing logged in the past which have made our livelihood difficult especially our food resources. We with one voice that we don’t accept any type of loggingto take place within our Native Customary Rights Land,”

Miranda Gibson, a Green activist, holds a banner to warn Ta Ann’s Japanese wood buyers. (Photo: taan.net)

“Senator Abetz has vigorously backed Ta Ann in the past and Huon ValleyEnvironment Centre is concerned about the intention of his visit to Sarawak. We are concerned Senator Abetz is not in Sarawak looking after theinterests of the Penan people, instead he is looking after big businessinterests of Ta Ann,” Weber said.

Conservationists blast Tasmanian wood exports to China

The Tasmanian Government has given Forestry Tasmania the trial green light to export blackwood logs to China with high hopes of potentially creating a multimillion wood industry– ignoring earlier forest moratorium with conservationists in the region.

The Office of Premiere Lara Giddings announced the initial shipment will create “an industry worth tens of millions of dollars to Tasmania.”

Forestry Tasmania continuing to slaughter massive quantities of minor species timbers, including blackwood, and exporting them. (Photo: Tasmanian Times)

Forestry Tasmania, in partnership with the private sector, will be shipping the initial logs to the Asian importer to test the feasibility of  manufacturing high quality engineered wood products from logs. These logs are said to be unsuitable for local processors and thus considered waste.

Minister for Resources and Energy Bryan Green supports the initiative saying the  trial is part of  state government’s Innovations Plan which seeks to convert forest residues into high value manufactured wood products. Green reiterated some blackwood are unsuitable for local sawmillers and processors.

“This is the type of innovative thinking that will be required as the forest industry transitions to a smaller resource base. If the trials prove successful, the finished product will be marketed by private companies, which are working in partnership with FT,” he said

Green is confident the trial export will ultimately result into establishing a manufacturing facilities in Tasmania thereby increasing market demand for blackwoods in Australia.

The Premiere’s Office also confirmed Forestry Tasmania has increased its export of whole logs in response to the closure of the Triabunna woodchip mill.

Some of the whole logs are for pulpwood in China, others are to trial the new products and the remainder are being peeled. Logs are currently being stockpiled in readiness for a shipment out of Hobart later this month and for further shipments out of Burnie.

Local retailers of Tasmanian forests identified by Market for Change (Photo: MFC)

This development, however, stirred anger from Green activists in the region. Groups such as The Markets for Change, the Huon Valley Environment Centre, The Last Stand, and Still Wild Still Threatened– in a joint press release– blasted the initiative saying the State Government’s support to Forestry Tasmania is a “provocative act”  that undermines the Tasmanian forest peace process.

Peg Putt of Markets for Change said her group has suspended new overseas market initiatives and protests a fortnight ago as a gesture of encouragement. She said the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania agreed to sit down and talk. However, Minister Green has “indulged in a series of provocations.” She said the trial shipment is contradictory to the intention to reduce logging.

Miranda Gibson of Still Wild Still Threatened from the Observer Tree also said it is devastating to hear of the ongoing developments which are obvious design to nullify forest protection. Gibson claims  Forestry Tasmania have signed up 22 logging contracts last year, eleven of which are new ones.

Miranda Gibson grabs media spotlight for her tree vigil. (Photo: Bob Brown)

Jenny Weber of the Huon Valley Environment Centre said her group will “maintain a close watching brief for the moment, but are exceedingly concerned that the longer the negotiations are drawn out the more magnificent forests we lose to the chainsaw.”

“We are waiting with high anxiety for some demonstration of the good faith that is claimed to exist,” Ula Majewski of The Last Stand concluded.

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent

Take action against forests burning!

Forests shouldn’t look like these, should they?

The Huon Valley Environment Centre (HVEC) has launched a campaign against burning forests today. Community Members ignited 20 flares on the lawns of the Hobart’s State Parliament as a sign of protest.

Tasmania's forests is burning. (Photo:HVEC)

 HVEC spokesperson Jenny Weber said in a press release, “The community has demonstrated today to call for a ban on the environmentally disastrous logging burns.” HVEC claims these “regeneration burns” pollutes the world’s cleanest air turning it into a health hazard. “The entire state of Tasmania has to suffer air pollution and climate impacts, because Forestry Tasmania and the logging industry continue to pursue the archaic, ecologically unsound practice of logging andburning in the forests,”

Tasmaia's forests billow in smoke. (Photo: Huon Valley Environment Centre)

HVEC today launched an online action that will provide citizens the avenue to write to the State and Federal Ministers for Health and the Environment and the respective Attorneys General,calling on them to introduce legislation to ban the practice of “regeneration burns” in Tasmania.

“Tasmania needs a breath of fresh air and the Huon Valley Environment Centre is calling for a ban on the forestry industry’s“regeneration burns,” Weber said.

The HVEC urges community to take action against forest burning. (Photo: HVEC)

The community opposes the practice of polluting the air, threatening health and environment and damaging the clean green brand of Tasmania.

“Forestry Tasmania’s clearfall and burn method is destroying thenatural forest ecology to turn it into a loggers wonderland, at the same timethat it is dumping massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and pollutingpeople’s lungs with particulates that are injurious to health,” Weber said.

Link to the cyber action; http://banforestryburns.good.do/

Link to background briefing; www.huon.org/bantheburns

Oppose Harvey Norman’s native forests business

The Last Stand's recent marketing campaign to inform Harvey Norman's customers where do furnitures come from. (Photo: The Last Stand)

Here’s a new anti-HN’s campaign dropped into my inbox. Conservationists unite!

—————-

Harvey Norman stores across Australia have been visited this week as part of an innovative marketing campaign to give customers the real story of where their new native forest furniture is sourced.

The Last Stand has been campaigning to highlight the role Harvey Norman plays in the destruction of our native forests. Their native Australian furniture and flooring is sourced from high conservation value forests at risk in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania. “If Harvey Norman won’t tell the truth to their customers we will” said Nicola Paris from the Last Stand. “

Conservationists across the country have visited Harvey Norman stores and done some DIY marketing, placing tags on furniture saying ‘Find out how you can win’ accompanied by a QR code which takes customers to a YouTube video which shows the destruction caused by logging our native forests for furniture.

“The myth that logging Australia’s forests for furniture ranges sold by Harvey Norman is sustainable and there is no consequence to their ongoing destruction is simply not true.

There are endangered species at risk in many of the areas Harvey Norman sources wood for its furniture. “Action is well overdue – Harvey Norman has not given any indication of changing their current practices so we are turning to creative tactics to get the facts out to their customers.” An extensive chain of custody report outlining how Harvey Norman are selling Aussie native forest destruction was published by Markets for Change and can be accessed at www.marketsforchange.org

Against native forests’ logging and retailing

Here’s from the email inbox: The Last Stand announced its new anti-Ta Ann Group website to discourage Japanese clients from buying Tasmania’s plywood disputedly harvested from native old-growth forests.

The banner design of the new cyber campaign

Likewise, here from the website of Market for Change which posted the list of local retailers of Tasmania’s native forests.

Tasmanian native forests' local retailers

The activists’ group has drawn a map on the extent of forest destruction in Australia– in which some of Australia’s most unique and species-rich forest habitats are still being logged including:

  • Tasmania’s native and old growth forests including the Tarkine, Blue Tier, Styx, Weld, and Upper Florentine Valley areas
  • Victoria’s Central Highlands – identified as some of the most carbon-dense forests on earth and areas in East Gippsland
  • New South Wales’ highly biodiverse sub-tropical and temperate native forests in the state’s north-east and south-east coastal regions
  • Western Australia’s native forests in the southwest of the state have been named a global biodiversity ‘hotspot’ yet logging in the state’s endemic karri, jarrah, marri, tingle, and tuart  forests continue despite new threats from drought and disease.

It speculates that there are 1,287 forest-dwelling species accross Australia that are listed as vulnerable, threatened or endangered under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBCA) 1999. They include:

  • The Tasmanian Wedge-Tailed eagle
  • Carnaby’s Black cockatoo of WA.
  • Victoria’s Leadbeater’s possum
  • The koala population of southern NSW.

These species are losing their homes

This campaign has hit the media big time, with the launch featured in the Australian – a rare event indeed!  It is also a hot topic in Tasmania with regular mentions in the local press.

Our online action is doing great, heading up to 1500 emails now, and crew in Hobart have maintained a strong visual presence, letterboxing key areas and, most recently with the Ta Ann

We are continuing to work with Markets for Change and the Huon Valley Environment Centre as well as heaps of other good folks, and have also appreciated the support of the most excellent peoples at DoGooder.

So spread the message to your friends to jump on board!

For the forests,

THE LAST STAND CREW

Aussie forests escape inferno, Greens rejoice

Australia’s old-growth forests will not go to the furnace to generate electricity—at least for now.

Environment watchers are rejoicing over the Parliament’s vote against subsidies intended for loggers to burn native growth forests to generate power.

A campaign against forest burning. (Design by Paul Kimbrell http://www.eastgippsland.net.au)

Tasmania’s Huon Valley Environment Centre, for one, praised the Federal MPs who voted against Lynn MP Robert Oakeshott’s motion to allow Renewable Energy Certificates to be generated by burning wood from the logging of native forest.

The Green Left described the motion as a narrow escape for the logs to avoid the blazing inferno — a vote of 72-72 with Speaker Peter Slipper casting the final ‘no’ vote to Rob Oakeshott’s motion.

A spokeswoman for the Western Australia Forest Alliance, Jess Beckerling, says it is a win for forests around the country. “It’s a really strong indication that common sense has prevailed,” she told the ABC.

In a press statement, the Huon Valley Environment Centre biomass campaigner Will Mooney also said this rejection must encourage government and businesses to search for a truly renewable energy options. He said communities across Australia will be relieved that plans for polluting native forest fuelled power stations will not be eligible to draw on incentives.

He added the vote scrapped the plan to build power station near Lonnavale in Tasmania. A 30MW power station is estimated to consume over 300,000 tonnes of timber a year.

Huon Valley Environment Centre spokesperson Jenny Weber also said the vote “backs up the concerns of conservation organisations, health advocates, scientists and community groups who have voiced a range of concerns about logging industry plans to prop up native forest logging with large scale wood-fired power stations…”

Prior to the vote, letters have been sent to the Members Of Parliament rejecting Oakeshott’s Disallowance Motion.

A Tasmanian tourist spotted this sign and posted it in a travel blog.

The Australian Forest and Climate Alliance urged the MPs to act at this critical time for the future of not only Australia’s forests, but also the climate.

The native forest logging industry is currently experiencing market driven changes that provide the opportunity to shift Australia’s wood and paper production industry onto a sustainable path, based on plantations. The opportunity to transition the forest industry at this critical time will be lost if new incentives are created that will drive ongoing native forest logging.

The disallowance motion put forward by Mr Oakeshott that would allow native forest wood ‘waste’ burnt for electricity to be eligible for Renewable Energy Certificates under the government’s Renewable Energy Target. The climate alliance cited reasons to reject disallowance motion which summarise the unfeasibility of the plan.

This motion, if passed, will create a new incentive to log Australia’s last remaining native forests, prevent the rapid transition into a viable plantation based industry.  Australia’s public native forests are much more valuable as carbon sinks, biodiversity habitats, water providers and purifiers, and as tourist destinations.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet told Nine News the government was determined to provide support for bio-energy investment while also ensuring that native forests are afforded appropriate protection.

“While biomass derived from native forests though is no longer recognised under this regulation as an eligible renewable energy source … those changes do not … prohibit the use of this biomass for bio-energy.”

The vote against Oakeshott put to rest the controversial “endorsement of scientists” who argued burning forest can lead to renewable energy.

A poster purportedly designed in favour of clearfelling (Photo:Anonymous blog)

Early this month, the Port Macquarie News reported a controversial move to classify burning of native wood waste as renewable energy has received support from scientists.

It said 49 forestry scientists and practitioners signed a letter of support for a motion put forward by Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott and seconded by New England independent Tony Windsor that would see logging companies granted Renewable Energy Certificates for burning native forest residues.

Professor Rod Keenan, the director of the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research Centre at The University of Melbourne, was among the signatories, the paper reported. Keenan is said to have argued that wood waste, now burnt either in the forests or at the sawmill, was an appropriate substitute for fossil fuels.

However, the Green Left published ” Scientists’ open letter to Oakeshott: Burning forests for energy will make climate change worse.”

At Styx Forest, TAS, the diameter of an old tree can hold a number of people. (Photo: Flickr)

The green publication noted the scientists saying the ”decision to support incentives for native forest-burning power stations has alarming ramifications for communities and natural ecosystems across Australia.”

If you have any question about this article, please leave a Reply or email The Green Journo.

News Link: Asian Correspondent

Tasmania grapples with forest destruction and job losses

Tasmania is grappling with the paradox of saving its environment in the face of massive job losses. While Green activists are fighting for the protection of old growth forests, thousands of forestry-related jobs have to go. The ABC  reported the state is projected to lose about $1.4 billion dollar from its wood industry while thousands of people have been thrown out of job.

No job vacancy sign posted at a sawmill in Tasmania

For a small state such as Tasmania, livelihood depends on forestry, agriculture and mining. Tasmania is the sixth and smallest state in Australia, an archipelago of more than 300 islands, 240 kilometres (150 miles) south-east of the mainland.

Green activism has intensified in the region over the last few years in the wake of alleged forest destruction made by Malaysia-owned Ta Ann Group. Left-wing Greens have accused the contractor as an exploiter of the state’s old-growth forests. The same contractor, they claim, has ravaged the jungle of Borneo in Sarawak.

Penan man standing next to a Shin Yang Timber passing truck loaded with logs. (Photo: Sarawak Report)

It is an irony. Ta Ann won an award as an emerging exporter in the Tasmanian Export Exports Awards in 2008 only to alert environmentalists of the impending catastrophe wrought on the state’s old growth forests.

Last year, the Huon Valley Environment Centre (HVEC) accused Ta Ann of receiving wood from old growth forests as defined by the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement on at least 35 occasions during 2009-2011. HVEC claimed the contractor is processing wood acquired from the logging of old growth forests, high conservation value forests, and forests with recognised world heritage values in Tasmania.   “Ta Ann’s demand for native forest wood and its large wood supply contract is driving logging in some of Tasmania’s most important and contentious forest areas….  Ta Ann’s operations here in Tasmania are far from eco-friendly and must rank amongst the worst logging practices globally…” HVEC claimed.

Activists have campaigned the government to prevent further logging in the disputed conservation area. The Observer Tree launched a vigil early this year to press Prime Minister Julia Gillard to stop the Ta Ann Group from further logging in the last remaining old-growth forests.

An intesified campaign against Ta Ann in Tasmania (Photo: HVEC)

The Observer Tree is one among the guardians of Tasmanian forests along with the Last Stand which has been involved in direct action and campaigns related to nukes, forests, refugees, human rights, whaling and climate change, among other causes. These groups support similar causes advocated by Friends of the Earth, Kanuguba, Rising Tide, Huon Valley Environment Centre, Still Wild Still Threatened, the Greens and the Wilderness Society, GetUp!, Market Watch, and other civic groups.

In 2011, the Gillard Government came up with a plan to protect Tasmania’s forest by signing a pact that covers the protection 570,00 hectares of forest lands. About 430,000 hectares belong to the high degree of conservation while the remaining 143, 000 hectares was allotted to help the state honour its logging contracts. Gillard also signed a $172 package to fund the transition from native forest to plantation forest.

This historic deal, however, did not stop tensions already disrupting the forestry business. Green activists are apprehensive that Ta Ann’s contract will continue to destroy old growth forests.

Tasmanian forest in ruins

Activists have also directly lobbied consumers and clients of Ta Ann to stop buying logs from the company.

While jobs have to go, however, it becomes clearer that the Government has no option but to kowtow importers to buy Tasmania’s logging industry.

Tasmania’s Deputy Premiere Bryan Green has embarked on a $24,000 trade mission to Singapore, China, and Japan over the past week to promote the state as open for business.

Green said the trade mission was not solely focus on the wood industry but an opportunity to forge stronger trade relations with East Asia.

“We have a robust economy which we need to continue to grow and diversify to attract investment and jobs… The Government has faith in the Tasmanian brand and the opportunities that it can provide in sectors like agriculture, renewable energy, mining and forestry, “ the vice premiere’s website noted.

The Last Stand crew, along with the HVEC and Code Green, welcomed the vice premiere back upon his arrival at the airport. They, however ridiculed the trade mission and created a new name for Ta Ann as the huge walking, talking Pinocchio. The crew said the wood products are far from “eco-friendly” contrary to the advertising claims of Ta Ann.

A Green activists holds a banner to warn Ta Ann's Japanese wood buyers

In an email loop accessed by Asian Correspondent, the crew said:

“Ta Ann, one of Malaysia’s biggest wood cartels is ripping through the Tasmanian wilderness, sourcing wood that comes from the destruction of high conservation value forests and selling it in Japan as ‘eco-friendly’ plywood.”

The group solidifies its resolve to recruit more supporters to write letters to existing and prospective clients of Ta Ann urging them to stop buying wood sourced out from Tasmania’s old growth forests.

News Link: Asian Correspondent