Media Release: Logging halted by conservationists in old growth forests, southern Tasmania

Conservationists have today halted logging in old growth forests, in the Esperance, far south Tasmania, where logging recently commenced.   Two people have attached themselves to logging machines to halt the destruction of old growth forests.

Huon Valley Environment Centre’s Jenny Weber said, “The logging in these forests needs to be immediately ceased, this logging is precisely why the Tasmanian Forests Agreement bill needed to provide upfront reserves.  Delayed protection for forests and exempting areas to allow for ongoing logging, such as this area, results in the loss of intact ancient ecosystems.”

“The disappearance of these unique forests, to meet the desires of the logging industry, is a clear demonstration of how this legislation fails to protect Tasmania’s old growth forests.  And worse it funds with taxpayer subsidies the ongoing destruction of intact ecosystems,” Jenny Weber said.

“These old growth forests are habitat for the grey goshawk, spotted-tailed quoll and Mt Mangana stag beetle.  The forests here in this coupe provide a biological transition between mature wet forest and button-grass heathlands to the east,” Jenny Weber said.

“The Huon Valley Environment Centre will continue to act whenever ancient forests are compromised. We cannot stand by and allow our unique natural heritage to be logged, end up as flooring sold in the Japanese market as ‘eco-wood’, chipped and shipped, or sitting as stockpiles in Forestry Tasmania’s ecological waste yards.  Ancient forests need to be left standing,” Jenny Weber said.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION.

By TaAnn

Media Release: 26.02.2013 – LEGAL OBLIGATIONS AND COURSE OF ACTION ON WORLD HERITAGE LOGGING OUTLINED TO MINISTER

The Australian Environment Minister has been urged to uphold Australia’s international obligations to conserve World Heritage values by using his powers under Australian legislation to halt logging inside Tasmanian forests recently nominated for World Heritage listing. Such logging last week provoked protest action on the forestry access road into Butlers Gorge.

A letter based on legal advice to Still Wild Still Threatened, the Huon Valley Environment Centre, and Markets For Change outlines to the Minister that Section 14 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act provides specifically for areas nominated but not yet listed as World Heritage to be the subject of a Ministerial Declaration. Publication of such a Declaration in the government Gazette is preliminary to any action to keep the World Heritage values safe from threat.

“As a signatory to the World Heritage Convention, Australia has taken on an obligation to protect World Heritage values under Articles 4 and 5 of that international agreement. Australian law then provides for the Environment Minister to publish a declaration regarding any place nominated to be added to the World Heritage list after which he can prevent any threats from destroying those values in the meanwhile – exactly the situation we are facing with the continued industrial logging of Tasmania’s forests nominated for recognition for their outstanding universal values,” said Jenny Weber of Huon Valley Environment Centre.

“We sent this letter and are publicising it, in order to scuttle the erroneous claim that there is nothing that the Australian Environment Minister can do to halt the logging until the area is actually listed. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

“It is a failure of political will that is daily destroying World Heritage values of these precious forests, and the Minister can’t simultaneously espouse these values and renege on his obligation to protect them,” said Miranda Gibson of Still Wild Still Threatened speaking from the Observer Tree.

“If it is true that the signatories are agreed on this continued logging, and we believe that this is not the position of the environmental signatories, then any such agreement is an awful mistake that must be rectified urgently.”

“Forestry Tasmania is dragging the chain on rescheduling this logging and plan to commence more. Continuing to provide product logged from a smash and grab raid inside World Heritage nominated forests to the market is a recipe for disaster. It will not only lead to the loss of environmental values but will quite likely unsettle markets further,” said the CEO of Markets For Change, Peg Putt.

“Tony Burke should act in the best interests of the forests as well as the industry,” Ms Putt concluded.

Logging in World Heritage nominated forests in Butlers Gorge

Logging in World Heritage nominated forests in Butlers Gorge

Take Action HERE

Send a message to the corporate customers of Ta Ann – ask them to cease dealing in wood from World Heritage nominated forests.

Letter to Minister Burke:

Continue reading

By TaAnn

Take cyber action! New film reveals covert logging of World Heritage nominated forests

It beggars belief. In the fanfare of official announcements that 124,000 hectares of Tasmania’s forests had been nominated for World Heritage listing the Australian government failed to mention that chainsaws are to continue ripping into the heart of these very forests, destroying their values!

We scouted these remote and spectacular places to bring you this short film from behind the shroud of secrecy. It shows the magnificent forests that are being logged right now, and the threatened forests scheduled soon to be logged. Many of these are listed in official documents as being a source of wood for Ta Ann.


(english version of film)

We have crafted a new online message that you can send direct to Japan.

You can tell Ta Ann’s customers in Japan that the world heritage value forests in Tasmania are not an acceptable source of wood products, particularly when they are marketed as eco-friendly.

Recent feedback is that Japanese corporate customers of Ta Ann are paying attention to these messages. They continue to be nervous about what they are buying into and are demanding a genuine environmentally acceptable wood product.

Together we can save these forests and the birds and animals that live there by simply asking major customer companies refuse to buy the product of world heritage destruction. Any company that wants to maintain an environmental reputation should get out of this fake ‘eco’ flooring immediately.

As we portray in our new film: imagine a label on furniture or flooring saying ‘world heritage values died here’.


(japanese version of film)

Take action to defend the world heritage values of these Tasmanian forests and keep them safe for the future.

By TaAnn

New cyber action to protect World Heritage nominated forests

Take Action now to protect Tasmania’s World Heritage value forests.

Current logging in World Heritage nominated Butlers Gorge

Current logging in World Heritage nominated Butlers Gorge

CLICK HERE to send a message to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Environment Minister Tony Burke.

An important new report finds that while the Australian government has made pledges to protect Tasmania’s priceless temperate rainforests, yet shockingly industrial clearcut logging of old-growth continues in what is to be a World Heritage Area. Important forest wildernesses, including Butlers Gorge; and the Florentine, Weld and Styx valleys, have been nominated to be added to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and could finally be given protection after decades of protests. Alarmingly, however, industrial scale clear felling is still continuing within those forests, with timbers being sold as “eco ply” by the Malaysian timber industry.

We need your help  to call on the Australian government to honor their international obligations and protect these World Heritage nominated old-growth temperate rainforests from industrial destruction.

In tact forest in Butlers Gorge

In tact forest in Butlers Gorge

READ THE REPORT:

Status Report on Logging in World Heritage nominated forests by Still Wild Still Threatened, Markets for Change and Huon Valley Environment Centre- Click HERE.

By TaAnn

MEDIA RELEASE 14.2.12 LOGGING DESTRUCTION OF AREA NOMINATED FOR WORLD HERITAGE LISTING CONTINUES IN SECRET – EXPOSED BY ENVIRONMENTALISTS

World Heritage value forests nominated a fortnight ago by the Australian government for inclusion on the World Heritage register are still not safe and are being logged in secret, Tasmanian environment groups Still Wild Still Threatened, and Huon Valley Environment Centre and national group Markets For Change revealed today.

A detailed report as well as film footage of the ongoing destruction, collected since the nomination, including the installation of new forestry gates to exclude the public was released by the groups. Footage also shows the threatened forests that have not yet seen a chainsaw, although Forestry Tasmania has plans to log the intact areas with the knowledge and apparent agreement of the Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke.

An online action will tomorrow be launched from the Observer Tree through social media, where people can write to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Environment Minister Tony Burke, asking for urgent action to halt the logging of the extraordinary values of the nominated World Heritage Value forests. Also a group of conservationists held a banner out the front of Canberra’s Parliament House this morning calling on Gillard and Burke, “You nominated the forests now stop the logging”.

“When Minister Burke announced that the World Heritage nomination had gone to Paris I was overjoyed, but now am dismayed that he never told the people of Australia that the logging of these forests of global significance would continue. This is unacceptable and I am now compelled to remain in my tree sit until these forests are actually safe as we assumed they would be as soon as their values were put forward to Paris,” said Miranda Gibson from the Observer Tree.

World Heritage banner in Canberra 14 Feb 2013

World Heritage banner in Canberra 14 Feb 2013

“Conservationists in Canberra today are bringing the voice of the global community to the Australian Government. They have displayed a banner that features over 300 images sent in from around the globe, as the international community called for the protection of these world heritage value forests. Many more people will continue to bring the message to Gillard and Burke through the online action,” said Ms Gibson.

Miranda Gibson said, “In Butlers Gorge nearby the Observer Tree the tall forests are recognised to be absolutely outstanding wilderness and very significant tracts of the tallest flowering plants on the planet, yet this is where logging is ripping the place apart with three separate industrial scale operations.”

Logging in Butler's Gorge coupe BT009D February 2013

Logging in Butler’s Gorge coupe BT009D February 2013

“The Australian government is abrogating its responsibility to protect the very World Heritage values they have nominated and many conservationists will be shocked that this could happen and angry that they have been kept in the dark about the continued logging. We are calling on the Federal Government to prevent any new logging from commencing and ensure that any current logging cease, so as to maintain the integrity and values of the World Heritage nominated forests.” said Jenny Weber of Huon Valley Environment Centre.

Jenny Weber said, “In the Huon region, seven areas of forests, with extraordinary values are scheduled for ongoing logging. The loggers are not in any of these forest areas now and we do not accept that logging should commence. In the far south in the Catamaran, the tall eucalypt forests in the Esperance and wilderness forests in the Picton Valley, we will not stand by while logging is scheduled to start in these world heritage value forests.”

Forests with the boundary of coupe CM017C

Forests with the boundary of coupe CM017C

These unique ecosystems in the Huon are on the schedule to supply timber to Ta Ann whose plywood flooring has already proved controversial in the Japanese market, which is another unacceptable source,” Jenny Weber said.

“Companies selling Tasmanian wood products will now be receiving supplies coming from forests nominated for protection for their world heritage values, a confronting prospect when the markets are actually crying out for improved environmental performance,” said CEO of Markets For Change, Peg Putt.

“Imagine a label on furniture or flooring saying ‘world heritage values died here’ and you get the idea of how horrified consumers will be and the damage this can do to the reputation of Tasmanian timber products just when world heritage recognition was supposed to crown the Tasmanian Forests Agreement. No wonder these logging plans were not publicly announced.”

“A failure of political will is now undermining both the industry and the best environmental treasures of Tasmania and the Prime Minister needs to take the matter in hand and insist that the world heritage values her government has nominated are not under assault for a single day more,” Ms Putt concluded.`

 

By TaAnn

Media Release 2.2.2013 Australian conservationists accused of greenwashing Malaysian potentate’s timber operations

BRUNO MANSER FUND, BASEL / SWITZERLAND
1 February 2013 – for immediate release

Australian groups under fire over misguided trade mission to Japan

(TOKYO, JAPAN / HOBART, AUSTRALIA) Australia’s Wilderness Society and the venerable Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) have come under fire over a clumsy move in support of Ta Ann, a Malaysian logging conglomerate with close ties to the family of Sarawak Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud („Taib“).

Last week, representatives of the two Australian groups travelled to Japan for a trade mission organized by Ta Ann. Apparently, the conservationists hoped to gain the Malaysian group’s support for a Tasmania forestry deal in exchange for promoting their timber sales in Japan. Having lost two Japanese customers over environmental concerns, Ta Ann are desparately trying to rescue their international reputation.

“I would no sooner be going to Japan to say that woodchipping Tasmanian forests is OK than I would to say that killing whales is OK,” former Australian Greens leader and senator Bob Brown commented. Jenny Weber, spokesperson for Tasmania’s Huon Valley Environment Centre said: „Ta Ann’s Tasmanian product is coming from proposed reserves where the forests have extraordinarily unique conservation values. This is not acceptable to the market.”

Last November, Japanese environmentalists lodged a protest against Ta Ann when Taib Mahmud attended the International Tropical Timber Organizations’s 48th annual conference in Yokohama. Ta Ann is headed by Taib cousin Hamed Sepawi, a key business associate and suspected nominee of the controversial Malaysian politician.

In Sarawak, Ta Ann has been granted over 600’000 hectares of logging and oil palm plantations without public tender. In 2011, Global Witness found Ta Ann to be responsible for clear-cutting orang-utan habitat in the Heart of Borneo.

The Taib family’s worldwide assets are estimated at USD 20 billion. Last month, the Bruno Manser Fund lodged a criminal complaint against four Swiss banks over the alleged handling of over 100 million USD on behalf of the Taib family. – Ends –

Sources used for this release:

http://taann.net/
http://www.huon.org/node/1199

Please contact us for further information:
Bruno Manser Fund
Socinstrasse 37, 4051 Basel / Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74

By TaAnn

Environment groups provide false market assurance to Japan

Tasmania’s wild and ancient forests remain unprotected, logging continues to destroy the unique values of these globally significant ecosystems. These forests are still being logged for export to Japan for ‘eco’ flooring, by the company Ta Ann. In December we questioned why would environmental signatories to the troubled Tasmanian Forest Agreement advocate to markets that they buy the product of destroying forests of World Heritage and national heritage value, instead of insisting on forest protection as a pre-requisite for support?

Well this week, while the legislation designed to protect forests in Tasmania is delayed in the Legislative Council, environmental signatory groups to the Tasmanian Forest Agreement have travelled to Japan to shore up the Tasmanian forest industry. Environment Tasmania is also a signatory to an update that has been prepared for the Japanese companies. The ACF and TWS representatives are accompanying Ta Ann Tasmania employees, and giving a briefing to Ta Ann’s Japanese customers. The intention around this visit is to secure the international market and request Ta Ann Tasmania’s corporate customers not to make cancelations or suspensions of their contracts.

The legislation to implement the Forests Agreement is not only delayed by the Legislative Council, it is probably not going to pass that House. If it does get through it is fairly clear that the conservation parts of the agreement will be further watered down or ditched. This ought to scuttle the deal.

New roading into wilderness in the Weld Valley Southern Tasmania. November 2012

New roading into wilderness in the Weld Valley Southern Tasmania. November 2012

Ta Ann is still receiving wood from ongoing logging inside proposed reserves. In response to the markets pressure that has been generated by our organisations, Markets for Change, Huon Valley Environment Centre, Still Wild Still Threatened and Japan Tropical Forest Action Network. Ta Ann have begun seeking for their wood supply to come from outside the proposed reserves, but this has not yet happened and seems unlikely in the near future.

For the ENGO signatories to the Tasmanian Forests Agreement, to go to Japan and attempt to take the pressure off, before an outcome that sees Ta Ann completely exit the proposed reserves is achieved, it ridiculous. A lot of damage will be done to these places until the loggers are refused access.

Neither have any of the proposed reserves yet received secure protection, and their protection remains uncertain as implementing legislation for the agreement is held up in Tasmania’s notorious environmentally unfriendly upper house, until March. These groups apparently think that removing the incentive to get out of these places is helpful just when we actually need pressure to secure positive outcomes for the forest so that markets action can then cease! They also recommend continuing to buy and sell product that comes from logging the very areas all parties agreed should be protected – what sort of environmentally friendly product is that?

Furthermore the Tasmanian Government amendments to the legislation list 52 logging coupes inside the proposed reserves, and there is a timeline that extends through 2014 of continued logging inside reserves. The ENGOs signatories to the agreement agreed that logging coupes inside the reserves will be excised from the gazettal of those reserves, only being incorporated into the reserves sometime in the future after the logging. It transpires that the 3 environmental signatory groups have also left the government to determine what reserve category the forests go into. Of the entire 500,000 hectares only 60,000 hectares or so are proposed to become national parks. The vast majority of the area (upwards of 350,000 hectares) is proposed to become Regional Reserves – subject to mineral exploration, mining, hunting, etc. A very low grade reservation, which some of the WH proposal will fall into, including areas in the Florentine, Styx, Weld and Picton valleys.

The Tasmanian forestry industry is in a state of collapse, before Christmas the industry stated they need the forest agreement for survival. The deal actually props up the industry with ongoing subsidies and holds off a transition out of native forests and into a different set of products, including entrenched woodchipping and biomass.

We are saddened by these developments and the split this seems to be causing, but remain dedicated to ensuring that the high conservation value forests of Tasmania are not destroyed – let alone being sold on international markets at the request of environment groups. We think that reasonable conservationists would expect that logging of the agreed reserves should immediately cease.

Your support is needed NOW! Send a message supporting our campaign to inform Ta Ann’s corporate customers in Japan the ongoing destruction of Tasmania’s forests cannot be accepted as “eco-friendly’ plywood on the international market, whether endorsed by the environmental signatories to the forest agreement or not.

Click HERE to take action now to send this message to Ta Ann’s corporate customers in Japan.

By TaAnn

Environment groups selling Tasmanian Forest Destruction to Sarawak timber giant customers

The Wilderness Society yesterday announced they would be travelling to Japan in the coming week accompanied by staff of the controversial Sarawak timber company Ta Ann, to lobby customers and secure this timber company’s international markets.

Huon Valley Environment Centre’s Jenny Weber said, “Our forest advocacy organisation does not support the visit by The Wilderness Society to Japan to meet with Japanese customers of Ta Ann. This misguided delegation to Japan by The Wilderness Society is being undertaken without a stick of forest being protected in Tasmania and without any certainty that the Legislative Council will install industry reforms to move forestry in Tasmania away from a reliance on native forest destruction.”

“Logging is still happening inside the proposed reserves and no new reserves have been created yet. Ta Ann’s Tasmanian product is still coming from proposed reserves where the forests have extraordinarily unique conservation values. This is not acceptable to the market.” Jenny Weber said.

“Environment groups providing environmental credentials for an industry who continues to provide a controversial wood product is not ok, while forests remain unprotected and logging continues unabated, this endorsement is putting the cart before the horse. The logical and reasonable approach in anyone’s book would be to provide a green tick to forestry in Tasmania once its practices have actually changed. This cannot happen while native forest is clear felled, biodiversity is lost and Sarawak timber mafias are driving the destruction,” Jenny Weber said.

“Our campaign has been to inform the Japanese customers of their controversial wood supply by Ta Ann and request Ta Ann and their Japanese customers to cease receiving timber from the destruction of Tasmania’s forests,” Jenny Weber said.

“Our opposition to this tour of environment groups endorsing Ta Ann, is about companies being rewarded for a legacy of environmental destruction and human rights violations overseas before there are any changes made by the company to halt their controversial practices,” Jenny Weber said.

By TaAnn

MARKETS NEED CHRISTMAS MORATORIUM ON LOGGING PROPOSED NEW RESERVES IN TASMANIA

After deferral of legislation to enact the Tasmanian Forest Agreement and Ta Ann’s announcement of an extended shutdown and agreement with Forestry Tasmania over reducing log supply, it is now imperative that a renewed moratorium halts ongoing logging inside the proposed new reserves.

Markets For Change say that customer companies and consumers will want to know that they are no longer at risk of receiving wood products arising from logging the very areas agreed for protection under the forest agreement, as such product does not meet environmental expectations of the market.

Yet as many as 60 logging coupes are on a list for exemptions to a moratorium, which equates to business-as-usual logging of places the House of Assembly agreed should be protected.

The spectacular threatened forests in logging coupe WR008A

The spectacular threatened forests in logging coupe WR008A

“A comprehensive moratorium on logging the proposed new reserves should be agreed by governments to satisfy market requirements for environmentally acceptable supply and to ensure the integrity of those places is maintained whilst Parliamentary deliberations continue,” said Peg Putt CEO of Markets For Change.“Ta Ann’s extended shutdown and reduction of supply from Forestry Tasmania provide the opportunity to reschedule out of the high conservation value forests immediately, something we believe is also in the interests of Ta Ann if they are to address the concerns of the market.”

“Wood supply requirements of Ta Ann have previously been used to justify scheduling logging operations inside contentious forests, under exemptions to a fully-fledged moratorium, but this should no longer be the case in light of new measures announced by Ta Ann.”

“A full moratorium this Christmas would be a positive all round,” Ms Putt concluded.

By TaAnn

Media Release: Scrutiny of controversial support for Ta Ann

Cable logging in Russell Valley Photo: Jenny Weber

Cable logging in Russell Valley Photo: Jenny Weber

Environment groups Huon Valley Environment Centre and Still Wild Still Threatened have called for an immediate and comprehensive moratorium on all forests nominated for protection, as the key driver of forest destruction Ta Ann has announced it would close over January. The State Government could provide an immediate moratorium, with-out the business as usual logging that the failed moratoriums have had in the past.

 

“A real moratorium on logging in the world heritage value and national heritage value forests will provide the necessary protection for these areas. If Ta Ann is scaling back operations for January, then the logging can be scaled back too,” Huon Valley Environment Centre’s spokesperson Jenny Weber said.

 

“Ta Ann’s announcements of a seven week shut down and an agreement to accept lower peeler log supply from public forest, means there is no reason for those forests nominated for future reserves to be lost to clear-felling this summer. For this company to re-open in 2013 and continue to accept wood from verified national and world heritage value forest would fuel controversy in the international market and is unacceptable,” Miranda Gibson spokesperson for Still Wild Still Threatened said.

 

The organisations state their opposition to a premature environmental endorsement for Ta Ann in the markets.

“Ta Ann’s announcement that some environment groups will assist the company in January with a ‘market support program’, belittles the credibility of these environment groups and gives false certainty for the Japanese customers of Ta Ann. Premature endorsement for Ta Ann before secure protection of high conservation value forests is delivered is unacceptable. Endorsement for Ta Ann in their markets by environment groups will be supporting a timber product that is tainted with the loss of globally significant forests, threatened species impacts and large scale clear-felling,” Jenny Weber said.

 

“Certainty for forest protection has not been provided, so the largest timber company in Tasmania that is the key driver of world heritage and national heritage forests should not be provided market security,” Jenny Weber said.

 

“Ta Ann has not yet proven that they will cease accepting wood from the controversial forests that are the concern of the international community and customers. The company cannot expect to gain environmental credibility internationally without making those changes. And the market support they intend to receive from some environment groups cannot be a replacement for making real change to their ongoing destructive practises” said Miranda Gibson.

 

Our organisations are concerned that there are a range of issues arising from Ta Ann in Tasmania that require closer scrutiny including taxpayer funding for a multi-million dollar company, and the intention of the company to maintain their timber supply at 265 000 cubic metres, with 140 000 cubic metres being provided by private land at the same time that a weakening of the forest practices code spells threats to biodiversity.

 

“Ta Ann is set to be provided financial assistance by the State Government, with one example being a cheaper electricity deal. For tax-payer funds to support a multi-million dollar company, in a time when our community struggle with high power prices is an insult to the Tasmanian public,” said Jenny Weber

 

“Furthermore Federal tax-payer compensation for the company will be provided after their contracted wood supply could not be met by Forestry Tasmania; however Ta Ann is looking to make up the difference in their contracted wood supply from private land,” Jenny Weber said.

“Ta Ann stands to be the biggest winner out of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, while the forests continue to be lost. Environment groups will give them a tick of approval despite the company being one of the most controversial companies to operate in Tasmania’s environmental landscape, while the tax-payer will prop up a multi-million dollar company,” Jenny Weber said.

 

“Tasmania has not yet seen one hectare of forest guaranteed secure protection through this forest agreement. Yet despite the uncertainty for the forests Ta Ann are being further propped up by the Government to continue operating in this state, without any evidence that they will cease accepting high conservation value forests,” Miranda Gibson said.

 

“Ta Ann’s announcements highlight the complete hypocrisy of the forest agreement. While logging is set to continue business as usual in high conservation value forests, the industry are being supported to continue that destruction without a guarantee for the forests,” Miranda Gibson said.

 

Image by Emma Capp

Image by Emma Capp

 

By TaAnn