We are appalled by the revelation of recent communications from the Australian Conservation Foundation and The Wilderness Society to Japanese customers of Ta Ann Tasmania.
Two letters have been sent in secret, both requesting that the Japanese continue to buy Ta Ann product originating from Tasmanian native forests, despite the fact that the wood supply requirements of Ta Ann have been identified as the driver for logging high conservation value forests in official documents on the scheduling of forestry operations. The letters espouse the desire that the supplier not be adversely affected by any change to their contracts and ask that the contracts be maintained. No concern is expressed over the ongoing logging destruction of forests used to create those products.
The Chief Executive officer of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Don Henry, and the National Director of The Wilderness Society, Lyndon Schneiders, co-signed the letters.
This act is undermining the chances of achieving protection of magnificent forests in Tasmania, and also the campaigns of Tasmanian, Australian and Japanese groups who have been participating in a successful markets campaign for the past twelve months. We have consistently asked companies receiving Ta Ann product to call for an immediate stop to logging the conservation claim in Tasmania whilst negotiations over the future protection of these forests take place, and to refuse to take wood product coming from inside this area.
The ACF and TWS letters are clearly designed to counteract this campaign and to appease the forest industry. They repeatedly express concern for “a sustainable future for the forest industries in Tasmania”, but not for the fate of the magnificent forests under the chainsaw. We do not believe that their members and supporters are aware of or would condone their actions.
Far from giving peace a chance, the letters have reduced pressure for the forestry industry to come to an agreement. There is still no final forest agreement in Tasmania and the outlook is bleak as forestry industry representatives have now suspended their participation in the talks.
At best the ACF TWS letters are grossly misguided, at worst they are a capitulation to industry. In either case these peak bodies have shown they are willing to support the forestry industry and deliberately undermine our campaign in secret. They have endorsed the ongoing logging of high conservation value forests for Ta Ann and their Japanese customers by making this communication with the markets.