An echidna needs your help – honest!

Watch this short video of an echidna picking its way through fresh road-making operations in a forest, where a protest occurred yesterday. This area is proposed to be logged to supply Ta Ann Tasmania and end up in Japan. The echidna is a fascinating animal unique to Australia, but it is also distressing to see what is happening to its forest home.

We have updated the cyber action so you can tell Ta Ann’s customers the industrial scale assault on Tasmania’s magnificent forests looks set to continue indefinitely. The only way they are going to avoid the product of eco-destruction is to stop buying it.

The short video was filmed three days ago in a forest in the Weld Valley, where new road making operations are being conducted right now.  A 1km road is being pushed in to previously unlogged forests, where a large scale cable logging operation is proposed to source timber for Ta Ann from steep slopes.

Yesterday, conservationists from the Huon Valley Environment Centre conducted a protest at the site of this new logging road. Ten people walked into the forests and staged a peaceful vigil in these forests that are habitat for the endangered wedge tailed eagle, where unlogged native forest with species such as the Eucalyptus regnans will be logged along the banks of the Huon River.

These new logging operations are a stark indication that there is a need for a fundamental policy change in Tasmania. The ongoing clearfelling of native forests is not acceptable. There is an urgent need for a transformation of the forestry industry and its silvicultural practices to focus on climate, water and wildlife as primary imperatives, driving forest restoration and protection.

The native forest in the Lower Weld Valley is not included in the proposed 572 000ha for protection under the recently collapsed negotiations. Yet it is an intact unlogged tract of native forest which is a watershed for the Huon River. An active Wedge-Tailed Eagle nest is nearby, in line of sight of this new logging area.

This lower Weld region has suffered a clearfelling assault over the past ten years, after the rapacious logging industry pushed in major logging roads, and a bridge over the Weld River.  All the while, local conservationists have been lobbying for protection of these forests and conducted peaceful protests in every logging coupe in the region.

This region is a classic example of why a transition out native forests in Tasmania is required. Such areas of native forest are important for wildlife, watershed and carbon sinks. Not logging them also avoids massive emissions. A commitment is required to changing silvicultural techniques away from the integrated logging models based on clearfell logging and related techniques such as clump clearfelling (aggregated retention logging in forestry parlance), whilst a rapid, staged transition to using plantations is underway.

Throughout Australia the forestry industry has been undergoing fundamental structural change for decades, as the construction industry has moved substantially into softwoods and composites.  The move to plantation wood for virtually all wood products is around 80% complete and that percentage is expected to continue to increase.   Jobs have declined sharply with mechanization.

There is nothing governments can do to reverse these trends, and maintaining the native forest sector is costing tens of millions of dollars a year.

The Interim Agreement of August in Tasmania foreshadowed that negotiating parties in Tasmania want to further entrench ongoing logging of native forests, when that industry should be impelled to transition rapidly to plantations. Alarmingly entrenching native forest logging without changing the large scale clearfelling practices, provides for the forestry industry intention to intensify native forest logging for bioenergy, through burning forests, or producing wood pellets for domestic electricity production or export to feed overseas power stations. Another proposal is to make ethanol from our native forests. Claims that these schemes are climate friendly are nonsense when they are based on large scale forest destruction.

The absence of a transition to existing plantations also leaves Tasmania’s native forests open to destruction for the benefit of companies like Ta Ann.

This is not a time when Tasmania should be entrenching outmoded industrial logging practices. The market failure of the native forestry sector is strongly indicated by the collapse of markets for native forest woodchip exports. The native forestry industry has been ill-prepared for a change in demand and pricing in global markets, the industry relies on substantial, ongoing public subsidies to prop up native forest logging. They need to move on.

Right now a transformation of the current industry out of industrialised wilderness destruction into job creation through forest restoration and protection in natural forests allied with job creation in plantation management and processing is the direction to take.   This would be a very good news story and an enhancement of Tasmania’s image. 

We are calling for a categorical rejection of commercial scale bioenergy/biofuels based on native forest wood, or export of wood for such production overseas. A complete reform of the industry and a transition out of native forest harvesting is required; not short term ‘band aid’ solutions that prop up unprofitable, destructive logging.

Please take action so that you can join us in informing Ta Ann’s corporate customers of their important role. A future in Tasmania that allows Ta Ann continued access to wood from entrenched native forest destruction may not alleviate the concerns of the global market. Ta Ann needs to live up to their environmental claims and cease accepting controversial wood.  Ta Ann cannot be shielded by the forest negotiations, they must still be accountable to their international customers.

The Tasmanian forestry industry will only enjoy public support and commercial success once it has moved definitively away from the destruction of native forests.

We need your help to expose the truth in the forests and create momentum for change.

By TaAnn

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