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.