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

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