We wrote to you last week about the implementation of the Tasmanian forest agreement, a major breakthrough that represents the best opportunity in a generation to resolve the long-running conflict over logging in Tasmania's irreplaceable native forests.
The implementation process has highlighted a number of key issues that need to be addressed including the proposed Gunns Tamar Valley pulp mill, an issue that many Wilderness Society supporters care deeply about.
As a signatory to the forest agreement we acknowledge that a pulp mill could be one of a range of plantation processing options that a new, reformed industry could develop.
But the Wilderness Society's opposition to the current Tamar Valley proposal remains.
While Gunns have taken a number of positive steps to address some critically important issues, including a public commitment that the pulp mill would not use timber from native forests, we will continue to oppose the pulp mill on a number of grounds including:
- its location
- its impacts on the marine environment
- its use of fresh water
- the discredited, fast-tracked approval process put in place by the Lennon Government in 2007.
- We also acknowledge that the majority of local residents and Tasmanians remain strongly opposed to the Tamar Valley pulp mill.
Gunns has begun to change a number of things about the way it does business which we welcome. These changes have come about due to sustained pressure by people like you.
- Reforms include: seeking globally recognised Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for its wood products
- ending the poisoning of native wildlife and the clearing of native forests for plantations
- making an exit from native forest logging across across the country, including in Western Australia and Victoria.
- Native forest logging has been a key concern for the Wilderness Society for many years and we have publicly supported Gunns' intent to move away from this destructive practice and towards a 100% plantation-based business model. This is a critical step towards protecting Tasmania's forests.
There have been major changes in the leadership and on the board of Gunns over the past 12 months, however the company still has native forest timber supply agreements with Forestry Tasmania, so the forests we care about are not yet protected and there is plenty more work to be done.
Meeting with Gunns
In this complex and fast moving environment, and as a part of the commitment to the forests peace plan, the Wilderness Society will be meeting this week with Gunns to discuss our concerns about the Tamar Valley pulp mill.
We'll also discuss what needs to happen to deliver peace in the forests via the Tasmanian forest agreement. Other conservation groups have also agreed to meet with Gunns, as has the leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown. As outlined previously, we'll be seeking Gunns' response to a range of concerns and issues including marine pollution, wood supply, the fast-track assessment process, location in the Tamar and fresh water use.
Thanks for your ongoing support in these exciting but difficult times. We commit to keeping you informed as discussions progress.
Vica Bayley & Paul Oosting
On behalf of the Tasmanian Forest Team