10 protesters from environmental group Code Green have today blocked a road which leads to at least 2 active logging coupes in East Ben Lomond in the state’s North East. One protestor is suspended in a tree sit attached to a tripod in the middle of the road.
The coupes are within the 430,000ha highlighted for immediate protection in the IGA (Intergovernmental Agreement) of August 7, 2011 signed by the Federal and State governments.
“This is an area that should have been given immediate protection on March 15 this year. Instead we are still seeing machines clearing what has been identified by both the State and Federal Governments as being of high conservation value.” Said spokesperson for Code Green Jared Irwin.
“Code Green demands immediate protection for the 572,000 hectares of high conservation value forest identified by ENGOs and for the government to enforce the immediate withdrawal of all forestry operations within the 430,000ha identified in the Statement of Principals of October 19, 2010.” Mr Irwin said.
Spokesperson for Forestry Tasmania, Ken Jeffreys, recently stated that every sawmill in the state would have to close if logging in the 430,000ha in question was stopped. Code Green ask Mr. Jeffreys why there are saw logs being left in coupes to rot and split when he is claiming that the processing of these logs is critical to the continuation of the industry.
Code Green are willing and committed to cease protest activity in these contentious high conservation value areas as soon as logging stops and the areas are placed in formal reserves.
• Forest defenders doing government’s job: Brown
Forest defenders at Ben Lomond are doing the job the state government promised to do but failed to do, Greens Leader Bob Brown said today.
Senator Brown cited the Inter Governmental Agreement signed by Premier Giddings and Prime Minister Gillard on 7 August 2011, which says:
“The State will immediately place the 430,000 hectares of native forest ….. into Informal Reserves. The boundaries of this 430,000 hectares were verified through an independent verification process.“
“Forestry Tasmania is hypocritical to be calling on environmentalists to stay out of these forests while it is the agent putting a chainsaw through the agreement.
“These forests are a magnificent part of Tasmania’s wild heritage and should be added to the Ben Lomond National Park, not smashed into oblivion,” Senator Brown added.
Meanwhile, Senator Brown said nothing was in the way of Mr Troy Harper, Chairman of Tasmanian Chamber Commerce and Industry standing for local council elections.
“His gripe about environmentalists standing is a bit hollow against the growing public feeling that the chamber long ago lost track of modern Tasmania’s feeling that good business and ecological practice go together,” Senator Brown said.
• JAPANESE PAPER GIANT THREATENS KOALA SURVIVAL
One of the most critical populations of koalas in Australia is under threat from logging to supply one of Japan’s biggest paper manufacturers, Nippon Paper.
Koala habitat in Bermagui State Forest in the New South Wales south east, is being destroyed to supply woodchips for the Nippon Paper Group.
A Committee of the Australian Parliament recently found that koala numbers are falling at an alarming rate, but state owned forests are exempt from environmental laws to protect threatened species. The koala is already listed as an endangered species by the United States Government.
Conservation group South East Regional Conservation Alliance (SERCA) is calling for an end to native forest logging and woodchipping.
The woodchips are exported from the Eden woodchip mill, which is owned by the Nippon Paper Group.
“We are concerned that logging for woodchips has the potential to make the koala extinct in south eastern New South Wales,” said Ms Lisa Stone, Convenor of SERCA.
Although koala numbers are dangerously low in the region, they are still breeding in nearby Mumbulla and Kooraban forests, with a good chance of recovery if their habitat is left undisturbed.
“It is vital that the Bermagui forest, which provides a link between the two known koala populations should not be logged,” Ms Stone said.
“The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has expressed concern over the future of our koalas, listing them as one of the species most under threat from climate change,” said Ms Stone. “Habitat loss is one of the biggest threats driving koalas to extinction.”
Conservationists also claim that the woodchipping industry is subsidised because the logs it chips are priced at below market levels.
“This means that NSW taxpayers, in effect, are subsidising the Japanese paper giant,” she said.
“We are determined to protect public native forests and move all Australia’s public native forest wood production into sustainably managed plantations.”
“We believe most Japanese people would be horrified if they knew that commonly available paper products were putting at risk the future of this much loved animal,” she said.
“We are calling on Nippon Paper to stop using native forest woodchips and source woodchips from plantations only and help protect Australia’s remaining koala habitat.”