• The Independent, UK: So much for the ‘truly Green Games’: Olympic athletes to train on timber from ‘endangered’ forests
Wood from forests which provide homes to some of the planet’s most endangered species is being used to construct athletes’ training facilities for next year’s London Olympics, it has been alleged.
Eucalyptus trees, from forests which date back more than 1,000 years, are being logged, despite the UN World Heritage Committee’s repeated calls for that region of Tasmania to be protected.
The forests provide habitats to Tasmanian Devils, the Tasmanian Giant Freshwater Lobster and the Swift Parrot, all of which are listed as endangered species and scientists believe that the wooded area captures and stores the most carbon of any on earth per square mile.
Now though, an Australian environmental group has claimed that products made from trees felled there are being used to make a basketball court for Team USA to train on during the Games.
Although the building is not being run by the London 2012 organisers Locog, in 2018 they pledged to only use sustainable timber in the construction of the Games’ venues and infrastructure, as part of a drive to make them a “truly green Games”.
And, while Athens was criticised for making “no requirements for any form of sustainable wood products” in 2004, the organisers of Beijing 2008 banned wood “obtained directly from virgin forest” and, in the run-up to the 2000 Sydney Olympics, organisers pledged to only use wood which was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Wood in the London SportDock facility, construction of which is being lead by the University of East London (UEL), conforms to the rival Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) standard, which environmental groups attack for not going far enough to promote ethical logging. The facility will be rented by Team USA for the duration of the Games.
Though it does not contravene any law, the logging is opposed by environmental groups. Tim Birch, Chief executive of Markets for Change, which led a six-month investigation into the trade, tracing the wood from Tasmania to the London 2012 site, said: “Tasmania’s ancient forests, which offer crucial habitat to endangered species like the Tasmanian Devil and the Tasmanian Wedge-Tailed Eagle, are being trashed so that plywood can be sold on to the international markets.
“It’s a tragedy that this time the trail of destruction has led to London’s Olympic Games so America’s international sports stars could be forced to play on forest destruction.”
He added that it was “essential” that companies review their procurement policies to ensure that they “end the UK’s part in wrecking some of the world’s last remaining old growth forests”.
Campaigners point to Tasmanian Government documents, which show that the Malaysian manufacturer Ta Ann received timber from logging operations undertaken within old growth areas of the forest. “Whether or not Ta Ann eventually use the old growth trees which are cut down is irrelevant, the habitats have been destroyed all the same,” said Will Mooney of the Huon Valley Environment Centre.
He added: “Even if they do not use the old growth timber to make their products, it is the demand for timber from the Tasmanian forest which means that old growth trees are nevertheless being cut down then discarded.”
But Ta Ann says that no old growth trees are used in their products, pointing out that machinery recently installed by the company is only capable of processing regrowth trees. A spokesman for Ta Ann Tasmania said that its products are produced “from regrowth timber billets harvested strictly in accordance with Australia’s forest policies and laws including the forest practices code”.
Greenpeace’s executive director John Sauven said: “As a proud Londoner, I’m shocked that ancient forests crucial for conserving the world’s tallest flowering plants, the largest hardwood trees in the world, and many endangered animals are being used for flooring in London’s Olympics.
“British companies like International Plywood could end the destruction by ensuring they no longer do business” with companies who handle even new growth Tasmanian timber.
Both UEL and Dynamik Sport Surfaces, which installed the wooden flooring, said they were initially unaware that parts of the wood used in the flooring installed in the building was from the Tasmanian forest. UEL said that, had it been aware of the concerns over the source of the material, “it would have been considered. But hindsight is a great thing.”
• Conor Duffy, ABC Online: Activists outraged at use of protected Tassie timber
Environmental groups say the use of Tasmanian timber on a London Olympics building site is evidence the Federal Government’s forest peace deal is failing.
Activist group Markets for Change tracked the wood to an Olympics training site to be used by Team USA.
Markets for Change spokeswoman Louise Morris says the timber is from highly valued conversation forests earmarked for protection under the inter-governmental forest peace deal.
“It really does shed some harsh light on the current IGA [intergovernmental agreement] process,” she said.
Ta Ann Tasmania, the Malaysian-owned company that manufactured the veneer, says the London product was sold two years ago and came from regrowth forest.
The company’s director David Ridley says he is thrilled the Tasmanian eucalypt is being used at such a high-profile event.
“I’m rapt that some of the world’s best athletes can make use of a fantastic timber product,” he said.
Forestry Tasmania says the amount of timber supplied from high conservation value forests is less than half a per cent of the 430,000 hectares locked up under the deal.
• Senator Bob Brown: Ta Ann accused of logging protected Tasmanian forests to supply the London Olympics
Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown says a $31 million sports facility being built to host Team USA at London’s Olympic Games is using timber sold by a company that sources wood from the logging of Tasmanian forests earmarked for protection by state and federal governments.
“Malaysian logging company Ta Ann, accused of destroying rainforest and Orang-utan habitat in Borneo, has supplied timber to the training facility in London from areas that were meant to be protected as national park with World Heritage status under the agreement signed by state and federal governments,” Senator Brown said in Canberra.
“An investigation by Markets for Change, which tracked the timber from Ta Ann, through Europe and to London, found that Team USA’s athletes could end up training on the trashed Tasmanian forests.”
“I was in these wild forests in October and saw huge logs destined for Ta Ann. Instead of wildlife habitat, the result is a totally destroyed forest subject to napalm-like fire-bombing which destroys remnant native seeds and causes huge greenhouse gas pollution of the atmosphere,” Senator Brown said.
• HVEC: Ta Ann’s forest impact revealed in UK Olympics expose
Huon Valley Environment Centre report documents forest destruction
A UK investigation has revealed that some of the world’s leading sports stars could be training on wood sourced from the destruction of Tasmania’s pristine forests in the lead-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
In a six month investigation by Australian NGO Markets for Change, veneer produced by Ta Ann Tasmania was tracked to a new sports complex being constructed at the University of East London that will host the United States Olympic team before and during next year’s London Games. The UK Independent Newspaper ran an expose yesterday.
‘Once again, Ta Ann’s contribution to the destruction of our island’s precious forests has come under an international spotlight. Ta Ann’s continued use of timber sourced from the logging of Tasmania’s high conservation value forests, and our Government’s failure to secure the promised protection for those forests, are making headline news in the UK’, said HVEC spokesperson Jenny Weber.
‘International markets and now the British public, are aware that Tasmania continues to allow the logging of our unique tall eucalypt forests. Ta Ann’s customers in Europe and the UK must scrutinise the company’s use of wood sourced from the destruction of old growth forests and high conservation value forests earmarked for immediate protection under the IGA’, Jenny Weber said.
A recent report release by the Huon Valley Environment Centre documented Ta Ann’s use of timber sourced from the destruction of old growth and high conservation value forests since 2008, including areas earmarked for protection in the current Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA).
‘The drawn out Inter-governmental Agreement process of protecting these ancient forests is becoming questionable, when the State and Federal Government allow Ta Ann to drive the logging of endangered species habitat,’ Jenny Weber said.
‘Ta Ann cannot deny that it’s timber is coming from old growth and high conservation value forests in Tasmania,’ Jenny Weber said.
• Read for yourself:: Behind the Veneer: Forest Destruction and Ta Ann Tasmania’s Lies
• Nick McKim:
TA ANN IS DAMAGING TASMANIA’S INTERNATIONAL BRAND
Nick McKim MP
The Tasmanian Greens today expressed concerns over allegations that timber sourced from high conservation value Tasmanian forests has been used to build a sports facility for the London Olympics.
Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said that this scenario is another example of why international customers using Tasmanian timber must have confidence that what they are buying is being sourced sustainably.
“This will only help to cement Tasmania’s reputation for poor forestry practices, right at a time when the industry is supposed to be shifting to a sustainable model that doesn’t rely on wholesale destruction of high conservation forests,” Mr McKim said.
“The last thing that the London Olympic organisers want is to find out that the timber they purchased from Ta Ann wasn’t the sustainably-harvested product they thought they were buying.”
“Ta Ann is marketing Tasmanian timber as sustainably harvested, but they’re simply unable to back those claims up as long as logging continues in the 430,000 hectares of high conservation forest identified by the IGA.”
“This is a clear example of how the continuation of logging in Tasmania’s high conservation forests is undermining the state’s brand internationally, right at a time when we should be promoting our environmental credentials.”
“The immediate reservation of the identified high conservation value forests under the IGA will give certainty to Tasmanians, certainty to the timber industry, and certainty to its customers.”
• John Powell: FT’s archaeological survey ... after the clearfall
I have long been in debate with FT, FPA, and the Government with respect to the proposed FT logging Coupe BA388D overlooking and abutting the Liffey Falls WHA. There is much to tell. It was included in the Kelty 572 but not in the IGA 430. It has substantial European (sawmill, tramway, logging track and remnants of camp) and an unique aboriginal heritage of rock shelters throughout the escarpment.
All of this has been whitewashed by the incumbent Government (except of course the Greens), by Heritage Tasmania, by the bureaucracy, and the media. The great example of this is that under the FPP for the coupe, FT was going to complete the archaeological survey of the coupe after the clear felling – nominally for chip feed = some 70%
The perfect example, of many, is the following Letter to the Editor, sent to all three Tassie newspapers on October 31. Not yet printed and unlikely to be given that I have a response from Minister Wightman tonight which in effect says it is not an issue that he needs to bend his mind to.
Would it be possible for an explanation as to why, in a budget deficit period, funds are being provided for the Fox Eradication program, and as to why the Minister suggested last week ago that Tasmanians should report all sightings of Devils and road kills as a matter of urgency.
Yet I have DPIPWE IR trapping photos of Facial Disease Free Devils atop an escarpment overlooking the Liffey Falls in an area subject to a proposed logging coupe BA 388D that have been sent to those stated below and have conveniently been ignored by all.
Recipients of the material have been The Premier, The Deputy Premier, Minister Wightman, Minister O’Byrne (male), Greg Hall MLC, FT and the CFPO.
The photo shoot was not a full survey, indeed, but DPIPWE suggested they had no funds to further pursue.
Yet the Fox Eradication program has millions.
Could someone please explain?
Better still please visit the proposed Coupe and also witness first hand the astounding Indigenous and European Heritage that FT will prejudice if they proceed with their chip-dominated logging activity.
Myrtlebank, Golden Valley
Liffey, last year before the projected FT trashing
The photos were taken by DPIPWE in May/June 2010. The Devils are still present ... for now