15 March, 2011

Hold Lara accountable for every forest logged

Jenny Weber, Huon Valley Environment Centre.
Tasmanian Times, 16 March 2011.

15 March 2011 passes and there is not a moratorium;  sadly forests are still being lost ...  forests that are endangered species habitat, rural communities water catchments, ecosystems that are contiguous with the TWWHA, and the iconic tall eucalyptus and rainforests of Southern Tasmania.

To mark the passing of the deadline for the forests moratorium community members gathered at Hobart’s Executive Building. Still Wild Still Threatened and Huon Valley Environment Centre have launched a ten day campaign to pressure the State Government to place an immediate moratorium on all high conservation value forests.

We claim that the misleading announcement by Premier Lara Giddings last week suggests a moratorium is in place. Sadly forests that today could have been saved as national parks and world heritage areas are still falling. The State Government failed to take action over the past three months to implement a full and true moratorium, and now the promised protection of our forests is overdue. The failure to have a full forest moratorium in place amounts to a complete bungle by the State Government.

Join the ten day campaign to give a voice to these forests that have missed out on protection due to the failure of the State Government to protect all of Tasmania’s high conservation value forests.

Come along to the vigil at the Executive Building every weekday until Friday 25 March from 12 noon – 1 pm, 15 Murray st Hobart.

An online blog ‘Moratorium Now’ will be at http://www.nativeforest.net and will document the stories from around Tasmania to give a voice to the forests that are falling.

You can share your stories by emailing us your stories, and pictures about forests that are still falling around Tasmania that would have been saved had the moratorium been met. Submit a story or photograph of a forest in your part of Tasmania that is being logged.

Our plan is to collate these stories and produce a book to be delivered to Premier Lara Giddings at the end of the ten days.

Our presence outside Premier Lara Giddings office is to bring the voice for the forests to her and hold her accountable for every forest that falls as each day passes and a full moratorium is not in place.

Contact us to join the roster for the vigil, or submit your story or photograph from your corner of Tasmania.

huonenvironmentcentre@gmail.com or call the Huon Valley Environment Centre on 03 6264 1286 The State and Federal Government announced a moratorium and then failed to implement it. This worked well for the logging industry, as they were able to keep logging. It buys the industry more time. It will see more forest getting logged.

Huon Valley Environment Centre and Still Wild Still Threatened have been campaigning to highlight the ongoing loss of the high conservation value forests and we have aimed to raise awareness about the hypocrisy and the failure of actual implementation for a proposed moratorium.

Activists in the forests in the Derwent, Huon and Bass districts have witnessed new roads being built in to old growth forest, and large areas of forest logged over this three month period that could have been saved. New logging areas have been started since December. And as recently as the last fortnight, new logging areas started in many parts of the state.

Since February, HVEC and SWST have been conducting peaceful campaigns from the forests to the cities.  Forest actions have been held in the Esperance in the far south of Tasmania, the old growth forests of the Picton and Styx Valleys, the water catchment forests of the West Wellington and Tyenna regions, to the Counsel area, an area of diverse pristine forest in the west.

Since January six conservationists have been arrested since our campaign has been reignited around bringing attention to the ongoing logging of high conservation value forests.

Two people were arrested in the Picton Valley. One person was arrested on a log truck taking logs to the wharf in Hobart for export to China.

One person was arrested at Ta Ann after a community walk in. Two people were arrested hanging a banner off the Parliament House calling for a moratorium now.

The high conservation value forests still being logged deserve an immediate moratorium. The State government has lagged behind in this process, and the point we are at now is the point we should have been in December. Once again through this bureaucratic bungling the forests are again the loser.

This current process secures temporary protection for coupes that weren’t scheduled to be logged, and for the continuation of wood supply security. We are disappointed that the moratorium is not in place, and until it is we will continue to act in the best interest for the forests.

It’s a second rate result for forests. It is not good enough, and we will continue to highlight the plight of our precious forests and ancient ecosystems. Every endangered species habitat that is lost over this time is due to the failure to deliver a full moratorium on all high conservation value forests and refusal to extinguish wood supply quotas.

13 March, 2011

Fears for forest pact

Danielle McKay
The Mercury (article), March 13, 2011

AUSTRALIAN Greens leader Bob Brown says hopes for a Tasmanian forestry peace deal are in danger of being derailed.

Senator Brown's concerns followed an agreement that would allow high-conservation forests to be logged for six months, despite an initial draft moratorium of 30 days. Senator Brown said he was also concerned that the deal called for a second Federal Government buyout of some existing native forest logging contracts, which could mean millions to timber company Gunns Ltd.

The Senator was also worried by reports that former union boss Bill Kelty, who brokered the deal between environmentalists and forestry industry groups, believed that the only way to end forestry wars was if the pulp mill at Bell Bay proceeded.

"It appears that the rate of logging is going to continue, there's going to be an injection of public funds and the first environment pillar in this proposed agreement, which was for a complete moratorium after 30 days in the iconic forests, has been broken," he said.

"It's in danger of being corrupted by the vested interest of the logging industry."

Standing alongside Senator Brown yesterday was Tasmania Greens Leader Nick McKim, who reassured that there was no difference of opinion between the state Greens and their federal counterparts.

Mr McKim said he would meet with the Premier Lara Giddings tomorrow to discuss his concerns and said he believed the moratorium could be brought back to its original March 15 deadline. On Friday Forestry Tasmania Chief Bob Gordon warned against unrealistic expectations.

Forestry confirmed that some high-conservation forest areas designated by environment organisations to be "locked up" and "saved" under the deal would undoubtedly be logged before the September 11 moratorium deadline expired.

12 March, 2011

Forest deal breaks public trust: Brown

Senator Bob Brown
Media Release, 12 March 2011

Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown said in Hobart today that the deal
struck between Forestry Tasmania CEO Bob Gordon and federal independent
facilitator Bill Kelty was a breach of public trust in the forest
principles process.

"Mr Kelty says 'let me place on record our appreciation of Bob Gordon
and Forestry Tasmania for your support in this difficult process' - no
mention of environmentalists."

"Mr Gordon says 'Mr Kelty believes an agreement may be possible, if a
proposed pulp mill at Bell Bay proceeds', and to add insult to injury
adds that 'by necessity, some coupes in the area proposed by ENGOs for
reservation will be logged over the next six months'. That is, the
proposed moratorium has been dumped."

"The Australian Greens saw that the iconic forests of Tasmania had
become too expensive for the industry to continue logging. The industry
came to environmentalists to help rescue it, not the forests."

"But now the industry is calling the shots and going for a massive
taxpayer funded injection of funds to keep logging in native forests, on
a broad scale, for the next 16 years at least. That's not on. We will
oppose the public purse being robbed to fund further forest destruction
or the Gunns pulp mill," Senator Brown said.

Marion Rae
Director of Media/Senior Media Adviser
Senator Bob Brown | Leader of the Australian Greens
Suite SG-112 Parliament House, Canberra ACT
P: 02 6277 3577 | M: 0438 376 082| F: 02 6277 3185


04 March, 2011

Green MP threatens Tas Government over mill

ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) 4 March 2011

Tasmanian Greens MP Kim Booth is threatening to bring down the state's Labor-Green Government over the Gunns pulp mill.

The Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke has delayed a decision on whether to issue a final permit needed for the mill until next week.

Bass Greens MHA, Kim Booth says he will withdraw support for the Government if it offers to underwrite the project, or seeks to support it in other ways using public money.

"I would no longer have confidence in the government, I would do everything I could to ensure that the government fell on that basis," he said.

"Were Lara Giddings, for example, as Premier to provide support for the mill either covertly or overtly by legislation or funding for that project then that government would be a Dead Man Walking because ultimately a no-confidence motion ..I would support a no confidence motion in that government because I could no longer support them," he said.

In a statement, Premier Lara Giddings says finance for the pulp mill is a matter for Gunns and not the State Government.

Ms Giddings says while she supports the project, she respects that the Tasmanian Greens will have a different view.

Tougher conditions

The Tasmanian timber giant says it wants stricter environmental permits for its $2.5 billion pulp mill, after consulting community and environment groups.

Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, has deferred his decision on the mill's marine modules for a week, to give his department time to consider Gunns' request.

But Tasmanian Greens spokeswoman Cassy O'Connor is unmoved.

"The bottom line is it's the wrong mill in the wrong location," she said.

"We are concerned for Tasmania's environment and we are concerned for Tasmania's marine environment and we are hopeful that the Federal Minister will respect these concerns when he makes this decision next week."

Environment Tasmania's Phill Pullinger welcomes the news, but is reserving his judgement.

"As to whether or not these are changes that are just going to be tweaking around the edges," he said.

Tasmania's forest industry groups hope stricter environmental permits for Gunns' pulp mill will make the project more attractive to a potential joint venture partner.

The company is yet to announce a financial backer, but Barry Chipman from Timber Communities Australia says the changes to the permit conditions should be viewed positively by potential investors.

"That will be a big green light, we believe, for the financial closure to come very very quick and then we can see the final phase of the journey and that is the development and commissioning of the Bell Bay pulp mill," he said.

The final Federal assessment is now due next Thursday.

Gunns shares closed at 53.5 cents after a trading halt, down one per cent on the opening.

Gunns spokesman Matthew Horan says the share price was stable after the announcement.

03 March, 2011

Pulp mill decision postponed

Nick Clark
The Mercury (article),  March 03, 2011

ENVIRONMENT Minister Tony Burke has postponed for a week an announcement about the final environmental approval for the Gunns Limited $2.5 billion pulp mill.

Mr Burke said the extension to the March 3 deadline for approval of Gunns hydrodynamic modelling had been extended at the request of Gunns.

It is understood Gunns wants regulatory approval for changes to the mill design foreshadowed at the company's annual meeting in October.

The improvements were sought after discussions with pulp mill opponents.

"Today I am extending that deadline for a further week until March 10, 2011," he said.

"Yesterday, representatives from Gunns contacted my department and indicated that the company was seeking tougher environmental controls than were contained in the original application.

"The company further sought that these more stringent environmental controls be incorporated with the other decisions I am to make on the environmental impact management plan.

"My department needs to assess these proposed variations to the original pulp mill proposal and allow the Independent Expert Group to examine these variations.

"I expect these processes will be complete, and I will be in a position to consider updated advice from my department, next week.

Shares in Gunns Limited have been placed in a trading halt pending an announcement about the environmental changes to the mill design.

01 March, 2011

Forest talks unravel

Matthew Denholm, Tasmania correspondent 
The Australian (article), March 01, 2011 12:00AM

TALKS to fix the conflict over Tasmania's forests appear to be unravelling, with splits over the timing of a moratorium in key forests.

The Tasmanian government and sections of the timber industry are defying conservationists' demands that the moratorium be in place by March 15.

State Resources Minister Bryan Green yesterday said his government was not prepared to implement the moratorium until a final deal was in place to restructure the timber industry. This is despite the state and federal governments on December 15 endorsing a moratorium on logging in high conservation value forests within three months.

Conservationists warn that if this moratorium is not in place by March 15 - three months from both governments endorsing it - the talks will collapse.

"On behalf of the green groups, if the moratorium is not there (by March 15) these talks -- which we all support -- will collapse," Wilderness Society campaign director Lyndon Schneiders told The Australian.

But Mr Green said the state government did not support a moratorium on logging in all high conservation value forests until it was part of a comprehensive industry restructuring and regional development package.

Timber industry groups last night insisted the moratorium deadline was three months from last Friday, when independent negotiator Bill Kelty held talks with industry and green groups.

This would provide a deadline of May 25, but green groups say this is completely false, and that March 15 is the deadline as "clearly" outlined by federal Environment Minister Tony Burke and then-premier David Bartlett on December 15.

Mr Green said he had not instructed the state-owned forestry company, Forestry Tasmania, to implement the moratorium at all, let alone by March 15. Mr Green said the government had shown "good will" by taking an initial 39 logging coupes out of production and was "thinking about" how to protect the remaining high conservation value forests.

However, he insisted this would only be done "on the back of an agreement" including an industry restructure and regional development package.

"We can't do anything in respect to a moratorium unless forest becomes available to be reserved, if people hand back their contracts," Mr Green said.

"The amount of area that we're talking about is a significant area and it requires us to think about regional development opportunities (and) to have a package so that we are not putting people on the scrapheap."

Mr Schneiders said there was unlikely to be a future for the peace process, designed to end 30 years of conflict over forestry, if Mr Green was reneging on the moratorium deadline.

The moratorium was the "first test" of the interim "principles" agreement last year that set the parameters for the current negotiations, Mr Schneiders said, and it was difficult to see a future for them if it was not met.