Dear << >> MLC
I write to encourage you to support the continuation of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement.
I lived in the Ouse district as a young child. At that time there were seven saw mills within a short drive of one-another in the district. Now there are none. There have been no significant lock-ups of forest in the Ouse district. From 1983 to the early 2000’s the amount of logging in Tasmania increased exponentially and the amount of woodchip exports increased exponentially but the mills closed.
While it is convenient to blame the greenies (as the locals often do) the material reality is that forestry pulped and burned vast quantities of saw log and special species timbers because it was just easier to make money from bulk chip exports given negligible royalties, favourable political treatment, and removal from any form of public accountability.
At 17 I joined the Wilderness Society after seeing a cable logging operation at Hellyer. It was 1991. At that time it was established in the literature that old growth woodchips would be uncompetitive against planation pulp within 20 years. The (then) Forestry Commission knew that. Industry chiefs knew that. Academics knew that. As a 17 year old TWS activist I knew that. The Liberal and Labor parties pretended not to know.
The wilderness movement worked hard to lock up as much high conservation forest as possible over the next 20 years before the inevitable industry collapse happened.
Forestry Tasmania and their industry allies worked hard to undermine any attempts at industry reform, conservation, or accountability over the next 20 years before the inevitable industry collapse happened. They didn’t fail to plan – they planned to fail; but a lot of money got made in the mean-time. Meanwhile the Tasmanian forest industry has been handed millions of dollars to not log forests that were never theirs.
Faced with unsustainable losses the Tasmanian forest industry approached the conservation movement to make an agreement. An agreement was freely made between the parties without any external interference. All signatories made significant compromises. Facing similar circumstances in Canada, conservationists and industry formed the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement which can serve as a model for Tasmania. We are not the first.
The agreement was substantially modified by the Legislative Council. The environmental signatories agreed to these changes even though this required further compromise. The conditions of the agreement have been adhered to. While much has been made of some protests by Still Threatened Still Wild and the Huon Environment Centre, these need to be kept in perspective. The activist community in Tasmania has accepted the agreement. The two organisations above are so lacking in local support that they had to import protestors from Victoria who have no background in the Tasmanian scene. While they have made a nuisance of themselves and drawn some flack this hardly qualifies as substantial protest activity or market interference. Industry can shrug off these protests.
If you vote down the agreement we are back in the trenches. There is no good outcome to this for Tasmania. If the Liberal party and their MLC colleagues trample their own tradition of civil freedoms and outlaw protest activity in Tasmania the campaign will simply move elsewhere. Industry cannot shrug off a concerted international boycott and divestment campaign. For more on this see my blog posts here: http://www.findinghomebookspace.blogspot.com.au/2013_05_01_archive.html and here: http://www.findinghomebookspace.blogspot.com.au/2013_04_01_archive.html
This conflict has been going on for too long. I turn 40 in October and I have been protesting since I was eleven. Recently I attended a celebration of the extension of the WHA. I asked Bob Graham when this all began for him and he said “we started the forest campaign in 1973”. That’s the year I was born. Actually some areas have been campaigned for since the 1940’s.
The agreement represents the only viable way forward for resolution of the forest conflict and long term management of the forest estate. The agreement leaves regrowth forest, plantation estates, and uncontested old growth forest as the basis of a future industry. In a rational universe the State would also be vigorously pursuing industrial hemp as an allied industry.
Ultimately I would like to live in a State where forest workers can go about their jobs with dignity and broad community support, and where some of the most amazing forest and wilderness on the planet gets the protection it deserves.
It is now up to you to decide whether to be part of the future or condemn us to the past.
Tag line: Tasmanian Forest Agreement, Canadian Forest Agreement, Gunns, Old Growth Forest Conservation
Disclaimer: this blogspot does not support all the content on the www.ForestryTasmania.com website but notes that the images contained therein are an authentic representation of Tasmanian forestry practices.