RELEASE/VICTORY: Australian Timber Giant Gunns to End Old Growth Logging
Shows strength of Tasmanian, Australian and global forest protection movements, yet need firm dates for commitments, and assurances other bad forestry practices will not be embraced. First and foremost, as Gunns pulls out of the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, these old-growth native forests that were to be industrially cleared must be protected, not sold to others to log – certified or otherwise. EI’s network contributed mightily to victory.
(Tasmania, Australia) - In a massive win for the environmental movement, the new head of Tasmanian timber company Gunns Limited [search] has broke ranks with Tasmania's forest industry and confirmed it will pull out of native forest logging altogether. At an industry conference in Melbourne Thursday, Gunns’ new chief executive Greg L'Estrange announced the company will move away from logging native forests [search] and develop plantation-based products. Further, Gunns revealed it would quit the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, which was arguing for a continuation of native forest logging in the state.
The promises, if fully implemented, are a huge victory for Tasmania and Australia’s forest movement, such as the Wilderness Society, as well as a large body of international affinity campaigns. Tasmania has the tallest flowering plants on Earth, with trees reaching over 90 meters, and contains Australia's greatest tracts of temperate rainforest. Australia’s intact Eucalypt forests are also extraordinarily carbon rich. Gunns and Tasmania's environment movement have been long-time foes, culminating in a bitter five-year lawsuit brought by the company against 20 conservationists, including Greens leader Bob Brown, which Gunns lost in 2009, while failing to stifle opposition.
Ecological Internet played a critical role in the victory with over a decade of Internet action alerts and protests, which successfully internationalized the issue. Most recently in August of 2008 some 7634 global citizens participating in EI’s Earth Action Network [1} sent 450,906 protest emails, urging the actions taken yesterday. Over a dozen such alerts were done by EI urging an end to Gunns’ native old growth logging over the years. Some thought EI’s demands to end – rather than regulate or certify –Tasmania’s primary forest logging as too extreme, yet if this announcement is implemented, EI’s demands will have been met in full.
“The Tasmanian, Australian and global forest protection movements have flexed their muscle, and the campaign to end primary forest logging has scored a likely huge victory,” states Dr. Glen Barry, EI’s President. “Yet it is vital campaigns continue against Gunns, as there are a number of ways this could still end badly for Tasmania’s forests. To ensure Gunns’ announcement is not greenwash, EI demands: 1) Gunns must immediately announce firm date for transitioning to plantations, 2) lands formerly to be logged by Gunns must be fully protected, 3) Tasmania’s industrial old growth logging must end and not be replaced by selective “certified” logging, 4) Tasmanian pulp mill must be legally barred from using non-plantation fiber, and 5) best plantations practices – dependent upon mixed native species without toxics – must be used.”
Mr. L’Estrange of Gunns acknowledged that most Australians support the environmental groups in their decades-long campaign to end logging in the old growth native forests of Tasmania. "Native forest is not part of our future," he said. "We see that the conflict largely has to end. Our employees and the communities we operate in have been collateral damage to this process. We want to move our business to a plantation-based business." Others in similar business situations globally would be well advised to similarly, as the era of primary forest logging is over.
Contact: Dr. Glen Barry, President, Ecological Internet, firstname.lastname@example.org
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