Miranda’s Daily Blog – Day 9
What an amazing day! The announcement released this morning that International Plywood is suspending their contract with Ta Ann could not have made me happier! Everything I wrote in my blog last night about staying hopeful … well, now is definitely the time to be hopeful!
The company is the UK purchaser of Ta Ann’s veneer. Recently ENGO Markets For Change released a report which showed clear evidence linking Tasmanian high conservation value forests going to Ta Ann and being sold in the UK for use in the Olympic training stadium for Team USA.
With this evidence in hand representatives of Markets For Change and also grassroots forest group Huon Valley Environment Centre met with International Plywood to show the reality behind Ta Ann’s veneer. The company also received correspondence from the Tasmanian Deputy Premier Bryan Green, claiming that Ta Ann’s practices were environmentally sustainable and that everything would be sorted out soon through the forest peace talks. However, International Plywood was clearly able to see through the forest industry propaganda. I guess the saying goes “pictures speak louder than words.” And it is hard to look at an image of a Tasmanian clearfell smoldering in the place where pristine forest once stood and then call it ‘world’s best practice.’
The decision made by International Plywood is a hopeful sign of a worldwide trend of consumers and business becoming increasingly aware of where products are coming from. On an international level it seems people no longer wish to buy products that are destroying the environment. As Ian Atwood of International Plywood said “We’re not there to, you know, to savage the forests. We’re here to try and buy product in a responsible manner” (ABC News)
This is great news for the forest campaign in Tasmania and is one step closer to seeing the forest protected. If Ta Ann were not greedily consuming 330,000 cubic meters of wood each year, than this forest would be able to receive the protection it deserves. The suspension of their UK contract will be felt by Ta Ann for sure. But they still have markets in Europe and Japan. So now is the perfect time to turn our attention there and see if the same results can be achieved.
Recently Jenny Weber from the Huon Valley Environment Center went to Japan with former Greens leader Peg Putt to meet with the Japanese companies purchasing from Ta Ann. The company representatives showed concern about the environmental destruction taking place to produce the products they are purchasing. And further evidence and information will be provided to them about what is going on. We are going to be talking to forest campaigners in Japan about setting up an online action – so watch this space for more details about that soon.
The idea of targeting the market in order to create change is not a new one, and companies have been the target of many lobbying and direct action efforts over the years. Internationally this has proven to be an effective tool in achieving environmental outcomes. Now with the solid evidence that has come from the months and months of research done by Markets For Change, people all around Australia can take part in a co-ordinated effort. It is often the point at which the final product is sold to consumers where change is most easy to effect. Ta Ann itself can sometimes seem immune to pressure from ENGOs. But in reality they are vulnerable because they use the idea of a clean green image to sell their product, marketing it as “eco-ply.” Hiding behind the PEFC certification label is yet another tactic to mislead the public into believing that their practices are sustainable. This certification system is considered by ENGOs such as WWF and Greenpeace to be absolutely inadequate, failing to protect threatened species, old growth forests and rare ecosystems. A major problem with PEFC is that is basically leaving the forest industry to regulate itself, because it lacks in independent assessment or on the ground checkups. It is also heavily controlled by people who are a part of the forestry industry or major forestry landholders. The results of PEFC certification are clear considering that Ta Ann are able to receive the label, yet their practices here are causing complete environmental devastation.
Forestry Tasmania are clearly feeling concerned about the success of the markets campaign in the UK. Normally I wouldn’t worry too much about responding to FT’s media releases, but today’s provides such interesting and perplexing quotes that I thought I’d share some of them with you. I think the quote of the day would have to be “if you were concerned about the planet you would buy timber from Tasmania.” The other interesting suggestion is that you would also buy from Ta Ann “because Ta Ann is using a raw material that would otherwise be exported as woodchip.” Hold on a minute…I thought there wasn’t much of a market for Tasmania’s old growth wood chips these days… isn’t that the reason Gunns Ltd sold all of their woodchip mills and moved on out of native forests? Isn’t that the reason also that hundreds of thousands of logs are sitting around right now in stockpiles, not being sold to anyone? The recent schedulers report that was released a few days ago clearly stated peeler billets/veneer as the reason why Forestry Tasmania claim they need to log this area along with over 30 coupes that were meant to be under a conservation agreement. Ta Ann are driving the native forest logging industry in Tasmania.
The work done by Markets For Change to provide information to the company has also taken a global focus, including a focus on the logging in Borneo by Ta Ann. Their report prepared for International Plywood called on the company to not only stop sourcing timber from Ta Ann, but also “end the use of timber products coming from all intact natural rainforests and timber products from the habitat of endangered species.” I think that it is vital in any work that we are doing as forest campaigners to ensure that by protecting the forest here we are not just pushing the industry into other areas of significant forest around the globe. That is also one of the inspiring things about the Ta Ann campaign is being able to stand in solidarity with the people of Sarawak in their battle against Ta Ann. Hopefuly International Plywood’s announcement will be the first step towards creating a change not only in Tasmania, but across the world.
Today’s news has certainly brightened up my festive season! And while feeling uplifted I spent a bit of time getting my tree ready for Christmas 🙂 Thanks to the people that sent me out some solar powered Christmas lights. I’m sitting beneath the sparkling and glittering crown of my tree. And it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…..
Check out the photos below.
Hope you are all having an enjoyable festive season too. Take care and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.