The letter states; “As a buyer of Tasmania forests products we continue to respectfully request that you not make any decisions that could adversely affect Tasmanian suppliers during the current negotiations that are now closer to achieving a sustainable future for the forest industries in Tasmania.”
Miranda’s Daily Blog: Day 286
Something has been bubbling away for some time now. Under the surface. For two years it has bubbled. At some point it was bound to erupt, to come to the surface… the thing we feared…..
We have all felt it, those who love these forests, the fear of what these forest negotiations might bring… that it might not be forest protection but instead the endorsement of forest destruction. And now it has reared it’s ugly head, in what we can only hope is not a sign of worse things to come. On Tuesday an article appeared in the Australian. They had uncovered secret letters that were sent from two major Environment NGOs that are part of the forest negotiations. These organisations had been urging Ta Ann’s customers not to make any decisions on their contracts with Ta Ann.
To give a bit of background, for those who may be new to the Ta Ann story…. wood sourced from the destruction of Tasmania’s ancient forests end up at the company’s veneer mills. And it is there that it is completely transformed. Not only has it morphed from ancient ecosystems and endangered species habitat into flat strips of cardboard-like wood wrapped in plastic. It has also been miraculously turned into an “environmentally friendly” product! Well, at least that is what Ta Ann want their customers to believe. The burning clearfells left in the wake of the logging industry however, are a dead give away that something is not quite right about the “eco-ply” label. This is where all of us come in… If we don’t let Ta Ann’s customers know that something is wrong, who will? If we don’t show them the truth behind the veneer, who will?
It is absolutely vital that people around the world know the truth about the forest destruction that is occurring in Tasmania, driven by Ta Ann’s wood supply. And through the Observer Tree I have be in contact with people right across the globe about this issue, receiving overwhelmingly wide-spread support for forest protection. Through increasing public awareness and action, Ta Ann are feeling the pressure from the global market…. most people buying an “eco” product don’t want it to be sourced from forest destruction! This can be used as a force for positive change, to get Ta Ann out of the destruction and move the industry to environmentally sustainable practices. However, what we must be weary of is allowing the company to take the easy way out – green-washing. This is a phenomenon that is sweeping the globe, becoming very popular with companies entrenched in environmental destruction. Essentially “green-washing” means that companies make them selves look eco-friendly without actually making the practical and necessary changes that should accompany that label. Weather it is a nice green looking logo or a tick of approval from an easily co-opted ENGO… all it takes is the illusion of sustainability and it’s business as usual with the added bonus of making a sneaky profit from environmentally conscious consumers.
Now, I don’t want to be too cynical, but let’s face it- this would be the easy way out for Ta Ann. If no one is watching, what is stopping them? Except, luckily for the forests, the whole world is watching. And we will not be giving them a green tick of approval so long as they are involved in destruction.
Tasmania’s forests desperately need protection. Over half a million hectares has been verified by independent scientists as being world heritage and national heritage value. The forest negotiation process could be a way forward to see the protection of those forests and a transition for the industry. But if we are not careful, the process could be used as a way of endorsing forest destruction and entrenching the industry deeper in native forest logging. These letters sent to the Ta Ann’s customer companies is the first step towards the latter. Let’s hope it is the last step made in that direct. It has been damaging enough.
Telling Ta Ann customers that they should hold off on making any decision about Ta Ann is sending the wrong message. We need to be telling them the truth: that is that the forest negotiations to-date have failed to protect any forests. The truth is that hectares of high conservation value forests have been logged and burnt in the wake of broken-promises that were meant to protect them. The truth is that Ta Ann have been identified as a key driver behind that ongoing destruction. As long as Ta Ann are still accepting that wood it is not time to take the pressure off. It is time to put the pressure on, now more than ever, if we are to see a positive outcome for the forests.
In additon to their role in Tasmania’s forest destrcution, the track-record of Ta Ann’s activities in their home state of Sarawak is one of environmental destruction and the displacement of Indigenous people who rely on those forests for their survival. Australian conservationists should never endorse and welcome a company that is involved in human rights abuses in other countries. Forests are being destroyed on a global scale. And even though it is harder, we must find solutions that do not simply protect our own backyard while moving the problem elsewhere. We need to stand in solidarity with the indigenous people of Sarawak.
Please help to send a message to Ta Ann’s customers, let them know that now is not the time for them to sit on the fence and allow the destruction to continue. Now is not the time for them to continue to sell products with the “eco” label that have been sourced from ancient ecosystems. Now is the time for them to act, to put pressure on Ta Ann. Now is the time for real forest protection.