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.” Read the rest of this entry
Category Archives: Daily Blog
In these past few day of suffocating uncertainty about the future of the forest, there is one thing that keeps me going. Every single day I witness the beauty of the tree tops and it constantly reminds me of why I will stay up here until the job is done – until the forests are protected.
So I thought I would share some of it with you. And I hope it inspires you too.
If you haven’t already – check out the observer tree FaceBook page. Make sure you “LIKE” it to stay in the loop and see more pictures like these as soon as I take them! And keep checking the blog, because I have been putting together a little film about when my Mum came to stay with me in the Observer Tree! It’ll be up online in the next few days.
Please take action in defense of Tasmania’s forests: click HERE.
It has been a wave of emotions since I first read the news on Saturday that the forest talks had collapsed. To be honest I didn’t believe it when I first saw those words on my computer screen. Is this a joke? A mistake? No, it was true. They were over, with no agreement reached. No forests protected.
After more than two years of talking, and already $130 million of assistance to the forestry industry, there was not to be one hectare of forest saved from logging. I had been waiting for the end of October, for the final (“we really mean it this time”) deadline. If an agreement was reached it would have been off to Parliament for a vote by the end of November , and I maybe I could have been off to visit my family by Christmas? I know I should have learnt from my mistakes of the past ….don’t get too hopeful about these things. But somehow there is always this little part of me that wont let go. Even when I have so many very rational doubts, that little piece of me just wants to believe that this it could happen. And so, without realising it I found myself day dreaming… imaging Christmas at Mum and Dad’s, swimming on warm summer days, going for bush walks in the new reserves…. you get the picture.
Deep in my heart though, I knew that this was fanciful. It’s not that I don’t believe that we can protect these forests. I absolutely, one hundred percent do. It’s just that the warning signs have been getting clearer and clearer over these past months . There were the obvious problems: missed deadlines and broken promises, money to the industry and no conservation gains. Then there were the more subtle problems, the ones that began to rear their heads, the ones that were by far the scariest. Like the idea that the agreement might endorse Ta Ann, even if they didn’t transition out of native forests.
Of course I want to see the forests protected. But the question is, can we accept this at any cost? Read the rest of this entry
Celebration of Forestry Tasmania’s corporate relations executive resigning a few days ago have been short lived. Yesterday the shocking news hit that Managing Director Bob Gordon has remarkably been reappointed for a further five years. At the same time it was revealed that the Government Business Enterprise made a loss of $27.6 million over the past year. How can it be that Bob Gordon has been put in charge for another five years, when it has been on his watch that so many millions of tax payers money has been lost? Read the rest of this entry
I had a great start to the day… reading the news that Corporate Relations executive of Forestry Tasmania, Ken Jeffreys, is resigning. And his role will not be replaced. Considering that the role of corporate relations has often been one of publicly defending the indefensible, attempting to persuade the public that the destruction of our forests is a good idea… then I think this is a job that tax payers can certainly do without having to foot the bill for.
It seems that Ken Jeffreys’ decision to leave has come about from the now unstable relationship he has with the Tasmanian government, after recently attacking the government over their decision to restructure Forestry Tasmania.
An independent review of Forestry Tasmania released in 2012 provided the government with a range of suggested options for restructuring the Government Business Enterprise, based on the findings. The review found that Forestry Tasmania was “unable to fulfil its obligations under the Government Business Enterprise Act 1995, to operate as a successful business.”
The government is approaching the restructure option of number two. This involves a split between the commercial and non-commercial functions of FT. With the latter being handed over to the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment. The model also involves the wood production land being controlled by the Department, and leased back to FT. The government’s decision came to light through a leaked email written by Ken Jeffreys to FT staff, scathing of the government. Read the rest of this entry
“We will not remove the blockade or move out of here until our demands are resolved and fulfilled by the government” These are the inspiring words of Labang Paneh, from Long Wat village, Sarawak.
Today I want to share with you this story that has reignited my committment and inspiration by reminding me of the power of collective action, of the human spirit, of courage and resistance.
It was early in the morning a few weeks ago, on Sept 26th when about two hundred people gathered on the road leading to the construction site of the Murum dam project. The group set up a blockade, stopping access to the site and halting construction on the controversial dam project. The blockade has now grown to over 300, with more expected to arrive.
The blockaders are taking direct action to protect their ancestral homelands and their livelihoods.
The 275,000 hectare catchment of the dam includes the ancestral land of Sarawak’s indigenous communities. The Murum Dam project, if completed, will flood around 24,500 hectares, resulting in the forced relocation of around 1,500 indigenous Penan and 18 Kenyah-Badeng families, according to the NGO Bruno Manser Fonds. Yet, the communities affected were not even informed about the plans for their resettlement, until a secret document was leaked. This document outlined the compensation that would be given. They would lose: homelands, livelihoods, the forests they depend on for survival and the destruction of sacred and historical sites without their consent. To be replaced by a monthly payment that does not even meet the poverty line and which would cease after four years. In addition, the new farmlands designated as part of the resettlement plan are already occupied by palm plantations run by big companies, leaving very limited forest for traditional livelihoods for the Penan. Read the rest of this entry
On this day last year, myself and two other conservationists scaled up the side of the Sydney Opera House and unfurled a banner from the top of one of Australia’s most iconic structure. The banner read “No Harvey Norman No- Stop selling Aussie forest destruction.” It was part of a global day of action targeting the company for selling furniture made from the destruction of native forests around Australia, including in Tasmania. There were over 40 actions around the world.
A year later and Harvey Norman are still selling timber products that were once precious ecosystems. A year later and we continue to campaign for the protection of those ecosystems. Today is a good day to remember the role that retail outlets have in the cycle of destruction. Today is a good day to remind those companies that people do not want to buy forest destruction.
For those who haven’t seen it, check out this great video clip of last years successful action.
I’m sure actions like these will continue to happen, raising awareness about the forests, untill Australian native forests receive the protection they need.
Yesterday I had a visit from a group of members and friends of the Florentine Protection Society. This Tasmanian community group consists of committed people dedicated to the protection of Tasmania’s unique environment and wildlife, In particular through educating the public about the values of the forests, communicating with others and also appreciating the beauty and diversity of Tasmania’s native flora and fauna. They have been great supporters of Observer Tree over the past nine months. Including organising a large banner to be displayed in a prominent position in Hobart for seven months, online ads on Tasmanian Times, technical support, and donations. It was great for a group of their members to make it out to the tree. Hope you enjoy th e short video about their visit:
So thank you to the Florentine Protection Society for your support! Another organisation that has been a great support is the Huon Valley Environment Centre. I spoke a little the other day about Jenny Weber, winner of the 2012 Bob Brown Environmentalist of the Year award. Jenny has run the HVEC without pay for the past decade. Through this role she has been instrumental in providing a voice for the forests. She has provided support for front-line direct action volunteers through helping raise money for legal costs for activists, as well as being a inspiration and personal support for so many activists in Tasmania. She has taken action on the front lines, helping co-ordinate the long running Weld Valley blockade and has been arrested several times in her efforts to defend the forests. She has continuously provided a strong stance against Ta Ann’s role in forest destruction here and in Sarawak. I can’t imagine the Tasmanian forest campaign without Jenny and the Environment Centre. Over the years that I have been involved in Still Wild Still Threatened we have worked very closely with the Huon Valley Environment Centre. Our two groups have stood in solidarity with one another through many challenging and many inspiring times, bringing together an amazing array of committed and courageous activists. Both our groups continue to provide a voice for Tasmania’s forests and the species that rely on these forests. A voice that refuses to be silenced. And now the Huon Valley Environment Centre needs our help. They are trying to raise $25,000 in order to provide a wage for Jenny so that she can continue to run the centre. After a decade of unpaid service, this would be a well-deserved wage for Jenny, and would enable her to continue doing the important work she is doing for our community and environment. Please consider making a donation, or find out more by clicking HERE.
Today the Bob Brown Foundation announced the recipients of their first annual Environmental Awards. It must have been a difficult choice, with so many inspiring, courageous and outstanding environmentalists right across this country. I feel so honoured to be chosen as the recipient of the Environmental Courage Award, for my efforts in the Observer Tree. Thank you to the Foundation for their generosity and for the acknowledgment and recognition of the work of environmentalists. It was a great day, too, for a wonderful and awe-inspiring fellow Tasmanian forest campaigner; Jenny Weber. No one could be more deserving than Jenny of the 2012 Environmentalist of the Year Award. She is one of the most committed and hard-working people I have ever met and her relentless efforts over the past decade of running the Huon Valley Environment Centre and fighting for our forests is incredible. If I had a hero, it would be Jenny Weber! It has been so inspirational to work with her on the forest campaign over the years. And in particular this past nine months while I have been in the Observer Tree, Jenny has continued to inspire me to keep going despite the increasing uncertainty facing the forests. And I would like to also acknowledge the many, many courageous and passionate people who stand with us in fighting for Tasmania’s precious forests. And the people all around the world who stand with us in solidarity. Together we will continue to take action and stand strong for the forests.
Today’s award presentations also awarded a Young Environmentalist of the Year to Dan Spencer of South Australia, a member of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. The Foundation recognised Dan’s efforts saying that, among other things he led “a widely publicised youth action at this years UN Climate Conference in Mexico and has been instrumental in the current walk from Port Augusta to Adelaide in support of solar power replacing two decrepit coal-fired power stations”
Bob Brown had this to say about the awards: “We are delighted to honour these three wonderful Australian environmentalists and, in doing so, also honour the thousands more in this environment-loving nation and it’s region who work so hard, often unrecognized, for our terrestrial and marine ecosystems.”
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.