Tasmanian Times

Environment

Halt to logging

Allana Beltran

The activists are calling on John Howard to deliver on his broken promise to protect Tasmania’s oldgrowth forests. Camp Florentine supports a Labor platform based on the “further protection of identified Tasmanian high-conservation-value, old-growth forests, rainforests and other ecosystems ” and invites Peter Garrett to visit the Upper Florentine to see first hand one of the areas that a Labor forest policy must protect. Camp Florentine encourages him to outline Labor’s vision, using the $250m of funds already available for the transition of industry out of oldgrowth forests and the creation of a truly sustainable forestry industry for Tasmania.

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Pictures: Matt Newton

The Upper Florentine Valley, Southern Tasmania

29th May 2007

The logging of oldgrowth forests in the Upper Florentine Valley, Southern Tasmania has been temporarily halted. This has occurred as Tasmania’s forests set to feature prominently in the upcoming federal election.

“Forest Defenders at Camp Florentine who have been blockading a proposed logging road for more than 6 months with 23 arrests, have negotiated for Forestry Tasmania to cease all roading and logging operations until the federal election” said Still Wild Still Threatened Campaign spokesperson Ula Majewski.

Ben Morrow said that “during the moratorium period no chainsaw or bulldozer will be heard in the World Heritage value forests of the Upper Florentine. But Camp Florentine activists, as part of the Still Wild Still Threatened campaign will continue to defend the high conservation value and oldgrowth forests of Southern Tasmania, for example, the Weld and Styx Valleys, whilst advocating for their formal protection.”

The activists are calling on John Howard to deliver on his broken promise to protect Tasmania’s oldgrowth forests. Camp Florentine supports a Labor platform based on the “further protection of identified Tasmanian high-conservation-value, old-growth forests, rainforests and other ecosystems ” and invites Peter Garrett to visit the Upper Florentine to see first hand one of the areas that a Labor forest policy must protect. Camp Florentine encourages him to outline Labor’s vision, using the $250m of funds already available for the transition of industry out of oldgrowth forests and the creation of a truly sustainable forestry industry for Tasmania.

Ula Majewski asserted “that in this age of dangerous climate change, with the accepted role of ancient forests as significant carbon sinks, it beggars belief that Tasmania’s oldgrowth forests are still being clearfelled, burnt and woodchipped!”

“Since Camp Florentine was established in early November 2006 its existence has been validated by the Federal Court’s Wielangta decision that found current logging practices were having an illegal impact on endangered species such as the Tasmanian Wedgetailed Eagle. The Upper Florentine is recognised habitat for endangered species and similar logging operations are proposed for the area “said Ben Morrow.

Camp Florentine will remain in place on the Gordon River Road in order to maintain the international profile of the Upper Florentine Valley whilst facilitating visits by Australian voters to this threatened pristine ecosystem. Forestry Tasmania have refused to lift a public exclusion zone over the area, despite the fact no work will be taking place, effectively locking the community out of the area.

“Tasmania’s Southern Forests are still wild and still threatened by industrial logging on a massive scale. The high conservation value forests along the eastern boundary of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area , such as the Styx, Weld and Upper Florentine should be weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of all politicians and voters concerned for our national environment and the health of the planet” said Ben Morrow.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Gerry Mander

    May 30, 2007 at 12:57 am

    It is just great that they have called a truce – a temporary halt to logging the Florentine, but I feel it is a pyrrhic victory. All it does is take it out of the public eye and remove it from any national agenda for either party in this election year. Without publicity and protest it can be swept under the carpet. If it isn’t broken, it doesn’t need mending mentality.

    What’s the betting as soon as the election is out of the way, the trucks and chain saws will move back in?

    In 2004, John Howard stood on a tree stump in the Styx Valley and told reporters ‘the conflict was over’. Paul Lennon then proclaimed it ‘a great victory for the forests and the workers’, forgetting that he was the problem in the first place.

    A month after the election, it was business as usual.

  2. Jason Lovell

    May 29, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Hey Allana – might be an idea for the activists to point out that while John Howard promised to preserve jobs in the timber industry AND save large tracts of ancient forest during the 2004 election campaign, he utterly failed to live up to either of those two commitments.

    Jobs were shed and contracts were slashed in Tasmania’s timber industry after the 2004 federal election, despite Howard’s promise to “preserve” jobs. And only about one quarter of Howard’s promised forest reserves were declared.

    He failed on BOTH fronts, not just the reservation of forests, and I reckon both sides of his broken promise should be made clear.

    The only winners from Howard’s 2004 election ‘promise’ were the big forest players and the Liberal Party, while those at the sharp end – forestry workers AND conservationists – got the rough end of the pineapple.

    Regards,
    Jason Lovell

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