Tasmanian Times

Environment

Complaint to Forestry Tas. Geoff Law charged

Ali Alishah
Still Wild Still Threatened has lodged a formal complaint with Forestry Tasmania over its refusal to disclose information regarding logging in the Upper Florentine.
And, The charging of Geoff Law …
MEDIA RELEASE
Wednesday, 18th February 2009.

Official Complaint to Forestry over refusal to provide Florentine information

Still Wild Still Threatened has lodged a formal complaint with Forestry Tasmania over its refusal to disclose information regarding logging in the Upper Florentine.

“ Last month Still Wild Still Threatened, on behalf of interested sections of the Tasmanian community, requested information regarding logging in the World Heritage valued forests of the Upper Florentine. This included a request for maps supporting Forestry Tasmania’s claim that 90% of the Upper Florentine is unavailable for harvesting, “Still Wild Still Threatened spokesperson Ali Alishah said.

“ Forestry Tasmania’s response was to make media statements that they will not provide information to those who conduct “media stunts”, an apparent reference to attempts by community members to deliver the request to Bob Gordon. No correspondence has been received by Still Wild Still Threatened,” Ali Alishah said.

“ As a taxpayer subsidised government enterprise mandated to manage Tasmania’s forests for public benefit, Forestry Tasmania is obliged to provide information to the Tasmanian community. For Forestry Tasmania to make arbitrary judgements as to who should be provided with information reveals an arrogant disregard for community concern over the management of our forests,” Ali Alishah said.

“ If Bob Gordon is seriously interested in creating a more open and accountable organisation, he would be well placed to make Forestry Tasmania truly responsive to community concerns, rather than resorting to the out of date tactic of keeping the public in the dark,” Ali Alishah said.

“ Still Wild Still Threatened feels that the wholly inadequate response to this issue justifies a formal complaint, and we hope that the requested information will be provided to the Tasmanian public in the near future,” Ali Alishah said.

Attached: (1) Formal Complaint to Forestry Tasmania.
(2) Initial request for information regarding the Upper Florentine.

Still Wild Still Threatened
PO Box 295
South Hobart
Tasmania 7004
stillwildstillthreatened@gmail.com
www.stillwildstillthreatened.org

To: Bob Gordon, Managing Director, Forestry Tasmania, 79 Melville St Hobart TAS 7000.

Dear Mr Gordon,
I am writing on behalf of Still Wild Still Threatened, (SWST). On the 20th of January 2009, SWST sent a request to yourself, in your capacity as Managing Director of Forestry Tasmania, seeking information regarding FT’s operations in the Upper Florentine Valley.

Given Forestry Tasmania’s stated commitment to transparency and stakeholder consultation, we were dismayed that the response to this request, as relayed through the media, was a firm refusal to even consider the matter. Derwent District Forester Steve Whitely was quoted by media outlets as saying that FT does not provide information to community members who undertake “media stunts”, an apparent reference to the delivery of the request letter to Forestry Tasmania’s Melville Street office.

In the intervening month, no communication has been received by Still Wild Still Threatened from Forestry Tasmania. Given this, we feel obliged to make a formal complaint regarding Forestry Tasmania’s conduct in this situation. Our organisation’s understanding is that FT has made a commitment to openness and transparency, and we feel that the response to date has been wholly unbefitting of a taxpayer funded enterprise mandated to manage Tasmania’s forest estate on behalf of the Tasmanian people.

Certain information requested has been used repeatedly by FT in support of its operations in the Upper Florentine, and we are confused as to why this information is being utilised to support public statements yet cannot be disclosed to the public in its entirety. This approach appears to be incompatible with FT’s responsibilities to the Tasmanian public, and to its previous commitments to open the “battered briefcase”.

We look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

Respectfully,
Natalie Keene,

Still Wild Still Threatened.

Still Wild Still Threatened
PO Box 295
South Hobart
Tasmania 7004
stillwildstillthreatened@gmail.com
www.stillwildstillthreatened.org

To: Bob Gordon, Managing Director, Forestry Tasmania.

Tuesday, 20th January 2009

Dear Mr Gordon,

I am writing on behalf of Still Wild Still Threatened. We have a number of questions and clarifications regarding the forests of the Upper Florentine, and, in particular, logging and roading operations both planned and currently being implemented.

These questions, and others of a less geographically specific nature, are outlined below. We are asking these questions in order to provide information and clarity to interested members of the Tasmanian community. In this spirit we hope that you see fit to provide the community with information regarding the operations in the publicly-owned forests of the Upper Florentine, and elsewhere.

1. Data and maps which detail the area of the Upper Florentine unavailable for timber harvesting, including specified delineation of catchment boundaries, and which provides supporting evidence of Forestry Tasmania’s claim that 90% of the Upper Florentine is unavailable for timber harvesting;

2. Maps which detail all planned roading operations in the Upper Florentine Valley, including, but not limited to, the following coupes: FO044A, FO044E, FO045A, FO045B, FO045C, FO049B, FO049C, FO049E, FO056A, FO056C, FO057B and FO060A;

3. Maps which detail coupe boundaries for all coupes in the Upper Florentine, including, but not limited to, the following coupes: FO044A, FO044E, FO045A, FO045B, FO045C, FO049B, FO049C, FO049E, FO056A, FO056C, FO057B and FO060A;

4. Data which details the proportion of particular log and pulp classes to be procured from coupes being accessed by current and planned roading operations, including, but not restricted to, the following coupes: FO044A, FO044E, FO045A, FO045B, FO045C, FO049B, FO049C, FO049E, FO056A, FO056C, FO057B and FO060A;

5. The projected income returned to Forestry Tasmania from planned harvesting operations as listed in (4), categorised by log and pulp classes;

6. Details of all costs associated with the planning of logging and roading operations, the construction of roads and associated infrastructure, the management of harvesting operations, and any other costs associated with planned harvesting operations as details in (4);

7. Details as to whether any monies granted through the Tasmanian Community Forestry Agreement have been utilised to construct logging roads in the Upper Florentine;

8. In reference to Tasmania as a whole, details as to whether monies granted through the Tasmanian Community Forestry Agreement for the purpose of road construction have been depleted;

9. Data and maps which detail what proportion of the commercially harvestable vegetation communities existing in state forests in the Upper Florentine are available for harvesting;

10. Data and maps which detail what proportion of the 90% figure mentioned in (1) consists of non-commercially harvestable vegetation communities, and what proportion consists of tall-eucalypt, rainforest and any other commercially harvestable vegetation communities;

Forestry Tasmania’s Australian Forestry Standard certification requires, under section A-4.2.2 (The Australian Forestry Standard AS 4708 Supplement 1 – 2007, p12):

Guide to Verification – the intent of this requrement is to provide opportunities for stakeholders to meaningfully participate in the forest management planning process and to influence its outcomes; however this does not mean that decision making should rest with stakeholders. Rather, the requirement provides a mechanism for the forest manager to demonstrate that public input is taken seriously by being responsive and respectful of this input.

As a stakeholder and an organisation representating community views we trust you will provide the requested information promptly.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Ula Majewski

On behalf of Still Wild Still Threatened

Meanwhile:
MEDIA RELEASE 17 FEBRUARY 2009

PROMINENT CONSERVATIONIST TO BE CHARGED FOR RALLYING IN THE UPPER FLORENTINE

Peaceful defence of World Heritage forests leads to trespass charge

Prominent Tasmanian conservationist, Geoff Law, has been told by police today that he will be charged with trespass as a result of allegedly entering a forestry ‘exclusion zone’ during a rally in the Upper Florentine on Saturday, 18 January 2009.

Mr Law was told this afternoon by Bridgewater police that, as a result of a ‘review of video evidence’, he would receive a summons charging him with trespass.

The Upper Florentine is an oldgrowth forest containing a mature rainforest understorey along with giant eucalypts that are over 300 years old, about three metres in diameter and about 70 metres (the height of a 24-storey building) tall. The area has never been logged before but is subject to plans by Forestry Tasmania for dozens of logging coupes, as well as over 10 kilometres of new road in the next three years. It is public land.

‘Along with about 400 other people, I walked into the Upper Florentine to protest at the destruction of a forest that is an integral part of Tasmania’s wilderness and should be part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area,” Mr Law said today.

‘I attended that rally to help the peaceful defence of an ancient forest that has never been logged before,’ Mr Law said.

‘Premier Bartlett’s failure to meet with conservationists to help resolve the forests debate has led to members of the public being charged for peacefully walking on to public land.’

Mr Law first visited the Upper Florentine in 1980; he has spent most the subsequent 29 years attempting to protect it.

GREENS REITERATE SUPPORT FOR PEACEFUL FLORENTINE PROTESTS
Divisive Bartlett Govt Indulges in Blatant Political Persecution with Prosecutions
Kim Booth MP
Greens Shadow Forests Spokesperson
Wednesday, 18 February 2009

www.tas.greens.org.au
The Tasmanian Greens today reiterated their support for peaceful forest protestors following the decision by Tasmania Police to lay charges against 11 people over a peaceful walk-in to the Upper Florentine forests by about 500 people in January this year.

Greens Shadow Forests spokesperson Kim Booth MP said it is disappointing that Tasmania Police now appear to be adopting the forest industry strategy of taking legal action against selective groups of high-profile protestors, and called on Police Minister Jim Cox to ensure that Tasmania’s police force remains apolitical at all times.

“The Upper Florentine forest is owned by the people of Tasmania and it is blatantly unjust to charge people with trespassing in their own forests,” said Mr Booth.

“Targeting high-profile protestors for prosecution is blatant intrusion of politics into the application of the law which should not be tolerated by a democratic society, and also appears to be closely related to the forest industry’s preferred strategy of lodging lawsuits against specific high-profile individuals and groups.”

“Why are Tasmania Police only charging 11 high-profile protestors for a walk in the forest that involved 500 other people?”

“Tasmania Police should not be allowing themselves to be politicised in this way by Bartlett Labor due to its fixation on vandalising our special places.”

“The Forestry sector are forever complaining that many of Tasmania’s forests are ‘locked up,’ but in reality it is Forestry Tasmania, aided by police under direction of Bartlett Labor, who are locking the people out of their own forests, and then charging them with trespass when they walk onto public land past Forestry’s locked boom gates.”

“It is an extraordinary scenario for people around the world who are watching the Bartlett government arrest people for walking peacefully through World Heritage value forests to raise awareness that promises to save them have not been kept, while at the same time the destruction of these unique forests by the woodchip industry continues. To those watching this does not make sense,” Mr Booth said.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. William Boeder

    February 22, 2009 at 1:58 am

    The puppeteer that currently pulls all the strings in Tasmania is David Llewellyn, should he soon retire, nobody else has the sly cunning that he has developed over the years to combat the anti-forestry people.
    The Liberal Party has that blathering oaf, Eric Abetz MP as its gung-ho rip down the forests hero.

    If only these stinko’s could be shackled into the stocks of olden times?

  2. Stephani

    February 20, 2009 at 11:46 am

    I couldn’t make it to the 1st walk into the Florentine but came down a couple of weeks later to an event that had a similar number of people. Funny, on that day there were no Forestry people or police (that I could see). We walked through this beautiful area without being challenged by anyone. Does this mean that we have trespassed, will video evidence later be used to charge me. Gunns and forestry ar still trying to intimidate us by charging a select few. Too hard to arrest people on the day because it would have caused a stir. We will not be silenced, this is what protest is about.

  3. Maddie

    February 18, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    This is just awful! I agree with d.d. (#9). To have any effect objectors need to be there in their thousands. It was so very disappointing that only 400 odd turned up. What is wrong with the people in this State? Unless there’s a huge surge in public protests (and goodness knows there’s plenty to protest about) we’re stuck with the status quo. And it doesn’t matter if Labour gets voted out – the Libs are every bit as bad. We need a Democratic Party to at least give us a choice. The Greens would be great of course and have more more intelligence and common sense in their small numbers than the total of the Lib/Labs, but they will never get over the line in Tassie. I’ve lost all hope for this State but if there’s a protest I’ll be in it.

  4. Dr Kevin Bonham

    February 18, 2009 at 3:47 am

    Karl (#1):

    “They will be bogged-down in court cases right-up to the day they lose the next election.”

    A bold statement. By “lose” do you mean lose their majority? The Opposition getting a majority? The Greens getting a majority? Care to offer a ballpark prediction for number of seats per party?

  5. don davey

    February 18, 2009 at 12:53 am

    Said it before and I,ll say it again ! when it comes to protest that matters ! we need to turn up there in the thousands, as a token few hundred to them means “diddley squat”
    d.d.

  6. salamander

    February 17, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    (2) SWST told me FT claim that 90% of the Florentine is reserved – but the maps and info that prove it are what FT will not release. This is permitted by our corrupt state government, who make up the laws as they like, ably assisted in their destruction of our state by the Liberal party. So FT can withhold any document they choose to – I am sure they have sufficient reasons up their sleeve to cover every contingency.

  7. Garry Stannus

    February 17, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    I didn’t have any luck looking on the web for details of exclusion zones/orders. Is anyone able to supply a link to govt legislation/regulations?

  8. Mark

    February 17, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    I wonder how much the police have learnt? Who was the approving officer? Who was consulted prior to any charge being laid? An Inspector? An Assistant Commissioner? A Commissioner? FT? A Minister?

    SWST conducts media stunts. Thank goodness our public services and government are above that sort of behaviour!

  9. Gerry Mander

    February 17, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Who is it that issues an exclusion order? Surely that can only be done by consulting with the owners, and Forestry are NOT the owners – they are the administrators for the owners. The owners are actually the people of Tasmania, and they NEVER get consulted.

    Maybe the people of Tasmania should apply for a few exclusion orders of their own, basically covering the whole of the state. A few well-known names spring to mind.

  10. David Mohr

    February 17, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Will the reduction in woodchip exports give the Florentine a short reprieve?

  11. salamander

    February 17, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Once again, we are not allowed to protest, we are not allowed access to information, (the “media stunt” excuse was so thin, it was transparent – which must be a first, for FT – unheard of for them to do anything transparent!) and we are victimised when we try to ensure the people’s rights are upheld. What a surprise – not.

  12. Jon Ayling

    February 17, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Excuse me, but this is fucking outrageous. This information should be supplied to whoever requires it without any bias or prejudice implied just as any legitimate business indicates its past profit and loss and future plans. What right does Forestry have to determine who can be given this information and who can’t? If Forestry is prepared to give it to anyone else except SWST they must also accept that it will very likely end up in the hands of SWST, which means this response is based on nothing more than a desire to exhibit sheer prejudice if not malice. The method of requesting the information and what is done with the information has nothing to do with the entirely justified demand for the information. This isn’t a response by a cool and confident Govt. enterprise prepared to be open and transparent, this is the response from a covert, corrupt and failed business wing of government that realises its overall conduct and future plans for the Florentine are facing a very real threat from a concerned sector of our community.

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