The Wilderness Society welcomed the news announced today at the Gunns AGM that Swedish pulp and paper company Södra is one of the potential pulp-mill investors the company is in talks with. Södra has set minimum benchmarks for any pulp mill development in Australia, saying it would need to be totally chlorine-free (TCF), 100% plantation-based and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.
“Gunns will have to undertake major reforms to meet the preconditions set by Södra, such as ending the logging of native forests and not using litigation against community members standing up for the protection of their environment,” said Paul Oosting, pulp mill and corporate campaigner for the Wilderness Society.
“We welcome Södra’s interest in the pulp mill. Södra has substantially raised the bar, by making it clear that Gunns’ current pulp-mill proposal is second rate,” said Mr Oosting.
“To achieve FSC certification, Gunns would need to stop the destruction of native forests, address the use of chemicals and lethal wildlife controls in plantations, including 1080 poison, and work with the community to address how their operations impact on human health.”
“It is clear from what John Gay has said today that Gunns is currently not seeking to undertake the reforms Södra has required, instead he set about defending the status quo.”
The Wilderness Society reiterated that any pulp mill development would need to be TCF, based 100% on existing plantations, fully assessed to community standards and in an appropriate location, stressing that the Tamar Valley is not a suitable site.
“Gunns made it clear today that the mill isn’t going ahead anytime soon. They have been unable to attract financial backing and still don’t have Federal government approval to operate the pulp mill,” continued Mr Oosting.
“Gunns should use this opportunity to go back to the drawing board and undertake the substantial reforms required to meet the basic standards that any credible international investor would require.
For this pulp mill to be truly world class, it must be independently assessed, must not lead to irreversible environmental destruction, and must have the support of the community,” concluded Mr Oosting.
Paul Oosting, The Wilderness Society