Following its welcome of Gunns’ announcement to rule out using native forests in its pulp mill, The Wilderness Society today challenged Premier David Bartlett to work with the logging industry, conservation groups and the community to help Gunns make the transition out of its current dependence on native forest logging and into the existing plantation estate.

“Premier Bartlett’s comments that welcome the plantation commitment for the pulp mill highlight the reality that native forest logging is environmentally destructive and not acceptable in today’s market places,” said Paul Oosting, pulp mill campaigner for The Wilderness Society.

“While Gunns’ claims that the pulp mill will not use native forests, the company’s ongoing operations are logging, burning and woodchipping native forests across the state, including oldgrowth and rainforests.”

“The shift of the pulp mill feedstock to plantations represents the future direction of the timber industry and Premier Bartlett must work with all stakeholders to help the Tasmanian industry meet international standards by moving away from logging native forests.”

In the last financial year Gunns exported 3.1 million tonnes of woodchips, the majority from Tasmania’s native forests. The Wilderness Society asks “If the Premier supports the pulp mill only consuming plantation timber, why does he want to keep a wood supply agreement that is based on providing native forest woodchips to Gunns?”

“Until Tasmanians see Gunns’ native forest wood supply deals renegotiated and ancient forests properly protected, Tasmania’s forests will continue to be logged, burnt and exported overseas and they won’t have confidence that native forests will never be used in the mill,” said Mr Oosting.

“Premier Bartlett needs to ensure there is a solution for the entire logging industry, where forests are protected and the industry achieves a social licence by shifting into the existing plantation estate,” concluded Mr Oosting.
Paul Oosting, Wilderness Society