Tasmanian Times

Economy

Ten reasons why pulp plantations are so wrong

If there is to be a 100% plantation based pulp mill requiring 4-5 million tonnes of pulp wood per year, at least another 60,000 ha of highly productive farmland, equivalent to 300x200ha farms, will be required to keep up supply.

The Labor and Liberal, State and Federal Government’s continuing 100% tax exemption driven incentives, promoting the trashing of highly productive farms, to establish low value, unsustainable Pulp Wood Plantations:-

Makes no economic sense. Compared to other pulp producing countries our growth rates are much slower, costs are higher. Also other faster growing fibrous plants can sustainably produce up to six times more fiber per ha per year than e niten plantations.

Will always have to be taxpayer subsidised to encourage continued replanting. The low price of around $35 per tonne is less than half of what is needed for pulp plantations to be viable.

Depletes and mines the soil of its fertility and nutrients and are therefore unsustainable.

Being industrial monocultures, (the opposite to biodiversity) are ideal breeding grounds for pests and diseases. They are not forests and to call then forests is untrue and misleading.

Causes serious health destroying side effects which can result in premature death from contaminating air/water with toxic chemical herbicide and insecticide sprays unnecessarily used in plantation establishment and maintenance.

Are preventing the land from producing at least six times more jobs and five times more economic benefit if it were still used for agricultural production instead of being downgraded by unsustainable, low value pulp wood plantations.

Has with huge taxpayer assistance transferred ownership of hundreds of thousands of highly productive farmland to large corporations, denying future generations of the land that will be so desperately needed for agricultural production and economic prosperity. The further transfer of our land ownership to foreign corporations is only a small step via the stock exchange.

Is assisted by the governments ‘Plantation Allocated Land’ (PAL) policy that pretends to protect agricultural land but in fact deliberately supports and facilitates its fettering to plantation forestry corporations by forcing councils to support almost unlimited farmland fettering by pulp plantation Corporations.

Their destruction of ratable farm infrastructure translates to higher rate demands for remaining farms.

In Meander Valley Municipality alone over 15,000ha of highly productive farmland (75 farms @ 200ha or 500acre) is now owned by pulp (not forestry) plantation corporations. This is causing the economy of Meander Valley to lose out on over $30,000,000 ($30M) per year income and about 265 jobs after allowing for the few plantation jobs.

Is imposing high cost time wasting impacts on farmers due to loss of ground water causing premature drying off, crop failures, increased irrigation costs, shading, aerial spray drift, and health impacts and associated costs etc. Very expensive boundary fencing and vermin control has to be erected and maintained. There is increased fire risk requiring expensive fire protection and expenses and losses associated with increased isolation. The loss of visual amenity can be isolating and depressive.

The transfer of locally owned farmland to absentee corporate ownership is fuelled and driven by governments offering 100% tax exemptions on investments given to Managed Investment Schemes (MIS) for plantation establishment. All three tiers of government support (councils are being forced to support) the closing down of agricultural production to establish unsustainable, health effecting, low value, unviable, pulp wood plantations.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. mike seabrook

    March 22, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    more tree plantings – one saving

    should be able to make big savings to the treasury as will not require a department of agriculture, and the tasmanian government will require one less minister and all the associated staffing and costs.

  2. Gerry Mander

    March 22, 2010 at 11:06 am

    The problem with the problem is that no-one takes any notice, especially where there is money involved. In fact, they will actively work against the public interest to maintain these profits, and health, community finance, planning schemes, food production, water availability, contamination, air pollutions, etc will all be subservient to the desires for profit. The maney gained is sufficient to buy both political favours and influence the media to either suppress the news or actively favour this destruction.

    It is the money that is talking and therein lies both the problem and a possible answer, for as long a the profits are there, the mess will continue. If the profits could be removed, the problem would largely disappear, so possibly the solution is to cease protesting and attack the bottom line.

    It worked in the case of Gunns pulpmill! After attacking the ANZ bank for its support of the project, they suddenly remembered the ‘Equator Principles’ and withdrew their financing, and the other banks were also quick to follow suit. That was an expression of the power of the people.

    It can work again here!

    Bob Lloone, as Deputy Mayor of Meander valley, is in a position to know the effects, and has already pointed out the financial and amenity losses incurred by the PAL Act and MIS schemes on the revenue, jobs and food production in this snall area alone. Extrapolated across 29 councils, this amounts to over $500 million per annum in cash and in the region of greater than 2000 job losses. Yet this is of no interest to governments at any level!

    Why not? because they are largely in the pay of those who benefit from these actions.

    If this could be properly quantified, it could form the basis of a class action to redress this.

    Can you imagine the effect when the opposite of the Gunns 20 happened, and (politicians and business leaders) et al all end up in court with a summons against each of them for about $50 million apiece and the government is forced to compensate all those who have suffered under this scheme and further future damages would need to be costed if toxic plantations are not removed from the landscape?

    It could be a reality!

    Our common Ground could return to being our common ground and not the property of large international companies.

  3. john hayward

    March 22, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Bob could come up with a thousand compelling reasons why plantations are wrong and it would elicit the same vague denials and deflections from the cartel of forestry officials politicians and public servants who are looting the state.

    Why would they bother, when Tasmanians continue to re-elect them in the face of mountainous evidence of their treachery?

    In Bob’s own municipality we see Timber Communities Australia member Mark Shelton making a strong run to be a Liberal MP after years of staunch service to the woodchip industry as councilor and Mayor. Like a host of other forestry stakeholders in local government around the state, Shelton has vigorously supported PAL, MIS, RFA, etc, while parroting the bizarre standard line that conflict of interest is a matter to be decided by the councilor in question. We can only hope such reasoning is not applied to other breaches of the law.

    Amazingly, this view has been supported by the Tasmanian Supreme Court in ruling that the common law principles on bias are excluded from council deliberations( for reasons not apparent in any legislation), leaving pecuniary interest conflicts to be settled by a Local Government Authority which has no quasi-judicial mechanisms, no expertise, and no record for fulfilling this role.

    All of Bob’s reasons are eminently valid, but, like the common law, reason gives way to log trucks in this unfortunate state.

    John Hayward

  4. William Boeder

    March 22, 2010 at 9:27 am

    This and other similar themed reports and analysis should be directed to the DAFF in our State and Federal government with an accompanying please explain letter.
    If sent forward by an individual, the entire matter would be scoffed at by the policy Gurus and seat-warmers of Hobart and Canberra.

    For as we are fast-learning, Tasmania must be considered a testing ground to determine much of that which is non-sustainable and of little revenue benefit.
    Considering the attitudes of the likes of Senator Eric Abetz during his time as Federal Forestry minister, so much of what is rotten and unproven would have been either, given the go ahead, or just simply ignored, this of course is amply displayed in this Senator Abetz’s total indifference as to whom gets it in the neck or even whom prospers from his twisted and contrived references to the truth of unsustainable forestry in this State?

    The damage this man has cast upon the people of Tasmania (helped by a couplre of forestry’s main toady’s, in the forms of Bryan green MP, David Llewellyn MP) will one day be fully realized, thus will be forever attached to the name Eric Abetz.

    Perhaps even now this malaise in our State could be termed ‘The Abetz factor?’

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