Gunns Ltd had lots of work to do with the community so they understood what the pulp mill facility planned for the Tamar Valley is, Gunns CEO Greg LeStrange told ABC’s Stateline last night.

He also said Gunns employees, contractors and shareholders deserved to be compensated for Gunns’ decision to move out of native forest logging.

He also had great sympathy for Gunns’ workers who had lost their jobs.

An excerpt:

The only way to break the deadlock to gaining a social licence for the Tamar Valley mill was to “work through what the issues around the mill are”.

There is a lot of information out there and a lot of misinformation … it is very tied up with the natural forest debate. The first step in changing that is to move to a plantation-based facility.

There is lots of work to do with the community so they understand what the facility is … it is one of the best facilities in the world – certainly in the top 5 facilities of the some 400 chemical pulp mills in the world.

Gunns and forest peace
Source: Stateline Tasmania
Published: Friday, October 22, 2010 7:41 AEDT
Expires: Thursday, January 20, 2011 7:41 AEDT

Airlie Ward talks to Gunns’ CEO Greg L’Estrange about what the forest peace deal means for the timber company.

Transcript follows…

Watch listen, HERE

NAFI shifts ground on biomass…

Burning issue
Source: Stateline Tasmania
Published: Friday, October 22, 2010 7:30 AEDT
Expires: Thursday, January 20, 2011 7:30 AEDT

The burning of forest waste, or biomass, is proving a major sticking point in the forest peace talks.

Transcript follows…

AIRLIE WARD, PRESENTER: The Greens say they’ve heard it all before, putting the waste from logging to better use.

That was the argument for a wood chip industry and now it’s the driver behind the push for what’s called biomass.

It’s the burning of wood waste to generate electricity and, around the world, it’s a booming business but in Australia it’s tied up in the conflict over native forest logging and here in Tasmania it’s proven to be a major sticking point in the forest peace discussions.

As Lucy Shannon reports, just days after signing the historic statement of principles, key players are backing away from some of its content.

LUCY SHANNON, REPORTER: For Tasmanianns used to seeing the forest industry and environmentalists at each others throats, it was quite a sight to see.

DAVID BARTLETT, PREMIER: Thanks mate.

LUCY SHANNON: After five months of thrashing out the issues in secret, a statement of principles was finally presented to the Government this week.

DAVID BARTLETT: Thank you.

DR PHILL PULLINGER, ENVIRONMENT TASMANIA: Thanks very much.

NICK MCKIM, GREENS LEADER: Good on you Phill, congratulations.

LUCY SHANNON: The statement represents momentous change – an immediate end to most high conservation logging and the eventual end to all large scale native forest harvesting.

Finding common ground has been challenging and some principles may have been agreed just for the sake of the process.

One of those issues is biomass, the burning of wood waste to create electricity. How significant was this issue of biomass through those discussions?

ALLAN HANSARD, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FOREST INDUSTRIES: It became quite a significant issue through the negotiations.

If you run through the five months that we had at the table with the environmental groups and other parties, it emerged quite early as an issue and it was there at the end.

LUCY SHANNON: The deal on the table only allows plantation residue to be used as feed stock for power generators, not the waste from native logging.

For environment groups, even allowing for plantation biomass was a major compromise.

PHILL PULLINGER: We will go into the next stage, or hope that we’ll be able to go into the next stage, in good faith, to try and deliver all of the agreed principles.

LUCY SHANNON: The intention might be to make the principles reality but, just a day after signing the historic agreement, the National Association of Forest Industries was indicating it will continue to lobby for native forest power generators.

ALLAN HANSARD: We would hope through this next process that the opportunity is there to be able to use biomass from all sources again.

LUCY SHANNON: Biomass is a growth market around the world. In some European countries it powers whole towns.

DAVID COOTE, UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE: I saw systems ranging from around 100 kilowatt thermal to about 600 kilowatt thermal, supplying up to perhaps around 100 residences.

I saw one system next to a kindergarten where it’s supplying the kindergarten and number of houses next door.

LUCY SHANNON: It is recognised as renewable energy because trees and crops can be grown again.

DAVID COOTE: The IPCC, the Garnaut report, the Stern report, a number of UK governments, a number of European governments and other northern hemisphere governments all go along with that idea that in fact it is a form of low carbon renewable energy.

SEN. CHRISTINE MILNE, AUSTRALIAN GREENS: The way that the Europeans manage their forests is entirely different. They are working largely a plantation industry. They lost the diversity in their native forests years ago.

LUCY SHANNON: The fuel is usually the waste timber left after logging. It’s bundled or chipped or turned into pellets. Trade in wood pellets alone is becoming a booming international business.

The fuel can also be waste from sawmills or roadside overgrowth. It can even be organic municipal waste.

With transport a big cost, biomass electricity is often produced on a small scale, each regional community feeding its own generator.

MARK BROWN, CRC FOR FORESTRY: It’s economically viable but it requires a bit of a mind shift of how we view electricity generation or energy generation globally even.

We’ve grown up, or we’ve had for years, a system with large facilities distributing the power across a large landscape whereas, if you look at bio energy, the real restricting value is that transport distance, so it really lends itself to a more local establishment of facilities.

LUCY SHANNON: Australia’s Cooperative Research Centre for Forestry has done four biomass trials in the past few years, most of them looking at the costs and technology associated with collecting and hauling biowaste.

Mark Brown has been leading that research and he says biomass is a viable opportunity for a forest industry in transition, giving struggling contractors a potential use for their equipment.

MARK BROWN: If you compare it to other regions around the world using bioenergy, I think the opportunity of producing energy and heat and using it locally is a relatively nice fit for the Tasmanian context. Particularly in light of recent announcements around the forest industry and job losses.

LUCY SHANNON: In Tasmania, it could prove attractive to the wine and dairy industries and there are farmers, foresters, scientists and business people passionate about its possibilities. Some of them were in Hobart this week, spreading the word at a biomass public forum.

Andrew Lang is a board member of the World Bioenergy Association. He laments the fact that as a farmer in Australia his organic waste can’t be used productively.

ANDREW LANG, BOARD MEMBER, WORLD ENERGY ASSOC: At the moment, it’s mostly burned or allowed to rot or some of it goes into land fill and as a farmer I am responsible for burning something like 2,000 tonnes of biomass a year, free burning it. Just a cloud of smoke. If I was in Scandinavia, that would be illegal and I would be fined or in jail.

LUCY SHANNON: It might be fuelling European towns but in Australia biomass is very much its infancy and clouded in controversy.

Debate rages about its status as a renewable energy, particularly when a number of proposals around the country including two in Tasmania would use native wood waste.

Commonwealth legislation on renewable energy is confusing when it comes to biomass, some would say intentionally.

ANDREW LANG: It’s a scandal, basically, that in the lead up to the first mandatory renewable energy target of 1999, 2000, 2001 that I am told by senior people in the Howard Government at the time that it was blocked from being bioenergy, was blocked from being one of the renewables included in that by the Democrats and Greens.

And that was so, to get that through, according to these people, they said they had to eliminate that. So it stayed eliminated out of the picture, out the light since then.

LUCY SHANNON: Only one renewable energy certificate has ever been issued for biomass, to Forestry Tasmania for a bioenergy research project.

BOB GORDON, FORESTRY TASMANIA: In my view there is no doubt that bio mass wood waste from either native forest or plantations from areas managed under a Regional Forest Agreement are eligible for renewable energy credits and we have proven that.

LUCY SHANNON: Forestry Tasmania argues its two proposals for native forest fuelled power generators in the Huon and at Smithton would see the much maligned annual regeneration burns become a thing of the past but Allan Hansard says the laws need clarifying before investors will sign up.

ALLAN HANSARD: We’d like to see that tidied up so it provides a clearer enunciation as to what can be used and what can’t be used.

LUCY SHANNON: Environment groups believe no matter what the federal laws allow the Tasmanian forest deal should mean certain death to any proposal for a native wood fired generator but, despite being a signatory to the statement of principles, Allan Hansard has no qualms about continuing to push for native forest biomass.

LUCY SHANNON: How can you sign that statement of principles, is there no obligation under these principles to abide by what’s in them?

ALLAN HANSARD: Look, I think you need to put the principles in the context that they were really meant. They’re really like guide post for the development of the next process really. There are principles in there I am sure that the environmental groups don’t fully agree with either, but that’s the process that we went through.

LUCY SHANNON: Greens Senator Christine Milne believes the forest industry’s interest in biomass is only due to the major decline in the wood chip market.

CHRISTINE MILNE: What is being proposed in Tasmania is, let’s use the wood chips to burn them in the native forest furnaces so that we keep making money out of native forest logging and it’s really disingenuous. You are either in a process to end and exit native forests or you are not.

LUCY SHANNON: She’s concerned that history will repeat itself.

CHRISTINE MILNE: There is merit in having lived a while on this planet and I remember when wood chipping first started in Tasmania and the argument for wood chipping was to use the waste on the forest floor.

LUCY SHANNON: Senator Milne says she has tried twice two clarify the renewable energy legislation.

CHRISTINE MILNE: When I moved in the debate last year to remove even this crack of light that the logging industry has got, the Government and the Coalition refused to close the door.

LUCY SHANNON: With the Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate from July, any chance of a biomass kick start is unlikely.

People like Andrew Lang are disappointed. He says conflict over native forest logging is confusing the issue and holding back an industry with real potential.

ANDREW LANG: No one’s saying forestry management has been beyond reproach, it has always been a little bit sort of rough in Australia, but there are obviously models where it can work and it would be timely to start looking at that again.

LUCY SHANNON: The fight highlights just how fragile Tasmania’s hard-fought-for forest peace really is. Only time will tell whether it can withstand the emerging cracks; the real work starts now.

Watch, listen HERE

Meanwhile … Action at the Gunns AGM

“. . . action at the Gunns AGM which will be on Thursday 25th November at 10.30am at the Boatshed, Lindsay Street, Launceston. Those involved in coordinating it include representatives from The Wilderness Society, Pulp The Mill, Friends of the Tamar Valley, TAP and WAG. All the various groups involved want to come together in a strong, creative action to demonstrate collective unity against granting the Gunns’ proposed pulp mill a social licence.

With the signing of the forestry principles and the unique parliamentary arrangement, it is critical to come out strongly in support of proper democratic process for a sustainable forestry industry. . . . . All those involved up North would be incredibly appreciative if people from the South, East and West all came to stand together and make clear that all the Tasmanian community stands against corruption and the commodification of our unique forests.

The plan is to make the action creative using a marine theme. As you would all know, Gunns still do not have federal approval for the effluent that will enter Commonwealth waters and it is important to remind people of this fact as well as celebrate the beauty of the Tamar Valley and importance of the Bass Strait. It is planned to have boats, fisherman, people dressed as fish, and hopefully we’ll be able to enlarge some beautiful photos that demonstrate the unique marine life in the Tamar.

It’s understood the action will be affirmative rather than aggressive, and will be a positive experience for those involved. ”

Forest Talks – Public Forums -26Oct10
Environment movement and forest industry representatives have been talking for the past 5 months to explore ways to resolve the conflict over native forests in Tasmania. They have now developed and agreed upon a ‘Tasmanian Forests Statement of Principles’ to provide a framework for a full process to develop and deliver a holistic solution to the conflict over forestry in Tasmania.
Representatives from the environment movement who have been involved in the talks, and representatives from local groups are holding public forums in Launceston, Burnie, Deloraine, Hobart, the Tasman Peninsula and St Helens. The forums will look at what the Tasmanian Forests Statement of Principles may mean for our native forests and natural environment at a State-wide level and at a local level, take questions and look at where to from here.

Public Forum Dates and Times:
– Launceston
Tuesday 26 October, 5.30 – 7pm
The Royal Oak, 14 Brisbane St
– Burnie
Wednesday 27 October, 5.30 – 7pm
UTas Cradle Coast Campus, Meeting Room D201,16-20 Mooreville Road
– Deloraine
Thursday 28 October, 5.30 – 7pm
Uniting Church Hall Meeting Room, 18 West Barrick St
– Hobart
Tuesday 2 November, 5.30 – 7pm
Stanley Burbury Theatre, UTAS Churchill Ave
– Tasman Peninsula
Tuesday 9 November, 6.00 – 7.30pm
Eaglehawk Neck Community Hall, Arthur Highway
– St Helens
Friday 12 November, 5.30 – 7pm
Tidal Waters, 1 Quail St

Private sessions with individuals and groups, and additional public forums are available by request. Please contact Emma Anglesey at Environment Tasmania on 62701732 or email members@et.org.au

Will Prime Minister agree to support ‘Tasmanian Forests Statement of Principles’?

Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett is flying from Hobart to Canberra this morning on an urgent mission to protect Tasmania’s native forests. He carries with him the unprecedented backing of the forest industry, timber communities, unions and our partners in the conservation movement through a new ‘Statement of Principles’ on Tassie’s native forests.

After 30 years of community conflict and the decimation of Tasmania’s native forests, there’s finally hope for healing the old wounds and scarred wilderness. But it will all fall apart unless the Commonwealth signs up. That will require a considerable financial investment, which won’t happen without a nationwide movement behind it.

That’s why it’s essential for us to show immediate support from across Australia for this historic agreement by getting 50,000 signatures on the Australian Native Forests Charter. Click below and take one moment to help resolve a 30 year struggle:

http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/SaveOurForests

If realised, the Statement of Principles will protect Tasmania’s native forests, lead to a significant reduction in Australia’s carbon emissions (equal to emissions from 9 of our dirtiest coal fired power plants each year)1 and help make Tasmania’s timber industry environmentally and economically sustainable.

Tens of thousands of GetUp members already signed up to the Australian Native Forests Charter. It was a fantastic show of support for our friends at the Wilderness Society, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Environment Tasmania as they worked tirelessly to secure the Statement of Principles on behalf of the conservation movement.

Those Principles call for a moratorium on logging in high conservation value forests within 3 months, but the clock won’t start ticking until the Commonwealth signs on. For that we need to take the Charter to new heights, with 50,000 signatures from Australians across the country calling for forest protection:

http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/SaveOurForests

Majestic in their beauty, our native forests are home to unique and vibrant wildlife, provide a pure source of water and serve as the green lungs of our nation, absorbing the carbon pollution we’ve yet to control.

The agreement reached this week could see them protected and renewed, but only with federal government support.

Thank you for adding your name,
The GetUp Team

PS – There is no support for the proposed Gunns Pulp Mill in the Statement of Principles announced this week. There is recognition of the need for a pulp mill for industry, but one which involves “stakeholder engagement with the proponent, [environmental groups] and the community.” The proposed pulp mill for the Tamar Valley does not meet those criteria and does not have the support of the conservation movement.

1 BG Mackey, H Keith, SL Berry and DB Lindenmayer, ‘Green Carbon, the role of natural forests in carbon storage’, ANU E Press, 2008.

CFMEU declares forests war is over

• Matthew Franklin, Chief political correspondent
• From: The Australian
• October 23, 2010 12:00AM

CFMEU forestry division national secretary Michael O’Connor in parklands in North Melbourne. Picture: Aaron Francis Source: The Australian
THE union representing forestry workers has conceded logging in the nation’s natural forests must stop.

It has declared an armistice in its 30-year war with the environmental movement.

But the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union now wants the green lobby and governments to secure the industry’s long-term survival by agreeing to a dramatic expansion of plantation forestry.

The CFMEU also wants a new focus on value-adding through investment in sectors such as pulp and paper, and veneer board. “Our industry is on the verge of collapse,” CFMEU forestry division national secretary Michael O’Connor told The Weekend Australian yesterday.

“We’ve got to come up with a solution. The only way to do that was really to sit down with people we’ve been opposed to for 30 years and see if we could come up with one.”

Mr O’Connor’s comments, welcomed by the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Australian Greens and the Gillard government, represent a fundamental shift after years of often physical conflict over logging in native forests, particularly in Tasmania.

They suggest his union will dig in over its support for the proposed Gunns pulp mill in the Tamar Valley, strongly opposed by conservationists.

Last week Tasmanian environmentalists and loggers agreed to begin talks over a moratorium on logging in high-conservation areas and, ultimately, a shift out of all native forests and into plantation timber.

Yesterday, Mr O’Connor broke with employer groups to call for the Tasmanian deal to be treated as a template for nation-wide reform to provide a lifeline for more than 100,000 Australians employed in the timber industry.

“The hard truth is that the native forest industry in every state is in crisis,” he said in his first interview about the Tasmanian deal.

Australian Conservation Foundation executive director Don Henry welcomed the CFMEU’s shift and promised to help.
“This is a unique opportunity to lay down our arms and work respectfully together to build a strong and sustainable value-adding industry based on plantations,” he said.
“The ACF is a strong supporter of plantation forestry and value-adding at world’s best practice.”

Greens leader Bob Brown, a veteran of Tasmania’s forest wars, was not available yesterday but deputy leader Christine Milne said Mr O’Connor’s comments were a cause for celebration because it meant forests would be protected.
“The Greens have always supported an assisted transition for forestry workers out of native forest logging, and we have always been confident that the transition will bring benefits to workers, industry and community,” Senator Milne said.

Sustainability Minister Tony Burke said he was not certain other states could mirror the Tasmanian agreement, which was linked to the building of a pulp mill and involved high-value forest areas such as the Styx and the Tarkine.

“This next stage is going to be critical. But really the implementation of anything that comes out of it could be over a 15- or 20-year period. This will probably outlast the rest of my working life.”

Mr O’Connor’s comments come ahead of a union ballot next month to approve the Tasmanian deal.

Read the full story HERE

Sue Neales, Mercury:

Forestry Tasmania has further muddied the waters by quietly admitting, at the height of peace mania, it now intends to become the state’s major exporter of woodchips from native forests, buying out Gunns’ Triabunna export woodchip mill and port and acquiring wood waste from all logged native forest coupes and sawmills while the transition is under way.

With this development, Forestry Tasmania and so the State Government would appear to have a deeply vested interest in not encouraging or hastening a move out of native forest logging any time soon.

The other hot issue put on the backburner until the next round of talks if woodchips from native forests can be used to produce electricity in Forestry Tasmania-owned “biomass-fuelled” power stations is similarly conflicted.

At the same time, Gunns has been adamant this week that it sees the peace agreement as giving its Tamar River pulp mill the green light; in effect viewing the deal as a forests-for-pulp mill swap.

Maybe that’s not a bad way of looking at it.

Full comment, HERE

First published: 2010-10-23 06:07 AM