Eco-activist spotlight: Saving forests, halting climate change
Warrick Jordan is a member of the Huon Valley Environment Centre in Tasmania and is one of the Triabunna 13 (13 forest activists being sued by logging giant Gunns' Ltd). Jordan spoke to Green Left Weekly's Susan Austin about his activities and the relationship between forests and climate change.
How long have you been an environmental activist and what prompted you to get involved in protecting Tasmania's forests?
I was involved in forest activism in the Hunter Valley and the Central Coast in NSW, as there were logging operations destroying some beautiful forest areas around where I grew up.
I came to Tasmania in early 2005 to check out the forests here, helped out some wonderful locals holding a blockade at St Mary's on the East Coast, and subsequently fell in love with the forests of the Weld Valley.
You are one of 13 activists who are being sued by Gunns' Ltd for participating in a protest at the Triabunna woodchipping plant on the east coast of Tasmania in December. Could you explain what the protest was about?
The logging of native forest is the elephant in the room as far as Australia's carbon emissions go. The way the international accounting rules for greenhouse gas emissions are structured, any forest that existed in the ground before 1990 does not have its emissions counted when logged.
This effectively means that no emissions from native forests are recorded, and this allows the forestry industry to claim that they are "Australia's only carbon positive sector".
We used peaceful direct action to shut down the Triabunna mill to draw attention to this situation. The action was conducted also as a direct response to the federal government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme White Paper.
What methods are the Triabunna 13 using to try and win against Gunns?
Gunns are suing partially for punitive damages as they are claiming we used the action to "publicise our political beliefs".
There is an enshrined right to engage in political matters in the Australian constitution, and our defence at this stage is based on this argument.
We are also counter-suing Gunns, arguing that they have misled and deceived over their claims that no old growth forests or logs will be used in the pulp mill.
You have been involved in the campaign against the logging of the Upper Florentine forests. What is at stake here?
The Huon Valley Environment Centre and the group Still Wild Still Threatened are both engaged in protecting the last remaining areas of wilderness and old growth forests in Southern Tasmania.
You participated in a meeting in Canberra in January which established the Australian Forest and Climate Alliance (AFCA). Can you tell us about the aims of this new alliance?
AFCA was established as a way to get all those campaigning on forests and climate change across the country onto the same page.
[One] key focus was assessing how conservation groups can contribute to the overall climate change issue.
There's a strong recognition among many conservation groups, climate action groups and community members that we are in pretty deep, and that we need urgent emissions reductions in every sector, including forestry, to keep us away from the most extreme effects that will result from the inevitable changes we have induced in the climate system.
We also had the opportunity to assess what campaigns we should look at nationally. One that has been focused on immediately is the looming threat posed by native forest-fired electricity generation.
There are four proposals for these projects across the country. They're being promoted as climate friendly and as making use of an unutilised resource, when in actual fact they create large amounts of emissions and promote more logging of native forests.
[For more information on AFCA visit: < http://www.greenlivingpedia.org/Australian_Forest_and_Climate_A HREF="mailto:Alliance">