Every year about 300 hectares of Otway State forest are clear-felled by the Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) for woodchips and sawlogs.
In clear-felling, all the trees in a given area are removed, and the forest understorey is bulldozed and burnt. It is similar to clearing forest for agricultural purposes. The DNRE replants an even-aged crop of selected trees so that the native forest becomes a plantation.
Clear-felling is killing the Otway native forest. The habitat for forest birds and animals is being systematically destroyed.
Kimberly Clark, the manufacturer of Kleenex tissues, has a licence to buy 44,000 tonnes of whole trees from the Otways each year. This represents about 40% of all the Otway forest destroyed by clear-fell. Kimberly Clark requires hardwood woodchips to make tissue paper soft and smooth.
Research shows that up to 85% of tree ferns in a clear-fell area are destroyed. After two years, the remaining tree ferns are of poor health or diseased. No new tree ferns grow.
Myrtle beech rainforest is facing extinction from a dieback disease called myrtle wilt. Clear-felling spreads myrtle wilt disease, which is at epidemic levels in the Otways.
Studies on the effect of clear-felling in tall wet mountain forest indicate that vegetation adapted to a drier environment tends to regenerate after the operation. Drier forest environments increase the frequency and intensity of bushfires, which are a particular threat to rainforest.
Kimberly Clark is a US-based multinational. Amcor Ltd, another major multinational woodchipping company, has a 50% share and controlling interest in Kimberly Clark Australia.
In 1992, Kimberly Clark Australia used plantation eucalypt from Brazil to make tissue paper. To cut production costs, it changed to buying Australian woodchips. It knows that time is running out for the Otway forest and claims, on Kleenex packets, that it will begin harvesting its own eucalypt plantations by the year 2000.
Presumably, after that date, Kimberly Clark Australia will "phase out" its requirement for hardwood woodchips from the Otways. But by then the tiger quoll and cool temperate rainforest may also be phased out.
Boycott Kleenex! If just one in 10 people who buy the Kleenex brands below used an alternative product, Kimberly Clark would lose up to $18.6 million in retail sales.
Carter Holt Harvey is another manufacturer that uses native forest to make tissue paper. Brand names to avoid include Sorbent, Petal, Chiffon, Scotties, Snowtext and Earthcare.
[From Otways Ranges Environment Network and members of the Australian Student Environment Network.]