Protect Tassie forests too!

March 30, 2007

HOBART — The Howard government has promised to spend $200 million on an international fund to halve the rate of deforestation in Indonesia and the Asia Pacific as part of Australia's contribution to stopping climate change. However the government hasn't mentioned putting an end to the 20,000 hectares of native forest that are clear-felled and burned each year in Tasmania. Greens leader Bob Brown highlighted this hypocrisy on March 30.

The long-running campaign to protect forests in southern Tasmania continues. In late March, logging machinery moved into the Upper Florentine forests. On March 29, activists blockaded the entrance to the Tahune Air Walk, a tourist attraction run by Forestry Tasmania, and two other locations in the Weld Valley to highlight the continued logging of these forests. The action received support from tourists visiting the site.

The federal Labor Party has signalled that it will scrap its 2004 forest policy, which promised to protect much of Tasmania's remaining forests. Two seats previously held by the ALP in northern Tasmania fell to the Liberals in the last federal election. This was widely attributed to PM John Howard's promise to save timber industry jobs rather than the forests. Now Labor leader Kevin Rudd is matching Howard's rhetoric with support for the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement, which has been ridiculed by the Australian Conservation Foundation for diverting most of its $250 million to the timber industry and failing to protect significant areas of forest.

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