Wilderness Society slams 'official' day


By Tracy Sorensen

SYDNEY — The Wilderness Society's Karen Jurd dismissed the federal government's World Environment Day activities as a "sham". The government was attempting to "jump on the green bandwagon and drive it off the rails".

Government-sponsored World Environment Day activities included the launching of a waste and recycling strategy which aims to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by 50% by the year 2000. Recycling targets include an increase to 25% recycled material in plastic products, up from the current 6%.

"World Environment Day is meant to be a day of global celebration of humanity's place in the natural world", she said. "However, we need to be reminded that its origin lies in the recognition of the destructive human impact on the fragile planet and the urgent need to find positive solutions.

"In reality, the government has hijacked this special day, turning it into a cheap diversion from the real issues. It has become a cynical exercise in tokenism."

She said that while "politicians grandstand about their green credentials, more than 5 million tonnes of Australia's native forest are being turned into woodchips for pulping each year".

Protected native forest covered less than 1% of Australia. Thousands of hectares of degraded farmland were "calling out for replanting with trees".

Hawke's promise to plant one billion trees, she said, was "hollow" in the light of proposed resource security legislation that would turn native forest into an industrial wasteland.

The Wilderness Society, she said, would mark World Environment Day by beginning a "major campaign to expose the disastrous nature of the Hawke government's forest industry strategy and fight resource security legislation. There will be no silence until the chainsaw stops."