Sham forest deal will not deliver peace

August 1, 2011

The Australian Forests and Climate Alliance (AFCA) released this statement on August 1.

* * *

Forest conservation and climate action groups across Australia, joined by prominent conservationist Peter Cundall, today warned the Julia Gillard and Lara Giddings governments that their Tasmanian forest deal is a sham that will waste $250 million dollars of taxpayers’ money.

“This sham deal can not deliver ‘peace’ in the forests,” said AFCA spokespersons [representing] more than 30 groups around the country.

“It is just a waste of another $250 million of taxpayers’ money. Already, more than a billion dollars has been squandered on failed buyouts and public subsidies for native forest logging around the country over the past 15 years, under the now discredited Regional Forest Agreements.

“Unless this deal is fixed, and fixed properly, direct action in the forests, in the courts and in the markets will continue until this appalling industry finally collapses, no matter how long it takes.

“There are 3 key measures that we see as non negotiable; these measures were swept aside by the Prime Minister’s announcement but are the only basis on which decades long forest disputes in Tasmania and around the country can be resolved:

1. There must be a clear public commitment by industry, the unions and government to end all native forest logging.

To its credit, the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union understands this and has expressed concern that conservation outcomes have not been delivered by the hasty Labor Party deal.

2. There must a clear and rapid timetable for a transition to plantation-only logging.

Forest campaign groups are demanding a maximum three to five years transition given the climate change disaster looming over us while woodchipping and industrial logging of our forests is directly responsible for nearly 10% of all Australia’s greenhouse pollution.

3. There must be immediate, unequivocal protection of 572,000 hectares of identified high conservation value forests as new national parks in Tasmania.

“The already extended negotiations in Tasmania have identified high conservation value forests for immediate protection in a way that will allow a three to five year transition period for industry; more than 900,000 hectares of forest will still be available to log during the transition period.

“Without these key measures, this is just another proposal to prop up an unsustainable industry that is on the nose for most Australians.

“A national poll has shown that 80% of Australians want an immediate end to native forest logging, including 70% in regional Australia (Galaxy Poll May 2010).

“Conservation groups also support the Tamar valley community in rejecting the proposal to build a pulp mill in the beautiful and fruitful Tamar valley.

“Australians and the planet deserve better than this bad deal.”

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