Forests

Two forest activists protesting against the clearfelling of native forest in north-western Tasmania have become the first people charged under the state's controversial anti-protest laws. John Henshaw and Jessica Hoyt were part of a group of nine protesters who walked on to a Forestry Tasmania coup at Lapoinya, 37 kilometers from Burnie on January 18. About 70 other protesters have gathered at the entrance to the coup for the past week to oppose the logging.
[The Socialist Alliance National Executive released this statement on December 7.] The arrests of Victorian Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) officials, state secretary, John Setka and assistant secretary Shaun Reardon, demonstrate that the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption is purely a witchhunt against unions.
Clearfelling old growth forest in Tasmania. Previously destroyed for woodchips, native forests are now in danger of being burned to create electricity. Reports that the owner of Victoria’s Hazelwood coal power station, GDF Suez, has been considering plans to convert it into a co-firing facility, allowing it to burn native forest waste as well as brown coal, have been slammed by environmentalists.
The federal government wants to allow burning native forest waste to qualify for renewable energy subsidies under the Renewable Energy Target (RET). They reached a compromise with Labor early this month for a renewable energy target of 33 gigawatt hours (GWh). However, negotiations have since broken down due to the federal government’s fine print inclusion of burning native forest biomass in furnaces and the retention of two-yearly reviews of the RET.
Sixty people, including activists from Papua New Guinea (PNG) and ABC radio presenter Julie McCrossin, protested outside the federal government's Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit on November 12. The conference featured Liberal MPs Julie Bishop and Greg Hunt speaking to government ministers from the Asia Pacific region.
China’s Second Continent: How a million migrants are building a new Empire in Africa Howard W French Knopf Published May 20, 2014 304 pages www.howardwfrench.com In his 2009 film Rethink Afghanistan, director Robert Greenwald suggested that the US should not try to control the world through military means, but by building schools and hospitals in the countries it wishes to invade. Journalist Howard French's book China's Second Continent shows how such a model can work in practice.
About 5000 people protested outside Parliament House in Hobart on June 14 to call for the protection of Tasmania’s World Heritage forests. The World Heritage Committee unanimously approved the extension of 120,000 hectares of new reserves to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage property at a meeting in June last year. The forests were judged to have met all four natural heritage criteria.
The Tony Abbott government has done something no other government in the world has done before, asking UNESCO to take one of the nation’s unique natural areas off the World Heritage list. In Tasmania, 170,000 hectares of forest was given World Heritage status in June last year. Environmentalists have long considered the areas, which mostly border existing World Heritage areas, worthy of protection. Among them are well-known forests such as the Styx, Weld and Upper Florentine Valleys.
Victorian state government enterprise VicForests tabled its annual report in parliament in October last year, revealing that, for the sixth year running, the corporation had failed to pay a dividend to the state for being allowed to log publicly owned forests.
Two protesters chained themselves to a gate, preventing VicForests contractors from accessing a logging coupe for the day in the Toolangi State Forest north of Melbourne, on February 7. The Toolangi State Forest is one of the few areas of forest unburned by the 2009 Black Saturday fire. Environmental campaigners have called for its incorporation into a proposed Great Forest National Park. It has been estimated that only 1% of the old growth tall forests of the central highlands area is left.

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