The Bunnings Letter
The Forestry (Unlocking Production Forests) Bill is being debated Tasmanian Parliament. At the moment it is before the Legislative Council.
Recently, Michael Schneider, Managing Director of Bunnings, wrote to the leaders of both major parties seeking to influence this debate. A copy of the letter can be downloaded here. The Launceston Examiner article can be found at http://www.examiner.com.au/story/4578692/state-forest-plan-hits-snag/ The letter is being used by the Greens as an argument against the Bill.
Schneider is opposed to the present bill. That is his democratic right. However the language and style of the letter indicate that it has been strongly influenced by Green policy, no doubt via the Green ginger group, Markets for Change. Whether the shareholders of Bunnings would approve of Schneider’s ideological representations on their behalf is a different matter.
In typical Green fashion the letter grossly misrepresents the true situation and uses politically correct buzzwords in place of reasoned argument. Here are some examples:
Sustainability: Anti-forestry activists love this word. It implies that, when a forest is logged, it is gone forever. We are all familiar with the images of recently logged coupes and the supposedly irreversible devastation that has been wrought. What nonsense. Unlike rain forests, properly managed eucalypt forests, such as those in Tasmania, will continue to produce timber indefinitely, just as they have done for millions of years before humans arrived on the scene. Without human intervention major bushfires swept through them every 40 to 200 years or so. Now we intervene in that cycle and take timber for our purposes much as we do with any other crop. The only difference is that logging is carried out on a longer time scale than other forms of agriculture. The “devastation” of flora, fauna and soils caused by major fires far exceeds anything brought about by even the most careless logging practices. That is the nature of eucalypt forest. Properly managed forest operations, as in Tasmania, could well be regarded as a form of conservation.
zero tolerance to illegal logging: this seems to have come from the charter of the Forest Stewardship Council (see Note below) which was initially set up in 1993 in response to the ruthless exploitation of native forests and their occupants by U.S. logging companies operating in South America. At that time it served its purpose well. Nowadays it is used by Green activists to disadvantage any logging operations of which they disapprove. Forestry Tasmania has been unable to gain certification for this reason despite world’s best practice in the management of our forests.
Should this Bill be passed by both Houses of Parliament it will become an Act and any logging operations carried out under this Act will certainly be legal. To suggest otherwise is to question the sovereignty of the Parliament of Tasmania. Have we reached the stage where large companies such as Wesfarmers can thumb their noses at state governments while slavishly complying with arbitrary and draconian restrictions imposed from offshore?
low risk plantations or verified legal and sustainable forest operations: Presumably verified legal is code for FSC certified, but what are low risk plantations? Plantation forests are not necessarily “greener” than managed native forests. They are monocultures and do not contain the diversity of flora and under-story that native animals need to survive.
… our Tasmanian suppliers … will not be sourcing timber from outside their existing forest coupes: Most of Bunnings outdoor furniture timber comes from Vietnam and South Africa,
where it has been FSC certified of course.
NOTE: The Forest Stewardship Council is not exactly squeaky clean. See for example: https://news.mongabay.com/2008/04/the-fsc-is-the-enron-of-forestry-says-rainforest-activist/
Simon Counsell, Director of Rainforest Foundation
The FSC is ‘Enron of Forestry’
In the interview, Counsell responds directly to several claims made by the FSC. He states that there been several records of the FSC selling illegally logged wood and that the FSC has caused more harm than good to indigenous groups: “I am aware of cases where there has been serious abuse of indigenous peoples’ rights in FSC certified areas”. In regards to FSC’s claim that their monoculture plantations do not replace forest, Counsell responded: “In truth, many of the areas that are now FSC-certified plantations were formerly natural forests. Also, FSC-certified plantations have destroyed many other important non-forest natural ecosystems, ranging from grasslands in South Africa to peat-bogs in Ireland.”