Chipmill is living on borrowed time - conservationists
Response to today’s announcement that South East Fibre Exports (SEFE) will not close (for now)
The Eden chipmill may have had a temporary reprieve from its Japanese owners, but its days are numbered, according to forest campaigner, Ms Harriett Swift who is convenor of the Chipstop Campaign.
“We have always expected that the big decisions on the future of woodchipping our native forests would be made in Japan, not Australia, and this has never been truer than it is today,” she said.
“The Nippon Paper owned Eden chipmill is the epicentre of forest destruction for hundreds of kilometres around and we will never give up until it has gone.”
“Woodchipping has caused untold damage to the region’s waterways and soils and killed countless birds and animals, but it is now damaging the bottom line of its owner as well,” Ms Swift said.
“Nippon Paper is a huge multinational company and may be able to tolerate some losses for a year or so, but it is in financial trouble itself, and cannot do this indefinitely,” she said.
“SEFE has not exported any chips since the first week in October. It has had less than 10 ships in port this year, against a “normal” figure of about 26.”
“Eden woodchipping has been subsidised by taxpayers for years, but since 2011 it is now also being subsidised by Nippon Paper shareholders.”
“Its longer term future depends on how long the Nippon Paper Board is prepared to bankroll its loss making subsidiary; it can ill afford to have assets that do not pay their way,” she said.
“While other Japanese paper companies have moved from native forest to plantation sourced woodchips, Nippon Paper has had its head firmly stuck in the sand.
“Had it moved out of native forests years ago, it might well have been better placed to ride out its current economic woes,” she said.
Ms Swift said that forest campaigners are now directly targeting Nippon Paper decision makers in Japan and are sending direct messages to managers in Tokyo.
“We are using on-line petitions, newspaper advertising, cyber letters and social media campaigns and are by-passing Australian politicians and company managers.
“The Eden chipmill is a growing burden on Nippon Paper shareholders and by closing it the company can save money and start the process of restoring its reputation,” Ms Swift said.
21 December 2012