Speech to public meeting Tathra Hall 8 March 2010 by Harriett Swift
If this hall had a back window, in a few months or weeks from now we could look out from here and see this logging. What are we doing about it?
- SERCA reps have met with the State Minister for the Environment, local MP Mike Kelly and advisers to the federal Minister for Forestry and the Environment.
- We have approached all Japanese paper companies asking them not to buy native forest woodchips from the Eden chipmill because it cannot guarantee that they don’t come from koala habitat. 13 Australian ENGOs signed. We have a strong group of major Japanese groups approaching Nippon Paper asking for the same thing.
- A group of all the major conservation and animal welfare groups in Sydney is making a joint approach to the State Premier and Ministers. For many of these groups this will be the first time they have involved themselves in forests and logging issues.
- Those stories about the SE koalas that have been in the national media over the past couple of weeks are not just good luck. They represent an enormous amount of work by many people.
- Well over 1,000 people on Facebook have signed on to a group called Save the Mumbulla and FF koalas
- Local groups are forming to resist the logging, but – importantly, working together. I’m not one of those who sneers at people for looking after their backyards. On the contrary, I believe we have a special responsibility to. If we don’t, who will? It was logging in Tanja State forest on our boundary many years ago that first got me into the forest campaign in a serious way and I’d like to think I have given FNSW a few headaches in that time. However, as a forest campaigner I have also always been strongly opposed to arguing for my backyard at the expense of somewhere else. My local forest at the expense of the one down the road or Australia’s forests at the expense of those in some other country. It’s not an ethical message. Forests NSW always tries to force us into that paradigm and we mustn’t fall for it. They always offer what appear to be “concessions” in terms of what they call “resource neutrality.” That means the forest must yield the same amount of woodchips whether they get it from one place or another. If they make a provision for a powerful owl, it doesn’t mean less forest is logged, it just means it’s logged more intensively in the places that don’t have a powerful owl roost.
- Right now, the industry doesn’t need most of this wood. The woodchipping industry is still suffering from the GFC. In 2009 it spent most of the year on a 4 day week. For weeks at a time it was closed altogether. Its stockpiles of chips and logs were enormous. It was asking contractors to store logs in the forest rather than deliver them to the chipmill because it couldn’t store them. It had to clear bush inside the chipmill to expand its log storage area. Forests NSW has take or pay contracts with SEFE that can force them to keep on taking logs even when they don’t want them. We might even be doing them a favour if we could persuade State Forests not to take any pulplogs from these forests.
- One final thing: there has been some suggestion that we will do better if we pretend we are not greenies. I take issue with that. I am a greenie and why should I be ashamed of that? In the longer term, the more politicians realize that greenies are well informed, ethical and energetic and numerous, they’ll start to pay more attention to the environment.