Launch of' International Year of the Forests' a Sham

SFER Press Release 21st March South East Forest Rescue has slammed the National Association of Forest Industries and the woodchipping industry, Forests NSW, Vic Forests and Forestry Tasmania for what they say is misuse of the UN International Year of the Forests logo on a website and reported NAFI to the UN. NAFI is the lobby group for Forests NSW, Vic Forests and Forestry Tasmania. The group say these public companies are the biggest destroyers of forests for woodchips in Australia.

“We are greatly concerned about the hypocrisy of these companies displaying the logo and we are certain that they could not have got permission to do so given the great amount of environmental damage and lack of adherence to the laws that these deforesters do when conducting native forest logging,” said Ms Lisa Stone, spokesperson for South East Forest Rescue. “Then they have the gall to launch their ‘International Year of the Forests’ at a dinner at Parliament House tonight with guest speaker Joe Ludwig.”

The group states NAFI is extremely well funded and high powered organisation who lobby to have native forests destroyed. This seems in conflict with the UN statement on the definition of the logo, which is stated to represent the multiple values of forests, forests provide shelter to people and habitat to biodiversity, are a source of food, medicine and clean water, and play a vital role in maintaining a stable global climate and environment.

The group say that far from providing shelter to people and habitat to biodiversity there is little shelter in the native forests that are logged and thousands of hectares of habitat are being destroyed each week. Based on the state and territory listings the largest increases in numbers of threatened taxa nationally are occurring on the south coast of New South Wales. Change in status of listed taxa in New South Wales is concentrated in subregions along the east coast. All species have as reasons for listing or decline, habitat loss, fragmentation due to road construction, intensive timber harvesting and altered fire regimes.[1]

“Far from providing clean water every water catchment, bar one, on the south coast is being logged.,” said Ms Stone. “And it is now indisputable that native forest logging is exacerbating the effects of climate change. CO2 emissions from native forest logging are over 26 million tonnes per year on the south coast.

Professor Ross Garnaut has stated that the CSIRO estimated that if native forest harvesting were to cease, there is a technical potential for abatement of 47 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year from 2010 to 2050.

Further NAFI and the native forest woodchipping industries they represent are currently logging native forest in breach of the UN IYF statement ‘celebrating the central role of people in the sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of our world’s forests’.

Forests NSW and the NSW government were required to review how much trees they could log by 2006. These sustainable yield audits were supposed to be done in time for the first 5 year review. They have not done this. Failure to comply with this requirement is a trigger for termination of the regional forest agreements.

“It is not enough to merely say native forestry is sustainable, it must be backed up with rigorous scientific data which Forests NSW, Vic Forests and Forestry Tasmania has failed to provide, even though they are/were required too,” said Ms Stone. “This word 'sustainable' is now synonymous with industry spin. The rate of native forest logging has exceeded levels which can be permanently sustained.”

NAFI also represents companies such as South East Fibre Exports who are owned by Nippon Paper Group/Itochu that make millions of dollars in profit from destroying our native forests.

Further the group say Forests NSW, VicForests and Forestry Tasmania are currently logging in breach of international treaties and most domestic legislation.

“NAFI is using this event and the UN logo as a lobbying tool to further the cause of woodchipping and burning native forests for power,” said Ms Stone. “We are asking that NAFI be disqualified from using the International Year of the Forests logo on the grounds that not only is the use highly offensive it is also unlawful and has now brought the International Year of the Forests campaign into disrepute.”

As green groups, conservationists and environmental activists were not invited they have held their own dinner, serving up plates of woodchips and money.