Olive branch offered on Ta Ann markets campaign in Tasmania

Environment groups have offered to suspend their markets campaign in Japan for one month while forest peace talks proceed, on the condition that logging ceases in the 572,000 ha of verified high conservation value forests whilst negotiations about protecting them take place.

“It’s a moratorium for a moratorium,” said Peg Putt of Markets for Change.

“Logging the forests that are the subject of discussions about their protection cannot be justified. Wood should be sourced from the remaining million hectares of native forest outside of the area subject to reserve claims, whilst an agreement is hammered out around reserve creation and forest industry restructure.

“We began our campaign with Japanese customers of Ta Ann because the promised moratorium on logging was not implemented and Ta Ann’s wood supply was officially identified as the key driver of logging within this area.”

“If logging ceases inside the verified 572 000ha, we will give the talks an opportunity to reach an agreement to protect Tasmania's globally significant forests,” said Jenny Weber of the Huon Valley Environment Centre.

“The West report provides overwhelming evidence for protection of these forests. The damage that has been done from years of over-cutting the forests means that the conservation of the threatened intact forests is at the edge of a cliff. It is a critical time for these forests to be protected for world heritage, national heritage, carbon storage and species protection values,” Ms Weber continued.

Miranda Gibson of Still Wild Still Threatened, who has now spent 110 days perched in her tree sit 60 metres up the ObserverTree, has also been coordinating messages to Japan. Her tree top eyrie is located in one of the logging coupes under imminent threat inside the verified high conservation value forests.

“I will support the conditional moratorium on the markets campaign in Japan. Meanwhile, however, I will remain in the Observer Tree to bear witness and await a final outcome. I am keeping the Tasmanian devils and wedge-tailed eagles company whilst they wait for their homes to be secured. It is vital that during this period we continue with informative and educational campaigns,” Miranda Gibson said.

“We will advocate other vitally important things that must come out of an agreement, in particular that the improvements to the Forest Practices Code are fully applied, to ensure that areas outside the 572,000 hectares subject to continued logging when negotiations are resolved will be treated in an environmentally responsible manner, and not suffer the brunt of dramatically intensified logging.”

The groups all reject calls made by the forest industry (through FIAT) to constrain the right to freedom of speech, the right to association and the right to non-violent protest.

“We absolutely reject the call for draconian anti-protest laws, which would undermine the basic principles of our democracy. We intend to continue domestic campaigns to build awareness and public pressure on delivering protection for these magnificent threatened forests,” said Ula Majewski of The Last Stand.

“A long lasting outcome cannot be achieved by imposing curbs on democratic freedoms,” concluded Ms Majewski.

For more information, visit www.taann.net