After years of clearcutting Tasmania’s ancient forests, Australian timber giant Gunns Limited broke ranks with Tasmania’s forest industry and stated that it will pull out of native forest logging altogether.
On September 9th, at the Forest Industry Development Conference at Melbourne, Gunns announced that it will shift to a plantation-based business. Mr. L’Estrange, the new chief executive of Gunns, said “the vast support of the Australian population is with the environmental non-government organisations” and “native forest is not part of our future.” He continued, “we see that the conflict largely has to end. Our employees and the communities we operate in have been collateral damage to this process.”
This decision comes after years of campaigning by environmental organizations, and a directive earlier this year from the Tasmanian government to Gunns Ltd. and Forestry Tasmania to seek certification under the Forest Stewardship Council.
Rainforest Action Network worked with international allies to pressure Gunns starting in 2005, just after Gunns brought 17 individuals and 3 organizations to court for publicly criticizing their destruction of Tasmania’s old growth forests. Japanese customers demanded the woodchips for FSC certified papers as RAN requested, and this demand, in combination with pressure from other international allies, helped shift the paradigm, leading to the latest announcements by Gunns Ltd.
While Gunns’ announcements are reason to celebrate, challenges still remain. There is evidence that Gunns is still engaged in old growth logging at this time. Support from people all across the world is still required to hold Gunns and the Australian government accountable for all the positive commitments that have been made in recent months for Tasmania’s forests.
Thanks to all of you who supported this campaign over the years and may it be a reminder of the power of people working together internationally to protect the world’s remaining ancient forests.
Posted on behalf of Toyo Kawakami, RAN Japan, Forest Campaigner