Tasmania's Tahune Forest Reserve. Image Credit: ctudball via Flickr
In a major victory for the Australian environmental movement, Tasmanian timber company Gunns Limited announced on Thursday that it will no longer engage in native forest logging. Instead, the company, which is the world's largest woodchip exporter, will turn to plantation-based products. So why has the timber giant suddenly turned over a new leaf? They've been under protest for years now, losing legal battles against environmental activists and facing demands from their Japanese customers for more sustainable products.But how to be sure that Gunns' announcement isn't a greenwashing public relations stunt? The company's website is now draped in green, and includes a "sustainability commitment" that promises to " plant and regenerate significantly more forests than it harvests to ensure ongoing operational sustainability." But the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, the timber lobby with which Gunns recently broke, has a similarly green website, which claims that native forest logging is a "sustainable industry in every sense of the word."
Dr. Glen Barry, president of Ecological Internet, which claims a critical role in influencing Gunns' decision, emphasized the need to make sure Gunns Limited follows through on its promise:
To ensure Gunns' announcement is not greenwash, EI demands: 1) Gunns must immediately announce firm date for transitioning to plantations, 2) lands formerly to be logged by Gunns must be fully protected, 3) Tasmania's industrial old growth logging must end and not be replaced by selective "certified" logging, 4) Tasmanian pulp mill must be legally barred from using non-plantation fiber, and 5) best plantations practices - dependent upon mixed native species without toxics - must be used.
Here's hoping that Gunns' move towards sustainability is based on more than public relations pressure- or, at the very least, that it's not a total charade.
More on the fight against native forest logging:
North Korea Logging in Protected Forest Discovered With Google, NASA Data
Ugly Fight in Moscow Over Fate of Khimki Forest
Eco-Certified Paper Razing Sumatran Orangutans' Rainforest Homes, Displacing Indigenous Peoples