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Tazmania's Forest in Trouble

tazmania, forest, trees, gunns ltd,

Every day, about 44 football fields of rainforest and other old growth forests are clear-cutted. Some of the tallest trees in the world fall to their death and get turned into woodchips to make paper. Even more awful is the fact that an equivalent of napalm is being dropped on the cleared forest to kill of the remaining life in order to replant single species of trees to be, again, cut down 15 to 25 years later.

With all this arsenal, the forest and the wildlife have no chance of survival. Compound 1080, a lethal super-toxin listed as a biological weapon by both Canada and US government, is used to poison thousands of animals each year. It is estimated that 5.5 million tons of wood is chipped every year. But GUNNS Ltd, the company that’s responsible for this mess, seems to not know what they are cutting down. Indeed this forest is filled with Eucalyptus regnans. Mesuring up to 90 metres high, these trees are the worlds tallest hardwood trees. They also seem not to forget the areas with World Heritage value.

From the forests point of view, they have’nt seen anything yet. Indeed the destruction is poised to double due to a new pulp mill in the works. The pulp mill will be located at Bell Bay and would consume up to 4.5 million tons of woodchips annually. As of date, 4 million tons of woodchips are exported every year. With the construction of this mill, the clearfelling of Tasmania’s native forest will supply enough trees to create roughly 8 million tons of woodchips each year.
There is always sadness when an ancient forest is slain, but it is even more, when in this forest lies many living creatures that by no choice will be ridden of by means of poison. Hundreds of thousands of native mammals have been killed with carrots poisoned with Compound 1080.

John Gay, GUNNS CEO, has stated publicly that it is okay that his company kills protected species because ‘there are too many of them’. Protected animals that are routinely killed by the company are the Tasmanian wombat and the ring-taled possums.
In December of 2004, Australia’s biggest logging company used its superior legal and financial ressources to restrict the free speech of Tasmanians. Suing 20 people and organizations for their outspoken opposition to old-growth logging. Known by the company as the ‘GUNNS 20’, they targeted this diverse group with a SLAPP(strategic lawsuit against public participation). This legal method is outlawed in most parts of the world on the grounds that it limits free speech. The massive lawsuit included two members of parliment(Senator Bob Brown and local Tasmanian MP Peg Putt) and one of Australia’s major environment groups(The Wilderness Society), a local community group and a range of individuals including a dentist, a film-maker, a grandmother, a doctor and a couple of students. A nice solution by the company to silence the public outcry is by burdening them with high legal fees and time-consuming trials. MF.

Just recently, the Tasmanian timber company, despite suffering a loss, says it will continue to fight. GUNNS Ltd will continue its efforts to sue a group of human beings that care as to what happens to their forest and their wildlife for an alleged ‘campaign against GUNNS’ that targeted mills at Triabunna, Lucaston and Hampshire, and also its operations in the Styx forest coupe, all Tasmania, plus offshore business partners. Victoria’s Supreme Court rejected GUNNS latest statement of claim, in which they called for 6.9 million in compensation from the ‘GUNNS 20’. This is the third time in two years that their claim has been rejected.Reasons given for the last two rejected claims state ‘embarrassing’, at best ambiguous and at worst misleading’. From this recent decision comes good and bad news.
‘The good news’ says Greens leader, Bob Brown is that the judge took a ‘chainsaw’ to GUNNS latest claim. ‘This is a huge victory for those of us fighting against GUNNS destruction of Tasmania’s ancient forests and wildlife’. The other side of this coin is that the ‘threat of further litigation has not been lifted’ said Senator Brown. Indeed the judge gave the timber company yet another chance to lodge another claim.

Virginia Young, from the Wilderness Society welcomes the court ruling, but stays cautious. ‘This is a massive case as far as the Wilderness Society is concerned and to be nearly two years on and be exactly in the same position as in the beginning is really quite distressing.’
Published: 2007-11-19
Author: Derek Cyr

About the author or the publisher
Born and raised in front of the ocean has a way of always wanting to look further. For this reason, I have always been interested at looking at every aspect of life. To say that I like everything would be wrong. To say that I usually like to try before deciding would be fair. By doing this, I was able to narrow down what I’m interested in. I started playing drums at 10 years old and I have never got tired of it. I also love kayaking ever since I discovered, as a child, that water can be an open road. My love of writing came when I realized that, though many people read, most don’t completly read. It can be skipping a phrase while reading a book or just reading the headline of an article. I try my best to find a way of writing that will make people read the whole thing before turning the page.

As for interests go, you can say that life and death interest me very much. So much of unknown aspects in both worlds. Family, friends, music, movies, books and newspapers will always keep me happy.

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