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 The Chipstop campaign is the latest of a growing number of mainland forest groups to congratulate Tasmanian environmentalist colleagues holding out against woodchipping industry efforts to leave the door open for native forest furnaces for electricity generation.

Spokesperson for Chipstop, Ms Harriett Swift says that other forest campaigners around Australia are grateful for the stand Tasmanian environmentalists have taken and urged them to hold firm.

The burning of native forest wood for power has emerged as a sticking point in negotiations to end forest conflict in Tasmania.

Any deal struck in Tasmania is being viewed as a likely model for industry restructuring in other parts of Australia.

Ms Swift says that when woodchipping was first proposed for the Eden (SE NSW) region 40 years ago the plan was to chip 5,000 of “waste” wood a year.

“We now have a million tonnes of woodchips exported each year and plans to use the “waste” from that to burn for electricity,” she says.

“The industry simply cannot be trusted on this issue. While their demands for permission to burn are couched in terms of “waste” we know from bitter experience that this terminology is worthless.”

“Liberal Party Senators earlier this year at the behest of the industry moved a motion to make it legal to burn any trees it is currently legal to log.”

“Further down the track, we could see the 95% of the forest that is currently woodchipped being burned instead.”

“We know that this will not happen overnight and will not happen in the current woodchip market. But that market is changing rapidly as more countries around the Pacific stop native forest logging and more Japanese paper companies change their procurement policies to plantation only.

Australia has a historic opportunity to abandon native forest logging, led by Tasmania.

“We must not leave a small window open for the industry to rebuild an industry that could become even more destructive for the forests than woodchipping has been,” she says.

11 October 2010

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