Australian PM Calls Timber Companies Ultimate Conservationists


I was away only for a few days and managed to miss joke of the week: PM Tony Abbott calling timber companies ultimate conservationists.

To the joy of Australia’s forestry industry, our PM has declared no more Australian forests will be locked up by national parks and he is committed to remove 74,000 hectares of Tasmanian forest from World Heritage listing.

PM Abbott has earlier submitted the proposal to delist the zone from World Heritage, rebuking the move by the previous government to list the area as a conservation zone. Australia’s laughable request will be considered in the June’s meeting of  World Heritage Committee in Qatar.

I guess he thinks you can easily replant trees,  but forgets that it takes many long years, and meanwhile wild animals are left homeless and the earth rapidly warms up. I wouldn’t comment about Prime Minister’s stand today, but on this occasion I want the world to know that most Australians don’t agree with him. In my few days away, three friends managed to mention forestry as pertaining to Australia to me, and I commented based on stumbled-upons I have kept encountering during my research for my WIP Heart of Borneo. Here they are,

  • Sandra, a Sydneysider who is a foster parent of orang-utans said, “I recently asked my home builder not to use Indonesian merbau because that’s the wood taken from orang-utans’ forests, but he ignores me saying that’s what’s available.”

I said to Sandra, “Australia is a primary market for smuggled illegal timber. WWF has been complaining that every year Australia imports over $400 millions  of illegally cut wood from unapproved sites.”

  • Patrick, a naval officer, said, “Forest Crime is something I have seen first hand. Way back in 1986 I was involved in rescue and recovery of bodies from a hillside village on Solomon Islands after rain from Cyclone Namu caused a mudslide. Timber companies rape the hillsides without care. Was still happening when I was there in 2006. I wonder how many people stop to consider that the cheap meranti timber at Bunnings was once the jungle trees of Borneo and Sumatra.”

I said to Pat, “After Aceh’s tsunami, WWF campaigned for Timber for Aceh because Indonesia simply didn’t have wood to rebuild 250,000 houses unless they hack conservation forests. Norway, Germany, and Australia agreed to help. But, WWF discovered AusAID was going to donate timber from disputed Solomon Islands’ forests that had been forbidden to Australian logging companies. Masking under timber for charity, Australian companies imposed their will on the locals and decimated their forests. WWF Indonesia then rejected this timber because they only accept certified wood from undisputed sustainable source.”

  • Roxane, the kids’ French teacher said a few days ago a TV program  showed that wood from Indonesia in Australia is mostly illegal. Heck yes, of course, while Indonesia has been at pains trying hard to eradicate illegal logging, Australian vast housing industry buys timber from the forest criminals. Unlike European countries that demand certified wood from sustainable forests, Australia accepts crime proceeds.


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