Mitsubishi Paper Mills Rejects Old-Growth Foresting

Mitsubishi Paper Mills Rejects Old-Growth Foresting

Environmental groups have applauded Mitsubishi Paper Mill's new wood-chip buying policy, which rules out sources from old growth Tasmanian forests.

The Japanese company's new policy is to buy only woodchips "sourced from plantations or second growth forests of environmentally benign, and reclaimed wood." Mitsubishi is a major customer of Tasmanian woodchip exporter Gunns, and the new wood-chip buying policy would rule out sourcing woodchips from old growth Tasmanian forests. Until now most old growth timber from large-scale clearfelling in Tasmania has been converted to woodchips, largely for export to Japan.

"It's a major victory for anyone who doesn't want Tasmania's magnificent, ancient forests reduced to woodchips and pulp," said Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigns Manager Danny Kennedy.

MPM has informed Greenpeace that its new policy is to buy only woodchips "sourced from plantations or second growth forests of environmentally benign, and reclaimed wood." These new terms are found on their statement, "Our policy on Conservation and Creation of Forest Resources".

Most old growth timber from large-scale clearfelling in Tasmania is converted to woodchips, largely for export to Japan. The Japanese firm MPM, along with Oji Paper and Nippon Paper, is a major international buyer of forest products from Gunns Limited.

"Mitsubishi has now set a new standard for wood chips from Tasmania which Oji and Nippon have failed to match," said Alec Marr, National Campaign Director of The Wilderness Society. Gunns receives the overwhelming majority of Tasmanian logs destined for sawmills and woodchip mills and as such is a major beneficiary of Tasmanian old growth forest destruction.

"Market-wise, this is an exciting development. This is a clear signal to Gunns to shift to more sustainable forest practices as the way of the future. It also sends an unmistakable message that World Heritage-class Tasmanian forests should not be fodder for wood chips," said Marr.

"But it's highly regrettable to have to rely on more enlightened policy from overseas buyers to save our last remaining ancient forests," said Marr.

MPM's move follows a sustained campaign by Greenpeace and The Wilderness Society to save Tasmania's old growth forests.

In May, the Tasmanian and Federal Governments announced a package to protect 180,000 ha in the Tarkine wilderness and Styx Valley of the Giants, but failed to end old growth logging by leaving forests in the Upper Florentine, Huon, Weld, Picton, North East Highlands, Blue Tier, Great Western Tiers and Ben Lomond open to logging and woodchipping.

Not all agree that MPM’s decision is a good thing. Terry Edwards, from the Forest Industries Association, fears that if other companies follow suit, it could reduce or end old-growth logging in Tasmania. "The real impact of the pressure that's been applied by these groups in Japan will ?undermine our sawmilling and veneer industry which rely on the underwriting of profits made from woodchips to make the harvesting of old growth for sawlog and veneer log viable," he said.

But the Wilderness Society says the state's timber industry has received $250 million in government funding to move out of old-growth logging, into processing plantation and regrowth timber.
Topics: