Posts Tagged ‘woodchip horders’

Logging Tasmania like there’s no tomorrow

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

‘The axe had never sounded’…


Unprotected ancient native forests around Tasmania’s Recherche Bay
(Photo by Bob Brown)


Despite Tasmania’s Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) on 7th August 2011 assuring immediate logging moratorium of native forests in agreed reserves, Forestry Tasmania continues to eco-rape and pillage protected native forests in defiance of this agreement.

IGA Clause 25 states:

‘The State will immediately place the 430,000 hectares of native forest identified in Attachment A (other than any areas that are not State forest), from the 572,000 hectares nominated by ENGOs through the Statement of Principles process, into Informal Reserves. The boundaries of this 430,000 hectares were verified through an independent verification process.’

The southern forests around Recherche Bay were agreed to be included into the Informal Reserves through the Independent Verification Process.

So  by embarking on new logging in these Informal Reserves, clearly Forestry Tasmania is in breach of the IGA and operating out of the control of the Tasmanian Government.  Forestry Tasmania is logging Tasmania like there’s no tomorrow, because it knows there it has no tomorrow.  The business is seriously loss-making.  It’s continuing unfettered destruction of Tasmanian native forests is akin to the calculated genocide of Sri Lankan Tamils in May 2009 by the Sinhalese Sri Lankan dictator Mahinda Rajapaksa.  Forestry Tasmania’s manic mindset has it logging and woodchipping native forests until they’re all decimated.  And Lala’s Labor Government doesn’t have the gumption to enforce the moratorium on its own renegade department.

Forestry Tasmania getting stuck into native forests near Tasmania’s Recherche Bay, May 2011
[Source: ABC, ‘Bid for forest peace funding’, 20110519, ^]


Not only is this organisation out of control, it has no market for its woodchip product.  The logs are trucked to woodchipping mills only to be stockpiled with nowhere to go.  With no income, it is a business heading for collapse.  Unpaid wages will likely remain that way, when the doors are finally closed up.   Meanwhile Tasmania’s remaining old growth forests are being logged and the ancient vital ecology decimated.

Loaded logging truck (New Norfolk, 20110929)
(Photo by editor, free in public domain)


Conservationists are this morning conducting a protest in a logging area in the far south of Tasmania, where world heritage value forests are being clearfelled.


Huon Valley Environment Centre’s Jenny Weber says:

‘Tasmania’s world heritage value forests continue to be logged despite yesterday’s controversial announcement that woodchips shipments have been postponed by Tasmania’s only export woodchipping company, Artec (Artec Pty Ltd, Lilydale).

‘Ta Ann is driving logging in contentious forests, and woodchip logs are leaving these same forests regardless of a viable market for the timber. The Tasmanian taxpayers are subsidising a logging industry that is economically unviable and environmentally unsustainable.’

‘This morning at Catamaran, in threatened forest behind Recherche Bay, a conservationist is in a tree sit, and thirteen people are halting logging.   Huon Valley Environment Centre is repeating it’s calls for the immediate end to logging in this forest that borders the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, (TWWHA).’


Logging in this area, identified by Forestry Tasmania as CM004C, commenced after the Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Premier Lara Giddings announced the Inter-governmental Agreement on 7th August 2011 would provide ‘immediate protection in informal reserves’ for forests such as these.

Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard
signing the Tasmanian Forests Agreement, 7th August 2011


Forestry Tasmania Coupe ‘CM004C’ is located within the 572 000ha of identified forests for legislated protection.  Last week conservationists participated in a protest in the coupe, and it was revealed that the area is being clearfelled for Ta Ann, export peeler logs and woodchip logs.

Forestry Tasmania’s cable logging of The Weld Forest, 2009
Tasmanian Southern Forests
(Huon Valley Environment Centre)
(click image to link to slide show)

IGA Clause 26 states:

‘The State will ensure that, until the further independent verification process required under Clause 20 is completed, wood supply required under Clause 17 will be sourced from outside the 572,000 hectares of ENGO-nominated High Conservation
Value forest area unless the remaining State Forest area is insufficient to meet the contractually specified quality and quantity of wood supply. Where this is the case, the Tasmanian Government will ensure that wood supplies are sourced outside the 430,000 hectares placed in Informal Reserves. The Tasmanian Government will ensure that the 430,000 hectares of State Forest identified in Attachment A is not accessed’




  1. There are copious hundreds of hectares of Tasmanian forest area available outside the 572, 000 hectares of ENGO-nominated High Conservation Value forest area.

  2. The Lala Labor Government by not ensuring wood supply is sourced outside the 430,000 ha in Informal Reserves is not accessed, and thus in prima facie breach of the IGA.  Lala Labor is deliberately and mischievously exercising selective deafness by not listening to ENGO accusations of the breach of the IGA terms.  Labor as head wolf of the chicken pen, turning a blind eye to its fellow wolves while they help themselves to the plunder.

  3. The Gillard Labor Government is in breach of IGA Clause 27, by failing to act on this trigger ‘to appoint independent expert specifically to review scheduling and other relevant data and attempt to reschedule harvesting activities so as to meet the requirements of contracts and maintain the interim protection of the 430,000 hectares’.  The option of log anyway is not an option.  The prescribed option under IGA Clause 27,  is that the Commonwealth will instead compensate the contract holder for the value of lost profits and unavoidable costs.

  4. Both Governments, by sitting on their hands as forests in the Informal Reserves are logged, are in breach of the spirit of the Agreement.



2009:   ‘Woodchip stockpile in Tasmania a ‘health risk’

[Source: Matthew Denholm, Tasmania correspondent, The Australian, 20091014, ^]


The woodchip stockpile in Burnie could pose a “significant health risk”, according to an expert opinion being assessed by health authorities.  Tasmanian Director of Public Health Roscoe Taylor said the advice that the stockpile would at times contain Legionella bacteria is being examined.
“I have actually asked someone to have a look at it — we’ll be taking a look at it,” Dr Taylor said.The advice from Legionella expert Trevor Steele concludes the bottom layer of the stockpile on Burnie’s wharf would “undoubtedly” contain Legionella at times.  Dr Steele warned the bacteria’s dispersal via dust could pose a significant health risk to townsfolk near the wharf and to workers at the port.

“It (the bottom layer) will at times undoubtedly contain Legionella and these could multiply there given the right conditions,” he said.

“This layer would also act as a source to contaminate newly arrived woodchips, setting the stage for a new cycle of Legionella growth.

“Dispersal of dust … containing these organisms could pose a significant health risk to susceptible persons working in, or residing in, adjacent residential or business districts, as well as to susceptible workers on the Gunns site and in the port area.”

Dr Steele was commissioned to provide the advice by Royal Hobart Hospital physician Frank Nicklason.  Last week, Dr Nicklason apologised to timber company Gunns for his 2004 statement that the woodchip pile “almost certainly” had Legionella present that could blow across Burnie.  However, he said his concerns about the potential for public health risks from the pile — initially sparked by several Legionella cases in Burnie — remained.

Dr Nicklason said he accepted that Gunns’ sampling in 2002 had not found Legionella in the pile.  However, he said Dr Steele’s findings, from July this year, contributed to his concern and warranted further investigation.

Gunns’ own advice, conducted independently in 2002 and released under Freedom of Information, found that the available evidence “suggests strongly” that the bottom layer is “not a reservoir for Legionella”.

However, Dr Steele, formerly director of clinical microbiology at the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science in Adelaide, disagreed.

“To claim that the sacrificial layer did not contain Legionella on the basis of two tests of small samples is misleading,” he says.

He agreed the bottom layer, because it was relatively undisturbed, was unlikely to pose much risk to the community, but that this did not mean there was no risk, since Legionella there could contaminate new woodchips.

When asked whether Gunns stood by its own findings, a spokesman said: “We don’t have to: Dr Nicklason has stood by it.

“At the time Dr Nicklason gave this apology he was in possession of the Steele report. His attempt to retract his apology by reference to this report is hypocritical, disingenuous and beggars belief.”

Dr Nicklason said his “carefully worded” apology — made as part of settlement of defamation proceedings — merely acknowledged that Legionella had not been found in samples taken by Gunns, and that its report had concluded there was “no available data” to implicate woodchips as a microbial health risk.

There are few detailed studies of Legionella in woodchip piles, although Dr Steele has found the bacteria present in all forms of composting and degrading wood products, including woodchips.

On the basis of his work, Dr Steele believes that conditions in woodchip stockpiles are ideal for Legionella and other micro-organisms that require moisture and warmth.

Legionella is thought to spread by people inhaling the bacteria contained in tiny water droplets, known as aerosols, or in dust.

Over the years, there have been complaints about dust and debris blowing from the stockpile to the Burnie CBD, adjacent to the port.

These have been focused on days of easterly winds, which occur about 20per cent of the time, and when woodchips were being loaded on to ships.

The 2002 Gunns report, conducted by Adelaide environmental health expert Richard Bentham, pointed out that survival of Legionella in aerosols was “highly dependent upon ambient weather conditions”.

For this reason, Dr Bentham concluded the health risks from the Burnie pile were “most probably confined to employees or contractors working on the site” and that transmission beyond the port area was “unlikely”.

However, Dr Steele says Legionella “could survive well in dust travelling long distances, even in adverse climatic conditions”. He cites instances of up to 20km.




Recherche Bay – a brief background

.French explorer D’Entrecasteaux led his ships to grateful shelter in Recherche Bay, southwest of Hobart, in 1792 and 1793, recording “ancient forests, in which the sound of an axe had never been heard”. Barely 200 years later, the forest of Recherche Bay is being threatened by the sound, not merely of axes, but of bulldozers and chainsaws.In spite of public protest and National Heritage listing, the green light to log the area has been given.
  • 24/1/06 Entrepreneur/adventurer Dick Smith offers $100,000 towards the purchase of Recherche Bay plus a $1.9 million no-interest loan to be paid back within 12 months.
  • 5/11/05 Over 5000 people rally in Hobart for the protection of Recherche Bay. Bob Brown launches a bid to purchase the peninsula, asking people to pledge units of $1,000 to raise the money. Bob pledges $5,000.
  • 6/10/05 Senator Ian Campbell announces Recherche Bay will be placed on the National Heritage list but says logging will still go ahead.
  • 19/8/05 Launch of Bob Brown’s photographic exhibition and book, Tasmania’s Recherche Bay
  • 27/4/05 Actor David Wenham and director Robert Connolly fly over Recherche Bay and visit the tall trees in the Styx Valley, stating their support for conservation.
  • 20/4/05 Tasmanian Greens leader Peg Putt calls on French scientists to help save Recherche Bay
  • 17/4/05 1000 people rally on site to protect Recherche Bay
  • Nov, 03 Tasmanian Heritage Council recommends the protection of the north east peninsula for its cultural significance.

[Source:  ^]



1993:   ‘Campaign over Recherche Bay scores win’

[Source: Bob Elliston, Hobart, Green Left Weekly, 19931117, ^]A five-year campaign to save part of historic Recherche Bay, in south-east Tasmania, has been won, with all parties involved having achieved a satisfactory resolution. The agreement was announced on February 8 by Labor Premier Paul Lennon.Thanks mostly to the support of well-known philanthropist Dick Smith, the tireless negotiations of Greens Senator Bob Brown and the decency of owners David and Robert Vernon, 142 hectares of forest will now be purchased by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy for $2.21 million.Recherche Bay had been under the threat of logging by Gunns Ltd since a contract with the owners was signed in 1998. The bay became home to a French expedition to observe the Earth’s magnetic field in 1792 and 1793. Had logging gone ahead, today’s very destructive logging techniques would have destroyed any chance for useful archaeology of the site to be conducted.Under the deal, Dick Smith will lend the Conservancy group $2 million, $100,000 of which is a personal donation. The state government, which initially supported the Vernon brothers’ decision to have the area logged, has now agreed to assist with $210,000 towards the cost of the land. In addition, the government will waive the $80,000 it would have collected in stamp duty.  donations exceeding $238,000 have already been pledged.Although the small forest will not be harvested, no jobs will be lost. More jobs are likely to be generated in services supporting the local community and scientific interest.

However, the deal is not without its critics. Terry Edwards, CEO of the Forestry Industries Association, is distressed that the forest will continue to grow, rather than be turned into cash for Gunns. Newly appointed federal forests minister and Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz has also criticised the agreement, describing it as “a grubby deal”. According to Abetz, the area “has no heritage value”.



Further Reading:

[1]    The Last Stand, ^, Media Release 20111116:

‘The HVEC and Code Green have taken direct action on Tassie’s forest floor this morning to highlight ongoing logging in high conservation value forests that were supposed to be protected under the Inter-governmental Agreement. Campaigners are currently taking simultaneous action in two logging coupes in the north and south of the island – RS117C on Roses Tier, north of Ben Lomond, and in the Catamaran area, where forests are being logged behind Recherche Bay.

“This is an area that should have been given immediate protection on March 15 this year. Instead we are still seeing machines clearing what has been identified by both the State and Federal Governments as being of high conservation value.” Said Jared Irwin, spokesperson for Code Green.

“The lost values of these forests that are bordering the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is such a tragedy, when the logging commenced after the State and Federal Governments announced they would be protected in August 2011,” Said Jenny Weber, Huon Valley Environment Centre’s spokesperson.’


[2]   ^


[3]   Tasmanian Intergovernmental Forest Agreement 2011, ^


[4]    ‘The Axe Had Never Sounded: place, people and heritage of Recherche Bay, Tasmania’, by John Mulvaney, published by ANU E Press and Aboriginal History Incorporated, ANU E Press,



‘A thriving sawmilling industry existed at two centres around the bay by 1900. The steam-driven mill continued at Waterhole Cove until 1868. Then the industry faltered until 1884, when large sawmills were established by the Catamaran River and at Leprena on the western side of the northern bay. By 1900 the population living there exceeded 100 at each centre. It was around the turn of the century that coal mining also offered employment, and an active industrial period followed for a few years. The seams of coal proved limited or uneconomic. As trees were felled, their distance from the sawmill increased. This required timber rail tramways establishing a network radiating out from an area and moved on when that area was harvested. The same applied to transporting coal.

By 1939 a complex network radiated from harbour-based centres at Catamaran, Leprena and Cockle Creek. Traces of these lines survive today in regrowth forests.[1] One moss-covered segment runs by the shore on the north-eastern peninsula in the area of the French activities in 1792.

The timber industry is necessarily situated in forests, so bushfires prove a recurring hazard. The Catamaran mill was destroyed in a 1914 bushfire, coinciding with the abandonment of the coal mine there. The spasmodic and transitory nature of frontier employment was again demonstrated at Recherche Bay when the community of around 100 people, supporting a school and a store, faced sudden unemployment. Today the media feature factory closures and speculate about the future employment of the urban employees. The history of much of rural Australia also has been a boom and bust story of employment, as rural industries prosper then fold. Recherche Bay is a classic example. On a smaller scale than urban plant closures, the impact upon the families dependant upon a timber mill or colliery was no less drastic.’

[Chapter 13. Good and Bad Times]


The State will ensure that, until the further independent verification process required under Clause 20 is completed, wood supply required under Clause 17 will be sourced from outside the 572,000 hectares of ENGO-nominated High Conservation Value forest area unless the remaining State Forest area is insufficient to meet the contractually specified quality and quantity of wood supply. Where this is the case, the Tasmanian Government will ensure that wood supplies are sourced outside the 430,000 hectares placed in Informal Reserves. The Tasmanian Government will ensure that the 430,000 hectares of State Forest identified in Attachment A is not accessed. Where harvesting work has already begun in coupes within the nominated 430,000 hectares, rescheduling will occur as soon as practical and a list of coupes that will be harvested will be agreed by the Governments and the signatories, advised by the Independent Verification Group, within two weeks of the signing of this agreement. If sourcing of wood supply from within the 572,000 hectares is considered to be necessary under any circumstances, the Governments will immediately consult with the Reference Group of Signatories and the Independent Verification Group in order to inform them of the basis for sourcing wood supply in those areas, and with the intention of providing this supply in a way that minimises impacts on conservation values.

During the independent verification process, in the event that Forestry Tasmania reports that it cannot meet contractual requirements from production resources outside the nominated 430,000 hectares, the Governments will undertake the following steps. First, an independent expert will be jointly appointed by the Governments to review scheduling and other relevant data and attempt to reschedule harvesting activities so as to meet the requirements of contracts and maintain the interim protection of the 430,000 hectares. In the event that the independent expert concludes that it is impossible to achieve this through rescheduling on a reasonable commercial basis or through sourcing alternative supplies, the Commonwealth will compensate the contract holder for the value of lost profits and unavoidable costs. Any such costs will be met, in the first instance, from within the $7 million payment in financial year 2011-12 referred to in Clause 35.

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