South Sister St. Marys, Tasmania

South Sister Tree Spiking

ex-forestry minister enters debate

[Letter was addressed to Mr. B. Green, Minister for Infrastructure Energy & Resources together with copies to Mr. E. Rolley, head honcho of Forestry Tasmania as well as to the media]

24 January, 2006

Dear Minister Green,

I write to you out of a concern for the safety of forestry contractors and the good reputation of Tasmanian products sold overseas.

As a former State Labor Minister for Forests I know you, as current Minister, are concerned about the welfare and safety of forestry contractors and, in addition, will be determined to maintain the highest standards possible when selling our woodchips to overseas Japanese paper manufacturers such as Nippon Paper Industries, Mitsubishi Paper Mills and Oji Paper.

My concern has come from reports in both The Mercury and The Examiner (30th November 2005) that the controversial coupe on South Sister (NI 114A) has been spiked with steel spikes and that plastic has also been inserted into trees. Such actions are to be condemned and were so condemned by the Save Our Sisters group in a letter to The Mercury late last year. I note that according to both newspaper reports, Forestry Tasmania has taken the matter so seriously that the police have been called to investigate. I assume that in the interests of good forestry management, Forestry Tasmania has also conducted its own investigation to ascertain the truth or falsity of these claims of 'spiking'. As sufficient time has now elapsed, I call on you to make the results of these several investigations public.

It is clear that the purpose of steel spikes in trees is to prevent trees from being cut down by damaging equipment and, in the process, endangering the wellbeing and safety of contractors. Forestry Tasmania must be able to guarantee the safety of its contractors in this coupe. If the results of Forestry Tasmania's investigations can provide a safety guarantee to contractors in the face of these threats then contractors can have confidence in their work conditions. On the other hand, if Forestry Tasmania cannot give this guarantee then contractors and the public must be informed.

It is also clear that the purpose of plastic insertions in trees is to contaminate the woodchips sold to paper manufacturers. If this has occurred then, as you and I know, the plastic insertions will have a very damaging effect on Tasmania's good trading reputation with overseas paper manufacturers. As you know, Tasmania exports millions of tons of woodchips to Japan each year. A product contaminated with plastic would cause very great concern to buyers already troubled by the controversy over old growth forests. Again, in the light of these threats, Forestry Tasmania must guarantee that the woodchips it sells are free from the fouling of plastic and the damage this can cause in the processes of paper manufacturing.

As Forestry Tasmania seems to be intent on logging this controversial coupe, I assume you will not let this happen without first issuing a statement to the effect that, firstly it is safe for contractors to cut down trees and secondly, that the woodchips Tasmania sells are not contaminated with plastic. Should no statement be forthcoming before logging commences members of the public will be justified in assuming that important information, indicating danger to forestry contractors and damage to overseas paper manufacturers, has been concealed.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Andrew Lohrey

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