>home >news >alerts >events >links >about fn >forest facts >contact us

Site Search: Rimbunan Hijau Watch __Masalai i tokaut
search tips sitemap


News of recent and coming events

20-11-14 - I haven't edited this site since early 2011. In fact, I've barely looked at it in that time. I only changed the intro to note changing governments, but not policies (which didn't change unfortunately), for a good 7 years before that. FoEFN had our most intense burst of inspiration and activity between 1992 and 2002. I kept this site up because I felt it was a historical record of a dedicated group of people who fought to elevate Nature in human consciousness. It is a raw record of the vision we had for the future of sustainable timber and fibre production on Earth. Some elements are cringeworthy in retrospect but what would you expect from the vanguard (and amateurs)?

I felt that we had identified a sustainable pathway but we ran into opposition to our ideas on every front. Even our supposed allies worked to exclude us from the public debate about the future of forests and ecology in general in Australia. We were considered a "fringe" group and extreme. I was prompted to update this intro after I read an article by CSIRO (Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation). Now we have scientists providing empirical validation of the ideas we were promoting, but were vilified for, 15-20 years ago.

This is the CSIRO article I refer to: this

And this was our vision to convert monocultural plantations into an ecologically diverse alternative (drafted 15-20 years ago): here

This was our broader vision: here

So this update, like all our work and our vision, is a bit rough. We were on the right path. I just want to acknowledge the thousands of people who came to our meetings and organised and participated in direct action. Sometimes we butted heads. Some were incredibly generous. Regardless of our differences, and not all subscribed to our vision, I want to acknowledge each and every one of you as a pioneer and visionary. We ventured outside the dominant paradigm and our ideas were ultimately influential and, I believe, will be widely promulgated.

If you doubt me, ask yourself why CSIRO have caught up with us 20 years later. (Don't even ask about the thousands of people have been bankrupted by fraudulent MIS plantations)


May 2011

Bushfire in the Landscape: Different values, a shared vision

23rd and 24th June 2011, Teacher's Federation Conference Centre, Sydney

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW Bushfire Program invites you to attend its Eighth Biennial Bushfire Conference.

Australians are faced with bushfires each summer and are realising that fire is an integral part of the Australian landscape. However the different values people place on the landscape dictates how fire is perceived and used by different sectors of the community. Risk management values, biodiversity values, Indigenous values and rural production values have traditionally had competing interests in how fire is managed. This conference will explore how differing values and land uses influence the application of fire in the Australian landscape and investigate the impacts this has had on biodiversity. New scientific research, policy updates and on ground management issues and success stories will be presented. Facilitated sessions will provide delegates with the opportunity to contribute to a shared vision for progressing ecologically sustainable bushfire management. The conference will provide opportunities for attendees to network with industry leaders and experts in the field.

Registrations are now open ... fill in the attached form and email to BushfireConf2011@nccnsw.org.au or send to PO Box 137 Newtown NSW 2042.

Call for papers or posters ... if you have new research findings, policy updates or on the ground success stories that you would like to present, please submit abstracts by Thursday, 21 April to BushfireConf2011@nccnsw.org.au. For more information see http://www.nccnsw.org.au/content/bushfire-landscape-different-values-shared-vision or call Anne or Rebecca on (02) 9516 1488. Hope to see you there!

Anne Miehs Bushfire Project Officer

Details What: Bushfire in the Landscape: Different values a shared vision Conference

When: 9:00am - 5:00 pm Thursday 23rd June - Friday 24th of June

Where: NSW Teachers Federation Centre, 37 Reservoir St, Surry Hills

Registration and more details: http://www.nccnsw.org.au/content/bushfire-landscape-different-values-shared-vision

Enquiries: Rebecca LeMay or Anne Miehs on (02) 9516 1488 or email: BushfireConf2011@nccnsw.org.au

On Friday 13 May the Crawford School is hosting the Crawford School Dialogue: Australia’s Role in Reducing Regional Deforestation. We would like to invite the staff and members of the Forest Network to attend. If you could kindly forward this invitation to them, I would be very appreciative. This Dialogue addresses the question: What, if anything, should Australia do to limit the process of deforestation and forest degradation in neighbouring ‘rainforest nations’ - especially Indonesia and Papua New Guinea?

Please see the attached flyer for further information.

Title: Australia’s Role in Reducing Regional Deforestation Date: 13 May 2011 Time: 9.00am – 12.30pm Venue: Weston Theatre, J.G. Crawford Building 132, ANU Campus To register please click here.

This event is free to attend but registration is essential. Please forward this invitation to any of your colleagues who may be interested in attending. The Crawford School Dialogue is the Crawford School’s flagship public outreach event, bringing together academic experts, policy makers and representatives from the private and non-profit sectors to discuss contemporary issues in public policy.

March 2011

Wildfire tears through Mt Richmond National Park

A DEPARTMENT of Sustainability and Environment burnoff was responsible for sparking a bushfire burning out of control in the state's southwest.



November 2010, The Brumby government is dumped by disgruntled and disillusioned Victorians. In the lead up to the election we reviewed Brumby's performance...

The year is 1994, John Brumby is the leader of the ALP and is trying to lead his party from opposition into government. He is standing on a stage erected by a coalition of environmentalists who are campaigning to protect Victoria's old growth forests. He tells the audience of thousands that if he is elected he will protect these forests. Standing next to Brumby was Cheryl Kernot, the then leader of the Australian Democrats but soon to defect to the ALP in an ill fated attempt to go mainstream. Also on stage was Bob Brown, leader of the Greens, as well as a representative of the Forest Network. After some to-ing and fro-ing amongst the environment groups, the FN rep was allowed to speak about why we strongly resented giving politicians a platform to spruik on when they had such a long record of betrayal and duplicity on forest issues.

Fast forward to 2008 and John Brumby has become the Premier of Victoria by default after Steve Bracks retired. His "green" credentials have really come to the fore. He is set to spend more money on freeways than any prior Victorian government, he is dredging Port Phillip Bay in a project that will release into the Bay over 100 years worth of industrial pollutants and carcinogens, he has commenced work on a privately owned desalination plant on sensitive coastline that will result in hugely expensive water and massive increases in CO2 emissions (while ignoring huge potential for recycling the one billion litres per day of waste water that pour onto our marine environments) and he is set to pipe water out of the heavily burdened Murray Darling Basin in order to sate Melbourne's burgeoning population.

All this is just the tip of the Brumby iceberg. At the last election the ALP (AGAIN) said they would protect the old growth forests of East Gippsland. So why have they started logging Brown Mountain which is home to some of Victoria's most important and spectacular old growth forests?

Our campaign for 2009 will be aimed at getting John Brumby to fulfill his promise to protect our old growth forests.

John Brumby

What happened to the promise to protect old growth forests John?

Brumby Government set to increase native forest logging volumes (see below)

Gavin Jennings, Minister for (or against?) the Environment

May 2009

TOP 10 REASONS TO REJECT THE JoSHL (Joint Sustainable Harvest Level) MODEL


1. JoSHL shifts Eastern Victoria from regionally based forest management to commercially based forest management with the  Aggregation of 7 FMAs into 2 Timber Supply Zones


2. JoSHL fails to protect endangered species


3. The JoSHL model substantially reduces Rotation Age.


5. The JoSHL model assumes 100% Regeneration success.


6. The JoSHL model has 20 % of timber located in small, isolated and low yielding areas that are probably only viable under very favourable conditions.


7. JoSHL model constrained to meet or exceed current sawlog volumes.


8. The JoSHL model fails to adequately address fire risk.


9. Central Highlands young ash regrowth project produces unusual yield predictions.


10. There has been no public consultation about all of the above assumptions which were agreed to by VicForests and DSE during in house processes.



l      1. JoSHL shifts Eastern Victoria from regionally based forest management to commercially based forest management with the  Aggregation of 7 FMAs into 2 Timber Supply Zones.


The aggregation of FMAs in Eastern Victoria came about because of recommendations resulting from a report VicForests commissioned Poyry to undertake (p.2 JoSHL ). Poyry Forest Industries (ex Jaakko Poyry) have a reputation for endorsing intense forms of industrial forestry.


JoSHL was supposed to explore the aggregation of FMAs into two Timber Supply Zones and this was identified as “a significant departure from the Forest management Area approach” (p.5 JoSHL).  The smaller FMAs are not considered appropriate scales under current harvesting practices and there was an expectation that this had a negative effect on efficiency.  (p.7 JoSHL)


Without any public consultation DSE and VicForests got together and decided that regionally based FMAs could be done away with and Victoria could shift to managing huge areas of forest with little bioregional or catchment context. The JoSHL model removed the important social requirement for local wood to go to local mills as this consideration was difficult to model and not considered important by the modellers There are no new forest areas in the JoSHL model but by wiping out regional considerations more timber can be harvested (see table below).



FMA benchmark scenario - If we stick with regionally based sustainable yield & keep FMA boundaries

JoSHL preferre scenario- If we move to commercially based sustainable yield and remove regional boundaries

(JoSHL p.15)


l      2. JoSHL fails to protect endangered species.

The JoSHL model does not include proposed changes to the protection of some endangered species. The JoSHL report states “Proposed changes to protection of threatened species, including Long-footed Potoroo, Leadbeater’s Possum and rainforest buffers were not included, as DSE had not completed reviews of the associated Action Statements by this time (JoSHL p. 4).


l      3. The JoSHL model substantially reduces Rotation Age.

In the Victorian Timber Industry Strategy (August 1986) Mrs Kirner stated “Sustainable volumes of sawlogs from mature forests will be calculated for minimum rotations of 80 to 150 years depending upon forest type.”


The table provided in Appendix 1 of the JoSHL report titled “Harvest ages used in model” shows that the JoSHL modelling was based on much lower minimum harvest ages of 60 to 105 years. Furthermore the JoSHL model includes VicForests Draft thinning strategy which reduces harvest age in thinned areas by a further 10 years, 45 years for ash and 60 years for mixed species (p.29 JoSHL).



80 to 150 year (1st TIS) Mrs Kirner


45 to 60 year (JoSHL)? Mr Jennings


l      4. The JoSHL model says thinning volumes are too difficult to predict.

Although important, estimates of sawlog production from thinning operations have not been included given the relatively low volumes produced and the difficulty in predicting sawlog production from thinning operations. (JoSHL p.10.)


Six thinning coupes in the Marysville Forest District (Central FMA) that are listed on this years WUPs, show that very large sawlog volumes are predicted to come from VicForests thinning operations, this is contrary to the JoSHL comment above.


The Monitoring Annual Harvesting Performance (MAHP) report identified that in 2006-07 VicForests completed thinning operations in 52 coupes but they only supplied complete information for 4 coupes.  (p.26 MAHP August 2008).


l      5. The JoSHL model assumes 100% Regeneration success.

The JoSHL report states “Model assumes all harvested areas are fully regenerated and identifies regeneration requirements (JoSHL Appendix 4 p.33).


In a perfect world all forest areas would regenerate wonderfully following logging operations but this is certainly not the case in Victoria today. DSE has known about and documented problems with regeneration for decades.


The Expert Independent Advisory Panel (EIAP) found that “There are currently a large number of coupes which require further remedial treatment to achieve adequate regeneration. There are also significant areas that have no stocking records or are overdue for surveys. Backlog regeneration has existed for a number of years, and the issue will continue to remain until funding and resources are made available. (EIAP, p.9 MAHP Review June 2008).


l      6. The JoSHL model has 20 % of timber located in small, isolated and low yielding areas that are probably only viable under very favourable conditions. 

The EIAP correctly identified that with the JoSHL model “About 20% of the timber potentially available lies in coups that are small, low in volume or distant from roads or mills, and may be viable only under favourable conditions. Effective utilisation of this resource depends on tactical planning by VicForests, the willingness of the industry to collaborate and the buoyancy of the timber market.”    (p.38 JoSHL Appendix 6 EIAP Report)


VicForests are simply not experienced enough or ready to provide an adequate level of tactical planning for effective and equitable utilisation of small isolated and low yielding areas. This is evidenced by the following statement made by Dr David Pollard (CEO VicForests), in a December 2008 presentation to the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration, “It means a number of things. It means that we have to look at stands of timber that have in the past been unmerchantable or less merchantable and to attempt to make them more merchantable. It is an attempt to find better uses for less commercial stands of timber. Now, in principle that is possible, but organisationally we are only now beginning to turn our collective attention to it”


It is difficult to imagine that the industries willingness to collaborate will remain very high especially in East Gippsland as VicForests increasingly push logging contractors into high risk logging in low return areas. This scenario was played out in the Wombat Forest during the 1990s when DSE forced contractors to harvest increasingly uneconomical areas. The outcome was Wombat Forest was substantially over logged and this disgraceful mismanagement led to the collapse of the local timber industry.


In relation to timber harvesting in small isolated and low yielding areas the “buoyancy of the timber market” refers mostly to the buoyancy of pulp markets.   A Google search quickly uncovers that “The outlook for world pulp markets in 2009 is not rosy. (Dow Jones Newswires 6/1/2009). Pulp prices have plunged in China(see graph below) and a massive pulp expansion from South America has started to come on line. The market is anything but buoyant when it comes to pulp prices and volumes.


Pulp price in China has plunged since second half 2008


l      7. JoSHL model constrained to meet or exceed current sawlog volumes.

The primary constraints placed on the JoSHL model are biased towards timber given they are aimed at maintaining, at least the current annual sawlog supply over a 100 year period. The JoSHL report states;

·        Model optimised to produce maximum discounted (3%) D+ sawlog over a 100-year planning horizon and .

·        Existing sawlog commitments for ash and mixed species met or exceeded within each timber supply zone            (JoSHL p.13)


If the JoSHL model had been set with constraints that limit native forest logging in water catchments to a minimum harvest age of 80 to 150 years, or a constraint to maximise carbon storage the overall results would be considerably less timber volumes. Water catchment protection and carbon storage are very topical issues, forestry cannot comply with the Sustainability Charter if these matters are not properly considered. The EIAP say that DSE needs to plan to begin reporting the carbon sequestered in Victoria’s forests, if they wish to remain relevant in a dynamic and changing environment. (EIAP, p.12 MAHP Review June 2008)


l      8. The JoSHL model fails to adequately address fire risk.

The JoSHL model does not address the very real risks related to future fires and the potential for wildfire to have a major impact on the timber resource. The catastrophic 2009 fires have clearly exposed this deficiency in the JoSHL model. Failure to properly account for fire risk is especially inappropriate with climate change analysts predicting increased incidence and intensity of forest fires.


l      9. Central Highlands young ash regrowth project produces unusual yield predictions.

Existing yield predictions for this young ash regrowth are based on the assumption that they will be equivalent to the average SFRI predictions for the current 1939 regrowth of the same forest type and site quality. (p.12 JoSHL)


Given the long term drought it seems pretty unlikely that regrowth forests established in recent times could attain growth rates observed in 1939 regrowth areas that were established during a much wetter period. Strangely the predicted sawlog yields from the Young Ash project are in fact substantially higher not lower than the SFRI 1939 regrowth predictions.  

Some very vague reasons have been given for the yield prediction anomaly in the Young Ash Regrowth project but none of the reasons put forward were tested to look at possible effects on the model and some of the reasons put forward are somewhat obscure.


l      10. There has been no public consultation about all of the above assumptions which were agreed to by VicForests and DSE during in house processes.


Brumby Government set to increase native forest logging volumes


Friends of the Earth and Wombat Forest Society have expressed alarm at planned increases in sawlog volumes from native forest logging in Eastern Victoria.


MEDIA RELEASE Thursday 23 April, 2009


Friends of the Earth and the Wombat Forest Society today expressed alarm at the Brumby Government’s plan to increase sawlog volumes from native forests by 20-25 per cent in Eastern Victoria from July this year.

A new 15 year sawlog Allocation Order, due to be signed by the government in July, increases annual log volumes based on the findings of two reports, the Resource Outlook Project and the Joint Sustainable Harvest Level (JoSHL).

Wombat Forest Society researcher Loris Duclos said the reports outlined the greatest changes to logging planning and management in 20 years, yet there had been no consultation with the Victorian public or consideration of the changing environment.

“One of the major problems of the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and Vicforests’ JoSHL report is that it is based on computer modelling that optimises maintaining current sawlogs levels at the expense of other values, such as water yield and biodiversity,” she said.

“It effectively winds back important forest wins gained under Ministers Garbutt and Thwaites, including the “Our Forest Our Future” policy initiative, which guaranteed a 31 per cent reduction of logging across Victoria in 2002.

“If Minister Jennings signs the new sawlog Allocation Order, the state will be taking a huge backwards step.”

Ms Duclos said both groups were also concerned the reports recommended increased logging regimes without considering the changing environment. "The JoSHL report is based on the assumption that Victoria’s annual log volume will not decrease even after three major fires in the past seven years,” she said.

“It also does not take in to consideration that growth rates will be affected by climate change and reduced rainfall. Instead the report has assumed that growth rates will be the same as they were in 1939.

“Given the prolonged drought the JoSHL report should have prioritised long term water security instead of maintaining current log volumes."

Anthony Amis, Friends of the Earth spokesperson, said the state government must delay signing off on these long-term sawlog agreements until the true forest owners, Victorians, were consulted. “We’re calling on Premier Brumby to intervene and ensure that the public and stakeholders can comment on these plans,” he said.


November 06


The Bracks Government has announced that it will protect about 40,000 hectares of Victoria's old growth forest if re-elected. So far the Liberal Party have not offered any extra forests up for protection in this election campaign. The environmental policies of the ALP mark them as the better option of the two main parties with regard to environmental issues.

The ALP are certainly doing the right thing by getting the timber industry to move into regrowth forest. With the right balance of management policies there is no reason why the timber industry can't move to ecologically sustainable forestry in regrowth forests.

While the new additions to the reserve system are welcome they do not go far enough. All of Victoria's old growth and high conservation value forests should be protected immediately. These forests are crucial biological/genetic reserves and scientific reference areas and, as such, are a globally significant biological heritage. The only reason they are being logged at all is to prop up the unsustainable woodchip industry. This industry sector has been exerting undue political influence and undermining democratic process for far too long.

With a strong economy, but escalating and multiplying environmental crises, this is an ideal time to move the industry into regrowth forest. If, as it is claimed, the timber industry is sawlog and not woodchip driven then it should have no problem getting it's resource from regrowth forest. Statistics expose the myth of the sawlog driven industry - woodchip volumes have been rising dramatically for 40 years while sawlog production in native forest and job numbers have steadily decreased.

It is a great shame for our country, and indeed the entire planet, that the state government has been bullied and intimidated by the woodchip industry and its allies in NAFI and the CFMEU into not protecting all old growth forest.

No forestry jobs will go, Bracks pledges Pledge to protect forests
Walking the line on forests Labor announces logging policy, gaming review panel
Labor pledges new national parks in Vic  

Timber workers in threat of 'jihad'

Rick Wallace, Victorian political reporter

November 16, 2006

STEVE Bracks is heading for a Mark Latham-style showdown with timber workers over banning logging in old-growth forests in the state's far east. The timber industry is convinced Labor is poised to protect East Gippsland's stands of old-growth trees, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.

In response, timber workers are preparing to unleash "jihad" on the Bracks Government to try to crush his electoral chances as they did to Mr Latham's federal campaign in 2004.

Local independent MP Craig Ingram - who helped Mr Bracks form government in 1999 - threatened yesterday to withdraw his support for Labor if the Government banned logging in Gippsland's old-growth forests. "It could be the leg-up (Liberal leader) Ted Baillieu needs if they get it wrong," he told The Australian yesterday.

Mr Ingram said workers and the industry would stage rowdy demonstrations and actively campaign against Labor in key marginal seats if they were dudded on the logging issue. "There's going to be a jihad if there's a decision that impacts on investment in the industry or jobs," he said. "If that happens, it will be war. It will be Latham Mark II. They (the workers) went to war against Labor last time, and it cost them dearly. "Either side of politics could end up looking a bit like Mark Latham, or either side could look like John Howard."

Forestry workers in Tasmania derailed the final week of former federal opposition leader Mr Latham's bid to topple Mr Howard in 2004, after Mr Latham sided with Greens leader Bob Brown on protecting old-growth forests in the Styx Valley. In their fury at Mr Latham, the workers - members of the Labor-affiliated forestry union - threw their support behind the Prime Minister in a devastating blow to the ALP's campaign.

Victorian Association of Forestry Industries chief executive Tricia Caswell said the industry was "very pessimistic" about the state Government's policy, and expected it to include tight restrictions on old-growth logging. "We have heard very substantial rumours," she said. "It will have a long-term effect on the viability of the industry in East Gippsland. There will be significant numbers of jobs lost and the real effect will be a flow-on effect on these communities."

Old-growth forests support 40per cent of the timber industry in East Gippsland, but Ms Caswell said 70 per cent of those regions are protected. She said logging bankrolled one-third of the Gippsland economy, and a ban would cripple the towns of Orbost, Cann River, Newmerella, Buchan and Marlo and Mallacoota.

Ms Caswell, a former Australian Conservation Foundation chief, said banning logging was "small beer" compared with tackling global warming, water shortages and energy use. "It's an easy way to look green when its really small beer in terms of the environment."

A spokesman for Environment Minister John Thwaites said the Government's policy would balance conserving natural resources and supporting a sustainable logging industry. One Labor source said the party would not do anything that sparked a revolt from timber workers. "We're not going to have a repeat of what happened down in Tasmania," he said.

Greens upper house candidate Greg Barber denied any deal had been struck with the ALP to lock up East Gippsland forests in exchange for preferences. "No, I don't. I wish I had," Mr Barber said. "It's not even a question of discussions. There was no deal. "There is very little old-growth left in Victoria. It will be logged out in a few more years or it will be protected. "Forest destruction continued under (premiers) John Cain, Joan Kirner, Jeff Kennett and Steve Bracks, but protecting all of the water catchments and high conservation value forests is a much bigger ask than just old growth."


TWO protesters have been charged with public nuisance after chaining themselves to a logging truck that was "hijacked" by a group of environmentalists today.

Australian Government supports illegal logging

No ban on illegally-logged timber

November 02, 2006 01:44pm Article from: AAP

THE Federal Government has decided against imposing a blanket ban on products made from illegally logged timber, instead developing voluntary measures for the industry.

A blanket ban would also prevent some legal timber entering Australia, Forestry Minister Eric Abetz said as he released a discussion paper on illegal logging. Among other proposed measures is an awareness campaign about illegal logging, developing purchasing guidelines and increased collaboration with other countries to improve forest management.

The industry welcomed the proposals but critics slammed the proposed measures as belated and an attempt to hoodwink the public that the plan would address climate change.

Senator Abetz said illegal logging damaged forest ecosystems and cheated developing world governments out of export revenue. "It promotes corruption, bankrolls regional conflict and discourages legal and sustainable forest practices," he said. "Illegal logging also reduces opportunities for forest industries in countries which have worked hard to ensure their operations are environmentally sustainable, such as here in Australia."

His proposals included working with industry to develop voluntary measures that helped gauge the legality of imported forest products, and to develop voluntary certification and product chain-of-custody schemes for Australian forest products. "The plan does not impose a blanket ban on illegal products, which is not only impractical due to a chain of custody issues but which as a result would also prevent legal timber coming into Australia," Senator Abetz said. "Significantly, no other country has implemented such a ban."

Opposition forestry spokesman Martin Ferguson said the measures were a step in the right direction but had been two years coming. "Urgent action is now critical, none more so than a formal review into forestry certification and product chain-of-custody schemes to ensure that they will deliver sustainability," he said in a statement. "Continuous Greens campaigns questioning the sustainability of the Australian forest industries are costing the jobs of Australian workers, sending value adding opportunities overseas, and threatening to worsen our $2 billion trade deficit in the sector. "At the same time, they are fuelling global demand for illegal timber imports including here in Australia where up to 10 per cent of timber imports are of questionable origin."

Greens leader Bob Brown said the Government should ban the import of tropical rainforest timbers outright. National Association of Forest Industries chief executive Catherine Murphy welcomed the proposals and said a ban on suspect imports would only push the problem elsewhere. Greenpeace and the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said the paper was an attempt to hoodwink the public it was addressing climate change.

From The Herald Sun Online 2-11-06

October 06

October 13 - MORE than 8000 hectares of the Strzelecki Ranges in Gippsland will be permanently protected from logging, but 1500 hectares will still be harvested under a deal unveiled today. Report 1 - Report 2

Conservation Minister defends logging in water catchments - Victorian Water Minister John Thwaites today dismissed calls to halt logging in forest catchments, despite concerns tree loss will dry up desperately needed water supplies. Article - The Age

The A Team exposed

It was a signature TV news image of the 1990s: the bush as battleground, greenies blocking bulldozers, shouting slogans and trading insults with angry timber workers.

Saving trees and animals won votes and environment groups enjoyed access to real power and policy clout. But green influence grew too big for one forestry giant which saw its wood supplies threatened, and for its employees who saw their jobs threatened. So the company and the workers’ union formed an alliance. Behind the scenes, far from the televised stunts and confrontations in the bush, they hatched a plan… Key workers would infiltrate key green groups and obtain information to divide and discredit them… and take over Labor Party branches to win control of a key policy-making arm.

For the first time, Four Corners details this covert campaign - masterminded by a former politician - which notched up some notable victories spanning a decade. "They owned the forestry policy of the party," admits a Labor Left opponent.

Bogus greenies were told to attend activists’ meetings and report back; they were coached in how they should dress and blend in and how to sabotage data in environmentalists’ computers, according to information given to Four Corners. Crucial details about anti-logging campaign plans were relayed to the company’s headquarters and were pre-empted in Parliament.

In the Labor policy group, members in the minority say they were "yelled out of the room" by the majority – the company’s employees - whenever they raised forest issues. The agenda and minutes, they recall, were produced at the company office.

These events occurred in the 1990s, the crucial decade when Australia wrestled with far-reaching decisions – like regional forest agreements – that govern how native forests are managed today.

Conservationists now decry "dirty tricks", but organisers insist they were simply playing green activists at their own game: smart, tough politics. "Come on, you live by the sword, you die by the sword," says the ex-politician.

This unorthodox campaigner candidly admits to Four Corners how he not only juggled operations against "enemy" greens at home, but also made forays overseas to buy information that might harm the company’s rivals.

Sally Neighbour tells the exclusive inside story of "The A Team" - on Four Corners, 8.30 pm Monday 2 October 2006, ABC TV.

Community Group Shafted by 4 Corners

Link to the ABC 4 Corners Report ---- Backgrounder ---- Forum Discussion

It's time for Mr Bracks to show leadership - THE news that pulp and paper giant Amcor funded a dirty tricks campaign against environment groups in the '90s ("Amcor steps back from green-spy accusations", The Age, 3/10) raises big questions about what role the logging industry and forestry union bosses are still playing in formulating native forest policy in Victoria. Article - The Age

Revealed: spying on Greens - MULTINATIONAL packaging company Amcor stacked the Labor Party, infiltrated environment groups, sent people pretending to be greenies to forest protests and paid bribes overseas to secure its supply of native hardwood in the 1990s. Article - The Age

MULTINATIONAL packaging company Amcor has refused to admit any involvement in corporate spying on green groups in the 1990s, saying the so-called "A team" was set up under previous management. Article - The Age

Union ruffled by Amcor 'A-team' - THE close relationship between packaging company Amcor and the timber workers' union that formed the notorious "A-team" fell apart over three years because of increasingly acrimonious disputes about policy and power.

Documents show tensions first arose in 1996 over the use of imported Indonesian wood pulp at the Maryvale paper mill, and ended in about 1999 with the union refusing to co-operate with the A-team. Article - The Age

June 3 2006 - 15,000 Victorians march against old growth logging - Report

January 06

Terror-razing the forest - Report of preliminary investigation into the security issues on the West Papua/ PNG border. (Adobe PDF - 5.5 mb) (23-1-06)

Bob Brown’s out on a limb…

Senator Bob Brown has personally launched a daring bid to see if the law can be used to protect endangered species. “Bob Brown vs Forestry Tasmania” is a landmark case that has the potential to revolutionise the protection of our forests and fauna. Bob is personally paying legal and scientific expenses, which are expected to top $250,000. To fund spiralling costs Bob is auctioning his personal memorabilia and art collection. Please go to www.on-trial.info or www.bobbrown.org.au to find out more. Support, donations and auction bids are all urgently needed.

Please pass this information onto your networks, and help Bob protect Australia’s biodiversity. If you wish to lodge a bid for an item, please ring Amanda Sully on 0406 992112

December 05

  Media Release

Macquarie Alternative Assets Management Announces Long Term Agreement with Australian Paper 25 August 2005 - Macquarie Alternative Assets Management Limited ("MAAML"), a responsible entity under the Macquarie Forestry Investment, announced today that it had signed a long term Pulpwood Agreement with Australian Paper, a subsidiary of PaperlinX Ltd. Under this agreement, MAAML will endeavour to source investment funds on an annual basis to establish plantations in the Gippsland region of Victoria. If the arrangements continue for their maximum potential term, MAAML will supply timber for up to 20 years to Australian Paper's upgraded Maryvale Mill. MAAML estimates that investments of up to $300 million are required for this purpose over the next 20 years.

As of today, MAAML manages approximately 10,000 ha of plantation on behalf of retail investors who have participated in the Macquarie Forestry Investments, since the annual offerings commenced in 2003. "MAAML currently has a pre-purchase agreement with Midway Pty Ltd, a leading Australian forestry company with well established export markets. While not available for the current offer, MAAML believes that the contract with Australian Paper offers the opportunity to enhance the product that it offers to investors in the future by providing them with an offtake arrangement for both domestic and export markets," said Anthony Abraham, a director of MAAML.

Media release From the Minister for Environment Thursday December 1, 2005



August 05


Call for a moratorium on logging Barmah State Forest in demonstration at Premier’s office


June 2005

 MEDIA RELEASE 28 June 2005

Supreme Court rules rainforest logging illegal

Justice Harper of the Supreme Court today overturned guilty verdicts against conservationist Tony Hastings and former timber worker Greg Tantram, who were charged in 2001 with obstructing a lawful logging operation at Dingo Creek in East Gippsland.

The obstruction took place after it was discovered that rainforest and Powerful Owl habitat were being logged by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) contrary to the Code of Forest Practice for Timber Production.

Trevor Poulton, Solicitor representing Mr Gregory Tantram said, "Justice Harper has made a landmark ruling that a breach of the Code of Forest Practice for Timber Production is a breach of the law. The ruling is a precedent that now establishes that the Code has legal status for the conduct of forest operations in Victoria. The intervention by members of the public was appropriate and their action has been vindicated by the Court."

Mr Tony Hastings representing himself said, "The forest operation was unlawful, as it included the destruction of rainforest and threatened species habitat. The Forester in Charge refused to inspect the logging operation to make it lawful, so it was our public duty to act to protect the Rainforest Site of National Significance and National Estate Site. Justice Harper makes clear that DSE should be ensuring compliance with the Code of Forest Practice."

Mr Hastings continued, "EPA audits of Code of Practice compliance confirm that the illegal logging of Dingo Creek is not an isolated incident. Now that the Code of Practice is recognised as law, the EPA audits put the Bracks government on notice to improve their compliance. Although improvements have been made in rainforest management, logging continues without required prescriptions for protection of habitat trees, hollow bearing trees and old-growth forest."

Mr Hastings said, 'This decision concludes four years of hearings before the Magistrates Court, then the County Court and finally the Judicial Review in the Supreme Court. It was very upsetting to discover rainforest logged and dead gliders on the ground at Dingo Creek. Justice Harper's ruling should ensure that the DSE prevents this from happening again."

Greg Tantram said "The massive piles of trees left behind after the clearfelling of old-growth forest at Dingo Creek was unnecessary destruction. Old-growth forest is being wasted instead of being saved for future generations."

Today's final judgment will be found under Hastings at


See Justice Harpers interim ruling during part of the hearing





Tonys Page

Forest Network congratulate Tony and Greg on their fantastic efforts. Many people campaigning to save old growth forests have been daunted and intimidated by the immense task and risk of legally challenging a powerful public agency like the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE).

Mitsubishi to cease buying Tas woodchips

The Tasmanian Government says a decision by a Japanese paper mill to stop sourcing woodchips from old-growth forests is the result of a manipulative propaganda campaign by conservationists.

Mitsubishi is one of three Japanese mills which sources woodchips from Tasmania. Mitsubishi's new policy states it will no longer engage in business activities shown to be unsustainable.

Tasmanian Greens leader Peg Putt applauds the decision, saying there is no reason for old-growth logging in Tasmania to continue. "The only reason it seems that governments are intent on staying in old-growth is pure bloody-mindedness," she said.

However, Resources Minister Bryan Green says forestry operations in Tasmania are sustainable. He blames Mitsubishi's decision on intense lobbying by environmentalists. "It's disappointing that the Wilderness Society and others have sought to go overseas to try to misrepresent what is actually happening here," he said.

About 5 per cent of the woodchips exported from Tasmania are from old-growth forests.







May 2005

Latest forest news from Tasmania

Black Friday for Tasmania's Forests
by Adam Burling

Black Friday for Tasmania's forests as John Howard and Tasmanian Premier Lennon team up to entrench further destruction of old growth forests.

Black Friday for Tas...

Black Friday for Tasmania’s Forests

Prime Minister John Howard and Tasmanian State Premier Paul Lennon said they were crossing the borders of party politics on Friday 13th May, when they jointly announced the long awaited federal Liberal policy on Tasmania’s Forests. The launch was done amidst the Styx Valley forests and their towering eucalypts, along with a bus load of journalists and the Forestry Union, the CFMEU. Not a single conservationist to be seen.

Howard and Lennon were to become, as Greens Senator Bob Brown put it, soul brothers in destruction, as they let down the Australian community by breaking a raft of promises (surprise?) and condemning tens of thousands of hectares of old growth forests to the bulldozers and chainsaws.

Gone was the protection of thousands of hectares of high conservation value forests across Tasmania. Of the promise to protect 170,000 hectares of forest, only 58,000ha was given even basic protection from logging, in the form of a formal reserve. The rest, some 60% of the package is a collection of informal reserves which offer no real protection and which may not have been logged anyway.

What has been offered is partial protection in a mix of formal and informal reserves, 73,000 hectares in the Tarkine forests of the NW and 13,000 hectares of the Styx Valley in the South. At first glance this may seem like a huge win, yet these reserves still allow mining and large-scale development such as tourism resorts. This is in stark contrast to federal Labor’s election promise to ensure that these areas were to receive the highest protection possible as National Parks and World Heritage Areas. Small scraps and slithers of largely unloggable forest was also offered protection in places such as The Blue Tier, Wielangta, Eastern Tiers and the NE Highlands.

What have been missed out are forests like the Weld Valley in the far south of the State. This is a place that was mentioned in the Liberal Forest Policy and post election by Liberal Ministers as a valley worthy of protection. The Weld has had its tall forests and wild river recognised by the World Heritage Bureau as a place of international significance, Tasmania’s own Parks and Wildlife Service has also called for its protection. Instead these grand forests will be fed to the woodchipper, its rare and endangered animals, such as the Wedge Tailed Eagle and the Eastern Quoll will be face the threat of the chainsaws.

Gone was the promise of ending 1080 poison on private land. Despite widespread horror at this toxic poison’s effect on native wildlife, Howard has only promised to ‘reduce’ its use. 1080 has been banned in the USA since the 1970’s and has very restricted use in every other state in Australia. Its effects produce a slow and painful death for hundreds of thousands of wallabies, possums and pademelons each year in Tasmania. At present anyone who says they have trouble with wildlife effecting their crops can apply to get some.

A promise to reduce clearfelling in old growth forests sounds good until you work out what is to replace it. Every year 20,000 hectares of native forests are logged in Tasmania, most of this is clearfelled. This outdated and brutal technique clears every single tree, limb and leaf in areas of up to 120 hectares at a time. All the native creatures that live there are either forced to leave or killed. Howard’s promise is to reduce the amount of clearfelling to 20% of old growth forests by 2010. The rest of the old growth face a new method that forestry calls aggregated retention. This really is just clump clearfelling, where the forest is cut up into circular patterns, like a golf course. No real change for the tree or the animals.

Slipped in with the clearfelling promise was an endorsement of old growth Forest Furnaces. Banned in every eastern state, native forest fuelled power stations have been given the blessing of the Howard government. This has been done with the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET), through which the Federal Liberals have allowed the burning of ancient forests to be classed as renewable energy alongside solar and wind power. The electricity from this forest eating plant will be sold to Victorian consumers as clean, green power.

Landclearing has been given the green light until 2010. This is when the Howard government has set a deadline for the end of conversion of native forests to plantations. In the meantime plantation establishment on land where old growth forests once stood, will be moving full speed ahead.

$250 million dollars, which included $2 million for PR work, is to be spent on this horror package for Tasmania’s forests. Prime Minister Howard and State Premier Lennon have called it a ‘Community Forest Agreement’. Without consulting the community or the 15 or so conservation groups that called for 240,000 hectares of high conservation value forests to be given complete protection in national parks. The soul brothers of destruction have said that this will end the forest debate in Tasmania. It will not. The package is an insult and only serves to prop up an industry that has already received half a billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies since the early 1980’s.

Conservationists divided over Tas forests package

PM unveils Tas forestry plan

News Archives

'04, '03, '02