Sustainability of Forest Logging in Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

In this regard, Green and her colleagues emphasize that, "The corporate wealth of logging giant Gunns, Ltd. (which controls over 85% of the state's logging, is the world's largest hardwood woodchip exporter, and is worth over one billion dollars) has not trickled down into the state's economy" (2007, p. 95).

Despite the enormous range of wood products, particularly its valuable hardwoods, that could be produced from Tasmania's forests, more than 90 per cent of the country's hardwood timber is simply processed into woodchips annually, representing 5,000,000 tons of Tasmanian native forest which are then marketed to paper mills in Asia, primarily in Japan but in South Korea and increasingly China as well, accounting for around 70 per cent of Tasmania's total woodchip export production (Green et al., 2007). The sustainment practices used by the forestry industry, though, have been insufficient to replenish what is being extracted.

Forestry Tasmania. The Board of Directors of Forestry Tasmania has been assigned responsibility for overall corporate governance, including ensuring the operations are profitable. The organization cites its nearly $9.5 million operating profit from 2009 as evidence of its effective oversight, as well as the fact that it has been consistently profitable since its incorporation in 1994 (Kloeden & Gordon, 2009). In support of its responsibilities to provide sustainable practices, Forestry Tasmania cites the example of its launch of a new business unit,

Forest Technical Services and its memorandum of understanding with Gumatj Corporation of east Arnhem Land to develop a sustainable timber industry (Kloeden & Gordon, 2009). This example, together with its consistent profitability, is proof positive of the company's commitment to sustainable forestry practices, at least according to its board of directors.

Gunns, Ltd. Gunns has faced its fair share of controversy and litigation in recent years in response to its logging practices. Unlike the more favorable outcomes enjoyed by Forestry Tasmania, Gunns recently experienced two setbacks in court with environmentalist groups (Herr, 2007). In addition, the company's proposed Tamar Valley pulp mill remained the source of further controversy, particularly following the announcement that the company had mistakenly underestimated important pollution figures by a factor of 4,500 per cent higher that the figures provided to the Resource Planning and Development Commission (Herr, 2007).

Current Policies and Practices

The glaring problem with current policies in practices for the logging industry in Tasmania is the fact that the industry is virtually entirely self-regulated (Green et al., 2007). For example, the Tasmania Forest Practices Authority states that, "The Tasmanian forest practices system is based on a co-regulatory approach, involving responsible self-management by the industry, with independent monitoring and enforcement by the FPA. Self-management is delivered by Forest Practices Officers, who are employed within the industry to plan, supervise, and monitor forest practices" (Forest Practices Authority, 2006 cited by Green et al., 2007, p. 95).

Insights Concerning What Can Be Done to Remedy the Situation though Policy Changes and Practices

Because the industry is almost entirely self-regulated, it is important to determine who is doing what regulating is being performed. According to Green et al., of 152 Forest Practices Officers (FPOs), just two are employed by the Forest Practices Authority itself, with the remaining 150 FPOs being employed by Forestry Tasmania or Gunns, in other words, "The very industry they are employed to police" (Green et al., 2007, p. 95). Moreover, Gunn has consistently engaged in an aggressive pattern of litigation against any individual, including government officials and the media, that impugn their good name, even if the allegations are supported by facts (Green et al., 2007). Although the specific outcomes of the various lawsuits involved varies from case to case, the large amounts of money involved and the overall effect of the company's litigiousness has been to create a chilling effect on criticism by the industry's stakeholders (Green et al., 2007). The fundamental differences between the respective positions adopted by the logging industry and critics suggest that there are few gray areas in which compromise could be achieved, but fortunately, two such remedies readily come to mind and these are discussed further below.

Recommendations and Implementations

There are a number of remedies available for the underlying problems associated with continued logging operations in Tasmania's forests including an outright ban on logging and major changes in the leadership of the Forest Practices Authority and its policies, but given the industry's economic importance and the current political situation, such radical solutions would likely be unviable and less extreme alternatives will be less effective in various ways. Nevertheless, besides improving the oversight of the industry in general, two clear recommendations emerged from the research as follows:

1. Most Tasmanian timber is currently processed into high-quality wood chips, the majority of which are sold to Japan with major producers such as Gunns enjoying the lion's share of this export revenue. Therefore, Gunns and others have little incentive to introduce additional value-added opportunities to the lumber supply chain and it is therefore recommended that a consortium of local artisans be created to develop a line of Tasmanian branded craft items, furniture, masks, and other wood products specifically manufactured to facilitate shipment overseas.

2. The Tasmanian government should form a public-private sector partnership to promote wildlife/cultural heritage tourism in the forested regions of the country already protected from logging, as well as in and around active logging operations. This initiative would provide additional sustainable, revenue-generating opportunities for the local populace and increase public support for more aggressive sustainable practices by the Tasmanian logging industry.

References

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(2003).

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Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. (2010). Agreed Procedures

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84P4RC/$FILE/FPA%20DPIPWE%20procedures%202010.pdf

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Giddings, L. (2010, September 29). Continued growth in Tasmania's population. Tasmanian Minister for Economic Development. Retrieved from http://www.media.tas.gov.au/release.php?id=30497.

Green, P., Ward, T. & Mcconnachie, K. (2007). Logging and legality: Environmental crime, civil society, and the state. Social Justice, 34(2), 94-95.

Gay, J.E. (2009, January). Gunns Limited Sustainable Forest Management Report 2008-2009.

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2009.pdf

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Herr, R. (2007). Tasmanian: July to December 2006. The Australian Journal of Politics and History, 53(2), 319-320.

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McGhee, K. (2004). Logging Van Diemen's Land: Is there a green light for more sustainable forestry in Tasmania? ECOS Magazine, 122, 26-27. Available at:

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Appendix a

Outline of key actors and stakeholders in the Tasmanian timber industry

Key Actor/Stakeholder

Description

Position on Sustainability

Forestry Tasmania

Forestry Tasmania is a "Government Business Enterprise" that manages Tasmania's one million hectares of state forest and produces about three million tons of timber a year (Green, Ward & Mcconnachie, 2007, p. 95).

FT's overall position on sustainability is summed up in its Sustainability Charter:

1. Promote and support domestic processing and value-adding of wood products.

2. Maintain a sustainable supply of commercial timber.

3. Ensure an ongoing long-term supply of the highest quality eucalypt timber from native forests.

4. Ensure an ongoing long-term supply of specialty timbers.

5. Establish and manage plantations to maintain timber supply levels to industry.

6. Manage state forests to ensure an ongoing supply of leatherwood nectar and other non-wood products and services.

Gunns, Ltd.

This is Tasmania's largest timber company (Herr, 2007). Company is ISO 14001 and Australian Forestry Standard certified for its forest management practices (Gay, 2009).

Company states that it promotes sustainable practices and is actively engaged in research to improve its efficiency and reduce its impact on the environment. Since 2003, external audits confirm that Gunns has consistently maintained its forest management practices with ISO 14001 and AS4708 guidelines (Gay, 2009).

Japan

Largest importer of Tasmanian woodchips (Milne, 2009).

Disinterested with regards to Tasmanian logging.

Australians and…

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