A few days ago I came across three young women touching up an enormous banner in an inner Melbourne park. It was a sign to be photographed from the air in the Toolangi State Forest, northeast of Melbourne, home to tall timbers and Victoria’s fauna emblem, the tiny Leadbeater or ‘fairy’ possum.
Why the banner protest? To attempt to stop Australian Paper, now owned by Japanese company Nippon, from logging old growth forest. They manufacture Australian flagship brand office paper, Reflex, and claim their fibre is sourced only from sustainably managed forestry operations.
As in Tasmania there is conflict in Victoria between those supporting the availability of jobs in large paper mills in regional Victoria and those aghast at the destruction of old growth forests.
I see Australian Paper lost its Forest Stewardship Council environmental certification in 2009, but still claims Reflex paper is ‘sustainable’.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was established in the early 1990s as a tool to promote good forest management practice.
“It was the result of environmentalists, wood workers, retailers, foresters, indigenous peoples, timber companies and their workers collaborating to form a global set of principles and criteria defining ‘responsible forest management’.
Products sourced from forests certified to these principles and criteria are permitted to carry the label of the FSC, which consist of three labels: ‘FSC Pure’, ‘FSC Mix’ and ‘FSC Recycled’.”
The Weekly Times reported in 2011 that rural/regional jobs were at risk as Australian Paper had lost its certification and noted that VicForests which supplies woodchips to paper manufacturers was certified under a different system.
Confusion reigns then for consumers at places like Office Works. How DO you establish if you are supporting logging in old growth forests?
“Not By Any Scientific Yardstick Can Victorian Forestry be Considered Ecologically Sustainable” writes ANU’s Professor David Lindenmayer in The Conversation:
“Much of the attention of politicians, policy makers and the general public has been on the tall forests of Tasmania. But the state of Victoria’s forests is far worse than those in Tasmania – in terms of the number of species of conservation concern, the rate of overcutting, the loss of old growth forests, and the continued application of antiquated and environmentally-damaging clearfelling operations.”
It sounds very much as though the guidelines need to be re-established and labelling rights clarified.
ACF Online tells us the following are sustainable paper products:
? Evolve – Business and Office A4 and A3
? Vision – Pure White 100% A4 and A3 + 10 colours
? Fuji Xerox Recycled Supreme, A4 and A3 + 5 pastel colours
? OfficeWorks – 100% recycled A4
What a mess – sounds just like the food labelling problems!
(Click here for a pic of the Leadbeater possum.)