Wednesday, February 11, 2009


First there were misleading statements about recycled content, now old growth forest use is under scrutiny

A new report released by Australian conservation groups The Wilderness Society and, Still Wild, Still Threatened, shows that, despite claims to the contrary, Japanese paper manufacturers are the purchasers of wood chips derived from the destruction of Tasmania’s oldgrowth forests.

This revelation comes after a major scandal in Japan where it was revealed that Nippon and Oji were misleading consumers about the amount of recycled paper content in their products. That scandal led to major embarrassment for the companies and Nippon Paper’s president, Masatomo Nakamura resigned after the revelations his company had been lying. In January 2008 Shoichiro Suzuki, chairman of the Japan Paper Association and Oji Paper admitted they had been falsifying the amount of recycled content in their paper products.

Now a new crisis looms as it appears extremely likely that Nippon and Oji are the recipients of at least 268,000 green tonnes of woodchips from Tasmanian oldgrowth and mature forests each year. The report ‘Oldgrowth for Export’ highlights how those companies, the two major customers of Tasmanian woodchipping giant Gunns, are receiving oldgrowth woodchips.

Oldgrowth forests in Tasmania are being destroyed by logging and burning. Over 85% of the logs extracted from those forests end up as woodchips for export, largely to Japan where they processed into paper. Nippon and Oji are have been shown to have misled people about the use of recycled content in their paper, reportedly in an attempt to try and lure green-minded customers. We know that environmentally-conscious consumers in Japan will not want to source paper products that are made from the destruction of irreplaceable forests in Tasmania.

‘Oldgrowth for Export’ presents a case study of oldgrowth logging in the Derwent forests of Tasmania. It draws together information from a range of sources, including Forestry Tasmania, the Regional Forest Agreement, the Forest Practices Authority and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, in order to paint a picture of where the logs from Tasmania’s oldgrowth forests go. The report refutes claims circulating in international pulp-industry circles that woodchips from Tasmanian do not contain oldgrowth.

The main findings of the report ‘Oldgrowth for Export’ are:

  • Approximately 78% of the original extent of tall-eucalypt forests have already been cleared or are available for logging;
  • 61 000 hectares of tall-eucalypt RFA oldgrowth are currently unprotected from logging;
  • The dominant product from logging of Tasmania’s public native forests is pulpwood (86%), with less than 5% becoming solid wood products;
  • The vast majority of pulpwood from Tasmanian native forests – and an even higher proportion of pulpwood sourced from publicly-owned RFA oldgrowth forests – are exported by Gunns Ltd as woodchips;
  • A significant proportion (at the absolute lowest, 20%) of woodchips from mature and oldgrowth forests are exported to Japan.

This report presents irrefutable evidence to show significant tracts of tall-eucalypt oldgrowth and other high-conservation-value forests in Tasmania are being woodchipped and exported to Japan by Gunns Ltd.

To read the full report go to:

Whilst the Japanese paper companies were misleading people about using recycled paper in their products they were actually buying large amounts of old growth woodchips from Tasmania. We hope that this exposure and a backlash from Japanese consumers will help convince Nippon and Oji to cease buying woodchips from oldgrowth and high-conservation-value forests in Tasmania and take a more environmentally responsible path into the future.

1 comment:

Papyrus said...

incredible photograph in the post, incredible story. thanks for sharing the report. this is exactly the type of reason that everyone is asking companies these days "what's in your paper?"