VICTORY: Mitsubishi to Stop Buying Old Growth
Listen to this commentary in MP3 format or through Podcast
Blow to Australia Tasmanian Timber Industry
The Japanese company Mitsubishi Paper Mills has announced it will stop using woodchips from old-growth forests. Their new policy is to buy only woodchips “sourced from plantations or second growth forests of environmentally benign, and reclaimed wood.” Mitsubishi is a major customer of Tasmanian woodchip exporter Gunns ? and the new wood-chip buying policy would rule out sourcing woodchips from old growth Tasmanian forests. Shockingly, until now most old growth timber from large-scale clearfelling in Tasmania has been converted to woodchips, largely for export to Japan.
The word is out ? chopping up old growth forests to make throw away consumer products is barbaric, inhumane and ecocidal. The Tasmanian timber industry is worried ? and they should be. There is nothing the timber barons in Tasmania and elsewhere can do regarding the emerging global sensibility that old-growth forests should not be chopped up to make paper. I expect that market pressures will lead other Japanese timber mills, including Oji and Nippon, to follow suit shortly. This is a clear signal to Gunns to shift to more sustainable forest practices in secondary and mixed plantation forests as the way of the future. It also sends an unmistakable message that World Heritage-class Tasmanian forests should not be fodder for woodchips.
Forests.org network has been active in this struggle for over a decade and contributed significantly to this victory. Recently we had followed Greenpeace lead in targeting Mitsubishi with protest emails. And our recent alert notifying Australia Prime Minister Howard that his half-hearted protection of some Tasmanian forests would not quell the movement to stop old-growth logging now seems down right prescient.
The gauntlet has been thrown down, somewhat surprisingly by Mitsubishi of Japan example: all international companies that consume forest products must adopt a no old-growth forests use policy. Society and the market no longer find old-growth forest products to be acceptable ? their continued use is antiquated. Those that continue to do so will feel the pain of market rejection.