VICTORY: Mitsubishi to Stop Buying Old Growth

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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. 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.

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4 Responses

  1. Dr John Heger says:

    While reading this article, I was once again struck by the fact that many steps taken towards environmental preservation are bound to develop social, economical or cultural problems of sorts.

    Item : Mitsubishi's decision to stop buying old-Growth might cause some setback in Tasmanian local economy. Tasmanians, not Japaneses, are going to pay the price of the common Western mindlessness. Now, who wouldn't welcome Japanese people to stop demanding whale meat to conform to secular traditions, while we are at it? I'm afraid taking steps piecemeal is leading us nowhere near the solution.

    Item : Speaking about wood consumption only, it has become most fashionable to look worried about rain forests destruction in the tropical belt. Yes, and so what? People in Africa and in most of these places have to burn wood to cover their elementary needs. Now, where's the smart guy who'll find a way out of that, short of letting AIDS do the job in a rather innovative and cynical manner?

    … and the list of contradictions could run and run on forever. Now, I'm not pessimistic about finding solutions, but more about our capacity to find lasting and foresighted policies to combat what's in store for us all if we keep on tackling environmental problems in that idiotic way of ours. As long as our governments are busy at being re-elected and our companies worried at producing shining quarterly reports, as long as our bright MBA's are viciously strangling middle- and long- term economic initiatives and investing capitals in short-sighted profits, as long as a large number of mature individuals do not work together to get off the hook, worldwide and globally, I cannot see any sensible way out of the trap in which we're all diving head on.

  2. alec marr says:

    Nippon calling for submissions now

    There is now a critically important oportunity to get Nippon to follow Mitsubishi's lead in only purchasing woodchips from plantation or regrowth sources.

    Nippon is calling for public submissions in developing their new “policy on raw material procurement.” Comments will close on the 19th of July 2005.

    I urge people to write a submission encouraging Nippon to follow Mitsubishi's lead, clearly specifying that their woodchips will only be sourced from properly managed plantations.

    View Nippon's statement at this address:

  3. automatt says:

    Images of the destruction of old growth hardwood forests in Tasmania, which Mitsubishi will no longer be contributing to but are partially responsible for, can be seen here:

  4. Barry Allen says:

    Dear Nippon company.
    Most Australians reject the harvesting of their remaining old growth hardwood forests. The decimating of these forests over many years purely for profit motives has had a devestating affect on much of the country's unique birds, animals and other fauna.
    Please do not continue to source your hardwood requirements from our old growth forests. Please insist that all your Australian timber purchases come from plantation timber and help preserve our unique forests and fauna.
    Barry Allen

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