Professor Rufus Black,
University of Tasmania,
September 1st 2021.
Dear Vice Chancellor,
Re: Proposed National Institute for Forest Products Innovation
Earlier this year, in a meeting with you, I made clear the Bob Brown Foundation’s concerns about the University of Tasmania’s proposed National Institute for Forest Products Innovation. I indicated our complete opposition if it relied on access to native forests.
At the time I asked that the university confirm that the focus of the Institute would be farmed wood and that native forests would be excluded from this endeavour. I made clear that it is our view that native forest logging should end, that native forests should be protected and restored as a response to global warming and as part of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and the United Nations Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework. This is a view shared by over sixty of Australia’s conservation groups.
We now write to restate our opposition to the University of Tasmania’s proposed NIFPI. Its name reveals its intent. It is a Forest Products Institute and by definition will be using wood from native forests. This is quite different from farmed wood in an agricultural framework.
The Australian Forest Products Association with which the University is partnering, supports ongoing native forest logging and the development of biofuels from native forest products. Neither of these activities is acceptable in biodiversity or climate terms. Contrary to all AFPA claims, Australia’s logging practices are not ecologically sustainable nor are they world’s best practice, nor do they contribute to meeting the challenges of climate change or the protection of biodiversity.
There is no such thing as a ‘sustainable timber or energy yield’ from Australia’s native forests. As a result of logging, fire and invasive species our native forests are already depleted with habitats for critically endangered flora and fauna reduced to remnants.
There is considerable reputational risk to UTAS to pursue an Institute designed to facilitate the ongoing logging of native forests. Students and communities in the 21st Century want to find solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises not make the problem worse.
Christine Milne AO
Board Member Bob Brown
Bob Brown Foundation Founder and Patron Bob Brown Foundation