FUJI-XEROX,RICOH & CANON DESTROY TASMANIA
FUJI-XEROX,RICOH & CANON DESTROY TASMANIA
2006-03-20 at 11:09:00 am #14852
Global Outcry Over Falling Forests, Failing Democracy on Australia’s Island State of Tasmania
major recipients from products of its old-growth woodchips with US markets include Fuji-Xerox, Ricoh and Canon.
SAN FRANCISCO, March 06 — Outraged world citizens today protested at Australian embassies and consulates in America, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom to decry the destruction of old-growth forests and the undermining of democracy in the country’s island state of Tasmania by Forestry Tasmania and Gunns, Ltd., a rogue billion-dollar logging giant whose practices rank among the world’s worst according to recent reports. The IUCN compares Gunns’ operations to rampant illegal logging in the Third World.
Demonstrators delivered a letter signed by leading international sustainability groups to Prime Minister John Howard demanding that the government act in accordance with scientific recommendations to protect Tasmania’s virgin forests from a well-documented arsenal of logging tactics deployed by Gunns and industry-controlled Forestry Tasmania. In the wake of massive clearcuts by Gunns, the industry routinely scorches the Earth with napalm firebombs to eradicate all remaining life.
Gunns has also killed hundreds of thousands of native mammals using carrots poisoned with Compound 1080, a lethal super-toxin listed as a biological weapon by both the Canadian and US governments. Gunns CEO John Gay has publicly stated that it is okay that his company kills endangered animals because “there’s too many of them.” Tasmania’s forests are currently being clear-cut at an unprecedented rate equivalent to approximately 44 football fields per day. The vast majority of Tasmania’s priceless ancient trees are being processed into woodchips by Gunns to make disposable paper products destined for landfills in America and Asia.
The worldwide call for action today echoed a dozen of Australia’s leading scientists who signed a 2004 statement of support for the protection of Tasmania’s forests calling for the “urgent need for Australian government intervention.” The effort to protect Tasmania’s forests is one of the largest environmental issues in Australian history, and according to a 2004 opinion poll by Newspoll, over 85 percent of Australian citizens favor full protection for Tasmania’s pristine forests.
Carrying signs reading “Stop Gunns” and “Save Tassie’s Trees,” forest defenders around the world protested with “GUNNS” taped over the mouths(c) in solidarity with 20 silenced citizens in Australia who are currently being sued by Gunns for speaking out against the company’s attacks on environmental treasures and public health. Likened to McDonald’s “McLibel” lawsuit, Web sites like Gunns20.org and McGunns.com are evidence of a growing global grassroots movement to protect free speech, reassert democracy and save old-growth forests. The Gunns 20 lawsuit has also been condemned by leading human rights lawyers in the UK. For the Tasmania Forest Campaign, Rainforest Action Network and its allies today launched TreesNotGunns.org http://www.treesnotgunns.org/ to organize future worldwide action.
At the Australian High Commission in London today, British MP and Deputy Environmental Minister Norman Baker met with the Deputy High Commissioner to deliver the NGO letter and spoke about the atrocities he witnessed on his visit to Tasmania last month. Over 100 members of the British Parliament recently signed a motion condemning Gunns’ actions and calling for an international boycott of woodchips and paper sourced from Tasmania’s old-growth forests.
The global outcry comes just days before a March 9th hearing when lawyers will argue for the Gunns 20 case to be thrown out of court for a third time and two weeks before a March 18th Tasmanian election when an record Green vote may force the current government into a minority coalition or from office altogether.
According to the US National Cancer Institute, Tasmania — marketed to tourists as “The Island of Rejuvenation” — has some of the highest overall cancer incidence rates in the world. According to a report by the University of Tasmania and the Tasmania Department of Health and Human Services, the age-standardized incidence of all cancers combined — excluding non-melanocytic skin cancers — increased 37.6 percent in Tasmania during the 23-year period from 1978 to 2000. In a recent letter to the Tasmanian Times, local farmer Paul de Burgh-Day wrote, “I came to live in Tasmania with my family largely because I believed the ‘Clean and Green’ marketing image. We have been here long enough now to realize that this is, sadly, no more than illusion … I have no doubt that Tasmania and its people could thrive if it set about becoming what the slogan implies.”
Spearheaded by San Francisco-based Rainforest Action Network, the worldwide day of protest expands one of the largest environmental protection campaigns in Australian history to global economic centers including Houston, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Vancouver and Washington, D.C. The letter to Prime Minister Howard was signed by coalition of US and European-based groups including Forest Ethics (ForestEthics.org), Friends of the Earth International (FOE.org), Global Exchange (GlobalExchange.org), Global Response (GlobalResponse.org), International Forum on Globalization (IFG.org), Native Forest Network (NativeForest.org), Pacific Environment (PacificEnvironment.org), Rainforest Action Network (RAN.org), Ruckus Society (Ruckus.org) and the Sierra Club (SierraClub.org).
GUNNS AND FORESTRY TASMANIA
With annual revenue of over $700 million in 2005, Gunns is the largest logging company in Australia, where it holds a virtual monopoly in Tasmania. Gunns operations have resulted in convictions and fines for breaching the Forest Practices Code and causing major environmental damage to a Tasman Peninsula waterway. Out-of-control napalm burns started by Forestry Tasmania and Gunns have incinerated areas of national parks, World Heritage sites and private land, and are intense enough to create massive mushroom clouds typically associated only with atomic weapons. Under the legal protection of special exemptions from national and state laws granted by the government’s Regional Forest Agreement, Gunns has routinely ordered the destruction of pristine areas identified for permanent protection by the United Nations World Heritage Bureau. Under current Tasmanian law, the company is not required to file environmental impact statements.
The revolving door between Gunns and the government includes former Tasmanian Premier Robin Gray who currently sits on the company’s board of directors. Gunns collusion with Forestry Tasmania has essentially eliminated citizen oversight and has led to a breakdown of democracy in the state. Despite being Tasmania’s largest landowner, less the 15 percent of the company’s record profits stay in Australia’s poorest state. Gunns largest customers are Japanese paper companies Nippon, Oji, and Daio and major recipients from products of its old-growth woodchips with US markets include Fuji-Xerox, Ricoh and Canon.
Compound 1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate), a super-toxin with no known antidote, was first developed by Nazi military chemists for biological warfare during World War II. The FBI and Air Force as well as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service have publicly listed Compound 1080 as a chemical agent terrorists could use to poison water supplies. A new CIA report includes photographic evidence that Compound 1080 was recently recovered by coalition forces in Iraq. Because of its danger to humans, Compound 1080 has been banned in Brazil since 1982. One teaspoon of the tasteless, odorless white power is enough to kill 100 people.
“Gunns does not act alone,” said Ilyse Hogue, director of the Global Finance Campaign at Rainforest Action Network. “They are backed by investors and commercials banks both in their everyday operations and projects like the unpopular Bell Bay Pulp Mill proposal. As the trajectory of the global finance sector moves toward a sustainable and just economy, banks like ANZ that continue to fund rogue corporations like Gunns will find themselves forced to account for their decision to their customers.”
“Gunns operations are more like chemical warfare than logging,” said Brant Olson, director of the Old Growth Campaign at Rainforest Action Network.
“The world is witnessing a total breakdown of democracy in Tasmania resulting in the wholesale destruction of the island state’s priceless primordial forests. Despite tens of thousands of Australians taking to the street in protest and polls showing that a vast majority favor full protection, the government still continues to support and subsidize Gunns wholesale conversion of Tasmania’s life giving natural forests into deadly toxic tree farms.”
“Everything about the situation on the ground in Tasmania defies belief for anyone who respects democracy and values the rule of law,” said David Lee, a campaigner with the Tasmanian Forest Campaign at Rainforest Action Network.
“Tasmania’s world-class trees like the giant Eucalyptus — the tallest hardwoods in the world — are up there with the Great Barrier Reef and the Galapagos Islands and worth far more to humanity as forests than woodchips. Gunns is trashing a global treasure in Tasmania to make disposable paper products and turning paradise into a toxic Hell on Earth in the process.”
ABOUT RAN: Rainforest Action Network campaigns for the forests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through education, grassroots organizing and non-violent direct action. For more information on RAN, please visit RAN.org. For information on the Tasmania Forest Campaign, please visit http://www.TreesNotGunns.org