Tas Gov Pulls Out of MONA Forest Congress Over Activists’ Disruption

It comes as a new report from the Blueprint Insitute claims that the Tasmanian Government could save $72m by closing the state's native hardwood industry.

Thu 30 Nov 23


The Tasmanian Government has withdrawn from the MONA Forest Economics Congress after Tasmanian Resources Minister Felix Ellis claimed that “activists” are not acting in good faith.

“It is deeply disappointing to see MONA’s Forestry Congress taken over by activists pushing to shut down our sustainable native forestry industry,” he told reports earlier this afternoon.

Minister Ellis was responding to reports that Sustainable Timber Tasmania, the government body responsible for managing the state’s public forests, were subject to heckling and abuse by opponents inside the Congress.

“Sustainable Timber Tasmania and industry figures attended the Congress in good faith but have been subjected to behaviour entirely at odds with the ‘radical diplomacy’ the Congress promised,” he said.

According to Minister Ellis, the Congress had the potential to host robust conversations about the industry, but instead, “hard-working Tasmanians have endured heckling and abuse – this is unacceptable.”

The three-day MONA Forestry Economics Congress, organised by Kirsha Kaechele, invited foresters, activists and scientists to Mona to discuss the value of Tasmania’s forests.

In 2019, Jon Dee visited the Central Highlands, Victoria, to show you why the FSC symbol is so important—footage courtesy of @dosomethingnearyou.

Attendees included Jon Dee – current FSC Australia and New Zealand Chair and former founder of Planet Ark, who is a vocal critic of the sustainability of Australia’s native forest management.

Ms Kaechele is a contemporary art curator, artist, and practitioner of sustainable building design. She is the wife of David Walsh, one of Australia’s prolific gamblers and creator of the iconic the creator of Tasmania’s infamous Museum of Old and New Art (MONA).

In recent weeks, the Tasmanian State Government – which is the only government to criticise the Victorian and WA State Governments for closing their native hardwood industries – has doubled down on their support for the industry.

Last week, it announced a plan to increase the supply of native hardwood timbers by 350,000 cubic metres of logs, which Minister Ellis said would “create an opportunity for forestry’s contribution to Tasmania to be super-charged.”

It includes more than 125,000 cubic metres of millable logs, all having “greater than a 30cm small end diameter”, which can be manufactured into various forest products.

“As a Liberal Government, we have helped rebuild the Tasmanian forestry sector after the devastation of the Labor-Green Tasmanian Forest Agreement,” according to Minister Ellis.

“Under our approach, wood production, exports, investment and jobs are all up.”

Screenshot 2023 11 30 145026 fotor 20231130145257
A new report by the right-leaning think tank “Blueprint Institute” encourages the Tasmanian State Government to exit the native hardwood industry by mid-2025 if the Australian Government can change the carbon methodology.

Yesterday, the Congress received a report from the Blueprint Insitute claiming that ending native forest harvesting in Tasmania could save the state at least $72m.

The analysis recommended that the state government immediately stop subsidising its Sustainable Timber Tasmania forestry arm and announce that harvesting will end in mid-2025.

The institute said the Tasmanian government and opposition should work with the federal government to introduce a “robust carbon methodology” that allowed the state to generate carbon credits by stopping logging and introducing conservation measures.

Wood Central understands that “the robust carbon methodology” centres around the Australian Federal Government changing its carbon market to recognise “emission avoidance” created by ceasing harvesting in the forests and allowing the trees to act like carbon sinks.


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