IN a rare display of sympathy and understanding for forest contractors, ABC journalist Tom Tilley has put the hard word on protestors in the Upper Florentine Valley, accusing them of perhaps even being “unethical”.
You can play the interview at the ABC Triple J website while watching a slide show. 
The issue is ongoing conflict at a blockade in the Florentine Valley along a road that was constructed in the mid 1960’s. Until recently a protest camp has blocked the path of a new spur road to access forest harvesting areas. The timber of the Florentine Valley, together with the Styx Valley, was granted to a consortium of media companies in the late 1930’s to create a newsprint pulp and paper mill and jobs at the end of the last world recession.
The mill is still operating, and the forests are still harvested.
Indeed so good has been the forest management that large chunks of the Styx and the Florentine were reserved in the 1997 Regional Forest Agreement and as part of negotiations resulting from the 2004 Federal Election.
Pictures of trees from these valleys are regularly flashed around the world by the environmental movement.
The green movement still want more, and are demanding that a number of coupes containing old growth forest be added to the reservation system; currently a million hectares of old growth is reserved in Tasmania.
The coupes will be harvested by small businesses on a selective harvest basis for Forestry Tasmania with high quality saw logs destined for local saw and veneer mills. Pulp wood arising from the harvest will be sold as export woodchip. The refurbished newsprint mill and the approved modern elemental chlorine free mill when built will not take these logs as they are designed to use plantation grown and young regrowth pulp wood, see http://www.forestrytas.com.au/topics/2009/01/upper-florentine-valley
Protesters have conducted a series of operations that has stopped work in the forest and at the export wood chip mill.
The ABC program’s summary of the broad cast states:
“Protestors have been slowing progress in the Upper Florentine Valley for over two years. Tension is fierce between forestry workers and the protestors.
The stakes are particularly high for the many forestry workers that run their own small businesses contracting to Gunns and Forestry Tasmania. When work is stopped, these guys don’t get paid.”
1. Stopping work in the forests, Hack, Triple J, February 26, 2009 http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/hack/notes/s2502820.htm
The picture of the trunk of the swamp gum was taken in a Tasmanian forest by Jennifer Marohasy in May 2005.