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Gunns in the Wilderness

As ever, the campaign against Gunns pulp mill in Tasmania continues, far from the interest of national and commercial media. But a new twist may woo a renewal of coverage.

The Wilderness Society (TWS) has launched a campaign in Tasmania to persuade politicians, and apparently the public, to support an expansion of industrial timber plantations and a Gunns-owned pulp mill, albeit smaller than the one currently going ahead. Activists, whether campaigning for environment, social justice or local businesses, will be confused and divided by this new push.

Generally, TWS uses membership and donor funds to support existing campaigns, either by resourcing local campaigns, generating public awareness of issues, or mounting expensive   legal action in parallel to grassroots direct actions. The new campaign, however, is being questioned by Tasmanian-based pulp mill opponents, who now find their efforts divided between fighting logging behemoth Gunns and an environmental NGO which seems disinterested in concerns about reallocation of productive private and public lands and natural resources.

Concerned local campaigners point to a TWS media release in early November, “The Wilderness Society welcomed the news announced today at the Gunns AGM that Swedish pulp and paper company Södra is one of the potential pulp-mill investors the company is in talks with”.

TWS insisted its support for Sodra is because the company attaches strict conditions to mill financing, including the use of totally chlorine-free processing, the use of non-native forest resources and not litigating against community activism.

But there are local concerns that TWS is operating beyond its mandate and the wishes of its financial base, promoting forestry, mythical profits and job creation and Gunns at the expense of nature, community, and future generations in a state where democracy seems to have gone astray.

The saga continues.

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