As I’ve written previously on this website, to have a wood craft festival in the 21st century that ignores the issue of where the wood comes from, who grows it, fails to express concern for the future of the world’s forests, or demonstrate support for private tree growers, seems to me to be the equivalent to denying climate change.
But such is the situation with the Australian Wooden Boat Festival (AWBF) which is on this weekend in Hobart, Tasmania.
The fact that most wood craft festivals in Australia behave in a similar manner is no excuse.
To date the AWBF has managed to avoid being caught up in the long running Tasmanian Forestry Wars, but the events of the last 5 years have changed that.
In 2014 the Tasmanian State election was waged yet again on a battle for the forests. The new Liberal Government scrapped the Tasmanian Forestry Agreement that had been negotiated between the forest industry and the community.
Forest areas that had been earmarked for reservation were opened up for future logging against the advice of the forest industry and the market.
The new Liberal Government then sought, with the support of the wooden boat community, to open up the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) for logging. This move was blocked by UNESCO.
The TWWHA can still be logged, but UNESCO would remove the area from the World Heritage Register.
In 2017 the Tasmanian State Government released the Tasmanian Special Species Management Plan. This Plan allows for the logging of special species timbers, including so called boat timbers, within Tasmania’s Conservation Areas. This logging is to happen at taxpayers expense, with no accountability and no transparency.
These Conservation Reserves were established under the 1996 Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement explicitly to protect rainforest and oldgrowth from logging, even although Tasmanian legislation allows for logging with Conservation Reserves (this IS Tasmania after all).
The new Special Species Management Plan explicitly uses “market demand” and events such as the Deloraine Craft Fair and the Australian Wooden Boat Festival as justification for opening up Tasmania’s Conservation Reserves for rainforest and old growth logging.
That Management Plan has now been in effect for 18 months with zero transparency or accountability. We have no idea what areas have been logged or how much taxpayers money has been wasted.
You can read my critique of this travesty of a Management Plan here:
The fact that some people within the wooden boat community are in full support of this appalling situation needs to be highlighted.
The AWBF is a large successful festival which could be a force for change and for good.
Instead the Australian Wooden Boat Festival is now in line to become another battleground in the long running destructive Forestry Wars.
And the toxic Tasmanian political system will guarantee that the AWBF is used as a weapon to achieve short term political gain. We have seen it all before!
In the 21st century the AWBF needs to explicitly state its policy on forests, wood sourcing away from public native forests.
Currently the AWBF has no policies on these issues.
Instead the AWBF sits in silence working to ensure that Tasmanian rainforests and oldgrowth remain available for logging.
The State Government will of course threaten that to stop rainforest logging will endanger the AWBF.
The State Government will of course assert that rainforest logging is sustainable (whilst providing zero evidence/transparency/accountability).
In what perverted universe is the harvesting 500 to 1,000 year-old trees sustainable? Based on this very same logic Tasmania will resume logging Huon pine at some point!
It’s time to bring the Australian Wooden Boat Festival into the 21st century. Otherwise pressure must be brought upon the AWBF sponsors to review their support for the event.
Here’s a list of the major sponsors:
People attending or participating in the AWBF need to realise they are supporting the Tasmanian Forestry Wars and the continuing plunder of our rainforests and Tasmanian taxpayers.
It’s time to stop!!