Planet Ark misquotes uni on logging

A BOGUS quote attributed to a major university by a key environment group is “no problem”, the university says.

Planet Ark had released a quote claiming logging products are carbon-friendly to build with, complete with a reference to an RMIT study.

But the quote: “Substituting wood products from well managed forests and plantations for carbon intensive products could reduce the embodied emissions of a typical house by up to 18 tonnes over its life” does not exist in the study.

And the assertion has angered other environment groups – who say less than 20 per cent of wood recovered from a forest goes into wood products – and other university researchers, who say the RMIT study itself says forest management was outside its scope.

Following questioning by Weekly Times Now, Planet Ark admitted the quote came from a “fact sheet” supplied by logging industry body Forest and Wood Products Australia.

Planet Ark campaigns head Brad Gray said the line was “accidentally attributed with no intention to mislead”.

Planet Ark has a deal worth $700,000 with FWPA, and FWPA’s logo appears on the RMIT study.

Weekly Times Now contacted the study’s lead researcher, who saw “no problem” with the FWPA quote being attributed to the study as he considered it reflected the findings.

RMIT initially told Weekly Times Now the quote was merely “paraphrased”.

After Planet Ark admitted “accidental attribution”, RMIT issued a one-line statement saying it accepted Planet Ark’s explanation and “now regards the matter as closed”.

But days later, Planet Ark again disseminated the “quote” attributed to RMIT – this time to ABC’s 7.30 program.

The “quote” was displayed on 7.30’s website, but Planet Ark wrote to it with a correction early this week – after questions from Weekly Times Now.

RMIT failed to answer questions from Weekly Times Now on how much FWPA contributed to the study and on whether it would accept incorrect referencing from its students.

But it said RMIT “undertakes research sponsored by industry partners in an independent and professional way”.

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