Well-known weatherman and environmentalist, Rob Gell, has inadvertently helped Victorian loggers look green and their practices look ‘sustainable’.
The Victorian Association of Forest Industries 2005 Sustainability Report was released in late November with the help of Rob. Rob’s position on VAFI’s ‘Community Council’ was used by VAFI and the media to show that a respected environmentalist supports the new direction they are taking. He actually only supports the process not the direction but this was too fine a point for the media to emphasise or the public to understand.
The logging industry’s plan is to keep logging native forests for decades to come but recycle meaningless old buzzwords like ‘sustainability’ and ‘value adding’ to make it look greener. The report uses fancy terminology but gives no details on how it hopes to become environmentally sustainable. It does reckon it will be commercially sustainable though.
VAFI’s aims include having high-quality products, a green tick on its wood, sustainability reporting (if only reports would save the world), deals for long term access to native forest, ‘enhanced research and innovation’ (don’t you love these weasel words?), exporting more wood so the trade balance is just comfy, value-adding (the term given to woodchipping for years) and finding new markets (coz old markets are disappearing).
The report says that less than 10% of Victoria’s forests are taken out by logging – but it doesn’t admit that this is the most valuable bit we have left. Valuable habitat also has valuable logs. Funny about that.
Rob Gell said he was comfortable with working with VAFI. He doesn’t agree with all that’s in the report but has made no attempt to publicly question them. While he remains inside the process, VAFI will use him as a tool to boost its own image. We believe Rob’s intentions are good but we do worry about him allowing VAFI to use his good name to polish their bad name.