December 11, 2003
To Persons Interested in Protecting Old Growth Forests in the State of Tasmania
Nippon Paper Industries Co., Ltd.
Recently, Greenpeace Japan and the Wilderness Society of Australia have called on Nippon Paper Industries to cease purchasing woodchips sourced from Old Growth Forests in Tasmania, Australia. The environmental groups consider Old Growth Forests in Tasmania to have high preservation value. According to them, this has been in response to harvesting of native forest in Tasmania, which has resulted in the razing of those forests that the environmental groups believe should be preserved.
In addition, Greenpeace Japan has launched a forest campaign called "Help Preserve the Forests in Tasmania" on its website, http://www.greenpeace.or.jp/index_en_html. More than 5,000 people supporting the campaign sent protest e-mails to the Company.
To create a resource recycling-oriented society, Nippon Paper Industries has operated on the basic principle of "sustainable corporate activities that are compatible with the environment," and has been making efforts to procure resources from forests that are managed in a sustainable manner.
In August 2003, the Company revised its Environmental Charter for the third time, setting as a target the achievement of the following initiatives, among others, by 2008.
- The "Tree Farm Initiative," or overseas afforestation projects covering a target land area of at least 100,000 hectares
- Procurement of all imported hardwood chips from either certified forests or planted forests
Through these actions, the Company is promoting raw material procurement that emphasizes a balance between the natural environment and the Company's operations. The Company imports around 1.6 million tons of woodchips annually from Tasmania, for use as raw materials in paper manufacturing. It therefore has a strong interest in the management of forest resources in Tasmania.
With respect to harvesting wood in Tasmania, which has been the issue in question, the Company also collected information from the Government of Tasmania, Gunns Limited, and its own representatives in Australia.
After checking the facts, the position of Nippon Paper Industries is that the statement on the website of Greenpeace Japan contains a number of misleading expressions, and therefore fails to communicate the facts correctly, thereby damaging the Company's standing.
Nippon Paper Industries presently believes that the Sustainable Forest Management set out in its Environmental Charter is being properly carried out in Tasmania. Therefore, the Company will continue to purchase woodchips from Tasmania.
The Company has based its decision on the following recognition of Sustainable Forest Management in Tasmania:
(1) Harvesting operations have been conducted under the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA), which was concluded between the State Government and the Australian Federal Government in 1997. Aiming at achieving a balance between environmental protection and use of the natural environment, this Agreement was introduced as a legal framework for a democratic process involving a dialog over two years between the Federal Government, the State Government, and interested local parties (industries including the forestry and tourism sectors, scientists, and environmental groups), based on scientific evidence.
(2) As a legal framework that achieves a balance between environmental preservation and economic development, this Agreement is still supported by the Federal Government, the State Government, and most Tasmanian residents.
(3) Based on the Agreement, 40% of all forests, and 86% of Old Growth Forests with higher protection value in the state forest are protected. These areas are excluded from targets for harvesting. In addition, even outside the preservation area, trees around giant trees exceeding 85 meters in height cannot be cut down.
(4) Under this Agreement, with special advice provided by ecologists, comprehensive systems designed to maintain the diversity of living organisms and to protect the ecosystem have been developed and are now in operation.
(5) Old Growth Forests have been locally harvested for lumber for decades. Low quality lumber, which cannot be used for sawing, was formerly burnt in the forest, but are now processed into woodchips for use as raw materials for papermaking, and are used effectively as resources. Woodchips from Old Growth Forests account for only a few percent of the woodchips purchased by the Company.
(6) Gunns Limited has been sawing logs, and producing and selling woodchips, using forest timber that comes from the state forests (about half of the operations for which are under contract for the State) and forests owned by the company, etc. Gunns Limited has been voluntarily as well as actively engaged in Sustainable Forest Management. The company acquired ISO14001 certification from the International Organization for Standardization for the forests it owns, and also acquired the forest certification of the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) in November 2003.
(7) Forestry Tasmania, a government business enterprise responsible for managing the state forest, has also already acquired ISO14001 for the state forest that it manages and is currently endeavoring to acquire the AFS forest certification.
*The AFS is under the aegis of PEFC, the world largest forest certification body, and the procedures for acquiring mutual recognition have been taken.
Nippon Paper Industries strongly desires that Sustainable Forest Management continue in Tasmania, based on the Agreement involving the Australian Federal Government, the Tasmanian State Government, and interesting local parties (industries including the forestry and tourism sectors, scientists, and environmental groups).
The Company has also acknowledged the arguments concerning the preservation districts set out by the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) of Tasmania, which have been made by Greenpeace Japan and the Wilderness Society of Australia. The Company therefore urges the Tasmanian State Government, Greenpeace Japan, the Wilderness Society, and Gunns Limited to participate in a dialog to settle this issue.
The Company is quite prepared to accept any result that emerges from discussions involving the above groups through a local democratic process in Tasmania, even if the result is to the disadvantage of the Company.