4 Oct 2011

‘Truth In Advertising’ – Ta Ann Exposed!

‘Truth In Advertising’ – Ta Ann Exposed!

This post is also available in: Iban, Malay

“Eco-friendly and sustainable” – Japanese retailers advertising Ta Ann wood products highlight it Tasmanian origin

Last week Ta Ann accused The Green Party in Tasmania of false advertising over logging in Sarawak.

But now advertisements promoting Ta Ann’s products as ‘Eco-wood’ have been challenged by a devastating expose of the company’s own role in Tasmania!

The report, published today by the Huon Valley Environment Centre of Tasmania, spells out Ta Ann’s hypocrisy and it is uncompromisingly titled “Behind the Veneer: Forest destruction and Ta Ann Tasmania’s lies”. [click for report]

Over 50 pages, the troubling expose details how the Sarawak timber giant’s decision to invest in Tasmania was specifically aimed at targeting the growing market for environmentally friendly, sustainable wood products, but has ended up deceiving consumers.

Why Tasmania?

“EIDAI is proud of our ECO-friendly flooring product” – Japanese advertisement for Ta Ann veneer panels sourced in Tasmania

As Ta Ann boss, Hamed Sepawi, himself confessed in 2006, Sarawak has almost completely run out of accessible timber, after 30 years of unrestrained logging by his own cousin and benefactor the Chief Minister.

Tasmania still has extensive hardwood jungles however, and remains one of the most important areas of natural wildlife world wide.

Even more crucially, Australia has received limited accreditation for sustainable timber, compared to Sarawak which is notorious for its destruction of the Borneo jungle.

Hence the constant highlighting of Tasmania as the source of Ta Ann’s new ‘environmentally conscious’ operations.

However, as the investigation makes clear, NONE of the wood that Ta Ann has so far used from Tasmania qualifies as sustainable.

In fact, ALL of the logs so far taken by the company have come from old growth forests, many in high conservation value areas that form crucial habitats for some of the world’s most endangered species.  These include Tasmania’s Wedge Tailed Eagle, the Quoll and the Tasmanian Devil.

And NO plantation wood is being used by Ta Ann in its veneer processing mills in Tasmania.

Jenny Webber from the Huon Valley Environment Centre (HVEC) said in a press release today:

“This report reveals, through Right to Information (RTI) documents, that Ta Ann Tasmania received wood from logging areas containing old growth forest, as defined by the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement (RFA), on at least 35 occasions throughout the 2009-2011 period. Ta Ann Tasmania is processing wood acquired from the logging of old growth forests, high conservation value forests and forests with recognised world heritage values in Tasmania,”

“Ta Ann’s demand for native forest wood and its large wood supply contract is driving logging in some of Tasmania’s most important and contentious forest areas….  Ta Ann’s operations here in Tasmania are far from eco-friendly and must rank amongst the worst logging practices globally”

Eco – Destruction – one of many Ta Ann logging coups across old growth forest in Tasmania. Only 10% of the wood felled is used in the saw mill. Some is chipped, but up to 70% of it is just piled up and burnt – destroying a whole area of habitat and rare plant life. So far neither Forestry Tasmania nor Ta Ann have reported a profit from this wanton wreakage

The report points out that Ta Ann Tasmania has in addition received timber for at least 88 logging operations in native forests since 2008, which are defined as having ‘high conservation value’  by ENGOs:

“Ta Ann’s record of environmental destruction in Sarawak continues in Tasmania, with its disregard for this islands old growth forests and wildlife.  Ta Ann has tried to portray itself as producing ‘eco-products’ in an attempt to mislead customers as to the origin of their wood and to cover up its disgraceful role in the logging of Tasmania’s ancient forests” [Jenny Weber, HVEC]

Lies!

Despite the evidence, the new report documents how time and again Ta Ann has sought to give the impression that the wood it is using in Tasmania is from plantations and re-growth forests.

Sepawi was quoted  in the local Tasmanian paper, The Examiner, as describing their operations as “an innovative rotary peeling process using plantation and regrowth logs”.  It is a claim that continues to be made in Ta Ann’s company website, describing its ‘Environmental Management’ and ‘Eco-Wood’.

Boasts that bear no relation to reality!

 Environmentalist critics say that none of these claims are true and that certain politicians and forestry supporters have been so keen to get Ta Ann into the State that they have been giving away valuable timber for a loss.  Green MP Paul O’Halloran explained to Sarawak Report that currently plantation wood is about twice as expensive as the ancient forest wood, because it has to be farmed as a business, whereas natural wood comes ‘free’.

He believes this is the reason why Ta Ann has been demanding wood from old growth forests rather than the plantation forests it pledged to use when it entered Tasmania in 2006:

Too big for the peeler – this ancient eucalyptus tree is ear-marked for clear felling by Ta Ann. But it will end up as wood chip!

“They are getting the old growth forest for less than give away prices.  We are giving it away and getting a loss, so of course it is cheaper than plantation wood”.   

“Plantation wood has a higher value because it is a more consistent product and is easier to process.  This means there is more demand for it and so it is more expensive. Also, consumers prefer it as more environmentally friendly and are insisting on it”

“It is purely a question of economics.  the old-growth forest is 50% cheaper – that is why they [Ta Ann] prefer it”.

 

In response the Director of Ta Ann Tasmania, David Ridley, contacted Sarawak Report to deny the company uses old growth wood, because the giant ancient trees are too large for their machines:

“Briefly – we can’t use old growth billets due to the size and quality.  We can and do use pruned plantation billets of suitable quality and have trialled unpruned but it is not suitable.  You will have seen yesterday that the billets are young growth”

Mr Ridley offered to come back with more details, but so far has not.  Investigation by Sarawak Report of the areas that Ta Ann are logging shows that they are clear felling old forests and destroying ancient trees in order to get to the smaller ‘young growth’ trees amongst them.   Ta Anns ‘young growth billets’ are trees that are up to a hundred years old and which have been taken by destroying old growth forests.

Taib family business that is acting true to form

The information revealed by the report shows that Ta Ann’s solution has been to say one thing, but do another thing in order to exploit the lucrative Japanese market for ‘eco-wood’. 90% of Ta Ann’s exports from Tasmania end up in Japan, where they are being marketed as certified ‘environmentally friendly’ products, especially flooring.

Plain incentive – Ta Ann’s 2010 Annual Report shows a keen awareness that the Japanese market is all about ‘eco-friendly’ materials

Ta Ann are publicly implying that their wood is eco-friendly, while raping the forests because it is cheaper to do so!  Indeed, no one has ever accused a Taib family company of putting the environment or honesty before profit in Malaysia, so why expect them to act differently in Australia?

Ta Ann Sdn Bhd – Annual Report 2009 claims the company uses “planted eucalypt”. In fact the report shows that Ta Ann has complained to Forestry Tasmania that its mills are not yet ready to handle planted wood and they can only use trees from old growth forests

The reality

Although Ta Ann Tasmania have claimed they are using ‘eco-wood’, the report shows that they have in fact exclusively demanded old growth wood from the state’s Forestry Commission.

In a submission to the Standing Committee of the Australian Federal Government earlier this year Ta Ann Tasmania admitted that:

 “plantations are yet to be proven as a viable substitute for regrowth from native forests for either mill”.

By regrowth they mean young trees in old forests.  And to get these trees Ta Ann has been clear cutting the entire forest and then burning what remains.

The Japanese Ads

So this arrives us at the question, who is to blame for the spate of Japanese advertisements that the report reveals have clearly mislead well-intentioned consumers who want to purchase ‘eco-friendly’ wood?

The report “Behind the Veneer: Forest Destruction and Ta Ann Tasmania’s lies” lists numerous ads in Japan for Tasmanian sourced Ta Ann wood flooring and other products that are supposedly eco-friendly.

EIDAI Ad – this key Japanese retailer is one of 5 companies selling Ta Ann Tasmania’s wood under the banner of eco-wood. How did they arrive at such a conclusion?

As we now know, these claims are simply untrue. It is not ‘eco-friendly’ to tear down old growth, ancient eucalypt forests, while at the same time giving the impression that you are only using plantation wood.

Driving the destruction of the forests Australia is TRYING to preserve

All to benefit Ta Ann – so far there has been no profit for Tasmania from the felling of their wild forests by Ta Ann, because the wood has been sold below market value and without profit!

The most pernicious part of this whole story has to be its latest chapter.  The Federal Australian Government has been doing its best to buy out the fag end of the Tasmanian logging industry from its business, before one of the world’s last great wildernesses is lost.

An agreement between the Federal and State Governments has therefore just been concluded whereby Tasmania’s remaining logging firms will receive major compensation, in return for putting aside another 430,000 hectares of forest for conservation.

The inter-governmental deal includes an agreement that until the final settlement is in place there will be NO logging in the identified areas.  However, Tasmania’s State Forestry  Department has been ignoring this inter-governmental agreement, in favour of contracts agreed with Ta Ann!

It turns out that Ta Ann has secured guaranteed wood supplies from the State owned logger, Forestry Tasmania until 2027 and is lobbying to extend it further till 2047 (why stop until the cheap trees are gone?).  So, Forestry Tasmania has been continuing to log these areas, even though the public think they have been protected.

Indeed Tasmania’s forestry authorities have given notice they intend to log in no less than 87 coupes in wild forest areas supposedly protected under the recent law.  Of these 59 are justified as part of the contracts agreed with Ta Ann.

“Logging for Ta Ann is also breeching the current Intergovernmental Agreement between the Australian and Tasmanian governments which has demanded logging be stopped in 430,000 hectares of high conservation value forests. Ta Ann’s operations here in Tasmania are far from eco-friendly and must rank amongst the worst logging practices globally,”[Jenny Webber HVEC]

Japanese companies who are marketing Ta Ann products from Tasmania should now take notice.  Because if this is ‘eco-wood’, then consumers should be made aware.  In fact it would be hard to find a situation that is less sustainable and less environmentally friendly than the clear fell destruction being waged by Ta Ann in Tasmania.

  • aborium

    Advertising eco-labels on products which hides the ugly truth in their production and supply chain is clearly a misrepresentation of reality. It's akin to the sweat shop phenomena. It's normally done with intent to hoodwink and takes your eyes and mind off its ugliness and naked truth. It's a deception!

  • Robert Stanley

    Dear Ta Ann

    Go HOME & leave what is left of our wilderness for future generations.

    That was hard, but I WAS polite.

    R. Stanley

    • aborium

      Rachel Carson, a scientist and the founder of contemporary environmental movement, once said:

      “A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.

      If I had influence with the good fairy…..I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.”

      ― Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

      We watch in amazement at how Ta Ann and other unscrupulous timber companies have taken that precious gift away for future generations in Sarawak and Tasmania, all for the sake of making more money.

  • najibrazak

    The Taibs seem to have failed to realise that the Press in Australia is free and uncontrolled so that lies that are acceptable to the Press in Malaysia are exposed as lies in the truly free press in Australia. Stupid as well as corrupt!

    • James C

      Yet some Australian Universities pour praises and honors on Taib as patrons.

  • Kraft of Pristine Va

    Another beat up by the Sarawak Report about Tasmania, allegations that failed to be published last week whilst Clare Rewcastle was in Tasmania.

    If she had, she may have been told the facts that of the 1.23 million ha of old growth forest in the State today, 972,000 ha are within conservation reserves where timber harvesting is excluded and another 100,000 ha is on private land. So less than 160,000 ha of the fabled 430,000 ha forest demanded to be added to the reserve system is actually old growth it is mostly regrowth from fire or from seeding after harvest operations, a small amount is planted plantation. The greens themselves used to claim the regenerated harvested forest was monoculture plantations rather than renewed native forest.

    Most Tasmanian forest contains a number of age classes, and of the 500 coupes harvested by Forestry Tasmania to supply certified billets only 8 did not contain designated regrowth, the other 492 areas listed, back in May this year, in response to a request from Greens politician Kim Booth, did.

    What a pity Clare Rewcastle did not find out the truth herself rather than just repeat the claims of the Huon Environment Centre. The first tenet of investigation journalism, should by scepticism, the second to find out the facts independent of those that supply ‘the story”.

    • aborium

      Let's not go pussyfooting with figures. Tasmania remains the few remaining spots in the world with a temperate rainforest. Doesn't it bother anyone that the Tasmanian Devil is near extinction due to wanton human forest activities?

    • http://hotmail Orang2bangkit

      I PREFER THE HONESTY OF CLARE THAN BELIEVE THE SHIT OF TAIB!

      The Taib gang does not care about the environment and least of all the poor natives whom they have thrown out of their ancestral lands and made destitute- AS LONG AS THEY CAN MAKE MONEY!

      Their greed knows no limit from Sarawak to other parts of the world including Tasmania.

      How can we stop them.

      Elections proved to be just a cover for more timber thefts and in fact legitimise Taib's grip on power which is guaranteed by UMNO.

      UMNO installed the Rahman/Taib Mahmud dynasty in the late 1960s to ensure it could get control of Sarawak and its oil In return the Taib gang was allowed to strip Sarawak timber.

      We have suffered 48 years of the re-colonization of Sarawak.

      If we want to avoid another 5 decades of this pillaging of the people and country we have to take ore serious action than voting every 5 years.

      We must unite and work for the overthrow of the colonial regime which is bleeding our country dry!

  • Blunt Speaker

    First, they destroyed the entire forests of Sarawak, and next they take on other parts of the world! The Taibs and his cronies, the timber tycoons, are so insatiably greedy that only Satan can match! These devils' obsession with destroying God's creation will certainly be rewarded with the wrath of the Almighty! They are so driven by greed that they have made God their enemy! Behold, the time is near for them to reap the harvest for the evil they have sown!

  • KARMA BELIEVER

    TA ANN……HAMID SEPAWI…….WHY SO GREEDY TO DESTROY TASMANIA.

  • http://sarawakcorruption.com Watch Dog

    WELL DONE SR, YOU ARE OUR DARLING. MORE PLEASE. MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND ALSO CONTINUE WITH RFS

  • Satelite Watch

    YES….WELL DONE RFS,WE WILL SUPPORT.

  • JFK

    I cannot understand how this Taik joker is not antu pala yet. Remove TM permanently and majority of problem is largely solved. Kids come next.

  • Mike Harrod

    Having visited Ta Ann's operations in Tasmania, I can confirm David Ridley's statement that Ta Ann are unable to process old growth logs, so there would be little point in felling them.

    • Blunt Speaker

      Conservation is what we need to save Mother Earth from further damages and global warming! Put all the culprits behind bars and consficate all their illegal earnings. Put a stop to wanton destruction of forests, nature and all living creatures by greedy corrupt men, who have no compassion for others, but only self interests their very motive!

  • Huon Valley woman

    This tripe about not using old growth is more greenwash. The fact is that to supply Ta Ann, forest coupes are cut over destroying old growth trees and younger trees in the complex natural forest which in many cases has never been logged before – even if it is called 'regrowth'(this is because the definition of regrowth includes any area subject to a wildfire in the last 80 years – a natural occurrence in these ecosystems). Of course all of this is not used by Ta Ann. A lot never even leaves the forest as in the photograph, and eventually is burnt in massive fires deliberately lit by the forest agency. But the point is that this area of forest has been destroyed because of Ta Ann's demand, and their insistence on using wood from natural forests. They require access, whiuch means that all of it will be destroyed and they only take certain trees from all that destruction.

    I live in the valley where much of this logging happens and it is an awful impact for the community and the natural world. Furthermore there is no financial benefit to the taxpayers of Tasmania.

    • Blunt Speaker

      Huon valley woman, get all the support you people need to protect your forests and land from these robbers and PLUNDERERS! Make a formal complaint to the authorities and government agencies concerned. If so required, collectively render the services of a good lawyer to put those ruthless men to book!

  • Termites

    Bring more woods in so i can eat more. *sarcasm to dead*

  • http://sarawakcorruption.com Watch Dog

    I hope that GREENPEACE and Europe to impose CARBON Taxes on Malaysian wood as these wood are extracted at the native expanse.

  • http://sarawakcorruption.com Shaking Steven

    EIDAI..is mad,mad,mad..

    I do hope that the Japanese NGOs will press for heavy carbon tax on Ta Ann and other Sarawakian Companies as timber extracted are by dubious means at the natives expanse.

    Hope that the Japanese NGOs will read this and press their Government for heavy Carbon tax for destroying the virgin tropical forest.

    Heavy Carbon Tax on Sarawak Timber & Timber products please JAPS!!!

  • Orang Kita

    Is it not true that Taib is so desperate these days that he even encroached the Indonesia borders and got their military all fired up? Yes he can bully the docile Dayaks but the Indonesians are another kettle of fish. Dont be surprised to see the White Snake kissing Bambang's feet soon…………..

    • http://sarawakcorruption.com Shaking Steven

      Orang kita..yes,it's true.He allows his cronies to do that stealing timber from across the border too.Everyone knows it but who denies it??

      That is NOT desperate but pure GREED!!

  • bucklynn rimbar

    taib was never there without us dayak puting him there.who is the majority in sarawak not chinese malays or indians,certainly not melanau but the dayaks(sea dayaks and land dayaks).we put him there cos our dayak leaders know dat if they themselve are in the position the other dayaks would go after them,pul them down(people hates jabu,same goes with masing or mawan or gramong etc),i mean we jus hate our leaders n seems that they need to be so perfect,are we ourselve are.

    PUT TAIB THERE AND LET HIM HAV THE POSITION AND THE BLAME BUT THE DAYAKS LEADERS ARE ABLE TO MAINTAIN THEMSELVES AND GET ENUF SHARES FOR THEMSELVE.

    ITS WIN WIN SITUATION,BUT IF TAJAM IS THERE, OTHERS DAYAKS WOULD DO ALL THE EFFORT TO PULL HIM DOWN OR OTHERS FOR THAT MATTER.ANY DAYAKS LEADERS FOR DAT MATTER.WE DAYAKS ARE BUNCH OF PHD(PERASAAN HASRAT DENGKI)EVEN AMONG OURSELVES.

    Let see the actual situation in sarawak beside the corruption.cos everywhere u go there is corruption but the actual political scenario,its not jus getting rid of taib n we don hav a problem anymore.i think we hav more problems then anything,we might hav civil unrest.who can contained sarawak races without the infighting among themselve,the parties/political leaders/politicians/ethnic groupins etc.

    I m not saying this is support of taib or anyone for that matter but the pressing situation on the ground among the people of sarawak; especially the dayaks.there is no unity and a focus effort to really work for the betterment of sarawak.its just taib tis n taib dat.there must be a holistic

    view cos wen taib really is gone from the surface of sarawak wat next.its not jus getting rid of this leader and dat leader.there must be a focal point of reference for our moral and values among the sarawakians so dat corruption and maladministration can be marginalized.

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