Thursday, April 28, 2011

ethical paper pledge for yarra ranges

report from the round table - 27th april

At this week's council meeting I moved a motion for Yarra Ranges to support the Ethical Paper pledge.

The motion:

1. That the Shire of Yarra Ranges sign the Ethical Paper pledge;

2. That the Shire of Yarra Ranges sponsor the attached motion* for adoption at the Municipal Association of Victoria State Council meeting on 26 May 2011.

*(note wording referred to in item 2 is: That the MAV "promote environmental and sustainable outcomes" as per its procurement policy by taking the following actions: a) signing the Ethical Paper Pledge; b) implementing the Ethical Paper Pledge in its purchasing and procurement practices; c) recommending that all MAV member Councils also sign and implement the Pledge.)

In speaking to the motion I spoke about the Shire's procurement policy, the financial impact on procurement and the ecological issues associated with logging our forests for pulp.

The motion is a public recognition of the position Yarra Ranges currently takes. We do not purchase copy paper with any native forest content (be it native forest from this country or overseas). By signing the pledge there would be no financial impact on our procurement as we don't buy these unsustainable products.

Our procurement policy is clearly defined in relation to Sustainable Procurement, it states "Council is committed to the principles of sustainable and environmental procurement when buying giving consideration to: Minimising environmental impacts of the goods and services over their whole of life; Suppliers socially and evironmentally responsible practices".

I have been told by executives of Australian Paper that 19% of their paper pulp is sourced from native forests, native forests in the Central Highlands and in the Water Catchments in Yarra Ranges (among others too). So every sheet of Reflex paper contains 19% native forest. It doesn't have to be this way, plantation timber is available to fulfill the supply chain and would mean that our beautiful native forests wouldn't be destroyed to make paper.

Past Freedom of Information applications have revealed that up to 85% of logged native forest went to woodchip, that's too much of our forest being pulped, putting at risk biodiversity and water supply.

Vegetation clearing contributes to 19% of greenhouse gas emissions world wide. The Mountain Ash forests of the Central Highlands have been shown to be the most carbon dense in the world, and yet they are logged for paper pulp.

Logging of our native forests in the Central Highlands puts at risk threatened species like Victoria's faunal emblem, Leadbeater's Possum, now at critical levels with less than 1,000 left in the wild and no captive breeding programs. Species such as the Sooty Owl and Barred Galaxias are also at risk and impacted by logging operations in the Central Highlands.

Plantation timber is an option, there is enough plantation timber to completely substitute the native forest content of Australian Paper's Reflex.

This motion is about a commitment to ethical purchasing and ensuring that paper purchased does not contain native forest.

We still hear from the industry that logging is sustainable, but as the pressure of carbon management, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting biodiversity, securing water supply grows greater every day it is hard to justify the ongoing clearfelling of our native forests for paper pulp.

Councillors supporting the motion:

Crs Samantha Dunn, Jeanette McRae, Len Cox, Tim Heenan, Terry Avery, Richard Higgins and Graham Warren.

Councillors against the motion:

Cr Chris Templer

Councillors absent:

Cr Noel Cliff

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