Gunns welcomes historic Tasmanian Forests Statement of Principles

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Gunns welcomes historic Tasmanian Forests Statement of Principles

October 18, 2010 - 20:41
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TASMANIA, Australia, Oct. 19, 2010 (Press Release) -Gunns Limited Chief Executive Greg L'Estrange said the company welcomed today's historic Tasmanian Forest Statement of Principles.

The statement, which was released today by industry and environmental groups, is intended to end the long-running conflict between the industry and environmental groups by implementing an immediate moratorium on logging high conservation value forests.

The principles set out a framework to reach an agreement that would eventually end native forest logging in Tasmania and transition to a plantation-based industry.

Mr L'Estrange said the agreement was a momentous step and was aligned with Gunns' existing strategy of moving towards becoming a fully plantation-based company.

The statement also recognised the importance of a pulp mill as part of the creation of a strong, sustainable, plantation timber industry.

"These principles will lead to certainty for the environment and certainty for continued jobs, with the acknowledgment that the construction of a pulp mill and the jobs it will create is critical to the transition to a plantation-based industry," Mr L'Estrange said.

Mr L'Estrange said Gunns was very supportive of ending long-standing community conflict, and recognised its social responsibility in providing the catalyst for the creation of a modern forest industry in Tasmania.

"A plantation-based industry is fundamental for the future of the forest industry in Tasmania, and an important part of that modern industry is the Bell Bay pulp mill," he said.

"We will continue to consult with the community, and other groups not party to this statement of principles, in relation to the Bell Bay pulp mill.

"However we must be clear that while these principles have been driven by the community, there are financial and social consequences to it.

"We will be working during the next few weeks to quantify those consequences and begin planning how we can minimise them during the transition. Our prime concern during this process will be to provide a clear path forward for our employees and contractors.

"We will be working closely with the Federal and State Governments to ensure our employees and stakeholders are adequately looked after.

"This needs to move forward as quickly as possible to provide certainty to our employees, their families and the communities in which they live."

Mr L'Estrange said the company would provide a further update to the market on the implementation of the principles at its annual general meeting in November.