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People power against corrupt business: Tasmania's forests and Gunns

Tasmania's forests are among the oldest and tallest in the world, and belong to all Australians, not to logging and woodchipping companies. We fought a hard fight against Gunns in stopping their proposed pulp mill – and won. Gunns is an example of what we can do together for our wilderness as we stand up against unsustainable businesses.

In the late 1970s, Tasmania experienced a major push to become the world’s largest exporter of wood chips for paper production. The forest destruction was set to take on an unprecedented scale. For the last thirty years we have been at the forefront of defending Tassie's forests, and one of the highlights of these efforts was our victory against the Gunns' pulp mill.

Planned as one of the largest pulp mills in the world, Gunns' project represented a toxic environmental and social threat to Tasmanian communities of unprecedented proportions. While Gunns' public discourse described how they planned on stopping chips export and using them to feed the mill, it turned out their plan was to cut down even more trees, and destroy native forests to feed their industry.

Gunns launched a preemptive strike against the Wilderness Society and the environmental movement by suing twenty people and organisations committed to defending the forests. This attack failed in distracting us from protecting Tasmania.

When Gunns realised that it couldn't afford to build the pulp mill adhering to environmental and health standards, it tried to influence the government, who agreed to fast-track the approval processes for the project. This is when thousands of you joined us in standing up for what's right. 

Mass rallies, media outreach, public outcry and corporate campaigns following the money and engaging investors emerged in Tasmania and moved to the mainland, garnering support from celebrities and everyday people. Community pressure would not allow the pulp mill to go ahead.

This campaign highlighted the fundamental change needed in the industry, and made it very clear that Australians will not tolerate big business manipulating governments. It also proved yet again that any corrupt company putting its profits ahead of the wellbeing of our land, water, people and wildlife will be overpowered by the people of Australia.