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Survey shows understanding of forestry improving

Less than eight per cent of Tasmanians support illegal forest protests a new survey has shown.

The lack of support for protests was revealed in a telephone survey of 600 people undertaken in March by Enterprise Marketing & Research Services (EMRS) on public perceptions about Forestry Tasmania.

Forestry Tasmania managing director Bob Gordon said the survey showed environmentalists’ tactics had alienated the community.

“This was evident particularly in relation to the protests in the upper Florentine Valley earlier this year,” he said.

“The public is now more aware that the behaviour of protestors was both irresponsible and orchestrated, and that it prevented forestry workers from going about their work to sustainably harvest part of the small section of the area approved for forest management.”

Mr Gordon said he was encouraged people’s understanding of some forestry issues had improved.

“The message appears to be getting through that Forestry Tasmania does not use 1080 poison and no longer converts native forest to plantation.

“However, some of the myths perpetuated by the Greens appear rusted on. The majority still do not realise that FT is profitable and almost one in three think harvested forests are permanently stripped of trees.”

Mr Gordon said the Going Bush television series had played a significant role in improving community understanding about Forestry Tasmania.

“One in three Tasmanians watched the series and about half of those surveyed indicated they would like a DVD of the series when it becomes available early next month.

“The community is cynical about the information it gets from the media but they have taken to the Going Bush program because it’s entertaining and it’s informative.

“There will be a third series, but it will be run after the next state election to avoid any suggestion that it’s an attempt to influence the political process.

“I am happy to release the Going Bush contract, but the cost will remain confidential because it has the potential to compromise the commercial competitiveness of the television station involved,” Mr Gordon said.

Mr Gordon said one of the most positive results of the survey was public perception of Forestry Tasmania as a socially responsible organisation.

“Almost 60% rated Forestry Tasmania highly as a good corporate citizen,” he said.

“I could not be happier with Forestry Tasmania’s standing in the community. However, we will continue to look at how we are reporting to the community.

“For example, we are seeking Government permission to release our financial results as soon as they become available, rather than waiting for the annual report to be tabled.

“The annual report too will be different – it will measure in frank and forthright terms our actual performance against the targets we have set.

“It will be modelled very much on our Sustainable Forest Management report, which has received widespread praise for its honest appraisal of FT’s performance.

“If there’s one thing we have learnt through these surveys, it is that people want clear, straight forward information.”