Harvey Norman Attacked for Logging Practices
Retail giant Harvey Norman has come under fire for their timber sourcing habits, with the company using timber from native Australian old growth forests as well as Indonesian rainforest timber in their furniture. Elizabeth McArthur reports.
The ongoing campaign driven by activist group Markets for Change came to a head when three protesters recently scaled the Sydney Opera House to unravel a banner reading “No Harvey No- stop selling Aussie forest destruction.”
Louise Morris, campaigns manager at Markets for Change said, “From floor surveys we have conducted in Harvey Norman an average of 70% of the wood products found in their stores were Australian native forest wood products.”
Miss Morris maintains that, “It is the responsibility of retailers to implement procurement policies that rule out selling high conservation value Australian native forest products- instead moving to plantation based products.
“Well managed plantations are a viable alternative to logging of native old growth forests.
“Mixed specie plantations grown in appropriate areas are the perfect way to supply our wood and paper needs, while leaving native forests to be carbon and biodiversity stores and to act as watersheds, which is what they do best.”
In response to the campaign Gerry Harvey said, on ABC radio, “You know, I’m trying my best to use recycled timber or timber from plantations and not old forests.
“But every now and again something will slip through and I’ll be caught using timber from old forests, but it well could be timber that the Government in fact has told saw millers that they can actually – they can take it. They’ve got a certificate to take it.
“So it’s a little bit dicey sometimes.”
However Mr. Harvey’s claims have been questioned by Get Up who recently posted on their website, “the reality is – Harvey Norman has contracts with loggers in Tasmania, NSW, Victoria and WA to source wood from our most precious native forests.
“Harvey Norman has started using industry spin and a dodgy industry certification scheme to try and deflect mounting public pressure and protests.”
Get Up is continuing to ask the public to sign a petition with the goal of Harvey Norman agreeing not to source timber for high conservation value forests.
They aim to circulate the petition to every Harvey Norman store in Australia, in the hope that franchise owners will take notice even if the larger company doesn’t change their policy.
Harvey Norman is not the only retailer who sources material from high conservation value forests; earlier this year envelopes from Kmart were found to contain Indonesian rainforest wood.
When asked why Harvey Norman was specifically targeted for the campaign Ms Morris said, “Harvey Norman was chosen as a campaign focus as they are Australia’s largest furniture and electrical retailer, with stores in other countries as well.
“The Harvey Norman campaign is an ongoing one whereby we are working to the aim of Harvey Norman implementing procurement policies that rule out the selling of native forests products in their stores.”