For all the rhetoric about John Howard’s expanded forestry deal in Tasmania, the best way to judge these things is often to look at the share price of cowboy tree lopper, Gunns Ltd, which fell another 7c this morning to $3.84 – well shy of its record high of almost $4.80 in the aftermath of John Howard’s election victory.

While Howard’s cynical deal with the loggers and the CFMEU helped secure a fourth term, he has now conceded some ground to the greens with Friday’s package that was unveiled after a stroll through the forest with Tasmanian Labor Premier Paul Lennon. The earlier phasing out of clear felling and ending the use of the 1080 chemical are important steps forward.

Media tart Greg Barns summed up the issues quite well in this piece for The Australian today. Bob Brown will never be happy but John Howard has taken some important steps forward, as is reflected in Gunns’s share price, although the company is still capitalised at $1.3 billion and remains very powerful because it’s almost ten times more valuable than any other Tasmanian-based company.

Crikey bought $500 worth of Gunns shares this morning and we’re looking forward to locking horns with its cowboy chairman John Gay again at this year’s AGM.