Following the misrepresentations of forestry by green campaigners on the ABC’s Difference of Opinion, the National Association of Forest Industries says the Tasmanian forest industry is carbon positive and has pointed to credible science in order to back its claims.

A number of “environmental activists” are not telling the whole story about how Australia’s production forests are carbon positive.

Credible science from the CRC for Greenhouse Accounting tells us that Australia’s commercial plantations and production native forests remove a net 43.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year. In 2005, Tasmania’s forest industry was recorded to have absorbed 2.1 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere.

In actual fact, the proposed Tasmanian pulp mill will itself reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 1.1 million tonnes per annum in carbon equivalent emissions. This substantial reduction arises because the mill produces surplus power from sustainable biomass that will replace other electricity sources that are derived from fossil fuels, and because exporting pulp rather than woodchips results in a large reduction in emissions from ships used to transport woodchips. The positive greenhouse balance of the pulp mill has been independently verified by leading experts in meteorology, Pacific Air and Environment, and is based on evidence and fact.

However, anti-pulp mill campaigners are purposefully ignoring this undeniable scientific evidence in order to create a “campaign issue” this election.

Australia needs pulp to make paper. Green campaigners would rather see Australians import products from countries like Indonesia, whose illegal logging and forest clearing for agriculture has made it the third largest contributor to climate change in the world.

It is important that Australia fulfil its international responsibilities and does not encourage unsustainable land-clearing practices overseas. It is appalling that the “pro-environment campaigners” are effectively advocating for increased importation of forest products from countries with poor track records in forest management and pulp mills with much older technology.

The pulp mill debate needs to take a change in direction and face the crucial fact – Australia must act as a responsible global citizen and build a world-class pulp mill to feed our appetite for paper products.