Timber company Radial Timber from Victoria has been threatened with referral to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) into 'false and misleading advertising targeting architects', says a local green group.
“Radial Timber is growing, drying, milling and selling all it is own product. We are in controlled (sic) of where the timber comes from and how it is processed,” the site says.
But a group of local farmers – including one that staged a dramatic naked protest - says it has written to the ACCC after loggers moved into the Alberton West State Forest in southern Victoria, disputing the claims.
Local resident Marian Macdonald alledges that Radial Timber "must have been aware that they was sourcing timber from a coupe that was home to seven threatened or endangered species."
“VicForests and DELWP surveys show there are the vulnerable Powerful Owl, threatened Southern Greater Glider, vulnerable Clover Glycine, endangered Cobra Greenhood, critically endangered Marsh Sun Orchid and endangered Velvet Apple-berry in the coupe.”
“The coupe is also home to healthy Strzelecki koalas, providing critical genetic diversity after koalas were brought from islands following their near-extinction in Victoria. They are so important, private forestry company HVP would not allow this logging operation in its forests.”
“Now that the bulldozers are moving in, he says he doesn’t know where his timber comes from, that Radial Timber relies 100 percent on wood from native forests because none of Radial Timber’s wood is being drawn from plantations, and that he dare not turn away a log truck in case VicForests won’t deliver more," she says.
“This is totally opposite to the green platitudes Radial Timber uses to sell its cladding to Australian architects and designers, who buy this product in good faith, and would no doubt be mortified if they could see where the timber comes from,” she says.
The group says it is calling on the regulator to take action against Radial Timber on the grounds of 'false and misleading advertising'.
However accoriding to Chris McEvoy from the company, "Radial Timber has never inferred that we only mill plantation hardwood. In fact because there was none planted commercially in Victoria it was the stimulus for us to purchase degraded farmland and start planting 17 years ago to date we have invested nearly 10 million in this venture and are still to harvest a tree."
"This forest wasn't old growth and they it wasn't a clear fell operation," he says.
"It was retention harvesting to make the forest more resilient to fire , they put exclusion zones around identified habitat and followed by the book all the relevant stringent environmental obligations.They also met with the 2 concerned land owners (including Marion) and went through all of this with them. Marion was still not happy and demanded they stop," says McEvoy.
"We now have about 2000 hectares of spotted gum, iron bark ,yellow stringing bark and hope that our first logs will be harvested within the next decade.It is our plan to be self sufficient with our own plantation logs and bio energy from our waste, a full circle economy business.High value timber sawlogs takes time 25-30 years for the trees to grow minimum"
"Radial timbers vision and plan is well know throughout the building industry and professional association like institute of architects," McEvoy concludes.
Note: Since this story was first published, Architecure & Design has been informed this clear fell operation did not go ahead.
Image: Vic Forests moved into Alberton West State Forest on Hedley Range Road this morning / Friends of Alberton Wests Forest vai Facebook.