Forest Protection Society/
Timber Communities Australia
The Forest Protection Society (FPS) was established in 1987 with the support of the Forest Industry Campaign Association whose executive officer claimed the funds were just to get it started but that it would be an independent community group. Yet some years later about 80% of the Society’s funding was still coming from the Association.
The Forest Protection Society shared the same postal address as the National Association of Forest Industries, uses an industry spokesperson as a contact for job advertisements and used the services of Burson-Marsteller. Yet the Forest Protection Society was listed as an ‘Environmental Protection Organisation' in the 1994 Directory of Australian Association. It’s fact sheets promoted logging in rain-forests as “one of the best ways to ensure that the rain-forests are not destroyed.” Bob Burton claims to have uncovered minutes of a Forest Protection Society meeting where ways to take over meetings of local environment groups and distract them from their campaigning were discussed.
The Forest Protection Society aimed to "Provide a national grassroots voice for people associated with or supportive of Australia's forest-based industries." Its national director, Chris Althaus, was a forestry graduate and founding staff member of the National Association of Forest Industries (NAFI) as well as Director of Market Development for NAFI.
The Forest Protection Society changed its name to Timber Communities Australia for the following reasons:
"Over the years questions were often asked about the words "forest protection" as part of the organisation's identity. It was quite simple really, the FPS reflected all that was "protection" - protection of forests, protection of communities, protection of history and heritage, protection of livelihoods, families, individuals and jobs.
At the end of the last century and after a lot of careful consideration and discussion the FPS changed its name to Timber Communities Australia Ltd in an effort to affiliate the organisation more closely with their community roots. The aims, aspirations and structure all stayed the same as TCA continued to press for sustainable growth in our forests, timber communities and industries.
TCA's concerns remain with promoting "productive conservation" in the forests sector and countering the misinformation promoted by those who seek to impose unrealistic, unfair and unnecessary levels of forest preservation and deny economic and community growth opportunities."
TCA and NAFI both have offices at Forest Industries House in Canberra. Despite its claim to be a grassroots organisation its funding comes mainly from the forestry industry with only a few percent coming from members. NAFI also pays TCA's staff. Only 14 of TCA's 55 branches even held meetings in the financial year 2001/2.
According to Australian Greens Senator, Bob Brown:
Since its inception in 1987, TCA has been positioned as the voice of the little people caught between the conservation movement, governments and the large woodchip companies. It purports to be the authentic voice of those who are merely seeking to make a living and keep their jobs, to feed their families. Its advertisements feature stereotypes of the hard-working family--craftspeople, bee keepers, people in truck-stop cafes and children in the bush with their grandparents. Its web page says it is a grassroots organisation which `exists to encourage the sensible, balanced multiple use of our forests for the benefit of all Australians.
In fact, it is the brainchild and mouthpiece of NAFI, the National Association of Forest Industries, headquartered in Canberra, the lobby group of Australia's logging and woodchip corporations.
TCA has supported the establishment of a pulp mill in Tasmania despite claims by environmentalists that it will result in the logging of too much of the state's forests.
- 'Timber Communities Australia', SourceWatch
Articles critical of FPS/TCA
- Bob Burton, 'Wise Guys Down Under: PR's Eco-front Moves on Australia', PR Watch 4(4), 1997.
- Bob Brown, 'Timber Communities Australia', Senate Hansard, February 11, 2004