Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott set the cat among the pigeons -- or the chainsaw among the trees – on March 4 when, speaking at a forestry industry dinner, he said Australia had “too much” protected forest. Abbott called foresters the “ultimate conservationists” and suggested 74,000 hectares of protected forest in Tasmania be unlocked for use. Was he playing to the gallery? It would sound so. However, the deafening silence from the industry itself in the next day’s media was more telling than predictable outrage by environmentalists and the Greens, Australia’s left-leaning environmentalist party. Many in the industry do not wish for a return to the rabid environmental protests of the past.
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