Green activists play tag with Harvey Norman

harvey norman tagA green protest group has targeted Harvey Norman with a campaign claiming that the homeware retailer is destroying Australian hardwood forests.

Activists from The Last Stand have been visiting Harvey Norman stores and placing tags on furniture that appear to be an in-store competition run by the brand.

The tags read ‘Find out how you can win’ and invites consumers to scan a QR code.

When scanned, the QR code actually directs to a YouTube video showing the destruction caused by logging native forests.

The tags are downloadable from the group’s website and are designed to allow anyone to participate. The organisation invites people to send in photos of tagged furniture that it will display on its Flickr page.

Nicola Paris from Last Stand said “If Harvey Norman won’t tell the truth to their customers, we will.”

A statement from the organisation claims: “The wood for all of [Harvey Norman’s] native Australian furniture and flooring ranges comes from what little remains of high conservation valued forests in Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and West Australia. in many cases these forests are clearfelled, burnt and endangered animals habitat destroyed. We want Harvey Norman to look into plantation and recycled furniture.”

The retail franchise has come under fire from environmental activists in the past, with a campaign run by Get Up criticising its environmental credentials last year.

Harvey Norman could not reached for comment at the time of going to press.


  1. Adrian
    17 Apr 12
    1:07 pm

  2. If the wood is from “high conservation valued forests in Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and West Australia”, can someone explain who makes this classification and which, if any, laws have been broken in harvesting the timber?

  3. TR
    17 Apr 12
    1:53 pm

  4. Think you miss the point Adrian. It’s an ethical not legal stand. It’s not against hte law to bulldoze vast swathes of indonesian rainforests for palm oil plantations, but that doesn’t mean it’s a nice thing to do.

  5. Offal Spokesperson
    17 Apr 12
    1:54 pm

  6. I support the green groups efforts, i just hope the tags are printed on recycled paper

  7. Devil's advocaat
    17 Apr 12
    1:56 pm

  8. A great idea apart from the QR codes – don’t they want someone to actually see their campaign?

  9. Jack Bruce
    17 Apr 12
    2:00 pm

  10. I wouldn’t exactly call the above image harvesting….more like total devastation…nong

  11. lol
    17 Apr 12
    2:02 pm

  12. No one scans QR codes. Especially HN customers.

  13. @Freocookster
    17 Apr 12
    2:04 pm

  14. Wow, regardless of the politics, what a great use of QR code technology!

  15. bill gates
    17 Apr 12
    2:11 pm

  16. what is a QR code…is it a rail booking in brisbane ?

  17. Veronika
    17 Apr 12
    2:14 pm

  18. Would be great if you had any results from this campaign… currently with 200ish views on YouTube make me question if QR codes were the best way to capture the not so tech savvy Harvey Norman clientele.

  19. buyer
    17 Apr 12
    2:15 pm

  20. This is brilliant, but most of the people here are right….QR codes are pointless.

  21. sofakingwetoddit
    17 Apr 12
    2:17 pm

  22. what are QR codes?? oh yeah, that pixelated image that no one uses.

  23. Nicola Paris
    17 Apr 12
    2:28 pm

  24. TR has a great point. It is not currently against the law, but we are seeing increasing evidence that government agencies are mishandling, over cutting and not being sustainable in any way in how they handle logging practice.

    That is in part why we are focused on markets – they can drive a real change.

    We take on board some folks views that the QR codes are not used by lots of people but it sure was a worthwhile effort to give it a try – lots of people are talking about it.

    If you have any great ideas for how an organisation like ours can make a positive impact on one of the biggest retailers in Australia – do drop us a line :)

    And yes we do use recycled paper, and recommend anyone who is participating to do the same – if you are interested in info about ethical brands for yourselves, there is great info here:


    Nicola – The Last Stand

  25. Adrian
    17 Apr 12
    2:46 pm

  26. TR, an ethical stand is all well and good and may even have my support. But emotive language with shaky factual basis is the trademark of those arguing without wanting their argument questioned. My question stands.

  27. north freo
    17 Apr 12
    3:40 pm

  28. this HN timber can’t be from WA.. our forest (such as Warrup-home to endangered numbats) is logged then downgraded from A grade to C grade because the government supported forestry industry doesn’t know how to sell. once its C grade it can be chipped. so can’t blame HN for this… then the same government spends millions on tourism advertising to send people to look at the forests the loggers are cutting down. ambidextrous nincompoops.

  29. no-one important
    17 Apr 12
    3:51 pm

  30. If an activist falls out of a tree in the woods, do they make a sound?

  31. TR
    17 Apr 12
    4:09 pm

  32. Adrian – your comment has a shaky factual basis. Yes – emotive language with a shaky facual basis is how a lot of people/pollies/current affairs shows/organisations with hidden agendas work – I just can’t see it here.

  33. Barry sucker horn
    17 Apr 12
    9:16 pm

  34. Ethics doesn’t come into furniture purchases. Thanks why ikea do so well. It’s all about price, design and instore experience

    The 10 people who actually scan the qr codes still miss the message and the point….but it got them some PR, job done

  35. Just wondering....
    17 Apr 12
    9:29 pm

  36. Are you going at the construction industry that uses the wood for building houses or just retailers like Jerry to piss them off in public?

  37. Nicola Paris
    18 Apr 12
    10:27 am

  38. Hiya.

    A few responses

    – We are well aware of the dodgy current practice in WA (I’m an ex freo gal and very fond of south west forests). They still take jarrah and marri sawlogs for furniture from some forest areas for furniture as well.

    – Although I can’t comment on the overall ethics of Ikea as a business, they actually seem to use much less native forest timbers on a first glance, which is interesting

    – And yes, as mentioned above, we anticipated there may not be a huge uptake in the codes (and also, with the level of interest this has gained we imagine the store managers will be checking fairly carefully so tags probably won’t stay up for long)…but it has been a worthwhile experiment, and has achieved a number of objectives for us

    – Harvey Norman claim their timber is sourced sustainably. They reference adherence to a discredited industry based certification (AFS). Current legal logging practices are unsustainable – this has been demonstrated recently in Tasmania in a high profile, detailed independent report, and similarly across the country. We would also argue that destroying endangered animal habitat is unsustainable. As environmentalists we are often attacked so we are very careful with our facts. If you let me know what the shaky facts you are referring to, I will try and answer your concerns

    – One of the reasons we are focused on Harvey Norman is that they are a leading retailer, and in making positive change they would provide a great example to others across a range of industries

    – If an activist falls out of a tree, they too say ouch.

    Nicola – The Last Stand

  39. A forester
    18 Apr 12
    10:30 am

  40. Nicola Paris

    Just because you don’t personally like something doesn’t mean it is wrong or environmentally damaging in the long term. If you want nice timber products a tree will have to be felled somewhere, thats a simple reality that needs to be accepted.

    It is highly misleading to show pictures of just-logged areas without acknowledging that they regrow into new forests and that most of the areas now being harvested in Australia are regrowth from earlier harvesting or from severe bushfires. Forests naturally grow and regrow, and harvesting a small portion for wood and then regrowing it fits well within this.

    Only 5% of Australian forests and woodlands are being managed for long term timber production, so this is hardly an environmental catastrophe. Where is your evidence of unsustainable practices? In fact timber production has steadiliy declined over the last 20 years largely as a result of expansion of national parks and reserves. In Victoria, the area of forest where timber harvesting is permitted has declined by two-thirds since 1986. To imply otherwise is highly deceitful, but then I guess well-paid career activists have to have something to campaign against to keep their job.

    Mark Poynter, Institute of Foresters of Australia

  41. A forester
    18 Apr 12
    2:32 pm

  42. To Nicola Paris again

    Your latest comment begs a few more questions:

    1. What is wrong with using WA jarrah and marri for furniture? They are two of the most decorative and durable timbers in the world and come from well managed forests. Would you prefer perhaps merbau harvested illegally from the rainforests of Indonesia and then not regenerated?

    2. You refer to “the discredited industry-based certification (AFS)” – in fact it is discredited only by environmental activists who understandably support their own standard, the FSC which was developed by the environmental movement. In fact the Australian Forestry Standard is a national scheme developed specifically for Australia whereas the FSC is an international scheme run from Germany! The AFS and other national schemes under the PEFC system certify far more more forest both in Australia and worldwide than the FSC, so why is it discredited?

    3. Unsustainable practices in Tasmania? – I suspect you know that Forestry Tasmania who manages the disputed forests has complained bitterly about that report citing a lack of understanding from those responsible for it. Hardly surprising really given that group who wrote it was chaired by an ex- Director of the Wilderness Society, while 4 of the 6 members of the group have links to the environmental movement which has formal policies calling for an end to Australian native timber production.

    4. Logging of endangered species habitat – whether a species is actually further endangered by logging depends on the proportion of forest being harvested and regenerated versus that in conservation reserves. The area in conservation reserves already dwarfs the area being managed for timber, and many of these species are not really effected by logging long term as they soon recolonise the regrowth eg. the long-footed potoroo in Victoria.

    Mark Poynter, Institute of Foresters of Australia