RADICAL green groups have accused peak environmental bodies involved in forestry peace negotiations of failing to represent the conservation movement's interests.
A letter written by The Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation to timber company Ta Ann's Japanese companies is at the heart of a damaging split with Markets for Change and the Huon Valley Environment Centre.
The letter asked customers not to make ``any decisions that could adversely affect Tasmanian suppliers'' during the sensitive negotiations.
Markets for Change spokeswoman Peg Putt said yesterday that the letter, sent last month, undermined campaigns to save high conservation value forests. ``They're basically suffering from Stockholm syndrome,'' Ms Putt said.
``They have been captured by the industry and the industry's concerns. They are not in that letter expressing concern for the high conservation value forests.''
Ms Putt said it reduced the chances of securing permanent protection of forests through the floundering peace talks.
``Why you would throw away everything and go and advocate a continuing trade in forest destruction before you even had any commitment to forest protection?'' she asked. ``That is madness in terms of negotiation technique.''
The Huon Valley Environment Centre's Jenny Weber said her organisation had once worked closely with the peak bodies who were responsible for the current split.
``We're very concerned that these peak bodies now are not actually representing the conservation of Tasmanian forests,'' she said.
Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley played down the letter's significance, describing it as an extension of the organisations' public calls for clear space to give the negotiations a chance to succeed.
``We're confident that if we can get an outcome that protects forests it'll be welcomed by people across the movement not only in Tasmanian but across Australia,'' Mr Bayley said.
He vowed to write again to Ta Ann's customers with a different message if the talks failed.
Australian Greens leader Christine Milne warned that the split between environment groups was unhelpful and that sending the letter was not a wise tactical move.
``Anyone knows the leverage you have in a negotiation is as a result of the hard work of activists out in the forests, and ACF and TWS would have been better to remember that,'' she said.
Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim refused to take sides.
Resources Minister Bryan Green said the letter was a good sign that a final agreement would be durable, despite the backlash from radical groups.