The Australian Environment Foundation (AEF) was established by the corporate-funded think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). According to SourceWatch, the address and phone number for the AEF's website registration are the same as the address and phone number for the Victorian office of the logging industry front group, Timber Communities Australia.
AEF presents itself as a membership-based environment group that takes "an evidence-based, solution focused approach to environmental issues". Some of the issues it has canvassed include support for genetically engineered food crops, the claim that Australian fisheries are over-regulated, support for a pulp mill in Tasmania, and support for nuclear energy. It has also set up a website, Listen to Us, to campaign against the governents proposed greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme, complete with a petition and e-cards to send to Senators.
AEF supports multiple-use of the environment ('wise-use') and 'sustainable' use of wildlife rather than conservation or preservation of natural areas. Executive director of AEF, Max Rheese, argues:
If we accept it is generally desirable that more of our public land and biodiversity is protected, but that the easier to declare areas are already in the parks estate, further expansion will be at the expense of multiple use public land. More likely than not, further reservation will be at the expense of restrictions on local rural communities, who in many cases will have either been managing local forests or utilising them through grazing, bee keeping or timber harvesting for more than 150 years, with little or no option for alternative income.
In 2005 Don Burke, presenter of the gardening programme, Burke's Backyard, became chair of AEF. He declared "The battle to save the world will be won by co-operation and collaboration, not by protests or the worrying scare tactics used by an obsolete conservation movement to befuddle the public". In 2008 Burke became a special environment advisor to the forestry company Gunns.
The AEF has lobbied for Tasmanian forests to be taken off the world heritage protection listing so that they can be logged. AEF also opposed wind farms and climate change science.