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What's happened to the Tasmanian Forests Agreement?

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Christine Milne 10 Nov 2014

While the flow of taxpayers' money to the logging industry from the 2011 Tasmanian Forests Agreement was guaranteed, there was no legislated up-front conservation outcomes.

In September 2014, the Hodgman government announced $7 million would be available to buy loggers back into the industry. No other Australian workers have had more multi-million dollar payouts to stay in, exit, and stay in than Tasmanian loggers.

In August 2014 the Tasmanian Forest Bill was passed by the Tasmanian Parliament, allowing logging in 147 reserves (454,607 hectares) and 407 conservation areas (657,481 hectares) and making it more difficult for new reserves to be created in the future. It abandons 400,000 hectares of forest earmarked for protection under the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, with the land converting to Forestry Tasmania ownership in six years. The objectives of Conservation Areas and Regional Reserves will be changed to include logging for specialty species.

The TFA: now dead

When the Tasmanian Legislative Council's amendments passed, the Tasmanian Forest Agreement signatories obtained assurances from both the former ALP Commonwealth and Tasmanian governments concerning issues such as special-species logging and interim management of the future reserve land. Such assurances depend on the support and good will of the governments concerned and could not be relied upon beyond the state election.

It is now the task of the Greens and our supporters to continue to campaign for the protection of our native forests, and make sure that the full 493,482 ha,is actually protected and our timber industry is fully transitioned out of High Conservation Value native forest logging. The rest of the forests nominated for protection that are not part of the new Wilderness World Heritage areas will have a moratorium on logging and can only be reserved after October 2014. And then only if Forestry Tasmania achieves Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC) and incoming governments support the protection listings.

Many numbers have been reported as to what area of forest were to be protected in Tasmania as part of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement (TFA). The areas (totalling 493,482 ha, not 504,000 ha) can be broken down into the following categories:

• Wilderness World Heritage Southern Forest areas - approximately 170,000 ha - that UNESCO have listed as World Heritage (subject to further Legislative Council approval).

• An additional 390,000 ha for which reservation is effectively postponed to the never-never as it cannot proceed before FSC certification of Forestry Tasmania and is provisional on durability reports from the Special Council established as part of the TFA legislation.

When the Legislative Council's amendments passed, the TFA signatories obtained assurances from the then Labor Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments concerning special-species logging and interim management of the future reserve land. Such assurances relied on the good will of the governments concerned and cannot be relied upon now.

The Australian Greens have produced a comprehensive outline of the areas proposed for protection in the PDF at the bottom of this page. This table provides a context and a breakdown of the areas, timeframes, conditions and exceptions attached to forest protection, as stipulated in the Tasmanian Forests Agreement legislation that passed the Tasmanian Parliament in April 2013. Note; please use the curser to expand the table to increase the size of the text.

 

View the full table of by clicking on the download below.

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