PROTECT THE foRESTs
Tasmania’s government is proposing to allow logging in high conservation value forests that were promised future protection under the abandoned Tasmanian Forest Agreement.
The government will be changing the designation of these forests to ‘production forest land’ and seeking private sector logging companies, forest managers and growers to log that land. Forestry Tasmania will be renamed ‘Sustainable Timber Tasmania’ and will maintain logging within areas known as ‘Permanent Timber Production Zones’ (PTPZ). This sleight of hand arrangement to establish two separate legislated logging zones has been proposed by the government so that Forestry Tasmania can continue to hope for Forest Stewardship Council certification for their area, while private companies log forests that would not qualify.
In 2012, an independent expert verification group assessed 390,000 hectares of Tasmania’s forests as high conservation value. The reservation of these forests was postponed to the never-never during the Tasmanian Forest Agreement legislation, when they were designated ‘future reserves’. When the Tasmanian Liberal party gained government in 2014 they predictably repealed the Tasmanian Forest Agreement and instead categorised these forests as ‘future potential production forest’, allowing logging in 2020. Conservationists remain opposed to logging these forests.
Now, the Tasmanian Liberal government intends to bring forward logging in these forests to July 2018. Legislation to do so will be introduced in early 2017. Only 35,000 hectares of unreserved World Heritage forests will be left in limbo. The Minister claims that although contracted harvest volumes could be supplied from within the Forestry Tasmania PTPZ, it is too expensive to do so. In other words, current logging commitments are not financially viable. In fact, Forestry Tasmania advised the Minister that to avoid future losses, he should cut the clearly unsustainable sawlog quota by a third.
Additionally, plans for rainforest logging to occur in these forests were legislated by the Tasmanian Liberal government, enabling logging inside existing rainforest reserves. This rainforest logging is under the guise of supplying specialty species and expected to begin as early as October 2017, under a new Special Species Timbers Management Plan. The government is now also urging logging informal reserves for rainforest species within the Forestry Tasmania logging zone.