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Interim peace deal brokered in Tasmania
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An interim forest peace deal was announced in Tasmania but there is still no agreement on wood supply or forest reserves. Industry and environmental groups have been negotiating for two years and have twice extended the talks beyond their initial deadlines. Sources: The Tasmanian Mercury
The deal is not a final agreement, which the signatories say should be delivered after about another four weeks. The agreement comes after Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke spent the weekend in Tasmania trying to facilitate a deal.
The Inter-governmental Agreement on Forestry is aimed at ending the dispute that has dominated debate for 30 years.
It is understood industry wants stronger guarantees from environmental groups that the industry would not be undermined in overseas markets in the future by groups other than signatories.
Such an agreement would bind conservationist groups outside the discussions to not actively undermine the agreement. It would include a pledge that conservationists would not oppose Forest Stewardship Council certification.
The union, timber industry and environment groups involved in the talks said they had reached agreement on a vision for the state's native forests, including industry restructuring and a body to oversee lasting implementation of any final deal.
Missing from the agreement is any deal on reserve sizes or timber volumes.
What has been agree to is:
• Tasmania needs a forestry industry using native and plantation timbers.
• More areas of native forest with important conservation values should be protected.
• Signatories will support the final agreement, including markets for Tasmanian timber.
• A sawlog contract buy-back scheme should start immediately as part of the industry restructure.
• Affected workers, contractors and communities should receive government support.
• The industry should transition to more use of plantations.
• Governments should find ways of supporting timber "residue" industries rather than all woodchips being exported.
• New forest reserves should be created.
• A dispute resolution mechanism should be set up to deal with complaints.
• The indigenous community should be engaged on the forests issue.
What is still in the pipeline:
• The implementation of a voluntary industry restructure program.
• Modelling to determine how many hectares should be reserved to continue wood supply to industry.
• More mechanisms to ensure the deal lasts.
• Options for using timber residues profitably.