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Bob Brown Foundation triggers 19 coupes to be on-hold in Tasmania

Sustainable Timber Tasmania has agreed to pause forestry activity in 19 coupes in Tasmania, effective immediately. The Bob Brown Foundation launched legal action two weeks ago against STT, claiming its logging of native forests in Tasmania did not accord with the Regional Forest Agreements Act 2002. Source: Timberbiz

The BBF also lodged an injunction application on 30 September to the Federal Court, seeking to prevent forestry activity in the 19 coupes to stop the logging of trees “essential to Tasmania’s critically endangered swift parrot”.

Lawyers for the Foundation had recently foreshadowed they were considering filing an interim injunction to stop any logging which may impact the endangered swift parrot.

An STT spokesperson said it had “proactively and voluntarily” agreed to undertake the injunction in order to “assist the Federal Court in dealing with the case quickly”.

“The undertaking is given entirely without admission and solely for the purpose of avoiding a costly and time-consuming dispute regarding an injunction so that the Federal Court can focus on the case itself,” SST said.

The State Government, the Tasmanian Forest Products Association and the Australian Forest Products Association have backed sustainable Timber Tasmania’s decision.

The Tasmanian Government has said it has full confidence in the comprehensive Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) and is fully prepared to fight its legality in court in order to protect Tasmanian businesses, jobs and communities.

“I am advised that Sustainable Timber Tasmania are taking the proactive step, following consultation with industry, to suspend operations in a limited number of coupes,” resources minister Guy Barnett said.

“This will allow the case against the legality of the RFA by the Bob Brown Foundation to be brought forward and resolved sooner, to provide certainty for Tasmanian workers.’’

Mr Barnett said the move would provide certainty for forestry employees.

TFPA Chief Executive Officer Nick Steel said the Tasmanian forest industry was concerned about the extreme tactics the Bob Brown Foundation will take to try to end all native forestry, and now the public can see it for themselves.

“Unfortunately, the BBF continues to play games, even during a pandemic, with hard working Tasmanians’ livelihoods at a time when we need our industry the most,” Mr Steel said.

“The forest industry is sick and tired of the green ‘lawfare’ being conducted by the BBF, which includes challenging the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement that is an existential threat to any natural forest harvesting – State and privately owned.

“We have full confidence in the RFA that is underpinned by Tasmania’s world class Forest Practices Act and Code which prescribes forest management practices to ensure best practice environmental outcomes,” Mr Steel said.

AFPA acting CEO Mr Victor Violante commended STT for avoiding needless litigation by voluntarily agreeing not to harvest in the coupes that BBF had sought an injunction over.

“Activist groups like the BBF use ‘lawfare’ as a tactic to disrupt timber harvesting operations. In the interest of providing certainty for the thousands of Tasmanian forest industry workers who depend on our sustainable timber industry I urge all parties to ensure this matter is dealt with expeditiously,” Mr Violante said.

Mr Barnett said it beggared belief that “during the greatest health and economic crisis in a generation, the Bob Brown Foundation is escalating its campaign to damage our sustainably managed forest industry and put thousands of hard working Tasmanians out of work, destroying families and rural communities’’.

“We know the Greens don’t care about rural and regional Tasmania, but in the current environment, this is a new low – even worse than the job-destroying forestry deal under the Labor-Green Government that devastated communities and cost two out of every three jobs in the industry,” he said.

“Tasmanians can be reassured that our forests are sustainably managed with some of the most stringent environmental protections in the world.

“We are committed to improving practices while supporting this important sector that employs thousands of Tasmanians, injects more than $1.2 billion into our economy and supports regional communities and families across the State.”

A further directions hearing has been scheduled for Monday 19 October to progress the matter towards a hearing before the full court of the Federal Court.