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Friday analysis: It’s forestry that helps not hinders tourism industry

Bennetts Forest Reserve

It is a fact that many of the roads, parks, walking trails and bike paths in our native forest regions across Australia are only there because of the forestry industry. The industry keeps the roads and tracks clear, and, in many cases, helps fund and create facilities.

When tourists get lost or in trouble it’s often forestry industry employees who, with a detailed knowledge of the region, help out.

And then there are the bushfires. When these tourist areas are hit by fire, again it’s that local knowledge and equipment which comes to the fore.

The same applies to plantation timber regions.

In South Australia, for example, it was Forestry SA and funding from the Responsible Wood Small Grants Program which meant that two new trails at Bennett’s Forest Reserve in the Adelaide Hills were opened earlier this year.

That is just one example among many.

Sustainable Timber Tasmania helped with funding to get bike tracks up and off the ground.

So why bite the hand that feeds?

Why would 180 or so businesses in Tasmania – many of them tourism related or even dependant – sign an open letter calling for the protection of Tasmania’s native forests to safeguard the nature-based tourism sector and Brand Tasmania and have it tabled in the State Parliament?

They called for urgent action to stop the logging of Tasmania’s native forests which, it is worth pointing out, are maintained and kept open for the tourist industry by the forestry industry.

And, it is also worth pointing out, this work generally speaking is carried out at no cost to the tourism industry.

Tasmania’s Resources Minister Guy Barnett pointed out that a number of that State’s iconic tourism ventures are located on or adjacent to forestry land and have been for years.

Mr Barnett said this was part of a joint approach to work alongside one another for the mutual benefit and co-existence of both industries with many tourism establishments built from, and proudly displaying, sustainable Tasmanian timber.

Mr Barnett labelled the letter for what it was; the continued effort by the Greens to divide the Tasmanian community and stir up unrest.

The letter claimed shutting down the native timber industry was “part of taking practical action on climate change and biodiversity loss”.

Climate change is indeed a worthy rallying cry, worthy of our attention.

But it will be used as a rallying cry in some cases by the wrong people for all the wrong reasons.

As Mr Barnett pointed out, the Greens falsely, claim science is on their side and yet continue to ignore the pre-eminent experts.

Meanwhile VicForests had a deserved win in the Victorian Supreme Court this week which, in part, will let it get back to work.

Justice Melinda Richards dismissed Kinglake Friends of the Forest Inc’s case which alleged that VicForests had breached logging regulations in 14 coupes in the Central Highlands.

Fortunately, the recent amendments to the Timber Code of Practice, which clarified ambiguities introduced in the 2014  version of the Code and its supporting Management Standards and Procedures.

Sadly, there are still more cases to come.