A resident action group in Tasmania’s north west is vowing to fight Forestry Tasmania’s final decision to clearfell a neighbouring 60- year-old regrowth coupe. Source: ABC Rural
The Friends of Lapoinya Action Group and a forest ecologist say logging will harm endangered mammals, birds and the giant freshwater crayfish.
But the state-owned forestry company said the original harvest area has been almost halved to appease community concern, and significant changes have been made to protect endangered species’ habitat.
Adjacent landowner, garlic farmer and group co-ordinator Stewart Hoyt, lives in Lapoinya, which is about 50 kilometres south-west of Burnie.
He said changes to the original harvest plan to protect Brooker’s Gums and the giant fresh water crayfish wouldn’t have been made without extra scrutiny from the community.
“We have a lot of threatened, rare and endangered species the classic one is the spotted tail quoll, we’ve got heaps of (Tasmanian) devils … this is the breeding ground of giant fresh water crayfish,” he said.
“Every step of the way we’ve had to pull them up on requirements of the Forest Practises Code, for instance there was a class four stream in their (fresh water crayfish habitat) and they were going to log it.”
After an internal review of the harvest plan for the coupe FD053A, Forestry Tasmania has reduced the size of the harvest area by 45%, from 92 to 49 hectares.
Two Brooker’s gum forest communities, and the reserved areas around streams in the coupe have been increased to provide greater protection for freshwater crayfish. Logging was to go ahead early this year but due the delay caused by the review process, it will be considered as part of developing Forestry Tasmania’s next three year wood production plan, which is due in July 2015.
Forestry manager for the north-west region Craig Butt said the planned operation meets or exceeds all requirements under the Forest Practices Code.
“It needs to be acknowledged that it is a regrowth coupe, not an old growth coupe, and its on permanent timber production zone land which was set aside by two levels of government,” he said.
“There’s an almost 300 hectare reserve right across the road from it.”
Mr Butt refutes that Forestry Tasmania would not have made changes that the community asked for without the extra scrutiny.
“I believe we would have, being involved in the process myself at the point of out first meeting with the community stakeholders, we informed them that we were increasing the size of the stream side reserves.”
Tasmanian forest ecologist Richard Donaghey is writing a detailed report outlining why logging the Lapoinya coupe could prevent Forestry Tasmania from achieving Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.
The state-owned forestry company is applying for environmental certification because it can open up premium markets for woodchips, such as those in Japan, which only purchase certified products.
Mr Donaghey said that the Forest Practices Code requires Tasmanian devil den sites to be protected so the fact that none have been officially recorded in the coupe, it means that it can be logged.
“FSC has a different set of principles which will require much better management … they will be required to protect potential den sites if they get FSC.
“The Tasmanian devil population has been decimated in the east of Tasmania, so here in the north-west we have a special obligation because they are healthy populations, so it’s really crucial that we look after the devil populations,” he said.
Mr Donaghey’s report will be delivered to the Lapoinya Action Group, which will submit it to Forest Stewardship Council auditors.