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Tas land clearing policy under review

Tasmania’s private forest owners hailed the state government’s move to review the policy that preserves the permanent native forest estate at 95% of 1996 levels. Source: Timberbiz

The policy entails a virtual immediate end to land clearing for agriculture purposes.

“In other words, the farmland you see would be all we will ever have,” said Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) chief executive Jan Davis.

“The pending ban was to come into force as a result of a premise included in the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement 1997 that sought to end broad scale clearing and conversion of native forest on both public and private land.”

Ms Davis said things had changed considerably in the almost two decades since the 2015 conversion deadline was imposed.

“More than half the state is already protected in reserves; and these protected areas continue to expand,” she said.

“Expectations that farmers will continue to bear the cost of even more environmental expectations are unfair and unjustified. We have long argued that the 2015 conversion ban should be overturned.

“It has stifled increasing production on private land and added to the burden of regulation imposed by the federal government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act; the state government’s Nature Conservation Act, Tasmanian Forest Practice Authority regulations and local council edicts.

“The government’s commitment to review this policy is therefore welcome. It will enable an assessment of the current situation, and allow fine-tuning of regulations to reflect actual environmental risk, rather than a blanket approach,” she said.

“If the Tasmanian economy is to grow, if we are to prosper, we have to be able to increase and diversify our agriculture.

“By very definition, that means farmers must be able to develop their own land. The investment in irrigation schemes has opened many new doors for farmers. This review of the 2015 ban hopefully will address barriers that have prevented smarter farming outcomes.

“Private land is just that – private. Farmers should be able to manage their own lands and farming operations without more and more overlays of heavy-handed and unjustified regulatory interference,” Ms Davis said.