Australasia's home for timber news and information

Tasmania back in the Wilderness with forestry

The Wilderness Society has said it will withdraw support for international recognition of Tasmania’s public forestry company if a Government bill clears Parliament. Sources: Yahoo 7, 7 News

The State Government is planning to discard Tasmania’s “forest peace deal”, brokered after decades of conflict and four years of negotiations.

The Liberal Government pledged to tear up the deal during its campaign for election earlier this year.

Now only the state’s Upper House stands in its way, although it appears likely to back the reforms in some form.

Resources Minister Paul Harriss has urged Upper House members to allow the bill to pass quickly.

Green groups have been trying to persuade MLCs not to reclassify 400,000 hectares of native forest so it can eventually be logged.

Mr Harriss said the land was protected under the deal but would be opened up to logging after six years if the bill passes the Upper House.

“Let’s be clear, these are exactly the same trees, from the same forest, producing the same wood that was non-contentious prior to the election,” he said. “The only thing that’s changed since the election is the Liberal Party is now in government and we are prepared to the back the industry and not shut it down.”

The Government has insisted the plan would not compromise Forestry Tasmania’s bid to achieve international recognition of its environmental credentials by the Forestry Stewardship Councils. But Wilderness Society campaigner Vica Bayley said that was not the case.

“You take away the conservation element of the Tasmanian Forests Agreement, you take away all those commitment that environment groups signed up to,” he said.

“Environment groups can no longer support the industry in the marketplace, can no longer support Forestry Tasmania’s bid for Forestry Stewardship Council can no longer support the short-term subsidies.”

Mr Bayley and other environmentalists have met with MLCs urging them not to back the Government’s bill.

Environment Tasmania spokesman Phil Pullinger said MLCs were concerned about what Tasmanian timber buyers thought of the debate.

“They’re worried about what this means for the forestry industry in the market and what it would mean for the forestry industry for their FSC certification,” he said.

“Our clear message is that this will undoubtedly damage the forestry industry’s brand.”