Friday the 13th was a lucky day for Tasmanian forests with a major conservation agreement signed that will protect high value forests from logging while balancing the needs of industry, the Minister for Energy and Resources, Bryan Green said today.
Mr Green said the agreement between the Tasmanian and Australian Governments and Forestry Tasmania will give legislative protection to more than 99.5 percent of the forest — more than one million acres (430,000 hectares) identified for protection.
“This agreement will deliver interim protection for disputed areas including the Florentine, Wedge, Douglas Apsley, Wielangta, Mt Arthur, Bay of Fires, and Bruny Island under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act,” Mr Green said.
The agreement follows more than 18 months of talks between green and industry groups. It provides certainty for both the forestry industry and conservationists, while an independent verification group completes their work.
“Both the Tasmanian and Australian Governments are committed to seeing the process through to ensure that industry has a sustainable future while achieving significant conservation outcomes such as those recognized in today’s agreement.
Mr Green said only a very small area of native forest in the 430,000 hectares will still be harvested to meet existing contracts — about 1950 hectares (4,800 acres), or less than 0.5 percent of the total amount of native forest identified for interim protection in the Tasmanian Forests Agreement. He called it a “collaborative process that has involved give and take on both sides.”
“The reports of the independent expert forest schedulers, released today, found that while some harvesting work could be moved, it was not possible to reschedule harvesting in a small number of tracts.”
Mr Green commended the co-operative contribution of Forestry Tasmania in assisting to develop and in signing the conservation agreement.
“It has to remembered that this is a voluntary agreement, without Forestry Tasmania’s assistance and co-operation it would not have occurred,” Mr Green said.
The interim Conservation Agreement and the reports of the independent expert forestry schedulers are available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/