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Tarkine Forestry Regeneration Burn

5 April 2017

 

Ms DAWKINS question to MINISTER for RESOURCES, Mr BARNETT
[10.32 a.m.]
Yesterday at 3.20 p.m. a forestry regeneration burn in the Tarkine escaped coupe TE008P on two points on its eastern boundary and moved into adjacent high conservation value forest, still protected in the Tasmanian Reserve Estate. There were no Forestry Tasmania staff in attendance. When Forestry Tasmania was alerted, the officer said they would not respond as it was too late in the day. That fire is still burning in the reserve forest and is six kilometres away from the Arthur River township, potentially endangering lives.

Minister, do you think this is good enough? This is forest that is still recovering from the devastating fires of January 2016. Why were there no resources on standby to manage the fire once it escaped? This fire is uncontrolled and unmanaged, close to a township and is destroying high conservation value forests. How on earth can you claim these burns are well managed?


ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question and highlight the fact that regeneration burns are a very important part of the forestry process. Research has demonstrated fire is by far the most effective method of regenerating healthy eucalypt forests. The regeneration of wet eucalypt forest relies on major disturbance to open the canopy and increase the amount of sunlight reaching the forest floor, prepare a mineral earth seed bed, initiate seed fall and reduce the local number of insects and animal browsing. Without this disturbance, the dense understorey and large amount of litter in lowland, wet eucalypt forest prevents the continuous regeneration of eucalypts.

Regeneration burns, following harvesting, are designed to achieve similar results as nature achieves through bushfires to enable successful regeneration and regrowth of the forests.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. This is a really serious question about an immediate and pressing matter happening right now. I ask the minister to draw his attention to the details of the answer please.

Madam SPEAKER - It is not a point of order. I repeat my previous ruling in relation to a very lengthy question containing a lengthy preamble and a number of questions. The minister, I am sure, will turn his mind to the specifics of various questions contained in that question, but it was not one question alone.

Mr BARNETT - The question also made reference to the Franklin River coupes. The Franklin River coupes have been passed through the parliament twice for harvesting, including support from the Greens.

Ms Dawkins - You weren't listening. That is not what -

Ms O'Connor - You just lie in this place without compunction.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. The member for Denison will withdraw that interjection.

Ms O'Connor - I withdraw the word 'lie' and -

Government members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - No. It is highly disorderly to be interjecting. The member will withdraw it completely or I will be forced to eject her. I have asked you to withdraw.

Ms O'Connor - I withdraw the word 'lie'.

Madam SPEAKER - Thank you. The minister will resume.

Mr BARNETT - In the question there was a reference to the Franklin -

Ms Dawkins - There was no mention of the Franklin. Read the question.

Mr BARNETT - That is how I heard it. I am making the point with respect to the Franklin River coupes, that those two coupes were supported by this parliament and the previous parliament, including by the Greens, for harvesting. Let us make that point very clear; the hypocrisy is as high as the ceiling with the Greens. Let us make that point.

Regeneration burns are taken very seriously by Forestry Tasmania. They use the highest standards - and the standards and protocols are very important. They consider it a very serious matter. Let me make a point about Environment Tasmania and their position. They engaged Forestry Tasmania as the forest regeneration experts on the project to restore tall eucalypt forest in previously harvested coupes in the 2013 Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area extension. The restoration project coupes are within areas now managed by Parks and Wildlife Service and covering the area of 178 hectares. Environment Tasmania actually requested Forestry Tasmania to undertake this regeneration burn.

Greens members interjecting.

Mr BARNETT - Madam Speaker, I am trying to highlight the point, despite interjections -

Greens members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.

Mr BARNETT - that Forestry Tasmania has a very high reputation in terms of their process and their efforts to ensure regeneration burns are done at the highest level and of the highest order. Environment Tasmania noted that burning mimics the natural bushfire process, including creating the desirable ash bed and helps understorey species, as well as eucalypt, to grow much faster. Environment Tasmania also noted the end result of burning has been found to be a mix of eucalypts and understorey species with very similar composition to forest that returns after a natural bushfire.

It is important. This is an important part of our forest management practice. Forest practices in Tasmania are best practice across Australia and are considered best practice across the globe. I am very proud of our forest industry, unlike the Greens.