Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens' Leader and Forests spokesperson
The Liberals’ destructive rainforest logging plan, which comes into effect today, is taking Tasmania backwards.
The so-called Special Timbers Management Plan permits logging in regional reserves and conservation areas. It is designed to generate conflict, all of it backed in by the Labor (so-called) Opposition.
Labor and the Liberals have once again joined forces to put the environment, and our ancient rainforests last.
The majority of rainforest species are not commercial to log until they are centuries old. After decades of industrial native forest logging that left rainforest trees to burn on the forest floor, there is nothing ‘sustainable’ about logging trees of this age in protected areas.
Logging in Regional Reserves and Conservation Areas is unjustifiable. These places were set aside for protection because of their natural values, not for logging.
Rainforest logging in protected areas also clearly doesn’t have strong public support. Of the 4,255 submissions made to the Liberals’ divisive logging plan, only seven supported it.
Even the submission from the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Institute of Foresters described the management of values under the Liberals’ plan as “weak”.
The industry has made some changes in its approach over the years, and key players want to work towards a more sustainable, conflict-free path. Unfortunately, they have the Liberals’ Guy Barnett pretending to be in their corner, when what he wants to do is pick fights with environmentalists over forests that are worth more standing.
This is a new low for the destruction of rainforest ecosystems, at public expense, currently ‘protected’ within the Tasmanian Reserve Estate. It undermines the integrity of Tasmania’s world class reserves and our clean, green and natural brand which is the foundation of our visitor and export economy.
The Liberals’ rainforest logging plan, supported by Labor, will almost certainly set back Forestry Tasmania’s bid for Forest Stewardship Certification. These are almost certain – and avoidable - consequences if logging is allowed inside the Tasmanian Reserve Estate.
It’s clear Minister Barnett’s move to allow logging inside protected areas is a deliberate attempt to create division over forests in the lead up to a State Election.
This is the Liberals trying to quell an industry which is running out of resource as a direct consequence of wasteful industrial wood-chipping practices of the past which were cheered on by Labor and Liberal majority governments.
Tasmania’s outstanding and globally significant forests are not a ‘wood bank’ as Mr Barnett describes them. They are more than just lines on maps. They are ecological and carbon rich treasures.
It’s time the Liberals and Labor realized they have done enough damage through their destructive logging policies in the past and present, and got behind forest protection as an integral part of a prosperous future for Tasmania.