You are here

Climate Change - Native Forest Logging

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Monday, 6 September 2021

Tags: Native Forest Logging, Climate Change, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Can I just talk about that, then. The forest carbon study was commissioned by the Greens minister for climate change in 2012. It found that ending major forest logging has the highest potential for carbon sequestration. Reafforestation and a decline in native forest logging offset more than 100 per cent of Tasmania's emissions in 2018. Do you agree that Tasmania's net negative emissions profile is largely due to the substantial decline in wood harvest volumes?

Mr GUTWEIN - I have made the point that our carbon sink plays a huge part in terms of our emissions profile. Absolutely.

Dr WOODRUFF - So we're resting our laurels on that, and not looking at sectoral emissions, even when they're going up?

Mr GUTWEIN - You've completely ignored the fact that, in terms of agriculture, we've actually arrived at a position where we are already lower than the 1990 baseline. If memory serves me correct, we're 26 per cent below the 1990 baseline in terms of waste emissions.

Dr WOODRUFF - Transport is 50 per cent of our emissions.

Mr GUTWEIN - We have had a significant step forward in those two sectors. In terms of transport, I think we can put ourselves on a sensible glide path that enables the industry to transition, but at the same time we don't need to make punitive decisions that require significant investment earlier than is required.

Dr WOODRUFF - We have a climate plan that you are going to announce, that has no caps on native forest logging and no sectoral targets. You are doing neither of the things that are required after reading the IPCC Assessment Report, to take the urgent action that we can take at the state level, to reduce our emissions and keep carbon stores in the ground. Don't you find that pretty shocking for people who are listening to this and who are across the science and who understand that is what real action in Tasmania looks like?

Mr GUTWEIN - It troubles me that when we at 108 per cent below 1990 emission levels, when no other jurisdiction in this country will ever get close to us, that you can't see that as being a good thing. Since the changes to land use that occurred in 2010-14 when the forest industry was basically gutted, there has been an enormous price paid with regard to the carbon sink that we have. The fact that you want to see more damage to that sector at a time when our emissions profile is below the 2050 target and we have been there six years out of seven - I cannot understand your logic.

Dr WOODRUFF - What many people don't understand is you talking about the importance of that storehouse of carbon at the very same time as your own policies allow it to be chopped down. People don't understand how you can continue native forest logging - which is cutting down and removing and moving into the atmosphere the very carbon that is stored in that native forest estate.

Mr GUTWEIN - I understand that the reason we have the carbon sink is that we have changed the land use requirements around those native forests, and so they now appear as a credit as opposed to where they would have been a deficit.

Dr WOODRUFF - Tricky accounting.

Mr GUTWEIN - It is not tricky accounting. Many Tasmanians paid a significant price at the time of the impact that occurred on the forest industry, back in 2010-14. As a result of that price being paid and the change in land use, we now have significant carbon stores.

Moving forward, we can have a native forest industry and a timber industry in Tasmania, at the same time that we have significant carbon sinks as a result of those land use changes. What you want to do, is rather than having an outcome of 108 per cent below the 1990 base line levels, taking it to 200 per cent or more, which would simply impact on the lives and livelihoods of Tasmanians.

Dr WOODRUFF - Climate change is already impacting on the lives and livelihoods s of everyone on the planet, including Tasmanians. We are asking you to do what the IPCC is asking every leader on the planet to do, which is do every single thing that we can. We can absolutely be sure everyone in Tasmania, including native forest loggers, are going to be much worse off if you don't do everything you can to keep every tonne of carbon that we can in the ground.

It is incumbent on you to transition the native forest industry. Is there anything being done within your department to look at transitioning the native forest industry?

Mr GUTWEIN - I see a future for the native forest industry.

Dr WOODRUFF - Not in plantations but in clear-felling forests? I am trying to clarify -

CHAIR - Dr Woodruff, you get the chance to ask the question and then the Premier will answer, without interruption.

Mr GUTWEIN - In terms of our plantation stock, there is a transference in terms of the availability of high-quality saw logs from plantation which will be coming on line and that will be able to be utilised by our forestry sector. The key point that I am making - and I feel that some of the rhetoric of the Greens over the years has meant that this state has not been able to be proud of the situation it finds itself in - is that on the world stage, we are an international leader in terms of our emissions profile already. In terms of those sectors like transport, we can, and do, have the luxury of being able to have a glide path that is not punitive.

Importantly, we can continually improve our position. That is a rare benefit for a jurisdiction to have. We will stand head and shoulders above other jurisdictions in this country and most countries in the world, in terms of our emissions' profile as we move forward - and we can do it sensibly.