Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I want to pay tribute to the 1387 people from the Franklin electorate from the Huon Valley who have signed a petition I tabled today about the Franklin Forest. The Franklin Forest, previously known as the Castle Forbes Forest, has been renamed by the people who set up that group to better reflect the position of the coupe that they are seeking to protect and they are doing such a fantastic job.
Coupe FNOO5C is known as the Franklin Forest. It is a forestry coupe that was slated for clearfelling and burning this year. It is a forest that contains enormous ecological values that would have been lost as a result of that. It has tall old growth eucalyptus trees with hollows that are core habitat for threatened species that have been identified on the site such as masked owls and swift parrots. There are two Tasmanian wedge tailed eagle nests a few hundred metres from the forest and these would be vulnerable to any clearing. It also has enormous old leatherwood trees that have been identified by the local beekeepers as very significant leatherwoods, some of the most enormous they have ever identified.
The continued destruction of forests like this part of our southern forests, the Franklin Forest, is continuing the decline of threatened species in the area. The Huon Valley community has stepped up in its awareness and understanding of the Franklin Forest thanks to the volunteers who have come together, led by Yanti Winoto-Lewin. Ms Winoto-Lewin is an ecologist. She has a degree from the University of Tasmania. She is expert in everything to do with these sorts of forest communities and it has been her gentle, quiet and persistent leadership that has helped to form this group, which is now very strong and very committed.
They have identified that the block of land adjacent to the Franklin Forest is an informal reserve, although I believe it still has a forestry lease over it, and that informal reserve has gorse on it. It also has remnant mill machinery. This group of people, in addition to protecting the Franklin Forest, is also working with the local Landcare groups, the Franklin Landcare group and the Castle Forbes Landcare group, to clear the gorse from this informal reserve.
The group has had tremendous success. Thanks to their petitioning and their awareness raising in the local community, they have had hundreds of people walk through the Franklin Forest and see for themselves the nursery logs, the enormously large girthed eucalypt trees, the huge leatherwoods and they have walked in wonder at this beautiful little treasure which is right behind the Franklin township.
Thanks to that burgeoning awareness, including by schoolchildren who have gone through there, we now have Forestry Tasmania understanding that there is no value, indeed, they cannot rob the coupe with the natural values, which have been assessed and registered now, of this wonderful piece of forest. The forest was taken off Forestry Tasmania's three year rotation, which the group is tremendously pleased about. But they will not rest until it is completely removed from the Forestry cutting schedule, which is what has to happen.
It would not only be devastating to the natural ecological values but, the clearfelling and regrowth operations would make the local environment around the Franklin township more flammable. It is now very well evidenced, including by Tasmanian scientists recently, that converting tall and moisture-holding wet forests, such as the Franklin Forest, to dense flammable regrowth so close to homes and towns is an alarming and dangerous act. It is particularly forests of these types that were clearfelled and resown with eucalypts that are in the regrowth stage that was one of the reasons fires drew so close to the Geeveston township in 2019. We need to do everything we can to make the townships and natural forest values that we are custodians of safer from bushfires in the future.
Ms Winoto Lewin recently received an award from Landcare Tasmania at their annual conference. I was lucky enough to go and, in her absence, I presented this award on behalf of Landcare to Yanti for her work in Friends of Franklin Forest. She was awarded the Steadfast Young Landcare Leadership Award. Good on her for standing up with other people in the way she does.
One of the reasons Tasmanians have let this Government and the Labor government get away with what they have done with trashing our wilderness, particularly in areas like this, which would ultimately increase the risks for local communities from bushfires, is because people do not get out and see these things themselves. There are so many people who have not had the opportunity to do that. This local group is quietly and persistently educating people about what is on their back doorstep. We should all be so grateful that people like that take the time out to educate the community and let them know what they have on their own doorstep and how much we need to love and continue to protect it.