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National Eucalypt Day

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Tags: Climate Change, Forests

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, today is National Eucalypt Day. It is a day that we celebrate this iconic marvellous tree. We find them in every landscape at pretty much every altitude in the country. For people who have travelled to other parts of the world we know that this is now an international tree. If you go to Spain or Portugal you will see eucalypts everywhere. Along the coast of California, you will see the mighty eucalypt trees, blue gums. This is a plant, our iconic eucalypt, which is colonising the world.

Each year, on 23 March, National Eucalypt Day aims to raise awareness of eucalypts and celebrate the important place that they hold in the hearts and lives of Australians. As we know these wonderful trees are habitat, they are carbon stores, they make great furniture and wood products. Many Tasmanians and Australians are waking up to the fact that current native forest logging is unjustifiable. We now have pictures of Forestry Tasmania felling what we believe are giant trees. These trees are in the Florentine Valley. You can see that that is a massive and old tree. There is another one. These trees would have been around since before European colonisation. These are incredible living organisms. Yet we live in a state where it is apparently perfectly acceptable to fell these centuries-old trees and send most of what comes from what was once a miraculous living thing and home to myriad species off to the woodchipper.

Forestry Tasmania has a giant trees protection policy, but the Greens argue that policy is not being adhered to. The parameters around what you define as a giant tree are far too loose. Forestry Tasmania says it will:

Protect currently known giant trees, periodically remeasure known giant trees, undertake surveys to identify any giant trees within coupes in the three-year plan. Maintain a register of all the giant trees recorded in Tasmania and promote with other forest managers a statewide tourism strategy for giant tree appreciation on all tenures and participation in implementation.

In Estimates last year I had questions for the Minister for Resources about another very large eucalypt that had been felled as part of a logging operation. We get the same bland reassurances from the minister that all is well and there is nothing to worry about, that giant trees are being protected. They are not. I went into a logged coupe in the Denison Valley out the back of Geeveston last November. There was a massive stump there. A massive old tree that had been felled. I saw it with my own eyes.

One of the things that came through in the PESRAC Report once 3500 people were consulted is a concern that while we may have on paper a clean, green brand, a brand that is underpinned by nature and wilderness, that when you look at the facts of the matter that brand does not stand up. That is a highly regrettable perception on the part of 3500 people. Sadly, it is also true.

We count on this brand to underpin our agriculture and our visitor economy yet at the same time we are clear felling and burning native forest. You have a rogue government business that is torching those forests, like they did six days after our summer's end this year and then clearly walked away and let that fire, which was supposed to be contained within a 25 hectare logged coupe, run. When I checked a few days ago, they were still water bombing that fire.

These are the practices that make the claims of the Government about our brand not stand up to scrutiny. You cannot have industrial-scale native forest logging of our incredible eucalypt forests at the pace we have now and continue to convince Tasmanians and visitors that we are committed to a clean, green brand.

We should have much more respect for the Eucalyptus regnans. Its name comes from the Greek 'Eu' with 'kalypto' which refers to the cap which covers the developing flowers. This is the tallest flowering plant in the world. It is the sign of Aboriginal burning practices, because under these forest giants are rainforests that are younger than the regnans. If you read Bill Gammage's book, The Biggest Estate on Earth, he will tell you on historical texts that is as a result of burning practices of the past.

Within our landscape are some of the most miraculous life forms you will see anywhere on earth and the Eucalyptus regnans is a tree we should all be proud of. It is a tree we should be all working to protect. Those giant trees deserve much more respect than they are getting from this Government and Forestry Tasmania.