Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for RESOURCES. Mr ELLIS
Can you explain why the forestry GBE, for which you are responsible, is today logging forests in the Eastern Tiers at Coupe SHO50B, which is extremely high-quality foraging and nesting habitat of the critically endangered swift parrot? During last year's swift parrot breeding season this was the most important observed swift parrot site in Tasmania by a very large margin. Flocks of up to 30 birds were observed at this site on multiple occasions. They were captured by photographer Rob Blakers and the images of last year's breeding season from that coupe are in the book the Greens gave you a copy of.
Forestry Tasmania is in there right now, like barbarians in a cathedral, destroying critical habitat of the fastest parrot on the planet. We understand the logging prescription at this coupe is to remove all habitat trees. This is an international disgrace which brings shame on Tasmania and the Government of which you are a part.
Why are you standing idly by and allowing this to happen? Will you commit today to getting Forestry Tasmania out of that coupe as a matter of absolute urgency, noting the survival of this beautiful bird depends on what you do as minister?
Mr Speaker, our Government is strongly committed to protecting swift parrots. As those opposite know, there is a whole suite of factors impacting the long-term survival of the swift parrot in Australia. They are a landscape species and subsequently require a landscape management approach.
In this context, our reserve system, which protects half of all Tasmanian forests, is of significant importance. It protects more than 1 million hectares of old growth area recognised as important swift parrot nesting and foraging habitat.
Over and above this, the Swift Parrot Public Area Management Agreement, signed between Sustainable Timber Tasmania (STT) and the DPIPWE -
Ms O'Connor - It is not operational.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr ELLIS - and now NRE in 2020 sets aside an additional 9300 hectares of swift parrot nesting habitat from wood production. STT has also maintained its moratorium on forestry operations on Bruny Island, which is recognised as a critical breeding habitat due to its lack of sugar gliders. As part of the 2021-22 budget we provided $1 million over four years for swift parrot recovery actions.
Ms O'Connor - What is the point if you are logging their trees?
Mr SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.
Mr ELLIS - We are doing a lot to protect this bird. If Ms O'Connor does not want to hear it, that is a shame. She has asked what I thought was a genuine question and I am giving her a genuine answer.
It builds on other actions that we have taken to protect the swift parrot, including a $150 000 project to trial methods of trapping sugar gliders, which predate upon swift parrot young, and the Swift Parrot Forestry Management Project currently under way to review the current approach to habitat management with a view to identifying potential improvements.
Further, the forest practices system protects identified nesting habitat and ensures -
Ms O'Connor - No, it does not.
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr ELLIS - that special areas of breeding and foraging habitat in our production forests are maintained. I cannot understand why the Greens do not want to hear this information, Mr Speaker.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, Standing Order 45, relevance. That is interesting information but we would like the minister to explain what he is going to do about the logging in that coupe.
Mr SPEAKER - All I can do is indicate Standing Order 45 to the minister. I cannot put words in his mouth and I do not know how he is going to answer the question. All I can do is ask the minister to continue. He should be heard in silence. If people cannot listen to it in silence, then they can listen to it on the television screen outside the Chamber.
Mr ELLIS - Thank you, Mr Speaker. As I mentioned, it a landscape-scale animal and it needs a landscape scale solution in terms of protecting it. This is the work we are doing across the Tasmania landscape to ensure its survival.
The forest practices system, as I mentioned, protects identified nesting habitat and ensures that special areas of breeding and foraging habitat in our production forests are maintained. Over and above the requirements of the forest practices system, Sustainable Timber Tasmania undertakes a range of additional management measures to protect the swift parrot in our production forests.
The Government is committed to a responsible and sustainable forestry sector that protects our threatened species, while recognising the jobs and economic contribution that timber and fibre products and the industry provide for the future.
We have a really proud record -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, Standing Order 45, relevance. I ask you to draw the minister's attention to the actual question.
Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, I have already taken the Standing Order 45 from you, so that is enough to remind the minister. I will not put up with interjections on the minister by standing up and taking point of order on Standing Order 45 on relevance. The minister has answered it the way that he sees fit and I cannot change that.
Mr ELLIS - Thank you, Mr Speaker. As I mentioned, STT implements management measures above and beyond the requirements of the forest practices system to protect swift parrot habitat, which includes the exclusion of significant habitat through detailed operational planning where appropriate. STT's latest update to its three year wood production plan has a focus on the protection of significant habitat, including the swift parrot. I understand that STT has recently commenced work to develop a swift parrot management plan. This plan will outline strategies and actions to contribute to the conservation of the swift parrot through targeted management. An STT swift parrot management approach includes managing and protecting swift parrot habitat, enhancing existing swift parrot habitat, reducing threats to swift parrot breeding success and engaging with species experts and land managers to improve swift parrot conservation.