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tasmania differs

tasmania: isolated from the rest of australia by more than bass strait

The following is a review of logging around the country - it is important to note that all of these changes have occurred under state Labor governments. Whilst the situation around the country is still not perfect, this provides an example of how the Tasmanian government and the forestry industry is becoming increasingly isolated from the rest of Australia.

Queensland - The Sunshine State never even signed an RFA ..... instead the players came up with their own negotiated settlement which pretty well pleased everyone. The Queensland economy doesn't seem to be suffering too much as a result; in fact, it's booming. The timber town of Ravenshoe, which was the scene of angry confrontations between Senator Graham Richardson and timber workers in the 1980s, is part of the unique far north Queensland wet tropic area to which people are flocking (even more than Tasmania).

Victoria: Premier Steve Bracks recognized in February 2002 that the science behind the RFAs was flawed and that "..... we know that the current level of logging in Victorian forests is unsustainable and that we are at risk of losing one of our most valuable resources ....." (Victorian Government Policy Statement on Forests: Our Forests Our Future, Feb. 2002)

Late last year Premier Bracks pledged to protect the Otway Ranges in a new 150,000 ha National Park by 2008; prohibit the burning of native forest for charcoal and electricity generation; and to negotiate an end to woodchipping the Wombat forests by the end of the year. This was on top of pre-election commitments by Mr. Bracks including the protection of 120,000 ha Box-ironbark forests in new National Parks; the reduction of sawlog license volume by over 30%, in particular an end to logging in the Cobbobonce forests in the state's far west; and investigating the protection of old growth forests in Goolengook through the Victorian Environment Assessment Council (VEAC). However, there is much ongoing concern about the effect of logging on Melbourne's water catchments.

More information

New South Wales : Premier Bob Carr announced 65,000 ha of new national parks in 2003. On the 2nd of July 2003 fifteen new conservation areas were formally established as the National Parks Estate (Reservations) Bill 2003 passed unamended in the NSW Upper House. He has also said that he will not burn forests for energy production. Bear in mind he also said in 1995 that there would be no woodchips exported from NSW by the year 2000 .....

More information (pdf)

Western Australia: This state under Premier Geoff Gallop significantly modified its RFA in February 2001 ..... in fact, ending old-growth logging was part of an election policy which swept Mr. Gallop's ALP to power. The world has not ended and in fact, the southwest of Western Australia is booming with new investment. Indeed, it's worth reviewing parts of the " Protecting our old-growth forests" (pdf) Policy ..... it's interesting to substitute the words "Western Australia" with "Tasmania" and you can see what's happening in the southwest of WA.

Labor is committed to the full protection of all our remaining old-growth and high conservation value forests and will take a holistic approach to forest policy: incorporating forest protection and management; new jobs for timber workers; timber industry assistance; the plantation industry; ecotourism; and the restructuring of the Department of Conservation and Land Management.
Labor will:

Federal: The National Forest Policy in 1992 was the forerunner of the RFA ..... and a letter I have from the Prime Minister at that time states that there will be no woodchipping of native forest by the year 2000 due to the increasing reliance on plantations.

how else is tasmania isolated?

1080 - no other jurisdiction uses poison to target native animals for commercial purposes. Paradoxically in Western Australia 1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate) is used to control foxes so that the native animals (the ones we actively seek to poison) can thrive. Bear in mind that Tasmania, being an island, is a refuge for species which are extinct or endangered elsewhere, such as scavengers like the Tasmanian Devil and some species of Quoll. The Eastern Quoll became extinct on the mainland in the 1960's and Tasmania is its last stronghold. The Spotted-tail Quoll has dramatically declined on the mainland and Tasmania is its last stronghold. The Eastern Barred Bandicoot is on the brink of extinction on the mainland (if not extinct) and its last stronghold is Tasmania. It is just me or is there a pattern developing? And why is it OK to use the Precautionary Principle when discussing imported New Zealand apples or Canadian salmon but not protecting our own endangered species?

Rainforest logging - Tasmania has Australia's largest tract of temperate rainforest in the Tarkine region, which is under threat from logging this year. Logging rainforest sounds outrageous, but it's accepted as normal in Tasmania. Rainforest only covers 0.5% of Australia's land mass, and is under threat worldwide. And we log it under the auspices of "world's best practice" .....

Corporate governance - Tasmania's self-regulation of the forestry industry has led to claims of conflict of interest and poor regulation. A friend of mine was driving down the southern outlet the other day and was speeding ..... but he still hasn't turned himself in to the police.

Public opinion - has been loudly calling to the government to alter its current policies on old-growth logging. This has been articulated in repeated opinion polls and the Tasmania Together process. Any government would be wise to listen to the people when over 4,000 ordinary Tasmanians participate in a march in a forest 1½ hours from Hobart on a wet and miserable day (March for the Styx, July 2003). Broadly speaking, the current state of industrial forestry is incongruous with the current direction and image Tasmania is taking.

Value-adding - Tasmania has an opportunity to create an unique niche in wood products; one based on intelligence and talent. Our boat builders, furniture makers and crafters are world class, and their activities return value to local communities; contrast this with the bulk export of raw materials (i.e. woodchips) that return a pittance to the people of Tasmania whilst everyone else in the process makes record profits. This is unsustainable and will leave us with a redundant industry in years to come with nothing special to differentiate us from the rest of the world. At present, Tasmania exports more woodchips than the rest of Australia combined.

Burning native forests for energy - This practice is still on the agenda as far as the Southwood project is concerned, but the concept of burning native forests for energy has been abandoned in other states such as Victoria and NSW. Tasmania, the alleged leader of renewable clean and green energy in Australia, again stands alone. And please don't insult our intelligence by suggesting that it's only the waste that gets burned ..... the figures clearly show otherwise.

Log trucks down Hobart's main street and Burnie's woodchip mountains - No other state capital has the spectre of its native forests being paraded down the main street in a bizarre death-row type march ..... and the citizens of Burnie are often covered in woodchip dust from the woodchip mountains in the centre of town.

Nature-based tourism - Consider the following patterns: Queensland & The Great Barrier Reef, Northern Territory & Kakadu, South Australia & the "outback" ..... Tasmania is the only state which makes a big deal about its natural attractions but has failed to adequately protect the resource. ..... I'm sorry Mr. Bacon, but the tallest trees in Australia (the Styx) and the largest tract of temperate rainforest in Australia (The Tarkine) seem pretty special. It wasn't that long ago that Californians were cutting down giant Redwoods ..... they stopped doing it and they certainly haven't suffered as a result ..... and people go to the Tahune Airwalk to see trees still standing. In fact, according to Tourism Tasmania, the majority of people who visit Tasmania come because of the natural environment.

[This is extracted from the May 2004 Doctors for Forests response to Forestry Tasmania's "Towards a New Silviculture in Tasmania's Oldgrowth Forests", republished with permission. The full document is available in pdf (214 KB)]

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