The Tasmanian Conservation Trust has today responded to the Van Diemans Land company’s release of its draft application to the Australian Government seeking permission to expand its Woolnorth dairy including the clearing and conversion to dairy pasture of 1818 hectares of native vegetation.

The TCT repeats its previous warning to potential investors in the VDL dairy expansion that they will be financing the destruction of endangered species habitats and threatened forest communities.

‘While VDL announcement focuses on the vegetation which it does not intend clearing it has avoided stating the fact that the likely outcome of clearing 1818 ha of forest will be a reduction in the numbers of endangered Tasmanian devils and Tiger quolls on its property,’ said TCT Director Peter McGlone.

‘By all means invest in VDL but only do so on the basis that the expansion proceeds with no clearing of endangered species habitats or threatened forest communities’.

‘The VDL could proceed with the vast majority of its expansion (we estimate 90%) without resorting to clearing of native vegetation but it seems to be seeking every last hectare.

‘The company should be satisfied with expanding by improving existing dairy land, converting beef paddocks to dairy and buying additional dairy land.
‘Do we really want to be exporting Tasmanian milk which has been produced at the expense of our most endangered and iconic species?’

‘Will processors and customers want to buy milk which, metaphorically speaking, has been tainted by the blood of Tasmanian devils?’

The TCT is concerned that the clearing of thousands of hectares of native vegetation by VDL would destroy habitat of the endangered species but it would also encourage other land owners to seek approvals for large scale land clearing, just when we all expected this practise was coming to an end.

‘Clearing of native vegetation has been the single biggest cause of species becoming endangered and going extinct throughout the world,’ Mr McGlone continued.

‘Stopping broad-scale clearing is one essential requirement of any industry if it wants to be recognised as sustainable,’ Mr McGlone concluded.

• Jan Davis: TFGA welcomes Woolnorth environmental plan

The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association today applauded the Van Diemens Land Company 23-dairy development plan at Woolnorth. The plan has been carefully developed to protect the state’s healthiest population of Tasmanian devils along with more than 70 per cent of the property’s native vegetation in reserves.

At the same time, eleven new farms will be added to the existing farming operation.

VDL today publicly released the detail of its submission under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, outlining potential impacts the proposed farming expansion may have on matters of national environmental significance.

“Of more than 6000 ha of land, 4300 ha is to be protected,” TFGA chief executive Jan Davis said today.

The planned expansion of dairy capacity reflects optimism in the industry’s future and a strong commitment to investment in Tasmania. This will create new jobs and new opportunities for the north west.

“A company established in the 19th century to develop a large slab of Tasmania’s far north-west corner is now showing the way in environmental responsibility 187 years later.”
“This is a model development for the 21st century – and a win for everyone,” she said.