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Tasmania’s forest wars are predicted to rage on, despite the Lower House passing a bill aimed at securing peace.

It took a marathon 13-hour debate and an extra Parliamentary sitting day before the House of Assembly approved the legislation.

The bill aims to protect half a million hectares of forest from logging and shrinks the native forest logging industry.

Greens leader Nick McKim says his party proudly supports the move with Labor.

“It is time for Tasmania to move on,” he said.

The Opposition Leader, Will Hodgman, warned there there would be no peace.

“They’ll continue to tell you when you’re out in the public, at rallies, through emails, through visits to your electorate office,” he said.

The Premier, Lara Giddings, says the silent majority backs a peace deal.

The Legislative Council will be recalled in December to debate the bill.

Read the rest ... Full ABC Online report here

• Jan Davis: Farmers say no deal

The so-called forests deal is no deal – a deal implies there was some give and take, but there is little give and a lot of take in this proposal. It is a sell-out of every Tasmanian and a complete abrogation of the Tasmanian Government’s responsibility for land use decisions, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association said today.

“It is unconscionable for a group of unelected environmental groups and industry representatives to be making decisions to lock up public resources in perpetuity,” TFGA chief executive Jan Davis said today.

“This is an outrage that the Legislative Council must throw out in its entirety.

“What this has shown is what we have always known: environmental groups don’t understand the concept of negotiation – they want it all and give nothing in return. They have achieved virtually all they sought with little compromise; whereas the industry has suffered extreme disadvantage. The sawlog cut is down to 137,000 cubic metres a year, less than half of that just a couple of years ago. The provisions for specialty timbers are simply not viable and will see the inevitable demise of this important sector. And the impact on the private forests sector, kept out of this room, will be disastrous” Ms Davis said.

“So Tasmanians are expected to write off the vital forest industry, at the cost of economic diversity, regional community security and jobs; and the Greens get another 560,000 ha of reserves, that the state can’t manage and which becomes a wildfire hazard on our doorstep.”

Ms Davis said the 2010 Statement of Principles had been swept aside as key requirements outlined in those principles have been abandoned. As a result, as the TFGA had argued from the first day, private forests will be severely impacted.

“The 1600 private owners with forests covering private 27 per cent of Tasmania’s native forest estate were given no say in this process.

Ms Davis said the stated intention of both governments and the signatories to the Statement of Principles was that private forest owners would not be impacted by the outcomes of the initiative. This clearly implied that the asset value of private native forests would not be impaired. Yet, over the process, private forest income has fallen by more than 90%.

“By reducing the sawmilling industry infrastructure, reducing the critical mass of the industry resource and, at the same time, taking away Ta Ann’s security, they are signing the death warrant for private forest businesses.

“Farmers have real skin in the game, yet we have all been sold down the river,” she said. “This is wrong, wrong, wrong.”

• Terry Edwards: Forest industry compromise paves way for peace deal

Tasmania’s forest industries have welcomed a move by environmental groups to support a peace
deal put forward by the sector, designed to bring an end to Tasmania’s 30-year war in the forests.
Spokesman for the industry and CEO of Forest Industry Association of Tasmania, Terry Edwards,
said the proposal put to the environmental groups on November 2 had seen a 22.5 per cent
reduction in annual wood supply to 137,000 m3 and it was this move by the sector which had
secured the deal.

“We want to make it clear that it is the timber industry that has made the agreement possible,” Mr
Edwards said.

“We have agreed to considerable conservation outcomes from this proposal in an attempt to
achieve an outcome to this process and provide some certainty for the industry and the battle
weary Tasmanian community.

“To achieve this, we have also required very strong durability outcomes to ensure the peace in our
forests is actually achieved and remains into the future.”

Mr Edwards said it was now up to both State and Federal Governments to make the deal work and
find the money to effectively implement the agreement.

“This is not about the interests of any particular individual or organisation, but actually about
ensuring the best prospect of an outcome that Tasmanians and the industry want and need.”

Mr Edwards said for two-and-a-half-years the industry had been in turmoil while negotiations
continued and as a result the Tasmanian community was suffering, so he hoped some certainty for
timber workers, their families, the people that support them and the broader Tasmanian
population could be achieved.

“The timber industry has moved significantly and effectively on this proposal, largely giving
environmental groups what they have been asking for and in return that this does mean peace in
our forests and that that peace be lasting,” Mr Edwards said.

• ET,  TWS, ACF: Agreement protects forests, supports workers through change

Environment groups have today signed the Tasmanian Forests Agreement together with the
state’s forestry industry and the forestry workers’ union.

“Our agreement will protect native forests, support workers and restructure the industry
towards a sustainable future, with widespread benefits to the Tasmanian economy,” said Dr
Phill Pullinger, Director of Environment Tasmania.

“This agreement provides a comprehensive conservation outcome, with reserves that
include iconic forests in the Styx, Upper Florentine and Weld Valleys, the temperate
rainforests of the Tarkine and the unique forests of West Wellington and the Blue Tier,” Dr
Pullinger said.

Vica Bayley, the Wilderness Society’s Tasmanian Campaign Director, said all sides had made
concessions to secure a final agreement and urged all Tasmanian’s to look carefully at the
agreement to see what it delivers for them.

“The final agreement has a reduced reserve area to meet agreed wood supply levels and
support Tasmania’s specialty timber sector, but still delivers for conservation in the iconic
areas the Tasmanian community has worked for decades to protect,” Mr Bayley said.

“Responsibility now rests with the Tasmanian Parliament to implement the agreement and
give Tasmania the opportunity to move on from decades of conflict.”

CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Don Henry, pointed to the long-term
benefits the agreement will deliver to Tasmania.

“Once approved by the state’s parliament, the agreement will trigger at least $100 million in
Federal Government funding to assist the industry’s transition to a sustainable future and to
diversify the Tasmanian economy.”

“If implemented, the agreement will be remembered as a socially, economically and
environmentally robust solution that has been achieved by old foes putting differences
aside and getting on the front foot to find common ground to protect jobs and the
environment,” Mr Henry said.


• A NEW BEGINNING: BROWN

Today’s Tasmanian forests agreement is a new beginning on Tasmania’s way to becoming one of the world’s most celebrated centres of wild and scenic beauty.

Speaking personally, Dr Brown said ‘I want to help on the day when we open the visitors’ centre in the Styx Valley of the Giants, which under this deal will get World Heritage protection’.

‘He said the Liberals are spoilers who want to rip up any protection for Tasmania’s forests and wildlife.’

The strongest plus here is the agreed process for 129,000 hectares of World Heritage protection – even though this is less than one tenth of the current area of forest under Forestry Tasmania’s control. The biggest negative is pumping more taxpayers’ money into logging instead of the much better job prospects in tourism, hospitality, agriculture and design-based manufacturing.

‘The greatest economic value in these forests is in their carbon, if we keep them alive and upright.’

• The Tasmanian Minerals Council’s position on the IGA is unchanged by the “deal” on forestry.

The Minerals Council is opposed to new reserves.

“We believe the right balance on reserves was struck in Tasmania in 1998 and there is no need, other than political need, for new reserves,” the executive director of the Minerals Council, Terry Long, said today.

“For that reason, and as we have foreshadowed many times in the past, we will encourage the Legislative Council to reject the IGA Bill.”

• Lara Giddings, Premier; Bryan Green, Deputy Premier: Forest agreement welcomed

Tasmania’s forest industry can now look forward to a strong and secure future, with an agreement reached between industry, union and community representatives and peak environmental groups.

The Premier, Lara Giddings, and Deputy Premier, Bryan Green welcomed the agreement, which is the culmination of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement process.

“Out of adversity comes opportunity and what has been handed to us today is a momentous opportunity to heal decades of division,” Ms Giddings said.

“Tasmanians are tired of the conflict that has raged for decades - they just want this fixed.

“The Government is grasping the opportunity to move beyond past conflict and the old-style politics of the Tasmanian Liberals and look positively to the future.

“This agreement gives us the opportunity to secure jobs and rebuild regional communities that have suffered from the worst downturn in the history of the State’s forest industry.

“It secures a sustainable forest industry for the future and preserves significant additional areas of native forest with important conservation values.

“Most importantly it paves the way for increased market access for Tasmanian forest products and sets out an exciting future for diversified timber products.

“This agreement has been reached by the very people who have been fighting on the front line of the forest conflict.

“Industry stakeholders have signed this agreement because it gives them the certainty they need for the future.  Importantly it provides certainty for both resource supply and market access.”

Ms Giddings said Cabinet had met to consider the agreement and update legislation, which will be debated in the Lower House today.

“The Tasmanian Government is acting on the request of signatories that we move urgently to secure the funding allocated through the Tasmanian Forest Agreement.

“We will also work closely with the Australian Government to implement the Agreement.”

Mr Green said if passed the legislation would unlock $100 million in federal funding for forest industry diversification and other economic development opportunities, along with additional funds for reserve management.

“The Tasmanian Forests Agreement has already delivered more than $100 million in assistance to displaced forest workers and contractors, and has created hundreds of jobs through economic development projects around the state,” Mr Green said.

“This agreement has the potential not only to secure the forest industry’s future, but to diversify and strengthen the broader economy.

“I urge all members of Parliament to look beyond the politics of this issue and to grasp this unique opportunity.”

Mr Green said the State Government’s motivation has always been to support the forest industry through a period of unprecedented upheaval.

“The Tasmanian Forest Agreement is the response to the downturn in the forest industry, it is not the cause.

“This process has been difficult and that it has inevitably involved compromise. “But industry stakeholders have recognised that doing nothing in response to these challenges is not an option.

“They would not have signed this agreement unless they believed, as I do, that it will secure the jobs and opportunities for the forest industry for the future.”

Ms Giddings and Mr Green paid tribute to the tireless work of the signatories and all those who have contributed to the lengthy TFA process.

“All Tasmanians, whatever their views on the forests debate, should acknowledge the hard work, persistence and determination of the Signatories to see this incredibly difficult process through to a successful outcome,” Ms Giddings said.

“They are all decent, hardworking people who have genuinely been working in the best interests of the people they represent and the broader community.

“They have achieved what most never would have thought possible just a few years ago.”

Key elements of the agreement include:

• A legislated minimum supply of 137,000 cubic metres of high quality sawlog and the establishment of Permanent Timber Production Zones;

• An additional 37,954 hectares designated as a Specialty Craft and Timber Zones, along with peeler wood supply to meet contractual arrangements;

• Support for Forest Stewardship Council certification of remaining native forestry activity;

• 504,012 hectares of native forest will be given legislative protection in two tranches - 395,199 hectares after enactment of legislation and 108,813 hectares by March 2015, pending the satisfaction of durability clauses;

• An additional 20,183 hectares will be designated as a once-off log, restore and reserve area, and 1,228 hectares of log-of-last-resort zone.

• Christine Milne: It’s an opportunity but there are some very big gaps

I just wanted to comment quickly on Tas forests. In Tasmania it’s been announced that an agreement has been reached in relation to the long-standing conflict over saving Tasmania’s high conservation and fantastic forests.

It’s an opportunity but there are some very big gaps in what has been announced so far. I haven’t yet seen the details and of course the devil is always in the details. Much has been said about 504,000 hectares being protected, but there is a question as to whether logging is going to continue to be allowed in any of those 504,000 hectares and for how long a transition might take place.

There are also a serious questions about the management of forests into the future and particularly Forestry Tasmania’s role and how the Commonwealth might become involved in funding and also, thirdly, how the forests will be managed in terms of the forest practices that are allowed.

There are a lot of things we want to do but the key thing for the Greens is to get these areas into permanent protection, and one thing we will be absolutely prioritising is getting a world heritage nomination for our precious forests. I have been campaigning for the eastern boundary of the world heritage area to go into the world heritage nomination and into permanent protection for many many years since the mid-1980s. So it would be fantastic to finally see those brilliant forests in world heritage and that’s going to be a priority as this is negotiated in coming weeks. From here ...

• Rosemary Norwood, Friends of the Great Western Tiers:

Friends of the Great Western Tiers, based in the Meander Valley region strongly support forest negotiators from both industry and environment groups who agreed to protect new areas of the Great Western Tiers with high conservation values as part of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement.

“We would like to thank the negotiators from all sides of the debate for their marathon effort to achieve this agreement” said group spokesperson Ms Norwood of Jackeys Marsh.

“Many of our members, myself included, have worked for over 30 years for greater recognition and protection of the flora and fauna of the iconic Tiers escarpment forests overlooking the Meander Valley and Northern Midlands. 

“We welcome the opportunity to move on from the divisive conflict between logging and conservation in our region. We will be able to take this long-awaited opportunity to improve both our community spirit and business potential if conservationists see core areas protected and forestry operators see their products respected and are able to go about their business without confrontation”, she said. 

Friends of the Great Western Tiers look forward to working with the whole community to pursue regional solutions and new job opportunities flowing this agreement. The group have been working on new regional development initiatives and discussed the tourism potential of a Great Western Tiers National Park with local Legislative Council member Greg Hall.

“This agreement is historic. For the first time in living memory, traditional antagonists have managed to agree on a shared vision about the size and shape of a future forestry industry”

“If State and Federal governments deliver on their promise to implement this agreement in full, we believe our community will join others around the state in recognizing and benefiting from the agreement’s win-win outcomes”, she concluded.

Visit   http://www.greatwesterntiers.org

• TWS, ET, ACF: Tasmanian Government takes first step on forests solution

Environment Tasmania, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Wilderness Society agree the legislation passed by state parliament this morning to implement the Tasmanian Forests Agreement (TFA) sets Tasmania on the path to resolve the forests conflict.

”This is the first step toward the full implementation of the agreement so that it can start to provide real benefits for workers, the state’s economy and native forests,” said Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Don Henry.

“The industry, union and environment groups all support the business, employment and conservation outcomes of the agreement we have signed together,” Mr Henry said.

“We think the TFA is the best way to now bring an end to Tasmania’s forests conflict, protect important native forests, and build a strong, sustainable timber industry”

“The TFA will support workers who have suffered through the forest industry’s challenges and creates an opportunity for sustainable growth with secure, decent jobs into the future,”
said Dr Phill Pullinger, Director of Environment Tasmania.

Once implemented, more than $100 million in Federal Government funding will support the industry’s necessary transition to a value-added, plantation-based future and provide opportunities to diversify the state’s economy, generating new jobs.

The Wilderness Society’s Tasmanian Campaign Manager said now it is up to Tasmania’s Upper House to review the legislation and decide whether to allow the industry to transition, workers to be supported and forests to be protected.

“There are many who will try to block this - the best opportunity Tasmania has had to resolve the forests conflict.  We hope the Upper House can seize this rare opportunity for Tasmania to move on and for the forests industry to make products all Australians can be proud of,” Mr Bayley said.

Vica Bayley, the Wilderness Society
Phill Pullinger, Environment Tasmania
Monique Vandeleur, ACF Communications Adviser

• Miranda Gibson, Jenny Weber: Environment groups raise concerns about forest agreement

Upon scrutiny of the forest agreement environment groups Still Wild Still Threatened and the Huon Valley Environment Center are today raising concerns about the certainty for the protection of forests.

Please download a copy of a critique of the agreement by SWST and HVEC:

Agreement_Critique_by_SWST_and_HVEC.doc

“It is far too early to be claiming a win for the environment based on this agreement, because the forests remain under threat. Even if it is passed by the Legislative Council, the deal offers no clear time frames for protection. And in fact, it allows for the continued logging of those areas that are ear-marked for protection. I have made the commitment to stay in the Observer Tree until the forest is protected and as this is still uncertain, I will be remaining in the tree” said Miranda Gibson of Still Wild Still Threatened.

“We should not be overstating the real figures in this agreement. To say that there are over half a million hectares protected is misleading. The 395,000ha, which will make up the first tranche, is the only figure that is likely to even receive protection, yet even that remains uncertain. And in addition will eroded by a further logging. The agreement leaves little room for confidence that the rest will ever see protection. Even this 395,000 remains uncertain, being subject to a range of clauses, durability reports, rescheduling and ongoing logging in the meantime” said Jenny Weber of the Huon Valley Environment Center said Jenny Weber of the Huon Valley Environment Center.

“This agreement could have been an opportunity to move Tasmania forward, but instead it feels like we are going backwards. Entrenching ongoing native forest logging and in particular a return to woodchipping. This is a part of the industry that has already caused massive destruction to Tasmania’s environment and proven to be a failure in today’s economy” said Miranda Gibson.

“This agreement locks in woodchipping, clearfelling and Permanent Production Zones for logging of native forests, yet fails to guarantee secure proteciton for the forest. Clauses place conservation outcomes secondary to wood supply” said Jenny Weber

“We will continue to speak up for the forests, because this agreement cannot be seen as the end of all environmental progress in Tasmania. Tasmania would set a dangerous precedent to allow this deal to be used to silence community engagement and public debate around such a critical issue” said Miranda Gibson.

“Our scrutiny of this agreement has revealed controversial concessions made to the native forestry industry that should be undergoing a rapid transition out of native forests.

Certification of controversial logging practices, maintaining Forestry Tasmania in its current form, a subsidised propaganda machine for the signatories to endorse native forest products in the market, exempting logging from an upgrade in the forest practices code and endorsement of industrial scale wood chipping are major hindrances to a solution,” Jenny Weber said.