“If you go down to the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise!” In political terms, the only things certain in life are death, taxes and the absence of any politicians at the teddy bears’ picnic.

Let us navigate the forest debate with a little more substance than a trail of breadcrumbs.

The Future Eaters by Tim Flannery states, “One of the most important, yet easily solved problems of the reserved lands of Australia is the numerous categories under which they are currently administered. Indeed, there are nearly 50. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature recognizes only six categories of protected areas. The categories are:

1. Scientific Reserve and Wilderness Area;
2. National Park;
3. Natural Monument;
4. Habitat & Wildlife Management Area;
5. Protected Landscape; and
6. Managed Resource Protected Area.

All of these categories have clearly defined goals within which management strategies can be framed. This can be said for few of the 50 existing Australian categories.”

State and Federal governments have again abrogated their leadership responsibilities under the cloak of industry consultation and deregulation. Whatever the industry and export markets wanted they were granted, often at the community’s expense.

Logic and rationality have been drowned in a sea of deliberate confusion, particularly where old growth forests and heritage areas are defined.

What would the above categories achieve? In my opinion, they would provide guidelines that could be applied to:

1. World Heritage areas;
2. National Parks and eco-tourist resorts;
3. Conservation areas such as Southport Lagoon;
4. Coastal and marine policies;
5. Recherche Bay;
6. Old growth forest classifications, for example, the Weld could be sustainably logged for fine timber sawlogs but not clearfelled for woodchips.
7. Private landownings would require a further review.

It is just as possible for a political party to “fix” our forest policy as our health system. All it needs is the political will, the sidelining of a few current players and a bit of leadership from the politically ambitious. The Tasmanian Forest Industry would not die. It would only have to moderate its behaviour. The Pulp Mill and woodchip exporters would have to source their timber sustainably.

You can become one of the state’s great premiers!

Mark Temby: “If you are trying to be creative there can be no rules and no-one of good intent should be silenced.”