Richard Flanagan The Monthly article in full: The tragedy of Tasmania’s forests
This story begins with a Tasmanian man fern ( Dicksonia antarctica) for sale in a London nursery. Along with the healthy price tag, some £160, is a note: “ This tree fern has been salvage harvested in accordance with a management plan approved by the Governments of Tasmania and the Commonwealth of Australia.” If you were to believe both governments, that plan ensures that Tasmania has a sustainable logging industry — one which, according to the federal minister responsible for forests, Eric Abetz, is “the best managed in the world”.
The truth is otherwise. The man fern — possibly several centuries old — comes from native forests destroyed by a logging industry that was recently found to be illegal by the Federal Court of Australia. It comes either from primeval rainforest that has been evolving for millennia or from wet eucalypt forests, some of which contain the mighty Eucalyptus regnans. These aptly named kings of trees are the tallest hardwood trees and flowering plants on Earth; some are more than 20 metres in girth and 90 metres in height. The forests are being destroyed in Tasmania, in spite of widespread community opposition and increasing international concern.