Tasmanian Times

Economy

Tassie tourism: “extraordinarily hypocritical”

I am a Tasmanian-born and educated professional person who returned recently to Tasmania to spend a few days in the Chudleigh Valley. At first sight, the countryside looks glorious this year, with emerald-green grass, hedge rows in full bloom, and the dark blue of the bush extending up to the ridge lines of the Tiers.

However, upon closer scrutiny, there is a blight spreading across this paradise as one observes a considerable number of scarred bald patches on the landscape, resulting from logging of old growth forests and plantations of new growth trees permanently denuded of any undergrowth.

Many of these depredations into the natural bushland are quite visible from the Mole Creek Road which purports to be a tourist route (not that hiding logging activity in any way exonerates it) and many of the logged coupes must be pathetically small in commercial terms, but significant nonetheless for their long term spoliation of the environment.

It seems inevitable that even if the present level of logging activity continues within the finite resources of native forests, the appearance and ecology of large parts of Tasmania will be degraded and desecrated forever.

Under these circumstances, I find the official tourist campaigns to promote the State as one of the last places on earth with a pure, clean environment extraordinarily hypocritical and the government’s condoning of logging such areas as breathtakingly opportunistic and short sighted.

Yours sincerely,

Elizabeth Ellis OAM
10 November 2009

Picture: Rob Blakers

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. George Harris aka woodworker

    November 17, 2009 at 12:51 am

    Most normal Tasmanians get depressed, annoyed, and frustrated when educated and supposedly intelligent former residents fly into Tasmania, and start talking the place down, often without acknowledging the outstanding conservation achievements made in their absence.

    If only they would seek a greater understanding of the details of the subjects they are addressing, before going on to misrepresent the situation!

    Mole Creek is now home to a National Park, and as a result of the 2006 Tasmanian Community Forestry Agreement, the beneficiary of private land being conserved to protect forested catchment for the local Karst, and associated landscape and underground features.

    47% of Tasmania is fully protected in reserves, which, as far as I know, is more than in any other political entity on the planet, (that is, apart from the Vatican, which is not a nature reserve, anyway!)
    Queensland has 7% of its land mass in reserves, and conservationists there have an objective of achieving 10%, which is the level recommended by the IUCN, (the International Union for the Conservation of nature). Isn’t tourism supposed to be a big deal up there?

    Only about 4% of Tasmania is covered by plantations, which means around 96% of Tasmania IS NOT covered by plantations!

    Of Tasmania’s 6.8 million hectares, Forestry Tasmania manages 1.5 million hectares as state forest, and of that, 39.7% is available as native forest wood production area, and in 2007-08 the portion harvested was 0.9%, and the area harvested using clear-fell was 0.3%. The area of actual old-growth harvested annually is quite small, but some people cannot tell the difference between it, and mid-aged re-growth.

    Much of the landscape in the Chudleigh Mole Creek region the writer would have driven through is privately owned rural land managed for farming and forestry for over 150 years. Should ex-Tasmanian visitors tell private land owners what they can and cannot grow? And what does she think of derelict rural land, and of low-grade unviable pasture, which would have been better left with tree cover? Agricultural land use covers much more of the state than state forest and private forest put together!

    How does the visitor react when she sees low density urban sprawl that is replacing the once productive farms? Does she contemplate its environmental stress and consequences? Why does she not mention that?
    What other environmental degradation is perpetrated by her adopted home state that she just does not see, while she expects to view Tasmania through the rose coloured glasses of unreasonable expectations? Does she realise that Australia mines about 425 million tons of coal annually, but Tasmania’s contribution to that is 0.001%, and none of it is exported from the state? Mainland Australia burns millions of tons of coal annually for electricity generation, and exports 24 billion dollars worth to global markets. Coal is the world’s most rapidly growing energy source, but Tasmania is not contributing to that! Tasmania has the most carbon neutral electricity generation system in the country, the overwhelming majority of which is based on renewable energy, but is the comparison lost on her?

    It is clear from her comments that the concept of regeneration and re-growth in forest management are quite unknown to Ms Ellis, when she says: “the appearance and ecology of large parts of Tasmania will be degraded and desecrated forever.” Really! If only she could understand that the forest industry is the only major industry sector that is net carbon positive, and that in Tasmania, the net biomass represented as trees is actually increasing in real terms, despite the tonnage we harvest each year. Not only that, the timber industry provides building materials that compare favourably with any other material you could suggest in terms of its embedded energy and carbon impact, let alone its contribution to local employment. What other viable alternative could she suggest?
    One final point: the accompanying photograph to Ms Ellis’s article, by Rob Blakers, was taken many kilometres away from the Chudleigh Valley she mentions.

  2. William Boeder

    November 13, 2009 at 1:43 am

    To think that any State government could be so delusional, insincere, so perfidious and so fraudulent as this State government of Tasmania.

    Come and visit our Ancient Forests, frolic in the fields and glens, drink in the awe of our natural beauty.
    A suggested diversionary game for the kids could be ‘count the log trucks,’ or even, ‘count the number of diseased Tasmanian Devils you see on your trip to Tasmania?
    Drink in thy vapors from the poisonous laid plantations and surrounds?
    Visit Tasmania’s woodchip mills, buy your children a souvenir sample bag of woodchips, they can have such a gay time with these little curio’s?
    Visit the devils dungeon of Gunns Ltd in Launceston, watch as they spit upon your shoes, listen as they barge past shouting no photographs or I will sue you for every cent you have!
    Then of course you can visit the State renowned Dismal Swamp located in the arse end of nowhere, somewhere in between the clear-felled areas of our once Northern Forested Region of the State. (Bring with you lots and lots of money)
    Zoom in your cameras to follow the rising upward flow of billowing forest-destroyed plumes of smoke.

    NB: All tourists are reminded to bring their own drinking water from the mainland of Australia.

    Our Tasmanian government wish to remind all our tourist friends here today that great care is given to our natural wonderlands.
    Some long long time ago they were so majestic so prolific, so abundant, ask here to purchase your copies of these historic photos?

  3. john hayward

    November 12, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Life imitates art. In Tassie’s case it usually imitates Swift’s island of the Yahoos,, or Orwell’s Animal Farm. It also sometimes imitates life, in such forms as Potemkin’s Village, or Easter Island.

    I share Elizabeth’s amazement at the scale and pervasiveness of official Tassie dishonesty and corruption, but retain hope we can turn a buck from it by eventually marketing Tas as a kind of environmental Auschwitz museum, subject, of course, to pulp mill approval.

    John Hayward

  4. salamander

    November 12, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    I think the hypocrisy is in the fact that it is all government-funded, both the destruction and the extolling of the wonders. But so much of government policy is based on ignorance, perhaps it is the return of the two-headed Tasmanian that is causing the blight on our landscape.
    Certainly driving from St Helens to Launceston is incredibly depressing, heartbreaking even.

  5. bloke

    November 12, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Not sure I’d agree that tassie tourism is extraordinarily hypocritical.

    Forestry Tasmania yes, State Government yes. Tassie tourism? Don’t think so.

    Yes, parts of the state are being desecrated but there is still a lot of the state that fits the pure, clean environment description… albeit getting smaller and smaller.

    What’s the alternative? No advertising? Advertising the bad but not the good?

    Realistically, I think you could find hypocrisy in just about any advertisement. To suggest a change away from the ‘natural’ focus of our tourism advertising is, to me, short-sighted.

  6. Concerned Resident

    November 12, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I agree…There are very few areas in the north of the state that are not blighted by careless forestry operations… But the lab/lib/gunns gov’t seem to give permit renewals to forestry corporations to rape and pillage our beautiful island…ROLL ON ELECTIONS.

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