The Wilderness Society is urging Tasmanians to consider the forests when they vote on 20 March. After an election campaign that featured forest issues prominently, the Society today released a report card assessing the forest policies of the major political parties contesting the 2010 Tasmanian election.

The report card assesses the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party, and the Tasmanian Greens on key forest issues, including protection of high-conservation-value forests, modernising the timber industry, reforming Forestry Tasmania, the Tamar Valley pulp mill and burning native forests for power.

“Based on our assessment, the Greens rated the highest, demonstrating strong environmental and logging industry reform policies. Labor and Liberal scored very poorly, reflecting their lack of vision in relation to our natural environment, particularly with regards to forests” said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for The Wilderness Society.

“Our native-forest logging industry is in crisis, as consumers globally are saying ‘no’ to products resulting from the destruction of native forests.

“Our political leaders should be taking this opportunity to pull the industry into the twenty-first century. But instead, Labor and Liberal are promising more of the same. This means more taxpayer-funded handouts to the industry, more destruction of Tasmania’s special places, more job losses and more community division.”

Over the years, through opinion polls the Tasmanian people have consistently said that they want to see Tasmania’s ancient forests protected, and are unhappy with the Tamar Valley pulp mill proposal, yet neither Labor nor Liberal have heeded their call.

“Recent polling points to the fact that the community is tired of old style policies prioritising forestry companies. Many voters are supporting policies that would lead to a solution to the conflict over forestry in Tasmania and the protection of our environment,” said Mr Bayley.

“With the timber industry in crisis, we need a new approach to forestry in Tasmania. Our assessment shows that there are clear policy differences between the major parties on key environment issues. We urge everyone to think about the forests when they go to vote this Saturday”, Mr Bayley concluded.
Vica Bayley, Wilderness Society