Tasmanian Times

Economy

Australia’s biggest private conservation deal

A group of philanthropists, led by Jan Cameron (founder of Kathmandu), Rob and Sandy Purves (Rob is a member of the Wentworth Group of concerned scientists) and Graeme Wood (cofounder of wotif.com) is making the largest single philanthropic investment for private land conservation in Australia’s history.

The purchase and conservation of almost 28,000 hectares of Tasmanian native forest, on 98 titles, costing over A$23 million is 1% of Tasmania’s private freehold land.

The land covered in this purchase is vast; ranging from ancient old-growth rainforests, sub-alpine forests, sweeping landscapes of towering trees, lakes and wild rivers, lowland forests and forested valleys. It includes nationally significant upland vegetation, heaths, grasslands, sphagnum wetlands and old-growth swamp peppermint forests.

The properties provide habitat for many endangered species of plants and animals including the Tasmanian devil, Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, the last wild habitat for the Clarence galaxias freshwater fish and include conservation jewels with World Heritage values.

www.tasland.org.au

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Australian: .Tycoon likes forests so much she bought some

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41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. Observer

    November 8, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Dinosaurs are known to have possessed two brains, one called the cerebellum in the head, and the other called the cerebum behind their tail. The one controlled their movements and the other, in their limited capacity, they thought with.

    I believe this is why the term ‘Dinosaur’ is so often applied to Forestry and its spruikers. With one brain they control the chainsaw, and with they use the one at the nether end to think with.

    The good news is that Forestry seems to be heading the same direction as these primordial beasts!

  2. mjf

    November 7, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    #36. Wishful thinking one suspects, what’s the banks owed ?

    #37. Picture how vacuum packed Tas Land Conservancy branded, highland poa fed venison would be go off at Salamanca. This opportunity is a marketing dream.

  3. Observer

    November 7, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    38.RE 36. You obviously do not possess an appreciation of the damage that deer have on our ecosystems. Without control, many natural ecosystems will simply disappear, particularly in the high lands….Posted by MArk Wybourne

    A small dose of aerial spraying can have the same effect, only quicker!

  4. MArk Wybourne

    November 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    RE 36. You obviously do not possess an appreciation of the damage that deer have on our ecosystems. Without control, many natural ecosystems will simply disappear, particularly in the high lands.

  5. Bemused

    November 7, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Re#35
    Mmmmm. Venison.

  6. Observer

    November 5, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    The purchase and conservation of almost 28,000 hectares of Tasmanian native forest, on 98 titles, costing over A$23 million is 1% of Tasmania’s private freehold land.

    It is such a pity that the money went to Gunns. I wonder if this is part of the land they got for free in a one-sided land swap of 79 000 hectares a couple of years ago?

    Anyway, now they’ve got a $23 million windfall, maybe they can pay us some of what they owe?

  7. Observer

    November 5, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    33.Well, if they exclude the deer hunters then they had better have a culling programme organised. Otherwise the biodiversity is going to deteriorate very quickly. MArk Wybourne.

    I think that statement hits rock bottom. It shows a the utter and complete hypocricy of the Forest industry spruikers.

    In their attempt to discredit a noble and charitable action of saving our environment they stoop to these tactics. They are worried about the effect that a few deer might have on the environment? I ask you? Their own practice is to enter a forest with bulldozers, skidders and chain saws and annihilate the entire lot, and then follow this up with fire and chemical sprays and the shooting of the wildlife to make sure that absotuely NOTHING is left of what there used to be, and all in the search for negligible amounts of money below the cost of the operation.

    Good stuff MArk. Deserves a medal! Perhaps you would prefer not to see a beautiful animal in the wild but can appreciate the bloodied mess that they turn it into on the back of a ute?

  8. hugoagogo

    November 5, 2010 at 10:22 am

    #33 Perhaps the new owners intend gazetting the estate as some kinda PNR; which would avail the owners of deductions for management costs, so it’ll come out of the public purse either way.

    Or they could try PTR and keep some of those great gum topped stringy logs coming out.

  9. MArk Wybourne

    November 4, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Well, if they exclude the deer hunters then they had better have a culling programme organised. Otherwise the biodiversity is going to deteriorate very quickly.

    And don’t rely on Parks to assist – they count on that exotic feral animal called deer for a signficant part of their income.

  10. mjf

    November 4, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    MP. Can only agree with your points. I hear deer shooters have been excluded already. Some had shacks on various properties which is a shame but thats progress. It’s to be hoped fires don’t come through too often.

  11. mjf

    November 4, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    #29. I have a forested property you can buy back, complete with a bit of rainforest with very old myrtles. Some of it’s actually relict rainforest by botanical definition as well.

    Don’t know of any loggers that play the pokies, but some do smoke, some do drink at the pub occasionally.

  12. Mark Poynter

    November 4, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    #29 I have also been amazed by the ignorance of both the journalist, Matthew Denholm, who wrote the original article in the Australian, and most of the TT posters who have responded to it.

    Having worked on many of these Central Highlands properties for Forest Resources and Boral (before Gunns bought them out) I can tell you that all the areas of commercial timber on these properties have been selectively harvested (not clearfelled) at least once, and often twice in the past 30-years.

    Of course the properties have other areas of forest that was either not suitable or was uneconomic to access, as well as open areas such as Skull Bone Plains which were previously extensively grazed. In the early 1990s there was still a cattlemen’s hut on these plains – not sure its still there.

    These areas are far from pristine and so to hear them described as Ancient forests etc is a strong misrepresentation, but I suppose it makes a good story for city people who will never visit but like to feel warm and fuzzy about the environment.

    If anything these sorts of descriptions reinforce what the forestry side of the debate have been saying for decades – that well managed timber production does not devastate the environment and that it occurs while still accomodating all the other environmental values such as aesthetic beauty, biodiversity, water and recreation. But again, it is seemingly not in the best interests of the anti-forestry clique to have such truth come out, as Denholm frequently demonstrates in his reporting.

    These private forests have been far more intensively managed than State Forests of similar forest type, and yet are still revered as though they are pristine.

    The interesting thing to see will be how the TLC manages illegal access, wood hooking and hunting. These were always difficult issues as is illustrated by the elaborate gating systems and trenches at each entry point and fencing in many places. Anyone with the idea that we can all just sigh approvingly and walk away thinking it will all look after itself is in for a rude awakening.

  13. Brenton

    November 3, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    I have been amazed at the ignorant comments on here concerning the Tasmanian Land Conservancy! Go onto the TLC and educate yourself! The TLC have support from around the country. Sometimes I think Tasmanians don’t get that they are a part of AUSTRALIA and thousands of people are very interested in the natural heritage of Tasmania. As far as the loggers go, pay them out with large lump sum payments and it will all come back via tax through the pokies, the pubs and the smokes! Some of us prefer to save, be frugal and buy the forests back!

  14. Robin Halton

    November 1, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Good luck Jan with your kindness but just remember that the products that Katmandu and Chicken Feed sold to the public were manufactured by Asian slave labor. I suspect that you are in some respects you are also looking for redemption by being in the right place at the right time by being able to purchase land through auction from Gunns for posterity. What private businesses are built on total ethics, none that I know of. As a member of the publicI would like to visit Skull Bone Plains to observe the wonderful high altitude forests and plant life that has been saved from exploitation. What are your conditions of entry if I want to visit Lake Ina by the shortest and safest possible route for bushwalking, camping and a spot of fishing! You need to be fair towards many of the public that offered you support and at the same time to keep on good terms with your neighbours and intending visitors who would like to appreciate your good deeds.

  15. Michael

    November 1, 2010 at 10:34 am

    #25 – Well the unobservant here again! Not surprising.

    PTR were in-acted in 1985 to allow landholders to dedicate their land, or portions, to long-term forest management.

    “Private timber reserves were created by the Tasmanian Parliament in 1985 to enable landowners to have their land dedicated for long-term forest management. The legislation provides that forestry activities on the land are subject to a single, consistent, state-wide system of planning and regulation through the Forest Practices Act 1985, rather than to variable systems that may be applied under different planning schemes through the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993.”

    http://www.privateforests.tas.gov.au/private_timber_reserve_applications

    Way to go, Observer, talking about issues you clearly know zip about..

  16. mjf

    November 1, 2010 at 10:33 am

    #25. Firstly, a landowner doesn’t register a PTR, he or she lodges an application for a PTR (fees apply). After a lengthy process it may be approved and then gazetted by Private Forests Tasmania. Regularly, PTR applications are rejected.

    Secondly and as it happens, I do know the main reason why PTR’s are applied for. Legislation to establish Private Timber Reserves was approved by the Tasmanian Parliament in 1985 to enable landowners to have their land dedicated to long-term forest management.

    The legislation provides that forestry activities on private land are subject to a single, consistent, statewide system of planning and regulation through the Forest Practices Act 1985, rather than to variable systems that will be applied under different planning schemes through the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993.

    As you point out with 29 different councils and probably 29 differing planning schemes, a single approach to management is very important for landowners. If all local governments could agree to a consistent approach to private forestry activities, then that would largely overcome the need for PTR’s

    Nothing to do with tax exemptions.

    There is PTR on a block I own, I still pay rates on it and the rates still increase each year.

  17. Observer

    November 1, 2010 at 2:05 am

    #24. Yes you did, and NO you are wrong.

    Meander Valley alone lost $125 million in rates, and that is only ONE of 29 different council areas.

    The whole point of a PTR is that it is a tax exemption scheme. Do you know any other reason why a landowner should bother to register it if it were not?

  18. mjf

    November 1, 2010 at 12:09 am

    #23. PTR’s avoid most land tax and rates ? Thought I corrected you on this ongoing misconception you have and not all that long ago, Unobserver. I’ll try again.

    Any private natural forest areas or plantations are zoned rural, not general and are therefore exempt from land tax. Council rates remain payable whether its natural forest or plantation.

    The presence of a PTR or not makes absolutely no difference therefore has zero effect on land tax and rates payable.

    I presume by using natural as a description, you actually mean native.

    Bob Loones report ? Yep, there is a classic.

  19. Observer

    October 31, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    #22. 22.re 20. Observer. So what? Rates still have to be paid, or do you think that rates are not paid on private forested land?

    Private forested land and plantations are different things, or didn’t you know? Read the Bob Loone report. (Deputy Mayor of Meander Valley) From memory, losses of $125 million in rates to council under the PAL Act conversion of farmland to plantation and the loss of 625 jobs as opposed to the 27 gain for plantation activities. Also the huge losses to the townships in the area as a by-product.

    Private Timber Reserves (PTR) largely natural forest areas, also avoid most land tax and rates.

    And you say we don’t subsidise Gunns, when Gunns is virtually the sole customer for the timber from both these operations?!

  20. Mark Wybourne

    October 31, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    re 20. Observer. So what? Rates still have to be paid, or do you think that rates are not paid on private forested land?

  21. mjf

    October 31, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    #9. I get it. Gunns must have managed their freehold properties much more conservatively than they do in the peoples forests ?

    #18. I looked at every block Gunns had for sale or tender for potential buyers and can guarantee you every sq.m. had been logged where commercial timber stood, still stands and was able to be logged. Fortunately one or two got away from conservation purchasers and are being actively managed for timber under new ownerships albeit for an unknown timeframe. Expect plantation conversion to be high on the list of mustdos. Commonsense prevails sometimes.

  22. Observer

    October 30, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    #13. ‘…….. for starters people have had to volunteer money just to pay the rates.’

    How can this be true? They bought the stuff from GUNNS!

  23. Observer

    October 30, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    There is an old saying – ‘No good deed shall go unpunished!’

    It seems that some people put their money where their mouth is and others just possess a mouth.

    Thanks for that bit of inspiration Jan and Co. Good on ya!

  24. Pete Godfrey

    October 30, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    Mark #13 and Bryan#12 I must have been fooled by the descriptions of Ancient Old Growth Rainforests, Old Growth Swamp Peppermint forests,heaths,grasslands and Sphagnum wetlands.
    I guess some of the land has been logged especially if it included the stuff on the road from Miena to Bronte Park that Gunns owned and razzed.
    How about you fellows putting your heads together and coming up with a positive picture of non-clearfell logging that will be palatable to the Tasmanian community.
    The statement of principles that has been signed needs us all to come up with an industry that is acceptable to all.

  25. Leonard Colquhoun

    October 30, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Wondering how Greens candidate for the seat of Melbourne in the Victorian elections later this month, barrister Brian Walters, fits into the political activist’s [Love him < - - - > Hate him] spectrum –

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/greens-candidates-dirty-work/story-e6frf7kx-1225945623747

  26. Brett Edwards

    October 30, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Complaint lodged today with ABC:
    I was alarmed to read the following comment #10 at Tasmanian Times article “Australias Biggest Private Conservation Deal”

    You will no doubt be aware that Crikey.com has earlier this year rated Mercury Newspaper –known locally as The Mockery– as one of the worst in the nation for producing a large proportion of its news articles as spin-derived: http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/15/garry-bailey/

    (Is the ABC) inclined to avoid criticising The Mercury’s high proportion of spin-derived news articles? If so, is the ABC upholding its role in Hobart of providing an independent media voice. Southern Tasmania only has one printed newspaper and hence is very susceptible to whatever the Mercury and ABC might collude to try and put across, especially around state/federal/local government election time.

  27. alana

    October 30, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    I’ve been waiting for someone to pick up on the obvious oddity in this story but it looks as if I have to be the one to stir the pot. Here goes.

    Isn’t this old news – in fact, very old news. The papers were full of the Gunns native big native forest land sale by auction back in April/May this year. Harcourts even had a special website set up for it (http://gunns.tasmanianruralproperty.com.au/). The three auctions were in June. Cameron was also widely reported then as being the big buyer at those auctions.

    So what’s the news in this current trumpet blowing? My suspicious mind smells a dead rat. Surely with a June sale, the sale completion would have been within 30 to 60 days of the auction. Gunns clearly has been busy liquidating assets to bring down debt, so they clearly would have ben looking for fast settlement. Cameron now tells us that Gunns also threatened to sue her. Why? What’s the links in this current story that haven’t been made for us.

    I reckon its all there if you care to seek the answers. I can put two and two together – and the conclusion won’t help with the beatification of Tasmania’s saint-in-waiting.

    Anyone else know which thimble the pea is under?

    An intrepid reporter at the Mercury who could be bothered to stump up the price for the title searches would have a field day I suspect.

  28. Observer

    October 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    #13. I hope it doesn’t happen, but I suspect that in terms of bio-diversity, the properties will go backwards without the management that has been happening in the past.

    Yeah… I suppose you would have to clearfell the forest to save the animals and see the view.

  29. Mark Wybourne

    October 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    If you look at the history of the properties, much has been logged in the past, quite a bit of it clearfell – and more than once.

    Peter Godfrey is dreaming if he thinks that signficant money can be made from the land – for starters people have had to volunteer money just to pay the rates.

    I hope it doesn’t happen, but I suspect that in terms of bio-diversity, the properties will go backwards without the management that has been happening in the past.

  30. Brian

    October 30, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    #11.. What makes you think that the land hasn’t been logged ?? Best you have a closer look !

  31. Pete Godfrey

    October 30, 2010 at 10:34 am

    what a great outcome, I am sure that there were plenty of reasons that the land hasn’t been logged yet. I am glad that there are people like Jan,Rob,Sandy and Graeme who care enough about Tasmania and also who can see that money can be made from land without clearfelling it.
    Thankyou to all.

  32. Greg Standish

    October 30, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Did you notice on ABC TV’s 11 Oct Australian Story episode “Animal Farm” when Jan Cameron made the comment “Typical Mercury sensationalism” in relation to Mercury newspaper’s coverage of her reward for farm workers to report their bosses in the event of animal cruelty, the ABC omitted Jan’s words from their transcript of the episode? Sound like incestuous ABC Hobart and Mercury inter-vested interests at work there, eh? They’re exchanging reporters all the time. So if the Mercury needs to be brought into line, can one rely on the ABC to correct Mercury’s smear tactics? Sounds instead like ABC Hobart is watching out for Mercury’s interests. http://www.abc.net.au/austory/specials/animalfarm/default.htm

  33. Sam

    October 29, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    What ? …. land “ranging from ancient old-growth rainforests, sub-alpine forests, sweeping landscapes of towering trees, lakes and wild rivers, lowland forests and forested valleys. It includes nationally significant upland vegetation, heaths, grasslands, sphagnum wetlands and old-growth swamp peppermint forests”. I thought Tasmania was a trashed desert ? Now this land is highly valued as “jewels of World Heritage value”. Gees, Gunns must have done a great job in managing this land !!

  34. MArk Wybourne

    October 29, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    I think that Bob Moore meant who’s.

  35. john hayward

    October 29, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    This is great, but where do you find a reliable supply of super-rich nature-lovers to defend the private land environment?

    Conservationists need a fabulously munificent patron such as the one Gunns enjoys, who annually showers them with over $67,000,000 to merely wreck the place. This sugar-daddy has also given them a PAL which may be able to block the conservation covenanting of rural land if necessary.

    I’ve heard there is a very powerful lady called Gaia, who plays much harder than Jan Cameron, and who is increasingly involved.

    John Hayward

  36. Bonni Hall

    October 29, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Re #2. If you are going to be that picky, it is WHO’S not WHOSE.

  37. Brenton

    October 29, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I think Russell meant Jan?

  38. Bemused

    October 29, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    tarzan’s missus?

  39. bob hawkins

    October 29, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Hi Jan Cameron and Co: Fantastic to have people like you around. Have you got a few dollars left to save Sullivan Point on Recherche Bay? This site, part of a geographical location of immense significance to Australia’s pre-First Fleet European history, is due to go under the auctioneer’s hammer — at the Town Hall, Huonville, on November 5 — with no apparent covenantal protection from forestry or tourism assault.

  40. Bob Moore

    October 29, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Whose Jane?

  41. Russell

    October 29, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Absolutely bloody BRILLIANT!

    I wonder if Jane and Co. would be interested in setting up some endemic native food plantations on some of these properties?

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