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Peace in our forests

Updated:
  • Tasmanian forest agreement finally reached!
  • Half a million hectares to be protected.
  • 30 years of conflict coming to an end.

At last. After two years of intense negotiations and 30 years of friction between forestry groups, governments, communities and environmental organisations, an historic eleventh-hour forest agreement has been reached.

As part of the agreement, half a million hectares of precious Tasmanian native forest will be protected from logging, and the logging industry will be comprehensively restructured.

Three weeks ago, we were faced with the total collapse of these long-running peace talks. It looked like we'd lost our chance to protect Tasmania’s ancient forests for good, but a return to the negotiation table has paid off.

Ultimately, this is a win for our magnificent forests... but it's also a win for people power. This momentous outcome is the realisation of much hard work, many late nights, and blood, sweat and tears poured into a sustained campaign by many people over many decades. This process has demonstrated that the will of people to influence change, and the notion of constructive dialogue, is can be used as a model to move other environmental issues forward.

This process was never about destroying an industry or putting people out of work – it was about supporting change and reaching an outcome that is both environmentally acceptable and actually deliverable in the real world of economics, politics and personal philosophies. It’s a very emotional issue for some, but today's announcement represents a great outcome for our forests, for workers, and for the Tasmanian community.

As this has been a genuine negotiation, we didn’t get everything we set out to achieve. For example, an explicit timeline-based exit from native forest logging. However, we can honestly say that we left no stone unturned, and we believe we've achieved a comprehensive conservation outcome alongside a restructure of the logging industry that will support people through change.

The formal protection of 504,000 hectares of high-conservation-value native forest, added to existing reserves, will make Tasmania a global leader in conservation. The forest agreement will reduce the available wood supply to the logging industry by more than half – from 300,000 cubic metres per annum, to 137,000 cubic metres.

All 504,000 hectares will have forestry rights revoked immediately by enabling legislation through two mechanisms – a ‘protection order’ generated by the Minister of Forests and a Conservation Agreement under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Convservation Act 1999, and an agreement between the state and federal governments.

While immediate protection will apply, the reserves will be formally recognised as national parks and other reserves in two blocks – the first installment of 395,000 hectares immediately, and a subsequent installment of 108,000 hectares within two years if the agreement has continued to hold.

Protected forests will be an extension of Tassie's existing World Heritage area, and contain forests of global significance, including the Styx, Florentine, Weld and Blue Tier. Signatories have called on the Federal Government to nominate the World Heritage extension by February 2013, with a declaration by June 2013. The agreement also includes explicit support for good faith negotiations about future management of Tasmanian land between Tasmania’s Aboriginal communities and the Government.

Finally, please remember that this has happened because of you. Every petition you signed, every protest you marched in, and every dollar you donated has helped us to arrive at this historic agreement. Thank you for your ongoing support and resilience.

Today, we have have an outcome for our forests that we can be extremely proud of.

Learn more

Read a summary of the agreement