Updated: August 25, 2010
Tasmanian Forest and Forest Industry Talks: Questions and Answers
Environment and forest industry representatives have been talking informally to explore ways to resolve the conflict over native forests in Tasmania and protect both jobs and native forests.
UPDATE: Gunns Ltd announced an end to native forest logging in Tasmania, and around Australia. Read more about this historic win.
But this does not mean our forests are protected, and talks are still underway.
Representatives agree that a solution needs to be acceptable to the broader Tasmanian community and needs to have the support of State and Federal governments.
The Tasmanian government is supportive of the process and is allowing the time and space for participating organisations to work on a framework for formal negotiations.
Away from potentially divisive political and media spotlight, participating organisations have been able to make progress on identifying common ground and working towards agreed principles. All organisations understand the difficulty in resolving a decades-long conflict, and that any formal negotiations will take more time.
The Wilderness Society has put together a list of questions and answers to inform our members and supporters about the process which is underway.
Questions and Answers
What are the informal talks trying to achieve?
What could the talks mean for Tasmania’s natural heritage?
What could the talks achieve for climate change?
Who is involved in the informal talks?
What about the community and other key stakeholders?
What about politicians?
How have environment groups been consulted?
What issues are environment groups trying to put forward?
Are environment groups supporting a Tamar Valley Pulp Mill?
What will happen now?
How can I feed in suggestions and ideas?
There is a lot of goodwill in the ongoing discussions. There is recognition of the need to create a sustainable forest industry in Tasmania, provide jobs for workers and keep Tasmania clean and green.
Environment groups are aiming to reach an agreement on key principles that will:
- protect important areas of native forest
- build a sustainable timber industry including downstream processing of plantations
- build stronger communities
These principles will form the basis for starting formal negotiations.
The principles will then require State and Federal government support to start formal negotiations, community consultation and implementation. Environment groups have agreed with industry and unions that a sustainable timber industry is necessary for the economic future of the state and support a new way of doing business in Tasmania that doesn't involve the destruction of its natural heritage.
The key principles we are seeking to reach agreement on would spell an immediate end to logging Tasmania’s world-class forests – magnificent places like the Florentine, Tarkine and the Weld forests. These spectacular, unprotected forests are home to many species including the threatened Tasmanian Devil and Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle.
There would be an immediate phase out of all logging in native forests as the timber industry moves to using plantation timber only. This will be great news for Tasmanians and Australians who value our unique and beautiful environment.
The talks are also an opportunity to rehabilitate forest areas that have been degraded by logging and restore their environmental values such as wildlife habitat and water supply.
By protecting and restoring our native forests we can absorb massive amounts of carbon pollution – and as they recover and grow, we could store even more carbon pollution.
The talks have included Timber Communities Australia, the National Association of Forest Industries, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the Forest Industry Association of Tasmania, Environment Tasmania, The Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation. More recently, the Tasmanian Forest Contractor's Association started actively participating with the partners. During discussions, all organisations continue to consult with their constituencies through reference groups and direct consultation. Other stakeholders have also been involved where needed.
If the informal talks reach agreement on the principles, the next step is to move into formal negotiations and gain government support and the support of the community through extensive consultation. The parties involved in the talks all agree that the broader Tasmanian community must be involved in any formal process to deliver a solution to the longstanding forest conflict.
Politicians are not directly involved in the talks but representatives from all three political parties at a State and Federal level have been kept informed of progress.
Environment Tasmania and the Wilderness Society established a Forest Reference Group to allow the talks team to consult and seek feedback from 25 environment groups from across the state. The forest reference group meets on a semi-regular basis to discuss progress and feedback into the talks. They have guided the development of the key environmental principles needed for an acceptable forest future for Tasmania.
Environment groups have been using the Tasmanian Conservation Council’s (Environment Tasmania) Forest Policy to guide discussions. The Forest Policy was developed over the last four years by its member groups. It is broadly similar to the policy positions of the Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation.
The Forest Policy and a discussion paper on forest solutions can be found on the Environment Tasmania website
No, we have not been negotiating a pulp mill in the Tamar Valley. Environment groups do not accept the proposed Tamar Valley pulp mill and if an agreement is reached, it will not be a green light to the Tamar Mill. We continue to have serious concerns including the proposed pulp mill’s use of fresh water, marine and air pollution, and the lack of robust assessment and community consultation.
Any pulp mill proposal must start with a proper community consultation process – unlike last time.
If State and Federal governments support any agreed principles, a program for formal negotiations can commence. To be successful, the negotiations will require significant input from a much broader range of stakeholders, experts and the broader community.
If agreement can be reached in the informal talks, it will be agreement on broad principles only. The next step is to ensure comprehensive community consultation and input. Feel free to contact us to find out more.
For more information, please contact:
The Wilderness Society Tasmania Inc
130 Davey Street, TAS, 7000 Australia
Phone: (03) 6224 1550 | Fax: (03) 6223 5112