After decades of conflict between forestry and conservation groups, a real path forward to the formal protection of new national parks and reserves in Tasmania has now been realised.
After decades of conflict between forestry and conservation groups, a real path forward has been realised. Despite challenges thrown down by Tasmania's Upper House some weeks ago, the legislation will deliver formal protection for new national parks and reserves in Tasmania.
The prospect of protecting the full half a million hectares of native forests is well and truly alive, and the World Heritage Area inscription for the Styx, Weld, and Upper Florentine Valleys is on track for a decision in June by the World Heritage Committee. Meanwhile, workers and communities are supported through the restructure of the industry, with the legislation reducing the sawlog industry to less than half of its previous size.
The Forest Agreement legislation was heavily revised several weeks ago in Tasmania’s Upper House, which placed delays and other conditions on the agreed creation of new reserves. Despite this turn of events denting our confidence in the Agreement’s workability, we’ve been determined to keep it alive for the real opportunities it presents to protect vast areas of native forest in Tasmania.
Over the past week, we have worked to devise a range of complementary measures that we're confident will be actioned by the government independent of this legislation. These measures have helped to restore our confidence that Tassie's forests will be protected under the amended legislation.
Some of these measures include:
- The transfer of management of the full 504,000 hectares of future reserve land from Forestry Tasmania to Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania
- Reaching agreement with industry and their customers that no wood will be sourced from the 504,000 hectares of future reserves
- Commitment from Forestry Tasmania, to be enshrined in its charter, not to log in the reserves and seek Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards to be written into its charter
The best way forward
This legislation remains the best way to deliver new reserves for our irreplaceable native forests. It also delivers a much-needed restructuring package to the forestry industry while, at the same time, providing the best opportunity to resolve one the longest-running environmental conflicts in Australia’s history.
It’s important to recognise concerns over the amended legislation from both sides of the debate. We understand these concerns, but we felt that rejecting this legislation based on its imperfections would do more harm than good for our forests in the long run.
It’s incumbent on anyone opposed to this legislation to articulate a better plan to save Tasmania’s forests. So far, we've heard of nothing that comes close to presenting a better path towards formal forest reservation outcomes and industry restructure than what this legislation provides - not from activists in the environment movement, nor from detractors in the forestry industry.
Compromises are, by nature, not perfect. However, this Agreement has provided our best shot in a lifetime at protecting the forests that we all love and have fought so hard for. This is a moment to stand proud, and we couldn't have arrived here without our members and supporters. Thank you.
View a more detailed map of the reserves
Read through our list of FAQs about the Forest Agreement
Read why the environment groups are standing behind the Agreement
Read the joint statement from signatories
See the complementary measures that helped get the agreement over the line here and here