State forestry Minister Guy Barnett is displaying a remarkable ignorance of 2016 realities by pointing to industry and timber export growth figures as a justification for reversing the reservation of up to 400,000 hectares of forests so they can be logged, The Wilderness Society said today.
‘Everybody knows that the growth in logging industry activity and exports relates to the activities of companies who are 100% plantation-based and not in any way involved or interested in native forest logging and are receiving little or no help from Government,' said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for The Wilderness Society.
‘Pointing to the efforts of the plantation sector as a justification for logging native forests currently in reserves is as disingenuous as it is delusional. No one will benefit from a Minister that continues to make decisions in a vacuum, with no reference to reality.'
Last week it emerged that the Minister’s decision to announce a policy of opening up the reserved areas for logging excluded his own Ministerial Advisory Council, with members of that council seeking more information about the policy.
‘Minister Barnett is living in a parallel universe to claim some spectacular turnaround in the native forestry sector, that subsidies have stopped and logging reserves is somehow okay.
‘Last year, the Hodgman Government subsidised Forestry Tasmania by $30 million; this year it’s dishing out subsidies to private native forest operators and it still has plans to privatise Forestry Tasmania’s publicly-owned plantations to prop up ongoing native forest logging.
‘Minister Barnett would be well-advised to drop the overt political attacks in his statements, stop hiding behind plantation export figures and front up to some of the genuine challenges facing the native forest sector.
‘To really help Tasmania move on, Minister Barnett should focus on forward-looking, positive proposals to create sustainable business models and a new future for Tasmania.
‘Properly protecting Tasmania’s forests as new national parks and leveraging the economic, employment and community benefits that come with conservation icons is a far better conversation to have than the one that points us backwards towards the guarantee of uncertainty, instability and ongoing division that comes with logging reserves.’
For further comment, please contact Vica Bayley on 0400 644 939.