The announcement that the Hodgman Government will undo protections to log high conservation value forest that are currently officially counted as conservation reserves represents a major step backwards for Tasmania’s conservation credibility, brand and identity.
Official government documents from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment show the 392,000ha subject to this regressive policy announcement are classified as 'Informal Reserves' and make up part of the ‘50% of Tasmania’ that is protected. They are also counted as part of the Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative (CAR) reserve network for Tasmania and include places like the Blue Tier, Bruny Island, Wielangta, takayna/Tarkine and Northeast Highlands.
‘Logging these forests doesn’t just escalate the conflict over forestry in Tasmania, signal an abandonment of FSC certification for Forestry Tasmania and threaten a range of important environmental and social values in the forests, it winds back our reserve statistics and cuts into the heart of Tasmania’s conservation credibility, branding and identity,’ said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for The Wilderness Society.
‘This year, on the 100th anniversary of our first national parks, the Hodgman Government has waxed lyrical about the power and value of Tasmania’s reserve system and the 50% of Tasmania that is protected. Those reserves are underpinning the success of the tourism industry which is underpinning Tasmania’s economy.
‘While more needs to be done to properly protect significant tracts of that 50% of Tasmania, carving off valleys and hillsides and returning them to clearfell logging will take our conservation statistics backwards and expose Tasmania as totally disingenuous when it comes to conservation credibility.
‘In 2014, our Liberal Governments embarrassed Tasmania on the international stage when they attempted to delist parts of the World Heritage Area to allow logging.
‘Learning nothing from that incompetence, Minister Barnett is seeking to repeat the same principle, undo conservation reserves and take Tasmania backwards with its conservation statistics, credibility and the conflict over forestry.
‘As the Ministers for Parks and Tourism respectively, Matthew Groom and Premier Will Hodgman should explain how reversing conservation reserves and returning them to logging can be consistent with a strategy of capitalising on our branding as an international conservation icon that protects and respects its environment and is worth being visited by tourists.'
For further comment, please call Vica Bayley on 0400 644 939.