Media Releases - 03 April 2024

Thousands of Tasmania’s giant trees could be spared following policy change

Eucalyptus regnans in the Styx Valley. Image: Geoff Law.

Thousands of Tasmanian trees may now be protected from logging following changes announced last Friday to Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s Giant Tree Policy.

The policy will now classify trees over four metres in diameter as ‘Giants’. Giants are afforded a buffer, creating an informal reserve which protects them from logging. This change is a vast improvement from the old policy that only recognised trees over 85 metres tall or 280 cubic metres in volume as Giant trees.

While it is currently unclear exactly how many new trees will be protected under this updated policy, The Tree Projects and the Wilderness Society Tasmania estimate thousands of Giant trees could potentially fall under this expanded classification, which is likely to amount to a few thousand hectares of native forests.

The inclusion of trees over four metres in diameter now brings Tasmania’s Giant Tree Policy in line with that of the now defunct Victorian state logging corporation, VicForests, but still lags significantly behind Canada which protects trees over 2.5 metres in diameter.

Although the policy change is welcome, its effectiveness in protecting Giants will rely on rigorous surveying and mapping of areas marked for logging by Sustainable Timber Tasmania. As the policy is internal, there is no mechanism for external enforcement.

‘The Tree Projects have been strongly advocating for an update to the Giant Tree Policy for years now, so it's great to see these important changes be made,” said Steven Pearce, for The Tree Projects. “We are so very lucky to have such extraordinary trees in Tasmania, they are an important part of our natural heritage. This is a big win for Tasmanians, and probably the biggest win that we have had for forests in the last decade.”

Alice Hardinge, Campaigns Manager for Wilderness Society Tasmania, said, “Although this policy reform is a step in the right direction, the protection of these incredibly ecologically and culturally important giant trees will require thorough surveys in order to actually identify and protect Giants in areas slated to be logged. As the Giant Tree Policy is an internal policy, there are no accountability mechanisms available to the forestry regulator, the Forest Practices Authority. We need to see Forestry Tasmania really walk the talk if this change is going to actually protect the forest Giants. In a dual climate and biodiversity crisis, paying lip service to protecting native forest is not going to be enough.”

The Tree Projects have been advocating for the new four metre diameter clause since 2020 and have been meeting with regularly with Sustainable Timber Tasmania to push for greater protection of Tasmania’s giant trees. Wilderness Society Tasmania and the Tree Projects have also conducted extensive surveying of logging coupes, to identify Giants.