Media Releases - 09 November 2020

Wilderness Society welcomes Liberal members’ leatherwood motion but doubts meaningful action

  • Liberal Party members’ leatherwood motion passed at party conference on Saturday 7 October 2020 calls for leatherwood protection
  • Motion further evidence that agreement between Tasmania’s beekeepers and ‘Sustainable’ Timber Tasmanian (STT) to better manage leatherwood is not working
  • Motion calls for overhaul of guidelines, protection of leatherwood, a halt to leatherwood logging and clearfelling of rainforests, re-establishment of leatherwood populations and stricter regulation of STT 

The Wilderness Society Tasmania has welcomed the passing of a motion from Tasmanian Liberal Party members at its conference calling for the protection from logging of leatherwood, Tasmania’s single most agriculturally important plant.

“Logging Tasmania’s rainforests by successive governments has already destroyed 80% of the island’s leatherwood stands, yet, unbelievably this logging continues today,” said Tom Allen for the Wilderness Society Tasmania. 

“Anyone can go to Tyenna Big Tree Reserve (logging coupe TN005D) in the Florentine to see one of many examples of this travesty for themselves. Hundreds of leatherwood trees are strewn across the part of the coupe that’s been logged and the rainforest that’s still standing in the other half - and is due to be logged this summer - is stuffed full of mature and baby leatherwood trees.  

“The agreements between Sustainable Timber Tasmania (STT) and Tasmanian Beekeeping Association are more about silencing ordinary beekeepers than protecting leatherwood. The logging of leatherwood in the Florentine and elsewhere, the continued outspoken comments by apiraists and the Liberal members’ leatherwood motion show leatherwood protection isn’t working. 

“The failure of these agreements is symptomatic of the cosy EPBC-empt, soft-touch, low-quality old-boys' regulatory regime of logging in Tasmania that continues the publicly subsidised logging of high conservation value public native forests, including clearfelling giant trees, rainforests and old-growth forests. 

“Protecting leatherwood is in the state’s best interest but the native forest logging sector is the spoiled child that always seems to get its way, even when it’s logging the key species on which hinges the Gutwein Government’s multi-billion dollar agricultural expansion plans.

“Logging leatherwood is not sustainable. Logging rainforests is like shooting elephants for ivory,” said Mr Allen. 

Leatherwood motion passed at the Tasmanian Liberal Party state conference, November 7 2020: 

That this State Council recommends a comprehensive review of the current Planning Guidelines for Apiary Values, signed jointly by Sustainable Timber Tasmania (STT) and the Tasmanian Beekeepers Association on the 11th day of October 2019, as a necessary requirement of Tasmania achieving its stated goal of being able to generate $10 billion income from our agriculture sector by the year 2050.

1. The primary objective of that review is to establish the necessary guidelines and conditions required in the Tasmanian Forest Practices Code, to ensure that the remaining Tree Species of the Leatherwood Timber / Flora resources are protected, wherever practically possible. To achieve this, the following additions to the guidelines are required:

(a) STT are to walk coupes to ensure that leatherwood species are appropriately marked and subsequently recorded to be protected. In the event that Leatherwood is identified as a result of the opening of a new coupe or the construction of a road to a new coupe, that harvesting and road construction be ceased immediately until appropriate evaluation is conducted.

(b) Accurate auditing of coupes with leatherwood species is undertaken, not simply predictive mapping

2. That a concerted effort be made to re-establish the Leatherwood populations, within any impending Permanent Timber Production Harvesting Zones/Coupes, that currently have Leatherwood Tree species within them.

3. That the Tasmanian Department of State Growth be included as 3rd Party signatories to new Memorandum/Agreements regarding the Planning Guidelines for Apiary Values and its industry expansion - Pollination Services and Nectar Production - to:

(a) further increase Tasmanian Nectar, vegetables, fruit and seed productions exports;

(b) to be able to capitalise on potential health benefits as research progresses.

4. That to ensure the retention of the remaining stands of our State's Leatherwood Tree Resources, we request an immediate moratorium/halt to any clear-felling of future Permanent Timber Production Zones/Coupes in our Tasmanian Rain Forests, that have 10% or more by number of the Tasmanian Leatherwood Tree species within them, till such time as the proposed review has been completed and these revised guidelines (if any) have been incorporated into the Forest Practices Code.

5. A legally binding commitment needs to be given by STT that the Planning Guidelines for Apiary Values agreed between the Tasmanian Beekeepers Association and Sustainable Timber Tasmania are strictly adhered to, including publicly reportable measures to ensure strict compliance with those guidelines.”

Event: Beecline? Tasmania’s Future of Bees, Honey, Leatherwood & Farming 

For further comment contact Tom Allen on 0434 614 323