Expiration of forests moratorium gives opportunity for more comprehensive interim protection of Tasmania’s forgotten forests
The imminent expiry on June 30th of the current ‘Conservation Agreement’ that applied a limited moratorium on logging high conservation value forests means that a new, more comprehensive Conservation Agreement is urgently needed that covers all Tasmania’s high conservation value forests.
Markets for Change, The Last Stand, Huon Valley Environment Centre and Still Wild Still Threatened are calling on the Federal Government to adhere to the precautionary principle and implement an immediate moratorium on the full 563,000 ha of forests that have been verified as having high conservation values in Tasmania since the original, limited agreement was applied. The opportunity should be taken to ensure that values are not lost to ongoing logging and road-building operations in forests that are currently the subject of negotiations for their permanent protection.
There have always been two problems with the incomplete nature of the current logging moratorium, which prompted international markets action:
- The IGA only ever proposed that 430,000ha of the ENGOs conservation claim of 572,000ha be subject to a moratorium, leaving 142,000ha of equally important forests to bear the brunt of destruction by ongoing forestry operations. Independent Verification Reports have now confirmed that “The majority of ENGO proposed reserves meet one or more National or World Heritage criteria” and “the ENGO proposed reserves represent the last chance to address and protect many natural heritage values on forested public land.”*
- The Conservation Agreement imposed on January 13th didn’t even cover the 430,000 hectares in its entirety as promised in the IGA, instead allowing logging and road-building in 43 coupes of high conservation value.
“The Federal Government should act to provide for new and improved protection measures over Tasmania’s forests when the current Conservation Agreement expires at midnight on 30th June. We are advocating for a better conservation agreement so that forests under negotiation for protection are not destroyed now whilst their potential reservation is being discussed,” The Last Stand’s Campaign Manager Ula Majewski said.
“The failure to properly impose interim protection on vital areas of forest was directly due to Ta Ann’s wood supply requirements, according to official documents, and so we ramped up our international markets campaign in an effort to get the company to source its wood outside these places,” Markets for Change spokesperson Peg Putt said. “Here is the opportunity to get it right.”
“World heritage value forests in Butlers Gorge, the Picton Valley and elsewhere have been lost during the period of the last Conservation Agreement due to ongoing logging destruction, even though the IGA promised they would be off limits. Across Tasmania there are also important forest ecosystems that can still be protected from logging, which were left out of the previously inadequate Conservation Agreement and are still intact. Sadly these forests remain imminently under threat from proposed logging. These verified forests should now all be off limits whilst future reserves are finalised in the negotiations,” Huon Valley Environment Centre’s Jenny Weber said.
“Our scouting shows that approximately half of the 43 coupes exempted to allow logging inside the moratorium area have been subject to forestry operations, but the rest remain intact. Logging operations need to be kept out of all the critical forests. We are going to continue to fight for these forests’ protection. If a comprehensive Conservation Agreement is not implemented the forest I have been living in for over 6 months will remain under the threat of imminent destruction,” Still Wild Still Threatened spokesperson Miranda Gibson said from the Observer Tree, which is located in one of the 43 exempt logging coupes that was targeted to supply Ta Ann.
*Mackey, Brendan (2012). ‘Tasmanian Forest Agreement – Summary Report of Conservation Values.’ Prepared for the Independent Verification Group of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement. March 2012, p. 9.