The Prime Minister of Australia and the Premier of Tasmania signed the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement on 7 August 2011.
The Agreement was the culmination of the Statement of Principles negotiations between the forest industry and ENGOs during 2010/11. It seeks to achieve the dual objectives of guaranteeing resource supply to timber processors, and of reserving an additional area of almost 430,000 hectares of state forest claimed to be of high conservation value, pending independent verification.
Hon Tony Burke MP, Hon Bryan Green MP and Mr Bob Gordon, Managing Director of Forestry Tasmania, signed the Conservation Agreement formalising interim protection for almost 430,000 hectares on 16 January 2012.
The Conservation Agreement confirms Forestry Tasmania’s previous advice that a number of coupes within the 430,000 hectares is needed to meet wood supply contracts with processors from all around Tasmania, as required under the TFIA.
In total, these coupes represent less than half of one per cent of the total area identified for interim protection.
This outcome is consistent with Clauses 17 and 18 of the Intergovernmental Agreement, which guarantee that wood supply to the forest industry will be maintained, and that existing contracts will be honoured.
It provides clarification and reassurance to Forestry Tasmania’s international markets, and certainty to our employees, contractors and domestic customers.
We expect the independent verification of claimed high conservation value forest to be completed by 29 February.
Land use decisions, including decisions over which areas of state forest may be used for timber production, are made by the Tasmanian and Australian Parliaments. Forestry Tasmania manages state forests to comply with those decisions, and with our other legislative, contractual, fiduciary and sustainability obligations.
During the Statement of Principles negotiations, Forestry Tasmania was contracted by the parties to provide detailed scientific modelling on resource availability under potential scenarios for forest reservation. This advice, which was publicly released as part of Mr Bill Kelty’s final report, was independently verified by Professor Jerry Vanclay, who concluded:
The Reference Group can be confident that the scenarios presented by FT offer a reliable indication of resource availability, and that the scenarios are a reasonable basis for comparing options. While the underlying areas, inventory, and simulations conform to best practice, it is not possible to assert a precise long-term non-declining yield for any of the three scenarios without further specification of operational requirements (notably coupe dispersal and swift parrot requirements). Notwithstanding this limitation, the FT summaries offer a good basis for comparing scenarios.
The governments appointed a verification group led by Professor Jonathon West to make a final decision about the areas to be placed in interim reserves, and those that will be available for wood production. The recommendations of the independent verification group are expected by 29 February.
Forestry Tasmania will continue to provide factual advice through the Intergovernmental Agreement process.
We will also provide as much information as possible to the community. In line with this policy, the following documents are currently available: