Image for An infamous ‘peace deal’ - roundly condemned

It is now dawning on many long-standing environmentalists in Tasmania that the so-called ‘peace deal’ signed by the self-appointed ENGOs is nothing more than a cruel hoax.

The destiny of the ‘informal’ reserved forests is now held off for another 12 months; more time for everyone to regroup and perhaps suck a bit more cash out of taxpayers.

The political crunch may come next year. State Labor must try to get a package through Parliament. This will test the Labor/Green relationship and the veto powers of the Legislative Council.

The 265,000 cubic metres of peeler billets per year is now the new battle ground; effectively a resource guarantee for Ta An. There is no prospect of a rapid transition from a reliance on native forest logs to plantations by this company. 

And why would the ENGOs also support 155,000 cu metres per years of sawlog as a minimum harvest rate?

How did the ENGOs agree to these allocations for no protection for high conservation value forests and an agreement to ‘a pulp mill’?

This is not a plan for a transition; it is an expansion on the back of a forestry industry that has cut its workforce by more than half in just 4 years!

Notwithstanding the mess ET Inc. and TWS have now created, this Heads of Agreement will not bring peace to the forests in Tasmania. It does not support their signed Statement of Principles and the ENGOs should have said as much on Sunday July 24.

The 572,000 hectares on public land proposed for reservation does not provide sufficient protection for the key habitats for threatened species in Tasmania; it includes areas already informally reserved, reducing the area of new reserves by around 170,000 hectares. Reserves on freehold land are not included.

Tasmania does have some managed native forest that can be used responsibly for timber production at a lower annual yield and strictly regulated to ensure sustainability. Plantation establishment has already seen the clearing of vast areas of native forests and the destruction of rural communities. There must be no more forestry plantations.

Both State and Commonwealth governments have traded on the ENGOs appeasement of ‘a pulp mill’ and manipulated that Statement of Forest Principles to these wicked ends. It is also shameful that the three ENGOs by their signatures removed their support for the people of the Tamar Valley.

The decision-making processes the ENGO negotiators used - and their behaviour - has caused distrust and distress for many in the conservation movement. This forest peace process has been treated all along as a two-sided issue. Many Tasmanians were not consulted, whilst the people of northern Tasmania who stand to be affected have not been represented or heard.

The Tasmanian forestry industry gets a financial package worth several hundreds of millions again! Yet the conservation of Tasmania’s forests will be haggled over for another year or so. This has been a very poor negotiation process; the conflict is not resolved.