Image for Crowded Out

Tasmania has a land mass of 6.8 million hectares, 42% of which is reported to be in ‘reserves’ [1] [2] [3] or 2.8 million hectares.  Of this, 1.38 million hectares is the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) the boundary of which appears to have been “deliberately chosen to exclude the forests most sought after for logging.”[4]. 


A good portion of of the remainder of these reserves is designated as ‘informal’ – a classification that can be revoked by Forestry Tasmania at any time.  The concept of what constitutes a ‘reserve’ and whether and how these areas are mapped is a controversial subject and the breadth of the topic will not be covered at length here.


Mark Poynter asserted this week that, of this so-called ‘reserved’ area, 1.66278 million hectares of native forest is included within it [5 ] but even Timber Communities Australia gives a lower figure than this one. [6] The figures are perpetually rubbery.  According to the 2003 Tasmanian State of the Environment report, for instance, 23% of the original native vegetation was cleared – that is, it has not been subject to ‘protection’.[7 ]. This cleared area is reported to be 1.564 million hectares. However, as of 1997 it was claimed that there were 1.8 million hectares of land used for agriculture in Tasmania [8 ].  It can be seen that this industrial land dimension alone is in excess of that area denominated as ‘cleared of native vegetation since settlement; and the vast exotic plantations and the multitude of other industrial and other human uses are also not included. This obvious inconsistency reflects the (vastly understated) concerns expressed in the SOER report of 2003 that there is “There is no single data source to report on land clearance and vegetation change in a systematic and consistent way for different land uses, vegetation types and tenures. “ [9]  There were 1.632 million ha of commercial forests (24% of the state) according to the Tasmanian Government’s Land Use Report published for the year 1996/97 [10 ] [11]


So, if you begin with Tasmania’s 6.8 million-hectares and then take from that the amount of area set aside for ‘reserves’ (2.8m), then deduct agriculture (1.8m) and also commercial forests (1.632m) that leaves a calculated total of 568,000 hectares of land (or 8% of Tasmania) left over for roads, buildings, beaches, waterbodies, backyards, lawns, mines and quarries, pavements, amusement parks, waste facilities, car parks and other human infrastructure.  Not much!  A little more than one hectare per person.


Where will we find the space for future expansion of people and industry?


[1] State of the Environment Tasmania 2003
Biodiversity, Land Clearance
http://soer.justice.tas.gov.au/2003/bio/4/issue/41/ataglance.php


[2] Land Use - Land Use in Tasmania
Last updated: Monday, 25-May-2009 15:06:30 EST
http://www.anra.gov.au/topics/land/landuse/tas/index.html


[3]  Forestry Tasmania manages State forest (including Forest Reserves) under the Forestry Act 1920.


[4]  “The TWWHA is one of Australia’s greatest conservation achievements, but it contains extremely little tall wet eucalypt forest


• The TWWHA protects approximately 1.38 million hectares of dramatic alpine landscapes, sweeping buttongrass plains and epiphyte-encrusted rainforests
• It contains Aboriginal cultural heritage sites at least 15, 000 years old
• But only 12% of Tasmania’s tall wet eucalypt forests are found in the TWHHA   By contrast, 63% of buttongrass moorland vegetation is protected within the TWWHA
• In many places the boundary of the TWWHA is the edge of tall, wet eucalypt forest
• It appears clear that the TWWHA boundary has been deliberately chosen to exclude the forests most sought after for logging”
See:  Exposing Forestry Tasmania’s false claims on the Upper Florentine Valley
http://tasmaniantimes.com/images/uploads/Exposing_Forestrys_false_claims_on_Upper_Florentine.pdf


[5] Comment number 2 directed at Simon Warriner. http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/poynt/


[6] On 7th March, 2006, Timber Communities’ Australia Media release stated that “Tasmania’s existing old growth forest reserved is 1,002,480ha (this is part of the total forest reserved)”
http://www.tca.org.au/mediacommunication/docs/060307tas_facts.pdf


[7] State of the Environment Tasmania 2003 Biodiversity, Land Clearance
http://soer.justice.tas.gov.au/2003/bio/4/issue/41/ataglance.php


[8] Land Use - Land Use in Tasmania
Last updated: Monday, 25-May-2009 15:06:30 EST
http://www.anra.gov.au/topics/land/landuse/tas/index.html


[9]“…There is no single data source to report on land clearance and vegetation change in a systematic and consistent way for different land uses, vegetation types and tenures. Forest Practices Board data is used to provide a guide to forestry related clearance. However, this data is not mapped, does not include clearing occurring below thresholds of the Forest Practices System, and is not capable of monitoring illegal or incremental clearing. Clearance of vegetation communities for other uses such as housing is also not measured or reported. Measures of vegetation change for non-forest vegetation communities are comparatively less studied or reported. Various limitations were apparent in the data that were available to report on land clearance and vegetation change….”
State of the Environment Tasmania 2003
Biodiversity, Land Clearance
http://soer.justice.tas.gov.au/2003/bio/4/issue/41/ataglance.php


[10]  According to the 1996/97 Land Use of Australia, Version 2, commercial forestry is the major single land use in Tasmania covering around 24 percent of the State.


[11]  “The area of native forests (at 1996), was 3,208,690 ha or 47% of the land area (Tasmanian RFA, page 70).” [http://forestry.uncronopio.org/reserves.html]  Ten years later the State of the Forests Tasmanian 2006 report gave the figure for ‘forest’ cover as 49%, or 3,353,000 hectares. “Native forest makes up 93 per cent of this (ie 3,118,290 hectares) and plantations seven per cent”.  These figures are said to represent a 2.8% drop in the area of native forest.  The total area of plantations is reported that year to be 237,000. “Forested land in Tasmania in 2006 was almost equally divided between formal conservation reserves, other publicly managed land (including State forest and informal reserves) and private freehold land.”  In other words, approximately 16% of Tasmania was covered with forests in formal conservation reserves or approximately 1.088 million hectares. ‘Informal reservation’ means that the status of the forest protection can be revoked or changed at Forestry’s discretion at any time.  If you observe the map of the different forest types in Tasmania you will see that the vast majority of forests in the areas set aside as formal reserves are of the non-Eucalyptus type – rainforests and other varieties, a high proportion of which is of no commercial interest.  It is important to note that all the above figures relating to forest conservation in Tasmania are unable to be verified as Forestry Tasmania has repeatedly refused to release maps or evidence to verify its claims. [See:  ]http://tasmaniantimes.com/images/uploads/Exposing_Forestrys_false_claims_on_Upper_Florentine.pdf]


Article updated: 2.15pm, October 7