John Howard: Way Forward For Tasmania’s Forests
The Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement, A Way Forward For Tasmania’s Forests
Australia PM John Howard Announcement - "I am very pleased to announce an Agreement between the Australian and Tasmanian Governments that builds on the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement, securing the future of Tasmania's forest industries and providing enhanced protection for its unique forests. As a result of this Agreement, forest related industries will remain a large part of Tasmania's economy in the decades ahead.
The Australian Government went to the last election with a commitment to increase reserves of Tasmania's old growth forests and preserve the jobs of timber and forestry workers.
We made a commitment to work with the Tasmanian Government within the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) processes and protect the interests of all stakeholders. We made commitments to invest in the Tasmanian timber industry, and to a $51.8 million package of measures to revitalize the industry, to provide it with a sustainable future. We committed to ensuring no jobs in the timber and forestry industry would be lost. We also committed to add 170, 000 hectares of old growth forests to reserves, which would result in over 1 million hectares held in reserves.
The Agreement the government has reached with the Tasmanian Government delivers on all these commitments.
1 million hectares of old growth forest will be protected including very significant new reserves in the Tarkine and the Styx.
The Australian and Tasmanian Governments will together invest over $250 million in programmes to support industry, jobs, communities and the environment.
Both Governments are confident that existing jobs are protected, and indeed more jobs will be created.
The Agreement has been negotiated within the RFA framework, and delivers a comprehensive and balanced package that provides a secure future for the Tasmanian forest industry and the communities it supports.
(Further details on these measures are available below.)
The Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement provides for substantial increases in reservation of old growth forests. It provides additional protection to over 180,000 hectares of forest on public and private land. The Agreement delivers nationally and internationally significant conservation outcomes. It preserves highly significant tracts of temperate rainforest in the Tarkine, adds new reserves in the Styx Valley to protect the tallest trees in the world, and increases levels of reservation for many important forest types. In addition, a new Forest Conservation Fund will seek to reserve over 45,000 hectares of forest on private land through voluntary sale or covenanting.
These new measures build on the significant achievements in the 1997 RFA and ensure that 1 million hectares of old growth forests will be reserved. The new Agreement means that 45 per cent of Tasmania's 1996 forest cover will be protected forever.
Importantly, these outcomes will be achieved while protecting the jobs of Tasmanian timber and forestry workers. The Australian and Tasmanian Governments will invest over $250 million to strengthen the Tasmanian forest industry and environment, to build new job opportunities, and to enhance significantly Tasmania's ‘sustainable forestry' brand internationally.
The Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement is supported by over $150 million in new spending from the Australian Government, focused on providing support for industry to secure its future. The Australian Government will provide $42 million to the hardwood timber industry to retool and adapt to new log mixes, more than was committed in our election package. We will also deliver on our commitment to provide $4 million to meet the special needs of country sawmills. The Australian Government will also provide $10 million to the softwood industry to aid investment in environmentally friendly best practices and improve efficiency.
The package includes a significant investment, $115 million, by both Governments to improve plantation productivity and to provide additional wood supplies to ensure the provision of high quality logs into the future.
Through the Agreement Governments are providing a targeted package of assistance to the sawmills in the north-west and west to address the reduction in red myrtle from the reserves in the Tarkine and ensure they can prosper into the future, and to the special species and honey industries.
The Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement includes several significant changes that will ensure its timber industry leads the world in environmental best practice standards, thus securing its future.
The Agreement will significantly reduce clearfelling of old growth forest. By 2010, only about 20 per cent of the old growth harvested each year will be clearfelled. New harvesting techniques will be introduced to conserve biodiversity. This measure provides an important step forward on what has been a significant issue for the Tasmanian community.
The broad scale clearing of native vegetation is one of the most significant issues affecting Tasmania's natural environment. Our Governments concluded that the issue needed to be dealt with in a comprehensive and balanced way to protect the legitimate interests of landholders, secure the environment, and build Tasmania's credentials as a supplier of sustainable natural products.
The Agreement includes a cap on native forest clearing and conversion of 95 per cent of Tasmania's 1996 vegetation cover. Clearing of native forests will be phased out over five years on public land and over ten years on private land. In the meantime, clearing assessment criteria will ensure the protection of environmental values. The phase out will not affect sustainable logging operations.
Overall this provides a balanced outcome that provides for appropriate levels of further clearing while ensuring environmental values are preserved. Landowners will be able to access the Australian Government's Forest Conservation Fund, a voluntary market based programme which offers an opportunity to sell or covenant private land to form reserves to complement those on public land.
The above changes to land clearing policy on native forests and the reduction in clearfelling of old growth forests, together with the security provided by the RFA and the supplement that has been signed today, will establish the environment for Tasmania to secure large new forest-related investments, such as the proposed pulp mill. The Australian Government is prepared to provide $5 million towards the project costs associated with an environmental best practice pulp mill.
The Australian Government is also delivering in full on its election commitments to save the Tasmanian devil, to undertake river catchment water quality auditing and to develop a Tarkine bush walk. Additional funds will be available to underwrite a number of other tourist ventures, to help show the rest of Australia, and the international tourist market, the wonders of the Tasmanian landscape. Use of 1080 on public land will be banned from the end of 2005. Australian Government funds will be used to fast-track development of alternatives to its use on private land.
The Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement will benefit Tasmania's timber communities. A revitalised timber industry and a world-class forest reserve system will secure the future of the many small communities that depend on the forest industries. The Agreement includes specific support for special species and honey producers and country sawmills. The Agreement will enhance Tasmania as a tourism destination, and the package contains support for tourism developments to showcase the new reserves. It demonstrates that timber and tourism can co-exist to create a secure future for country towns.
The Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement secures a way forward for Tasmania's forests. It represents a win for the environment and for the forest industry and the timber workers it supports. It promises a sustainable future for Tasmania.
13 May 2005
MEASURES IN THE TASMANIAN COMMUNITY FOREST AGREEMENT
Enhanced Conservation Outcomes
Additional Conservation Reserves
The Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement will provide additional protection to over 180,000 hectares of forest on public and private land, comprising about 135,450 hectares of forest on public land and the expected voluntary addition of 45,600 hectares of private forest through a new Forest Conservation Fund.
Protection of old growth forest in Tasmania will be increased to more than 1 million hectares with an additional 120,000 hectares of old growth reservation on public land and the expected voluntary addition of at least 25,000 hectares of private old growth forest through the new Forest Conservation Fund.
There will be formal reservation of internationally significant areas of the Tarkine, the world's tallest hardwood trees in the Styx Valley, the northern slopes of the Styx Valley and other key conservation areas across the State.
There will be additional significant increases in reservation levels for a number of old-growth forest types to meet national reserve criteria targets.
Private Forests (the Forest Conservation Fund)
The Australian Government will establish a new Forest Conservation Fund to protect 43,200 hectares of old growth forest and other under-reserved forest types on private land through voluntary sale or covenanting.
No landowner will be forced to sell or covenant his or her land.
The Australian Government will provide $3.6 million to protect up to an additional 2,400 hectares of private forest in the Mole Creek area through voluntary sale or covenanting.
Reductions in old growth clearfelling, including research
By 2010, no more than 20 per cent of the small area of old growth harvested each year will be clearfelled.
New silvicultural techniques will be introduced which will protect biodiversity.
The Australian Government will invest $2 million into research into alternatives to clearfelling as part of a $13.1 million package jointly funded with the Tasmanian Government.
Phase out of Land Clearing
The Australian and Tasmanian Governments have agreed to phase out clearing and conversion of native forest.
There will be a phase out of clearing and conversion of native forest in order to retain at least 95 per cent of the 1996 native forest cover. Conversion of native forest to plantations on public land will cease by 2010, and clearing of native forest on private land will be phased out over ten years.
New statutory measures will be developed to prevent the clearing and conversion of rare, vulnerable and endangered non-forest vegetation communities.
River Catchment Water Quality Auditing
The Australian Government will invest $1 million for a river catchment water quality initiative, initially focusing on the impact of chemical use on water quality on Tasmania's river catchments drawing on CSIRO expertise.
Saving the Tasmanian Devil
The Australian Government will invest $2 million to accelerate current research by the Tasmanian Government into the devil facial tumour disease, which has emerged as a serious threat to the Tasmanian devil.
Tarkine Bush Walk
The Australian Government will invest $1 million to assist the development of bushwalking tracks in the Tarkine area in northwest Tasmania.
This will allow improved visitor access to some of the Tarkine's most special features such as the tall myrtle rainforests, streams and waterfalls, and vistas.
Reducing the use of 1080
The Tasmanian Government will ban the use of 1080 in State forests by the end of this year.
The Australian Government will invest $4 million to fast track current Tasmanian Government research, trials and adoption of alternatives to 1080 use. This work will provide humane and environmentally sound alternative methods of controlling browsing animals for use by Tasmanian forestry companies and land managers.
Enhanced Outcomes for the Forest Industry
Investment in the Tasmanian forest industry
The Australian and Tasmanian Governments will together invest over $200 million in the Tasmanian forest industry to maintain wood supply levels to the industry and to assist the industry to adjust to a future increase in the proportion of logs from regrowth forest and plantations.
There will be a significant boost to Tasmania's forest industry employment and activity as a result of the investment package.
Specific measures will be introduced to ensure mills, industries and regions potentially affected by new conservation reserves will continue to flourish.
Intensive Forest Management Program
The Australian and Tasmanian Governments will invest $115 million to fund additional plantation establishment and productivity improvements in existing plantations and native forests.
This will ensure long term sawlog and veneer log supply.
Support for the Hardwood Timber Industry, Including Country Sawmills
The Australian Government will invest a total of $46 million to support the Tasmanian hardwood timber industry.
This includes $42 million for the development and revitalisation of mills and other businesses in the industry and $4 million to assist country sawmills to introduce new equipment, technologies and product lines, and to develop new markets.
Tasmanian Softwood Industry Development Program
The Australian Government will provide $10 million in the Tasmanian softwood industry to invest in environmentally friendly new equipment, support industry confidence and encourage industry to seek new markets.
Special Species and Honey Producers
As part of the joint package, the Tasmanian Government will invest $11.4 million to support the special species timber and the leatherwood honey industries.
This assistance will include improved access to resources, and support for sawmills in the west and north-west affected by the reservation of substantial special species resources.
Skills and Training
The Australian Government will invest $4 million to enhance skills and training opportunities in the Tasmanian forest industry and build a highly skilled workforce.
The Australian and Tasmanian Governments will invest $4 million in additional tourism and recreation developments.
The Australian Government will invest $2.2 million in a communications programme, incorporating its election commitment relating to education and awareness.
Australian Government Financial Package
The financial package delivers in full on the Australian Government's election commitments.
Total funding commitments by the Australian Government amount to $156.8 million plus an additional provision in the Budget for the Australian Government's private forest reserve programme, the Forest Conservation Fund. The combined commitment by both governments to the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement is over $250 million.
Full provision was made in the contingency reserve in the 2005-06 Budget for the Australian Government contribution to the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement.