FORESTRY Tasmania will retain control of native forests for harvesting as part of a major restructure of the ailing government business.
The state government made the announcement yesterday to keep hopes alive that legislation to enact the forestry peace deal will pass the upper house.
Deputy Premier Bryan Green had been considering stripping Forestry Tasmania of responsibility of land management for production forests - a move that angered industry and prompted the resignation of former Forestry Tasmania chairman Miles Hampton.
Mr Green said yesterday that a sub-cabinet committee investigating the proposed model found that it would be unworkable.
``It's sensible under the circumstances that if you're giving an organisation the responsibility to manage forests for commercial purposes that they be the managers of those forests and the land that the trees are grown on,'' Mr Green said.
Reserves and other non-commercial responsibilities now managed by Forestry Tasmania will be transferred to a new parks and reserves statutory authority within the Environment Department.
Mr Green could not say how much that would cost or what the impact on jobs would be.
The Greens will support the changes, despite years of criticising Forestry Tasmania's management.
Greens leader Nick McKim said all five Greens MHAs had agreed to go against party policy on Forestry Tasmania to maximise the chances of progressing the forestry agreement ,which paves the way for the protection of 500,000 hectares of native forests.
However, it appears unlikely that the planned restructure will make any difference, with Legislative Councillors dismissing it as a side issue.
Elwick MLC Adriana Taylor, who last year moved a motion criticising the government's handling of the restructure process, said it was a positive step but it would not affect her vote on the forestry legislation.
Forestry Tasmania posted a $27.5 million loss last financial year. Staff were briefed about the changes yesterday.
Forestry Tasmania chairman Bob Annells welcomed the decision to relieve the organisation of its community service obligations, but said that would not automatically lead to profit.
``FT will make a profit when the market actually turns around and there is more demand for the products we're able to source and at a better price,'' Mr Annells said.
Implementing the forestry peace deal would make that task easier as it would help rebuild international markets that had been targeted by anti-logging protesters.
Liberals forestry spokesman Peter Gutwein described the decision as ``a desperate attempt to keep their forest deal alive''.
The Liberals oppose the creation of a new level of bureaucracy to manage reserves.