DESPERATE forestry workers will now receive compensation and almost 400,000 hectares of forests are closer to permanent protection, after the forestry peace agreement cleared a significant hurdle.
The Legislative Council yesterday voted 9-5 to create 392,000 hectares of new reserves, although the majority is contingent on industry achieving Forest Stewardship Council certification.
Apsley MLC Tania Rattray, who voted against the Tasmanian Forest Agreement legislation in April, changed her mind and yesterday backed the agreement. She cited the plight of forestry workers desperate for federal government compensation.
Environment and industry signatories to the agreement were encouraged by the increased level of support for the deal.
The Legislative Council's decision unlocks almost $100 million in federal funding, which will now flow to the state to fund assistance packages for forestry workers and industry research.
Forest Industries Association of Tasmania chief executive Terry Edwards said it was a crucial step for a small number of ``hardship cases'' who were technically ineligible for the first round of contractor exit packages.
``Those people who are currently losing their homes, going through marriage breakdowns and going through all sorts of things as a result of the hardship are picked up,'' Mr Edwards said.
Environment Tasmania spokesman Phill Pullinger said it was a big win for conservation.
``It does deliver much more certainty for nature conservation,'' Dr Pullinger said.
An earlier bid by Huon MLC Paul Harriss, a staunch opponent of the TFA, to delay the debate until after the federal election failed.
Leader of the government in the Legislative Council Craig Farrell started debate urging MLCs to allow Tasmanians to move on.
``The alternative is dire,'' Mr Farrell said.
Liberal MLC Vanessa Goodwin disputed the amount of federal funding at risk if the deal collapsed and said the agreement had failed to deliver peace.
The House of Assembly also passed the reserve orders.