Delay of logging for six years

PLANS to rush legislation into State Parliament to tear up the forestry peace deal next month have alarmed the forestry industry and dismayed environmentalists.

The new Liberal government is drafting legislation to reclassify 400,000 hectares of forests earmarked for protection to allow logging in future.

However, those controversial forests will remain under the Environment Department's control and won't be harvested for at least six years.

Resources Minister Paul Harriss said yesterday that it was an "elegant solution" that would enable Forestry Tasmania to pursue crucial Forest Stewardship Council certification and give industry certainty to invest.

But Forest Industries Association of Tasmania chief executive Terry Edwards said the Liberals' "unseemly haste" would shut down important discussions with stakeholders about the "myriad issues that arise from the policy".

Mr Edwards declined to spell out the industry's concerns with the Liberals' plan.

"We will need to analyse the consequences and the haste in which it is being implemented," Mr Edwards said.

Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley said the six-year moratorium on logging inside 400,000 hectares acknowledged that there was no market for timber sourced from the high conservation areas.

"As global and domestic markets increasingly demand genuinely sustainable products, it is difficult to imagine the environmentally aware consumers of 2020 accepting products from high conservation value forests," Mr Bayley said.

"The whole thing is flawed and gutless," - Bryan Green

Opposition Leader Bryan Green said the Liberals' failure to increase wood supply for the industry was a weak backdown on their election promise to grow the industry.

"The whole thing is flawed and gutless," Mr Green said.

The Liberals will also make it harder to create new reserves in future by requiring a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Mr Harriss said that during the six-year freeze on logging within the formerly protected areas, more than the minimum guaranteed wood supply of 137,000 cubic metres of high-quality sawlog could be sourced from Forestry Tasmania's existing estate.

"We are certain that there is capacity in the current land available to expand if necessary," Mr Harriss said.

It remains unclear how Forestry Tasmania, which has relied on a taxpayer-funded subsidy due to be cut next financial year, will remain financially viable.

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