Mountain bike riders have joined the Wilderness Society in voicing concerns over the state government’s proposal to open 356,000 hectares of forests for logging, saying that the proposal would severely impact forest reserves around the Blue Derby trails.
Resources Minister Guy Barnett tabled the Forestry (Unlocking Production Forests) Bill 2017, which passed the House of Assembly on Tuesday last week.
“The Government received the overwhelming endorsement of the Tasmanian people three years ago today to rip-up the job destroying forest deal, and this legislation is the final step in that process,” Mr Barnett said.
Following a staged protest outside parliament in Hobart on Monday, Conningham Mountain Bike Club president Steve Harwin said the proposed legislation was a “ridiculous” proposal that “lacks any real logic”.
“Originally declared for their conservation values, these reserves now protect a valuable mountain biking experience that is bringing people and attention to north east Tasmania,” Mr Harwin said.
“Logging anywhere in this region will undermine its tourism potential.”
Vica Bayley from the Wilderness Society said the legislation would “damage” forest reserves and “snuff out” opportunities to develop tourism attractions in the region.
In response to Mr Bayley and Mr Harwin’s concerns, Mr Barnett said that Forestry Tasmania had “consulted closely” with the mountain bike community to harvest appropriately in the area.
“Around 15 kilometres of the Blue Derby trails are built on production forestry land made available by Forestry Tasmania,” he said.
“In particular, the coupes that the Flickety Sticks, Long Shadows and Dam Busters trails traverse (CC107B and CC118C) have been removed from this latest plan.
“In addition, coupe CC123A has been removed as the thinning operations in that coupe have already been completed.”
Mr Bayley, however, said he was “bemused” by Mr Barnett’s comments, saying the forest reserves in question that are potentially impacted by the legislation were not managed by Forestry Tasmania.