Concerns raised over Tasmania's forestry plans

The government remains doggedly committed to opening new forests for logging despite a major retailer indicating that no suppliers were interested in timber outside existing coupes.

Bunnings managing director Michael Schneider wrote to both major party leaders in March, saying consumers were increasingly aware of timber procurement issues and wanted to know the source of their timber.

“Bunnings has a longstanding commitment to pursue sustainability right across our operations by striving to make them socially responsible and environmentally aware and economically viable,” he wrote.

“Our Tasmanian suppliers have advised us that they will not be sourcing our timber from outside their existing forest coups.”

Bunnings has a commitment to sourcing products have Forest Stewardship Council certification where possible.

This means it is unlikely to accept any timber sourced from 357,000 hectares of informal reserves which will be opened up to private harvesting operations in 2018.

Labor Leader Rebecca White tabled the letter in Parliament, asking Premier Will Hodgman why the government was persisting with a forest policy that lacked the support of a large part of the industry and the country’s largest hardware retailer.

Mr Hodgman said the proposal to unlock the contentious forests was to give industry players the opportunity to access more timber resources.

“It is entirely voluntary. We are not forcing anyone to do anything they do not want,” he said.

“We are not going to be forced, as a government, by particular commercial interests and I respect them, Bunnings or FIAT or anyone else to make calls as they see fit.”

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said the letter added to evidence that there was no big player within the timber harvesting or retailing industry that supported the plan to open up high-conservation areas for logging. 

“There is still zero industry support, in any meaningful sense, for going into those forests,” she said.