Logging role queried

THE state Environment Department may have to take on responsibility for logging in former reserves under the Liberals' forestry policy.

The new state government is preparing to repeal the Tasmanian Forests Agreement and open up  to logging  400,000 hectares previously earmarked for protection. 

However, the government's bid to protect Forestry Tasmania's pursuit of crucial Forest Stewardship Council certification will see the contentious area remain in the hands of the Environment Department. 

While most of the area will be off limits to the forestry industry for at least six years, the government has made an exception for specialty timber harvesting, putting the Environment Department in the unusual position of having to contract out logging operations. 

Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley said the government's policy ``raises more questions for industry than answers''.

``Are we looking at a situation where the Environment Department is contracting out logging?'' Mr Bayley asked.

``This is the lunacy of it.'' 

Mr Bayley said any logging in the 400,000 hectares of former reserves was a ``massive punt'' that could jeopardise FSC certification.

Resources Minister Paul Harriss yesterday reaffirmed support for the specialty timber industry and said selective harvesting in protected areas would be available if the industry required it, but   the importance of FSC certification was ``not lost'' on him. 

Boatbuilder Andrew Denman, who works with specialty timbers, said more studies would be needed to determine if specialty timbers would need to be taken from the 400,000 hectares of contentious forest.

Mr Denman said the government's policy provided security to his industry.

``It means there are other areas available if required,'' Mr Denman said.

Opposition Leader Bryan Green said the government was setting up a dual system that would ``come at a cost''. 

``A government department now has responsibility for forests that are going to be logged to supply minor species,'' Mr Green said.

``Then you've got Forestry Tasmania not allowed anywhere near those forests.

``You need a whole forestry regime to make it profitable.'' 

Mr Harriss said a new advisory panel would be set up to work through the selective harvesting process, but it was not yet clear who would be on the panel.

``The committee will be available for those who want to grow the industry,'' Mr Harriss said.

He said jobs had already started to return in the industry. ``There are people out there that Forestry Tasmania are already talking with about ramping up their capacity,'' he said.

Resources Minister Paul Harriss and boatbuilder Andrew Denman discuss specialty timber logging.

Resources Minister Paul Harriss and boatbuilder Andrew Denman discuss specialty timber logging.


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