Specialty timber fears

MEMBERS of the Tasmanian specialty timber industry say they will be in ``dire straits'' if the World Heritage Committee upholds the listing of 74,000 hectares of forest later this week.

Environmentalists touched down in Doha in the Middle East yesterday to lobby the committee to ignore the requests of the federal government and keep the areas added last year under the forest peace deal classed as World Heritage.

Premier Will Hodgman confirmed on Friday that no state government representatives would fly to Doha, citing cost and ``adding nothing to the case'' as part of the decision.

Tasmanian Special Timbers Alliance spokesman Andrew Denman and Western Tiers independent MLC Greg Hall have expressed disappointment with the state government's decision not to attend.

``The state government has strongly supported the de-listing so I'm just gobsmacked they're not sending anyone,'' Mr Hall said.

Mr Hall described the World Heritage extension process as a ``con job''.

``It's deceitful for environment groups to say they're pristine,'' he said.

``It should be kept as a multi-use area,'' he said.

Mr Denman has sent a 90-page submission to the committee, asking it to defer making a decision.

``We're asking them to send it back to the government and engage all stakeholders,'' he said.

Mr Denman said the extension of the World Heritage area and reserves created under the peace deal had left the industry with about 10 per cent of its original supply.

The special species timbers are used to make a range of products, including boats, furniture and musical instruments.

Mr Denman said this had been practised since European settlement and formed an important part of the state's cultural heritage.

He said Tasmania would be ``culturally poorer'' if timber could not be sourced to maintain historic boats.

``For the past three years there's been a 95 per cent reduction in celery top pine availability,'' he said. 

``It's selfish for the environment groups to continue to lobby for retention of the areas when they know it will destroy the specialty timber industry,'' Mr Denman said.

Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley, who is in Doha, said the opening meeting of the World Heritage Committee was held last night, and he expected Tasmanian World Heritage to be discussed towards the end of the week. 

Tasmanian Special Timbers Alliance spokesman Andrew Denman, at right, with Resources Minister Paul Harriss.

Tasmanian Special Timbers Alliance spokesman Andrew Denman, at right, with Resources Minister Paul Harriss.


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