Greens criticise early land release for Forestry Tasmania

Forests: Cassy O'Connor

Forests: Cassy O'Connor

The State Government’s decision to consider harvesting 400,000 hectares of native forest ahead of schedule is entirely political and lacks detail, Greens leader Cassy O’Connor says.

Resources Minister Guy Barnett announced on Wednesday that he had received advice from Forestry Tasmania that it needed to consider new ways to ensure the commercial sustainability of operations. 

Mr Barnett said the early release of Future Production Protection Forest in areas including the Tarkine, Wielangta, the Blue Tier and Bruny Island were among the options being considered. 

Ms O’Connor said the decision would jeopardise Forestry Tasmania’s application for Forestry Stewardship Council approval. 

She said Mr Barnett had raised the issue as a political decision ahead of an election next year. 

“We do not believe that Forestry Tasmania has asked the Government to allow access to those areas,” Ms O’Connor said. 

“This is a government that is so short of vision, ideas and actual achievements that it has made a strategic political decision to pick a fight over forests in the lead up to the next election.” 

Mr Barnett said accessing the supply would boost the economy and create jobs. 

He said the land, locked-up under the former government, would require less resources to harvest. 

“Quality of wood, quantity of wood, access to the wood, roads and getting the wood to market – all of those have become increasing problems for Forestry Tasmania as a result of the lock-ups.” 

“It’s not easy but we’re going to work hard to turn it around and there will be a full consultation and discussion with all the key players and the public.” 

Labor spokeswoman Michelle O’Byrne said a lack of detail around the decision would impede debate. 

“He’s talking about a conversation he might have with no outcome – he can’t identify anybody that wants to be part of it,” Ms O’Byrne said. 

Forestry Tasmania declined to comment.