An audit of Sustainable Timber Tasmania's operations against Forest Stewardship Council guidelines found 10 major issues in need of rectifying, five minor issues and five observations before it could attempt to gain the globally-recognised certification.
The full audit was released this week as STT detailed policies it hoped would adhere to some of the findings, which highlighted failings to protect swift parrot habitat, the improper harvesting of old growth forest and the unintentional burning of streamside buffers.
FSC certification is considered important to STT to "provide further and ongoing access to key markets", as well as providing assurances to the public that it is "managing the forests effectively".
But the audit - completed by SCS Global Services last year - found a range of shortcomings.
After swift parrots were listed as critically endangered in 2016, STT continued to harvest nesting and foraging trees within sight of identified swift parrot nest sites against the advice of parrot experts. Site inspections also found stumps of two to three metres in diameter, indicating the harvesting of hollow bearing trees.
At least eight logging coupes had insufficient retention of large, old trees suitable for hollows, the audit found.
While comprehensive field surveys were conducted on coupes prior to harvesting, reducing the amount of swift parrot habitat destruction by 89 per cent, the audit remained critical that STT was engaging in practices that removed habitat in general.
In addition to streamside buffers being burnt in several coupes, forestry staff confirmed there "may also be cases where such fire escapes happen but are not noted". STT was told to assure prescribed burning was not eliminating habitat values sought to be retained.
STT was also urged to provide species information for all products, including exports, as this was not occurring.
The audit found "STT has improperly harvested old growth under FSC rules", and the organisation had not been identifying old growth as having high conservation value.
The continued reliance on the JANIS system, from 1996, in assessing old growth threat analysis was recommended to be reviewed.
Damage to standing trees and residual coarse woody debris - including in streamside reserves - as a result of burning practices was observed in at least two coupes.
Audit says STT staff have responsible ethos
It was not criticism of STT however, with the audit noting that STT staff had an ethos of responsible management and stewardship of resources found on the land, and the organisation "demonstrated a culture of innovation and adaptive management through dedication to continuous improvement", including "significant" changes from 2014 to 2019.
It noted that the issues confronting STT were "challenging and quite complex".
Since the audit outlined shortcomings under FSC, STT has sought to bring in policy changes in regards to protecting swift parrot habitat in the state's South.
This week, it announced that the Swift Parrot Public Authority Management Agreement had been agreed to in its permanent timber production zone. These included excluding from production 10,000 hectares of potential swift parrot breeding habitat in Tasmania's southern forests, investigating trials to reduce the threat from sugar gliders and trialling individual habitat tree retention in production forests.
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In a statement, STT reiterated its commitment to not harvesting production forest on Bruny Island, where swift parrots were free from the threat of sugar gliders.
STT stated that the swift parrot agreement - PAMA - responded to the audit report.
"The PAMA has been informed by sophisticated modelling of nesting habitat, using LIDAR technology, extensive ground surveys and in consultation with expert stakeholders," the statement reads.
"STT is also developing a Swift Parrot Management Plan for public production forests as part of a broader strategy of conservation for the swift parrot."
The organisation stated it would continue to push for FSC certification, and would subject itself to another audit to gauge the effectiveness of the new policies.
The permanent timber production zone covered 58,000 hectares in the southern forests.
Bob Brown: widespread habitat still facing logging
The Bob Brown Foundation was concerned that, despite the removal of 10,000 hectares from production, there were still large swathes of critical habitat for species facing logging, including the Wielangta Forest on the East Coast.
Bob Brown said there were still questions about the swift parrot agreements, in particular the lack of maps of the saved areas.
"This agreement is way short of ending the logging and burning of native forests in Tasmania, rapidly eroding habitat which is critical for the survival of species like the swift parrot, Tasmanian devil, wedge-tailed eagle and the world's largest freshwater crayfish, Astacopsis gouldi," he said.
"The most compelling reason for this loss to Tasmania is so a few investors can flog woodchips to China. It should stop. Our forests will be much more valuable for jobs as well as lifestyle if they are kept vertical in the forest rather than horizontal on a truck."
Resources Minister Guy Barnett said STT demonstrated "world class forest management practices", and the Tasmanian Government stated the forestry sector injected "billions" into the Tasmanian economy.
STT started the process of attempting to gain FSC certification in 2012.
The audit was publicly released six months after it was finalised.