This is the clarion call from a broad list of notable individuals from globally acclaimed authors, actors, olympic athletes, music legends, federal parliamentarians and an Australian of the year, as they stand with Tasmanian community groups such as Blue Derby Wild calling for an end to native forest logging.
The Victorian Government has listened to its community’s concerns, becoming the second government after Western Australia to end native forest logging. Now is time for Tasmania to move with the times, as the social, economic and political licence for native forest logging has expired.
The urgency is keenly felt by those of us living in regional communities experiencing the impact of the ongoing loss and damage caused by native forest logging. From the environmental destruction of ancient Gondwana ecosystems, the loss of unique biodiversity in places such as the Blue Tier glacial refugia forests, damage to iconic tourist destinations including the Blue Derby MTB trails, and the loss of the most valuable carbon stores we have - our native forests.
Native forest logging is death by a thousand cuts to our regional communities ability to capitalise on new opportunities to value our forests for all they offer. To bring new industries that reflect the Brand Tasmania promise and importantly are not reliant on taxpayer subsidies to survive. Successive state governments have provided more than $1 billion in subsidies to the native forest logging sector over 20 years.
It is this taxpayer subsidised native forest logging sector run by government business enterprise Sustainable Timber Tasmania (legal name Forestry Tasmania) that Blue Derby Wild is currently taking through the Supreme Court of Tasmania claiming bias and systemic unlawful logging in Tasmania over that same period that ongoing subsidies and taxpayer funded payouts have been flowing. The Supreme Court case begun in April 2022 achieved the first Supreme Court ordered halt on logging in the forests around the Blue Derby Mountain Bike Trails.
Since that time the case has progressed from the Supreme Court, to the Full Court of Tasmania on issues of bias in the way that the government business enterprise, Sustainable Timber Tasmania, self regulates their logging practices going back to the 1980’s. This claim of bias is the same legal issue that brought attention to the activities of former Prime Minister Scott Morrisons interventions in proposed offshore oil and gas projects, known as PEP11, near his electorate.
North east Tasmania, where Blue Derby Wild focuses much of our camping efforts, is where a disproportionate amount of native forest logging is taking place. While other states across Australia are ending native forest logging and transitioning to a plantation based industry, the Tasmanian government is talking up removing 356,000ha of our native forests from reserves to be logged. Much of them in north east Tasmania spanning from the hills of St Helens, the Eastern Tiers, Blue Tier through to Ben Lomond.
While the rest of Australia is reading the writing on the wall that native forest logging is bad for business, climate, biodiversity and sustainability. The current Rockliff Tasmanian government is reaffirming it’s commitment to native forest logging in the state budget and more taxpayer subsidies. All to be logged in a system facing questions of systemic unlawfulness, and bias, and which has repeatedly failed attempts to gain international Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC) because of their native forest logging practices.
This is in the face of calls from federal political representatives across the Teals, Greens and Independents via an Open Letter to the federal environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to end native forest logging across Australia. To clean up the decades old mess that is the Regional Forest Agreements which allow logging of threatened species habitat, as native forest logging is exempt from the federal environment laws. It is this Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act that is currently be reviewed and restructured that cross bench powers are wanting to ensure ends native forest logging, and the ability for the likes of Sustainable Timber Tasmania to self regulate their logging, in a biased and unlawful systemic way as the Blue Derby Wild court case is claiming.
It’s well past time to end native forest logging in Tasmania, and Australia.
Our forests are worth more standing!
Premier Rockliff, the ball is in your court.