Updated: Feb 20
Australia was covered by cool wet rainforest 60 million years ago when part of Gondwanaland and much further south than today. The forests were dominated by southern beech (Nothofagus) and podocarps (broadleaf conifers). The last remnants of these Gondwanan forests are found in Tasmania, Victoria and New Zealand. The oldest reliably dated Eucalypts in Australia are about 20 million years old.
The north east face of the Blue Tier is the cradle of the rainforest of northern Tasmania. It was here that the Gondwana forests receded under the assault of the ice age and survived. This area is known as refugia (refuge). It protected rainforest species and the giant Eucalyptus regnans which have since recolonised the north east of Tasmania. The only other significant glacial refugium in Tasmania is located at the Henty Gorge on the west coast. Glacial refugia are seen as vitally important for the preservation of biological diversity and are critical to the survival of species during climate extremes. Refugia remain ice free during periods of glaciation. This allows plants to persist and then recolonise surrounding regions at the end of the glacial period. It is this glacial history and isolation that has resulted in north east Tasmania has genetically distinct Eucalyptus regnan and rainforest tree species such as Nothofagus cunninghamii (myrtle beech).
It is this area of forest, and another 350,000ha of native forest across the state, that from April 2020 will be taken out of reserve status, and listed as 'state forest' making it available for logging by our state owned Government Business Enterprise, Sustainable Timbers Tasmania (formerly Forestry Tasmania).
The forests of north east Tasmania are shaping up to be the most heavily targeted areas for logging as so many forest areas in the south burnt in the catastrophic 2019 fires that tore through the Weld, Florentine, Picton and Arve forests. As our climate dries and our fire threat increases we need to protect our native forests that are our most valuable natural carbon banks, biodiversity arks and water sheds that keep moisture in our landscapes.
Taking native forests out of reserve to be logged and the biodiversity and carbon in those systems lost is negligent when we know they are worth so much more standing.