Sci­ence wins Tas­ma­nian forestry de­bate -

Australian Forests and Timber - - Front Page -

The ex­ten­sion of the Tas­ma­nian Re­gional Forestry Agree­ment for an­other 20 years is a trib­ute to the role of pro­fes­sional for­est sci­en­tists in mak­ing sure that Aus­tralia man­ages its forests in ac­cor­dance with solid facts rather than emo­tion.

Bob Gor­don, new­ly­elected Na­tional Pres­i­dent of the Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Foresters, wel­comed the ex­ten­sion say­ing: “The ex­ten­sion of the

RFA pro­vides cer­tainty to the thou­sands of Tas­ma­ni­ans in­volved in the forestry in­dus­try in Tas­ma­nia in­clud­ing park man­agers, ecol­o­gists and tim­ber work­ers.

“The ex­ten­sion of the Re­gional For­est Agree­ment is tes­ta­ment to the on­go­ing work man­ag­ing Tas­ma­nia’s sus­tain­able forestry in­dus­try in the con­stant face of ad­ver­sity and rep­re­sents a vic­tory for sci­ence.

“The com­pre­hen­sive sys­tem of re­serves will re­main with more than half of Tas­ma­nia per­ma­nently locked-up and, with the com­bi­na­tion of sus­tain­ably man­aged multi-use forests, will con­tinue to pro­duce im­pres­sive bio­di­ver­sity out­comes while al­low­ing Tas­ma­ni­ans to ben­e­fit eco­nom­i­cally for gen­er­a­tions to come.

“Tim­ber har­vested from sus­tain­ably man­aged forests is a car­bon pos­i­tive build­ing ma­te­rial that is see­ing a resur­gence in pop­u­lar­ity world­wide as peo­ple start to un­der­stand the en­vi­ron­men­tal, en­gi­neer­ing and aes­thetic ben­e­fits of wood.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to all in­volved in the ex­ten­sion of the Re­gional For­est Agree­ment for Tas­ma­nia,” said Mr Gor­don.

Aus­tralia is the seventh most forested coun­try in the world and Aus­tralians have more for­est per per­son than most other coun­tries ex­cept for the Cana­di­ans and the Rus­sians.

The Aus­tralian For­est Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion (AFPA) was also strong in its ac­cep­tance of the RFA ex­ten­sion.

AFPA CEO Ross Hamp­ton said the ex­ten­sion main­tained the ex­ist­ing pro­duc­tion for­est area, and up­dated lan­guage in the agree­ment to bet­ter re­flect the mod­ern for­est prod­ucts in­dus­try.

“It is a ma­jor en­dorse­ment and recog­ni­tion of our in­dus­try’s con­tri­bu­tion to the Aus­tralian econ­omy, with an an­nual turnover of $20 bil­lion, di­rectly sup­port­ing around 120,000 jobs across the whole value chain, and an ad­di­tional 180,000 jobs through flow-on eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity,” Mr Hamp­ton said.

“We con­grat­u­late the Tas­ma­nian and Fed­eral Gov­ern­ments for act­ing de­ci­sively to ex­tend the Tas­ma­nian RFA and pro­vide cer­tainty to one of the state’s largest em­ploy­ers and a vi­tal part of the na­tional value chain – Tas­ma­nia ac­counts for 28 per cent of Aus­tralia’s na­tive hard­wood har­vested by vol­ume, and 20 per cent by value.”

Mr Hamp­ton said the na­tional RFA frame­work sought to balance en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial and eco­nomic con­sid­er­a­tions in the man­age­ment of our for­est es­tate, but while en­vi­ron­men­tal ob­jec­tives had been met and ex­ceeded, cer­tainty for in­dus­try had not been met.

“It is vi­tal that we see a 20-year ex­ten­sion across all RFAs with­out fur­ther de­lays to pro­vide the cer­tainty of re­source sup­ply nec­es­sary for in­dus­try to re­main com­pet­i­tive, en­cour­age in­vest­ment and in­no­va­tion, and un­der­pin jobs,” Mr Hamp­ton said.

The pre­vi­ous RFA process re­sulted na­tion­ally in the trans­fer of more than 2 mil­lion hectares of for­est to re­serves, and sub­se­quent de­ci­sions taken by states and ter­ri­to­ries have fur­ther in­creased the area of forests in re­serves to around 3 mil­lion hectares.

In Tas­ma­nia, the RFA sign­ing in 1997 (and the Tas­ma­nian Com­mu­nity Forestry Agree­ment in 2005) re­sulted in a con­sid­er­able in­crease in the state for­est locked up in re­serves, from 30.5 per cent of the state’s for­est es­tate in 1996 to 1.5 mil­lion hectares – or around 50 per cent – to­day.

“Dis­ap­point­ingly, ar­bi­trary de­ci­sions to re­duce the area of pro­duc­tion forests have oc­curred in all RFA re­gions in the past 20 years. In Tas­ma­nia, this been a mas­sive hit on jobs in the in­dus­try, with the state’s for­est in­dus­try al­most halv­ing from its peak of around 7000 di­rect jobs in 2008 to around 3600 to­day.

“AFPA will study the de­tail of the RFA ex­ten­sion, and we look for­ward to work­ing with the Fed­eral and other state gov­ern­ments to en­sure that the RFA frame­work con­tin­ues to de­liver on all its ob­jec­tives,” Mr Hamp­ton said.

It is a ma­jor en­dorse­ment and recog­ni­tion of our in­dus­try’s con­tri­bu­tion to the Aus­tralian econ­omy, with an an­nual turnover of $20 bil­lion, di­rectly sup­port­ing around 120,000 jobs across the whole value chain, and an ad­di­tional 180,000 jobs through flow-on eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity,” Mr Hamp­ton said.

■ Ross Hamp­ton.

■ Bob Gor­don

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