Australian Wilderness Society suspends involvement in Tasmanian Forest Agreement until government commits to negotiating, points to continued logging-road construction in conservation-value forests

HOBART, Australia , May 18, 2011 (press release) – Eight months ago, we signed on to the Tasmanian Forest Agreement. For the first time in history, loggers and environmentalists had sat down together and agreed on a way forward to end thirty years of conflict over Tasmania’s forests.

The Agreement was signed in recognition that not only were high conservation value forests being logged but the timber industry in Tasmania was also in crisis. Forests were being logged and workers were losing their jobs. This lose – lose situation had to change.

A key part of the Agreement was a moratorium on the logging of high conservation value forests. It is essential that logging is stopped before any more of our precious forests are lost and while the implementation details of the Agreement are finalised.

However, months after the deadline for logging operations to have ceased in many of Tasmania’s irreplaceable forests, logging and road construction continues.

Lack of leadership

It is becoming apparent that the Tasmanian and Federal Governments are failing to show the leadership needed to deliver a lasting solution for Tasmania’s forests.

Logging roads are still being ripped through the heart of remote forests and the Tasmanian Government has made no commitment to legislate for the protection of high conservation forests.

The Federal Government had no funding in the 2011-12 budget to provide the necessary exit funding for native forest logging contractors and other workers or for new jobs and opportunities in a truly sustainable timber industry based on plantations.

And six weeks after it was presented to them, neither government has formally responded to the interim report by the facilitator they appointed in December 2010.

Time for action

It is time for the Tasmanian and Federal Governments to begin negotiating with signatories over the implementation of the Agreement. It is time for them to back up their words with real action and demonstrate their commitment to ending the conflict over Tasmania’s forests.

Until they do, we are suspending our involvement in the Agreement.

The Wilderness Society remains committed to the principles of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement and constructive dialogue with any and all of the groups involved. The Agreement is the best way to protect Tasmania’s forests for future generations – and the only way forward for the timber industry.

But until both governments commit to negotiating with stakeholders and investing in the solutions, further talks appear fruitless.

We need your help to convince our governments to keep the Agreement alive and to deliver a win-win outcome for both Tasmania’s ancient forests and its forest industry.

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