Tasmania's citizens want balance from forest peace talks between old-growth forest protection and jobs, says Forestry Tasmania survey

HOBART, Australia , July 24, 2011 (press release) – Managing Director Bob Gordon said the survey conducted by respected pollster EMRS for Forestry Tasmania was to his knowledge the only attempt by any of the parties to gain a credible gauge on the community's expectations and its results therefore could be useful as the Federal and State governments edge closer to a final agreement.

"Finding a durable long lasting agreement that embraced the community's wishes was always going to be a challenge, and that is reflected in the survey results.

"The survey found the community wants to strike a balance between environmental outcomes and jobs. When asked to nominate important outcomes, nearly two thirds mentioned protecting old growth forests while 60 percent nominated jobs.

"It also found the community overwhelmingly believed that any additional reserves should be determined by rigorous scientific analysis, while less than one in five people thought the State should simply agree to the request by environmentalists to lock up 572,000 hectares.

"It is therefore reasonable to conclude that any agreement must include independent verification of the so called high conservation value forests, if it's to win community acceptance."

Mr Gordon said governments also had a communications challenge ahead.

"More than half of respondents did not believe they had sufficient information to make an informed decision about the peace talks."

The EMRS survey of 600 people in late June was part of an ongoing series of tracking surveys that FT has commissioned since August 2008.

Mr Gordon said he was delighted that Forestry Tasmania's reputation had remained strong during a period of considerable turmoil.

"FT's rating as a good corporate citizen had slipped slightly, but 56 percent had a positive perception of FT compared to 28 per cent with a negative view.

"This particular survey indicates there has been a significant shift in community expectations since the previous survey 12 months ago. The community is becoming more concerned about employment and the economy. For example, the percentage of those wanting FT to focus on creating jobs was now at its highest level since March 2009. On the other hand, the percentage of those wanting carbon to be the highest priority had dropped from 30 per cent two years ago to just 13 per cent now."

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