Australian, Tasmanian governments make last-ditch attempt to salvage forest peace process after timber industry, environmentalists fail to strike a deal

LOS ANGELES , August 6, 2012 () – Federal and state governments are scrabbling to salvage the long-negotiated forest peace agreement for the Australian state of Tasmania after the timber industry and environmental groups failed to strike a deal, The Australian reported on Aug. 7.

The unsurprising news that the proposed historic agreement is on its knees comes as Tasmania’s biggest timber industry player, Gunns Ltd., pretty much conceded its AU$2.3 billion Bell Bay pulp mill plan is dead, noted The Australian.

Timber and conservation groups on Aug. 6 announced they had failed to reach agreement, after two years of negotiating and an interim $276 million forest industry restructuring package.

Revised data and modeling on wood supply that showed it was not possible to deliver the agreement’s promises was apparently the last straw in a process that has been tense and problematic from the start.

According to The Australian, data used by state-owned Forestry Tasmania showed far less timber available than had been previously thought. There had been hopes of protecting 525,000 hectares of native forests while managing to deliver an annual sawlog harvest of more than 140,000 m3, according to the newspaper.

The groups have said they would make one last attempt at a deal, after meeting with Tasmanian government officials and Greens leader Nick McKim. However, now the state and federal governments will have seats at the negotiating table to "conciliate" and "facilitate" a deal, reported The Australian.

There should be a decision early next week on the possibility of a conciliated deal.

The primary source of this article is The Australian, Sydney, Australia, Aug. 7, 2012.

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