Tasmania's new Liberal government confirms plan to repeal Tasmanian Forests Agreement Act 2013, move 400,000 hectares from 'Future Reserve' status to 'Future Potential Production Forest' status, in support of state's 'iconic specialty timber industry'

HOBART, Australia , April 9, 2014 (press release) – The specialty timber industry accounts for over 2000 full time equivalent jobs in Tasmania while there are thousands more part-time hobbyists.

Despite contributing over $70 million a year to the Tasmanian economy the specialty timber industry was treated with total contempt by the former Labor government when they struck their politically motivated forest deal.

There is a widely acknowledged deficiency under the forest deal for specialty timbers.

The new Liberal Government will honour our commitment to support the specialty timber industry and the jobs it represents, by ensuring the industry has access to a sufficient and sustainable wood supply, now and into the future

Tasmania has a reputation worldwide for exceptionally crafted timber furniture, artwork and wooden boat building. We want to see these niche markets encouraged and expanding, which means we must address current shortages and provide improved sustainable access to specialty timbers like celery top pine and black heart sassafras, while ensuring we can maintain this sustainable supply into the future.

Legislation which we will introduce in the first week of parliament, will also:

1) Repeal the Tasmanian Forests Agreement Act 2013;

2) Remove approximately 400,000 hectares of land from its current status under the TFA of "Future Reserve Land" and place it under a new status, "Future Potential Production Forest" (FPPF)[1];

3) See FPPF land "ring-fenced" from Forestry Tasmania's management, and placed instead under the management of Crown Land services. This will protect Forestry Tasmania's markets, and FSC certification process;

4) Keep the minimum annual sawlog quota unchanged at 137,000 cubic metres per year;

5) Require that in future, the formal reservation of further Tasmanian forest would need a two-thirds majority of both Houses of Parliament; and,

6) Result in the commencement of work with industry on a new, long-term forest industry strategy, based upon science, not politics or on appeasing the Greens.

This is a sensible and considered Plan for Tasmania's forest industry, which has the endorsement of the Tasmanian people.

It is time Labor, the Greens and the ENGOs finally accepted the mandate provided by the Tasmanian people at the state election and supported the Government's policy which will provide a brighter future for our specialty timber industry and support local jobs.

[1] We will not at seek to change the status of any land currently listed as World Heritage. If as a result of the Commonwealth's current application some land is excised from the WHA, it will be added to the FPPF zone.

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