News & Media Opinion Pieces Forest and Biodiversity Update November 2012

Forest and Biodiversity Update November 2012

There has been much happening over the past month regarding Australia’s precious forests and more widely regarding our unique biodiversity.

Firstly: It’s the news we have long been waiting to hear. Last week the Tasmanian forest agreement passed the Tasmanian House of Assembly.

If it is implemented, the agreement will protect 504,012 hectares of rainforest and important native forests. Verified by scientists as the most important of Tasmania’s remaining native forests, the protected areas would include the iconic forests of the Styx Valley, Upper Florentine and Weld Valleys, the temperate rainforests of the Tarkine and the unique forests of the Blue Tier.

Importantly, the agreement will support workers and restructure the timber industry towards a sustainable and productive future where it can make certified products.

The Tasmanian environment movement, in particular The Wilderness Society, Environment Tasmania and Australian Conservation Foundation have put absolutely everything they could into achieving this historic outcome — striking the right balance for the environment and Tasmania’s economic prosperity. We wholeheartedly congratulate them, their members and supporters for their tireless efforts. We also congratulate the union movement, in particular the CFMEU and Timber Communities Australia, who were at the table throughout.

Not everyone will be thrilled with this outcome. The negotiations have required compromises on all sides. However, we hope that the Tasmanian Upper House will now seize this hard-won opportunity to move on from decades of division and send a clear message that the forest industry is moving to make products all Australians can be proud of.

We will keep you posted on any further developments.

PS – The Wilderness Society, who have been working for the protection
of Tasmania’s wild forests for many years put together this amazing slide show of the forests which will be saved – enjoy!


Secondly: there are still enormous challenges ahead regarding the protection of biodiversity particularly with COAG’s plans to amend the Environmental Biodiversity Conservation Act- which effectively transfers control to State Governments for approval of developments impacting our environment. DEA has been active on this issue and has this week written to politicians outlining our concerns.

We have also provided detailed feedback to the Federal Government (download the full submission here).

COAG is expected to decide on this important change next week in the first week of December. To tie in with this meeting, DEA has joined forces with environment and other groups and is signatory to an open letter set to appear in the The Financial Review and The Courier Mail as a half page advertisement. More information on this campaign at


Thirdly: DEA’s George Crisp has been busy over in Western Australia and has written an excellent submission for the Draft Forest Management Plan 2014 – 2023, it is available as a PDF download here, and the summary paragraph is here below:


The draft management plan should be acknowledged for recognizing and including some of the important factors that will determine the health and sustainability of our SW forest ecosystems over coming decades.

Whilst climate change and related impacts have been included, the plan falls well short of adequately accounting for those potential changes and their consequences, particularly with respect to biodiversity loss.

Biodiversity underpins the functioning of ecosystems, and the natural services provided are the very foundation of human health. As such, loss of biodiversity fundamentally compromises our efforts to improve and promote our health and wellbeing.

But this linkage is not made and human health is not mentioned in this document. This is a major oversight.

Finally, a new organisation fighting to protect forests, called Markets for Change has recently announced that Bob Brown will join its board. Markets for Change has campaigned hard to make the connection for consumers when businesses using precious forests use deceptive marketing to hide the true source of timber. An example of a successful campaign was when For more than six months, they followed timber from the ancient forests of Tasmania to the University of East London’s newly constructed Sports Dock build for use for Team USA before and during the Olympic Games of 2012. The purchaser of the timber products said it will no longer buy the Tasmanian timber from Ta Ann products. For more information visit this link.

Dr Dimity Williams