Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

16 September 2015

Paul Harriss, Minister for Resources

Special species volumes

The Government has received preliminary advice which shows the availability of special species timber is less than half what Labor and the Greens claimed would be available through the jobs-destroying Tasmanian Forest Agreement.

The special species sector was told the TFA would deliver 12,500m3  of special species each year – 10,000m3 of Blackwood and 2,500m3 of other minor special species timbers, including Myrtle, Sassafras, Celery Top Pine, Silver Wattle and Huon Pine.

Under the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, the former Government identified specialty craft timber zones as an alternative source of special timbers to the areas which were locked up in reserves.

When the resource predictions for those specialty craft timber zones were comprehensively demolished by experts, ENGOs identified an additional 24 contingency harvest areas.

Concerns were raised when it was found that a number of these special timber contingency areas were button grass plains and others had already been logged.

As part of our Forest (Rebuilding the Forest Industry) Act 2014 we said we would get a detailed analysis done as part of the development of a Special Species Management Plan.

The Government has now received preliminary advice on analysis by Forestry Tasmania on availability of special timbers in the Permanent Timber Production Zone.  This work was carried out at the request of the Special Timbers Sub-Committee of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Forestry.

The preliminary advice shows the total yield is just 40 per cent of the promised volumes for Blackwood, Sassafras, Myrtle and Silver Wattle.

While these figures are preliminary, it confirms what an appalling con-job the TFA was. We welcome Labor’s offer of a bipartisan approach to special timbers and their support for our Plan to try and undo the damage.

This advice underscores the need to access areas outside the Permanent Timber Production Zone for a sustainable harvest of special timbers.

Areas under consideration include, under special circumstances, Regional Reserves and Conservation Areas, including some small areas of these reserve types added to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area in the 2013 boundary extension.  These are areas that have been managed for timber production for over a hundred years.

The Government is committed unequivocally to the protection of the Outstanding Universal Values of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. While the Government supports access to special species timber from Regional Reserves and Conservation Areas, we do recognise that this will only be part of the solution being developed through the Special Species Management Plan.

Any harvest of special species timber from the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, will be at a very low level, targeted at augmenting the supply of minor species special timbers, and undertaken in a manner that supports the maintenance of the area’s Outstanding Universal Values. 

This new information on the availability of special species timber in the Permanent Timber Production Zone does not change our commitment to protecting the Outstanding Universal Value of the Tasmanian Wilderness, but it does underscore the need to retain access to some resource from within reserves.

What we are talking about here is ensuring the survival of Tasmania’s highly valued craft and boat building sectors through provision of tightly controlled, sustainable access to a highly valuable resource from small areas within Regional Reserves and Conservation Areas. 

This is the sensible position that we will discuss with the World Heritage Committee Advisory Bodies when they visit Tasmania to inspect the World Heritage Area later this year.

More Media Releases from Paul Harriss

More Media Releases from the Minister for Resources