Media Release

State Government policy will deliver open-ended clearing of native forests on private land

The TCT stated today that the revised Permanent Native Forest Estate Policy, released last Sunday by Minister for Resources Guy Barnett, fails to deliver the long anticipated ban on broad-scale clearing and conversion of native forests on private land. Clearing on private land can now continue with no absolute limit.

"A ban on broad-scale clearing and conversion of native forest on private land was promised by the federal and state governments in the 2005 Supplementary Regional Forest Agreement but Minister Barnett has broken this promise," said TCT director Peter McGlone.

"Despite the minister describing this policy as delivering an end to broad-scale clearing, there are numerous exemptions that leave open the door to massive areas being cleared on a single property or a myriad of small areas being cleared across the state each year."

"Clearing will not be limited to 40 hectares per property per year as claimed by the Minister because the policy grants the Forest Practices Authority discretion to allow clearing above this limit subject to an approved vegetation management agreement."

"Where the 40 hectare per property limit applies, the policy fails to put any limit on how many farmers can clear this amount every year. This could add up to thousands of hectares each year."

"The new policy is actually a step backwards because it opens the door to clearing with no absolute limit."

"Ending broad-scale clearing of native forests is one of the absolute requirements for sustainability in farming or any other industry and Minister Barnett has missed a historic opportunity to deliver it."

Other limitations of the new policy:

- The old policy and the Tasmanian Regional Forestry Agreement committed to retaining 95% of the area of native forest that existed in 1996, but this retention level has now been abandoned.

- The new policy has no mechanisms to prevent excessive clearing in particular catchments or regions. The problem of over-clearing that has occurred in the Midlands and some north-west catchments may now be repeated in other farming regions.

- Many of our most threatened animal species have a large proportion of their habitats outside of reserves on private land. The new policy will ensure ongoing clearing of habitats for threatened species including the Masked owl, Swift parrot, Tiger quoll, Tasmanian devil and others.

Further information:
Peter McGlone
Tasmanian Conservation Trust
0406 380 545