TCT counters farmers and graziers' on endangered forest listing

Mercury Saturday 6 July 2019

Letters to the Editor
The Mercury

The Federal Minister for the environment Susan Ley is to be congratulated for accepting the advice of her independent Scientific Advisory Committee to list as critically endangered Tasmanian forests and woodlands dominated by Eucalyptus ovata and Eucalyptus brookeriana. Congratulations also to Humane Society International (Australia) for making the nomination way back in 2013.

While I expect the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association to complain about new listings of threatened species and communities, TFGA CEO Peter Skillern shows a complete misunderstanding of the listing process when he claims that 'these species are not endangered and indeed the distribution of both is widespread throughout Australia' (Mercury Saturday 6 July 2019) .

First, the listing relates to a specific forest and woodland community and not to every example of the trees. Second, the community is only endangered in Tasmania. Third, rather than being wide spread the Scientific Advisory Committee's advice states that there has been a 90% reduction in the area of this forest and woodland since European settlement.

As for claims of 'belated consultation with farmers', the draft listing was open for submissions from 16 November 2016 to 27 January 2017. Plus, the previous Minister Josh Frydenberg delayed his decision last year for six months 'to allow for appropriate consideration of any relevant recommendations arising from the Review of the Interaction between the EPBC Act and Agriculture and Food Production'. I would say farmers received special consideration.

And as for the claims that this listing will 'lock up further private farm land' and make 'on farm infrastructure improvements' difficult, according to the Scientific Advisory Committee's advice, the Commonwealth listed forest and woodland corresponds very closely with two forest communities that have been listed as threatened on Tasmanian legislation since 2002. Farmers have coped with these state listings for 17 years and little will change with Federal listing except we have a safety net if the state authorities make a mistake.

Peter McGlone
Tasmanian Conservation Trust