A forest a day! July 27: PC024B, Picton Valley
In the Picton Valley, logging operations were recently completed in forests that were rich with habitat for the Tasmanian devil, swift parrot, masked owl, spotted tailed and eastern quolls.[i] This forest was formerly populated with tall Eucalyptus regnans and tall Eucalyptus obliqua, along with mature stands of leatherwood and thamnic rainforest.[ii] A cultural heritage site has been identified by Forestry Tasmania in this coupe.[iii]
This 90 hectare coupe was logged over the past seven months, while talks have been occurring between industry and some conservation groups. The State and Federal Government gave the go ahead to log in parts of the 430,000ha area that was supposed to be under moratorium. The Prime Minister promised these old growth and high conservation value (HCV) areas should be protected but because of pressure from Ta Ann and Forestry Tasmania, some of these forests have been lost, PC024B being one such tragic loss.
The company driving the logging of this coupe is Ta Ann.[iv]
Giant Pinocchio visits PC024B. February 2012
In February, Huon Valley Environment Centre released a sample of a celery top pine from PC024B which is believed to be more than 250 years old. This sample of celery top pine clearly demonstrated that the forests being logged in the PC024B were part of an old growth ecosystem. Ta Ann has made public claims that this forest is regrowth, as a result of a wildfire In 1934.[v] However, sections of this coupe were mapped as old growth forest during the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement process.
Celery top pine sample from PC024B. February 2012
Ta Ann Tasmania public relations material emphasises that they mill regrowth logs. This implies incorrectly that there are no adverse environmental impacts associated with their operations. It is not true that regrowth logs will always originate from regrowth forests – old growth forests can contain regrowth elements as a result of the dynamic ecology of these forest ecosystems.
PC204B in the Picton Valley is within 2km of a karst system that has indigenous and environmental values of international significance.[vi] This karst system contains evidence of the human societies living in this region, which were the most southerly known peoples on earth during the last ice age.[vii] This karst system is located in the World Heritage value forests of the Middle Huon Valley. PC024B is located at the entrance to the Middle Huon Valley.
The globally significant and unique natural and cultural heritage values of the karst systems in the Middle Huon and Picton Valleys have not received the urgent protection that they need. Hitchcock states; “The likely direct physical and hydrological contact between the Blake’s Opening and Riveaux karsts suggests that a common tenure and management regime, or sympathetic cross-tenure management regime, would be the appropriate means of managing these adjacent karsts. Irrespective of this potential link, however, the undisturbed nature, significant extent and contents of the Riveaux karst and catchment, and its proximity to the recommended Blake’s Opening TWWHA extension means that the karst contributes significantly to karst World Heritage themes of the adjacent TWWHA.”[viii]
The forests in the Huon and Picton Valleys are adjacent to the boundary of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA).[ix] The tall eucalypt forests in the lower sections of the Weld and Picton Valleys, together with the closely associated middle Huon Valley, are collectively part of the largest single tract of tall eucalypt forest ecosystem extant in Tasmania.[x]
Now that this area of forest has been logged it will need to be added to the area of disturbed forests in the Picton Valley that require restoration. As Peter Hitchcock stated, “a holistic long-term view was taken in establishing the contribution that the areas can make to conserving tall eucalypt forest and associated ongoing natural processes. Some rehabilitation will be necessary to restore the ecology of the area in the longer-term”.[xi] Sadly, there are areas in the Picton Valley that could have been protected as intact tall eucalypt and rainforest ecosystems instead, if logging operations in these magnificent areas had been halted over the past few months.
CLICK HERE to take action now for the spectacular forests of the Picton Valley, and for high conservation value forests right across Tasmania.
For more information about the ‘A forest a day’ project, which is a collaboration between Huon Valley Environment Centre, Still Wild Still Threatened, The Last Stand, Markets for Change and Code Green, please click HERE.
[i] Forestry Tasmania (2011). Forest Practices Plan: PC024B. Forestry Tasmania, Hobart. 3 August 2011
[v] Ta Ann Tasmania (2012). “Response to Cyber Attack”. Ta Ann Tasmania website. http://www.taanntas.com.au/default.aspx?page=f7573d54-6220-4669-b5c3-eceb759ea123 Last accessed on 26 July 2012.
[ix] Mackey, B. (2012) Tasmanian Forest Agreement Summary Report of Conservation Values. ANU Enterprise, Prepared for the Independent Verification Group of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, p.49 [ view online ]