Miranda’s Daily Blog: Day 237
Today is the anniversary of the day on which this tree was promised protection. One year on and the forests are still waiting.
On this day last year the Tasmanian Forest Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) was announced. Lara Giddings and Julia Gillard signed the document that promised an “immediate conservation agreement” would be placed over 430,000 hectares of Tasmania’s high conservation value forest. This was meant to be the first step towards eventual formal protection of that area and other high conservation value forests (572,000 hectares of proposed new reserves).
The tree that I am sitting in today should have been protected by that conservation agreement, yet it remains under threat. As does the forest around me. Luckily this forest has survived so far. However, a lot of damage can be done in one year when it comes to industrial scale logging in Tasmania. And so, as we mark the anniversary of the IGA announcement today, it is a day of remembering the forest that could have been saved that has now been irreparably damaged. Globally significant forests like Butlers Gorge, the Picton Valley, the Tarkine…. the list goes on as the destruction continues around the state.
Forest negotiations have been going on now for well over two years. The question remains, when will this process lead to forest protection? With another deadline coming and going yesterday, and still no final outcome, it is very worrying. Because while they are talking the industry is still logging the very forests that are the subject of those talks, and every day that those talks are extended means more and more hectares of forest lost.
The signatories to the talks announced yesterday that they had come to no agreement as of yet, but that they were still hopeful. The sticking point appears to be that the agreed reserve area and wood supply data did not match. Two weeks ago the signatories submitted to Forestry Tasmania their agreed outcomes, to be modeled. While the public has been kept in the dark about the exact hectares and wood quotas that are on the table, it is clear that whatever was previously agreed has turned out to be unworkable. It is back to the drawing board, this time with the assistance of the government who will join in the negotiation process of Friday to help nut out the final outcome.
This new development is ringing alarm bells for the forests. Will the forests be made to suffer because of the over-cutting and unsustainable industry practices? Will the contract of an overseas company involved in corruption, human rights violations and environmental destruction be prioritised over Tasmania’s unique environment? The forests don’t have any “room to move” left, because the fact is that these ecosystems have been forced to compromise over and over again for decades. In that time, thousands and thousands of hectares of high conservation value forest, critical endangered species habitat and globally significant ecosystems have already been lost in Tasmania. And enough is enough. It is time for the full area that has now been scientifically verified as national and world heritage value to be reserved.
And so, this week will be a long week, as the forests stand by awaiting their fate. Let’s hope Tasmania’s world-class forests will receive the protection they deserve and so urgently need.
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