There is growing opposition to current plantation management in Tasmania. This has come to a head in a number of areas, of which the following are some examples:
There have been a number of significant attacks on plantations recently, including arson and uprootings. The most recent uprootings occurred in the north and the south of the state and represented the loss of several hectares. So concerned was Forestry Tasmania that it demanded a Government inquiry into the affair. Of course, it attempted to shift the blame onto "extremists". However, the inquiry failed to probe the issue more deeply and inquire into community opposition, as this was not in the interests of promoting Tasmania as a safe investment environment.
Opposition to plantations has moved beyond the environmental sector and now includes a significant range of the rural community, particularly dairy farmers and local councils. Meander Valley Council has successfully challenged the development of Private Timber Reserves (PTRs) twice, forcing the Government to change the legislation for the establishment of PTRs. Burnie City Council is having to deal with the loss of ratepayer base. Forestry company North Ltd for example, owns about 40% of Burnie municipality and pays approximately $150,000 vs the other ratepayers (about $12 million). A recent news story on "Stateline" details the opposition of dairy farmers to plantations because of the devaluation of properties adjoining tree farms and the social isolation caused by wall to wall plantations located in the middle of once-thriving rural communities. A group "Communities Over Plantations" has also been formed in the north of the state.
There has been considerable opposition to Forestry Tasmania's clearance of forest habitat in the north east of the state for softwood plantations, and these have been bitterly contested. Of particular concern has been FT's attempts to cover up the inappropriate management of threatened species habitat as outlined in the Threatened Species Management Manual. A good example of this obfustication was provided by the logging of an area near Weldborough. This area represented a regional population of the Simsons stag beetle and North East highland snail. Management guidelines recommend against clearfelling, hot burning and alienation to plantations, which was precisely what the local forestry agency allowed to proceed.
This opposition in the north east will continue indefinitely as the community are up in arms. Other campaigns have now been generated in the area and Forestry Tasmania has recently been publicly criticised over its poor roading of a historical track, bulldozed to gain access to further plantation sites on threatened species habitat.
Source: WRM's bulletin Nš 26, August 1999
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