Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement
Independent Verification Group
Report of the Chairman:

The Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement (TFIA) provided for the establishment
of a group of experts, the Independent Verification Group (IVG), to advise the Prime
Minister and Premier of Tasmania about matters of fact underlying the agreement. The key
tasks assigned to the IVG were to:

“…verify stakeholder claims relating to sustainable timber supply requirements
(including at the regional level), available native forest and plantation volumes, and areas
and boundaries of reserves from within the ENGO-nominated 572,000 hectares of High
Conservation Value native forest.”

The IVG has adhered closely to this mandate. While some stakeholders in the dispute, and
many in the public and media, have pressured the IVG to expand its mandate to act as an
‘arbitrator’, the IVG has declined to accept such a role. We have directed our attention
strictly to matters of fact in the three nominated fields.

Our goal has been to provide a body of independently validated information as a sound
foundation for a durable agreement to end the decades-long conflict that has been so
damaging to the fabric of Tasmania’s society and economy.

The IVG has been painfully aware of the difficulty of achieving this outcome, and the failure
of all its predecessors. Since 1986, there have been 10 previous official governmental
processes charged with finding a solution to the Tasmanian forest conflict:

1986 Lemonthyme and Southern Forests Inquiry—the Helsham Inquiry
1991 Intergovernmental Agreement over the Environment (Commonwealth)
1991 Resource Assessment Commission (Commonwealth)
1991 Forest and Forest Industry Strategy (Tasmania)
1992 National Forest Policy Statement (Commonwealth)
1994 High Conservation Value Forest Assessment (Tasmania)
1994 Interim Forest Assessment (Tasmania)
1997 2020 Plantations Vision (Commonwealth)
1997 Regional Forest Agreement and Comprehensive Regional Assessment
2004 Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement (Commonwealth)

All failed to resolve the conflict. It is important to understand why all these previous
processes, which absorbed so much time and resources, and in which so much hope was
invested at the time, did not prove durable. We wish not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
All previous processes shared a consistent pattern—one that doomed them to fail. All were
established by governments essentially to serve as arbiters, with the outcome ultimately
shaped by government; all undertook their work largely behind closed doors, usually with
substantive engagement from only one side of the dispute; all attempted to reach a
compromise trade-off; and all then attempted to impose that compromise on unwilling parties
to the conflict through political and legislative processes.

The outcomes of these failed processes were strikingly similar. After months of effort, and
extensive and expensive investigations, a compromise would be promulgated. In most cases
the compromise consisted of the same three elements: a new area of forested land to be
reserved (usually about 300,000 hectares), a grant fund to be established to enable the
industry to “retool and modernise”, and some form of legislation aiming to guarantee security
of resource tenure into the future. In every case, one side or other (usually environmentalists),
would at some point state that the compromise was not acceptable, in response to which the
government of the day would insist that it was a ‘reasonable balance’, and proceed to enforce
it through legislation.

The forest war would resume the next day. At the same time, the underlying economics of the
industry would be cumulatively corroded by successive resource withdrawals, and harvesting
would be pushed further above sustainable-yield levels, imperilling the industry’s future. The
legislated compromise might hold for a few years, before a new crisis broke out.

The present process differs from these failures in two important respects: it was not initiated
or controlled by government, rather it has resulted from a substantial period of discussion and
negotiation among parties to the conflict—environmentalists and industry participants—and
it comes at a time of unprecedented challenge to the industry.

These twin differences may lay the foundations for the current effort to enjoy more durable

Tasmania’s choices in the forest conflict

Tasmania today faces a stark choice. On the one hand, the potential does exist to achieve a
resolution agreed by major participants in the conflict, with built-in mechanisms to ensure
durability. On the other hand, it is conceivable that the outcome may be the worst possible
from all points of view. Tasmania now faces a very real risk that both sides of the forest
conflict may lose all that they have sought to protect. We are on the brink of losing both the
forestry industry and the native forests that merit protection.

Surely such a statement is alarmist? How could such a disaster eventuate? It has become
apparent in recent months that environmental non-government organisations now possess the
ability to damage the forestry industry’s access to capital and markets sufficiently to curtail
the industry’s profitability, to the extent that the industry as a whole ceases to be viable.

It is vital to understand that the wellbeing of each element of the native-forestry industry
depends on the health of the whole. Unless each major component of the forest is able to be
marketed profitably—including residue in the form of woodchips or pulp, smaller logs in the
form of peeler billets, and larger, higher-quality sawlogs—it becomes uneconomic to harvest
our forests at all. Such an outcome threatens to make the native-forest industry in its entirety
unviable, and especially the government-owned entity that manages the forests and
harvesting operations, even if individual components continued to be profitable.

This is much as if, were the beef industry not able to sell cuts of meat other than scotch fillet,
cattle-raising would be unviable, even if scotch fillet could be sold at record prices.
By destroying the profitability of woodchipping, and potentially other segments of the
industry including peeler billets and key parts of the sawmilling sector, environmental
campaigns possess the capability to depress the industry’s profitability to the point that the
industry implodes. We may today be perilously close to just such a calamity.

But environmentalists should not gain any satisfaction from this outcome. No conceivably
electable government in Tasmania or Australia would respond to such a collapse by declaring
substantial new environmental reserves. Indeed, it is likely that community anger and
bitterness would press political leaders to harden their stance against such reserves, and that
the result would be increasingly determined efforts to rebuild the industry.

While this is not the only possible future path, Tasmania does face the real prospect of a dual
disaster: the forestry industry ceases to be viable, and in reaction environmentalists face the
loss of the very forests they seek to protect. A lose-lose outcome.

The IVG methodology

To avoid such a future, Tasmania needs to ground any resolution to the forest dispute on two
vital principles: first, the industry must be restored to a sustainable-yield basis, and second,
all major parties to the conflict must understand and accept any compromise solution.
Without sustainability, the industry will ultimately exhaust its resource—and our analysis
reveals the potential for this to occur in some segments alarmingly soon. In the process,
industry participants will lose access to markets and capital. Neither investors nor customers
in today’s world will invest in or accept products from forests that are being mined. At the
same time, without broad acceptance, the conflict will merely resume on a new basis. Any
resolution imposed from outside, even Parliament, will fail.

The IVG’s methodology and process has been carefully and specifically designed to meet
these two requirements for a durable outcome. We have sought to answer three questions:

1. How much resource is each segment of the forest-products industry currently using?
2. How much of these resources can Tasmania’s forests supply on a sustainable basis?
3. What conservation values, if any, do the reserves proposed by the environmental
organisations possess, and are these of the type that the nominated areas merit reservation to
ensure these values are protected?

Key findings

Our results are detailed in the reports that follow. Two key findings, however, should shape
any proposed resolution to the dispute. Neither side of the conflict will likely be happy with
our conclusions, but we are confident our findings are well founded in fact and evidence:

1. Tasmania’s native forests (not including plantations) have been and continue to be
harvested substantially above long-term sustainable yield, in respect of the key product
segments to which they provide resources.

The two main products currently sourced from Tasmania’s native forests are high-quality
sawlogs, which support the sawn-timber industry in supplying primarily building and
presentation timbers, and peeler billets which supports the veneer-products industry,
specifically Ta Ann. At present, the sale of woodchips from Tasmania has effectively halted,
due both to environmental campaigns and low prices that analysis indicates are unlikely to
recover for at least 5 years.

For high-quality sawlogs, Forestry Tasmania is committed by current legislation to provide a
minimum of 300,000 cubic metres of resource each year, and until the exit of Gunns last year
had signed contracts to supply an estimated 320,000 cubic metres.

Our finding—employing only Forestry Tasmania data with estimation models run by
Forestry Tasmania personnel on Forestry Tasmania computers, and peer reviewed by eminent
independent forestry experts, is that with appropriate allowances for non-retrievable timber
due to mandatory forest-practices regulation (so-called “headroom”), the sustainable annual
yield of high-quality sawlogs from native forest is between 117,600 cubic metres (allowing
for a non-retrieval rate of 40%) and 156,800 cubic metres (allowing for a 20% non-retrieval
rate). Put simply, Forestry Tasmania had been committed to harvesting sawlogs from native
forest (not including plantations) at about double sustainable yield.

For peeler billets, Forestry Tasmania is committed by contract to provide Ta Ann with
265,000 cubic metres of resource each year until 2022, and it is our understanding that Ta
Ann holds a contract option for this supply for a further 5 years beyond 2022. Our finding is
that the sustainable yield of peeler billets from native forest is between 76,200 cubic metres
(at the 40% headroom level) and 101,600 cubic metres (at the lesser 20% headroom level).
This implies that Forestry Tasmania has also been harvesting peeler billets from native forest
(again, not including plantations) at about double sustainable yield.

Some hope that Forestry Tasmania’s plantations will make up this resource in future.

Unfortunately, the amount of sawlogs and peeler billets that might be gained in future from
Forestry Tasmania’s plantations is highly uncertain, and it appears unlikely that a large
supply of high-quality sawlogs and peeler billets will be able to be sourced from Forestry
Tasmania’s plantations in the next 20 years at least. It is particularly unlikely that these
plantations will prove suitable to supply the sawmilling and veneer industries as they exist
with current technology in Tasmania. One estimate is that a mere 7000 hectares of Forestry
Tasmania plantations, for example, have been suitably managed to provide high-quality
sawlogs. Ta Ann has advised that it is unlikely to be able to utilise more than a few per cent
of plantation logs as peeler billets from plantations as they are currently managed, implying
that Forestry Tasmania’s plantations will be unlikely to supply this commitment in near- or
medium-term future.

The problem, then, is that by the time it can be established whether in fact the plantations will
prove suitable to supply high-quality sawlogs and peeler billets that can be processed by
Tasmania’s actual industry, with actually existing equipment and markets, harvesting above
the long-term sustainable yield of the native forests will significantly deplete the resource on
which we can confidently rely. Should the plantations not prove capable of supplying the
sawmilling industry, it will be too late to restore the industry. The evidence we have analysed
reveals this risk to be substantial.

It is important to recognise that sustainable yield is the most fundamental principle of sound
forestry management. It is the Hippocratic Oath equivalent: the forests must not be harvested
at a rate greater than that at which they regrow. Otherwise, the industry ceases to be
renewable; it is mining. In summary, for Forestry Tasmania to commit to harvest Tasmania’s
native forests at levels double that of long-term sustainable yield would appear to expose the
industry that exists today in Tasmania to excessive risk of resource depletion and market
rejection, unless plantations prove in future able to provide large quantities of sawlogs and
peeler billets, which at this point appears highly uncertain and to contradict a growing body
of evidence and belief in the industry.

2. The areas proposed for reservation by the Environmental Non-Government
Organisations do contain a range of conservation values, but not all these values would
be lost if the forests were harvested once.

The ENGOs propose reserves amounting to 568,772 hectares. Forests within these areas fall
into four categories:

1. Areas that contain values of a type that would be lost permanently were they to be clearfelled
once. Such values include wilderness, old growth, certain rare and endangered species
habitat, refugia, and certain rare forest ecosystem types. Some of these areas appear to merit
their addition to the existing World Heritage Area.

2. Areas that both industry and ENGOs would agree should be harvested if these areas were
placed in reserves. The ENGO proposals include small areas of softwood and hardwood
plantations that would need to be regenerated to native forest were they to be included in

3. Areas in which selective harvesting will continue to be necessary to supply special-species
timber, primarily blackwood, celery-top pine, and myrtle. The ENGOs have accepted such
selective harvesting in certain areas. The total area of special-species timber zones included
in the ENGO proposed reserve is 64,000 hectares.

4. Areas that prudent reserve design may suggest inclusion in future reserves, for purposes,
for example, of catchment management, “smooth” boundaries, conservation connectivity, and
scenic value, but which include values that would not irretrievably be lost were they to be
harvested once. Such areas could be included in reserves either immediately, or harvested
once then regenerated to a facsimile of natural native forest (for example, with high species
variety) and then incorporated into reserves in future phases.

These two conclusions—in relation to sustainable yields and conservation value—appear to
be intractably counter posed. If reserves are created, the sustainable yield will be reduced; if
at least some of these areas are harvested, their conservation values will be lost. Surprisingly,
however, the degree to which establishment of the ENGOs’ proposed reserves would reduce
the sustainable yield of Tasmania’s native forests is smaller than might be imagined. If the
entire ENGO-proposed reserve were to be created immediately, the likely sustainable yield of
high-quality sawlogs would decline by 8,700 cubic metres and of peeler billets by 10,600
cubic metres. The reason this shrinkage is less substantial than the proportional reduction of
available native forest area is that were such reserves to be created, the necessary allowance
to provide for proper environmental management through forest-practices regulation would
be greatly reduced, due to many of the objectives of regulation being achieved by reserves,
from a suggested 30%-40% to about 10%. In a sense, the entire 35-year forest conflict in
Tasmania has been fought over less than 10,000 cubic metres of sustainable yield of highquality
sawlogs and about the same volume of peeler billets.

Necessity of industry transition to manufacturing and plantation base

But the estimates of timber resource availability revealed above point clearly to a single
conclusion on which all sides of the dispute agree: the future of the Tasmanian forestproducts
industry resides in a transition to plantations. The available native forest is simply
no longer sufficient on a sustainable basis to provide for an industry of even its present
reduced (post-Gunns) size. The major available resource will increasingly become plantations.
55,960 hectares of hardwood and 52,670 of softwood plantation have been created by
Forestry Tasmania, on top of substantial investments by the private sector, and will become
available for harvesting in significant volume progressively from 2020 onwards. The issue
we face, therefore, is not whether a transition is needed, but when and on what terms.

Importantly, however, a plantation-based industry will be very different to the current nativeforest-
based industry. The preponderance of research and testing available to the IVG, along
with experiential evidence from sawmilling and peeler-billet trials, agrees that the available
plantations will not be able effectively to supply Tasmania’s forest-products industry as it
currently exists. This is not at all to imply that the plantations are not valuable and useful.
They will, in fact, potentially provide the input for a vibrant industry producing pulp, paper,
and other products reconstituted from pieces of plantation timber. And the category
“reconstituted products” includes a wide range of offerings suitable for multiple applications:
flooring, presentation timbers, and structural supports, among many others.

But these are manufactured products, rather than de-constituted products (the present sawn
timbers, veneers, and wood chips are essentially disassembled products). The result is that
Tasmania’s forest-products industry will necessarily undergo a transition from reliance
primarily on sawn-products and veneers, with residue exported as woodchips, to an industry
based primarily on manufactured products along with a reduced native-forest based sector.

All sides to the present dispute agree that this is the inevitable and necessary future,
ultimately. The resource that will become available will support no other. And it offers an
attractive possibility: a renewable resource, based on non-contested forests and forest
practices, with substantially greater employment than today. Much of Europe, North America,
and New Zealand has arrived at this future.

But two critical issues remain: what will be needed to create that future, and what will
become of the conservation values in the remaining native forest in the period between the
present and the time the plantations mature for harvesting?

To bring a plantation-based manufacturing industry into existence, substantial private
investment will be required. A manufacturing industry of the type sketched here requires
considerable investment in capital equipment, product development, and marketing. In the
present climate of bitter dispute and ever-shifting political commitments, such investment is
unlikely. Investors already face risk from failed products, machines that don’t work as
expected, foreign competitors, shifts in customer requirements, currency gyrations, and
interest rates. Magnifying these risks with social and political conflict can render Tasmania’s
forest-product industry uninvestable.

Tasmania’s public plantation forests will not begin to be sufficiently mature to harvest in
volume for another 20 years. Between the present day and the time Tasmania’s forest industry
is able to rely on plantations to produce manufactured products, Tasmania faces a choice:
either harvest the remaining native forest, in a climate of ongoing conflict that strangles
investment in the future, or make reserves that preserve important conservation values and
prepare for the transition early.

Outlines of a solution

The independently verified information provided in this report suggests the outlines of an
agreement to end the present conflict:

1. Restore the native-forest industry to sustainable yield.
This will require renegotiation of existing sawmilling and peeler-billet contracts to bring
these into line with sustainable yields of available resources for these products. And it will
require the forest-products industry to accept a reduced native-forest resource supply. The
high-quality sawlog supply would be somewhat greater than 120,000 cubic metres,
depending upon how many hectares were agreed to be harvested once before inclusion in
future reserves.

2. Begin to plan now to build a plantation-based industry.
Already several key industry participants, in particular Gunns and some leading sawmillers,
have begun such planning. Government should provide an overarching framework for this
transition, which avoids shifting all the risk from Forestry Tasmania to the private industry,
and helps manage that risk.

3. Reserve key forests in which important conservation values would be lost were
harvesting to occur once.
While the exact area that could prudently be reserved remains to be agreed, the information
provided below enables the ENGOs to understand which areas of forest could be harvested
once without permanent loss of conservation values, which areas are less important, and
which are both important and would be lost with even once-off harvesting.

4. Allow once-off harvesting in forests agreed to contain values in which such harvesting
would not permanently destroy conservation values.
These areas also remain to be agreed, but they could be committed in advance to reservation
status after they are harvested once according to an agreed timetable. They could then be
regenerated to a facsimile of natural forest, including with diverse species replicating the mix
present in the forests’ natural state.

5. Establish special-species zones in which clear-felling is not permitted but selective
harvesting on a sustainable basis is allowed.
Tasmania’s special-species wood-based manufacturing industry—including boat-building,
furniture, presentation timbers, and craftwood—is a vital part of our economy, one of which
all Tasmanians are proud. A secure future for this sector depends upon continued access to a
relatively tiny amount of the rare and unusual timbers that this industry employs. These
include blackwood, celery-top pine, myrtle, and lesser varieties such as sassafras. The zones
from which these woods are drawn should be granted a status that protects them from
wholesale clearing, but ensures that those timbers continue to be available.

6. Ensure continued access for mineral exploration and exploitation.
In areas found here to be prospective for minerals, access should be guaranteed for mineral
exploration and exploitation, and once either found not to contain minerals (which, of course,
will be the large majority) or extraction is concluded (inevitably, a tiny minority), these areas
could be included in next-phase reserves.

7. Cease environmental campaigns to undermine industry access to markets and capital.
Once the initial reserves and phased transition plan is agreed, the ENGOs must agree to
terminate their campaigns against elements of the Tasmanian forest-product industry. This
includes the sawmilling sector, veneers at Ta Ann, and a potential pulp mill.

8. Establish resource security through legislation.
Once an agreement has been reached, future and present investors in the Tasmanian forest
products industry must know that continued access to the non-controversial resource is
agreed, and protected in legislation.

9. Accept Commonwealth Government support for economic diversification.
Only the Commonwealth Government possesses the resources necessary to underpin the
investment required to rebuild the Tasmanian economy, including its forestry sector, on a
more diverse and sustainable basis. The Commonwealth has indicated it is willing to assist,
provided a resolution can be agreed in Tasmania. The consequences of foregoing this
opportunity might be generation-long stagnation, as we remain mired in disputes of the past.
Agreement to the elements of a resolution suggested here will require leadership on both
sides. Both sides will need to accept compromises that they have resisted for decades: for the
industry a reduction of available resource areas; for conservationists harvesting of areas they
would prefer to see reserved, and to cease their campaigns against established targets. But the
alternative threatens to be disaster.

The potential is for Tasmania finally to transcend a conflict that has paralysed our economic,
social, and political life for three and a half decades. In the process we can both establish a
reserve system that would be the envy of the world, and alongside that reinforce a newly
dynamic manufacturing-based, and fully renewable, forest-products industry, with broad
community support, enjoying greater employment and value-added than at present.

Surely, after so much bitterness, commitment of energy, and frustration, and facing such dire
consequences, we can find the will to do this.


Nick McKim MP
Greens Leader

The Tasmanian Greens Leader Nick McKim MP today called for Tasmania’s forest peace negotiators to be given space to find a long-term, lasting solution, in light of the findings contained in the Independent Verification Group’s report.

Mr McKim said that the Greens were not surprised by any of the recommendations contained in the Chairman’s summary released today.

“None of the issues raised by Professor West in his summary are surprising,” Mr McKim said.

“The data simply illustrates the widely acknowledged point that Tasmania’s forests are poorly managed, and have been cut down at an unsustainable rate for many years.”

“The Liberal Party now need to ask themselves what happens if it this process fails?’”

“The West report makes it emphatically clear that if the transition-deniers don’t get out of the way, they will cut the throat of the industry they say they support.”

“It’s clear from the data that nearly all of the 572,000 hectares of forests identified by the environmental groups are high conservation value, and deserve protection.”

“Without a successful negotiated outcome, the forest wars in Tasmania will continue and everybody loses.”

“Mr West makes that if this process fails, Tasmania stands to lose not only the forestry industry but its globally significant forests.”

• What Bob Gordon says: Forestry Tasmania welcomes release of West view

Forestry Tasmania has welcomed the release of Professor Jonathon West’s report.

Managing Director Bob Gordon said the release of the report provides the opportunity for Forestry Tasmania to defend itself against the blatantly wrong conclusions that Professor West had drawn from the excellent work done by Professor Burgman on resource availability.

“In our view, Professor West’s statements are not supported by the evidence.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Professor West has provided material that is not consistent with the facts. The first major error was his advice to the Prime Minister and the Premier that it was possible for FT to re-schedule out of the 430,000 hectare interim protection area and still meet its contractual obligations.

“Two independent schedulers in two separate reports found that Forestry Tasmania was correct and Professor West was wrong.

“For these reasons, Forestry Tasmania no longer has confidence in Professor West’s capacity to objectively analyse complex data.”

Mr Gordon said in 1997, 2002, and in 2007 and in 2011, as part of the five year review of the RFA, the best forest scientists in Australia verified Forestry Tasmania’s analysis and that it was cutting in accordance with sustainable yield principles as set down in the RFA and TCFA. Those scientists were wrong or Professor West is wrong.

Forestry Tasmania’s General Manager John Hickey said it appeared that Professor West had not understood and therefore misinterpreted Professor Burgman’s excellent work.

“The Burgman report is consistent with Forestry Tasmania’s analysis and the information that Forestry Tasmania has publicly provided since June last year.

“Some have misinterpreted the Burgman conclusions to indicate that Forestry Tasmania has either over allocated or over cut the resource. That is not true. The report does not make any such finding.

“The Burgman report points out that the 1997 Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement and the 2005 Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement designed future wood supply from public forests to be sustained from both native forests and plantations. However, the plantation trees are not yet big enough to supply significant quantities of sawlogs and peelers.

“The Burgman report acknowledges that under a no new reserve scenario, supply guarantees for sawlogs can be met from native forests until 2030.

“It also says that native forest alone cannot meet supply peeler billet guarantees. That is consistent with Forestry Tasmania’s analysis. Forestry Tasmania has always said peeler billet volumes will be supplied from native forest, plantations and private land.

“The Burgman report provides a theoretical 100-year sustainable yield level for peeler billets from public native forests alone. However this level has no practical relevance because contracts for peelers only extend to 2027 and it is clear that peeler demand will progressively transition to plantations over that period and beyond.

“Professor Burgman also analyses whether the resource volumes could be met if 572,000 hectares was reserved - and consistent with Forestry Tasmania’s view - he concludes that the two targets are incompatible. In clear terms, it is not possible to reserve 572,000 hectares and meet resource guarantees.

“Forestry Tasmania has consistently provided advice that it is possible to reserve up to 300,000 hectares of state forest and still meet resource requirements. This is based on Forestry Tasmania’s experience that on average 30 per cent of a coupe is not harvested, to protect existing values in accordance with the Forest Practices Code.

“In predicting likely resource volumes, Forestry Tasmania sets aside an additional 10 per cent from harvesting, just in case there are further changes in the Forest Practices Code. This is called head room.

“Professor Burgman, however, believes the ten per cent may not be sufficient and the head room required could be between 20 and 40 per cent. This increased head room explains why Professor Burgman’s estimates of wood volume might be lower than Forestry Tasmania’s estimates.

“In short, the head room only applies to what might happen in future. It does not suggest FT has over allocated or over cut the resource.”

From Forestry Tasmania here

First published: 2012-03-27 01:55 PM

Labor Must Not Delay Action on Forestry Tas

Tim Morris MP
Greens Treasury Spokesperson

The Tasmanian Greens said that action must not be delayed in response to Stage Two of the URS Strategic Review into Forestry Tasmania, which is due to be handed to Government in the next few days.

Greens Treasury spokesperson Tim Morris MP today called on the Premier to provide a timeframe for the release of Stages Two and Three of the independent report, and the timetable for implementation of its recommendations.

“With the pressure on the Tasmanian budget, we cannot subsidise any more losses incurred by the out of date and failed business model that is the existing Forestry Tasmania,” Mr Morris said.

“The Premier stated in answer to Greens’ questioning that she expects to receive Stage Two of the Strategic Review into Forestry Tasmania being undertaken by URS consultants in the next few days.”

“The Stage One Report identified that Forestry Tasmania was unable to fulfil its obligations under the Government Enterprises Act 1995.”

“It is the Greens’ understanding that Stage Two of this timely and independent report is that it will examine potential governance and restructure options to address the identified failings in the current Forestry Tasmania model.”

“It is crucial that the Stage Two report is considered quickly because Tasmania cannot afford to have Forestry Tasmania continue to make a loss.”

“Forestry Tasmania’s business model has passed its use-by date and failed, and it’s clear that any more financial losses will mean fewer resources for critical services such as health, police and education,” Mr Morris said.

ABC Online: West defends forest report

Professor Jonathon West has hit back at Forestry Tasmania’s claims that his findings into the company’s logging practices are false.

Prof. West yesterday released a summary of his five-month investigation into the forest industry.

The review backs conservationists’ claims that the state-owned company has been unsustainably logging the state’s native forests.

The company’s managing director, Bob Gordon, accused him of making false statements about its harvesting practices but Prof. West says that is not the case.

“The findings are not my findings. They’re using data from Forestry Tasmania with models from Forestry Tasmania and it was Forestry Tasmania personnel who ran them.”

“The numbers are not inaccurate, the numbers are accurate, there’s no questions about that. The interpretation of those is a matter for dispute,” he said.

His report outlines a nine-point plan for solving Tasmania’s decades-long forest wars.

Tasmania’s Resources Minister Bryan Green has dismissed allegations he has broken the law.

Prof. West’s summary found Forestry Tasmania was harvesting native forests at double the sustainable yield.

In a question to Mr Green, Shadow Treasurer Peter Gutwein told Parliament that was against the law.

“Therefore Professor West has directly accused you and the directors of Forestry Tasmania of breaking the law.”

“If you can’t or won’t reject this allegation, will you resign?”

Mr Green has backed Forestry Tasmania which says Prof. West’s calculations are at odds with other scientists.

He says Prof. West has misinterpreted Forestry Tasmania data.

“Quite seriously Mr Speaker, the theatre of the politics is not lost on the Honourable Member who has just resumed his seat, let me put it to you that way.”

The Premier, Lara Giddings, has also refused to endorse Prof. West’s findings.

Opposition Leader Will Hodgman says that puts into question the entire five-month independent review of state forests which Prof. West chaired.

“Doesn’t your rejection of a major element of Professor West’s work cast doubt over the entire IVG report and therefore the intergovernmental agreement itself?”

“Given this is yet another wound to the credibility of your disastrous forest deal, isn’t it time to just surely kill it off?

Ms Giddings says Mr Hodgman is denying the problems facing the forest industry.

Read the rest online..


Senator for Tasmania

Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Forestry
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation, Industry and Science


28 March 2012

Will the wood supply agreement be Labor’s next broken promise?

Federal and State Labor leaders appear poised to break their promise that wood supply from Tasmania’s forests will be guaranteed for existing timber contracts.

Premier Lara Giddings’ call for all parties to come back and negotiate a deal is a blatant attempt to force industry to give up this critical guarantee, Coalition Forestry Spokesman Richard Colbeck said.

“Labor – State and Federal – made clear promises that wood supply would be guaranteed so why is the Premier now insisting stakeholders come back to the table and negotiate a deal?” Senator Colbeck said.

“The Independent Verification Group report clearly states that if any more Tasmanian forest is locked up, supply agreements cannot be met.

“Perhaps Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke should remind the Premier of the commitment he made last October:

‘Where you get a clash between the minimum requirements for wood supply and a conservation aspiration, wood supply will win.’

– Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, Kingston Community Cabinet, October 3 2011

“The industry does not need to negotiate. Its position is crystal clear – the State and Federal Governments must honour the wood supply promise.

“There’s a real feeling of impending doom though because we’re all acutely aware that both the Tasmanian and Federal Labor governments have atrocious track records on trust and keeping promises.

“Julia Gillard broke her promise and introduced a Carbon Tax and the Tasmanian Labor Party MPs broke their promise not to form minority government with the Greens.

“Labor’s wood supply guarantee is shaping up to be the next broken promise. With the debacle of the West Report this week, it could not be more obvious now that the Intergovernmental Agreement is a sham deal and that it must be torn up immediately.

“Jonathan West’s biased, error-ridden report to State Cabinet should be the final nail in the IGA coffin,” Senator Colbeck said.


Nick McKim MP
Greens Leader

The Tasmanian Greens today called on the Tasmanian Liberals to apologise for their vile character assassinations on Professor Jonathan West and other experts and scientists involved in preparing the Independent Verification Group report for the Forests Intergovernmental Agreement.

Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said that the attacks were part of a recent series of anti-democratic assaults on freedom of expression by the Liberals.

“Apparently threatened by parts of the independent report, the Liberals have launched a scathing anti-science rant, attacking the professional reputation of independent experts,” Mr McKim said.

“With industry players including the Tasmanian Sawmillers Association now coming out in support of Professor West’s call for a negotiated solution to the forest war, the Liberals are becoming increasingly isolated.”

“Not satisfied with stifling discussion over China’s human rights record, and bizarrely calling on the Greens to suppress the free speech of environmental groups, the Liberals are now turning their attack on scientists and independent experts.”

“Their tactics are lifted directly from the climate change denier’s handbook, which is that if you don’t like the science, attack the scientist.”

“Instead of shooting the messenger, the Liberals need to step back and allow the groups involved in the peace process to get on with the important task ahead of them.”

• Wilkinson foreshadows Legislative Council inquiry into West Report

NELSON MLC Jim Wilkinson has foreshadowed a Legislative Council inquiry into the report
prepared by Professor Jonathan West as part of the Intergovernmental Forest Agreement.

Mr Wilkinson said he was disturbed by statements made by Professor West that Tasmania’s
forests have been and continue to be overcut.

“The comments made by Professor West in recent days are quite alarming if they are true,”
Mr Wilkinson said.

“Given the five yearly reviews of the Regional Forestry Agreement since 1997 have
concluded that the forests have in fact been sustainably managed, there is something very

“It is important that Professor West’s assessment is tested against a backdrop of those
independent, scientifically based reviews.”

Mr Wilkinson said so far all the Intergovernmental Agreement on Forests had achieved was to
raise more questions and division amongst the community on this contentious issue.

“The forestry debate constantly raises the question of who do we believe?” Mr Wilkinson

“Now we have a further report indicating that the others were wrong.

“This sends a very mixed message to the community and the time has come for a proper
investigation to get to the bottom of this issue.

“The community is sick of the division and is sick of the arguments, we want the matter of the
forests and the forest industry solved so that we can all get on with our lives.”

• Matthew Denhollm, Weekend Australian: Sensible voices need to speak up to end forest wars

• From:The Australian
• March 31, 2012 12:00AM

AFTER almost two years of negotiation, walkouts and interim deals, the Tasmanian forest peace process has entered its final phase as fragile as ever.

The holy grail of a durable resolution to a 35-year running sore - the divisive conflict between loggers and greenies - would be cathartic for the island.

Tasmanians are weary of “the forest wars”, with 10 past solutions imposed by government sating neither industry’s appetite for bailouts nor the greenies’ demands for more reserves.

So has this process, the first to be driven by both sides of the divide, rather than by politicians, got a chance of ending in a lasting peace? And what might this peace look like for the forests and for the beleaguered industry and its workers?

On the face of it, optimism is difficult to muster. Extremists on both sides continue to believe they can achieve more by perpetuating the conflict than by ending it.

Some environmentalists think more forest can be saved by trashing the reputation of forestry companies in their overseas markets than via a negotiated settlement.

Some in industry believe the collapse of the talks would see government side with them, particularly if, as appears likely, there are changes of political colour in Hobart and Canberra in the next 24 months.

As well, politicians at both ends of the divide continue to exploit and seek to perpetuate the conflict. Liberals and conservative upper-house independents oppose the process before it is even concluded. Greens leader Bob Brown continues to talk up the kind of conservation outcome that appears impossible, making life harder for those negotiating for a genuine compromise.

Reasonable voices in both camps lack the courage to stand up to their extreme fringes.

Adding to the bleak outlook, new data suggests there is not enough native timber to meet the demands of the present, depressed industry, even without a single tree being protected.

And the state-owned Forestry Tasmania has allocated contracts for more timber than was envisaged in last year’s federal-state agreement, around which a final deal was meant to be based.

Jobs, already shed in their hundreds because of the downturn in the sector, are being lost from veneer maker Ta Ann, apparently as a direct result of environmental campaigns.

Groups such as Markets for Change refuse to suspend these campaigns to assist in negotiations, while conservation and Green leaders decline to publicly request they do so.

In this climate, key timber and green groups must try to hammer out a final deal in weeks, to meet a government deadline of June30 for the introduction of the necessary legislation.

But for all this gloom there are reasons to believe a historic deal can still be struck ...

Read the rest here