Image for Forestry Tasmania logging threatens extinction for species ... and for FSC certification

Forestry Tasmania is approaching environment groups individually and trying to get them to endorse an ‘acceptable’ percentage of logging of Swift Parrot habitat when it is unequivocal that all logging of Swift Parrot breeding habitat must cease immediately. We believe this is related to an attempt to persuade their FSC auditors that conservation concerns have been addressed and allayed, when this is simply not the case.

Forestry Tasmania’s application for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification is in trouble due to a significant number of major non-conformances with the FSC standard, especially in relation to failure to protect high conservation values.

FSC final report delayed to May

“Forestry Tasmania’s bid for Forest Stewardship Council certification has not been going smoothly and a final outcome is now delayed until May, whilst concerns have been deepening over their failure to protect high conservation values,” said CEO of Markets For Change Peg Putt.

“This means that other companies are also in a pickle where they are reliant on burnishing their environmental credentials in the market through an FSC certification of Forestry Tasmania as their wood supplier,” Ms Putt said.

FT seeking environment group endorsement of logging Swift Parrot breeding habitat

“We have been appalled to discover that in desperation to get some conservation endorsement of their logging plans and thus progress their FSC application, Forestry Tasmania is now approaching environment groups individually asking them to name an acceptable percentage of logging Swift Parrot habitat, when the fact is that this logging must stop now - no further logging of Swift Parrot breeding habitat at all is acceptable,” Ms Putt said.

“A formal nomination for the Swift Parrot to be categorised as Critically Endangered nationally is currently under consideration and it has been listed as nationally Endangered for years, and logging of its breeding habitat is officially recognised as the major threat to the bird’s survival,” explained Peter McGlone, Director of the Tasmanian Conservation Trust.

“The Tasmanian Conservation Trust were invited to meet with Forestry Tasmania to discuss the Swift Parrot.”

“We understand that Swift Parrot conservation is one of the issues of non-compliance found by auditors SCS Global, but we must have this confirmed by Forestry Tasmania and know the context prior to meeting, especially the relevance of our input to any FSC certification,” Mr McGlone said.

“Since learning of this approach to the Tasmanian Conservation Trust we’ve asked around and this is not the only organisation that has been approached over this matter. It’s clear that Forestry Tasmania is seeking endorsement of a certain level of logging Swift Parrot habitat.”

“Our three groups outlined concerns about threats to the very survival of the Swift Parrot extensively in our detailed reports made to the auditors in November and December last year and on a field trip to the southern forests, as well as important issues regarding logging of old growth forests, rainforests, habitat of the grey goshawk, wedge-tailed eagles, and of healthy Tasmanian devils,” Ms Putt explained.

Bruny Island

“There is a crisis unfolding involving the logging of Swift Parrot habitat on Bruny Island, the best stronghold this species has left,” said Jenny Weber, Campaign Director of the Bob Brown Foundation.

“We notified the auditors of Forestry Tasmania’s FSC bid of planned logging of a controversial coupe on Bruny Island that would have a serious adverse impact on the species and contravenes several key principles and criteria of FSC, but now it is being logged regardless.”

Today we have released an excerpt of our combined submission which concerns this coup, SB017B. (Available on request)

“FT has ignored emerging scientific information that has proved Bruny Island is a breeding refuge for Swift parrots. This new scientific information has shown 100% success of breeding attempts by Swift parrots on Bruny Island, whereas elsewhere the nests are under attack by introduced sugar gliders, with the impacts being worse where the forest has also been degraded by logging.”

“Forestry Tasmania is making the situation even worse by now pushing ahead with plans to log another adjacent area of forest that also comprises breeding habitat for the Swift Parrot, as well as Grey Goshawks and Wedge Tailed eagles being sighted there. This new coupe is being objected to by a local tourism operator whose adjacent birdwatching business and the jobs it sustains would be in jeopardy if the area coupe is logged,” Ms Weber said.

“There is no way that current logging and planned future logging of Swift Parrot breeding habitat should ever be allowed. Internal Departmental documents revealed that scientists have made a strong case that the logging adversely affects conservation of the species, but that a political decision to allow it regardless has been taken. This cannot be acceptable to the Forest Stewardship Council which requires environmental values to be maintained and enhanced, and a precautionary approach to be taken,” Ms Weber concluded.

• Christine Milne: Loggers put parrot on swift path to extinction ...

The news today that swift parrot habitat on Bruny Island will be logged increases the urgency for the federal government to step in and protect this endangered bird, Greens Leader Christine Milne said today.

“I wrote to Minister Greg Hunt last month following revelations the state government ignored expert advice not to log five swift parrot breeding areas,” Senator Milne said.

“The Minister is the responsible person for threatened species in Australia and must step in to stop logging of its habitat.

“Bruny Island is a mecca for bird watchers in Australia but it’s only going to stay that way if the threats to its iconic species are removed, and that includes logging.

“Logging on Bruny Island must stop. Full stop,” Senator Milne said.

Richard Colbeck, Paul Harriss: Comments invited on implementation of Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement Public comments must be received by the Tasmanian Department of State Growth by 5pm on Friday 29 May 2015. For more information on the Tasmanian RFA review, including the implementation report and how to make a submission, visit the Tasmanian Department of State Growth website