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Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Page: 1660


Senator Bob Brown asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, upon notice, on 13 February 2008:

With reference to the decision to destroy the ancient forest in Weld River coupe WR15F:

(1) (a)   What is the necessity for the planned deforestation; and (b) what alternatives are available.

(2) (a)   What buffer will be kept between logging and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area; and (b) how will this be managed.

(3) (a)   Does this buffer or lack thereof, accord with World Heritage respect and values; and (b) have World Heritage experts agreed with this; if so: (i) who are the experts, (ii) what is their complete advice, and (iii) when was it given.

(4) (a)   What areas of the coupe will not be logged; (b) why; and (c) on whose advice.

(5)   Will Gunns Limited be a receiver of wood products from the coupe; if so: what volume and percentage of the commercial wood will go to Gunns Limited.

(6)   Has the Minister inspected logging in the World Heritage value forests of the Weld; if so, when; if not, why not.

(7)   Will the Minister, as part of his portfolio responsibilities, visit the Weld River coupe WR15F to ensure Tasmania’s World Heritage values are not contravened in any way while the current Minister is in office.


Senator Sherry (Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law) —The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)  

(a)   There will be no deforestation, the forest is to be harvested and regenerated back to native forest in accordance with the provisions of the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement.

(b)   As noted in (1)(a), there will be no deforestation. Under the provisions of the Regional Forest Agreement scheduling of harvesting operations in production forests is a matter for the Tasmanian Government.

(2)  

(a)   Harvesting will be separated from the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area boundary by retained forest of at least 100m width.

(b)   Logging in this coupe will be managed by Forestry Tasmania in accordance with the approved Forest Practices Plan.

(3)  

(a)   Yes. The nomination document for the 1989 extension of the World Heritage Area explicitly stated “the boundaries of the nominated area have been selected to ensure adequate protection of the integrity of the area”. The World Heritage Committee accepted the 1989 nomination.

(b)   Yes. The World Heritage Committee accepted the nomination on the basis of the Technical Evaluation by The World Conservation Union (IUCN) which stated “The September revision fully meets the reservations indicated earlier by IUCN.”

(i)   IUCN - one of the official advisory bodies under the World Heritage Convention.

(ii)   The complete IUCN Technical Evaluation is available on the World Heritage Centre website: http://whc.unesco.org

(iii)   IUCN made its Technical Evaluation in September 1989.

(4)  

(a)   The coupe is being harvested in stages to facilitate research on harvesting effects on small streams (the coupe is inside the Warra Long Term Ecological Research Site). The first stage of the harvesting has been completed and this area is planned to be sown for regeneration in autumn 2008. The coupe has an approved Forest Practices Plan.

(b)   Under the provisions of the Regional Forest Agreement, coupe specific details of harvesting operations are a matter for the Tasmanian Government.

(c)   The Forest Practices Authority approves forest practices plans for individual coupes in Tasmania.

(5)   Coupe specific commercial transaction details are a matter for Forestry Tasmania.

(6)   In December 2007 as part of a visit to Tasmania, I overflew the Weld valley, including areas within and outside of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

(7)   I have no immediate plans to revisit this area of Tasmania. I am confident that the forest management strategies and practices in place will mean that the proposed harvesting operations do not compromise the integrity of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.