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Tuesday, 18 May 1993
Page: 708


Senator CHAMARETTE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories. Is the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service's endangered species program currently funding a study aimed at improving the conservation of the giant freshwater crayfish in the Gog Range of northern Tasmania? Is the study focusing on the area under imminent threat from a plantation establishment being conducted by the Tasmanian Forestry Commission with funding provided by the Commonwealth department of resources? What action is the Minister taking to fulfil the Commonwealth's responsibilities to prevent the destruction of the habitat of giant freshwater cray under its obligations as a signatory to the international biodiversity convention? What immediate action will the Minister take to stop any logging in the area until the completion and release of the report being prepared by the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service?


Senator SCHACHT —I thank Senator Chamarette for giving my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories, Mrs Kelly, notice of this question. I have been provided with the following detailed answer. The Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service's endangered species program is currently funding a survey of the status of the giant freshwater crayfish in the Gog Range.

  The aims of the study are to assess the effects of past and current land use practices on populations of the crayfish. The project was originally due for completion in February 1992 but unforeseen delays in the survey work have led to a delay in the submission of the final report. It is expected to be submitted to the service in June this year.

  The study includes a number of sites throughout the Gog Range with a variety of past management histories. The Tasmanian Forestry Commission has indicated that some of these areas are scheduled for logging and subsequent blackwood plantation establishment in the spring and summer of 1993-94.

  The Department of Primary Industries and Energy has indicated that some $60,000 from the $50 million 1988 Helsham agreement will be used to undertake the plantation establishment. Any further questions regarding the use of funds should be directed to my colleague the Minister for Resources.

  At this stage, appropriate Commonwealth action is being taken through the study being conducted under the endangered species program. No action will be taken prior to the completion of the report. The report is expected to be completed before the commencement of logging. The Tasmanian Forestry Commission has advised that there is adequate time for the implications of the report to be assessed and for any changes to logging prescriptions to be implemented.