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Get a real cause.

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Get a real cause

16 March 2004

I welcome debate on the management of Tasmanian public forests but this debate needs to be on factual grounds and have some semblance of realism.

Material put out by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Wilderness Society is inaccurate.

The material from these groups suggest that 20,000 hectares of native forests are clear felled and burnt each year in Tasmania. The real figure of native forests logged is more like 14,600 hectares and this information is provided by the Tasmanian Government - the only source of accurate figures.

The material issued by the radical greens also says over 90 per cent of native forests are wood chipped. This is incorrect.

The radicals call for immediate protection from logging of all of Tasmania's high conservation value old growth forest wilderness areas and other areas of great national significance but already;

● 95 per cent of high quality wilderness is in reserves;

● 69 per cent of all old growth forests are locked away in reserves; and

● 40 per cent of the Tasmanian land mass is in reserve.

The call to rule out burning of native forests for electrical power is ludicrous. If native forests can be lawfully harvested for high value sawlog than it makes no sense that the residue from production should not be available for creating renewable energy.

The call for incentives for local processing of logs for paper and pulp seemed to be at variance with past practice of environmental groups who have long opposed pulp mills. I would challenge the green movements to sign up for a pulp mill in clear and explicit terms.

I do agree with the conservation groups in the call to allow native forests for speciality timbers, honey production and pollination for horticulture. This already happens.

There are many things about the day-to-day management of forests in Tasmania where the Tasmanian Government can improve its performance and the Commonwealth is pursuing that. But, by and large the Tasmanian Government follows the Regional Forests Agreement, which requires careful management under Tasmanian Government codes of practice and regulations.

The Commonwealth has already committed $110 million to Tasmania following the signing of the Regional Forest Agreements. The Regional Forest Agreement Act 2002, which Labor supported, provides for substantial penalties and compensation if any future Federal Government should breach

its terms.

Australia currently has more reserves than is demanded by The World Conservation Union (IUCN) -conservation movement's peak organisation.

Australia's forests are amongst the best and most sustainably managed in the world.

Australia has a great forestry industry which supports tens of thousands of jobs, mainly in rural and regional Australia and their activities are the mainstay of many small rural communities throughout Australia.

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald's office: David Crisafulli 0400 144 483