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Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement

DATE 31/08/2011

The Prime Minister of Australia and the Premier of Tasmania signed the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement (TFA) on 7 August 2011.

The Agreement was the culmination of the Statement of Principles negotiations between the forest industry and ENGOs during 2010/11. It seeks to achieve the dual objectives of guaranteeing resource supply to timber processors, and of reserving an additional 430,000 hectares of state forest for an interim period, pending independent verification.

Land use decisions, including decisions over which areas of state forest may be used for timber production, are made by the Tasmanian and Australian Parliaments. Forestry Tasmania manages state forests to comply with those decisions, and with our other legislative, contractual, fiduciary and sustainability obligations.

During the Statement of Principles negotiations, Forestry Tasmania was contracted by the parties to provide detailed scientific modelling on resource availability under potential scenarios for forest reservation. This modelling was independently verified by Professor Jerry Vanclay, who concluded:

The Reference Group can be confident that the scenarios presented by FT offer a reliable indication of resource availability, and that the scenarios are a reasonable basis for comparing options. While the underlying areas, inventory, and simulations conform to best practice, it is not possible to assert a precise long-term non-declining yield for any of the three scenarios without further specification of operational requirements (notably coupe dispersal and swift parrot requirements). Notwithstanding this limitation, the FT summaries offer a good basis for comparing scenarios.

Forestry Tasmania has now analysed the implications of the TFA on its contractual obligations, including whether it is possible to re-schedule harvesting operations from within the 430,000 hectares identified for reservation.

It has formally advised the Australian and Tasmanian governments that it is unable to meet it contractual requirements from production resources outside the nominated 430,000 hectares.

Under the TFA, the governments will appoint an independent expert to review FT’s work and attempt to reschedule harvesting activities.

The Governments have appointed a verification group led by Professor Jonathon West to provide advice by the end of 2011 to the Prime Minister and the Tasmanian Premier about the areas to be placed in interim reserves, and those that will be available for wood production in order to meet contractual obligations.

Forestry Tasmania has provided the following interim advice to Professor West:

A total of 497 harvesting coupes are listed (in Forestry Tasmania's Three Year Wood Production Plan for the 2011/12 year) of which 87 fall within the TFIA430.

A total of 124 roading coupes are listed of which 54 fall within the TFIA430.

Of the 87 harvesting coupes, 59 are critical to the supply of logs to Ta Ann (subject to verification).

There are currently 12 coupes being harvested within the TFIA430.

For the remainder of 2011 a further 29 coupes (subject to verification) will be required to meet current contractual commitments.

A total of 27 harvesting contractors (subject to verification) rely on working within the TFIA430 during the remainder of 2011.

FT has also updated the regional comparisons of average annual yield in the Final Report to Signatories (Forestry Tasmania, 6 June 2011) using the method verified by Professor Jerry Vanclay. For the updated appendices - 4a,5a and 6a.

The additional column headed "Intergovernmental Agreement" shows annual yields of sawlog, peeler billets and arisings by decade between 2011 and 2050.

Based on this initial evaluation, FT reiterates (as advised to Bill Kelty) the view that the current reserve proposal of 430,000 hectares is inconsistent with the ability for FT to meet contractual commitments. It is likely that reserves in the order of 300,000 hectares, if located so as to minimise the area of regrowth native forest, may be compatible with resource supply obligations and sustainable forest management.

Forestry Tasmania will continue to provide factual and fearless advice through the Tasmanian Forest Agreement process, even if that advice is not always welcome by all stakeholders.

We will also provide as much information as possible to the community. In line with this policy, the following documents are currently available:


Other links

Focus on the future (FT Media Release 14/9/11) (click here)

FT releases evidence of compliance with the IGA (click here)

Commercial settlement reached with Gunns Ltd (Govt Media Release 14/9/11) (click here)

Forestry Update (Govt Media Release 9/9/11) (click here)

Tas Govt - Dept of Infrastructure Energy & Resources (click here)

Aust Govt -Tasmanian Forests Agreement (click here)