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Foreword

Background
This report is the result of a study commissioned by the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources, to update and extend information and analysis contained in Rural Land Use Trends in Tasmania 2001 (Wise, Lord and Ferguson 2001) (the 2001 Report) with recently available data. This project has been undertaken in line with a Ministerial commitment given at the release of the 2001 Report.

The impetus for the 2001 Report was the significant amount of community concern, particularly in northern Tasmania, regarding the conversion of agricultural land to plantations, and the consequential loss of community infrastructure since around 1996. Due to the scarcity of available data, the 2001 Report was only able to report trends up to 1996. This report examines trends up to recent times.

In 2001 the State Government and the Local Government Association of Tasmania formed the Local Government Forestry Consultative Committee to identify and review issues of mutual concern. A priority issue identified by the Committee was to update the 2001 Report with a view to exploring further opportunities to undertake social and economic studies of the impacts of plantation development in rural areas. The Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources undertook to finance and manage the project to update the 2001 Report, and a working group of the Local Government Forestry Consultative Committee undertook the role of Steering Committee for the project.

This report has been prepared for the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources by Davey & Maynard Agricultural Consulting.


Objectives and Scope of Project
The objectives of the project were as follows:

To update the 2001 Report with more comprehensive and accurate data.
To produce a new report that would identify Statewide trends in rural land use with particular emphasis on plantations.
Activities within the scope of the project included:

Update the statistical information contained in the 2001 Report and present the information in a way that is readable by the general community and relevant to Tasmania's three Natural Resource Management Regions.
Collate and present available economic and employment data for all sectors covered by the report.
Present and assess land capability information for plantations to determine whether plantations and other agricultural sectors are in competition.
Review the agricultural sectors and commodities contained in the Report and consider adding commodities such as grapes, hops, and grains to the commodities already covered.\
Analyse and discuss the issues surrounding water availability and its impact on rural land use trends.
Analyse and discuss the relevant drivers of rural land use change including government policies, industry plans and legislation.
The objective was not to present a socio-economic impact assessment of rural land use change, but to be a reference document outlining and analysing the changes, and identifying the trends, in rural land use during a period of rapid growth of the plantation industry in Tasmania.

Wherever possible the information in this report has been presented on a Natural Resource Management Regional basis. This should be of interest and assistance to the three Natural Resource Management Committees in preparing regional natural resource management strategies under the Natural Resource Management Act 2002.


Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources
November, 2003