3 May 2006
A NEW $6 million research program will focus on finding alternatives to the controversial dual issues of the clear-felling of ancient native forests and the use of 1080 poison in private forestry plantations.
Federal Forestry Minister Eric Abetz said the partnership between the Federal and State governments would ensure scientific rigour was added to the often heated and emotional debate surrounding these contentious forestry practices.
Announcing the research initiative in Hobart yesterday, Senator Abetz said it was important science determined the outcome of these issues, rather than the "shrill mantra of some in our community".
About $4m of the research by the Forestry Co-operative Research Centre, based at the University of Tasmania, has been flagged as part of the 2004 Regional Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement, while the State Government is contributing another $2 million.
Forests Minister Bryan Green is confident the alternatives to clear-felling developed by the Forestry CRC will allow all clear-felling of "old growth forests" to be eliminated by 2010.
The State Government has already committed to this.
However, Mr Green said that, in practice, this clear-felling of native forests termed as "old growth" by Forestry Tasmania only accounted for 300 to 400 hectares a year.
But the conservation movement claims this figure is playing with statistics because Forestry Tasmania labels any ancient forest that has had a natural wildfire through it as regrowth to be clear-felled, rather than old growth.
"A lot of this is recycling announcements and commitments that have already been made, and muddying the water with confusing statistics," the Wilderness Society's Vica Bayley said last night.
Also announced yesterday was a renewed commitment by both the State and Federal governments to seek an alternative to the use of 1080 poison on farms and in private plantations.
The use of 1080 to kill browsing native animals that harm crops and young tree seedlings was stopped last year by Forestry Tasmania in the face of a growing international storm about the mass and cruel killings of species such as wallabies, Tasmanian devils, bandicoots and paddymelons.