20 October, 2010

Tasmania leads, Victoria must follow

Justin Tutty, Darwin, NT
The Age (letter), 20 October 2010

THE end of Tasmania's forest wars comes down to nothing more bizarre than a hard-headed business decision by Gunns to switch to plantations (''Historic deal on forests'', The Age, 19/10).

The Tasmanian government has fallen into line because the economic argument is compelling. Global financial pressures have hit the contentious export of native forest woodchips, and the rise of demand for certified plantation timber combines to dictate that if there is to be a future for the industry, it must be in well-managed plantations.

Yet in Victoria, where the parameters are the same and the industry is in decline, policy makers have yet to heed the writing on the wall. Instead, we see further conflict provoked as diminishing native forest resources lead government to move loggers into contentious areas.

Victoria must follow Tasmania's lead, and put an end to native forest destruction. Rather than holding on until the last bitter woodchip, it's time for government to lead a transition out of our ancient native forests into existing plantations. By partnering with industry to fund retooling, retraining and relocation, the Brumby government has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save jobs and trees.

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