13 March, 2011

Fears for forest pact

Danielle McKay
The Mercury (article), March 13, 2011

AUSTRALIAN Greens leader Bob Brown says hopes for a Tasmanian forestry peace deal are in danger of being derailed.

Senator Brown's concerns followed an agreement that would allow high-conservation forests to be logged for six months, despite an initial draft moratorium of 30 days. Senator Brown said he was also concerned that the deal called for a second Federal Government buyout of some existing native forest logging contracts, which could mean millions to timber company Gunns Ltd.

The Senator was also worried by reports that former union boss Bill Kelty, who brokered the deal between environmentalists and forestry industry groups, believed that the only way to end forestry wars was if the pulp mill at Bell Bay proceeded.

"It appears that the rate of logging is going to continue, there's going to be an injection of public funds and the first environment pillar in this proposed agreement, which was for a complete moratorium after 30 days in the iconic forests, has been broken," he said.

"It's in danger of being corrupted by the vested interest of the logging industry."

Standing alongside Senator Brown yesterday was Tasmania Greens Leader Nick McKim, who reassured that there was no difference of opinion between the state Greens and their federal counterparts.

Mr McKim said he would meet with the Premier Lara Giddings tomorrow to discuss his concerns and said he believed the moratorium could be brought back to its original March 15 deadline. On Friday Forestry Tasmania Chief Bob Gordon warned against unrealistic expectations.

Forestry confirmed that some high-conservation forest areas designated by environment organisations to be "locked up" and "saved" under the deal would undoubtedly be logged before the September 11 moratorium deadline expired.

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