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Tassie trees are still falling; the future prosperity of Tasmania's forest industry is dependant on the capacity of governments to deliver on the Statement of Principles.

Traditional opponents in the Tasmanian forestry debate commenced meeting in 2010 in an attempt to discuss and find a way forward to resolve the conflict over native forests in Tasmania.

These historic discussions continued with recognition that the old forest industry model was failing forestry contractors, timber workers and timber communities, and had driven a growing expectation within the broader community for higher levels of native forest protection into the future.

In their attempt to solve the crisis confronting the industry, lengthy discussions continued between all concerned participants throughout the year, with regular reference group participation ensuring contribution from a wide range of voices.

Participants came together in 2011 to sign a Statement of Principles, establishing the major principles for engaging with government into the future. Major principles agreed include:

* Protection for High Conservation Value forests with a moratorium applied during negotiations;

* A restructure package for affected timber industry workers; and,

* A transitional plan for future industry and employment and a focus on future regional development.

By year's end, the Statement of Principles was formally accepted by both Tasmanian and Federal governments and released as the Intergovernmental Agreement on Tasmania's forests.

The native hardwood sector continues to implode, with all timber products either having no market demand, being economically non-viable or from a forest resource which cannot be materially sustained. As ageing timber processing centres close, thousands of workers are being made redundant, with a majority of forestry contractors financially ruined.

Representatives from the workers' union, forestry contractors, country saw millers and the timber community are working with environment organisations toward agreement and called on both governments to produce a transitional agreement for both worker and industry transition, and expected conservation outcomes.

Both governments have implemented a process of verification of data for future decision making, appointing and expert Independent Verification Group to assess claims of HCV in forest areas and to analyse and profile timber availability into the future.

Despite this, Forestry Tasmania, not a signatory to the Statement of Principles, has refused to implement the logging moratorium in the identified HCV forests. Forestry Tasmania's has asserted they have been unable to reschedule wood supply commitments from outside the designated HCV forest areas.

The future prosperity of Tasmania's forest industry is dependant on the capacity of governments to deliver on the agreement and demanding an immediate end to logging in the agreed HCV forests. It also requires continued broad community support for a well-focused regional development assistance plan, focusing on emergent industries based on Tasmania's truly sustainable natural advantages.

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Title Annotation:Forests
Author:Hesketh, Lindsay
Publication:Habitat Australia
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Apr 1, 2012
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