Around Australia, native forests continue to be degraded by logging. Victoria has removed regulatory provisions, New South Wales is considering logging in national parks and Queensland is set to overturn the protection of more than 1.5 million hectares achieved by ARCS in co-operation with the industry.
Back in the mid 1990s, ARCS began working with the Queensland Government on a solution to the conflict between conservationists and the native forest logging industry. We participated in the joint State and Federal government process that was intended to lead to a Regional Forest Agreement for South East Queensland. We saw the process through to the end but then withdrew because of the untenable position taken by the Federal government. Their position was based on a policy decision that there should be little or no impact on the industry.
Subsequently we worked in a spirit of co-operation with the industry association, Timber Queensland, and the Queensland Government and that led to the historic and much-heralded South East Queensland Forests Agreement.
That was followed by a similar process, the Statewide Forests Process which addressed native forest timber production in the Western Hardwoods Region (Brigalow Belt), Central Eastern Queensland and ecotone forests bordering the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area in North Queensland. This led to a decision to set aside for conservation 1.25 million hectares of forest in the Western Hardwoods Area, to cease logging in Central Eastern Queensland and in the ecotone forests of North Queensland.
In January 2013, the Queensland Minister For Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, John McVeigh MP, overturned the outcomes of the Statewide Forests Process. His decision was communicated to the Director-General, Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing as follows:
Minister McVeigh has approved that the areas of State Forest previously excluded from further harvesting by the former State Government, as well as the State Forest areas proposed for tenure transfer to the protected area estate, are now available for commercial log timber production and associated harvesting once again. This includes the State Forest areas within the 1.2 million hectares previously identified in the Western Hardwoods and Cypress Regions for proposed inclusion in the protected area estate and the remaining State Forest areas in central Queensland, Mackay-Proserpine area and the North Queensland ecotone forests.
We can probably expect a similar decision regarding the SEQ Forests Agreement Area.
Australian Rainforest Conservation Society Inc PO Box 2111, Milton QLD 4064, Australia
telephone: 61 7 3368 1318 email: firstname.lastname@example.org