Old-growth trees to be 'woodchipped, wasted' under specialty timber access plan
Tasmania's Wilderness Society is warning six out of every 10 trees cut down as part of a state government plan to unlock special species timber will be unusable.
The Government released a draft plan for public consultation which sets out future access to special species timber.
The Government said the plan would simplify the application process to harvest speciality timbers and balance conservation needs while assisting the forestry sector.
The Wilderness Society's Vica Bayley said based on a Forestry Tasmania report released in May, more than half of the trees cut down under the proposal would be wasted.
"We have digested this report and it demonstrates that there is a log product recovery of 0.4 applied and that is because it is impossible to detect internal defects in some of these trees," he said.
"What this means is that six out of every 10 trees that are cut down under this plan would be wasted, woodchipped or otherwise of very low value."
The plan outlined a log product recovery factor which was applied in order to account for undetected internal defect.
"A log product recovery factor of 0.4 was applied for all species in this report," the report states.
Mr Bayley feared this would mean old-growth rainforest trees could be woodchipped and wasted if the plan went ahead.
"This plan talks about 420,000 hectares of old growth and rainforests within Tasmania's Reserve Estate," he said.
A Tasmanian Government spokesman did not confirm whether six out of every 10 trees cut down would be unusable.
"The draft management plan, which was developed by members of the Ministerial Advisory Council, makes clear that there are a range of challenges for the special species timber sector in accessing the volumes of timber it needs in order to sustain the industry," he said.
"The plan is currently out for public consultation and we look forward to receiving feedback."
Unlocking forests remains aim: Barnett
In June the Government's contentious Forestry (Unlocking Production Forests) Bill 2017 was voted down in the Legislative Council.
The bill would have allowed logging in 356,000 hectares of forests two years earlier than a moratorium would have allowed.
When the Special Species Management Plan was released for public consultation a fortnight ago, Resources Minister Guy Barnett said harvesting could start as soon as possible after the Government's legislation passed.
"Unfortunately, while the plan sets out a way forward for the sector, a large proportion of the resource identified will not be able to be accessed in practice until our legislation to unlock production forests and fix up the unworkable application process for special species harvesting is passed," he said.
"The Liberal Government is continuing to back the special species sector by seeking a fresh mandate from the Tasmanian people for this legislation at the next election."
"By releasing a draft plan for public consultation now, we are ensuring that we will have an approved Special Species Management Plan in place so that harvesting can commence as soon as possible after our legislation passes."
Tree waste claim 'farcical'
Specialty timber user Andrew Denman, who is also on the advisory council, said the Wilderness Society's claim that 60 per cent of trees would be wasted was "farcical".
"They're saying if you cut down 100 trees, 60 per cent will go to the chipper but that's not the case," he said.
"These days harvesting methods are much better and we have a much better sense of whether a tree is worth it.
"There is no market for these trees to be woodchipped. The draft management plan is all about moving away from broad scale harvesting to sustainable harvesting."
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