Extending the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement


I am a big fan of Splus and R and I am often recommending these systems to colleagues. One of the many reasons I like the programs is their very active users’ communities. If one runs into trouble, physician there are always other users willing to help. Nevertheless, angina a while ago I started noticing a disturbing trend: one of the Splus/R language demigods was becoming increasingly arrogant—and rude—in his replies to fellow posters. What was even more surprising is that nobody seemed to care. As Eric Hoffer said:

Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.

I was uncomfortable, but the situation was below my ‘annoyance threshold’ until this reply to this post. I was so annoyed that submitted this message, which generated an interesting discussion that resulted in a ‘lawyer-style’ apology from the offender. The interesting thing is that—after my post—I received several personal emails from people that where equally uncomfortable with the situation, but felt uneasy challenging the ‘powers that be’. This seems to be yet another example of the issues faced by internet communities, where a few individuals can easily damage the quality of communication in a forum.

I think that after this experience we will go back to a much more respectful and welcoming email list, so people are not afraid of posting simple questions and being flamed in the process.

A few months ago Senator Bob Brown was complaining that nothing would happen with the government’s electoral promise on forests. Last Friday—Friday 13th, see spooky—John Howard (Australia’s Prime Minister) and Paul Lennon (Tasmanian Premier) signed the ‘Supplementary Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement’ in a medicine
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15281978%255E921,00.html” title=”link to The Mercury”>visit to the Styx Valley.

The extension to the RFA includes much more than just extra reserved land:

  • Extra 193,400 ha protected (148,400 ha of State Forests and 45,000 ha of voluntarily protected forests). This covers two of the most contentious areas: the Tarkine and the Styx Valley, plus a number of small areas. Out of the 148,400 ha there are 120,000 of old growth forests. The new areas are reserves and not national parks; thus, they are not available for forestry but the mining industry still can claim mining rights.
  • Clearing and conversion of native forests (both old growth and regeneration forests) to other land uses (plantations, farming, etc) on public land phased out by 2010. Same situation in private land by 2015.
  • Old-growth clearfelling will be reduced to 20 percent of total production (400 ha a year) by 2010, favouring partial harvesting methods. There will be no acceleration of harvest rate in old growth forest.
  • There will be an expansion of hardwood plantations of 16,000 ha (most likely in converted land) to allow meeting a legal commitment of 300,000 m3/year of sawlogs and reducing reliance on old-growth forests.
  • End of use of 1080 in States Forests (although this is not new) and incentives for private land owners to do the same.
  • There would be an extra 213 jobs in forestry (155 direct and 53 indirect).
  • There are other bits and pieces including ‘feel good’ programs of AUD 1 million for water quality assessments and AUD 2 millions for studying Tasmanian devils’s facial cancer. Not that they are not important, but they have not much to do with the rest of the RFA.

It is now clear that the delay of the announcement (from December to May) was due to intense negotiations to provide a much more comprehensive package. This extra coverage comes at a cost though; where the initial budget was AUD50 millions from the Federal Government, it increased to AUD250 millions (160 millions from the federal budget plus 90 millions from state government). There will be AUD 115 millions for intensive forest management and AUD 42 millions for the hardwood industry. This is still a small number compared to Labor’s promised AUD800 millions.

If the sign of a fair deal is that everybody is a little unhappy, we are in the presence of a good deal. The Greens and other conservationists can not stand it—the Greens call it forest torture—but nobody expected that they would like any solution to the problem, which is key to their political position in Australia. Farmers do not like the deal because it imposes restrictions on land clearing. Part of the forest industry does not like it because it reduces—and in some cases eliminate—access to to specific forest resources.

It is clear that with a reduced available forest area, there will be an intensification of silviculture of the remaining land, particularly in plantations.

Some sources:

Filed in environment, forestry, politics, tasmania

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