A new report, commissioned by TWS and prepared by EDO Tasmania, has found that Tasmania’s forest practices laws are failing to meet national standards for protection of threatened species and biodiversity.
Under the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement, Tasmania’s forestry operations are exempt from national laws that protect threatened species on the understanding that these species would be adequately protected under Tasmanian law. The report shows that the legal framework for the assessment, approval and enforcement of logging activities in Tasmania is not providing that protection.
The report makes a comprehensive series of recommendations to improve the protections delivered by the law and facilitate more ecologically sustainable forest management in Tasmania.
Key findings include:
- current “duty of care” provisions effectively prevent forestry officers from refusing to certify forest practices plans, or imposing stringent conditions to minimise the impacts on threatened species and ecological communities
- the Commonwealth Minister has extremely limited powers to intervene to protect nationally listed species affected by forestry activities
- monitoring of biodiversity losses and on-ground compliance with conditions is inadequate
- public access to information is restricted and there are very few opportunities to challenge forestry operations that may impact (or are impacting) on threatened species.
Key recommendations include:
- removing the RFA exemption from the EPBC Act
- giving statutory effect to the suite of planning tools developed by the Forest Practices Authority
- referring all forestry operations with the potential to impact on threatened species to the Threatened Species Unit for comment
- removing the “duty of care” restrictions under the Forest Practices Code
- allowing third parties to appeal against decisions to certify forest practices plans
Read the full report here: State Forests, National Interests: RFA Report (May 2015)