The last few posts show how magnificently beautiful Tasmania is, yet, a ravenous beast lurks on the island. Perhaps one of the “Monsters” that Able Tasman hinted at in 1682, though it didn’t exist here back then. That was before the greed of man discovered these shores.
Like the cartoon version of the Tasmanian Devil, this monster consumes ALL in it’s path and it’s ravenous appetite seems unfathomably unstoppable and out of control. The majority of Tasmanian’s of voting age just don’t seem to notice or care enough, to band together and kill this destructive beast once an for all – despite Tasmania being home to the world’s first “Greens” political party.
While around 52% of Tasmania’s land area has some form of reservation classification and of that around 42% is managed by Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife, many “reserves” have had their reserve status downgraded to a class where timber harvesting and mineral extraction activities are now permitted – so in effect, they are reserved for future exploitation.
Following a loss of $67.4 million in 2015/16, the government business enterprise “Forestry Tasmania” was rebranded in 2017 as “Sustainable Timber Tasmania”, with 141 employees (jobs).
Earlier this year, Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein called for logging tenders in 356,000 hectares of high conservation value forest. Given that based on 2016 figures, The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) who administers ‘future potential production forest’ crown land (formerly ‘future reserve land’) totaling 392,000 hectares, the Premier’s intended harvesting of 356,000 hectares hardly seems sustainable, leaving just 36,000 hectares of ‘future potential production forest’, which likely have no potential or are inaccessible.
Basically what has been and is still happening in Tasmania, is a conversion of the remaining accessible Old Growth forests – clear-felled and burned, which includes Eucalyptus Regnans – the Earth’s tallest flowering plant at over 100 meters high, into mono-culture tree farms for plantation timber. Predominantly same species fast growing non-Tasmanian native Eucalyptus Nitens planted in rows, and instead of a diverse, natural understory, weeds like blackberries and introduced grasses take over, biodiversity and natural animal habitat is lost. Sustainable?
Tasmania’s old growth forests have been sold by greedy men (and the odd woman) in suits. Cheaply, and at massive losses in the past. And for what? 141 direct jobs? Most of the logs harvested are sent directly overseas for processing, so we don’t even value add the timber here in any meaningful way. It is worth more left standing.
Protests (not any more)
Tough anti-protest laws (introduced unannounced in the media on Australia Day while bushfires raged in Tasmania) were passed by the lower-house of Tasmania’s parliament in November 2019. Due to Covid-19, they have yet to be debated in the Legislative Council “… designed to take away the freedoms that Tasmanians have enjoyed to peacefully protest. It is designed to silence dissent.” Read Cassey O’Connor Greens MP’s speech.
The first offence is 18 months and the second offence is four years [jail], with a $10,000 fine. The bill was based on original anti-protest legislation which was overturned by the High Court in 2017.
To sum this post up, I quote 60 Minutes reporter and Tasmanian Charles Wooley:
“I have known about these magnificent forests for decades, yet I have done little to save them.
“It has seemed a lost cause in which, always, ideology trumps biology. And politics defeats the heart.
“But perhaps you don’t need to be a left-wing-pinko-greenie to help save our giants. Play it another way and surely every patriotic, right-thinking Australian would rather see the biggest trees on earth standing up rather than lying down in ashes.
“When you take them there, ask your kids.”
In reality, the only way to save places like this – and give the planet half a chance, is if enough of us vote for it, but I sadly think that collectively, we’re to damn greedy and easily distracted from the BIG picture. You know, that round space rock we all share (or squabble over) and depend on for survival?
I used to be an avid and active defender of our forests and animal habitats, but standing up for our wilderness wears you down and it never ends. You are maligned from main stream society, labeled an extremist, assumed your unemployed and have nothing better to do. You might have a small win, then the laws will be changed to suit “The Monster”, secret deals and distractions – generally, in the long run, you lose more than you gained. And you keep losing, the original old-growth forest and unique habitats keeps being logged and lost. It is tiresome, ever-present in your mind. You, small and insignificant against the tyranny of greed, the destruction of special places. What can one person do? It consumes you like they consume the forests. It becomes all encompassing, futile and ultimately, very, very depressing. I have had best friends leave the state because became too much for them, completely overwhelmed. Writing this has bought a lot of those emotions back, you never forget, but you try to move on, while the bulldozers still move in. Until it’s all gone.
[Apologies for the rant, it won’t happen again … well, maybe.]
Open you’re eyes – what’s happening where you live?