Protecting Natural Carbon Stores

Fully account for forest carbon stores and emissions from forest management, protect existing forest carbon stores.

Step 2) Protecting Tasmania's Carbon-Rich Native Forests

Action: The Tasmanian Government must act immediately to protect Tasmania's native forests as permanent and resilient carbon stores. This would include immediately ensuring that no new logging operations take place in intact natural forests in Tasmania, and commissioning a fully independent accounting methodology for carbon emissions and storage associated with current forestry operations in the State. Recognising that protecting forests in this way will require changes in employment patterns and new skills, a core element of this initiative is for the Tasmanian Government to work with the whole community to devise a genuine and community-owned transition strategy for the forestry industry, to preserve employment during and after a switch from large-scale logging native forests to existing plantations and other activities.

Rationale: Protecting Tasmania's carbon dense forests - along with other such forests around the world - provides the most rapid and secure step towards a safe global climate. Scientific studies show that native forests in Tasmania are some of the most carbon-dense in the world, storing up to 2000 tonnes of carbon per hectare, more than three times the amount stored in regularly-logged plantations. With the forestry industry in Tasmania disputing these numbers, an essential step for honesty and transparency in this sector is that a fully independent study be undertaken as a matter of urgency, to set out for the Tasmanian people the carbon emissions and storage associated with current forest usage. This study would become the basis of transparent annual accounting and public reporting of carbon emissions from this sector.

At the same time, genuinely sustainable forest harvesting - on a limited scale and focusing on high-value timber products and use of existing plantations - is an important economic opportunity for the State, fully consistent with sustainable tourism and development. Therefore the Tasmanian Government must articulate a detailed strategy for transitioning the forest industry in Tasmania onto a truly sustainable footing. Such a strategy must be developed through an open, transparent and accountable process to ensure that all community and environmental as well as commercial interests are considered. Instead of subsidising the purchase of our native forests by the wood-chipping companies, the state government needs to use this money, along with seeking federal funds, to finance a transition plan that guarantees jobs in the management and protection of our native forests and in the plantation timber industry.