Yesterday the Federal Court in Hobart ruled that logging operations in the Wielangta forest in south-east Tasmania breach an agreement between the Australian and Tasmanian governments and that the logging company does not have an exemption under relevant environment protection laws.
Senator Brown had argued in court that forestry operations endangered a rare beetle, the swift parrot and the wedge-tailed eagle.
Since the ruling Senator Brown has suggested that all logging operations in Tasmania are a threat to rare and endangered species and that the ruling should be the catalyst for an immediate review of all logging operations in Australia.
Also, according to Senator Brown’s website:
“The Judge pointed out that the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act requires more than avoiding harm – it requires that logging plans help the rare species populations to recover.
Here are paragraphs 281 and 282 of Judge Marshall’s 301 paragraph ruling:
281 I do not consider that the State has protected the eagle by applying relevant management prescriptions. Management prescriptions have helped to slow the eagle’s extinction but have not protected it in the sense of either maintaining existing numbers or restoring the species to pre-threatened levels.
Will the State protect the three species by applying relevant management prescriptions?
282 It is unlikely the State can, by management prescriptions, protect the eagle. As to the beetle and the parrot, the State must urge Forestry Tasmania to take a far more protective stance in respect of these species by relevant management prescriptions before it can be said it will protect them. On the evidence before the Court, given Forestry Tasmania’s satisfaction with current arrangements, I consider that protection by management prescriptions in the future is unlikely.”
Cinders, a regular contributor at this blog, sent me the following note:
“The Federal Court has found that forestry operations in the Wielangta forest area have not been carried out in accordance with the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) by reference to clause 68.
Clause 68 of the Tasmanian RFA states that: The State agrees to protect the Priority Species listed in Attachment 2 (Part A) through the CAR Reserve System or by applying relevant management prescriptions.
The state government has created a reserve system of 2.7 million hectares including 97% of high quality wilderness, 45% of the State’s Native forest and over 1 million hectares, yet the judge ruled that this reserve system was not adequate to protect three threatened species listed in attachment 2 (Part A) of the Tasmanian RFA.
He also found that management prescription introduced by the state through its experts in the Department of the Environment, funded with millions of dollars from taxpayers, and also through Forestry Tasmania’s management systems and forest practice planning systems were inadequate to protect the species.
I would argue that the “protection” failed last week when wildfire consumed the proposed harvesting coupe and much of the surrounding forest!
Despite the Court appointed expert stating “that the forestry operations in Wielangta in coupes 17E and 19D and the proposed forestry operations in Wielangta in coupes other than 17E and 19D are not likely to have a significant impact on the eagle, having regard to its endangered status and all other threats to the eagle.”
The judge perferred to use legal precedent and interpretation to determine that there would be significant impact.
The upshot of all this legal arguement in a forest that is not pristine but has been heavily harvested in the past is to now create uncertainty for timber workers and their families in the week before Christmas.
In a Media release issued yesterday, Barry Chipman, State Manager of Timber Communities Australia said:
“This is a lousy Christmas present to the families of forest workers and dependent businesses.”
“The federal court’s decision not only endangers the RFA but the jobs of over 10,000 timber workers in Tasmania.”
The full judgment can be found at http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/federal_ct/2006/1729.html .
I have previously written about the Wielangta forest here: http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/001746.html