Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon. Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Historic agreement provides certainty for Tasmania's forests and forest industry

Media release
7 August 2011

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings have this morning signed a landmark agreement that will provide certainty for Tasmania’s forestry industry, support local jobs and communities, and protect the state’s ancient forests.

The agreement has been reached between the Federal and State Labor Governments after a long period of collaboration and consultation with key industry and environmental stakeholders.

The agreement will help the forest industry adapt to market changes while protecting the communities and families that rely on the sector to survive.

Under the agreement a total of $276 million, including $15 million from the State Government, will be provided in the following key areas:

  • $85 million to support contractors and their families affected by the downturn in the industry, and in particular Gunns Limited’s decision to exit native forest harvesting
  • $43 million to facilitate protection of new areas of high conservation value forests
  • $120 million over 15 years, including an initial payment of $20 million to identify and fund appropriate regional development projects
  • $7 million per annum ongoing to manage new reserves.

The industry support package includes up front funding of up to $25 million for immediate employment and training support for redundant forest workers.

Those made redundant from eligible companies in the forestry industry will receive intensive and accelerated support through Job Services Australia and other providers.

In recognition of the impact of the forestry industry changes on the people in the timber communities, the Agreement also provides $15 million to ForestWorks Ltd to administer transition support payments for workers and contractor employees as well as $1 million in support through Rural Alive and Well.

The Australian Government will provide $45 million in assistance for voluntary exits from public native forest operations for haulage, harvest and/or silvicultural contractors.

Significantly, the agreement guarantees protection for Tasmania’s most iconic ancient forests.

Tasmania will immediately place 430,000 hectares of native forest into informal reserve, subject to verification, which the governments will protect under a Conservation Agreement.

Reserves will include areas such as the iconic forests in the Styx, Upper Florentine, Huon, Picton and Weld Valleys and the Great Western Tiers, Tarkine and Wielangta areas. These forests will not be accessed for harvest while verification takes place.

An Independent Verification Group will be established to provide advice to the Prime Minister and the Tasmanian Premier on sustainable timber supply requirements and areas and boundaries of reserves from within the ENGO-nominated 572,000 hectares of High Conservation Value native forest.

For the first time, this process will provide an independent and robust assessment of the definition of high conservation values and recommendations of the areas that should be protected in permanent reserve.

Once this process is complete the State will develop legislation to formalise reserves and guarantee annual sustainable timber supply from production areas in public forests of at least 155,000 cubic metres of high quality sawlog per year.

Contracts for 265,000 cubic metres of peeler billets will be honoured and protected. In addition, speciality timber will be provided and all contracts for native wood supply will also be honoured.

The Agreement is consistent with the Statement of Principles agreement between environment non-government organisations, the Tasmanian forestry industry and the CFMEU, which was presented by independent facilitator Mr Bill Kelty last month.

The Federal and State Governments urged all parties to recognise the opportunity to move forward after more than 30 years of bitter conflict in order to build a stronger future for Tasmania.

This agreement marks a new chapter in the diversification of the state economy and the protection of Tasmania’s precious environment.

Download PDF of Intergovernmental agreement and supporting reserves map