Rezoning is the right result for native forests and Rainforest Rescue in Tasmania
Rainforest Rescue’s Tasmanian rainforest property in Pyengana will be officially zoned as ‘Landscape Conservation’–marking a positive outcome for conservation that is 13 years in the making, protecting habitat snatched from the jaws of potential destruction back in 2010.
It’s well over a decade since Rainforest Rescue partnered with the Tasmanian Land Conservancy to help protect old growth rainforest through purchasing an 80ha parcel of land in the Northeast of the state, committing to protecting this remarkable rainforest parcel forever – and ensuring its change of fate.
At the time, timber company Gunns Ltd was auctioning off huge tracts of land in Tasmania, prior to the liquidation of the business, which provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to return this environment to a preserved wild state. The Tasmanian Land Conservancy spearheaded a huge attempt to purchase as much land as possible that was originally earmarked for logging and forestry plantation purposes. As the Conservancy could not purchase all the land available, Rainforest Rescue and other conservation and philanthropic organisations joined forces to acquire pieces of the land to create a ‘conserved whole’.
Sadly, not all of Tasmania’s native forest has been placed in the hands of people who care about the land’s future and the species it contains. Logging still takes place at a net loss within the state, with little indication that it is likely to change anytime soon. Rescuing this precious 80Ha block was prescient and has insured its protection ever since.
Forest floor flora within ‘Forest Lodge’, Pyengana.
Progress through pressure
After more than ten years since Rainforest Rescue’s purchase of Forest Lodge, at a hearing in late 2022, the Tasmanian Planning Commission considered matters shared by Break O’Day Planning Authority with regards to modifications to their draft Local Planning Schedule.
Amongst the many modifications to land zoning, one stood out for Rainforest Rescue supporters.
Forest Lodge was identified by the Planning Authority as a property that required the zoning to change, thankfully to be henceforth given Landscape Conservation definition.
The reasons stated for rezoning Forest Lodge and other properties were:
- the whole or majority of each property contained a conservation covenant and was therefore identified for protection and conservation of natural values;
- the conservation covenants were approved by the Minister for Environment, which demonstrated the properties contained threatened vegetation as listed in Schedule 3A of the Nature Conservation Act 2002; and
- the properties contained large areas of native vegetation, which was prominent in the local landscapes.
Rainforest Rescue warmly receives the news of the recommendation to revise the zoning. This formally acknowledges the intent of Rainforest Rescue, its supporters and the neighbouring land conservancies to protect the area’s habitat.
Now is the perfect opportunity to check out the history of our purchase of Forest Lodge in 2012. It’s astonishing to recount the seemingly relentless destruction through clear-felling of the Tasmanian forests. Where over 35,000ha a year were being logged until international campaigns by Tasmania’s Wilderness Society and Rainforest Action Network , and many others, shone a spotlight on the actions of Gunns and other companies who saw biodiverse native forests as resources to plunder, with no regard whatsoever for their myriad benefits that go far beyond how much money they could be converted into.
The greatest irony of all is that these companies were clearing pristine native forests, only to then replant them with trees for growing and logging as plantation forestry!
Adjoining the Forest Reserve, Forest Lodge is a precious parcel that is home to many beautiful mature examples of Soft Tree Ferns (Dicksonia antarctica) and is suitable habitat for the iconic Tasmanian Devil. Conservation-zoned land like Forest Lodge helps to create a network of intact habitat, especially when it adjoins other protected areas to form corridors for wildlife.
Echidna, Waratah and Tasmanian Devil are found at Forest Lodge (photo credit: Lesley Nicklason)
Resolving past choices
Decisions in the past that have led to the destruction and reduction of native forests are slowly being overturned, like the U-turn on native tree logging across massive areas in Victoria and Western Australia.
However, Australia’s remaining ancient, old growth forests are still under immense threat from logging and land clearance for development.
If we’re to reach Net Zero as a country in the coming decades, then ceasing the relentless logging of New South Wales, Tasmania and Queensland could be one of the keys to a massive reduction in our carbon footprint, especially as some of the forest types are among the most carbon-dense in the world1. Evidence suggests that emissions need to be reduced by over 15 megatons each year for the next nine years if the government’s target is to be met.
“This (figure) is about the same as the annual net carbon emissions generated by logging our native forests,”
Indicates Professor Brendan Mackey from Griffith University, a leading researcher on climate change and forest ecosystems.
“Protecting and restoring native forests is a critical mitigation action if Australia is to meet its net zero emissions targets.”
We can and we need to collectively continue to advocate for similar decisions to what has taken place in Victoria and Western Australia to reverse the continuing destruction in Tasmania and New South Wales. At the very least we urge you to add your voice to the mounting pressure put on state governments by the Green Party in each region.
Positive outcomes, eventually
Rezoning of the land that Forest Lodge and its flora and fauna in this corner of Tasmania is a reminder to us that change can happen, even if it may be several years before we see positive, concrete outcomes taking place.
The stunning plants within Forest Lodge are also a prompt for us to remember that not all rainforest is tropical in nature–but we will never forget that all rainforest is precious.
Through your ongoing support, Australian native forest is being rescued and protected forever.
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