22 Nov 2012

Forest wars to end in Tasmania

6:43 am on 22 November 2012

A 30 year feud in Tasmania between loggers and environmentalists is expected to end on Thursday with an announcement in the state parliament that an agreement has been reached.

Both the ABC and The Australian report that environmental and industry groups have agreed to reserve more than 500,000 hectares of forest and reduce the amount of sawlogs available for loggers to about 140,000 cubic metres.

Around 400,000 hectares of forest will be placed into reserves immediately, including large tracts of the Styx and Upper Florentine, followed by about 108,000 hectares a year later.

Opposition Leader Will Hodgman said it will make logging a cottage industry.

"It gives the Greens everything they want, and will reduce the forestry industry to a cottage industry," Mr Hodgman told AAP. "We will fight this deal every single step of the way."

The Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief economist Phil Bayley said the agreement may deliver 137,000 cubic metres of sawlogs, but locks up an additional 560,000 hectares of Tasmanian forests in two tranches.

"It appears the NGOs got almost everything they wanted," he said.

The Australian says the agreement meets a federal government deadline for $A100 million in regional development funds linked to a successful forest peace deal, as well as at least $A15 million to buy out sawlog contracts.