Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon. Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Lara Giddings

Premier

Government committed to Forest Agreement

Media release
22 September 2011

The Gillard and Giddings governments today announced the make-up of the Independent Expert Group to verify the high conservation values of native forests nominated under the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement and their compatibility with sustainable wood supply requirements for industry.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said the appointment of members to the six-member group to be led by Professor Jonathon West was an important step in delivering on the historic Intergovernmental Agreement.

"The appointment of these experts is a key requirement of the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement and will progress our joint objectives of environmental protection and support for a strong and viable forest industry in Tasmania," Mr Burke said.

"The members of the Verification Group have been appointed for their independence and their extensive expertise in forestry, forest ecology, conservation reserves, forest modelling and geology."

The members of the Independent Verification Group are:

Chair

Professor Jonathan West - founding Director of the Australian Innovation Research Centre. Prof West conducts research in the fields of innovation and business strategy, particularly in agribusiness, the life sciences, and biotechnology.

Members

Dr Robert (Bob) Smith – expert on Australian forestry. Dr Smith, was the former head of State Forests of NSW and the head of other agencies in NSW and Victoria. He has worked on Ministerial Councils for forestry, natural resources and agriculture.

Dr Michael Lockwood – expert on Tasmanian forest ecology. Dr Lockwood is Deputy Head of School of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Tasmania. He has expertise in protected area management, environmental evaluation, natural resource management and environmental planning.

Professor Brendan Mackey – expert on Australian conservation reserves. Professor Mackey, from the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University, has worked as a research scientist with CSIRO and the Canadian Forest Service. He is also a council member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Professor Mark Burgman – expert on forest modelling. Professor Burgman from Melbourne University is the Director of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis. He is an ecologist who has worked in a range of areas, including marine fisheries, forestry, mining, and national park planning.

Professor Ross Large – expert on geology/mineralogy. Professor Large is a Professor of Geology at the University of Tasmania. He is also the Director of the Centre of Ore Deposit and Exploration Studies, which is recognised as one of the top ore deposit research centres in the world.

Mr Burke said it was pleasing that the signatories have also discussed and endorsed the process for conducting the independent verification and have confirmed their agreement to accept its results.

The Verification Group will provide its final report to the Prime Minister Julie Gillard and Premier Lara Giddings by the end of the year.

Ms Giddings said the verification process would be robust and transparent.

"This process will be overseen by this group of experts will ensure that all stakeholders and the wider community can have confidence in the independence and veracity of the process," Ms Giddings said.

"The advice from this group will determine those areas of native forest that have high conservation value and are compatible with industry wood supply guarantees. In accordance with the Intergovernmental Agreement, these areas will be given legislative protection by the State.

In accordance with another requirement of the Intergovernmental Agreement, two independent forestry schedulers have also been appointed to assess harvesting operations within the 430,000 hectare interim reserve area, with the intention of rescheduling work outside the area to the maximum extent that is practical.

"This advice will be shared with the Signatories and the Independent Verification Group to inform decisions on where harvesting can be rescheduled," Ms Giddings said.

This work is already underway and advice will be provided to both governments by October 10.

The signatories are Environment Tasmania, Australian Conservation Foundation, The Wilderness Society, Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, National Association of Forest Industries, Australian Forest Contractors Association, Tasmanian Forest Contractors Association, Timber Communities Australia, Tasmanian Country Sawmillers Federation and Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union.

A copy of Professor West's advice to the two governments on the agreed independent verification process is at www.environment.gov.au/land/forests/tasmanian-forests-agreement.html.