Friday, February 22, 2008

Tasmanian premier to target forestry

By Matthew Denholm
February 23, 2008
The Australian

TASMANIAN Premier Paul Lennon has flagged potential reform of the forestry industry in response to climate change, vowing not to squib on recommendations of the Garnaut review.

Mr Lennon, a long-time champion of Tasmania's controversial timber industry, said yesterday the Garnaut climate change review held challenges for forestry.

He insisted he would act on the economist's recommendations, even if they were tough on forestry.

The Premier discussed the issue with Ross Garnaut after he handed down his interim report to state and territory leaders on Thursday.

Mr Lennon said Professor Garnaut would visit Tasmania as part of his deliberations.

"The people of Australia and the people of Tasmania want governments to act on the report - full stop," Mr Lennon said.

The Premier said the Gunns pulp mill proposed for northern Tasmania, which initially will be heavily reliant on native forests and is yet to secure a final wood supply agreement, was not immune from the Garnaut process.

Conservationists claim logging of native forests, even when they are replaced with regrowth forests, is a major source of greenhouse gases.

The Wilderness Society points to global research showing a permanent loss of 40 per cent to 60 per cent of carbon stored in old forests when they are logged, burned and regrown.

The industry claims forestry reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Timber Communities Australia claims Tasmania's production forests save 4.7 million tonnes of emissions each year, the equivalent of emissions from two million cars.

Mr Lennon said he hoped the final Garnaut report would cut through such "claim and counter-claim".

"Some people will say that the forest industry will provide a great bank of carbon sequestration; others will say that it's responsible for emissions," Mr Lennon told ABC Radio.

"Well, let's get the facts on the table from an independent person - without fear or favour."

The Premier said he made a specific request to Professor Garnaut on Thursday to assess forestry's climate change impact as part of his "leadership" on the issue.

Forestry was already part of Professor Garnaut's brief. It was covered in his "issues paper one", which has already elicited a number of submissions, including from the Lennon Government.

Opposition Leader Will Hodgman accused Mr Lennon of being a "fraud" who had "distorted the truth" to hide the fact that hehad spent years ignoring climate change.

Professor Garnaut's issues paper urges discussion on potential changes to farming and forestry, including in rotation periods.

The paper suggests forestry may benefit from increased biomass power generation and the use of forests as carbon offsets.,23599,23260372-421,00.html

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