Australia faces ‘global condemnation’ for plan to log 40,000 hectares of forest

Bob Brown has warned hundreds could be arrested protesting the logging if it goes ahead.

A plan to destroy 40,000 hectares of native forest in Australia will be met with “global condemnation”, conservationist Dr Bob Brown has warned. The proposal could have damaging implications for Tasmania’s famous devils and trash the state’s “clean green image”, he told Yahoo News.

The proposal to log more than 10 per cent of 356,000 hectares protected under a 2012 deal struck between loggers and conservation groups was announced by Liberal premier Jeremy Rockliff on Thursday. If reelected on March 23, he plans to capitalise on what he says is growing international demand for timber after Labor governments in Victoria and Western Australia restricted native forest logging.

Left - a man hugging a big tree. Right - logging in Tasmania.
Tasmania's "clean green" image could be ruined by a plan to log an extra 40,000 hectares of native forest, Bob Brown warns. Source: Getty (File)

The announcement was made in the face of increasing international condemnation of Tasmania’s forestry industry. Just three weeks ago, actor and conservationist Leonardo Dicaprio called for an end to native forest logging across Australia and Tasmania. In an Instagram post he highlighted the work of the Bob Brown Foundation in fighting the destruction of critically endangered swift parrot habitat which is being harvested by Tasmania’s state-owned logging company.

The Liberal Party has promised to “unlock” the forests for harvesting within 100 days of reelection, which it says could result in a 10 per cent boost in annual timber supply for the industry. “Only a re-elected majority Rockliff Liberal Government has a 2030 Strong Plan to keep Tasmania’s native forest industry strong,” the government's resources minister Felix Ellis said.

It cuts right across Tasmania’s clean green image and it will lead to global condemnation for Australia in an age of extinction and climate crisis.Bob Brown

Bob Brown predicts mass arrests if logging in Tasmania escalates

Should the plan go ahead, Brown has predicted hundreds could be arrested for opposing the logging. In Tasmania protesters face fines of $12,975 or 18 months in jail for a first offence, while organisations risk a $103,800 penalty.

“I think with their draconian anti protest laws, people are just going to turn out in bigger numbers, because this logging threatens a whole range of rare and endangered creatures including the world’s largest freshwater crayfish (Astacopsis gouldi) which grows a metre long and up to six kilograms,” he said. “If it was in the Mississippi or the Amazon everybody we would be amazed by it, but it's in Tasmania’s rivers and they're just seen as logging catchments.”

Independent think tank the Australia Institute also struck out at Rockliff’s logging plan, saying it will drive threatened species closer to extinction. “While today’s announcement will have a miniscule effect on Tasmania’s economy, it will be hugely destructive for the environment,” spokesperson Vanessa Bleyer said.

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