Detail in new Tasmanian AFL team's home stadium prompts 'please explain'

Macquarie Stadium will be the home of the state's new AFL team the Tasmania Devils. While some are celebrating it, there's one detail that's prompted questions.

The proposed Macquarie Stadium concept drawing showing the timber roof, with a picture of a Tasmanian Devil superseded over the image. Source: Tasmanian Government/Getty
Conservationists are calling on Macquarie Stadium's developer to reveal if timber from native forests, where Tasmanian devils live, will be used to create its roof. Source: Tasmanian Government/Getty

Designs for Tasmania’s new Macquarie Stadium have been welcomed by the AFL, but a small but important detail has got some eagle-eyed critics asking its developer to “please explain”.

Conservationists are concerned about the revolutionary design of the roof for the Hobart stadium. That’s because it will be constructed out of native Tasmanian wood. And those building and designing it are yet to share details about where it will be sourced.

Non-profit The Bob Brown Foundation argues the lack of detail about where the trees will be cut from “is just not good enough”.

“The first port of call is revealing whether it’s a plantation based product. Not only are we calling on the developer to release the details of what timber is going to be used, we want them to rule out the use of native forests in the new stadium,” spokesperson Jenny Weber told Yahoo News.

The Bob Brown Foundation is a vocal critic of the state’s timber harvesting regime and actively protests against the industry. Unlike Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia, the state continues to log its old native forests including near habitat used by endangered species like the Tasmanian devil.

Weber is advocating for the stadium, the proposed home ground for the Tasmanian Devils AFL team, to be constructed from plantation timber. “It would be a global embarrassment if the Tasmanian stadium was made from trees that were habitat of rare and endangered species including the Tasmanian devil,” she said.

“They need to tell us if it’s going to be a plantation-based product so that everyone can be proud of it.”

The Tasmania Devils and the AFL have been contacted for comment.

Related: Rare photograph of Tasmanian tiger triggers warning from families connected to its extinction

Left - a woman hugging a tree. Right - a logged forest in Tasmania.
Native forest harvesting remains controversial in Tasmania. Source: Getty (File)

While many Tasmanians support the harvesting of native forests because it creates jobs, critics say the practice threatens endangered species and damages the state's reputation as an ecological friendly tourist destination.

Prior to the election, the state’s premier Jeremy Rockliff controversially announced he would expand the state’s logging industry, unlocking a further 40,000 hectares of forest that had been protected. He was re-elected.

At a press conference on Sunday, the project’s lead architect Cox Architecture’s Alastair Richardson revealed some information about the project. He confirmed the wooden roof would be made from Tasmanian native trees.

“We’re not just using things like Radiata pine, we actually want to use eucalypt… We are wanting to invest in Tasmania,” he said.

On Monday, Cox Architecture told Yahoo it would use timber that is “certified and from sustainable sources”. It did not respond to questions about whether the wood would be cut from native forests or plantations.

Weber said more detail was needed, because the state-owned timber harvester Forestry Tasmania trades as Sustainable Timber Tasmania (STT) and claims to manage forests in “sustainable ways” — something Bob Brown Foundation disputes.

And while STT has gained a Responsible Wood certificate, its competitor, the Forest Stewardship Council has not certified it. STT has been contacted for comment.

Macquarie Development declined to answer specific questions from Yahoo on Monday, but it issued a statement about the project.

“Building on our early discussions to date, we’ll now work with the Tasmanian timber industry to source the right species, get the right suppliers in place and resolve the manufacturing process, noting this will be a structural timber product,” a spokesperson for the company said

“We are excited about the opportunities this presents to showcase Tasmanian innovation, timber and sustainability.”

It has been working with the Tasmanian Forest Products Association, the state’s leading advocacy group for harvesters. Its chief executive Nick Steel told Yahoo it was too early to determine what sort of timber would be used.

“The Tasmanian timber industry is excited to work with the architects, builders, and the government in creating this game-changing project,” Steel said in a statement.

“But the current plans are only the concept designs. Until actual designs are released, we’re unable to determine how much or what type of timber will be needed.”

Tasmanian sports minister Nic Street has been contacted for comment.

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