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Upper Catchment Issues Vol 1 No 2 Section 5, 6, 7

Author: Tasmanian Community Resource Auditors Incorporated

Section Five
Related Issues / Further Investigations

Mt Arthur and Eaglehawk Tier Reserves:

Discrepancy Between Boundaries as Mapped in the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement, and as Subsequently Gazetted.

Serious doubts have arisen as to the legality of the reserves as gazetted post signing of the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA). A separate report has been commissioned by MAEMG into the boundaries of the two reserves on Mt Arthur, which form part of the informal reserve system listed in the Tasmanian RFA.

Impacts Associated with Application of Herbicides and/or Other Chemicals in the Upper Catchments.

MAEMG has expressed concerns about the spraying of herbicides and laying of poison in the upper water catchment, and the mismatch of evidence between FT's claims and MAEMG's independent risk assessment. Consequently, a further audit of the effects of chemical application within the catchment has been commissioned by MAEMG, the results of which will be released within 60 days of this audit report.

Bureaucratic Disregard of Broad-Based Community Concerns.

Throughout the investigation by MAEMG into upper catchment issues on Mt Arthur, there have been numerous instances of bureaucratic disregard of community concerns, ranging from

MAEMG is currently compiling a report into these issues, the results of which will be released within 60 days of this audit report.

Section Six
Findings and Conclusions

Conclusion:

After exhaustive investigation, based on the findings listed throughout this audit, the MAEMG makes the following conclusions:

  1. There were numerous, serious mismatches between statements expressed by FT and the FPB and events as observed and photographed by MAEMG during forestry operations in the Mt Arthur upper water catchment, including Coupe LI 126C. These include:
    1. Inadequate risk assessment, poor planning and inadequate site supervision by Forestry Tasmania.
    2. The breaching of the Forest Practices Code (January 1993 ed.) (and similar breaches of the FPC 2000) during harvesting operations and site preparation, including sections
      1. B - Roading (Section 3 p.32-33 of this audit);
      2. C - Harvesting (Section 3 p.25-30 of this audit);
      3. D - Conservation of other values (Sections 2 and 3 of this audit);
      4. E - Establishing Forests (Section 3 p.25-27 of this audit);
      5. F - Maintenance of Forests (Section 4 p.41 of this audit).
    3. The breaching of the Forest Practices Plan No. MJS 0106 (appendix 3) during harvesting operations and site preparation including
      1. section C.1.1 (landings);
      2. section C.2.3 (snig tracks);
      3. section C.3.3 (falling into streamside reserves);
      4. section C.5.5 (fuel and water courses);
      5. section D.2 (fauna);
      6. section E.1.4, 1.10 (site preparation);
      7. section E.2.1 (burning windrows).
    4. The findings and conclusions of the FPB in relation to their investigation into Forest Practices on Mt Arthur Coupe LI 126C (appendix 7) do not match the overwhelming evidence presented in this audit.
  2. Forestry Operations within the upper catchment of Mt Arthur have caused Significant Environmental Harm, to soil, water, fauna, and scenic values.
  3. The best management practices together with full compliance with the FPC may not be enough to adequately protect identified aspects from the impacts of forestry operations in areas of great sensitivity (such as the Mt. Arthur upper catchment). The hypothesis that emerges from this audit is that some areas currently outside designated reserves should be avoided altogether when planning forestry operations.


Section Seven
MT Arthur: Where to From Here?

The Mount Arthur Environment Management Group inc. was formed in February 2001, comprising people with an affiliation with Mt Arthur and/or an interest in eco-forestry. It was formed with the joint aims of protecting and rehabilitating the Mt Arthur upper catchment environment, and of researching and promoting ecologically sustainable harvesting and management of Tasmania's extensive Native Forest resource. Mount Arthur is the centre of a district with a rich forestry history and several MAEMG members have an employment history within the forest industries in Tasmania. MAEMG is committed to ecologically sustainable forest management both on a state wide level as well as at the specific site level. MAEMG has gathered much scientific data that contradicts the Tasmanian Forest Industries' claims regarding the ongoing yield benefits of short cycle harvesting of single species eucalypt plantations, and the effects of clearfelling/plantation establishment on water yield and quality. MAEMG is therefore alarmed at the widespread practice of replacing Tasmania's native forest resource with monoculture plantations on the vast scale that is currently occurring in the north-east, and is concerned for the long term effects on other industries and rural communities. MAEMG recommends ... that FT and the Tas forest industry undertake further reading on alternative forest management practices provided as the final appendix to this audit (appendix 23).

MAEMG seeks to collaborate with FT regarding the regenerating of coupe LI 126C into native forest. It is anticipated that this area will in time revert to rainforest and MAEMG's ongoing role will be to assist this process by spot planting with species indigenous to the site, and weed management. MAEMG continues to call for a cease to all further FT forestry operations planned within the coupe and surrounding upper catchment area. An extensive area in the centre of the coupe remains harvested but not clearfelled, an area that is rich with cultural heritage values as well as being the source of four significant streams, and primarily rainforest. MAEMG therefore insists that no further currently planned harvesting occur, and that the area be rehabilitated as above.

MAEMG seeks to have a full scientific assessment of Engaeus orramakunna in the wake of forestry operations, with a view to possible listing on the national register.

MAEMG seeks ongoing development of the site as

MAEMG calls on the Tasmanian Government to honour its commitment to the Tasmanian people, and give back the reserved areas on Mt Arthur as intended in the RFA.

The tragedy of Mt Arthur is that the legitimate voice of the community (as proved by this audit) has been treated with contempt and utter disrespect. If the community is entitled to expect of the FPB and FT (and Minister Lennon the Minister responsible) the same standard of care expected of an executor an trustee of a public or private estate then the standards demonstrated, as evidenced by this audit, in the management of Mt Arthur were grossly inept, and worse still, were secretive and misleading. Hopefully, if nothing else, this audit will give rise to a public accountability enquiry into the objectivity and practices of the FPB and FT.


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