Status Report on Logging in World Heritage Nominated Forests

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STATUS REPORT on logging within the World Heritage nominated forests February 2013

Produced by Still Wild Still Threatened and Huon Valley Environment Centre.

Preface The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) is one of the three largest temperate wilderness areas remaining in the Southern Hemisphere(DSEWPC, 2013).The region, comprising 1.4 million hectares, is one of only 29 World Heritage sites around the world that are listed for both natural and cultural values. Natural values include its glaciated landscapes of lakes, tarns and jagged mountains; plant and animal species, including rainforests and native pines, that are reminders of the ancient supercontinent Gondwana; a wild, pristine and dynamic coastline of cliffs, headlands, lagoons, islets and beaches; intricate and scientifically significant cave-systems, some of the deepest and longest caves in Australia; treeless alpine areas, peat bogs and moorlands; wild rivers and wetlands; and the tallest hardwood forests in the world . Cultural heritage consists of artefacts, middens, cavesites, rock art and other evidence of the Aboriginal people’s occupation of Tasmania extending back over 40,000 years, including during the most recent ice age. i The Tasmanian Wilderness is also one of the last havens for several animals that are either extinct or threatened on mainland Australia or endemic to Tasmania (DPIPWE, 2010) Research efforts undertaken during the push to secure these globally significant and unique forests documented evidence of endangered species within these forests, including healthy tasmanian devils as well as spotted-tail quolls. Over the last few decades, the IUCN (World Conservation Union) and World Heritage Committee have frequently expressed concerns about encroaching logging adversely affecting the integrity of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. At its 2008 meeting in Quebec, the World Heritage Committee requested that the Australian government extend the boundary to include adjacent areas of tall-eucalypt forest. Similar requests were made in 1989, 1995 and 2010.ii The IUCN noted that “only 29% of tall eucalypt forest is included within the property. It has also been suggested that the values outside the property are different and complementary to those of the tall eucalypt forest included in the property. Areas of high potential value as World Heritage have consistently been identified, including tall eucalypt forests in the Styx Valley and the Upper Florentine” (WHC-08/32.COM/7B). In

2012 a team of government endorsed independent scientists assessed over half a million hectares of forest in Tasmania. The verification group found that 572,000 hectares of high conservation value forests were of great significance both nationally and internationally. The heritage assessment conducted by Peter Hitchcock demonstrated large tracts of that area were of world heritage value and were recommended for inclusion in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. These areas included the Butlers Gorge, the Upper Florentine, Counsel, Styx, Tyenna, Picton, Middle Huon, Weld, and Esperance. On January 31st, 2013, the Australian Federal Environment Minister, the Hon Tony Burke, after decades of advocacy by environmentalists, announced that a nomination had been made to the World Heritage Committee for 170,000 hectares to be added to the eastern boundary of the TWWHA, as a minor boundary adjustment. This 170,000 hectares includes approximately 124,000

Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

ha of threatened iconic Tasmanian forested areas such as Butlers Gorge, the Upper Florentine, Counsel, Styx, Tyenna, Picton, Middle Huon, Weld, Esperance and Catamaran in the far south of Tasmania, which contain old growth and wilderness forests that are largely adjacent to the existing boundary of the TWWHA, with the remaining 46,000 ha comprising already existing conservation reserves including the Liffey River and Coalmine Creek reserves(DSEWPC, 2013). Areas nominated to be included into World Heritage Areas on the basis of natural values have to meet the following criteria. The current proposed extensions are so unique that they meet all these criteria: (vii) to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance; (viii) to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features; (ix) to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals; (x) to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation. (World Heritage Area Criteria vii-x) However, in spite of the Federal government being bound as a signatory to the World Heritage Convention to preserve the outstanding universal values of nominated areas, they have allowed industrial scale logging, including clear-felling, to continue unabated well within the nominated areas. Currently there are at least 3 logging coupes being harvested in the spectacular temperate wilderness forests of Butlers Gorge.Logging is also occurring in boundary areas such as Styx coupe SX019I; home to tall eucalypts that fall to the chainsaw daily. Even worse, Forestry Tasmania has scheduled plans to start new logging operations and clearfell intact natural forest inside the nominated area over coming months. In the Picton Valley, Esperance and Catamaran region in the far south, old growth and high conservation value forests are on the logging schedule to appease timber processor Ta Ann and some boat building interests in Tasmania. Federal Environment Minister Burke and the Federal Government are abrogating their responsibility to protect World Heritage values when they allow the nominated areas to be so abysmally degraded after nominating and highlighting the very same areas for World Heritage Committee consideration for inclusion into areas protected for outstanding universal value. In recognition of the World Heritage values of the threatened forests pending consideration from the World Heritage Committee in June 2013, conservationists from Still Wild Still Threatened, Huon Valley Environment Centre and Markets for Change are calling for the logging inside the world heritage nominated forests to cease immediately.

Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

Recommendations •

The Australian government secure an immediate end to logging in the forestry coupes within the world heritage nominated forests in Tasmania.

• All current logging operations to stop immediately and all machinery removed. These operations immediately rescheduled. Restoration of roads to be commenced. • Forestry Tasmania to immediately reschedule all proposed coupes that are not currently operational • Withdraw and terminate all Forest Practices Plans for coupes within the nominated World Heritage additions.

Status update on logging coupes There are 14 coupes listed in Tasmanian Forest Agreement as scheduled between now and June. In addition, Forestry Tasmania have indicated intentions to fell another coupe EP048C, that is not listed in the legislation. The entire process has been shrouding in secrecy. Despite these forests being of significance to the global community, the public have been not been given details of which coupes are being logged or which areas Forestry Tasmania are planning on logging over the coming months. Bob Gordon, of Forestry Tasmania, has announced during the Legislative Council Inquiry into the Forest Bill, that they intend to proceed with 12 coupes before the World Heritage Committee meets. Which of the 12 out of the 15 was not detailed. Below is an update on each coupe, including the values and a brief outline of current logging operations where applicable.

Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

Illustration 1: Butlers Gorge Forest. Photo by Rob Blakers

Butlers Gorge Butlers Gorge has been identified by the government-endorsed team of independent scientific experts as being one of, if not the most, ecologically important tracts of tall eucalypt forest in Tasmania. Butlers Gorge shows the progression from mixed species eucalypt forests in the south transitioning to pure Eucalyptus delegatensis stands as the elevation increases and the climatic conditions become colder. This is one of the key reasons why this unique forest is recommended to be included in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, which is listed against Criterion (ix): “outstanding examples of significant on-going ecological and biological processes.” The IVG report concludes that ensuring these forests remain in “as close to a wilderness condition as possible” is the best way to ensure that such ecological processes are maintained (Hitchcock 2012:146).

Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

BT009D Values: This forest features a canopy of Eucalpytus delegatensis and E. subcrenulata. The understorey is varied and includes rainforest species such as leatherwood, horizontal as well as swampy sections dominated by tea tree. The area is ideal habitat for a range of fauna. The southern edge of the coupe is 250- 300 meters away from the current boundary of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA). Status: Currently being logged.

Illustration 2: BT009D – currently being logged BT011C Values: Lying just to the east of BT009D (see above), BT011C features mixed-canopy pockets of Eucalpytus delegatensis and Eucalyptus subcrenulata as well as concentrated stands of E. delegatensis. The understorey is diverse with rainforest species such as leatherwood, horizontal, myrtle and celery-top pine present in abundance. There are strong indications of fauna traffic but due to ongoing logging and public exclusion zones, efforts to study and document population types and densities have been unsuccessful. Status: Currently being logged. Approximately 15 hectares logged.

Illustration 3: BT011C: Currently being logged

Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

BT012D Values: This coupe is dominated by E. delegatensis stands with rainforest species including sassafras and myrtle and some celery top pine forming the understorey. A thorough assessment has not been carried out due to ongoing logging. Status: Currently being logged.

Illustration 4: BT012D – Currently being logged. Photo by Rob Blakers.

BT013A Values: This area features a tall Eucaplytus delegatensis canopy with an understorey dominated by rainforest species including sassafras and myrtle. The coupe is bordered by a large stream and also features two smaller watercourses that run through the logged areas. Status: Logging appears to be complete, or near complete.

Illustration 5: BT013A. Photo by Rob Blakers

Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

Tyenna The Tyenna Valley is an area of mature mixed stand forests and temperate rainforests, located close to The Needles and Mt Mueller and contiguous with the TWWHA. This valley, of outstanding World Heritage values, includes giant eucalypt forests, pockets of pristine temperate rainforests, a highly diverse array of understorey species, habitat for threatened fauna species and significant geomorphological features. TN051C Status: No current logging operations commenced.

Illustration 6: Eucalyptus regnans - TN051C: currently not being logged.

Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

Styx The Styx Valley contains vast stands of tall Eucalyptus regnans. This is the tallest flowering plant in the world (Mifsud 2003). These giant trees have been found over 90m in height and over 18m in diameter at the base. The Styx valley is home to some of the tallest recorded trees in Australia, and contains seven of the state's 10 tallest trees (Giant Trees Consultative Committee, 2004). The Styx is also renowned for it's tracts of pristine rainforest dominated by myrtle, sassafras, leatherwood (Eucryphia lucida) and celery-top pine (Phyllocladus aspleniifolius). It borders the TWWHA to the north of the Jubilee and Snowy Ranges. SX019I Status: Currently being logged. Approximately 60% complete.

Illustration 7: SX019I: Currently being logged. Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

Counsel forest The Counsel River area has great ecological significance, containing a high level of floristic diversity, predominantly mixed forest with some stands of dry sclerophyll forests and some areas of callidendrous and thamnic rainforests. The Counsel is home to many giant trees. Six trees measuring over 75m in height were recorded in this area in 2004. (Forestry Tasmania’s Giant tree register, September 2004, GTCC 2004). The area is also significant for it's geomorphology, containing rocky terrain and likely to feature karst and caves. CO008A Values: Still Wild Still Threatened have documented evidence of a healthy population of Tasmanian devils within the boundaries of CO008A. This coupe also contains execeptional examples of tall eucalypts, typical of the magnificent Counsel forests. This coupe, surrounded on all sides by reserves, contains tall Eucalyptus regnans with a rainforest understory. The terrain is relatively steep and features mutliple watercourses. Status: Three quarters of this coupe was logged several years ago. There are no logging operations current.

Illustration 8: CO008A: No current logging operations

Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

Clarence Lagoon Area Surrounded on three sides by the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, this section of state forest creates a hole in the protected area. Located near Lake Saint Clair, the area is “naturally vegetated by a mosaic of eucalypt forest, leptospermum woodland and treeless moorland” (Hitchcock 2012:153). Despite some logging in the vicinity the overall condition “is one of a natural landscape with natural vegetation”. One of the critical issues for this region is the presence of Clarence Lagoon, located just inside the boundary of the TWWHA, but with its catchment area extended into the unprotected state forest. This is a critical habitat site for the endangered Clarence galaxias (Glaxias johnstoni) (Hitchcock 2012: 153). This is an endemic freshwater fish species that is found in the lagoon and downstream in the Clarence River, which is located within the area proposed by environment groups to be included in the reserve. The only other known habitat sites are 5-6 small lagoons (Hitchcock 2012: 153). The Threatened Species Listing Statement declares that “all populations of Clarence glaxias are essential to the species’ long-term viability and require protection and management” (DPWI). CZ0006C Values: This coupe is in the heart of an enclave in the current reserve, and is in close proximity to Clarence Lagoon. It is bordered by a significant water course. Status: Scheduled for logging before June 2013. Current logging status is unknown.

Illustration 9: Road pushed into the forest to access CZ006C Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

Picton Valley The Picton Valley has vast intact stands of Tall old growth eucalyptus forests beneath Hartz Mountains, Mount Riveaux and Mount Picton.iii Areas of high wilderness quality remain beneath Mt Fredrick, Mt Picton, Mt Riveaux and Hartz Mountains. In the Picton valley there are roadless areas with high wilderness quality recently opened for logging.iv Two of the coupes in the Picton proposed for logging are in a wilderness region that until 2010, had no roads in it. The Picton Valley, along with the Weld and Huon Valleys, are considered to possess important natural and cultural heritage values that relate particularly to the World Heritage values of the adjoining Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. In particular, these lands contribute a new complementary ‘lowland’ or lower valley manifestation of attributes already within the TWWHA, for example glacial, karst, tall eucalypt forest and rainforest (Hitchcock 2012:87). The area includes significant habitat for the Tasmanian masked owl (Tyto novaehollandiae castanops) (FT 2012b). The Tasmanian masked owl is an endangered species (DPIPWE 2012b) dependent on hollows in mature eucalypt trees, and has been listed as endangered in Tasmania since 1995 (DSEWPCa 2012). PCO15B Values: Tall Eucalyptus delegatensis forests with melaleuca swamp forest. Old growth forests, part of a large tract of remote wilderness forest contiguous with the Hartz mountains national park, and the Tasmanian World Heritage Area. Status: In June 2011 A new 2.6 km logging road was pushed in and logging began in September 2011, but was abandoned due to the road being green. PC015B was targeted by Forestry Tasmania for Ta Ann.v The coupe is not complete. The remaining intact forest that Forestry Tasmania proposes to log should remain intact, logging should not recommence in this forest. No current logging operations occurring. There are four large piles of pulp logs remaining in the coupe. Primary target for this coupe is Ta Ann merchandising The coupe should not be logged and restoration of the road should be commenced.

Illustration 10: PC015B: Previously logged area of the coupe.

Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

PC018C Values: Contiguous old growth tall Eucalyptus obliqua forest and tall Eucalyptus delegatensis forest that is contiguous wilderness forest with the current TWWHA. This forest is potential habitat for the Eastern and spotted-tail quoll and the Tasmanian Devil.vii Status: There are no roads in this coupe and no logging activity at all. This forest remains intact. The logging operation is a proposed cable logging coupe. Three separate new roads with a total of 4km is proposed to access this coupeviii.

Illustration 11: PC018C: In -tact forest at the end of incomplete forestry road

PC043G Values: This coupe is adjacent to the TWHHA, Farmhouse creek flows adjacent to this coupe. Tall Eucalyptus obliqua forest, this coupe is an old growth remote forest region, with the potential for giant trees.ix Status: Logging began in this coupe three years ago, however it was abandoned due to an agreement between environmentalists and Forestry Tasmania. Logging has not commenced since. The remainder of the coupe is intact forests. .

Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

Esperance The Esperance region, along with the Hastings and Lune River areas, is the southern extremity of undisturbed tall old growth obliqua forests.x Areas of high wilderness quality remain in obvious boundary "indents" in the Peak Rivulet and Hartz Mountains area.xi The forests of the Esperance region are spectacular. They are abundant in highly critical old growth. The Esperance river flows through the Esperance region of threatened forests. The region has forests with Tall E. nitida, Tall E.obliqua and Tall E. regnans upper canopies with established rainforest understoreys of leatherwood, sassafras, myrtle and celery top pine.

Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

EP011A Values: This area features E.regnans surrounded by mature tree ferns. This 33 ha coupe is valuable as it includes an ecotone or transition between mature wet forest and buttongrass or heathlands immediately to the east. The protection of such transitional ecosystems is significant given the current TWWHA is listed for "outstanding examples of significant on-going ecological and biological processes." Status: A new road was pushed into this intact forest four months ago and abandoned due to it being too wet. Proposed road is 1km, and only approx 50 metres has been completed. No current logging operations.

Illustration 12: EP011A: Incomplete road. No current logging.

Illustration 13: Creek in EP048C.

Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

EP048C Values: Old growth rainforest adjacent to the current boundary of the TWHHA, bordering the Hartz mountains national park. The Esperance river runs along the southern side of the coupe. EP048C is tall Eucalyptus nitida and tall Eucalyptus obliqua forest. Aboriginal archaeological sensitivity zoning is high for sections of the coupe. The coupe is leatherwood rich and has significant stands of old growth celery top pines.xii This region is mapped as spotted tailed quoll, Mt Mangana stag beetle and grey goshawk habitat. Status: The road in to this area was logged in 2011. And logging has not commenced. The area remains an intact old growth forest. Independent experts identified that this forest has a high pulpwood percentagexiii. To log this coupe now without a substantial market for this pulpwood would be wasteful.

Hastings In this region, the progresses from low lying eucalypt forests and treeless areas with hindered drainage in the east, to a band of tall eucalypt mixed forest that leads into rainforests and subalpine vegetation higher on to Adamson's peak in the west. In the vicinity of Hastings Caves and north of Hastings Caves there are globally significant tall eucalypt forest that are all but excluded from the TWWHA. (Hitchcock, pg 66, IVG-5a). It also contains karst systems that are of high conservation value as they are outstanding examples of stages of the planet's history.

Illustration 14: HA045E HA045E Values: This coupe borders the current boundary of the TWWHA and is a mixed forest with mature eucalypt stands and a rainforest understorey. Status: Approximately half of this coupe has been logged. However, it remains on the logging schedule and Forestry Tasmania plans to log an additional 28ha of intact forest.

Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

Catamaran The eucalypt forests in the region south of the D’Entrecasteaux River to Cockle Creek include some of the most southerly tracts of eucalypt forest in Australia, indeed the world. The natural diversity of this small forest complex is unique due to its positioning at the southern latitudinal limits of the Australian eucalypt and rainforest flora and fauna zones. Inclusion of the eucalypt forests of the Recherche area into the existing TWHHA would contribute greatly to the ecological integrity of the area by preserving the natural vegetation sequence from sea level to tree limit on Mount La Perouse. This is particularly important for maintaining vegetation conditions conducive to natural fire interaction with the vegetation, especially on foothills and escarpment of the existing TWWHA. The eucalypt forests of this narrow lowland corridor are an integral part of a still existing natural connectivity of tall eucalypt communities, which extends up the eastern side (mostly outside) of the TWWHA, an important element in the long-term conservation of this ecosystem (Hitchcock 2012:58). CM017C Values: CM017C lies adjacent to TWWHA and is wet eucalypt forest with a dense rainforest understorey. The upper canopy is mostly mature E. Obliqua and the understorey is made up of sassafras, myrtle, leatherwood and celery top pine. It has seven waterways of different classes that flow through the proposed coupe and into cockle creek. Considering these factors and the abundance of fauna recognised by Forestry Tasmania planners, evident by the establishment of several wildlife habitat corridors around this coupe, this area is instrumental in maintaining ecological integrity and connectivity for the TWWHA. Status: This coupe has not been logged and requires considerable road upgrades before any proposal commencement of logging operations. Rather the coupe should not be logged and restoration of the road should be commenced.

Illustration 15: CM017C

Status Report – Tasmania's world heritage value forests.

i ii iii Huon Valley Environment Centre, Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage in Danger A report to the joint IUCN/WHC/ICOMOS mission, March 2008. ivibid vHoffmann, O. & Williams, D. Report Of Independent Expert Schedulers Appointed Under the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement, 12th October 2011 viREPORT OF INDEPENDENT EXPERT SCHEDULERS APPOINTED UNDER THE TASMANIAN FORESTS INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENT Owen Hoffmann David Williams 12th October 2011

viiForestry Tasmania, Forest Practices Plan 14.12.2010 viiiibid ixForestry Tasmania, Forest Practices Plan, 3.7.2009 xHuon Valley Environment Centre, Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage in Danger A report to the joint IUCN/WHC/ICOMOS mission, March 2008. xiibid xiiForest Practices Plan 12/10/2010 Forestry Tasmania