Bob Brown Foundation has had it’s court hearing challenging the regulation of native forest logging. We are expecting a verdict sometime from now until February.
Our case argued that the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) is not a valid agreement. We want to strike down the RFA as it is not protecting any endangered species.
This is the best chance in a generation to stop native forest logging.
- The Great Forest Case aims to end native forest logging in Tasmania and potentially the rest of Australia.
- Tasmania’s iconic wildlife including the Swift Parrot, Masked Owl, Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle, Tasmanian Devil and Giant Freshwater Crayfish, is seriously under threat from native forest logging.
- Regional Forest Agreements are outdated & notoriously inadequate for protecting threatened species. They have left a trail of destruction in Australia’s native forests and are pushing species into extinction.
- The time for logging Australia’s wildlife-filled and carbon-rich native forests is up.
What is a Regional Forest Agreement?
Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) are 20-year-old agreements which essentially exempt logging from national environment laws. There are ten RFAs across Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania.
These RFAs allow logging of habitat for some of Australia’s most critically endangered species, such as Leadbeater’s Possum and Swift Parrots.
Regional Forest Agreements allow the Commonwealth Government to have a hands-off approach to forest management.
What did our court case argue?
Our case asserted that Tasmanian RFA is invalid on two grounds. Firstly, RFAs need to be legally enforceable. However, not all sections of the RFAs are, most notably the sections that relate to the management of threatened species. This means that Tasmania (through Sustainable Timber Tasmania) is not legally bound to protect threatened species. This has allowed them to log threatened species habitat for decades.
Secondly, in Tasmania, the State Government can change its legislation, policies, forest practices codes and management plans how and when it pleases, without input from the Commonwealth Government. This essentially allows the State Government to make up the rules as it suits and gives no guaranteed protection for our wildlife and environment.
This case was run under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act to protect the habitat of endangered species.
Why is it needed?
Our legal case is the best chance in a generation to end native forest logging.
Over a million hectares of Tasmania’s forests are still under threat from logging. This includes large stretches of old-growth forests, such as in takayna / Tarkine. Home to Australia’s largest temperate rainforest, takayna / Tarkine currently has over 28,958 ha of its pristine forests in “permanent logging zones”.
Several of our iconic species are seriously under threat from logging, including the Swift Parrot, Masked Owl, Tasmanian Devil and Giant Freshwater Crayfish. Of these, the species under the most serious threat from logging is the Swift Parrot. This charismatic bird is currently listed as critically endangered and is likely to go extinct in the next 10 years. The Tasmanian RFA currently allows for Swift Parrot habitat to be logged. Our case is a major step towards protecting our threatened species in native forests.
Tasmania’s Government and Sustainable Timber Tasmania are driving species such as the Swift Parrot to extinction and this case is their best chance for survival.
It's time we have native forests evaluated by environmental scientists for protection of intact forests and endangered species, not by the foresters who are evaluating the forests for logging.
This case aims to end native forest logging in Tasmania and potentially the rest of Australia.
We hope to hear a verdict soon. No date has been set for the verdict, but we expect it will be some time from now until February.
If our case is successful, we will seek an immediate injunction to stop Sustainable Timber Tasmania carrying out any logging without the Federal Minister’s approval. We will also seek an injunction to repair any damage they have done, which is in breach of the EPBC Act.
Legal injunctions in Victoria have been a major win for native forests and threatened species.
If our case is successful, it will not only be good news for Tasmania but will be significant for other states in Australia, as it will set a precedent for similar litigation. Currently, there are 6 million hectares of Australia’s forests which is available for logging under the RFAs. If similar court cases were conducted in other regions, this will be a once in a generation win for native forests across Australia.
Any funds remaining after all costs are finalised will be used to support our ongoing campaigns to protect native forests in Tasmania and around Australia.
Bob Brown took the Tasmanian Government to the High Court and won. There is a strong track record of environmental groups in Australia winning court cases that deal with regional forest agreements: The Wielangta case in Tasmania in 2005 and the Leadbeater’s Possum case in Victoria in July this year were both successful. Our court case could spell the end of these notoriously inadequate Regional Forest Agreements.