Tasmania’s tourism lobby has ended its agreement with the forestry industry after mounting concerns from operators that logging is jeopardising the state’s “clean and green” image.

Key points:

  • Signatories to the open letter include outdoor brands Patagonia and Paddy Pallin
  • Tourism companies say logging is undermining Tasmania’s clean, green image
  • Premier Peter Gutwein says Derby, in the state’s north-east is a great example of the two industries co-existing

Hours after more than 180 tourism operators signed an open letter calling for the Tasmanian government to end native forest logging, the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania (TICT) has walked away from the Tourism and Forestry Protocol Agreement.

The agreement was struck between the TICT and Forestry Tasmania (now renamed as Sustainable Timber Tasmania) in 2003 and was renewed in 2017.

TICT chief executive Luke Martin said the relationship between the industries had “matured to a level” where a formalised agreement was no longer needed. 

A rider on the mountain bike trails at Derby in Tasmania's north-east.

While agreeing forestry was a “major pillar of the economy” in many areas, the TICT said it “absolutely respects the concerns of our own tourism operators”.(Facebook: Blue Mountain Derby Bike Trails)

Mr Martin said the agreement’s purpose had been to minimise conflict between the industries over issues ranging from the scheduling of regeneration burns, to harvesting activities in tourism destinations. 

“But we also absolutely respect the concerns of our own tourism operators voicing their concerns about climate change, and the role of forestry.” 

The move came on the same day that the open letter was tabled in the Tasmanian Parliament by Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor.

Signed by companies ranging from outdoor brands Paddy Pallin and Patagonia to Launceston restaurants Stillwater and Black Cow Bistro, the letter states native forest logging is undermining Tasmania’s “clean, green and clever brand”.

“Brand Tasmania promises an island at the bottom of the world where ancient forests and wild rivers await to reconnect people to their wild side, through nature-based tourism experiences found nowhere else on earth,” the letter states.

“Logging these publicly owned native forests takes away the promise of wilderness experiences, replacing it with industrial logging operations.”

‘Destroying’ wild destination brand

Ben Ray from Tasmanian eBike Adventures said native forest logging was out of place in a world that was “growingly aware of environmental issues and the degradation of our environment”.

“As a business I can’t stand by and not tell the truth of what I know, so there’s a real conflict in the industry now in terms of what’s happening in terms of logging our wild forests but also wanting to promote ourselves as a wild destination.”

A group of five mountain bikers wearing helmets and protective clothing at the Blue Derby Mountain bike trails in Tasmania.

Tourism activity has become a lifeblood for some Tasmanian communities.(ABC: Pip Courtney)

Tasmanian Wilderness Guides Association president Ciara Smart said the development around the Blue Derby mountain bike trails, in the state’s north-east, was a world-class tourism destination and logging the area “would put it at risk”. 

Most trails are managed by Sustainable Timbers Tasmania, and the logging of the area has been a hot topic among locals and environmentalists. 

“It’s so off-brand with what’s Tasmania is trying to do with its tourism, with marketing everything around ‘come down for air’, ‘Wild Tasmania’,” she said.

Timber merchant ‘committed to working alongside’ tour operators 

Sustainable Timber Tasmania general manager Suzette Weeding said “ideological objections” to native logging “risk driving an unnecessary divide between tourism and forestry and have the potential to cause detriment to Tasmania’s iconic brand and destination attraction”.

Woman looks up at rainforest canopy.

A moratorium on logging 356,000 hectares of Tasmanian forest ended in April 2020. (ABC RN: Mike Williams )

Ms Weeding said Sustainable Timber Tasmania had worked with tourism stakeholders and the mountain biking community in regards to operations at Derby, and said the tourism and forestry industries had “a long-standing understanding in place”.

“Both industries are committed to working alongside one another for the benefit of local communities and the mutual benefit of both industries,” Ms Weeding said.

Premier Peter Gutwein told Parliament that the Derby area was an “extraordinary” example of the tourism and logging sectors working together.

“What was able to be achieved, and I think very successfully achieved, in Derby was a co-existence, something that demonstrated we could have tourism, but we could also have sustainable forestry,” he said.

Posted , updated 

Tourism pressure mounts on Tasmanian government to end native forest logging
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