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Tasmania's Reserves

To determine the appropriate level of reservation, the RFA considered domestic and international standards. The most widely accepted international benchmark for forest conservation is that jointly agreed by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which targets:

  • the establishment of a network of ecologically representative protected areas (covering at least 10 per cent of the world’s forest area by the year 2000).
  • the establishment of environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest management outside protected areas (including independent certification of 25 million hectares worldwide by the year 2001).

Tasmania has over 40% of its land area securely protected in conservation reserves following a massive expansion in conservation over the last 20 years. In 1981 only 8.5% of Tasmania was reserved. The most recent additions to Tasmania’s reservation are as a result of the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) signed in 1997 and the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement (TCFA) signed in 2005.

The RFA is a balanced package designed to secure employment and investment and to deliver scientifically based conservation outcomes. Tasmania now has more reserves than any other State in Australia and is one of the most heavily protected places on the planet.

The key elements of the RFA are legally binding under State and Commonwealth legislation.

Underpinning the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) was a comprehensive assessment of forest values. This assessment considered environment, heritage, social and economic values as a basis of establishing and managing a world class comprehensive, adequate and representative (CAR) forest reserve system based on the nationally agreed reserve criteria (JANIS), ecologically sustainable forest management outside the reserve system and an internationally competitive timber industry.

Taking account of these issues, specific targets were determined in three major categories:

1) Biodiversity - reservation for the preservation of species and forest ecosystems with a priority given to rare, vulnerable and endangered ecosystems and species.

Target - 15% reservation of forest ecosystems referenced to pre 1750 distribution.

RFA/TCFA Achieved - 45% (1,271,200 ha) of Tasmania’s native forest area is reserved.

2) Old Growth Forest - Old-growth forest is ecologically mature forest where the effects of disturbances are now negligible.

Target - 60% reservation

RFA/TCFA Achieved - 80% (1,002,480) ha of total "Old Growth" forest is reserved.

3) High Quality Wilderness - land that has not been substantially modified and is remote from the influences of European settlement.

Target - 90%

RFA/TCFA Achieved - 97% (1,885,300 ha) of Tasmanian wilderness is reserved. (TCFA Fact Sheet No 3)

A number of forest and old-growth communities have been reserved to the maximum practical extent on public land. These communities have a limited extent on public land, are often fragmented and scattered, and will require protection on private land.

The RFA provided a $30 million Commonwealth program to support voluntary conservation agreements by private landowners, to protect forest on private land with high conservation values.

As at June 2004, the program had secured the conservation of nearly 30,000 hectares of valuable native forest on 175 Tasmanian properties. The Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement provided additional funding focusing on adding up to 43,200 hectares of forest to the reserve system targeting old growth forest and other high conservation value types.  (TCFA Fact Sheet No.8)

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