MLCs raise more forestry future fears

There are already calls for more information about each forestry area marked for protection under Tasmania's forestry peace deal, just days after they were defined.

Tasmania's Upper House is investigating legislation crucial for the deal to reduce native forest logging.

Just hours before the start of the public hearings, the State Government unveiled almost 160 pages of amendments to legislation needed to enforce the historic agreement.

The inquiry's chairman Paul Harris is worried about green groups' reactions to the amendments approved on Monday night which would let MPs exclude forest areas from protection on a case-by-case assessment.

Liberal MLC Vanessa Goodwin is already asking for more in-depth detail.

She wants to know which areas have different conservation values, such as threatened habitat, which would lead them to being split up.

Ms Goodwin says the public wants to know what is special about each of the 295 individual lots, now they have been defined.

Elwick MLC Adriana Taylor says she is worried there will not be enough wood to fill the industry's sawlog quota of 137,000 cubic metres.

"I'm just concerned that if 137,000 is not, doesn't provide a viable industry then the agreement is going to fall over in the end." Upper House MPs are criticising the Wilderness Society for not trying to rein in fringe groups which have been damaging markets.

The society is one of the key environmental signatories to the deal, but comments from its Tasmanian spokesman Vica Bayley today have come under fire.

Mr Bayley says he will not seek to control the fringe groups who are taking their protests to overseas customers.

"I'm not going to try and seek to control Jenny (Webber) or Markets for Change, that's not my job and it is my view that they are perfectly within their right to do what they are doing, should they choose," he said.

That has worried Launceston MLC Rosemary Armitage who wants assurances the society has not watered down its support for peace.

She says the refusal to control fringe elements differs greatly from previous promises by the national head of the Wilderness Society to actively rein in groups.

"I remember him quite clearly sitting over here and saying 'if we have to follow them around the world, we will'." After being pressed on the issue Mr Bayley clarified his position to say he would pursue fringe groups in their international campaigns.

"I'll present my view as to perhaps why they're (the fringe groups) taking the wrong tack and why this agreement is a better approach to the one that they were advocating." "That's what I would be doing, I'm not going to try and seek to squash their ability or their right or their voice but I will, and we have publicly, backed the agreement." But Mr Bayley says the fringe groups are within their rights to do what they choose, even if it goes against the deal he signed.

Liberal MP Peter Gutwein says it is proof there are cracks in the deal and they're starting to show.

"What we've heard today, is that you simply can't trust the Greens," he said.

"They're not going to demand that people stop protesting, they're going to allow anything to occur.

"This is simply madness, it's a farce." Call for calm Upper House MPs have been told not to be overwhelmed by the amendments.

Environment Tasmania's Phill Pullinger says the proposed changes are not as significant as they might appear.

"Twitter feeds in some of the media saying 'oh there's 160-pages of amendments to the legislation' and my reaction to that story was 'what's going on there'," he said.

"But when you actually look at the substance, it's actually one change to table all the details of the protection order...

which the Legislative Council wanted to see those details." One of the industry signatories says proposed amendments fundamentally alter the agreement.

The Tasmanian Forest Industry Association's Terry Edwards has told ABC Local Radio the last-minute amendments have removed critical aspects.

"This fundamentally changes the first tranche of reserves, where now 380-odd thousand hectares of reserves can be made without there being a durability report provided to the parliament," he said.

The Premier, Lara Giddings, has defended the timing of the release of proposed changes to the legislation.

"We had fires last week and this was the earliest that we could actually get all of that information together and we've released it as quickly as we possibly could," she said.

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