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Much of Tasmania’s unprotected biodiversity is found on private land and conserving these values must be the highest biodiversity priority for the State Government and Tasmanian community. The TCT acknowledges that many private landowners currently perform a vital function in conserving biodiversity, through sensitive management and conservation covenants, and this has both public and private benefits; but more needs to be done as biodiversity loss continues.
To encourage more conservation of areas of high conservation value on private land and ensure these areas are sensitively managed, landowners will need incentives and assistance from the State Government and other groups. Often natural values cannot be managed separately from agricultural or other businesses, and landowners will need ongoing assistance to ensure sustainable use of natural resources while keeping their businesses viable. Most natural areas on private land will require management; how this is to be paid for is a vital issue to be addressed by the entire community.
The TCT has put forward a range of measures in its 'Submission on the State Budget' which, if funded, will assist with conservation of biodiversity on private land, while also:
On 26 June 2009 Tasmanian Lowland Native Grasslands were listed by the Australian Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett, on the schedules of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) as a critically endangered ecological community. This was a truly historic decision by the Minister and we cannot overstate its importance for biodiversity conservation in Tasmania. As well as assisting with this nomination, the TCT has a long history of managing research projects and coordinating production of reports on lowland grasslands, dating back to the seminal City Parks and Cemeteries publication in 1988. We have also assisted many on-ground projects to improve the management of important native grassland sites and have used numerous State and Australian Government fora over many years to advocate protection and improved management of grasslands.
While many people contributed to the listing of grasslands on the EPBC Act the TCT can take considerable credit. We also acknowledge that, although most of our grasslands have been lost over the last 200 years and some have been cleared or poorly managed in recent times, there are many private landowners, including many graziers, who have protected their grasslands and managed them very sensitively. Legal protection is not the end of the story. We must now ensure that the Australian Government implements this decision wisely and that it supports and informs landowners to ensure appropriate management. The TCT has written to the Minister, to congratulate him on this decision but also to state that we expect there to be no further significant clearing of grasslands or destruction of state- or EPBC-listed species that inhabit them. We have urged the Minister to take all possible action to ensure this and to encourage and assist landowners to manage grasslands to retain or enhance their conservation values. Toward this goal, we expect the Minister to refuse all applications for permits to clear listed grasslands. Further information is available in the Tasmanian Conservationist October 2009.
The TCT is taking the lead on providing input to the review of the biodiversity provisions of the Forest Practices Code that has the potential to bring about a very significant improvement in conservation of forest biodiversity on both public and private land. Further information is in the TCT’s submission, ‘Review of the biodiversity provisions of the Tasmanian Forest Practices Code’.
Photo: Janice Miller
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The TCT has worked for many years for more effective regulation of firewood collection, sale and use in Tasmania. Collection and burning of firewood for domestic heating in Tasmania has a significant impact on biodiversity, air quality and human health. Although the quantity of wood collected for firewood is relatively small compared with the broader forestry industry, firewood collectors primarily target oldgrowth and dead trees in threatened and under-reserved forest communities on private land. The impact can be quite severe on threatened fauna and flora and threatened forest communities. Further information is available in the brochure Are You Burning Their Homes To Warm Yours? and Firewood Conferences. Papers Presented available from the TCT office.
Photo at top of this column of grasslands at Pontville