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media release - 22 August 2007

Commonwealth Government moves to avoid beekeeping and pollination crisis

The Commonwealth Government sees the risk of a crisis in the honey bee and pollination industries in Australia.

It has commissioned through its standing committee on agriculture, fisheries and forestry, an inquiry into the future development of the Australian honey bee industry.

The discussion paper published by the inquiry committee recognises the importance of a reliable and accessable nectar resource to all Australian beekeepers, particularly those involved in pollination. The importance of the leatherwood resource to tasmanian beekeepers and also to the industries relying on pollination, is referred to particularly, in the paper.

This association, in partnership with southern beekeepers, has just completed a 23 page submission to the inquiry on behalf of all Tasmanian beekeepers.

Whilst covering many aspects of beekeeping, honey production and pollination, the underlying thrust of the submission is the need to preserve existing leatherwood stands in state forest.

The research leading up to the submission reveals that the current shortfall in hive numbers for the delivery of optimum pollination services to fruit, vegetable and seed growers, is of the order of 20%. The projection of shortfall by the year 2010 is 50%.

This inquiry is the first time recognition of the looming beekeeping resource crisis has been conceded publicly at any government level.

While this recognition and possible action is welcome and long overdue, there remains a strong resistance to the attempts by Tasmanian beekeepers to the inclusion in the forest practices code, of an enforceable leatherwood assessment and protection procedure.

The government has set up an apiary working group to resolve the leatherwood resource issue and other matters affecting the beekeeping industry.

This resistance, in the apiary working group, to the provision of an enforceable regime is, we understand, coming from the chairperson of the group and forestry Tasmania representatives on the group. Forestry Tasmania would prefer the present voluntary process to remain.

Whilst the voluntary process is a significant step forward compared to the situation which existed as little as 2 years ago, there is no enforceable guarantee of its continuation into the future. Furthermore we are aware that many of the factors influencing harvesting techniques and where harvesting will occur, are outside the control of forestry Tasmania.

The Premier has in the meantime expressed confidence in the result of the negotiations, which are taking place in the apiary working group.

We call on the Premier to use his influence to ensure that the vested interests of the timber industry and the statutory timber quota limitations placed on forestry Tasmania, do not prevent the implementation of an enforceable regime of leatherwood protection. Without this outcome the beekeeping and horticulturist industries will not enjoy long term security.

In the meantime this association is monitoring coupes as they are prepared for harvesting, as they are harvested and after harvesting. This is to assess any leatherwood loss and enable affected beekeepers to assess the hive carrying capacity of the relevant area, and plan accordingly.

Beekeepers do not have confidence that government pressure will ensure that forestry Tasmania can and will abide by the present voluntary leatherwood assessmenmt and protection practice. How can the beekeepers have any confidence in government support when an earlier promise, that is of funding for support of the industry in the community forest agreement, is now seen to be almost meaningless. The government, and forestry Tasmania, have made it clear that the funding of $11.4M, provided for in the agreement and announced with some flourish as to be used to support special species timber and leatherwood access, will only be used to construct road access to special species timber, with any access for beekeepers being along the same roads, if there happens to be leatherwood in that district.

It is clear that there will be no roads constructed specifically for leatherwood access, even if that would open up valuable leatherwood resource areas.

This is another example of the priority given to timber interests over other forest users, even where undertakings are made in writing, expressing the clear intent of the participants.

It is hoped that the result of the commonwealth inquiry, along with Australia wide resource protection/access action, will ensure that in Tasmania, the leatherwood resource is permanently secure for future generations and will always be available to underpin a strong beekeeping industry, capable of delivering all the state`s pollination needs.

There is real 'left hand - right hand' problem here.

While the state bodies charged with the restructure of the leatherwood protection regime argue and vested interest reigns supreme, the commonwealth government is spending large amount s of time and money trying to deal with a looming pollination crisis.

President's Report

Click here to read the President's report for the twelve months to 30 April 2006.

media release - 28 September 2006

Media release

Since our last release much has happened.

  1. Notwithstanding the announcement by the chairperson of theForests & Forest Industry Council that it had been agreed with Forestry Tasmania to defer all leatherwood rich coupes, clearfelling of such coupes continues. The beekeepers took the announcement at face value but Forestry Tasmania claim that it only referred to coupes they nominated.
  2. The latest coupe to be clearfelled was AR34C in the Arve Valley. Some discussion took place between Forestry officers and the beekeepers affected to see if the leatherwood content could be retained. As a result there was some adjustment to coupe boundaries but none of the leatherwood contained inside the coupe was retained. The harvesting plan provided for cable logging.
  3. Forestry Tasmania advised that the method of harvesting could not be changed. The coupe was very rich in leatherwood and typical of coupes in the Southern forest which have already been clearfelled and are scheduled for clearfell. The loss in hive carrying capacity at this site alone is estimated to be 20 hives. The new 1 year harvesting plan published in March 2006 included most of the coupes previously announced as deferred. It also contained 17 coupes in the Huon district assessed as leatherwood rich and 28 coupes in the Derwent district assessed as leatherwood rich. A further 7 coupes in the Derwent district are still being evaluated.
  4. The 1 year plan has just been replaced with a new 3 year plan which excludes the previously deferred coupes but includes 17 coupes shown on the 1 year plan and being leatherwood rich.
  5. Clearly there is some progress being made in negotiations with Forestry Tasmania and this was evident during a recent annual briefing given by Forestry to the beekeepers in Hobart.
  6. There was a further commitment to meet annually with the beekeepers to review the coupes scheduled for harvesting in the following 12 months and an indication that flyovers of the Southern forest to identify leatherwood rich coupes will be carried out in mid January to ensure this coincides with the main flowering period of the tree.
  7. However there was also an acknowledgement that there was no certainty that leatherwood would be found to replace the resource destroyed by the past and current harvesting. This acknowledgement was not matched with an agreement to defer the harvesting of leatherwood rich coupes until the full picture was known. It is this issue that is the focus of the beekeepers` campaign both during the past few years and currently. The clearfelling of the AR034C coupe is evidence of the clear preference of Forestry Tasmania to favour the timber producers over the beekeepers whenever a conflict over the use of the forest occurs. This makes a mockery of the claim that the forest is being managed for multiple use.
  8. The beekeepers believe that the timber resource when compared to the leatherwood resource is so vast and diverse, that to avoid harvesting leatherwood for the time being would be well within the ability of the forest harvesting planners without greatly affecting the cost effective harvesting of the timber resource.
  9. The beekeepers stated publicly 12 months ago that the resource was now in serious decline and that a further 18 months of unabated clearfelling would lead to the collapse of the pollination industry, which the beekeepers operate with their hives. Whilst the process has slowed there has still been a loss of the resource leading to a loss of about 200 hives out of the 1600 + hives currently in use in the South of Tasmania. There are no known leatherwood sites available at present to replace those lost during last years harvesting season. SO THE DECLINE OF THE BEEKEEPING INDUSTRY IS NOW IN FULL SWING. THE POLLINATION INDUSTRY WILL FOLLOW SHORTLY.
  10. A further urgent submission has been made to Forestry Tasmania and the Premier and Resource Minister, Paul Lennon MHA identifying the leatherwood rich coupes under threat and requesting a moratorium from harvesting while search continues for new stands of the resource. Only the Government can make it possible for Forestry Tasmania to give substantial recognition to a non timber industry in the forest.That is by ensuring that the Forest Practices Code is amended to include a protocol for the retention of leatherwood in any harvesting plan.
  11. Negotiations are taking place to have a more prescriptive and precise harvesting regime included in the Forest Practises Code for coupes containing leatherwood. The Government must ensure that this change takes place thus ensuring a realistic regime is in place to give the beekeepers and the horticultural industry certainty.
  12. To the beekeepers and most others it makes no sense to continue clearfelling coupes containing leatherwood while an investigation takes place to identify if any replacement stands of the resource exist. By the time any alternative stands of the resource are found and access to them constructed, the resource will be seriously eroded if not reduced to a level where it will not support the beekeepers in their pollination services.
  13. The issues remain complex but the problem remains simple - NO LEATHERWOOD = NO BEEKEEPERS = NO POLLINATION.

media release - 4 February 2006

Minister moves to save the leatherwood

Immediately prior to the Beekeepers publicity event last Sunday in the Southern Forest it became public knowledge through the media that the Minister for Infrastructure, Energy and Resources, Bryan Green MHA, had, through the Forests and Forest Industry Council, initiated a process whereby the Leatherwood rich forest coupes in the South of Tasmania would be identified and then deferred from clearfelling.

This association congratulates the Minister on his timely action to avert a crisis for the Beekeeping and Pollination Industries in the South of Tasmania.

We will continue to monitor the situation using the recently completed and publicised resource research material prepared by the Southern Beekeepers and released to the media and other interested parties. We look forward to the creation of a constructive and cooperative environment in which the Beekeepers and Forestry Tasmania can work together for the benefit of all those whose livelihood depends on the Forest,and Leatherwood in particular.

Forestry Tasmania has since announced that aerial survey of the Southern Forests is to begin almost immediately to help identify the forest coupes rich in Leatherwood to permit deferral of clearfelling, at least for the balance of the current three-year Harvesting Plan. If this process results in the deferral being implemented, then the Minister's initiative will not only be congratulated but celebrated.

17 January 2005

Our voice is beginning to be heard...

...even by Forestry Tasmania!

See the Forestry Tasmania website - - (go to 'Publications' and then to 'Facts on bees').

The recent posting on the Forestry Tasmania website concerning 'bees', both confirms the tenuous resource position in the South of Tasmania and exaggerates the amount of the resource remaining.

Very few if any 'new' commercial stands of Leatherwood remain in the Southern Forests. To exclude as is claimed, the majority of '17000ha' of State Forest containing Leatherwood from harvesting, is of no use unless the coupes contain commercial Leatherwood stands or include all the sites currently being used, or both.

The beekeepers know what is left of the resource and no amount of generalisation of the kind being published will invent 'new' Leatherwood Trees.

If however there are vast stands of the resource unknown to the Beekeepers then we welcome the opportunity to inspect them now, and receive a written assurance that they are permanently protected from harvesting.

9 January 2006

Support from Sweden


Through this message I would like to show my support in the protection of the existing Tassie trees, in this case the leatherwood trees.

Although I write from Sweden that does not mean that I am completely unaware of what goes on in Australia. I try to stay informed on things by visiting Internet sites that do give information and also through the news received from my Aussie relatives and friends.

From 1978 to 1985 I have lived in WA in the (then) little place Denmark on the south-west coast, so thereby I claim up the right to speak out freely here. Becoming a hobby beekeeper (now three years ago) developed a greater awareness of nature in general and more respect for the honeybees.

Meanwhile an apiary inspector, secretary in our local beekeepers association, editor for our local magazine, webmaster for our own site and member in the district's board you could say that I am serious about this hobby! Apart from that I try and use the microscope to take a closer look at things, like pollen grains, nosema spores, mites and any other small creatures (you won't believe the new world that opens up before your eyes using a microscope!)

I must admit having chopped down some trees like Jarrah, Karry, Yellow- and Red Tingles of which some have now been declared protected species. At the time to chop down a tree on our family's private property didn't seem so strange, after all many others did so too, but now looking back I am no longer so proud of my actions from then.

Now 28 years later here in Sweden I am hunting for the precious Australian honeys from the very trees that I once took down! So I hope that this will be a lesson and not repeated by anyone who reads this. Have respect for your trees!

Ron van Mierlo

January 2006

The request for a moratorium on clearfelling leatherwood

No reply has been received from The Minister, Bryan Green MHA, to the request for a meeting with him to put the case for an immediate moratorium on clearfelling of forest coupes containing commercial stands of Leatherwood.

Another letter requesting an urgent meeting has now been sent, as has an invitation for him to attend the Leatherwood Picnic to meet with the people most directly effected by the destruction of the resource. See this site for details of the Picnic.

The Premier has also been invited to the Picnic as have representatives of all the political parties and the media.

Read our latest submission to Bryan Green, MHA Minister for Infrastructure, Energy and Resources. It also contains the list of sites under threat for use as our continuing publicity campaign to The government and the media. This information will be updated regularly.

Support goes international

We have received our first donation from outside Australia.

Friday 9 December 2005

No response yet from minister

Beekeepers have pressed Bryan Green MHA for an urgent meeting to consider an inventory of Leatherwood sites scheduled for destruction during the next 18 months, and to demand a moratorium on the clearfelling of the coupes involved.

There has been no response from the minister as of today.

Our honey sells in Sainsbury's - while we can still produce it.

Read about Save Your Leatherwood Honey on the Tasmanian Times website. There's a full story with an footnote about our honey selling in England.

November/December 2005

Latest campaign developments

An inventory of leatherwood sites at early risk has been completed and is ready for publication.

Watch this website for reports of sites clearfelled and hive loss figures.

November 2005

We go public

In November Save Your Leatherwood Honey Inc. went public, with reports on: Win TV News, ABC Radio and The Mercury newspaper.

Read the media release that prompted these reports.

Our membership has topped 60 and is growing.