and published unedited as an article in the TBA Newsletter
As foreshadowed in the last report the FSC certification process and in particular the final setting of Australian FSC Standards, is now well under way. The first Draft has been open for public comment for 3 months and the submission period has now expired.
Before researching and writing a submission to the Economic Chamber of FSC, as members of the Chamber, we prepared for, and attended an all day session in Melbourne with representatives from around the Commonwealth, discussing and negotiating the Standards. The subsequent submission was then prepared, discussed with the TBA President and then submitted by the TBA.
This work was very time consuming but in our view critical to the future of the industry and its ability to have Forestry Tasmania adopt timber harvesting methods which will be focused on preserving all present and future leatherwood resource important to the beekeepers. Because this was so time consuming (in excess of 30 hours work including meetings and travelling), our usual coupe monitoring work has been on hold.
In addition to the above there have been two Forestry Tasmanian Management Plans which have been published in draft form with stakeholder submissions on the same also being required during the same period. We also undertook this work and after more than 40 hours we were able to help the TBA meet the stakeholder submission deadline of the end of July. We are only one of several stakeholders who have an interest in this matter and so again it is critical that we, (in conjunction with the TBA), put the case for leatherwood preservation as strongly as we can.
Prior to the submissions being prepared
1. we attended the pre-submission "drop in" meetings offered by Forestry Tasmania as a means of becoming more informed about the process of how FT will deal with stakeholder interests and the submissions. Preparation for that meeting took 5 hours of research and preparation, and
2. we also attended a beekeeping briefing meeting at the invitation of Forestry Tasmania held at Perth in Tasmania. This was to explain how they believed the Plans would operate and to hear any comments and suggestions/critique of the drafts. This volume of work was also instrumental in preventing us from our core coupe inspection work over the past three months.
It is clear to your Save your leatherwoodhoney Association chairperson that this work was well within our Association`s objects and powers as it is focused exclusively on the preservation of leatherwood in state forest, albeit over the longer term. He believes that the opportunity of having an enforceable leatherwood preservation regime imposed on Forestry Tasmania outweighs the benefits of early coupe inspections for this year at least. If we can have a regime imposed on Forestry Tasmania which treats the leatherwood resource at least as important as timber, then we will have made a huge step forward for the industry.
To this end we are now also preparing a draft amendment to the Forest Practises Code which if adopted would give leatherwood preservation an equal focus as timber harvesting. That amendment will be lodged with the Forest Practises Authority which is the legal entity responsible for the Code`s content and compliance by timber harvesters. This would give Forestry Tasmania the legal backing to recognise the preservation of the leatherwood resource equal along side timber harvesting. Forestry Tasmania are arguing that without this amendment to the Code they are unable to give any enforceable recognition to the need to preserve the leatherwood resource. A similar approach was made in 2006 without any success, (ie action by the Authority).
We are also preparing new draft Guidelines for the Management of Leatherwood in State Forest. These are to be used by forestry planners when setting coupe boundaries and deciding what harvesting technique to adopt. This mirrors substantially what the planners already use except for its new strict mandatory provisions and the provision for avoiding all substantial leatherwood stands whether of present use to beekeepers or of use in the future if left to coppice or regenerate without burning. Forestry Tasmania also maintain that for them to be subject to mandatory guidelines the above change to the Code would have to be made. While we are not so sure that this will excuse the destruction of leatherwood for certification purposes, we are exploring all avenues to put the pressure on the timber harvesting process.
While there is a lull in this process we are now inspecting the current 3 year plan for the Southern District (Huon and Derwent), which we received about 16th August. We are arranging for the plan to be inspected by the beekeepers affected by the proposed coupes. Forestry Tasmania officers have indicated that they are now waiting for advice from the beekeepers as to coupes most likely to contain important leatherwood resource before arranging ground proofing (with the beekeepers), and settling on coupe boundaries or looking for alternative coupes with little or no leatherwood resource within their boundaries. We have about a month to carry out this preliminary assessment.
Finally, the confirmation of the World Heritage 2013 extensions has benefited several beekeepers who now have resource security for some of the relevant hive sites but not necessarily access security in the longer term.
It can be seen from the above that we are right in the thick of it and our industry`s presence is definitely being felt and acknowledged. It is after all, an industry worth fighting for. There is of course no guarantee that we will be successful in achieving our goals but this will not be for want of trying. The support of all our members is critical to our work as outlined above. Thank you all for that, particularly our volunteers and executive committee.
Bob Davey (President).
NOTE: This constitutes a report to members which will form part of your president`s annual report to be tabled at our 2014 Annual General Meeting, due to be held on the 27th October 2014. Formal notices for this will be sent out in September.
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