Harvesting of special timbers has evolved with the broader native forest management model in Tasmania. This has been highly dynamic.
Between 1995-96 and 2015-16 the area of public native forest has available for harvest was reduced from 810 500 hectares to 376 000 hectares; an approximately 53% reduction in area of (ABARES 2013; Forestry Tasmania, 2016c). This primarily occurred through the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement (TCFA) 2005 and the Tasmanian Forests Agreement (TFA) 2013. This change has also reduced the land available for special timber harvesting.
A primary aim of the 1997 Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement was to provide for certainty of resource access to the forest industry – including the special timber sector. During that process, 143 000 hectares of land defined as Special Timber Management Units (STMUs) were set aside to ensure the future of the special timbers sector.
In 2005, The TCFA (2005) resulted in 52 per cent of the the STMUs being proclaimed as reserves under the Nature Conservation Act 2002. This change primarily affected Myrtle harvesting, reducing production by approximately 90%, as well as impacting sassafras and celery top pine.
In 2013, the Tasmanian Forest Agreement process reduced the area of STMU’s further to 35 000 hectares by adhering 15,600 hectares of them to the 1.58million hectare Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA). Over 75% of STMUs identified in the 1997 RFA are now contained in the Tasmanian reserve system.
As at June 2015, the Tasmanian system of public land reserves comprises 3.26 million hectares. Of these 2.73 million hectares are formal reserves proclaimed under the Nature Conservation Act 2002 (NCA) and managed under the National Parks and Reserves Management Act 2002 (NPRMA) and associated regulations.
Of the eight classes of public land reserves under the NCA 2002 and NPRMA 2002, five of these (National Park, State Reserve, Game Reserve, Nature Reserve and Historic Site) are dedicated reserves, and resource extraction is prohibited within these reserve classes. The three remaining classes (Conservation Area, Nature Recreation Area and Regional Reserve) are non-dedicated reserves and sustainable resource extraction and mining is a potentially permissible activity within these reserve classes.
The land tenures available for the sustainable harvesting of special timbers include: