Thursday 10 November 2016
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Beekeeping - Leatherwood Trees


[2.35 p.m.]

Is the Government aware of the concerns of Tasmanian beekeepers over diminishing numbers of leatherwood trees, as pointed out by Lindsay Bourke?  What plans has the Government to preserve the vital leatherwood resource?


Madam Acting President, I thank the honourable member for Rosevears for his question. 

The Talking Point article in the Mercury on 9 November - 'Clearfelling Leatherwood makes no sense' - failed to recognise two very important facts.  First, the majority of Tasmanian leatherwood resource is outside areas set aside for forestry operations.  Second, Forestry Tasmania works closely with beekeepers in developing its harvesting plans for areas that may contain leatherwood.

The reality is that Tasmania's leatherwood resource occurs across various tenures, including national parks and reserves, private land and permanent timber production zone land.  Of the total accessible leatherwood resource across Tasmania - about 705 000 hectares - only 136 000 hectares is on permanent timber production zone land.  Of this, less than 30 000 hectares is in potentially harvestable areas which would typically be harvested on a 50- to 90-year rotation.  This area equates to less than 4 per cent of the total accessible leatherwood resource available across Tasmania. 

The Government and Forestry Tasmania recognise and support the contribution of the apiary industry to the Tasmanian economy through the sale of honey and associated products, and the provision of pollination services to agriculture and horticulture.  Forestry Tasmania therefore collaborates with the Tasmanian Beekeepers Association on access to and management of the leatherwood resource on permanent timber production zone land.  This collaboration often results in the exclusion of leatherwood-rich eucalypt forest to take into account the interests of beekeepers.

Forestry Tasmania also considers other measures to support the leatherwood resource.  It recently agreed to trial the planting of leatherwood seedlings post-harvesting to enhance the regrowth of leatherwood resources in a particular area.  This trial will be monitored jointly by Forestry Tasmania and the Tasmanian Beekeepers Association. 

The challenge for the Government and Forestry Tasmania is to optimise the yield from high‑value sawlogs while maintaining a balance between production, the large areas of conservation and the concerns of other forest users such as beekeepers.  This is an ongoing and cooperative process.