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Green group walks from forest peace talks

Tasmania’s forest peace talks have been rocked by the decision of a key green group, The Wilderness Society, to suspend its involvement over a lack of action.

The talks agreed on a historic blueprint to end conflict over the island’s wild forests eight months ago, but are yet to fully implement a logging moratorium, months after it was due.

It is the first loss of a central participant from the year-old talks between industry, unions and green groups.

The Environment Minister, Tony Burke, warned last night that federal government help would only be possible if these groups kept working together.

”The only reason that we have an opportunity for an outcome that works for jobs and conservation is because of the goodwill that’s been shown in the community-led agreement,” Mr Burke said.

The peace talks have identified 570,000 hectares of high conservation value forests in Tasmania up for protection as the biggest timber company, Gunns Limited, ends native forest logging.

The Premier, Lara Giddings, said the state government had protected 98 per cent of high conservation value forests, with just 2 per cent remaining to fill legally binding contracts and to keep forest workers employed.

But TWS’s Tasmanian campaigns manager, Vica Bayley, yesterday showed reporters a logging access road into public old growth forests in the Esperance Valley. He said the road was built this year, while the moratorium was supposed to be in place.

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