Queensland urged to reject proposal to close pine plantations

The Queensland State Government has been urged to reject an “absurd, outrageous and highly destructive proposal to close our pine plantations”. Gympie MP and opposition spokesman for agricultural industry development and fisheries and forestry Tony Perrett was responding to a proposal handed to the State Government to turn 21,000ha of prime pine logging plantation in the Imbil State Forest into subtropical rainforest.

Under the proposal put forward by Sunshine Coast journalist and naturalist Greg Roberts, leases to the hoop pine plantations would be revoked and the plantations allowed to regenerate.

They would then be allowed to regenerate as subtropical lowland rainforest, a category listed by the Federal Government in 2011 as critically endangered.

Industry sources have labelled the idea as a “fantasy”.

The plan is opposed by some conservationists because it defies a widespread view that pristine natural areas are worthy of protection but that the likes of man-made pine plantations have no environmental value.

Imbil State Forest is part of 330,000ha of Queensland pine plantations currently under lease to logging company HQ Plantations. HQP group manager stewardships David West said the company was open to negotiation but needed further information.

However, industry sources pointed out that, regardless of any other objections, the State Government was unlikely to have the available funds to pay out the HQP group.

Mr Perrett said rejection of the proposal had to be “clear and unequivocal and leave no wriggle room’’.

“Local industry and timber manufacturers are already contacting me raising their serious concerns that this will destroy their economic viability in this region.

“The loss of that much forestry will decimate the industry. If the Government doesn’t reject this outright, we will know that this is clearly the first shot across the bow in an underhanded scheme to close up the Imbil State Forest.”

Mr Perrett said the proposal was based on “deliberate fabrications”, and was “misleading, manipulates the truth, and uses emotive language to deliberately portray the forestry industry and those with grazing rights in a bad light”.