Gympie plea for forestry

GYMPIE forester and conservationist Ernie Rider yesterday welcomed new State Government efforts to increase forest access for millers and rebuild its relationship with the timber industry.

Mr Rider joined timber industry body Timber Queensland in welcoming a new government plan to revitalise the industry.

New Forestry Minister John McVeigh told industry leaders his government had a new attitude to Gympie's once world-leading industrial and research expertise.

Mr McVeigh said the government would address specific concerns, including restoring access to forestry areas for hardwood timber millers.

Mr Rider said the previous government had been courting Green votes in transferring large areas from multiple-use managed forestry to national parks.

But the change had brought no environmental benefits, he said.

He said the previous government had broken the unwritten constitution of this state by closing forestry assets because the state forestry network had been established and maintained to provide timber to Queenslanders "in perpetuity".

Mr Rider has worked for both the former state Forestry Department and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

"The previous government did not have a forest agreement, they had a forest shutdown - and there were no environmental benefits in shutting down such an important industry," he said.

"People closing down the forests did not understand the superb multiple-use management system, which was developed under Forestry.

"They would break the area into small management units and work out the best use, including for conservation purposes, of each particular area.

"One area might be good for its scenic value.

"Another area might be known to have important rare plants and animals, so they wouldn't log that one.

"And there were all different levels of logging.

"I helped survey 100% of Queensland's forestry and we found that areas that were not logged had no better outcomes for rare plants and animals.

"In some cases, selective logging had helped the rare plants and animals to prosper," he said.

A spokesman for Mr McVeigh said the LNP government had "a whole new attitude".