For several decades, Tasmania’s economic performance has been significantly below the rest of Australia. In 2012-13, Tasmania’s gross state product (GSP) was the second lowest of all states and territories behind the Northern Territory, its per capita GSP and average weekly total earnings were the lowest in the country and the unemployment rate was the highest in the country. On most major economic indicators, Tasmania performs below relevant national averages and, over time, the gap between Tasmania and the rest of Australia has been widening.
A staged withdrawal from native forestry could help revive Tasmania’s fortunes. There would be obvious biodiversity, heritage and climate benefits but the real attraction of this option lies in the economic realities. Continued harvesting will bring further financial losses for the state. In contrast, using the forests to generate carbon credits will provide much needed revenues for the government, which could be used to restructure the economy and revitalise the state.