Tasmanian logging agency challenged on locking runners out of public land

TrailRunMag 24.02.2021

Picture: Kelly Slater

The Bob Brown Foundation has launched a Supreme Court action against Sustainable Timber Tasmania after they refused a permit for the annual takayna Trail ultramarathon, scheduled for 20 March 2021.

The application to the Supreme court was filed on Friday, 19 February.  A directions hearing will be heard in Hobart’s Supreme Court tomorrow (Thursday, 25 February) at 11.30 am for the judge to give directions to prepare the case for hearing.

The takayna Trail, a highlight of the national trail running calendar, brings over 130 local and interstate runners to Tasmania, and injects hundreds of thousands of dollars into regional Tasmanian communities at a time when tourists, and the income they bring to Tasmania, are desperately needed.

The event has been successfully held for the past 2 years and attracted local, national and international runners with sponsorship from major brands like Patagonia, Paddy Pallin and Australian Ethical. Sustainable Timber Tasmania has an obligation under government legislation to “allow access to permanent timber production zone land for such purposes as are not incompatible with the management of permanent timber production zone land.”

“Premier Peter Gutwein should put a hand on the shoulder of Sus Timber Tasmania and tell them ‘wrong way, go back’. STT has no legal right to put a chainsaw through public thinking.  If they prevail, it will have a chilling effect on all future debate about our forests and wildlife,” Bob Brown said.

“We are fighting for the rights of all Tasmanians to access and enjoy their public lands. We will not have that right taken from us just because Sus Timber Tasmania doesn’t like our campaigns to protect the environment. If we don’t stand up for this right, Sus Timber Tasmania will be emboldened to lock out anyone they don’t agree with from the public lands they are tasked with managing,” Bob Brown Foundation Campaign Manager Jenny Weber said.

“If allowed to stand, this decision sets a disturbing precedent that could affect any sporting or recreational event in public forests. Tour guides, running, orienteering, mountain biking, fishing and 4WD groups should all be concerned by this ban, as it demonstrates that Sus Timber Tasmania are prepared to block any group that speaks out against them from entering public forests,” Bob Brown Foundation’s CEO Steven Chaffer said.

“Sus Timber Tasmania have effectively privatised all Crown land allocated to forestry and stolen public access from the people of Tasmania.  This contravenes one of the principles of the legislation, namely that people are entitled to access public forests. Parliament’s decision to allocate large areas of Crown land to forestry should not be turned into a land grab by Sus Timber Tasmania.”