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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bid to buy Recherche

The Mercury: Bid to buy Recherche [20jan06]

ONSERVATIONISTS have made a last-minute bid to buy historic Recherche Bay and save it from the loggers.

Environmentalists had feared bulldozing of a 4km access road through to the 150 hectare area approved for logging in Tasmania's far South would begin next week.

This was because warm weather had dried out Southport Lagoon Wildlife Sanctuary which the new road will cross.

But landowner David Vernon said the report was out-of-date since recent discussions.

"Things have changed," Mr Vernon said, while declining to detail his new plans

The Vernon family has approval from the Forest Practices Authority to harvest 30,000 tonnes of woodchips and 5000 tonnes of sawlogs from their freehold property within the next three years.

Australian Greens leader Senator Bob Brown still hopes logging can be avoided at Recherche Bay.

Dr Brown, who founded the Australian Bush Heritage Fund in 1990 with the aim of buying and preserving threatened land of high biological significance, wants to raise funds to buy the historic and culturally unique Recherche Bay land site from the Vernon brothers.

"I have always said that if there is to be an outcome other than logging on the north-west peninsula it must be a just and honourable one for the Vernons," he said.

French explorers and scientists lived and worked on the peninsula while visiting Recherche Bay during 1792 and 1793.

Historians are concerned that despite buffer zones around known historical sites, others could be destroyed by logging activity.

The Federal and State governments have refused to contribute to such a buyout proposal. The minimum $1.3 million needed to buy the north-east peninsula is beyond the pockets of most private environmental donors.

But the Tasmanian Land Conservancy group was keen to be involved with a significant land purchase at Recherche Bay, spokesman Nathan Males said.

"We are looking at it, and talking with both Bob [Brown] and the Vernons and still hope to find a solution.

"But it's too early to be making any announcements yet," he said yesterday.

David Vernon agreed his family had been discussing a possible sale with Dr Brown.

Mr Vernon also pointed out that, contrary to the report in yesterday's Mercury, the timber on his land was not going to be clearfelled.

Instead, as explained by the Forest Practices Authority, the smaller pulpwood trees will be cut down in a "compromise" method which leaves seed trees and clumps of taller regro

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