Critically endangered swift parrots have been granted a reprieve in Tasmania, with the state-owned forestry operator agreeing to put a further pause on logging in native habitat.
The Bob Brown Foundation had sought an urgent federal court injunction to prevent tree felling in 30 coupes in the island’s northeast.
Sustainable Timber Tasmania has agreed to postpone logging in the areas until the outcome of a separate federal court challenge by the conservation group against forestry in Tasmania broadly.
“This is a breakthrough but it should never have been necessary,” former Greens leader Bob Brown said on Friday.
“It’s a reprieve for the swift parrot because people cared.”
According to DNA sampling by researchers at the Australian National University, there is likely to be fewer than 300 of the migratory parrots remaining – significantly less than previously thought.
STT said the decision to pause the logging was undertaken after consultation with the industry and its supply to customers won’t be affected.
“The undertaking is given entirely without admission and solely for the purpose of avoiding a costly and time consuming dispute regarding an injunction,” a spokesman said.
“This will provide operational certainty for two harvesting contractors, reduce operational disruption and costs for our contractors.”
The outside-of-court agreement comes after STT last year agreed to postpone logging in 19 coupes considered to be swift parrot habitat until a federal court decision expected in February.
The court is examining whether Tasmania’s 20-year regional forest agreement, renewed in 2017, is invalid.
The Bob Brown Foundation argues it is invalid because it doesn’t include a legally enforceable requirement for the state to protect threatened species in the native forests, including swift parrots.
The foundation claims the Tasmanian forest agreement doesn’t enforce national environmental protections, including for threatened species, as required by legislation.
STT says it has “every confidence” the forest agreement provides protection for threatened species while enabling important timber production.
Dr Brown was arrested twice at protests in the coupes in December and is facing trespassing charges.