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This section looks at the overall land use situation for Tasmania at the present time. Most of the data outlined comes from a recent land use mapping study undertaken by Drenen3 for the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment. The estimates of agricultural and forestry plantation areas in that report are compared with data presented elsewhere by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Forestry Tasmania.

The total land area of Tasmania is around 6.8 million hectares.

The land use mapping study by Drenen found that agriculture and forestry activities make up around 1.6 and 1.5 million hectares respectively of the 6.8 million-hectare total. On a percentage basis "Conservation and Natural Environment" is the most extensive land use at 50 per cent, followed by "Agriculture" 24 per cent, and "Forestry" 22 per cent (See Appendix 1 for details).

Table 1. Land Use, Tasmania 

Table 1. Land Use


Source: Drenen, A., Land Use Mapping at Catchment Scale, Tasmanian Report, DPIWE, March 2003 (See Appendix 1)

Within the 1.50 million hectares of forestry area, 1.28 million hectares or 86 per cent was assessed as being production forestry plus 0.21 million hectares or 14 per cent of plantation forestry. For the purposes of this study, production forestry is defined as commercial production from native forests and related activities on public and private land. Plantation forestry is land on which plantations of trees have been established for production or environmental resource protection purposes4.

The 214,000 hectares of plantation forestry in the Drenen study compares with 207,000 hectares of public plus private plantation identified by Forestry Tasmania in their Annual Report to June 2002 5.

The 1.6 million hectare estimate of agricultural land in the Drenen report compares with an Australian Bureau of Statistics estimate6 of 1.9 million hectares of "agricultural land". The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimate is in fact the total area of establishments on which the main source of income is agriculture. As such it includes forested land that occurs on rural establishments. If around 400,000 to 500,000 hectares is deducted from the Australian Bureau of Statistics as being forest areas on agricultural establishments (Table 4), the net Australian Bureau of Statistics figure for land actually used for agriculture falls to around 1.4 to 1.5 million hectares. This is slightly less than the Drenen mapping estimate of 1.6 million hectares.

Where possible, information presented in this report and its appendices has been segregated into the State's three Natural Resource Management Regions. These three regions stem from the Natural Resource Management Act 2002, which provided for the establishment of a Tasmanian Natural Resource Management Council and three regional committees for natural resource management. A major objective of the three Natural Resource Management Committees is the development of regional strategies for natural resource management.

The Tasmanian Natural Resource Management Framework provides the administrative mechanism to devolve decision-making for natural resource management from State and Australian Governments to regional communities, through the three regional committees (Southern, Northern and North Western).

The Natural Resource Management Regions comprise the following local government municipalities:

Southern Region:
Brighton, Central Highlands, Clarence City, Derwent Valley, Glamorgan-Spring Bay, Glenorchy City, Hobart City, Huon Valley, Kingborough, Sorell, Southern Midlands and Tasman.

Northern Region:
Break O'Day, Dorset, Flinders, George Town, Launceston City, Meander Valley, Northern Midlands and West Tamar.

North Western Region:
Burnie City, Central Coast, Circular Head, Devonport City, Kentish, King Island, Latrobe, Waratah-Wynyard and West Coast.
The areas covered by the three Natural Resource Management Regions are illustrated in Map 1 below.

These three Natural Resource Management Regions closely match the three statistical regions used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, namely Southern (including Greater Hobart), Northern and Mersey-Lyell. Statistics provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in relation to these three regions have been used in this report to represent the three Natural Resource Management Regions.

Map 1. Natural Resource Management Regions in Tasmania

3 Drenen,A., Land Use Mapping at Catchment Scale, Tasmanian Report, DPIWE, March 2003
4 Bureau of Rural Sciences, Land Use Mapping at Catchment Scale, Principles, Procedures and Definitions, September 2001. 
5 Forestry Tasmania Annual Report 2001-02.
6 Agriculture Farms Land Use, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Agriculture Australia Cat No. 7113.0