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The Forum > Article Comments > Climate change, carbon sequestration and Tasmania > Comments

Climate change, carbon sequestration and Tasmania : Comments

By Fred Gale, published 28/8/2008

We need to establish the optimal use of Tasmania’s forest resources in an era of climate change and carbon sequestration.

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In my opinion forestry should be divorced from emissions trading as the amounts and timing of carbon flows are arguable. As a means of preserving forest it is well intentioned but an administrative nightmare. Whatever the true stock of carbon stored by trees I agree we should not threaten it. However in the dry autumn March-April-May 2008 I noted understorey plants like tree ferns were shrivelling and perhaps were being converted to CO2 and CH4 by insects and microbes. The sleet storms June-July-August may have revived those plants. Nonetheless I feel a lot of dense forest is naturally changing to open woodland so that annual carbon capture may be lessening and the carbon-in-store is declining.

Some people have raised the prospect that Gunns should think about cellulosic biofuel instead of paper pulp. If the wood harvest was more sustainable and some byproduct charcoal or lignin was returned to the soil that seems more acceptable to me, though maybe not to the Greens.
If the focus is on keeping subsoil carbon out of the atmosphere the most effective measure is drastically reducing the burning of coal. Leave the forests standing whether their carbon credit is large or small but don't get too distracted by it.
Posted by Taswegian, Thursday, 28 August 2008 9:58:44 AM
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Dr Gale lacks basic knowledge about native forest issues. I can only correct some:

"For business and labour, the drive to expand production ....."

The NF industry sector can't expand - it operates in public forests governed by legislated land use plans and policies. Their drive is simply to maintain access to what they have in the face of campaigns to drive them out.

" ... well organised special interests (inc. in the forestry sector) can bend the public policy agenda in their direction."

Oh yeah? The NF industry hasn't been too successful given that their access to public forests has dramatically declined. In Victoria, the industry is now excluded from two thirds of forests that were available 20 years ago. Similar in NSW, WA and QLD - less so in Tasmania. Best they can do is convince governments not to 'lock up' more forest.

"Sustainable forestry management is a highly elastic concept that can justify all manner of unacceptable practices...."

The basic thrust of forestry is to maintain all values at the landscape scale not on every hectare, particularly harvested areas. It is largely about balancing conservation and use by zoning. The balance is already firmly weighted to conservation, given that just 6% of Australia's forests are now in wood production zones (net of in-zone and in-coupe management reserves to minimise environmental impacts).

"Ecosystem based forest management .... requires that forest management occurs within social and ecological limits"

So current forest management has no limits? This is a typically wrong presumption amongst those whose knowledge derives principally from anti-logging activism. See above comments.

"These new policies could .... protect Tassie's old growth,... provide employment in wilderness protection ... and tourism."

Isn't this happening already? 87% of old growth in reserves, more wilderness reserved than almost anywhere else, and one of the world's most significant eco-tourism industries.

As long as there is any NF harvesting it will be opposed by uncompromising activism - unlikely that (another) 'greener' form of management can solve this.
Posted by MWPOYNTER, Thursday, 28 August 2008 6:01:57 PM
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Standing forests are at best carbon neutral.

Harvesting the wood and converting it to a product that will not be burnt reduces the CO2 in the atmosphere.
Posted by Democritus, Thursday, 28 August 2008 9:37:36 PM
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Dr Gale's points about carbon and forests are quite reasonable re the industry view of the worth of wood products. However, he regards the ANU 'Green Carbon' report (Mackey et al) as the 'scientific' view, despite this being somewhat questionable?

The ANU report was in fact funded by the Wilderness Society and its lead author, Professor Mackey, has a role on the Wilderness Society's Wild Country campaign and has apparently been active with the Australian Greens.

Mackey had several opinion articles published in The Age newspaper advocating closure of the NF timber industry. It is therefore hardly surprising that his 'Green Carbon' report advocates natural forests being left undisturbed by redefining terms such as 'degradation' specifically to exclude logging despite it causing no net loss of forest (as it is regenerated).

Mackey has found there is more carbon stored in forests. But my understanding of his earlier work is that this is based on studying 'old growth' ash forests (Australia's most productive) and extrapolating results to all forests despite few being anywhere near as productive. In any event, on the basis of actual timber yields, the timber industry believes Mackey seriously overstates wood-based carbon in these forests.

The 'environmentalist' view of forest carbon ignores the reality of sustainable wood production whereby the harvest is in balance with overall forest growth so that carbon taken from the forest in wood and lost due to slash burning and soil disturbance, is in balance with carbon gains due to growth and regrowth in other parts of the forest.

It assumes that all logging involves clearfelling 'old growth' when in fact virtually no OG forest is used for wood production on mainland Australia, and most Tas OG is now reserved. Some 60% of Tas logging is selective and involves no slash burning.

Worst of all, the simplistic notion that forests can store carbon forever if we only stopped logging them is nonsense, given the prevalence of fire, disease amd just death and decay. Forests will always wax and wane as carbon stores, but stopping the production of wood would be a seriously retrograde step.
Posted by MWPOYNTER, Saturday, 30 August 2008 10:17:02 AM
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Are we actually still on earth or has there been an Alien Invasion that has ripped people’s brains out of their head;
Tasmania is the Largest Bureaucratic socialist republic outside of China- per head of population.
The largest employer – well parasitic existence is the Dom pereion sipping and Ballenger belching Bolsheviks; to which all of your taxes pay for is the Socialist State of Tasmania.
There is very little industry and obviously very little Intellectual talent other than the linguistic masturbators who must be running out of Loot, only because the carcass must be on the verge of total consumption.
If there is to be any Carbon tax, it ought to be aimed at the brainless moronic leaches that suck on people’s ignorance and prosper off the back of others.
The Ignorant Idealists who have become quite affluent in effluent and are the Mushroom Intellectuals who are able to manufacture their own Bovine excrement to feed off. But they still need your Loot to fund their depravity.
Talk about absolute Useless Idiots Incorporated.
Posted by All-, Saturday, 30 August 2008 10:20:35 AM
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