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The Forum > Article Comments > Deforestation deceit reflects badly on environmental campaigners > Comments

Deforestation deceit reflects badly on environmental campaigners : Comments

By Mark Poynter, published 18/11/2009

There is an appalling exaggeration and desperate dishonesty which now typifies some environmentalists' anti logging campaigns.

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Let's look at both specifics and generalities in relation to Tasmania. The removal of the superb swamp gums at Camp Florentine means that thousands of visitors can no longer see those iconic trees in the wild without leaving a bitumen road. Loggers assured us that the trees would be used for timber but apparently 80% went to the chipper. They even stuffed up the no-go area and wasted public money on police and failed prosecutions. Now everyone suspects the Tarkine Road in the northwest is a ruse to get out the large stands of red myrtle. To get a few dollars in woodchips out of hard-to-replace 400 year old trees tourists are upset and find their Tasmanian experience unsettling. Thankfully the internet may be reducing the need for newspapers.

Whether mature Tasmanian forests continue to be net carbon sinks is moot. However when they are clearfelled and burned there is a large CO2 surge. Plantation timber may grow fast but it will lack the biodiversity of the original forest. Trees will be harvested as adolescents, not adults, and the carbon stored in living tissue may be permanently less than before. The carbon sink of forest floor and the benefit of damp shady soil may also be lost with the burnoffs. Iconic species like E. regnans will almost certainly not grow to heights of 100m by the year 2400 unless humans make themselves extinct first.

Thus I suggest that old growth logging should stop immediately. Encourage visitors to enjoy the big trees. Let the old trees fall over and be absorbed back into the soil. Fires more frequent than every 30 years or so should be put out by helicopter, not deliberately lit. Living trees are more valuable than woodchips and biodiversity deserts .
Posted by Taswegian, Wednesday, 18 November 2009 10:13:41 AM
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With great respect, you have not commented on the article, but simply used it as a platform to raise your own concerns about forestry. In so doing you (perhaps inadvertently) embody the point that the article is making which is that much of the public discussion about forestry from the environmentalist's viewpoint is deceitful.

In this case, you have omitted key information which would put your comments into their proper perspective. For example, your comment about logging in the Upper Florentine fails to mention that 90% of the forests that area are reserved and will not be logged (from the Forestry Tasmania website).

You imply that logging is a total carbon emission when in reality most of the carbon remains stored in some form of wood-based product. Even paper products can store carbon for decades in-service and then in landfill. Also, structural wood products reduce demand for timber imports and alternative products such as steel, aluminium and concrete. If all these things are considered, the carbon benefits of producing wood products outweighs that of not producing them.

You want to protect all E.regnans forests from fire despite the reality that this species needs fire to regenerate. Down the track, there will no E.regnans forests unless their is a catastrophic fire, or they are actively regenerated after logging. It is simply unrealistic to expect carbon stocks to be preserved in forests and it is surely sensible to at least transfer forest carbon from part of the forest into more secure storage in the community.
Posted by MWPOYNTER, Wednesday, 18 November 2009 10:51:02 AM
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MWPoynter is spot on. The problem with the Greens (and Taswegian certainly writes like one) is that their understanding of natural processes in the forest is founded in faith not science.
Fire fighters tell me that helicopters are useful in protecting an asset such as a shed or home but not a lot of use in the forest where they rarely hit the fire and often leave unburnt areas that, later, when dried, will ignite.
As recently as Winter 2008, the TWS magazine was calling for more aerial firefighting aircraft. What happened in Victoria in January/February this year? Did you notice, Taswegian that 173 people lost their lives after 25 years without fuel reduction burning.
In 1981 when it was stopped they were cool burning up to 400,000 Look at the fire record from 1944 to 1981. Not too many fires lasted more than a couple of days and the cost was confined to humans with beaters, rake hoes and knapsacks.
Google "Project Vesta" and start learning something about scientific research into bushfires.
Posted by phoenix94, Wednesday, 18 November 2009 11:15:10 AM
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I am somewhat opposed to plundering.

Tasmania has quite an enviable record on conservation.

People do have a right to survive from the land. People are part of the natural environment.

You take the people's right to a living from the land away from them they move to cities for employment and this is the real environmental issue. People in cities have no natural resources, they need to plunder.

So these silly protests are aiming at the wrong sinners.

If only local people had used the local timber for housing and furniture in my backyard, the wet tropics, we still would have the mature red cedars but they were required for the furniture of queens and kings in London. If the people in England could have only ever used local timber they would have ensured that it was replaced. If you have a pond with only a few fish left and it is the only pond you can fish from then self survival suggests you allow the fish to breed. If you know you can feed from a pond on the otherside of the globe then you eat the last remaining fish.

Same with water, now we have people talking about diverting water from the tropics to the cities down south. Plundering. Why not live where the water is? If you can only ever use the local resources a natural balance is maintained. Cities end this natural logic. Self survial is up to someone else to worry about. Seeing we have all but destroyed the natural balance Tasmania is an excellent example for taking responsibility in the era of globalisation and should be used as a template rather than being attacked.

It is not my ideal, but with a backdrop of reality Tasmanians have given much for not a lot in return.

So my bottom line, there needs to be balanced consideration and the fruit loops have no clue. Same with Wild Rivers.
Posted by TheMissus, Wednesday, 18 November 2009 11:48:18 AM
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For more than 30 years, there has been an intense conflict over forestry. This conflict has set sections of our society against each other, and has created division and uncertainty. As we grapple with the global financial crisis, climate change, and a world full of uncertainty – we should ask the question as to whether we are capable of solving the issue that has divided us.
Is a solution to the conflict over forestry possible?

Clearly establishing plantations and reserving forest has not created a solution. In 1989, magnificent stands of tall wet eucalypt forest were reserved when Tasmania’s World Heritage was increased to cover 20% of the State. These forests are now forgotten.
When that didn’t work the National Forest Policy Statement was designed to resolve the conflict. National criteria was developed for reserves, and implemented through the Regional Forest Agreement and Tasmanian Community forest agreement (see )

Yet having 47% of its native forests reserved including a million hectares of old growth, has not stopped Tasmania’s reputation being trashed in a bid for more reserves. The latest ambit claim includes reserving “wilderness’ that visitors can experience without leaving a bitumen road.
So perhaps the first step to a solution is not reserving more forests but as the author points out, not being deceitful. It is time for the wilderness society to tell the truth.

The Society solicits more than $10 million each year in tax deductible donations to ‘protect and promote’ wilderness. In Tasmania, 97% of high quality wilderness is reserved yet struggling for resources for effective management, the taxpayer has already forked out over $100 million, but education, health care and vital infrastructure are desperately needed.
The wilderness society’s major expenditure in Tasmania is against a pulp mill; a factory approved to the latest environmental design, to be built in a heavy industrial estate,it will have no impact on Wilderness or old growth and will save more than a million tonnes of Greenhouse gas each year.

Telling the truth is a prerequisite in ending this decisive debate!
Posted by cinders, Wednesday, 18 November 2009 12:03:29 PM
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Whilst I have strong reservations about forestry, and I'm particularly opposed to Gunn's pulp mill project, I am nonetheless appalled and outraged when Green-Left activists - who I would otherwise count as likeminded fellow travellers in many ways - resort to lies and distortions as iniquitous as any peddled by corporations and conservatives, whilst still assuming a mantle of piousness and purity of purpose.

Whilst my heart is more naturally inclined to the treehuggers and not the woodchoppers, it remains the fact that this is particularly true of anti-forestry campaigns.

A sterling example of such sophistry on OLO can also be found in this article: , which I tackled in the comments.

As much as I like trees, I dislike bullsh!t more.
Posted by Clownfish, Wednesday, 18 November 2009 12:05:04 PM
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