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Victorian foresters celebrating 'World Forestry Day' - bring your chainsaw!

© 2008 Friends of the Earth Kuranda

World Forestry Day is another annual celebration of some cause that in this case captures 21st March each year. The concept sounds noble on the DSE site: "World Forestry Day has been celebrated around the world for 30 years to remind communities of the importance of forests and the many benefits which we gain from them. The concept of having a World Forestry Day originated at the 23rd General Assembly of the European Confederation of Agriculture in 1971."

Hang on a second! A "Confederation of Agriculture" here suggests a different set of values than a ecological respect for forests. But I let the Victorian Government's Dept of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) site continue:

"Forests provide many valuable things for the whole community. These include fresh water from forested catchments, a safe home for our flora and fauna, timber for our homes, furniture and paper, beautiful scenery and rugged environments for those who enjoy the outdoors, pollen and nectar for honey production, and archaeological and historical sites."

"Today, Victoria has an area of approximately 22.7 million hectares. About 40% is public land, meaning that it is owned by the State and managed by the government. There are about 4.8 million hectares of publicly owned native forest which is divided into the following categories: National parks and reserves - 1.7 million hectares, State forest - 3.1 million hectares."

"Less than one third of Victoria’s state forests are available for timber harvesting and these forests produce more than two million cubic metres of wood products which return about $50 million in revenue to the State."

Ah Ha! So it's all about revenue FROM our native forests, not a about being FOR our native forests! So why not just rename this greenwashing 'World Forestry Day' what it really is: a celebration of logging - and rename it 'World Logging Day'?

DSE on its site suggests: 'What can I do on World Forestry Day?"
..well children (it targets school children):
"Celebrate World Forestry Day by visiting your local forests and learning more about the many contributions they make to our well-being. For further information and ideas, see our Forest Education Information." This link then takes the children directly to the 'For Schools;' section of its website which sends a key mesage to students that 'forests have many different uses and values." A second link takes children direct to the hardcore logging site of the Department of Primary Industries".

Forests should be celebrated in their natural state, not by their exploitative revenue potential. Pity that we are now celebrating these in islands and outside the mainstream media. The contrasting ‘Earth Hour’ hype of late seems so token, yet attracts such mainstream publicity and has even Peter Garrett as its cheerleader! But beyond people thinking about turning off lights, Earth Hour pales in addressing irreversible planet damage compared with any day that recognizes the value of global forests.

Recognising natural undisturbed forests and the ‘green carbon’ benefits they contribute to a healthy global future is more important than token politics. As advocated by Professor Brendan Mackey in an article in EEG’s The Potoroo Review (current Spring/Summer 2008-09 edition, p9), “estimates that around 9.3 billion tones of carbon can be stored in the 14.5 million hectares of eucalypt forest in southeast Australia IF THEY ARE LEFT UNDISTURBED.”

While one supports the celebration of native forests in their natural place, the drawback of World Forestry Day is that the forestry industry has corrupted the word ‘forestry’ into a vernacular meaning of ‘exploitation value’. If one types in ‘World Forestry Day’ to Google (global), one gets the following disturbing presences:

Hit 1: DSE (say no more)
http://www.dse. DSE/nrenfor. nsf/childdocs/ -8E773CD126CA227 04A256AA40000EDE E-034EBCC6B1670D 984A256AA40011A9 F8?open

Hit 2: NSW Department of Primary Industries | Forests (a chainsaw endorsed site)
http://www.forest. publication/ forest_facts/ celebrating_ trees_forests/ default.asp

Hit 3: Global Education, but linked to DSE (after scrolling down the page)
http://www.forest. publication/ forest_facts/ celebrating_ trees_forests/ default.asp

Hit 4: Better Health Victoria (another Victorian government website again)
http://www.betterhealth.vic. bhcevent. nsf/pages/ DF43C04B6CC6D19E CA257250007C8F46 ?opendocument

So Australian state governments’ greenwashing has set up prime presence. But also NAFI ( Australia ’s Association of Forestry Industries) http://www.nafi. view.php3? id=1730

So the motives for World Forestry Day seem nothing more than pro-logging.

The term ‘Existence value’ deserves to be further explored and promulgated, so we can develop a greater non-utilitarian value of our natural and now rare forests. Our precious forest exists for their own sake, the forest ecosystems they support and of which we have so little comprehension of their global existence value and scarcity.