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Governments fail to see the value of old growth forests other than for "management"

Governments fail to see the value of forests when they can't see the trees as anything but resources to plunder, or "manage", for economic benefits and jobs.

Tasmania's forest industry has rejected a Greens plan to ban logging in high conservation value forests.  The Greens says 300 jobs would be lost but more than 700 created through the strategy.  Even job creation is not enough to move the die-hard destructive mentality.  Both Labor and Liberals support Gunns pulp mill and neither is proposing any new forest reserves.

Mr Bartlett signalled that on the hot topic of forestry, Labor wanted to ensure the logging of old-growth forests would continue in the long-term.  I believe old-growth will always be part of Tasmania's (forestry) mix.

The manufacture and sale of high value products from special timbers provides employment for more than 2,000 Tasmanians and generates about $70 million for the state each year.   The vast majority of wood from these forests (approximately 80%) goes into short lived products such as paper and cardboard which decompose and release carbon very quickly. So, carbon storage in wood products can never make up for the loss of carbon storage in old growth forests.

An alliance of forestry companies in Tasmania has launched an advertising campaign warning of the risks to the economy if all old growth logging is stopped.  Forests remain silent inside the consciousness of people who are environmentally illiterate! 

Governments fail to see the value of forests when they can't see the trees as anything but resources to plunder, or "manage", for economic benefits and jobs.

Who will publicise the risks to our heritage, our air, water, homeless native wildlife,  and additional greenhouse gas emissions when old-growth forests are destroyed?  By their very nature, these trees take hundreds of years to replace themselves, yet we, the public, are supposed to be so myopic that the ephemeral financial returns from logging old growth forests should over-ride the value of these ancient sentinels, guarding the wealth of natural ecosystems?

It may appear as if nothing is changing in forests, but countless natural cycles are silently at work every day and night. Old growth forests have a high level of biodiversity, and logging  causes disturbances and destruction.

Conserving the nation's forests and woodlands is one the easiest, cheapest and fastest ways that we can start to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve carbon storage.

Many of the RFA old growth forests protected in Tasmania consist of trees of little use to the timber industry. Despite repeated requests for solid evidence supporting such ‘statistics’ as “90% of the Upper Florentine Valley is reserved from logging,” data and maps supporting such claims have failed to materialise. We do know, however, that most of the ‘protected’ country in the Upper Florentine consists of buttongrass, scrub and high-altitude moorlands, with very few tall-eucalypt forests reserved.  Only 22% of Tasmania’s original tall-eucalypt forests have been reserved. 

Tasmania is the largest exporter of woodchips in Australia, exporting more than all the other states combined. 

This year, ironically, is the UN Year of Biodiversity, and next year is the Year of Forests.

As our population swells, more natural resources such as forests will be considered as assets to plunder for economic benefits!  Our natural heritage, and ecosystems, are continually under threat from industry and developments.

We are already world-leaders in wildlife extermination, and Tasmania is famous for the genocide of its indigenous people, destroying Lake Pedder, exterminating the Tasmanian Tiger and for the current threats to the Tasmanian Devil.   Logging native forests destroys homes, creates stress and robs wildlife of habitat. We humans are not part of their ecosystems, and removing trees increases fire risks.

Unless we declare all our old-growth forests and remaining native vegetation as part of our national park system, the logging mafia will continue to threaten, bully and dominate our State governments.


(Photo: devastation at the Styx old growth forests - Wikipedia commons)

A recent poll shows the Labor government of Premier David Bartlett is in trouble, with the Greens polling well. Unless there is a late surge in support for David Bartlett's Labor or Will Hodgman's Liberals, one or other of them will be governing in minority after March 20, ending 12 years of ALP majority rule.

People can relocate, retrain and be resourced in other industries.  Trees up to hundreds of years old cannot be replaced overnight, despite how "sustainable" the logging is supposed to be! 

(photo: Styx logging sign)

Our old-growth forests do not owe us, non-indigenous people of Australia, a livelihood.   We owe it to next generations a nation with its natural wealth intact and viable through preservation, and honouring our heritage and non-human species.

Comments

Wow - both major seat-holding parties support Gunn's pulp mill. Lovely. So much the same these two parties! It is so weak of Australia to be selling wood chip to say, Japan, yeah? Meanwhile, Japan preserve their native forests. Goodness me.

Liberal and labor are just factions of the same ideology.

On 11 Feb 2010, former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull crossed the floor of Federal Parliament to vote in support of Labor's emissions trading scheme.

Former Liberal leader Malcolm Fraser on the ABC 730 Report 22nd February 2010 when asked about his political relationship with Labor's Gough Whitlam, replied: "Well, he's got an idea of Australia that at the end of the day I don't think is all that far removed from my idea of Australia."

Both Liberal and Labor support Gunns pulp mill.
I wouldn't be surprised if Liberal preferences went to Labor and vice versa.

Compare for yourself:

Australian Labor's platform

Australian Liberal beliefs

Tasmanian Liberal Philosophy

Tasmania's Labor campaign

JM

The Tasmanian population is split between those earnestly wanting to conserve our precious Old Growth Forests and those wanting to destroy them for financial gain. Sometimes the division spills over into violence.

For one of the most repulsive examples of bad behaviour by forest workers against peaceful environmental protectors, have a look at the U-Tube video here at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzm1RBqCFWE but please be warned that the viciousness shown and the language used are extreme.

As at March 30th, 2010 the men seen attacking the two confined and helpless victims are before the court.

You may read more in the Tasmanian Times article here: http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/forestry-worker-admits-rampage/ which starts as follows:

"UPDATE: A TASMANIAN logging contractor admitted he “went on a rampage” when protesters blocked a forestry road, a court has heard.

"Rodney Arthur Howells, 51, of Orford, told police in a video-recorded interview that he used a sledgehammer to smash up an old car while two protesters were inside the vehicle which blocked a road in the Upper Florentine Valley ... "

Peter Bright
Hobart
Tasmania

Unlike many places in the world the Tarkine remains as a hidden treasure and a forgotten wilderness. This expanse of uninterrupted 477,000 hectares of Tarkine wilderness holds ancient relics both plants and animals dating back millennia, and unique habitats not found anywhere else.

Home to numerous threatened or endangered plant and animal species and with almost no introduced predators, the Tarkine has long held a special significance for Indigenous communities, said to have inhabited the area up to 10,000 years ago.

Peter Garrett gave the Tarkine wilderness a one-year emergency listing, which Mr Burke let expire. Since then he has let a British mining company test drill in the area. A leaked report suggested he ignored recommendations from the Australian Heritage Council to have the wilderness area included on the heritage list.

Mr Burke's department had approved a plan by a subsidiary of British miner Beacon Hill Resources to drill 48 holes in the area's magnesite karst -- a landscape of fissures, caves, caverns, sinkholes and underground streams -- found by the report to be "globally rare" and fragile.

Shree Minerals applied to Mr Burke's department on February 16 for environmental approval for a magnetite and hematite mine in the same area. Venture Minerals is also known to be looking to develop a tin, tungsten and magnetite deposit.

Andrew MacIntosh from the environmental law department at the Australian National University says the timing of the announcement is "somewhat curious", in reference to Mr Burke also announcing the environmental approval for a Gunns pulp mill project.

There will be a period of "community consultation" to decide whether to re-instate the Tarkine it's Australian Heritage Listing status. He said The Australian Heritage Council has stated very clearly that the wilderness values of the Tarkine have to be considered as a whole.

So putting a mine in the Tarkine area affects the wilderness values associated with the whole region.

"Community consultation" is a euphemism for asking for public submissions, to get the appropriate ticks, and then do what you were going to do anyway! Environmental, heritage values, indigenous sites, ancient forests, public values, endangered animals, tourism and sacred places of great intrinsic worth are no longer necessarily safe from market forces and the resources boom.

As the Minister FOR the Environment, Tony Burke should show some integrity and vote against commercial exploits, and ensure the Tarkine's long-term protection, not the contrary.