04 November, 2002

LETTER: Getting it wrong on logging

Mark Poynter, forestry consultant, Alphington
The Age, 04/11/02

As logging is restricted to the less than 15 per cent of Victoria's native forests that are legally available and suitable for timber production, Brian Walters' statement that "our forests are being seriously overlogged" is fundamentally incorrect.

His call for more forests to be protected also demonstrates a lack of understanding of "overlogging", which is the harvesting of these available forests at a rate faster than the optimum required for sustainable production. Recognition that the available forests were being logged too quickly resulted from updated growth information - and was not caused by "an industry that demands more than our forests can provide".

As for Walters' economic arguments, these are flawed by understating the native forest woodchip price by a factor of almost 100, and overstating the "commercial" price for plantation woodchips by about 100 per cent.

Walters should consider the morality of pushing to stop timber production in a minor portion of our forests, while at the same time being part of a society that consumed 21 million cubic metres of log volume last year.

LETTER: Green - or just greenish

Andrew Walker, Lawyers for Forests, Parkville
The Age, 04/11/02

Brian Walters (Opinion 1/11) has hit the nail on the head regarding Environment Minister Sherryl Garbutt's "moratorium" on logging the Goolengook Forest.

While the moratorium is a positive move, Garbutt has indicated the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council will be asked to advise whether other already protected forest can be swapped for Goolengook and logged, if Goolengook is saved. This perpetuates the myth that the government is bound to find replacement forest if forest previously identified as available for logging is subsequently protected under a Regional Forest Agreement - something that is simply not true.

If the Bracks Government is serious about saving Goolengook, and establishing its green credentials, it should examine whether logging of old-growth and high-conservation forest can be phased out. Otherwise it is difficult to see how minister Garbutt's announcement amounts to anything but greenwash.