08 September, 2006

LETTER: Simplistic take on logging and water

Mark Poynter, Victorian media spokesman, The Institute of Foresters of Australia
The Age, 8/9/06

Recent correspondents (Letters, 1/9 and 7/9) who simplistically advocate excluding regrowth as a solution to our water problems have seemingly forgotten the recent massive bushfires in north-eastern Victoria and the Grampians.

That these have sparked regrowth events that will reduce stream flows for several generations clearly demonstrates that nature, not a tiny amount of logging, is the ultimate determinant of how much flows into our storages.

If anti-logging activists were serious about water beyond it being just a convenient argument for their agenda, they would rethink their opposition to active catchment management.


07 September, 2006

LETTER: Logging our way to a long, hot summer

Ellen Sandell, East Brunswick
The Age, 7 September 2006

With an increased risk of bushfires this summer due to lower than average rainfall ( The Age, 5/9), the CFA has questioned whether there will be enough water to deal with the fire season.

As logging in our water catchments loses 1000 litres of water every second, perhaps if we stopped logging we would have enough water to fight bushfires! Logging also increases the risk of bushfires as old, damp forests are replaced with young, dry regrowth. Perhaps if we just left our old-growth trees alone we wouldn't be complaining about water restrictions, bushfires and climate change.

01 September, 2006

LETTER: Why lug buckets if we continue to log our forests?

Lee O'Mahoney, Diamond Creek
Letter to the Editor, The Age
September 1, 2006

Once again, we're being asked to shower with a friend, lug buckets of water around and rinse our brushed teeth with a smidgen of water. Fair enough. I support us developing more respect and care for our water resources.

But there's a glaring anomaly, one that the Government is loathe to acknowledge: changes we make to our showering, gardening and tooth-brushing habits are mere drops in the dam of our dwindling water supplies when trees in our water catchments continue to be logged.

Logged forests suck up 50 per cent more water compared with areas that aren't logged. Young trees are off-the-wagon waterholics compared with oldies. What's more, there's simply no need for it: supplies from plantations that aren't in our water catchments are sufficient to meet our needs for wood and woodchips.

Come on, Mr Bracks, put our water where your mouth is. Stop stealing water from our water catchments and reducing our already scarce supplies.

Original letter

ARTICLE: Forestry row taken to the marginals

Ellen Whinnett
Sunday Herald Sun, September 1, 2006

Environment groups are planning a high-profile pre-election battle to have logging banned in vast tracts of Victorian forest.

A coalition of environment groups will launch its campaign shortly. They will focus on important marginal seats held by both the Liberal and Labor parties in an effort to have their message heard.

Areas in Gippsland are shaping up as the next forest battleground. Environmental groups are concerned about wood-chipping in old-growth forests, logging in water catchments, and the impact of the loss of habitat on 12 endangered species of birds, animals and frogs. The group wants clear-felling banned in all Victorian forests and all logging ended in areas worthy of conservation.

The move could set the scene for a repetition of the conflict in the Otways forests in the lead-up to the 2002 election. This eventually led Premier Steve Bracks to agree to phase out logging in the Otways by 2008.

Campaign spokesman Luke Chamberlain, from Environment East Gippsland, said two years had been spent mapping significant areas of forest that he said should be protected from logging. He said Victoria's state-owned forests were being turned over to woodchips, which were mainly sent for export and were no longer providing a great number of jobs. "It's a land grab to turn the old-growth forests into woodchip farms," Mr Chamberlain said.

Environment groups involved in the coalition, including the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Wilderness Society and the Central Highlands Alliance, will focus on several marginal seats in regional Victoria and suburban Melbourne. They include Labor's Ferntree Gully, Mt Waverley, Prahran, Mordialloc, Bentleigh and South Barwon, and Liberal marginals Nepean, South-West Coast and Bass.

They hope to reinforce the message that logging in catchment areas is continuing while water restrictions are being introduced in Melbourne.

Mr Chamberlain denied that the group would automatically support the Greens, saying they would endorse whichever party had the strongest environmental policy. But he said the Greens' policies were the best they had seen so far.

Independent MLA for the seat of Gippsland East, Craig Ingram, said the group was seeking to end all old-growth logging in his electorate, which would jeopardise up to 500 jobs. "Basically 85 per cent of old-growth is already reserved," Mr Ingram said.

He said banning logging in old-growth forests would affect the industry "everywhere east of Bairnsdale", and would hit saw-millers hard. The issue was important to voters in the timber towns of Cann River and Orbost and on into Bairnsdale. "It would be absolutely devastating to my community -- basically, death by a thousand cuts," Mr Ingram said. "It really has the potential to be a winner or a loser at the election, and I'd call on the major political parties to hold the line and protect the industry."

Mr Ingram said the environmental group was highly organised and had been putting serious pressure on all MPs. "They are spending as much time in Parliament House as some of the members of Parliament," Mr Ingram said."

Original article