Mark Poynter, Victorian media spokesman, Institute of Foresters of Australia
Letter, The Age, 9/11/06
THE Wilderness Society's contention that native forest timber production enhances global warming ( The Age, 8/11) highlights the dangers of single-issue activism setting the environmental agenda.
Their claims are based on presumptions of permanent deforestation and unsustainability that are irrelevant to the Australian context where timber production is limited to within less than 10 per cent of forests being logged and regenerated on a sustainable cycle. While unlogged forests are valuable carbon sinks, sustainable timber production within designated zones can add substantially to this. The concept of sustainability dictates that harvested carbon transferred into wood products or lost to the atmosphere is replaced in vigorous new growth in previously harvested areas.
The enhanced sequestration of vigorous post-logging regrowth over and above the slow or static sequestration of older forests allows Victorian native forest timber production to provide an overall net gain in carbon storage that is currently estimated to be seven to eight times greater than the emissions being saved by wind farms. Losing this benefit by closing the native forest industry would be an environmental tragedy that would largely counteract government and community initiatives to embrace cleaner energy.