28 January, 2007

LETTER: Fire in the forest

Peter Sheehan, Camberwell
The Age, 28/1/07

The report by Peter Weekes on the impact of timber harvesting on the Thompson catchment (21/1) is a good illustration of the difficulties surrounding this issue. By far the greatest is to get accurate reporting of unbiased information. Mr Weekes reports projections of potential water yield based not on the real world but on the assumption that the catchment will not eventually be burnt in a wildfire.

The catchment was burnt out in 1939 and very nearly was again in the recent bushfires. We might be able to save it from future fires but, based on history and ecology, that is unlikely.

A fair comparison would be to model the expected water yields from the forest with and without timber harvesting assuming that it is burnt by a wildfire at least once each century.

It is not clear whether it is the hydrologists or a reporter that are determined to give the timber industry another few kicks but it is high time that the public was given a more compete picture.

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