13 June, 2007

LETTER: Logging helps the environment

Scott Gentle, Victorian state manager, Timber Communities Australia
The Weekly Times, 13 June 2007.

On World Environment Day I decided to take a trip to see how the carbon extraction facility up the road was going. Upon arrival I was greeted by one of the carbon utilisation experts, who guided me around the plant and showed me how they produced carbon storage units. Where was I? No, not at some high-technology factory, but a timber harvesting operation in the state forest.

The carbon utilisation expert was a timber harvesting contractor and the carbon storage unit a log. People need to realise that while planting trees is part of the solution in slowing climate change, by using wood and paper products from forest operations that are sustainably managed they are doing even more for the environment.

This means cutting down trees. Once they are cut down, the carbon within them is stored in the wood, whether it be turned into paper or timber. This is where Australia’s forests are at the top of the ladder, because they are managed with strict regulations to ensure that they are replanted with trees for future harvests. These trees are harvested at 60 to 100 years old, al an age before the tree starts to decline and release carbon.

If they are left there forever, they will eventually release the carbon they have stored. On top of this we have a growing plantation base that will absorb and store even more carbon.

I am not attacking alternative attempts to raise awareness of the matter of climate change, but want people to realise that forestry, when practised as it is in Victoria, is a benefit to the environment and not a threat as some would have you believe.

11 June, 2007

AGE LETTER: Storing carbon

Letter in The Age, Sunday 11 June 2007

I could not contain my anger when reading Scott Gentle's letter about "natural carbon storage" (The Age, 10/6). Allow me to firstly correct this spokesman for the timber industry. While a certain amount of carbon is indeed stored in timber when a tree is cut down, a great deal of carbon is also released by the decomposition of all the leaf matter, smaller branches and roots that the loggers can't profit from and thus leave behind.

Further, any timber or timber product — including paper — that is subsequently burnt releases still further carbon. But let's be serious for a moment. Does Mr Gentle argue that cutting down trees to store the carbon as timber furniture is more effective than simply allowing the tree to live?

Please, stick with your tired old lines about loggers' jobs. Arguing for deforestation on environmental grounds is not your forte and is an insult to anyone with an IQ above 30.

10 June, 2007

AGE LETTER: Natural carbon storage

Scott Gentle, Victorian manager, Timber Communities Australia
Letter to The Age, Saturday 10 June 2007

On World Environment Day (5/6), I decided to take a trip to see how the carbon extraction facility up the road was going.

Where was I? No, not at some high-technology factory, but a timber harvesting operation in a state forest. The carbon utilisation expert was a timber harvesting contractor and the carbon storage unit a log.

People need to realise that while planting trees is part of the solution in slowing climate change, by using wood and paper products from forest operations that are sustainably managed they are doing even more to help the environment. This means cutting down trees. Once trees are cut down, the carbon within them is stored in the wood, whether it be turned into paper or timber.


07 June, 2007

LETTER: Environment as cheap as chips

Don Owen, Hawthorn East
The Age, 7 June 2007

Coming back along the Princes Highway after a visit to the NSW south coast last week, we were staggered by the huge number of trucks loaded with logs coming out of Victoria bound for the Eden woodchip terminal.

I heartily agree with the sentiments expressed by Peter Campbell (The Age 6/6) in his concerns for what such a massive logging operation is having on biodiversity, endangered species, catchment water loss and greenhouse emissions. Isn't it time we considered these concerns as being more important than that of supplying the Japanese with woodchips made from old-growth forest for uses such as wrapping and toilet paper?

05 June, 2007

THE AGE: Greenhouse report points finger at Indonesia

REUTERS, Jakarta, June 5, 2007

Indonesia is among the world's top three greenhouse gas emitters because of deforestation, peat land degradation and forest fires, a World Bank and British Government climate change report says.

Increasing global temperatures had already caused prolonged drought as well as heavy rainfall with flooding and tidal waves in Indonesia, putting the archipelago's rich biodiversity at risk, said the report, released yesterday.

"Emissions resulting from deforestation and forest fires are five times those from non-forestry emissions," it said. "Emissions from energy and industrial sectors are relatively small, but are growing very rapidly. This may lead to harmful effects on agriculture, fishery and forestry, resulting in threats to food security and livelihoods."

The report precedes this week's G8 summit in Germany, where global warming is a big item on the agenda.

Indonesia's total annual carbon dioxide emissions stand at 3.014 billion tonnes, the United States, which is the world's top emitter, is at 6.005 billion tonnes, followed by China at 5.017 billion tonnes, according to the report.

Indonesia's yearly carbon dioxide emissions from energy, agriculture and waste are around 451 million tonnes, and forestry and land use change are estimated to account for a staggering 2.563 billion tonnes, said the report, Indonesia and Climate Change: Current Status and Policies.

Indonesia's rainforests are being stripped rapidly because of illegal logging and palm oil plantations for bio-fuels, and some environmentalists say they could be wiped out altogether within the next 15 years. According to some estimates, the country's forests, a treasure trove of plant and animal species, including the endangered orang-utans, have already shrunk by an estimated 72 per cent.

Forest fires, often deliberately lit by farmers as well as timber and oil palm plantation owners, are a regular occurrence on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo during the dry season.

Indonesia's neighbours have grown increasingly frustrated by Jakarta's failure to tackle the annual dry season fires. Last year these fires triggered fears of a repeat of the months of choking haze in 1997-98, which cost the region billions.

"Indonesia's lowland tropical forests, the richest in timber resources and biodiversity, are most at risk," said the report. "Fires from peat land have become the largest contributor to haze."

Indonesia will host the next annual Kyoto Protocol meeting in Bali in December.

The World Bank report said perhaps the largest risk for Indonesia from climate change was decreased food security because of changes in rainfall patterns and soil moisture.


04 June, 2007

LETTER: Logging native forest is not on

Peter Campbell, Surrey Hills
Letter, The Age, 4 June 2007

The recent high score awarded to the logging industry by the EPA for complying with environmental requirements (Age, Business 4/6) unfortunately doesn't take into account the huge impact that logging and burning native forests has on biodiversity, the survival of endangered species such as Leadbeaters Possum, or the resulting loss of water from our catchments.

Reporting high compliance levels with the weak and substandard Code of Forest Practice is hardly a commendable outcome. I have witnessed at first hand numerous breaches of the Code, and the rampant forest destruction that results even when the Code is adhered to. For example,
most habitat trees left recently logged Yalmy forests in East Gippsland have now died.

The Government is wasting a lot of taxpayers money doing questionable audits on an industry now almost exclusively focussed on producing low-value woodchips that are nearly all exported. The audits don't include the huge carbon emissions that result when the logged forests are burnt. These native forests should be protected both to address climate change, and to ensure they can be enjoyed by future generations. Treating them like de facto plantations is just not on.

Logging audit gets high score

THE AGE: Logging audit gets high score

Philip Hopkins
The Age, Business Section, June 4, 2007

The 2005-06 Environment Protection Authority audit of native forest harvesting has found a 93 per cent compliance with the Victorian Government's environmental requirements.

The main aim of the audit is to assess compliance with the Code of Forest Practices. The state's commercial forestry arm, VicForests, is now responsible for the harvest and regeneration of native forest areas.

A total of 45 coupes, about 10 per cent of those harvested in 2005-06, were evaluated, including six in Melbourne's water supply catchments. A coupe is a designated logging area of between five and 40 hectares.

Assessment criteria included the potential risk to the environment from slopes, soil erosion and the silvicultural system used, and special land protection requirements.

The EPA audit found the average coupe score for code compliance was 93 per cent, higher than the 2005 audit (91 per cent) and higher than the coupe scores of previous audits (90 per cent in 2004 and 87 per cent in 2003).

Coupe scores ranged from 80 per cent to 100 per cent. The best performing region was Latrobe, which averaged 96 per cent for 17 coupes.

The audit team observed a number of positive practices. These included the quality and detail of documentation, greater attention to habitat tree retention, improvements in boundary tracks and improvements in rainforest identification.

No severe environmental impacts were recorded, but six major, 43 moderate and 27 minor impacts were found, mainly in roading, reserved area protection buffers, snig and forwarding tracks and log landings.

In general, more than 90 per cent compliance was found in coupe planning, landscape values, water yield protection, habitat trees, management of flora and fauna areas and reserved area protection buffers.

Code areas where non-compliance was more persistent were log landings and dumps, boundary tracks and reserved area protection filters. A total of 15 coupes (33 per cent) did not comply with soil standards.

Regeneration of 25 coupes harvested in 2002-03 were found to be 88 per cent compliant with the code, with 16 coupes (64 per cent) fully compliant.

A spokesman for the Australian Conservation Foundation said the ACF had not had the time to assess the audit.

The EPA also announced that an independent review of the annual forest audit program would be undertaken this year and be completed by October.



THE AGE: Forestry groups back report

Philip Hopkins
The Age, Business Section, June 4, 2007

Forestry bodies have welcomed the recognition by the Prime Minister's emissions trading task group of forestry's role as a weapon against the threat of climate change.

A3P, the National Association of Forest Industries and TPA said they were pleased that the task group acknowledged timber's role as a carbon offset and as a storer of carbon through timber products.

The Kyoto Protocol assumes that all carbon within a tree is emitted on harvest, but the task group states that carbon remains locked in the timber until it decays.

A3P is the body for the plantation pine and paper industry, while NAFI represents the native forest sector and TPA plantation hardwood companies.

A3P chief executive Neil Fisher said objections to the inclusion of plantations in abatement schemes usually centred on water use. However, revegetation had a negligible impact on water availability, he said.

Also, accounting was not as difficult as claimed. The NSW greenhouse gas abatement scheme had successfully acknowledged the carbon sequestered in new forests.

Mr Fisher said the report also recognised the potential impact on emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries, such as the pulp and paper sector.

He welcomed two other recommendations:

  • The proposed allocation of permits over five years to offset emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries.
  • Any emissions trading scheme must be broad in scope and capture as much of the economy as possible.
NAFI's chief executive, Catherine Murphy, said she was particularly pleased that the task group recognised that Australia could lead the world in accounting carbon in harvested wood products. This fact was not recognised in the Kyoto Protocol.

"In fact, if half of Australia's new homes were built predominantly with wood products, over 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions could be saved," Ms Murphy said.

TPA's chief executive, Allan Hansard, said the industry was ready to move forward in trading carbon offsets.

"Tree plantations are sequestering over 20 million tonnes of CO2 each year," he said.

A working group was co-operating with government on an industry-based carbon certification scheme.

"Carbon credits must also be tradeable and have a guaranteed life," Mr Hansard said.

The task group says a national emissions trading scheme could be up and running in Australia by 2011.



Original article