26 December, 2007
Letter to the editor, The Weekly Times, 26 December 2007
While it is impossible to respond to all of Lorraine Leach’s (WE December 19) half-truths in the limited space available, it is important to contradict several of her untruths about Victoria’s forests.
First, Victoria is not alone in harvesting some of its native forests. Tasmania, NSW and Western Australia all have ongoing sustainable native hardwood timber industries.
Queensland is phasing out its public native forests over a 25-year period, in favour of eucalypt plantations that are being established at great taxpayer expense.
Secondly, contrary to her claim that a third of Melbourne’s catchments have been logged over the past 30 years, sustainable timber production is, in fact, permitted within just a net 13 per cent portion.
If Ms Leach really believes there is an unabated rush to exploit the last of Victoria’s forests, she urgently needs to take a drive to acquaint herself with the 91 per cent of our forests that are in national parks and reserves, or are just unsuitable for timber production.
26 December 2007, The Age
Older garden-lovers strain to lift buckets of grey water; pensioners scrimp to buy water tanks. The water companies sell the water saved for sportsgrounds; sell our aquifers; plan to build desalination plants on beautiful areas of coastline.
Greed leads to trees being cut down in water catchment areas; megalitres of water allocated to service pulp mills and coal-fired power stations. Pensioners become crippled, gardens die; shareholders grow fat. Isn't privatisation wonderful?
24 December, 2007
Letter to the editor, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 December 2007
A young girl is arrested, charged, fined and forced to pay compensation after attempting to save a forest from logging ("Tree-sitting activist wins high praise from judge", December 22). Even her judge can't help but offer praise for her efforts.
Her opponent was not even a person, just a legal entity, a corporation - little more than a piece of paper. And we created it. We gave it the same legal rights as a person, and worse, we obliged it by law to put the profits of its shareholders over all other concerns - be they social, environmental or otherwise.
We created monsters that have become our own worst enemy and nothing is being done about that because corporations wouldn't like that.
Matt Caine, Tamarama
Holly Creenaune proves once and for all that nice gels do climb trees. More power to you, Holly.
Letter to the editor, The Age, 24/12/07
IT'S heartening to hear that the incredible work and worth of activists is beginning to be recognised ("Magistrate so impressed by woman in the tree that Holly gets off lightly", The Age, 22/12). Holly Creenaune is an amazing young individual who has devoted much of her life to making our world a better place, and her anti-logging activism charges were rightly dismissed by magistrate Jelena Popovic.
I applaud this decision, and the invaluable work that environmental and social justice activists carry out in Australia. Let's hope that those standing up for a better world begin to have their efforts praised and respected too, instead of disrupted, dismissed and persecuted.
It is an outrage that the State Government is still logging the breathtaking forests in East Gippsland that Holly and so many others are still fighting to protect — the struggle to save our planet continues.
22 December, 2007
December 22, 2007 [http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/magistrate-so-impressed-by-woman-in-the-tree-that-holly-gets-offlightly/2007/12/21/1198175340714.html?page=fullpage Source]
To some, the young woman atop the tree-sit tripod in the Victorian old-growth forest was just another unemployed feral greenie disrupting legitimate workers.
However, Holly Creenaune's appearance last week in a Melbourne court, after her arrest on January 17 last year in the Goongerah Forest logging coupe in East Gippsland, moved one of Victoria's most senior magistrates to exercise a rarely used discretionary power.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Jelena Popovic dismissed charges of obstructing a road and obstructing an officer (Creenaune having pleaded guilty), rejected an application for Creenaune to pay $1900 compensation, and described her as a "remarkable young woman".
"I have to say I've never had the opportunity to meet somebody like Miss Creenaune, who has worked consistently and effectively in relation to improving our environment and maintaining the environment," Ms Popovic said.
"I don't know that I'll ever meet anyone again with the same passion, drive and ability, and I suspect that it won't be the last time I hear the name," she said.
"Next time I'll know how to pronounce it." A CV tendered by Creenaune's lawyer, Vanessa Bleyer, alerted Ms Popovic to the fact that she had a unique offender before her.
It was a CV that might motivate some, or put others to shame.
Creenaune, 23, Victorian-born but now living in Sydney, started a school conservation club when she was 12. As a teenager she worked for Rotary in a Brazil orphanage, and later she co-ordinated 2000 young people for Australia's largest environmental sustainability conference.
She was the recipient this year of the University of Technology Sydney human rights award, presented by Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court.
It denoted Creenaune's commitment to a range of social justice and human rights organisations and activities, including indigenous rights, climate change and environmental justice.
Now in her final year of a law and journalism degree, Creenaune said that her parents, both teachers, were not "greenies or lefties" or even activists.
"What they fostered in me as teachers was to use critical thinking skills, to read a newspaper and look beyond and take a critical eye to issues," she said.
When ordered from the tree-sit, Creenaune refused unless VicForest, the Government's commercial forestry arm, stopped logging.
Her parents, shocked when the prosecution summons lobbed, followed the progress of the charges and "reminded me every now and then to avoid a (criminal) record at all costs", Creenaune said.
Politics does not excite her — "my feet are firmly planted in organising" — but the Rudd Government now offered "wriggle room" for a stronger voice for communities, unions and environmental lobbyists.
"I am looking towards the new area of climate law," she said.
Ms Popovic ruled Creenaune's "exemplary" character as a significant factor in her dismissing the charges against her, but warned that she might not adopt the same line of reasoning if Creenaune reoffended.
Such forest activities were best left to the past, Ms Popovic advised Creenaune.
19 December, 2007
Letter to the editor, The Age, Wed 19 December 2007
Cross posted on Peter Campbell's state of the planet
Water Minister Tim Holding's assertion (Letters, 17/12) that the Government's water plan is cost effective and sustainable is questionable. The proposed desalination plant will consume most of Victoria's available renewable energy, which will lend impetus to the Government's ill-advised plan to build yet another brown coal-fired power station.
Incredibly, the Government is still allowing logging in the Thomson catchment, decreasing the quality and quantity of our water. Last week, logging started in the Armstrong catchment, closer to Melbourne. Stopping this logging would be much cheaper than producing desalinated water.
In 2002 extensive public consultation led to a move to develop plans to stop logging our catchments. Five years later it is still business as usual.
Our Melbourne house has been almost self-sufficient for water for more than five years, with 23,000 litres of tank storage.
The $3 billion to be spent on the desalination plant could equip about 600,000 households with tank systems that could provide more water than the plant's estimated production. Combined with recycling sewerage water and protecting our catchments, we may not even need desalination.
We also need improved consultation about options for Victoria's water, rather than unilateral decisions made in Spring Street following deliberations behind closed doors.
18 December, 2007
December 18, 2007, The Age
Many people can't see the wood for the trees in the greenhouse debate.
An uparalleled dermination to conserve tropical rainforests has been a welcome development from the UN climate change summit in Bali. But the recent call by Greens senator Christine Milne for Australia to "tackle our forestry emissions by stopping logging in Tasmania and Victoria" highlights the need to clearly differentiate between the damaging climate change implications of tropical deforestation and the benefits of sustainable Australian native forest wood production.
Deforestation in developing countries involves permanently removing forest cover in favour of some other agricultural land use. While it can produce wood, it is mostly conducted illegally and so represents an unregulated and unsustainable supply. The release of carbon from clearing and subsequent burning of vegetation, coupled with the loss of future carbon sequestration, led the 2006 Stern review to conclude that tropical deforestation is responsible for 18% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions.
Conversely, Australian wood production is best described as managed harvesting and regeneration, with the aim of maintaining native forest cover and wood supply in perpetuity. It is a legal, highly regulated and sustainable arm of forest management or forestry. Sustainable wood production makes a positive contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by transferring carbon from forests into storage in the community in an array of wood products while creating space in the forest for replacement trees to sequester more carbon.
It also reduces demand for rainforest timber imports that contribute to tropical deforestation.
Milne is certainly not the first to try to equate concerns about tropical deforestation and climate change with Australian wood production. Indeed, the mainstream environmental movement's fixation on closing Australia's native hardwood industry causes it to routinely misrepresent our wood production as a significant contributor to global warming. Just one example is the Wilderness Society's oft-repeated assertion that native forest timber harvesting in Victoria annually releases as much carbon as 2.4 million cars — an unsubstantiated claim that seemingly regards carbon removal in wood products as an emission and ignores the reality that logged areas are regenerated.
The environmental movement's promoted alternative is to "preserve" all forests in parks and reserves that will store carbon forever. But this is flawed by the reality that Australian forests rely on disturbance for their long-term renewal and so will always wax and wane as carbon stores subject to the influence of severe fire.
The striking contradiction of Australian anti-logging campaigns is that if ultimately successful, they would significantly diminish our capability to combat climate change.
Wood is the world's only naturally renewable building material. The carbon emissions associated with its production are hundreds of times less than alternatives such as steel and aluminium, and six to eight times less than concrete. Sustainably producing wood to displace the use of these alternatives is one of the best means of reducing net carbon emissions.
Timber harvesting transfers carbon from the forest into storage in the community in a range of products. Where harvesting is conducted within designated wood production forests at sustainable rates, there should be no net loss of carbon from the system due to simultaneous sequestration by regrowth from past logging and in yet-to-be harvested sections.
Consequently, sustainable wood production adds to net carbon stores and helps counter the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
And using part of our forests for wood production maintains them at a younger average age. The trees grow more vigorously, with enhanced rates of carbon sequestration compared with older forests.
The popularly promoted view that "old growth" forests must be preserved because of their carbon storage capability is somewhat compromised given that ageing trees are no longer growing and eventually become net carbon emitters as they decay and slowly die. In any case, they will inevitably be burnt and so will release much of their stored carbon.
Mark Poynter is the Victorian media spokesperson for the Institute of Foresters of Australia.
15 December, 2007
December 15, 2007 [Article source]
Countries will be paid to protect forests from logging, with the Bali conference adopting a proposal for the successor to the Kyoto Protocol to embrace deforestation.
The deal was proclaimed as beginning a new era in conservation, envisaging a multibillion-dollar forest carbon protection fund to reward developing nations for reducing logging.
The head of the Global Canopy Program, Andrew Mitchell, said Bali had become "the forest conference".
Money will immediately flow through to pilot forest protection projects.
The breakthrough heralded a new international approach to the environment, according to the chief negotiator for developing nations, Kevin Conrad. "I believe it's a first step to what we in society have to do in the future, which is create markets that value our environment."
Trading the carbon saved from reducing logging would create a new carbon credit market, Mr Conrad said. The move would require deeper emissions cuts from developed nations to help fund the trade.
"It's the first time we've really had an ecosystem service that's globally traded, that starts to deal with standing forests," Mr Conrad said.
"The industrialised world wants our wood, wants our cocoa, wants our coffee, and for us that means we've got to cut down forests."
Bali delegates endorsed a declaration stating the post-Kyoto deal should include "issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation" in developing countries.
The move offers a lifeline to the world's tropical forests, which are threatened by rampant logging.
The Kyoto Protocol did not extend to logging, and the decision was seen as a breakthrough for developing nations.
14 December, 2007
14 December 2007
While Brumby talks tough on climate change at Bali, Melbourne’s carbon stores and catchments are woodchipped
The Wilderness Society responded with shock today to news that the Brumby government has ignored pleas from environment groups and started logging in one of Melbourne’s water catchments.
“We are calling on the Premier to intervene immediately to stop the logging,” said Victorian Forest Campaigner Luke Chamberlain.
“Catchment logging will result in the loss of millions of litres of water and the release of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We are stunned that the Brumby government would log old growth forest in Melbourne’s water catchments during our worst ever drought and with the looming threat of climate change.”
“While Brumby talks tough on climate change at Bali, Australia’s biggest carbon stores are being destroyed for woodchips.”
“These trees safely store as much carbon as any on earth, and the logging, burning and soil disturbance releases vast amounts of global warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”
“Logging reduces water supplies into dams by up to 50% and it takes the forests up to 150 years to release as much water again.”
“98% of these trees which supply water and store carbon will now end up as woodchips, palettes and posts, all products which should instead come from Victoria’s massive plantation estate.”
Nestled between the Yarra Ranges National Park and the protected Upper Yarra catchment less than two hours drive east of Melbourne, the Armstrong catchment contains some of the most spectacular stands of unprotected old growth forest in Victoria and is one of Melbourne’s water catchments.
Further comment contact: Luke Chamberlain 0424 098 729
13 December, 2007
You can also send the same email to the various people who make the decisions. You could also phone them to express your concerns.
- This is a pristine unspoiled water catchment providing Melbourne with the purest drinking water - 2 billion litres per year, or 815 Olympic swimming pools.
- Forest within the Armstrong is scheduled for logging from Saturday 1 December 2007.
- A number of Melbourne’s water catchments were protected in the 19th and 20th Centuries, including the Maroondah and O’Shaughnessy.
- These areas were protected to the point where public access is prohibited. Fines up to $2,000 are enforced.
- The Armstrong catchment has the same aspects as protected catchments. However, it will be logged.
- Clearfell logging involves the broad scale clearing of forest areas and has a dramatic impact on the landscape.
- Clearfell logging is followed by a high-intensity burn, up to 1,000 degrees.
- It has been shown that clearfell reduces water flows by 50%. Also, it takes up to 250 years for the area to recover. This was shown by the Maroondah Experiment (Melbourne Water).
- When logging begins in the Armstrong, this catchment will be shut off from Melbourne’s water supply. This is so that logging can take place. This is to prevent pollution from the industrial scale of logging operation (soil sedimentation, erosion and fuel spills)
- It is a south-facing catchment and recieves a lot less heat from sun. It therefore contains a lot more moisture than other forest types.
- Water is 5 times more valuable in economic terms than woodchips used for paper.
- VicForests, the government agency responsible for sale of wood including from this area, made a net loss last year of $17,000. It is being propped up by taxpayer dollars.
- The government has made a significant net loss.
- The State government refuses to end the logging of Melbourne’s water catchments.
- The Shire of Yarra Ranges have unanimously passed motion in objection to the State government for the continued logging of water catchments.
- In this period of record-breaking drought, with Melbourne’s reservoirs at 40% it is ludicrous to be wasting water on this scale.
- This is publicly owned forest which should be protected to ensure Melbourne’s water security.
Victorian Minister for Environment
Hon. Gavin Jennings
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone - 9096 8830
Victorian Minister for Water
Email - email@example.com
Phone - 8684 8000
Tom Park, Managing Director and CEO
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone - 8540 2333
Jim Henneberry, Executive General Manager
Email – email@example.com
SHADOW MINISTERS (Liberal)
Shadow Minister for Environment
Andrea Coote MLC
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone - 9681 9555
Shadow Minister for Water
Hon. Louise Asher
Email - email@example.com
Phone - 9592 9799
Email (personal assistant) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone - 9235 7100
Department of Sustainaility and Environment (DSE)
Email - email@example.com
Phone - 9637 8765
- Logging rainforest within the Melbourne's domestic water supply catchments. Victorian Rainforest Networks, good maps and photos
11 December, 2007
Letter to Editor (not published)
We have a total of 22,500 litres of storage for rainwater collected from our house roof in Melbourne. We use the tank water for showers, the dishwasher, the laundry, the hot water system and garden watering.
We filled the rainwater tanks in late 2001 when we moved in after a house renovation. We have only added more Melbourne water a couple of times during severe drought periods. This means we have been basically self sufficient for water for around 5 years.
The $3 billion allocated by the Victorian Government for the Wonthaggi desalination plant could equip around 600,000 households with domestic rainwater tank systems that could provide up to 160 gigalitres of water per year that would otherwise be lost as storm water.
This equates to 165 days of Melbourne’s total water consumption based on the current daily usage, and it exceeds the estimated yearly production of 150gl from the proposed desalination plant.
We may not even need the desalination plant if:
- More rainwater tanks were in use
- The sewerage water currently flushed out from ocean outfalls was recycled.
- Logging in Melbourne’s water catchments ceased, which would yield another 30gl of water per year.
At the very least, we need radically improved public consultation about options for Melbourne’s and Victoria’s water strategy rather than unilateral decisions made in Spring Street following secret deliberations.
Yarra Ranges Shire Council will fight state government plans for two logging coupes in a key Melbourne water catchment area.
The council last month voted unanimously to oppose logging earmarked for the Armstrong and Cement Creek catchments and has vowed to take the fight to the Premier and Environment and Water ministers.
The catchments flow into the Upper Yarra Dam, Melbourne's third biggest.
The council says logging has a detrimental effect on water yield because regrowth trees need more water and affect water quality.
Cr Samantha Dunn said it was poor policy to log water catchments, particularly in a time of record low inflows.
The State Government's commercial forestry arm, VicForests, has planned seven coupes in Armstrong Creek over the next two summers, another four in Cement Creek next summer and eight in the Thomson catchment this summer.
10 December, 2007
Thirty five people have today stopped logging in an area of old growth forest north of Cann River, near the Errinundra National Park, in the Cobon forest block. The protest co-incides with climate talks in Bali, where the Australian government is being urged to agree to deep cuts in emissions.
“Twenty percent of global greenhouse emissions are caused by forest clearing, yet in Australia, old growth logging is being sanctioned by both state and federal governments,” said spokesperson for the protesters Mark Tylor.
“We have a new Federal government who won an election on the climate change issue, yet old growth forest is still being destroyed. Most school children are able to tell you about the importance of old growth forests as carbon sinks, yet this basic lesson is apparently beyond our politicians who still are allowing this destruction to happen,” he continued.
The area contains old growth forest and is habitat for the endangered Sooty Owl. Environmentalists, who have been camping in the forest coupe all weekend, have heard the extremely rare owl at night. Today, two people have chained themselves to logging machinery, while another sits on top of a tripod erected over a logging bulldozer. A 30 metre high tree platform is attached to another machine preventing it from continuing work.
This blockade follows a number of forest blockades last week, where logging was halted in three logging coupes by protesters chaining themselves to machinery. Five people were charged on summons.
“Old growth logging is still continuing in East Gippsland despite the state government election promises to protect important areas of forest. We are one year out from the election, yet none of the places the Labor Government promised to protect have been placed in a reserve. It is about time our politicians were called into account” he concluded.
For more comment Mark Tylor (at the forest blockade) 0428 125 602
For information and updates 03 5154 0174
Thirty five people have today stopped logging in an area of old growth forest north of Cann River, near the Errinundra National Park, in the Cobon forest block. The area contains old growth forest and is habitat for the endangered Sooty Owl. Environmentalists, who have been camping in the forest coupe all weekend, have heard the extremely rare owl at night. Today, two people have chained themselves to logging machinery, while another sits on top of a tripod erected over a logging bulldozer. A 30 metre high tree platform is attached to another machine preventing it from continuing work.
This blockade follows a number of forest blockades last week, where logging was halted in three logging coupes by protesters chaining themselves to machinery. Five people were charged on summons.
“Old growth logging is still continuing in East Gippsland despite the state government election promises to protect important areas of forest. We are one year out from the election, yet none of the places the Labor Government promised to protect have been placed in a reserve. It is about time our politicians were called into account,” said spokesperson for the protesters, Mark Tylor.
“We have a new Federal government who won an election on the climate change issue, yet old growth forest is still being destroyed. Most school children are able to tell you about the importaince of old growth forests as carbon sinks, yet this basic lesson is apparently beyond our politicians who still are allowing this destruction to happen,” he continued.
“It is a sad indictment on the state of our government that it takes young people such as the ones in the forest today to physically stop this old growth forest logging by placing their bodies on the line,” he concluded.
For more comment: Mark Tylor (at the forest blockade) 0428 125 602
For information and updates: 03 5154 0174
08 December, 2007
The Age, December 8, 2007
For some time in Victoria it's been considered a given that on matters environmental the Government treats its citizens as idiots.
We host the fuel-burning Grand Prix. We nurse bucket-backs every summer, hauling grey water to our gardens while logging in water catchments continues. We prefer an energy-guzzling desalination plant on a pristine Gippsland coastline to water tanks and rebated grey water systems. And gouging a whopping crevice through a marine national park is considered a tremendously inspired idea.
But this week — as opponents of the dredging of Port Phillip Bay won the right to challenge the Government's channel deepening project in the Federal Court — took the enviro-cake. Environment Minister Gavin Jennings must have thought no one was listening when he said, apparently with a straight face, at the launch of the Two Bays environmental research into the health of Port Phillip and Western Port bays that water purity in the bay was being challenged by stormwater run-off and by increased salinity as the drought lessened the flow of fresh water in the bay.
This is the same state minister who recently signed off on the $763 million plan to dredge 22.9 million cubic metres of sediment from the bay's floor, stir up toxic sludge from the Yarra mouth, create 18 hectares of rock falls at the Heads, spawn algal blooms, damage crucial seagrasses and reduce fish stocks.
Could someone whisper to Minister Jennings that a little bit of stormwater and increased salinity won't be a patch on what his Government has in store for the bay if dredging goes ahead?
It is apparent the Government and the Port of Melbourne Corporation think they are dealing with a populace suffering collective amnesia. What else could explain the poker-face commentary surrounding Justice Mark Weinberg's decision to allow the Blue Wedges Coalition to fight them in the Federal Court?
The Dredges-R-Us mob shrieked about the $430,000 weekly fine (or $1.7 million if the fleet is already mobilised), they will face if dredging doesn't start on the date they decided on before the project was approved. Yes. That's right. The corporation began spending taxpayers' money contracting its dredging fleet before the Government approved it. And the Government, presumably, did nothing.
Why on earth does the corporation think it can hold the bay to ransom because of its arrogant assumption it would get its way?
As the chairman of the panel assessing the project, Dr Allan Hawke, said during the hearing, the corporation's decision to engage tenders in the unapproved project was done at its own commercial risk.
This should ring alarm bells for federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett in whom the ultimate fate of the bay is trusted and who must front the Federal Court in January to hear the Blue Wedges Coalition argue its case.
But this week the Yesterday's Men who have not caught on that the planet is buckling under the weight of nonsensical environmental destruction in the name of progress screamed It Wasn't Fair. The Blue Wedges Coalition was called "spoilers" by a chap in the Chamber of Commerce who didn't think clearly enough about his turbid choice of words. And the great mystery as to why there is such a rush to get this project moving continued to deepen.
Why, at a time the Port of Melbourne announces record container trade numbers through the port, is the corporation trying to persuade us that the port is at risk of becoming obsolete unless the shipping channel is deepened immediately?
Why, when the port has just comfortably docked the 77,000-tonne cruise ship Sun Princess, the biggest cruise ship ever based in Australia, do the Heads needs to be blown apart and channel deepened to bring in even bigger ships?
Why do the projected economic benefits — a paltry $2 billion to the national economy over 30 years — look increasingly flimsy? And why does it all keep pointing to the building of warships at Williamstown with Chinese steel?
What will it take for responsible custodianship of the planet to prevail? Dead penguins, starved of their anchovy feed, washed up on St Kilda beach? Dead fish rotting at Williamstown? A dead bottle-nosed dolphin beached off Sorrento?
This is precisely what we are talking about if the bay dredging goes ahead, and Garrett must ask for more time to consider the environmental implications of this idiotic project. It cannot go ahead.
Tracee Hutchison is a writer and broadcaster and Mornington Peninsula resident.