26 February, 2008

LETTER: More for Garnaut

Liam Furlong, Carlton
Letter, The Age, 26/2/2008

A 50-50 CHANCE of exceeding two degrees and triggering catastrophic and irreversible global warming is completely unacceptable.

We do not have time for partial solutions; we must get it right first time. We need an immediate end to "business as usual".

The desalination plant, the east-west freeway link, the pulp mill and the destruction of native forests should be referred back to Garnaut for urgent review.

20 February, 2008

MEDIA RELEASE: Latest Victorian forest and water catchment updates

Gavan McFadzean, The Wilderness Society
Created: 26 Oct 2006 | Last updated: 20 Feb 2008

Latest campaign successes:

  • The promise of protection of world class stands of old growth forests including Goolengook, and key rainforest and threatened wildlife habitat to existing National Parks in East Gippsland. In total this will add almost 36,000 hectares of forest to the reserve system to be protected under the National Parks Act
  • The creation of a Great Victorian Alpine National Park by adding 5,000 hectares to the Errinundra National Park, thus linking the Errinundra, Snowy and Alpine National Parks
  • The creation of a Cobboboonee National Park, with 27,000 ha under the National Parks Act, near Portland in the state’s far west, to protect the habitat of the Spotted-tailed Quoll, Southern Brown Bandicoot, Long Nosed Potoroo and Powerful Owl
  • A commitment to create new Redgum National Parks if recommended by the Victorian Environment Assessment Council. This should realise the protection of approximately 60,000 hectares of Redgum forests along the Murray and its tributaries

While this is a great result, there is much work to be done to ensure the Brumby government sticks to their promises. Furthermore, large areas of Victoria’s old growth forests and all of our water catchments available for logging were not protected, and it is here that the campaign now turns.

The State Government has committed to undertake further research into the impact that logging has on water supply, given that five of Melbourne’s catchments, supplying over half of our water, are remarkably still available for logging. With a decade of research already done, clearly showing that logging reduces water supplies by up to 50 per cent, we believe the case is irrefutable. Nevertheless we will undertake a campaign around this process to pressure government to end logging in our catchments.

The overwhelming environmental challenge facing us is climate change, and forest protection is a critical part of any climate change action plan. Globally, about 25 per cent of dangerous carbon emissions are caused by land clearing and logging, and last year’s logging in Victoria’s native forests released as much carbon into the atmosphere as a staggering 2.3 million cars for a year. Protecting forests buffers us from dangerous climate change and linking protected forest areas builds resilience into our ecosystems and helps avoid an extinction crisis for our native animals.

For more information, please contact:

Gavan McFadzean
Victorian Campaign Coordinator
Email: gavan.mcfadzean@wilderness.org.au
Mobile: 0414 754 023

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19 February, 2008

MERCURY: Old-growth forest chaos predicted

Sue Neales, Chief reporter
The Mercury, February 19, 2008

IT IS time to stop logging Tasmania's old forests, an international forest management convention in Hobart was told yesterday.

And the convention was warned that global pressure could force an end to logging in old-growth and regrowth forest as the world comes to grip with global warming and carbon trading.

Australian National University resources and environment professor David Lindenmayer said commercial harvest of old-growth forests could no longer be justified.

Prof Lindenmayer wanted industry compensation.

"In the context of Australia, there is not a need for old-growth forest logging any more," he said. "But there needs to be structural adjustment for industry and no perverse outcomes, as has happened in Tasmania before."

The four-day conference, attended by more than 250 delegates from 20 countries, was warned climate change and carbon trading could bring massive pressure on logging.

University of Tasmania forestry professor David Bowman predicted carbon trading would throw accepted forest management and harvesting systems into chaos.

Prof Bowman cautioned governments entering long-term timber contracts at fixed prices, such as the 30-year deal signed between Forestry Tasmania and Gunns Ltd for the Tamar Valley pulp mill.

"We're in a strange twilight zone where we don't know the rules. It's going to be a really difficult time for Tasmania," Prof Bowman said. "Many people are going to feel disempowered because decisions are going to be taken out of the hands of the people and the politicians and made by the market."

The Federal Government is set to introduce a national carbon-trading system that will put an economic value on carbon production, emission, use and storage.

Trees are the biggest users of carbon, potentially mitigating against climate change.

But debate is raging about how the industry will be affected by a carbon-trading system that values growing trees for the carbon stored, but penalises it when the trees are cut down and when waste is burned.

Professor Bowman feared Tasmania was not prepared for global pressure to end logging in Tasmanian forests, including managed regrowth areas.

"Regrowth forests are an important means of reducing atmospheric carbon. There is a distinct possibility that the logging of regrowth forests will lose its current social licence," Prof Bowman said.

"We are facing a change of unfathomable proportions. Climate change and the carbon economy is going to affect every action we take."

Prof Bowman predicted radical forest management solutions would be needed to cope with adverse impacts of climate change on plantations and standing forests, especially if logging is reduced."

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STAR NEWS: MP chain gang

Kath Gannaway
Star News Group, 19th February 2008

Police were forced to intervene on Tuesday last week as timber industry supporters clashed with MP Tammy Lobato at Yarra Junction.

And the Gembrook MP said the incident has left her questioning whether it is safe for her to continue her mobile offices.

Sixteen women led by Timber Communities Australia National coordinator Kirsten Gentle confronted Ms Lobato as she arrived at the Upper Yarra Community House for a scheduled meeting with constituents.

As Ms Lobato attempted to leave to go to Warburton, the women barred her way, holding a chain around her car and refusing her demand that Ms Gentle move away from the driver’s door.

As Ms Gentle spoke on her mobile to the Premier’s Department, Ms Lobato called for police assistance.

Two Yarra Junction police officers escorted the MP to her car.

Ms Gentle later told the Mail she had made a statement to police after Ms Lobato grabbed her arm in an attempt to move her away from the car.

The protestors, representing timber families and communities accused Ms Lobato of reneging on her pledge of support of the timber industry.

The protest was sparked by the MP’s recent call on her government to stop logging in Melbourne’s water catchments until a report currently underway into the practice was completed.

“It’s hard to believe that an ALP member can come out against their own party’s policy and against an industry she has claimed to support since gaining power in 2002,” Ms Gentle said.

Ms Gentle accused Ms Lobato of lying to timber workers about her support and said she was ignoring both the science of logging in the catchments and timber workers’ legal right to carry out logging there.

“The women today wanted to ensure Ms Lobato understood she had lost their confidence and trust in her as a local member and for her to experience first hand the frustration of not being able to work due to protesters locking on to personal equipment,” Ms Gentle said.

Ms Lobato, however, said she had made it very clear that her concerns relate to the logging within the Armstrong Creek catchment and not about the logging industry in general.

“The protestors know that for the past five years I have always been available and keen to support them,” she said. “I have tried to explain my position to the protestors but they won’t listen,” Ms Lobato said.

She said timber workers had refused to meet with her when an invitation was extended last week, and again on Tuesday.

Ms Gentle, however, said the time suggested by Ms Lobato for the first meeting was not suitable for the protestors and said no meeting had been offered on the Tuesday.

Ms Lobato said the protest could cause her to reconsider how she meets with residents in the future.

“When my constituents who want to meet with me in their own townships are subjected to verbal abuse, I obviously need to consider whether my commitment to being accessible by conducting mobile offices is posing unacceptable risks,” she said.

She said she had met with around 20 people and groups on the day and was sad that opportunity may not continue. “For protestors to chain my car was unfair to those residents in Warburton who had taken the time to make an appointment to see me,” she said.

“I do not like to let people down.”

Many of the placards questioned Ms Lobato’s allegiance to the Labor Party and her willingness to represent her logging industry constituents.

“Instead of coming out and condemning illegal forest protestors Ms Lobato decided to attack our family and our industry instead adding fuel to the fire for radical zealots who think they are representing the community when they illegally stop our business from working,” said protestor Nicki Green who claimed her family had been victimised by anti-logging protestors. In the face of slogans such as “Wanted, New ALP Candidate for Gembrook Pre-Selection” and “Tammy Lobato betraying her party and betraying the workers”, Ms Lobato defended her choice to speak out.

“My job as an MP is not to be a mere mouthpiece for party policy but to be an effective representative and stand up for what I believe in,” she said.

“That is what I am doing in this policy area and I have been inundated with messages of support.”

Police said no charges would be laid.

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15 February, 2008

AUSTRALIAN: 'Efficiency and forestry' key to cuts

Matthew Warren, Environment writer
The Australian, February 15, 2008

Forestry and more efficient use of energy, rather than gas or renewables, can spearhead deep cuts in Australia's greenhouse emissions by 2020, according to research by heavyweight business consultants McKinseys.

The report, to be released today by the global A-list consultants, backs environmentalists' claims that Australia can afford to cut its greenhouse emissions by nearly 40 per cent over the next 12 years.

Major energy users dismissed the claim as "literally fantastic".

The report claims deep emission cuts of 30 per cent by 2020 based on 1990 levels could be achieved at a cost of about $3billion a year, or up to $65 per tonne of greenhouse emissions. Australia is currently 9 per cent above its 1990 emissions.

The report claims the first quarter of the 40 per cent emissions cuts could come by improving the efficiency of energy use in factories, offices and households through insulation and retrofitting of electric motors and airconditioning systems, which would deliver huge savings in power bills.

A further 31 per cent would come from avoiding further land-clearing and deforestation, coupled with rapid, widespread tree-planting programs to provide one of the cheapest ways for Australia to offset its greenhouse emissions.

The McKinsey modelling predicts there will be some new geothermal and wind energy generation by 2020, but by comparison very little switching from coal to gas-generated electricity.

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt yesterday predicted the Rudd Government would abandon its mandatory renewable energy target to include all low-emission options by the 2009 budget.

The self-commissioned report, An Australian cost curve for greenhouse gas reduction, follows similar McKinsey analyses in the US, Britain and Germany.

The report's author, Stephan Gorner, said that compared with most other developed economies, Australia was in a unique position to develop large-scale forest sinks as a relatively cheap way to quickly deliver large cuts in net emissions.

He said that without forestry and the big gains available byreplacing coal with zero-emissions energy, Australia would find it much more difficult to achieve the deep targets proposed. "We are not daydreaming and thinking about breakthrough technologies," Mr Gorner said. "Everything here is live and operating."

Climate Institute policy director Erwin Jackson said energy efficiency was still the bridesmaid of greenhouse policy and that the McKinsey research highlighted the need for urgent government action to drive savings across theeconomy.

Australian Industry Greenhouse Network chief Michael Hitchens doubted such cuts were possible and warned that the report dangerously omitted many of the broader costs arising from this scale of emissions cut.

"If we need an emissions price of $60 a tonne, as they suggest, then that will cost far more than $290 per household," Mr Hitchens said. "This means something like 16c (more for) each litre of petrol, a 30 per cent increase in household power bills and maybe the doubling of gas prices."

Original article

11 February, 2008

ARTICLE: Of his own tree will, one man grows back to the future

Steve Waldon
February 11, 2008, The Age

He is a quiet one, is Richard Appleton, but you would not want to mistake that for an absence of passion.

In the diabolical tumult that is the climate change debate, he has a clarity of vision and calm resolve that could be a model for those of us who want to help the environment but don't know how.

Mr Appleton is a steward of the earth. We all are, he says, just temporary caretakers of the planet. He reckons that what we do now and tomorrow will determine our legacy.

In this philosophical stance he is far from alone, but Mr Appleton long ago decided to act on his beliefs.

And so we come to a good news story about what can happen when people set an example, form sympathetic alliances, dirty their hands and substitute altruism for ego.

Mr Appleton has a little remnant cool-temperate rainforest on his property at Balook, in that misty part of the Strzelecki Ranges where even in summer a persistent drizzle can feel like a sponge bath.

The rainforest has nowhere to run, he says. This is its final refuge. But the fact that it has survived at all is reason for hope. It could have disappeared during the wholesale (and many now say mad) clearing of Gippsland's Great Forest, which began in the 1870s, when settlers decided ancient stands of glorious mountain ash should make way for crops and cattle.

Richard Appleton's parents bought the 40-hectare Balook property in 1953. They cleared a few patches to grow potatoes and ride horses.

But when the Forests Commission came knocking, Mr Appleton's mother refused to sell. The area was beginning to recover from the 1944 bushfires. When Mr Appleton acquired the property in 1997, he sat down to plan not just its preservation, but a replanting scheme. He wanted to recreate the biodiversity that would have existed 200 years ago, when the tree canopy protected a dense understorey, and animals and birds had a symbiotic relationship that contributed to their survival. An environment, that is, that did not need human tampering.

Today, Mr Appleton's property is a little native oasis flanked by the Tarra Bulga National Park and the Merrimans Creek headwaters.

The leeches cling like limpet mines as you gingerly pick your way through gullies where Mr Appleton has loosened the formidable grip of blackberry infestation, allowing native shrubs and ferns to reclaim their rightful place.

He is putting in sassafras, beech and, of course, eucalypts — but it's a hell of a task. He turned to Trust For Nature for help. Like many Victorian landowners developing an eco-consciousness, Mr Appleton signed a covenant, protecting the land from opportunistic development.

Since 1972, the trust, a not-for-profit organisation, has been in the vanguard of innovative moves to protect Victoria's native habitat through covenants, land purchases and management programs.

In 2006, the trust put Mr Appleton in touch with Brendan Condon, of Australian Ecosystems. He is director of an offshoot organisation, Climate Positive, which is dealing with historical carbon debt.

It is not enough to be carbon neutral, Mr Condon says — we can suck it out of the atmosphere and lock it down.

Science is making inroads, all we need is the will to act positively. He dubs it "carbon catching".

On Friday, we went with Mr Condon and Trust For Nature's executive director, Mike Gooey, on a visit to Balook.

Also on board was the trust's West Gippsland conservation officer, John Hick.

Our little expedition was joined at Mr Appleton's home by GippsLandcare representative Gaby Mitchell, then we walked.

Mr Hick described one magnificent specimen of mountain ash as stately, exactly the word you had to settle on.

Mr Appleton took us to the paddocks where, with help from Climate Positive volunteers, thousands of eucalypts, wattles and acacias have been planted. There will be another planting in July.

Richard Appleton has a vision. He knows he won't be around to see the mature results.

Nor will any of us who don't know what to do except use energy-efficient light globes and ride a bike to the supermarket. But it is a vision that incorporates hope for a future with oxygen, and last Friday's expeditioners agreed that hope is as good a place as any to start.

Original article

09 February, 2008

HERALDSUN: Women take front seat in politics and industry

Olga Galacho
Herald Sun. February 09, 2008

Never before have so many women wielded as much clout over big-ticket government and business policies as they will this year.

Curiously, many of those seeking to influence the policymakers began their careers in the forestry industry.

Others have been handpicked for their telegenic qualities and their ability to project a certain image in front of the television cameras.

Federal Parliament's resumption this week will focus attention on how business and politics intertwine - and on the pivotal role some women will play in a number of important debates this year.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard is expected to introduce her long-awaited workplace relations legislation while, across from her, deputy Opposition leader Julie Bishop will argue the Coalition's position.

Ms Bishop like her counterpart has responsibility for workplace relations.

In revising the WorkChoices laws, Ms Gillard would have consulted the most senior leaders vouching for workers, employers and all that lies in between.

The most powerful of them are women, too: note Barbara Bennett, director of the Workplace Authority, plus Australian Council of Trade Unions president Sharan Burrow and her opposites Heather Ridout, the chief executive of the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), and Katie Lahey, her counterpart at the Business Council of Australia.

The other major employer lobby group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), has an interim head, Peter Anderson, following Peter Hendy's recent recruitment by Opposition leader Brendan Nelson.

When BusinessDaily spoke to Mr Anderson, he said he had not made up his mind about whether to apply for the permanent position.

Asked if he believed ACCI might end up with a woman at the helm he answered: "I would be very pleased if there were a lot of women applying for the job."

He noted the increasing number of female politicians could encourage even more women to lead industry groups.

"There is no doubt that a conversation between a woman MP and a business woman would be different to a conversation between two men. Some women have a different manner . . . they bring a different language, a different tone."

THIS observation was played out on Wednesday when the Climate Change and Water Minister, Senator Penny Wong, delivered her first public speech since returning from the Bali talks to an Ai Group audience.

The irony of Senator Wong opting to make this debut with ACCI's rival could not have been lost on the chamber.

Its former chief, Mr Hendy, had often boasted about his role in scripting the Howard Government's WorkChoices laws.

The senator was not subtle on Wednesday: "It is not a coincidence that this first address is with the Ai Group . . . Heather has been an outstanding advocate for industry."

An effusive Ms Ridout had introduced her guest speaker with an equal emphasis on the good relations they had enjoyed in the past.

Relationships and consensus appear to be central to the way female figureheads of male-dominated organisations project themselves.

Yet many of them have connections or experience in an industry that traditionally oozed with conflict - forestry.

A raft of former pro-logging lobbyists have emerged to represent transport, cement, mining and energy groups - and it is no accident that they are all carbon intensive industries.

Mr Anderson agreed: "There do seem to be many women leading peak energy bodies and if there is any area where negotiating skills require an ability to compromise, it would be energy . . . otherwise, in the climate change debate there is going to be no agreement."

Hatched from the forestry incubator are three former Timber Communities Australia executives - Jill Lewis, who last month was headhunted by the NSW Trucking Association; Robyn Bain, now chief of the Cement Industry Federation and Dominique La Fontaine, who heads the Clean Energy Council, which includes gas, electricity and wind companies on its board.

A fourth ex-forestry industry lobbyist, Belinda Robinson, who used to lead plantation products council A3P, is chief executive of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.

Gas industry promoter Cheryl Cartwright, chief of the Australian Pipeline Industry Association, was a former adviser to one-time Forestry Minister Warren Truss, who now leads the federal National Party.

In fact, most of these women have worked within the National Party at some stage and all of them have also rubbed elbows with Forestry Union strongman Michael O'Connor.

Ironically, the two most powerful women in the Rudd cabinet also have links to Mr O'Connor.

Ms Gillard was once his girlfriend, still cites him as a trusted adviser and has subsequently spoken against former Labor leader Mark Latham's restrictive logging policy.

Working closely with Ms Gillard as Employment Participation Minister is Mr O'Connor's brother, Brendan.

Also part of their team is Senator Wong, who will represent their portfolios in the Upper House.

Once a prominent member of Mr O'Connor's timber workers division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Senator Wong went on to advise the former Carr Government of NSW on logging issues.

Mr O'Connor conceded to BusinessDaily that he had had working relationships with all of these women to varying degrees.

However, he declined to be quoted on whether the anti-conservation position the former timber lobbyists had taken in the past would help to shape the carbon emission policies of the future.

Forestry expert and Australian National University academic Judith Ajani believes the parallels between the timber and energy resources sectors are many and explains why lobbyists can move comfortably between the two.

"Logging native forests for woodchips is a mining industry," says the author of The Forest Wars.

"These are both commodity industries, characterised by cost competitiveness and highly conflictual because they both involve the environment.

"If you've worked in forestry, you understand what makes other resource industries tick," she said.

Dr Ajani believes the high proportion of women representing the interests of resource companies is a strategy to keep the public's mind open.

"These are highly public industries, with high public concern and the women advocates are the frontline defence in the battle to justify a licence to operate."

Former forester turned cement promoter Ms Bain argues that it "makes sense that women have become the face of industry" as global warming moved on to the corporate agenda.

"The environment debate brought women to the fore when it was more of a social and emotional issue," said Ms Bain.

"When the environment became part of an economic debate, we moved with it and got ahead of the guys.

"We had a natural advantage . . . and we are not afraid of an emotional argument. Forestry certainly teaches you the art of negotiating."

She adds that if an advocate can survive forestry, they can survive anything.

"Cement is a walk in the park, it's easy compared to forestry's blockades."

The peak body for timber companies, the National Association of Forest Industries, continues to have a woman at the helm in Catherine Murphy, a former adviser to Opposition leader Brendan Nelson.

One time Queensland forestry lobbyist Dr Guy Pearse said it was no coincidence that pro-logging groups had women chief executives.

After decades of conflict over felling in the Tasmanian old growth forests to create woodchip exports, the timber industry wanted to distance itself from the aggressive tactics of forestry workers frustrated by blockading environmentalists, Dr Pearse said.

"They wanted to reinvent their image and make their leadership look as different to the flannel-shirted loggers as they could in the public's eye. It's called a telegenic appointment," said the author of High and Dry.

Trish Caswell, who has lobbied on both sides of the timber industry fence, firstly as the head of the Australian Conservation Foundation and later at the Victorian Association of Forest Industries, said other industry groups went on to borrow the ploy of appointing female figureheads.

"There was a conscious effort to get women into those leading roles at the beginning of the decade," she said.

Organisations traditionally seen as dirty, tough and male-dominated in particular wanted to soften their image in the media, she said.

They have included the NSW Minerals Council, which recruited Dr Nikki Williams, and the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association, with Margaret Donnan at the helm.

Even renewable energy groups not tarnished with a polluting reputation have chosen to go with the "telegenic" option when appointing chief executives.

The Australian Geothermal Energy Association, for example, is headed by Susan Jeanes, and Environment Business Australia's chief is Fiona Wain.

But Ms Caswell is under no illusion that being the boss of a peak body is a sign that women are successfully taking their place in big business.

"While the role of an association has become more important, being the chief executive of one is not a mainstream power position in itself. You are not in the seat of power."

Business academic Vivek Chaudhri believes appointing leaders by virtue of their gender is counterproductive.

"There is a perception in some sections of the business community and in academia that in some circumstances, this swing has damaged opportunities for competent women," said the Monash University associate professor.

"If a woman higher up was not the best candidate for the position and she is looked at in not the best light, the consequences can be more damaging than just the wounded male response.

Original article link

02 February, 2008

HERALDSUN: Water wars over logging

Peter Flaherty
Heraldsun (article), February 02, 2008

More than 20 billion litres of water is being lost in Melbourne's catchments every year because of logging.

Angry residents who want logging in a catchment near Healesville stopped have made the claim, which has been backed by a senior CSIRO scientist.

The Sustainability and Environment Department's decision to allow logging in the Armstrong Creek catchment has outraged locals and the Yarra Ranges Shire Council.

Logging began before Christmas and is expected to be completed by April.

Healesville businesswoman Sarah Rees said loggers wanted prized mountain ash.

"Mountain ash are among the largest trees in the world and they need the most water to grow," she said. "As they grow, they can suck up to 50 per cent of any runoff."

Research estimated logging slashed flows to the Thomson Dam by almost 20 billion litres a year, she said.

"That's almost the capacity of the Maroondah Reservoir. If logging continues across the catchments,

60 billion litres will be lost annually from Melbourne's water supply by 2050."

CSIRO senior scientist Richard Benyon said logging would reduce flows into Melbourne's catchments.

A loss of 20 billion litres a year was "not an unrealistic figure", he said.

"While it's only a small percentage of the amount of water Melbourne uses each year, all water is precious in a time of drought," he said.

Dr Benyon, who has completed a study into how bushfires affect water flows, said bushfires and logging had the same impact on runoff.

"After bushfires or logging, new growth sucks up water for several decades as it grows," he said.

DSE director of public land policy Nina Cullen said claims that 20 billion litres a year was being lost because of logging were wrong.

"Stream flows from the forested catchments are actually increasing, regardless of timber harvesting, because the vast majority of forests in the catchments are naturally ageing following the 1939 bushfires," she said.

Melbourne had 157,00ha of catchments and no more than 340ha was logged in any one year, she said.

Timber Communities Australia spokesman Scott Gentle said the amount logged each year was a fraction of the total catchment.

"Logging creates jobs and is a sustainable industry," he said. "There's real balance in what we do."

Yarra Ranges Shire councillor Samantha Dunn said the council opposed logging in catchment areas and had "overwhelming support" from residents.

The case that only a small part of catchments was logged was "ridiculous", she said.

". . . the phrase, 'it's only a little bit' adds up when it's repeated all the time."

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