02 December, 2008

LETTER: Save a tree and drink more water

Simon Birrell, Melbourne Water Catchment Network and Otways Ranges Environment Network, Ascot Vale
The Age, December 2, 2008

Philip Dalidakis, of the Victorian Association of Forest Industries, reminds us (Comment & Debate, 1/12) that the native forest woodchipping industry is about to start its annual summer destruction in Victoria.

However, this summer the chainsaws will be quiet in the Otways' native forests as logging has been banned.

Mr Dalidakis' predecessors at VAFI spent a huge amount of money and time dismissing arguments put forward by the community to stop Otways logging, and failed.

Now VAFI has put up exactly the same sort of simplistic statistical arguments that rely on public ignorance. VAFI suggests that Melbourne's water has a 157,000-hectare catchment area, with 306 hectares, or 0.19 per cent, logged each year. Such a statement assumes that the rainfall and forest types across the catchments are uniform. They are not. About half cannot be logged as they are within national parks. About half of the catchment is ash forest, which produces 80 per cent of the water run-off to Melbourne. Logging that targets these forests has a disproportionate effect on run-off.

Recent State Government research shows banning logging by 2010 would increase water yields from the Melbourne catchments by enough to supply a city the size of Ballarat within 40 years — or about 100,000 people. The loggers are right to be worried.

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