13 April, 2009

LETTER: Unwarranted fears

Mark Poynter, Institute of Foresters of Australia, Doncaster East
Letter to the editor, The Age, 13//4/09

PREDICTABLY, the Victorian Government's consideration of wood-based bioenergy production (The Age, 9/4) generated howls of protest based on inaccurate or ill-informed claims (Letters, 10-11/4).

Fears of "massive deforestation" and "ecological wastelands" are baseless given that regenerating harvested areas is a central tenet of forest management. Less than 10 per cent of Victoria's forests are legally available for timber harvesting. Salvaging of burnt timber is also restricted to these areas.

Aside from periodically available fire salvage material, the vast majority of waste wood that could be used for domestic bio-energy production is material that would otherwise be exported to offshore paper manufacturers.

Around the world, sustainable timber supplies are widely used as a source of carbon-neutral "green" power. Ironically, in Australia, the most passionate advocates of combating climate change tend to be the most strident opponents of one of the more achievable forms of renewable energy.

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