22 October, 2010

The Magic Pudding industry?

Jill Redwood, Coordinator, Environment East Gippsland Inc
Letter to editor, Snowy River Mail (not published yet).

Regarding “Cuts remove six contractors” on last week’s front page.

In 1986, there was a strong warning given that unless the annual cut of sawlogs was reduced by four fifths the local industry would not survive. Overcutting was rife. The report by NIEIS was ignored by both government and industry.

The cut was then 370,000m3 a year. Through the 90s it was 280,000 m3 a year and about 110,000m3 this decade. This didn’t include about 300,000 m3 of woodchips a year that have fed the Japanese export mill at Eden.

Politicians like Craig Ingram and his rival, the National Party candidate Tim Bull, are repeating history. They proudly state they support the ever shrinking logging industry, righteously demanding more and more access to something that just isn’t there.

Rather than relying on Magic Pudding planning, to pander to a few voters, maybe our politicians should look to the recent Tasmanian solution.

VicForests own figures show that 85% of what is trucked out of our forests is now woodchipped (and sold for less that we are charged to cut our own firewood). Tasmania has suffered the same fate with overcutting and woodchipping.

The industry has always operated on a ‘cut-out and get-out’ basis. Yet conservationists and endangered wildlife cop the blame.

The recently declared 45,000 ha of forest for protection was almost entirely forest that was:

  • Inaccessible or too steep,
  • was already logged
  • was already protected under the RFA, or
  • too scruffy and degraded for even woodchipping.

 And as for Craig Ingram’s claim that the government is about to protect an additional 114,000 ha, our local pollie should do some basic homework.

These scattered patches of forest have been the minimal protection zones for rare and endangered wildlife since 1997. They are critical habitat for forest owls and marsupial quolls (which are almost extinct in Victoria now), rainforests and rare plants. But we were told by Craig Ingram that they are draft new reserves to “further restrict the industry”.

Thanks to the logging bosses and their political mates demanding that reserves be clearfelled, these patches are now in line to be sacrificed for clearfelling without any surveys or assessments. Hardly a deal being done with the Greens as claimed by Mr Ingram.

However, it reads well for a politician who only seems to value the votes of some of his constituents, and who works to protect the profit margins of the Japanese Nippon paper company. If he truly wanted to help this region and its future, it might be time he considered other options. Tasmania has finally seen the light. Will East Gippsland be next?

No comments: