Shaun Ratcliff, Victorian Association of Forest Industries, Melbourne
The Age (letter), 26 Jan 2011
MURRAY Barson is right (Letters, 25/1): our public forests should be managed on a scientific basis. However, Peter Walsh is correct: Victorian forestry is conducted on a sustainable scale. About 5000 hectares of native forest was harvested last year: 0.07 per cent of the 7.8 million hectares of public native forest in Victoria. Areas are also reserved to protect endangered or threatened species.
The greatest threat to our forests is fire, not forestry. The three landscape-scale fires of the past decade - 2002-03, 2006-07 and 2009 - burnt about 3 million hectares of land. Much of this was native forest.
Forestry is not the problem but part of the solution to managing fire risk. Forestry workers, particularly those in the native forest sector, are based on-location and are skilled and experienced in fire management (thinning, and maintaining fire breaks and roads to ease access to fires) and suppression, and most forestry equipment is useful in firefighting.