31 January, 2011

Grand ash forests face destruction

Jill Sanguinetti, Narbethong
The Age (letter), 31 Jan 2011

VICFORESTS' misleading claims have been swallowed whole by the government. According to VicForests' website, 66,000 hectares of merchantable timber is available to it in the Central Highlands and 2500 of this is being clear-felled there annually. At this rate, it will all be gone in 26 years.

Yet the minister plans to grant security of access at the current rate for 20 years. By then there would be nothing left of our grand ash forests but regrowth (depleted of tree ferns, hollow-dwelling fauna and countless floral species) outside of national parks. With predicted climatic instability and the likelihood of increasing droughts and bushfires, even the survival of regrowth is uncertain.

Moreover, the claim that the annual harvest is "less than .01 per cent of Victoria's native forests" is a furphy: this is a percentage of the total forestry estate of 78 million hectares, including dry, open woodland forests in the north and west, degraded forests that are past logging, forests on private land and in national parks.

So the 0.01 per cent figure is irrelevant to the sustainability of logging in particular locations but is intended to deceive us into accepting the intensive logging of remaining old-growth, species-rich forests in the Central Highlands.

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