Mercury (Hobart)

Can’t see the wood for the trees


IN Tasmania the forestry industry and the government refuse to recognise the drawbacks of continued logging of native forests, thwarting decisive action on climate change and destroying native habitat. In effect they claim that felling an old growth tree and then planting a sapling helps fight the climate crisis.

This is a fanciful and false. The carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere on felling and processing is particular­ly high with gnarled aged trees. Their wood is less suitable for milling and more amenable to converting into shortterm products like paper. Adding insult to injury, forest residue is largely burnt or left to rot, so that as little as 6 per cent of an old growth tree reaches the refuge of long-term timber products. (This 6 per cent figure derived from work on clear-fell logging in Victoria by Professor David Lindenmaye­r, School of Environmen­t, ANU.) Many decades need to pass to recover the lost carbon through regrowth – even a century, certainly within the period of crucial climate action.

If residue was processed the situation could be less bleak, but in hydro-powered Tasmania, only biochar for plantation residue makes sense. Biofuels and landfill still release carbon, and the energy revolution makes them redundant.

Gordon Cuff (Letters, August 24) provides details on how the Climate Solutions Fund provides “Climate Protection Opportunit­ies” and a viable pathway out of native forest logging. But Minister Guy Barnett’s negative reaction to WA Labor’s decision to end native forest logging plus his deceptive remark, “For every tree harvested, one is planted” reveal the government’s inability to reconcile vested interests with the reality of global warming. Once again, those who value a clever and flourishin­g Tasmania are let down.

Craig Brown Eaglehawk Neck

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