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Pictures: Matt Newton http://www.matthewnewton.com.au/

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Vica Bayley

FORESTRY’S CLIMATE CHANGE CONTRIBUTION VISIBLE FOR ALL TO SEE AND BREATHE

“Action to preserve the remaining areas of natural forest is urgent.”
Sir Nicholas Stern - STERN REVIEW: The Economics of Climate Change

A full two weeks of statewide smoke haze from annual forestry burn-offs has left a sour taste in the mouths of many Tasmanians and continued the logging industry’s massive contribution to annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Claims by the logging industry that the burns ‘mimic nature’ and are a necessary part of the regeneration of forests ignores scientific evidence and snubs the overwhelming community desire to see and end to the logging of oldgrowth and high conservation-value forests.

At the heart of the community outrage over the widespread burning is the fact that many of the areas the industry is currently burning were so precious that they should not have been logged at all. They were once habitat for endangered wildlife, an important protector of domestic water catchments, and massive stores of carbon, collected from the atmosphere over centuries and safely stored by the intact forest.

Industry claims that clearfelling and burning of native forest mimics nature directly contradict scientific evidence. A 2003 study looked at the carbon stored in forest soils and analysed the carbon loss after a natural bushfire event and the loss after logging and burning.1 The results are below.

Forest status: Soil carbon stored
Unlogged: 670 tonnes per ha
Natural wild fire: 654 tonnes per ha (16 tonnes or 2.4% lost)
Harvested:
97 tonnes per ha (573 tonnes or 85% lost)


The scientific evidence is clear. In terms of carbon loss from forest soils, where a large component of total forest carbon is stored, there is nothing ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ about logging in Tasmania. 85% of carbon is lost because of logging and burning, compared to a loss of only 2.4% due to a natural fire. Nature doesn’t clearfell an area, leave it to dry out for a summer and then artificially ignite it to create a high intensity burn.

Even using Forestry Tasmania’s own conservative figures, a recent report they commissioned showed that over 23 years to 2030, logging will release at least 28% of the carbon stored in the commercial forests they manage.2 That’s a total decrease of 13 million tonnes of carbon storage from the forests they log. These are the net greenhouse gas emissions that none of the glossy brochures or websites that the industry produces tells you about. Nor were these massive emissions discussed in the report Forestry Tasmania commissioned. Only when they reduce logging in about 2027 (data found in other FT publications), will the carbon balance begin to recover. 


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Protecting forests is the quickest, cheapest and easiest way to begin the fight against climate change. The above graph highlights the carbon benefit of reducing logging in Tasmania’s commercial state forests now, as opposed to waiting until 2027, as currently planned by Forestry Tasmania.

Instead of the carbon stocks stored in the forest being reduced by over one quarter and taking a massive hit because of logging, carbon in the forests would increase immediately. This would not only avoid the massive amounts of emissions witnessed in Tasmania recently, but actually begin the task of extracting the excessive amounts of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere - a large chunk of which was placed there by the forestry industry in the first place.

Given the undeniable urgency in confronting climate change, for the forestry industry to continue to emit massive amounts of greenhouse gasses and deplete nature’s stores of carbon is a climate crime. For Tasmania to have to wait 22 years for positive carbon benefits from our forests is a major failure of our responsibility to future generations and a very poor example to set for the rest of the world.

1   Dean, C., Mackey, B.G., and Roxburgh, S.H. (2003), Growth Modelling of Eucalyptus regnans for carbon accounting at the landscape scale, In: Amaro, A., Reed, D., Soares, P. (eds.), Modelling Forest systems, CABI Publishing, Walliford, U.K

2 MBAC Consulting, (2007), Forestry Tasmania’s Carbon Sequestration Position, Table 8


Dave Groves

This pan was taken half an hour ago from South Launceston looking toward Mt Arthur, just slightly north of the last lot near Mt Barrow a couple of weeks ago.

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The close up is of the south edge of Mt Arthur and the last one is a tourist jet flying through the brown taken from the same position looking south east.

According to the Mercury http://www.news.com.au/mercury/story/0,22884,23572247-3462,00.html

Forestry Tasmania spokesman Ken Jeffreys said of the clouds of smoke over Hobart. “We had burns in the Huon and the smoke modelling shows the smoke going straight to New Zealand,” he said. So they will be happy in NZ no doubt.

He also told the Mercury that, “We do have some smoke coming in from Victoria—they’re doing their burns too.”

Well, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander they say.

I find it curious though that all the photos taken show the smoke heading in a northerly direction.

Perhaps the smoke is a magnet for Hobart and gave Launceston the flick on the way through?

Forest Industries Association of Tasmania chief executive Terry Edwards gave the Mercury this dazzling theory: “We try to create a column of smoke on the site which takes the smoke straight up into the upper atmosphere which means the particulate matter and the smoke doesn’t get down into populated areas.”

Perhaps Mother Nature takes care of it after that????

Tim Morris

http://www.tas.greens.org.au
PUBLIC URGED TO SUBMIT COMPLAINTS ABOUT FORESTRY BURNS’ SMOKE POLLUTION
As Autumn Haze Descends
Tim Morris MP
Greens Shadow Native Forests spokesperson
Thursday, 24 April 2008
Contact: State Parliamentary Offices of the Tasmanian Greens, (03) 6233 8300
http://www.tas.greens.org.au

The Tasmanian Greens today urged members of the public who have been affected by the forestry burns this weekend to lodge written complaints to the Health and Environment Departments, as well as contact the Public and Environmental Health Service hotline on 1800 671 738.

Greens Shadow Native Forests spokesperson Tim Morris MP said it is outrageous that as soon as Tasmania’s famous autumn weather arrives, Tasmanians are forced indoors to get away from the polluting smoke haze that has covered significant areas of the island for the past two weeks.

“Too often at this beautiful time of the year, which should be enjoyed by the community, people are forced indoors due to the smoke blanket that descends upon us, caused by the outrageous and out-dated forestry burns,” Mr Morris said.

“Year after year people with asthma and other respiratory problems are forced indoors to get away from this state-endorsed smoke pollution, and enough is enough – it must stop.  This is completely unacceptable for both public health considerations as well as meeting our climate change commitments.”

“The Greens are urging affected members of the public to complain loudly about this unnecessary and avoidable infringement upon their right to breathe clean air by sending written complaints to the Environment Department, the Director of Public Health, and to call the 24-Hour Public and Environmental Health Service Hotline on 1800 671 738.”

“Health Minister Lara Giddings and Environment Minister Michelle O’Byrne should also be included on the list of those who should hear people’s outrage over this air pollution.”

“The Greens are inundated with complaints from members of the public who cannot believe that in this day and age they are having to protect themselves and their children, some of whom have pre-existing medical conditions and respiratory problems, from this smoke pollution.”

“Lets be clear about these forestry burns, they are unnecessary, out-dated and utterly incompatible with good public policy practices that are meant to be tackling critical issues such as climate change,” Mr Morris said.

“How on earth can this Lennon government expect to be taken seriously when in a few months time they will be calling on the community, especially in places such as Launceston, to be careful about their wood-fire smoke because of the serious air pollution and health impacts, after the island has been choked by forestry burns?”

 

‘Autumn Forest Burns = Climate Crimes’ webpage launched today, 24 April 2008

Available at: http://www.tas.greens.org.au

The Mercury:  Health alert on burn-offs

Earlier: Terrorist Detonation

Vica Bayley

At the heart of the community outrage over the widespread burning is the fact that many of the areas the industry is currently burning were so precious that they should not have been logged at all. They were once habitat for endangered wildlife, an important protector of domestic water catchments, and massive stores of carbon, collected from the atmosphere over centuries and safely stored by the intact forest. Industry claims that clearfelling and burning of native forest mimics nature directly contradict scientific evidence. A 2003 study looked at the carbon stored in forest soils and analysed the carbon loss after a natural bushfire event and the loss after logging and burning.

( Mercury: Health alert on burn-offs )

Many more pictures …