Michelle Paine Mercury February 26, 2009 08:58am
AIR quality during last year’s forestry burns was not satisfactory, says Tasmania’s Environment Protection Agency. EPA head Warren Jones was addressing about 200 people at a smoke-management forum organised by the forest industry at the University of Tasmania School of Art. “The air quality in autumn 2008 was not, in my view, satisfactory,” Mr Jones said. Mr Jones and several scientists gave reports on how forestry burns this autumn should be less harmful than previous years, because of a new standard to keep them within new guidelines. They said monitoring points would be put in some of the “airsheds” — through which smoke is funnelled — around the state. Also, no-burning days might be set so smoke levels stay within prescribed limits. A forestry consultant said 100 units of 50ha each would not have been burned this year if the new modelling had been in place. Forestry Tasmania said wood-fired power stations would address the community concerns over burns, as well as create renewable energy. Michael Wood, Forestry’s assistant general manager for strategic business, said wood residue left after logging would be burnt in a closed station, rather than in the open, minimising toxic pollutants in the atmosphere. Wilderness Society senior forest campaigner Vica Bayley said the greatest challenge to humanity — climate change — had not been addressed at the forum. “It was a cynical use of a public smoke forum to push the divisive topic of burning Tasmania’s native forests to generate electricity,” Mr Bayley said. Read more here