This is a carbon-replacement snapshot of what’s happening in Tasmanian Forestry. Data courtesy of the Tasmanian Government, Forestry Tasmania and the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). This is how the year 07-08 shaped-up for the industry:

TOTAL FOREST PRODUCT HARVESTED = 7,404,500 tonnes. (1)

TOTAL CARBON THAT MUST BE REPLACED = 3,702,250 tonnes (2)

(Does not include carbon from residues)

LAND AVAILABLE FOR TIMBER PRODUCTION = 960,000 hectares. (3)

CARBON ABLE TO BE SEQUESTERED ON AVAILABLE LAND = 1,999,680 tonnes.(4)

The Numbers

The amount of carbon sold in a year, cannot be replaced by the entire commercial forestry estate in a year. There is a shortfall of 1,702,570 tonnes of carbon. Incredibly, if residue was also included, with similar amounts to Forestry Tasmania, the carbon storage of the entire forested areas of Tasmania would not be enough to sequester the carbon needed. Forestry Tasmania’s carbon audit consultant MBAC, divides by a half to convert the 7.4 million tonnes harvested timber to carbon. That gives us 3.7 million tonnes of carbon. MBAC uses an amount of 2.083 tonnes of carbon per hectare, per year as a carbon replacement value for all of Forestry Tasmania’s forests. This value was then used for the whole commercial estate.(4) That gives us almost 2 million tonnes of carbon able to be sequestered per year on the whole commercial forest estate.

The Situation

The logging industry is constantly promoting, lobbying and influencing policy-makers, while at the same time contradicting critics. This has allowed them to deflect scrutiny with an ‘us and them’ mentality. Carbon is a good indicator of whats really happening, because the carbon added annually is a measure of tree growth. Anybody who claims Tasmania has a carbon-sustainable forest industry today, must be including national parks, land they don’t own and carbon in products they have already sold. The industry also replaces real carbon with ‘virtual carbon’. Little trees that are claimed will replace carbon at some time into the future. Data published by Gunns Ltd shows amounts of sequestered carbon way below amounts they are selling.(5) They also include carbon stored in product they have already sold. It’s worth remembering that half the product Gunns sources from Forestry Tasmania comes with a ‘carbon debt’. It could not be carbon-replaced by FT before it was sold.

The Future

National parks will be next in the loggers sights. The PR machine will go into overdrive and Peter Garrett will be convinced that jobs are more important than national parks. A sad aspect of Tasmania’s unsustainable timber industry, is that they are destroying forestry jobs for future generations of Australians. This will also be blamed on conservationists. The real culprits are the foreign investors of Japan, Sweden and the US, banking the wealth of Tasmania’s lost carbon. This is the reality behind the relentless denigration of any Australian that has ever marveled at a giant living tree in its natural place.

Notes

(1) Production figures for the year come from HERE.
2,500,000 tonnes of pulp logs from public forests.

404,000 tonnes sawlogs/veneer from public forests (converted from .809 million cubic metres using MBAC’s average density of 500Kg per cubic metre formula)

2,800,000 tonnes private forest harvest.

1,700,000 tonnes private plantation harvest.

7,404,500 tonnes total harvest.

This was a good year for the Tasmanian timber industry. A downturn was to come, but the industry has only ever been slowed by a lack of demand. The political will has always been there.

(2) Total carbon harvested for that year. The figure was multiplied by 0.5 as per the MBAC method of converting tonnes of timber to tonnes of carbon. That document can be downloaded HERE

(3) (4) Total land available for timber production in Tasmania. Courtesy DAFF and available HERE (30% of 3.2 million hectares = 960,000 hectares).
Atmospheric carbon stored on available land. The formula used was 2.083 tonnes carbon per hectare, per annum. It was extrapolated from Forestry Tasmania’s figures of 720,000 tonnes per year returned to the total estate of 1.5 million hectares. This was used for the entire commercial estate because of a lack of any other available data. FT’s figures are available HERE Forestry Tasmania’s carbon replacement figures should be a good starting point for the whole Tasmanian forest industry. Their estate size is shown HERE.