Tasmanian Times

Economy

Monocultures … Monsters in the Making

The fact that a monoculture plantation of E nitens could be the source of toxins found by Dr Marcus Scammell and Dr Alison Bleaney, should raise questions about the viability of these plantations in Tasmania.

While the debate about isolating toxins continues, perhaps we should be addressing the larger issue – the practice of monocultures.

The focus should be broader issues of sustainability in forestry and agriculture.

Monocultures are bad and this is no new idea.

For years the scientific community has known about the negatives of monocultures, yet, this outdated, unsustainable practice has somehow survived as the method of choice for agriculture and forestry in Tasmania today.

The horrors of monocultures, are explored by acclaimedenvironmentalist, Vandana Shiva, in her brilliant work ‘Monocultures of the Mind’. She is particularly scathing of this practice in forestry where it can have the most devastating impact.

Apart from being inherently unsustainable due to the lack of biodiversity that a monoculture implies, the following are well known facts:

Monocultures:

• Alter ecosystems by changing feedback mechanisms, interactions between species and species interdependence
• Require excessive pesticide, herbicide and fungicide use (residues of which remain on the final crop or contaminate water ways)
• Are increasingly susceptible to, and intensify disease outbreaks
• Cause nutrient imbalances in soils and can increase acidity
• Can pollute water ways by changing the leachate from soils
• Encourage the growth of invasive species
• Increase crop susceptibility to weather (a serious problem, considering, the effects of climate change)
• Result in poor land governance including extra clearing of forests
• Decrease space for animal and insect habitat
• Can require a higher water demand compared to a permaculture plantation, especially if the trees are not indigenous.

Each of these points in turn, can have flow-on effects into other areas of society. Around the Globe, monocultures have been linked to:
• A decline in traditional cultural practices
• Loss of important traditional knowledge systems
• Changes in distribution of wealth and the creation of poverty
• Famines, food shortages
• Loss of other income-generating activities
• Loss of cultural and historic sites.

Just as in economics where MON-opolies are regarded as bad, and the polar opposite of the healthy, ideal ‘perfect competition’ model, where there are a diverse number of suppliers in a market, monocultures in agriculture and forestry are bad.

Monocultures in social cultures are also bad. Research has linked a decline in traditional cultures and practices, to a decline in ecosystem health.

Even in business, it is a recognised fact that groups composed of individuals who are too similar, exhibit a phenomenon called ‘group think’ are less productive and less innovative.

Diversity is an important necessity in many contexts. Implicitly, Monocultures are bad.

Horribly, it seems, that monocultures can actually contribute to the toxicity of soil and water and that this can be true of GM or non-GM crops.

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of E nitens have been planted around the world, leaving a trail of environmental and social problems wherever they take root.

Ho & Cummins (2005) from the Institute of Science in Society, report that in some countries, locals call E nitens ‘the “selfish tree”, because eucalyptus plantations remove nutrients from the soil and
consume so much water that farmers cannot grow rice in neighbouring fields.’

In Tasmania, over 300 000 hectares of E nitens exist. E nitens are capable of contaminating the gene pool of other Eucalyptus species in wild forests, which raises additional concerns about biodiversity. If the toxins found from the E nitens in St Helens do turn out to be ‘naturally occurring’ this in no way lessens the severity of the issue.

Some of the most feared toxins are natural; cyanide, botulism, ergotamine and other alkaloids are examples. It would also be unacceptable to find traces of these substances in waterways, and it would indicate a need to change the practice responsible.

The presence of toxins in water should trigger the Precautionary Principle and a deep investigation into other methodologies that can replace the polluting practice.

There are alternatives to monocultures in forestry, but they need to be taken seriously and implemented.

A proven, sustainable method of forestry is to change the focus from timber, as a means of producing profit, to Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs).

Since it’s all about the bottom line, there are smarter ways of turning a profit, than relying on timber or wood chip from plantations.

Permaculture NTFP can be planted with multi-species for multiproducts that ultimately fetch a higher market price compared to wood chip or timber.

The benefits of permaculture NTFP plantations are the following:

• They never require felling, and provide permanent tree cover (and hence all the benefits of forests including a permanent carbon sink)
• Store less carbon compared to an unmanaged forest (important for reducing CO2 emissions and carbon capture)
• Allow for greater biodiversity
• Provide habitat for insects, birds and other animals
• Allow for natural ecosystem processes to control pests
• Require less or no pesticide, herbicide or fungicide use
• Provide a wider range of products compared to a monoculture (including medicinal, fibre, oils and resins, building materials, edible items, perfumes and cosmetics)
• Return a higher profit from produce compared to woodchip
• Are more sustainable as they last longer compared to a timber plantation that must inevitably be cut down
• Increase soil quality
• Is flexible and can be extended to include some timber species
• Can include agricultural products for populations (have been recognised as a critical component for food security)
• Reduce poverty and create a more even distribution of wealth.

NTFP agroforestry has been practiced by many cultures around the world, before the modern advent of large-scale monoculture, pushed by globalisation. This alternative method was the secret of other cultures survival and their minimal impact on natural resources. For an example, in India NTFP agroforestry was the reason that such a huge population was able to survive on such a tiny landmass for thousands of years.

Today there are many organizations around the World that have recognised permaculture NTFP as a superior methodology to monocultures. These include the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, The Global Non-Timber Forest Products Partnership, The United Nations Environment Programme and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

We pride ourselves on being developed, clean and green in Tasmania. ‘Sustainable development’ is the catch cry of talk in industry, politics and the media. Monocultures are the antithesis of sustainable development. If we truly want to implement sustainable development then we need to address this issue and start experimenting with other land-use practices.

A short term, quick-money focus and desperation has driven industry to choose monocultures, but it invites a vicious cycle, that will ultimately end in a number of environmental, economic and social crises which will be much harder to solve later, than sorting out the issue now.

Bibliography:

Altieri, M., (2009), The Ecological Impacts of Large-Scale Agrofuel Monoculture Production Systems in the Americas, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, Vol. 29, No. 3, 236-244
Austin, P., (2010), call for probe on toxic plantations, Stock & Land, Fairfax digital, 26/02/10, available online at http://sl.farmonline.com.au/news/state/agribusiness-andgeneral/finance (ctied 13/03/10)
Barbour, R., (2004), Gene flow from introduced Eucalyptus plantations into native eucalypt species, PhD thesis submitted to the University of Tasmania, available online at http://eprints.utas.edu.au/237/ (cited 13/03/10)
Cannell, M., (1999), Environmental impacts of forest monocultures: water use, acidification, wildlife conservation, and carbon storage, New Forests, 17: 239-262 Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, (2008), FROM SUBSISTENCE FARMING TO SUGAR-CANE MONOCULTURE: IMPACTS ON AGROBIODIVERSITY, LOCAL KNOWLEDGE AND FOOD SECURITY, A case study of two irrigation and agricultural development projects in Swaziland, FAO, Italy, Rome, available online at http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/aj042e/aj042e00.HTM (ctied 12/03/10)
Ho, M., Cummins, J., (2005), GM Trees – The Ultimate Threat, ISIS Report 28/02/05, Institute of Science in Society, available online at http://www.i-sis.org.uk/GMFTTUT.php (cited 10/03/2010) Nelson, S., (2006), powerpoint presentation: Poly- and Monocultures: The good, the bad and the ugly, Kona Hawaii, May 16-19, available online at www.agroforestry.net/events/ (cited 13/03/10)
Shiva, V., (1993), Monocultures of the Mind, Zed books Ltd, Malaysia.

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85 Comments

85 Comments

  1. Shane Weatherall

    April 18, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    # 85 JA. Yep, I agree that there are still a few burns occurring, but probably 85% less on a pro-rate basis when compared to previous years.

  2. J A Stevenson

    April 18, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Could someone kindly explain in simple words how one can obtain Carbon Credits for planting trees to lock up carbon. Yet can fell, chip and burn thousands of tons of carbon to be released into the atmosphere without have to pay for the carbon released.

    Re:# 77 Your comment “I also must reiterate that broadscale burning is not favoured in plantations due to nutrient loss. You may be mistaking the smoke that you have seen for regen burns or farm burns (which are quite numerous at present. I would guess that if the smoke was thick then the material being burnt was green, and so it would be unlikely to be a forestry burn as normal practice is to burn cured material.”

    Smoke was thick in Wynyard last week and drifted miles out to sea. This was from a forestry burn at Odina where a 22 years old Radiata plantation was felled some months ago. All the small stuff was burnt completely and the larger pieces left are still smouldering.
    Get out and see for yourself the sites of the recent burns.
    A steeply sloping area on the way to Natone has received the same treatment.

  3. Frank Strie, FWM

    April 15, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Hello Shane, @81 you responded: … You are not correct about the siltation the Tamar come from current forestry practices(I will agree with you that it was different some 20 – 25 years ago but forestry practices today compared to then are chalk and cheese). …
    Come on, whilst I know about the 1940s and right through the 1980s, the industry Growth Plan was a brainchild from the mid 1990s.
    Hot on the heels of the 1997 RFA, it was just implemented, no matter what in 1998.

    OK, for the record, I visited and toured Tasmania for the first time exactly 25 years ago this week actually. A quarter of a century, during that time the forest based industry in Tasmania has drifted into a terrible state.
    The observations I have made since then and compared to other parts of the world is disappointing, despite all the propaganda and the gloss and the spin by the Tasmanian forest mining industry.
    I take no pleasure to make these statements and I am not flippant about it, simply compare the situation and choices we have today with the amazing opportunities Tasmania had in years gone by.
    The Forest Practices System in Tasmania was designed to facilitate the conversion of mixed forests to even aged tree crops. The streamside reserves along the creeks are just pretender strips because the massive clearings in Tasmania’s sloping landscape are unable to compensate for the loss of sponge affect in responsibly managed catchments.

    Yes, the Germans began to convert their mixed (but degraded) forests from 1850s onwards. The consequences, the damage and multiple costs and trade off for this short sighted, ‘accountant driven’ approach will continue to be a burden for centuries to come.
    However, the Pro Silva organisation is well respected and many forest agencies around the globe started to learn from positive examples.
    In Tasmania the heavy equipment driven technology and big scale approach lost the opportunity to be clever and wise.
    “macho-macho” was the driver as soon as they got the diesel and petrol tools, not the inter-generational commitment to the Island.
    What a great waste: commercial waste, environmental waste and social waste!
    They (the big industry leaders) have stuffed up in the truest sense, as so many Tasmanian hard working people have trusted the “forestry experts” and many have, and many more will loose their inheritances, their farms, their houses, cars and boats, and many family are stressed out due to the multi-faceted impact of bad practice in Tasmania.
    There are real names attached to this man made situation. Ignorance, false pride, narrow vision, greed and also the lack of will to change, to think holistic, to plan and practice total quality management as the economic driver in our forests and catchments.
    Read: J KULHAVÝ – 2004 – “… maintenance of the hydrological stability of catchments, … forest and other elements of the landscape include climate …. evaluation of carbon pools in various types of mountain … Pro Silva Committee conception. CONCLUSION …
    http://www.cazv.cz/attachments/6-Kulhavy.pdf

  4. J A Stevenson

    April 15, 2010 at 2:29 am

    Re # 81. I have seen Broken Hill area, if you wish to know more read Peter Andrew’s book. “Back from the brink” The area around Queenstown was denuded of timber felled to feed the furnaces as was the land round Broken Hill. The wind does the damage at Broken Hill, the rain erodes at Queenstown. The fertile top soil has disappeared at both places. Some agricultural practices are more destructive than forestry, particularly regarding use of pesticides. All forested areas over 60 years of age since being last logged should be classified as permanent forests. Selective felling and management should take place. Timber was harvested without the need to turn the site into a wasteland and was naturally reseeded and developed without the use of fertilizers of pesticides. Its only the mono-cultures that require this treatment.

  5. Steve

    April 14, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    81; Thanks for the advice Shane but I’m not sure what float costs you are talking about? The machinery is right here waiting to go.
    I won’t be taking your advice on the fencing. I’ve strung more miles of fencing than I care to remember and the old tassie stand by of stringing chicken wire on an old fence is not a good idea. Wallabies can punch right through cheap chicken wire and once there’s a hole, it’s all over. Your chicken wire also has a short life due to the rusting of the old fence. Within a short time you’re back where you started and have wasted your money and labour. I doze old fences, clear a nice 6m wide piece of smooth ground and start again. Very little gets through my fences.
    With regard to your quick fix method of clearing ground. Sounds easy when you say it quickly. Care to come and have a go? My offer’s still open. Your method would work fine for regenerating forest but I want a hay paddock.
    Again I know exactly what’s involved in converting ground because I’ve done any amount of it. I was driving machinery, clearing land, back in the seventies in WA. I know the difference between converting that type of land to converting the land my property here is composed off.
    You popped up with a figure of $560/ha. I know that’s nonsense for Tasmania. I wish it wasn’t because I’d have my hay paddock (sure you don’t want to come and do it for me?).
    This block will be considerably easier than an ex-plantation block. The ground hasn’t been mounded for starters. It also has a lot less rubbish on it. None the less, there will be a huge job simply cleaning it up. If you’re not interested in doing it for me, I’ll have to do it myself over the next year or so. I’ll let you know just how long it takes, if I can remember to keep track.

  6. Shane Weatherall

    April 14, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    # 79 Frank. You are not correct about the siltation the Tamar come from current forestry practices (I will agree with you that it was different some 20 – 25 years ago but forestry practices today compared to then are chalk and cheese). In fact, one only needs to go along to places like Blessington or Fingal etc to where farmland and active forestry lie side by side, and again it is like chalk and cheese with respect to the zero or minimum water turbidity arising from forestry compared to the vast volumes arising from farmland, particularly where it has been 100% cultivated for new grass or crops. I actually find it quite shocking. Very few farmers, including organic ones, practice waterway buffer management, or even attempt to alleviate what they know will occur in rainfall events. In addition, if you look at the soil beside the south Esk in places like Fingal you will note that it is very loamy / sandy and alluvial, and where there is farmland right up to its banks, it simply erodes in vast quantities. Different story with natural forests, and even plantation although my feeling is that the 40 metres buffers left for water quality protection reasons on ex-pasture locations like the Evercreech plantation should probably have been re-vegetated with tree species (even though they would not be able to be harvested under the Forest Practices Code) simply for river bank stability reasons, something which the farmland could not provide. However these buffers are slowly increasing their protection value I must admit.

    Also, Frank, why are you so avid about selective logging of plantation, even your home country generally doesn’t practice that?

    # 80 (JAS). I do not know why you are comparing Tassie to Broken Hill, there is simply no comparison. And as for Queenstown are you simply referring to the mined areas (where the local council now sprays to keep vegetation away for tourism reasons). See my post of # 77 – plantations are very biodiverse here in Tassie. Like I said there are exceptions, notably first rotation on seriously depleted farmland, (but here the biodiversity increases with the second rotation) and also sometimes where correct silvicultural practice is not being followed and no commercial thinning occurs.

    Go up to that large plantation node at Surrey Hills, and look at the total of the privately owned landscape. You wouldn’t find much more bio-diverse place in Tasmania. and this is perhaps one of the reasons that companies like Gunns (who own Surrey) voluntarily reserve around 30% of their land.

    # 78. Steve. There’s the problem of scale at your place (must be the one on Pipers River). with 2 ha, your float costs would be massive compared to the actual treatment costs. Plus its not really disturbed land anymore, which makes it even more expensive (actually, if you are correct about the time that has passed, it would be classified by the forest industry as native forest and so would not be cleared, but I think you have rough grazed it?). The small size, and its location amongst all the native, makes it extremely susceptible to mammal browsing, and you are correct, your fence costs would be high, although I do finf the relatively cheap chicken wire does the trick if you attach it to the old fence and have a flap at ground level that you just bury or peg down … then possums will be your only problem unless you place a well located hotwire above the chicken wire. This would drop your costs by at least 60% (I wouldn’t use wallaby wire, so many animals still get through) and it’s quite easy and quick to erect. If the old fence is gone, just use star pickets.

    So I would probably spray it with Roundup, let it dessicate, broadcast burn it, and then just cultivate it and sow it with grass … although it is relatively infertile (I think where you are) so will still probably need to top dress it.

    All in all though, the cost should be lower than what you think.

  7. J A Stevenson

    April 14, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Shane Weatherall. Which continent do you live on.
    Certainly not Australia. One has only too compare the lack of diversity in species here due to firestick farming. Eucaluptus provide very little fertility.
    See the colour of the water flowing from rivers out to sea from clear felled forest regions. Visit Queenstown or Broken Hill where all the trees were cleared to feed the furnaces.

  8. Frank Strie

    April 14, 2010 at 3:20 am

    Re: Shane Weatherall #74 …” Forest Practices these days also ensure that soil erosion does not occur, or if it does (say due to a storm event) remedial action is taken to fix it.”

    You are not in Tasmania Shane , are you!?
    If you like to come for a tour to see what we are about, I am happy to show you the soil erosion due to “reduction in surface area” (clearfelling) in our upper catchments.
    The Tamar basin is just one classic example, silt originating from streambed erosion due to high speed and energy flow during high rainfall events.

    There are plenty of living examples where the Rivers have steep edges due to clearing in the catchment above.
    What a waste of soil and nutrients, this is not good practice, nor is is sustainable.
    Large scale clearfelling (above 1 ha) has to stop!
    Ther should be no silvicultural reason why the plantations could not be managed in a selective form.
    By the time carbon, soil nutrients, diversity, stability, quality ,markets are taken in to account, the “start – stop scenario” is outdated.

    Holistic catchment management and restoration forestry with community input is the way to go.
    Rebuilding trust … as the Labor and Greens talking about.
    Shane, just use Google Earth and zoom into the North East Tasmania clearings…
    and then there is the Tarkine region in the far North West, a situation more akin to the bad images of the tropical Asian situation.
    Interesting times ahead for Tasmania, in any imagination.

  9. Steve

    April 14, 2010 at 12:34 am

    77; Shane, I must apologise. I missed your reply and my TT filter whisked it off. I only just noticed it due to un-read status.
    I’m most interested in your $560/ha figure. As I understand it, your research has indicated that this is the cost involved in returning plantations to pasture.
    In the interests of research I have a proposal to put to you. I have a 2ha (200m x 100m)patch of ground that I would like to convert to a hay paddock. Ten years ago this patch of ground was an olive farm. Due to inadequate fencing and inadequate TLC the olives failed and are long gone. I purchased the property, of which this patch is part, about six years ago and haven’t had time to get to it yet. There’s no stumps to speak of, just wattle re-growth, sag and bracken, with the occasional white peppermint coming back.
    I will happily pay you $1120 to convert this land back to good pasture.
    I’m a fair person, so I won’t expect you to pay for fencing, although in the real life plantation scenario fencing would have to replaced, but at a cost of about $9000 to adequately fence this block, your budget might not handle it.
    Your case is that plantations improve the soil so I won’t expect you to pay for fertilizer. I know that nothing will grow until the soil is sweetened up a bit so I’ll pay the $4-500 for lime and fertilizer.
    What’s left, oh yes, equipment. Because I’m really silly, I’ll even lend you the machinery for the task, including a quite nice dozer. Only condition is that you pay for fuel and breakages.
    What do you reckon? Few hundred on seed and fuel, all the rest is just labour. When do you start? As a bonus I’ll hand over $1000 in cash the day we cut our first hay crop!
    My only condition is that you maintain an accurate log of time and cash expended. Perhaps time could be valued at about $15/hour and we’ll see just how much it really costs to clear ground?

  10. Shane Weatherall

    March 31, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Steve / J.A

    The study in SA was not just on sand and there are also many other examples, such as one I mentioned a previous piece about New Zealand where approximately 30,000 hectares have been converted back to dairy pasture – quite a cheap process by all accounts (about $560 NZ per ha??) and testing showed that all that was needed was grass seed after the stumps were popped out.

    Comparing slash and burn tropical farming practices (in South America) is not a fair comparison as they are such different practices – plus topical soils are inherently infertile by nature and that is why the slash and burn practice started – it the potash from the burnt material that gives the boost to the annual crop. However, your reference to the tropics does perhaps highlight plantation studies there that have also illustrated improvement in soil fertility.

    I also must reiterate that broadscale burning is not favoured in plantations due to nutrient loss (I do notice that a lot of stubble burning still occurs though which I reckon is a shame). You may be mistaking the smoke that you have seen for regen burns or farm burns (which are quite numerous at present. I would guess that if the smoke was thick then the material being burnt was green, and so it would be unlikely to be a forestry burn as normal practice is to burn cured material.

    Soil loss from plantations is also unusual, and certainly much less than ploughed paddocks.

    I would also wager that a significant proportion of the improvement in soil comes from the rotting of other species beside eucalyptus that are also present in plantations, particularly after their first thin. They (the plantations) are in reality generally very bio-diverse (except where old farmland is converted back to forests: in such cases the soil structure and soil biodiversity is usually depleted)

  11. J A Stevenson

    March 31, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Re # 74 What utter rubbish. In tropical areas the forest was slashed and burnt to create fertile soil to grow crops. In a few years the fertility had gone and another area was treated the same. Under permanent forest, fertility does build up, Under the plantation short rotation system, fertility is lost by wholesale burning and winter rains leaching away the remainder. Get out there and examine the plantation soils and then compare them with the soils of permanent forests. In any case there is very little goodness in eucalyptus leaves compared to other trees. Why was the smoke in Perth near Launceston so thick in the morning recently. The smoke in Wynyard this morning was quite thick from fires inland. What is wood smoke except humus and fertility?

  12. Steve

    March 31, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    74; Would I be right in saying that the SA research was conducted on sand?
    Anyone who’s had anything to do with farming knows it’s a complete myth that trees are just another crop. Once farmland has been converted to plantation, it may well cost more than the lands worth to convert it back again.

  13. Shane Weaterall

    March 31, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    # 73. You are actually quite incorrect. The truth is that soils improve under plantation management. The humus actually improve, the nutrient status improves, soil biodiversity returns back to normal and so forth.

    You should realise that burning of second, third and fourth rotation coupes in not common.

    Forest Practices these days also ensure that soil erosion does not occur, or if it does (say due to a storm event) remedial action is taken to fix it.

    This is demonstrated very clearly in many places, not the least South Australia where long term research has demonstrated increasing fertility of sites after each successive rotation.

    Cheers

  14. J A Stevenson

    March 31, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Good quality farmland under four rotations of plantation timber will never again be any use for any thing. The humus will have been burn away or washed away and only mineral soil remaining. If this soil is shallow it will become another Queenstown scene.

  15. Steve

    March 30, 2010 at 1:09 am

    71; Kevin, I think the question regarding good quality farming land V marginal farming land could really be worded as good farmers V marginal farmers.
    My early farming experiences were in the wheat belt of WA. Any one of those farmers would have sold his grandmother to have the rainfall and soils of the farms that are dismissed as “marginal”.
    My suggestion is that farms should be viewed as part of the states capital. It takes a huge amount of work to convert native forest to farmland. Even with machinery it’s barely economic now. Knocking down trees is easy, it’s the next steps that are hard.
    Every time you convert good cleared land back to trees, you are reducing the overall capital value of the state. Just the same as not maintaining other infra structure, such as roads or railway lines.
    Cleared farm land can produce income far in excess of plantations. I’d agree that there’s not much biodiversity in pasture, but there’s also the point that it’s really hard to eat E.nitens. Quite apart from the point that it’s apparently poisonous!

  16. Dr Kevin Bonham

    March 29, 2010 at 1:34 am

    Wallabies are native. So, according to what Steve is saying in #69, once plantations intrude into a farmland environment the wallaby population goes up. Well, that’s a big nuisance for farmers, but no matter what the wallabies are eating that’s still +1 for biodiversity. Of course, the +1 is only a +1 for common old Bennett’s Wallabies, so that doesn’t really count, does it? May as well just poison or shoot them, right? Aaaah, but that’s a [i]conservation[/i] issue then, isn’t it … 😉

    Joey (#66), I certainly don’t doubt what you’re saying – but your arguments are not that different from those underlying the resistance of timber workers to the failed Latham plan to spend megabucks reskilling them into other industries. So is the determining factor in the amount of farming that is done really the supply of supposedly good quality land as suggested by #53, or is the strength of a social tradition also a big part of it?

    This is all a bit of a tangent anyway. The problem in #53 is that we have one enquiry concerning marginal farming land and another concerning “good quality” farming land. I don’t think anyone on this thread is really suggesting that plantations should be established wherever the market (distorted by tax breaks) would permit them to be grown.

  17. George Harris aka woodworker

    March 28, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Re #54, Yeah, well, you can wait a bit longer.
    Stew on it.
    I will get around to it.

  18. Steve

    March 28, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    I think the people being dismissive of agricultural pest animals probably need to gain some experience. I agree that such animals exist in both native and plantation forest, but they are not very keen on open farmland, at least not by day.
    I live in an area with much forest around. Consequently it costs me about $10/m to fence (materials only, you could add at least another $5/m for labour) and if one little hole is created, pasture disappears before my eyes.
    In the more open areas of Tasmania, the fencing is rudimentary, enough to keep stock in but that’s all. That’s because the area of pasture is large in proportion to the number of pests.
    If you suddenly wake up one day and find that the farms on either side of you have been converted to plantation, you have only two choices. Spend seriously large sums of money on fencing, or take the money and run.
    Ignore these two options and you will be eaten out of house and farm by nocturnal invaders!

  19. William Boeder

    March 28, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    A comment to all those people whom are pro the forestry industry as it is practiced in Tasmania.

    Just how much timber tonnage is laid to ruin, wasted and burnt to ashes, as a result of the clear-felling practices allowed to go on by the government of this State?

    For those highly placed personnel in Forestry Tasmania, (in your role as guardians and keepers of our Ancient Forests,) do you have this information to hand as recorded in your overall statistical figures?

    These figures and or statistical information will go a long way to ascertaining the world’s best practice and sustainable realities as so claimed by Forestry Tasmania?

  20. J A Stevenson

    March 28, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Re: # 64 Wallaby’s and rabbits are the two main species and the ones which do the most damage to crops. Under these mono-cultures there is no food whatever while they are in the pole stage.I have seen the forest floor where light penetrates sufficintly for the grass to grow, eaten off closer than any lawn. The other side of the fence, paid for and erected by the farmer the grass could be up to ones knees. Fail to see where disused farmland comes in.

  21. joey

    March 28, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    #63 “why (aside from what regulation exists of their locations) is there still any farming occurring in Tasmania at all? “, without getting specific, this could be answered by the following: as some opt out, others benefit from those opting out; farming is a way of life that most farmers would want to do till they die; some farmers remain because it is their trade/craft/gemeinschaft (they know nothing else); selling could mean facing retirement, or having to change profession, not an attractive proposition for some; or because some farmers make a good living farming and thus see no need to sell up. a farm is not just a farm, it is a home. i will never forget the day my father sold his. and the fact we fulfilled his wish to have his ashes spread there a decade after he had left the farm speaks volumes about his attachment to the place. jsut some thoughts..

  22. Sam

    March 28, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    #64…previous comments on plantation forests describe destruction of biodiversity. If so, how is it that agricultural pest animals inhabit the plantations ?? Don’t agricultural pest animals inhabit native forest areas ?

  23. Dr Kevin Bonham

    March 28, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    JA Stevenson (#60) – interesting comment; which “agricultural pest animals” did you have in mind and what is the evidence that these species do better in plantations than in (especially disused) farmland?

  24. Dr Kevin Bonham

    March 28, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Ned (#61), my answer in #55 was in the specific context of biodiversity as raised in the question I was asked in what is now #53. Your question clearly lies outside that context and is not relevant to my comments that you have quoted.

    Gerry’s #56 continues to maintain two common myths regarding wildlife in plantations. The first is that all native biodiversity is the subject of control and/or exclusion attempts; in fact these attempts are directed only at a tiny subset of the native fauna.

    The second is that native fauna are so unadaptable that they are only able to live in specific “natural habitats” with specific “food sources” and not in plantations. This is true for some species (for instance those that depend upon trees of a certain age, size or maturity level) but for many it is not. From the perspective of a wet-forest litter-feeding invertebrate there is not much difference between a well-established eucalypt plantation with an understorey of dogwood and other shrubs, and a native regrowing forest of similar composition and age. Indeed, plantations probably generate litter at a faster rate as they grow than native regrowth does. Plantations abound with food and that stuff doesn’t just sit there and decay uneaten as if in some kind of ecological vacuum; rather, many native species can consume it.

    As for the economics of plantation tax breaks, if they are really so lucrative as Gerry asserts then why (aside from what regulation exists of their locations) is there still any farming occurring in Tasmania at all? How about some detail on comparative viability of “good quality” agricultural land instead of just assertions that real agriculture cannot compete?

  25. Steve

    March 28, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    58; It’s not really a question of how much money the farm makes, it’s more a question of how much the land costs.
    Normally the value of the land reflects how much income can be derived from it. It’s a fine balance as you need a fair bit of land to make a living.
    The MIS money doesn’t affect that balance, it totally destroys it, bringing it back to a basic $’s/acre.
    In simple terms, a poppy crop doesn’t use much land but you spend many $’s/acre to produce it.
    A beef farm uses many acres of land but not very many $’s/acre.
    Which venture is more profitable is down to many factors but as soon as you skew the value of land with taxpayers money it’s all over for the grazing property.
    Farming’s always a borderline thing anyway. Not very large returns in comparison to the amount of capital investment, and the level of risk.
    If you’ve 1000 acres of land and a MIS company offers you a $1000/acre more than it’s worth, selling the family farm suddenly looks very attractive!

  26. Ned

    March 28, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    #55 “But whatever the answer to the question, the key point remains that even monoculture plantations on ex-farmland are a plus.”

    Are you an expert in agricultural land use or on planning legislation?

  27. J A Stevenson

    March 28, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Another reason farmers can not compete is the intrusion of plantations into a farmering area creates a sanctuary for agricultural pest animals which find a refuge in the growing plantations, where they can not be controlled but feed exclusively on the surrounding farms. Forest animals should be contained in the forests by adequate fencing, paid for by the forest owners not being inflicted onto the farmers.Farmers have to fence against their own stock and maintain same, forest owners should be compelled to do likewise. Is it any wonder that Tasmania will quickly become a third world country.

  28. Details

    March 28, 2010 at 11:42 am

    #57 Maybe something isn’t in the water. Salt, for example. I know, it is an outrageous thought but my point was that there is just a tiny chance that nitens is not responsible for all the world ills. I will get back in my box.

  29. Gerry Mander

    March 28, 2010 at 11:10 am

    #55. As for the “good quality farming land” my suggested general definition of such is land that people are making enough money out of farming not to turn it over to tree plantations… K.B.

    The reason is not quite that simple. The funds available to the Ponzi scheme administrators far exceed those available to potential farmers due to the Federal and local tax breaks. Farmers cannot compete. But apart from that, as Bob Loone has revealed, in Meander Valley alone, the cost to the rate payers is $20,000,000 per annum with the loss of of over 250 jobs.

  30. Gerry Mander

    March 28, 2010 at 11:04 am

    #52. Freshwater floats on top of salt water. Good point! How do marine oysters go in fresh water after a major flood event?

    They all die!

  31. Gerry Mander

    March 28, 2010 at 11:02 am

    “However, regenerated native forests are capable of maintaining wildlife and the environment, while also continuing to provide a source of sustainable timber.”

    Tell the wildlife that after they have been poisoned, shot, burnt and their natural habitat and food source destroyed!

    As for providing a ‘a sustainable source of timber’, I thought that epithet was applied to the old growth forests that they replaced?

  32. Dr Kevin Bonham

    March 28, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Re #52 there’s been very little research into biodiversity of mixed vs single native species plantations in Tas for the simple reason that relatively few of the former type exist. It would most likely depend on what kind of mix you employed, and whether that mix was widely employed would depend upon its viability. But whatever the answer to the question, the key point remains that even monoculture plantations on ex-farmland are a plus.

    As for the “good quality farming land” my suggested general definition of such is land that people are making enough money out of farming not to turn it over to tree plantations (which are known to be pretty marginal) just for the sake of a tax break. If it’s such good quality, why is it getting converted? (Yes, there are rare cases where a good bit of farmland is surrounded by bad bits that all get converted, and then the owner of the good bit has a reason to sell up, but apart from that …)

  33. Charles and Claire Gilmour

    March 27, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    (39) “The decision by Forestry Tasmania to cease converting native forest to plantations was a deliberate and necessary decision from a political and marketing point of view…”

    Nothing to do with bio-diversity issues then? So was Hans Drielsma just trying to con the public into believing FT actually cared about bio-diversity in the following FT statement? Probably, likely… infact deliberately necessary we’d suggest.

    Just as a quick reminder a copy of Forestry Tasmania’s media release on the1st June 2007.

    “End of conversion of native forests to plantations
    Forestry Tasmania today announced an end to the broad scale conversion of State-owned native forests to plantations.

    Executive General Manager Hans Drielsma said that the major policy, effective from today, followed a long period of discussions between Forestry Tasmania, the forest industry and conservation interests.

    “Around the world, there is concern about the clearing and conversion of native vegetation. The practice is seen by conservation biologists as a significant element in biodiversity decline.

    “For reputable environmental organisations, such as the WWF, such conversion for plantation development has been their most fundamental concern with modern forest practices.

    Dr Drielsma said that the policy exceeds the target set by the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement to phase out conversion of native forests on public land by 2010.

    “This is a very significant policy decision. In economic terms it is more efficient to grow plantations, as they grow four to five times faster than regrowth native forests and provide an attractive and sustainable basis for wood production. (Not so ‘attractive’ at the moment apparently).
    “However, regenerated native forests are capable of maintaining wildlife and the environment, while also continuing to provide a source of sustainable timber.” (How a natural forest regenerated with only once species can be called ‘native’ … is another story).

    Dr Drielsma said that the basis for Forestry Tasmania’s decision to end conversion, as well as its other forest management initiatives, was explained in a booklet he launched today, Sustainable Forest Management.

    “Sustainable forest management means the three dimensions of sustainability: environmental, social and economic sustainability, are equally balanced.
    (Note nothing said about woody’s ‘politically’ motivated).

    “This booklet demystifies the complex task of sustainable forest management, explaining in ‘plain English’ how we manage our forests to meet internationally-accepted standards.”
    (Internationally-accepted? Apparently not).

    Woodworker though suggests … deliberate and necessary politically … and we agree. … for a Labor Tassie. We already know that the forest industry chief, Julian Amos is ‘politically’ aligned to labor and another well placed government FT media spinner, Forestry Tasmania’s Media Relations Officer; Hans Drielsma, obviously played a big part as an AFS director.

    Deliberate and necessary for marketing … also agree. We don’t doubt for one second it had little to do with bio-diversity issues and more to do with marketing money in the form of woodchips/potential pulp and a quick marketing taxation scheme.

    “World Bank loan to Aracruz is in breach of Bank forest policy”
    http://www.wrm.org.uy/bulletin/92/SA.html#Brazil

    “IFC’s (International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank Group) loan is in breach of the World Bank’s forest policy, which requires that “industrial-scale commercial harvesting operations “MUST” be certified under an independent forest certification system acceptable to the Bank”.
    (Note the word ‘independent’ – not politically or financially motivated).

    Also, “… a UK Government committee has declared that the Australian Forest Standard (AFS) does not meet the criteria set for its endorsement of Forest Certification schemes.”
    http://www.wilderness.org.au/campaigns/forests/tasmania/thumbs_down/

    Woodworker once said on another thread “I wish to point out I don’t always agree with what Forestry Tasmania is doing, or how they are doing it,…”
    And we asked him… “Ok George, (woodworker) in line with a positive and constructive manner, please explain and expand on why you don’t always agree with FT and just how are Forestry Tasmania doing things you don’t agree with?” “In addition, what would you see as being proper media reporting of the timber industry?” He never answered, we still await a reply.

  34. Charles and Claire Gilmour

    March 27, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    (38) Wouldn’t mixed native species planted on marginal farming land create more bio diversity than a monoculture on the same land? Haven’t many people become too lazy to grow at least some of their food, so we therefore need to protect good quality farming land (and waterways) for food production, as opposed to that land going down to more niten plantations?

  35. details

    March 27, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    #51 Hmm. Freshwater floats on top of salt water. Good point! How do marine oysters go in fresh water after a major flood event? Surely you are not suggesting that there are possible explantations for oyster deaths other than forestry activities. Next you will be suggesting that it would have been helpful to sample the leaves of a few native eucalypt species in the Georges River catchment before leaping to conclusions about nitens and scaring the living bejesus out of a whole state. I mean, with limited funds, surely this would have been easier than flying to Victoria to sample old growth nitens only to find that the old growth is more toxic than the ‘geneticially engineered’ plantations (to quote Chris Hickey’s extended interview on the ABC web site) .

    The National Forestry Inventory puts the Tasmanian hardwood plantation estate at 217 068 ha. Sorry Mark!!! However, I am sure there were some Tasmanians involved in the preparation of the document and so who knows if it can be trusted.
    Tahttp://adl.brs.gov.au/mapserv/plant/2009updatecoverpage.phtml

  36. Gerry Mander

    March 27, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    “….why else would the oysters be ok if they are dropped lower into the water during flush events?”

    Because for the obvious reason that fresh water floats on the top of salt water.

    “AND….you just seem to be fixated with Nitens for some reason, which is about 200,000 hectares, not 300.”

    Rubbish! Gunns alone claims to manage 300 000 hectares and then there are all the plantations that belong to FEA, Roberts, Elders, and private PTR’s. If you want to see where they are, take a long slow drive through northern Tasmania.

    Try again Mark!!

  37. Heather Donaldson

    March 27, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    #48 – OK Mark, but who tells the devils and other wild creatures not to drink from the surface scum?
    Their tongues are not long enough to lap below the surface.

  38. William Boeder

    March 27, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    47#.
    Shane, with all due respect, why is it that Forestry Tasmania are still clear-felling in the Tarkine Forests?
    So much Ancient Forest has already been wood-chipped, yet there are still wood-chips to hand that even the minister for everything has been unable to off load.
    Yet the clear-felling continues on, well may they be coupes or whatever, yet in the fullness of time much of the wonder, the grandeur, the very essence of our Primeval Ancient Forests will no longer be intact, just a mere spectre of that which means so much to Tasmania and its people.

    I am unable to accept that this eradication of our Ancient Forests does any great service to the Tasmanian people themselves, more so it is the pursuit of our Ancient Forests by the corporate forces to satisfy share-holders far and wide.
    Thus so much of the revenue exacted from said forests never favors the people in the State of Tasmania.
    My comment on plantations estates, ‘in much of our State’ is still relevant when one drives out and about throughout this State.
    I can offer no concession to the corporate forces and or their agents that are plundering our Ancient Forests entirely for their own personal gain.
    Just look to the ridiculously low figure paid to Forestry Tasmania for the entirety of costs associated with the denudation of Ancient Forests, then the consequent sale to Gunns Ltd?
    (There are some insider tips about suggesting that Gunns Ltd are unable or cannot even pay for of that which is slaughtered on their behalf.)
    There is nothing clever or caring about the way the 2 main forestry entities go about their harvesting practices, when so much of the ‘non-targeted species’ forest products, are napalmed and turned into plain old fire ashes.

    When corporates rule the land it is time for thought and reflection as to why this was ever allowed to occur.
    Proper controlled and care inspired selective logging is fine by me, yet I am yet to see any examples of this?
    Many of the comments by J A Stevenson are trumpeting the need for rational approach and method to be employed in the harvesting of sought after timber, yet there are always ever reasons that this will not happen, the rationale given for this is that it is not as cost effective as rampant unchecked clear-felling, then the burning of ‘all that remains’ of these once proud forests.

    There is fair testimony to all that I say here, just take a look around the Globe.
    I rest my case.

  39. Mark wybourne

    March 27, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    #45 Alison, with respect it appears that you are clutching at straws .. you just seem to be fixated with Nitens for some reason, which is about 200,000 hectares, not 300, but which (in my opinion) has done more good in cleaning up the water catchments than anything else. And this is because there are legislated buffers that must be applied to different classes of streams and other sorts of waterways. This is something no other primary industry in Tasmania does.

    As for toxicity, well its obviously not nitens that are toxic, rather it is the ‘scum’ .. why else would the oysters be ok if they are dropped lower into the water during flush events

  40. Shane Weatherall

    March 27, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    # 43 William. We should put things into perspective. You have stated that much of Tasmania have turned into plantation and that it simply not true. In fact only a small area of Tasmania has been put into plantation.

    I also don’t know about it being costly, although do accept that commerce means money.

    One thing that is certain though is that the main players are no longer converting native forest (which is good) and the conversion of pasture to plantation is a positive for the environment – it is a fact that on average 30% of pasture converted to plantation is reserved for water quality and protection reasons, and biodiversity. Also, less chemicals are used.

    These are necessities from the Forest Practices Code, which I now believe to be one of the best in the world.

    Frank (# 41)

    It would be good if you could rewrite your blog. My apologies, but I seriously don’t understand what you are trying to say.

  41. Alison Bleaney

    March 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    http://git-forestry-blog.blogspot.com/search?q=toxic+trees

    and the authors are

    Professor Gordon Duff, CEO, CRC for Forestry
    Dr Chris Harwood, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
    Dr Julianne O’Reilly-Wapstra, University of Tasmania
    Professor Brad Potts, University of Tasmania
    Professor Jim Reid, University of Tasmania

    E.globulus (native to Tasmania) is resistant to Euc beetle (Chrysoptharat bimaculata) while E.nitens (introduced species to Tasmania) is not and is susceptible to widespread defoliation from them. The only way of dealing with this is for insecticide spraying or breeding for insect resistance ( Volker 2002). These trees need a lot of water to grow and the E.nitens can be grown at higher altitude than E.glob as they are more frost resistant (they can be grown in the higher altitude, upper water catchments).

    Where is the document that details the risk to the environment and human health in Tasmania by growing approx. 300,000 HA of mostly E.nitens plantations in Tasmanian water catchments, many of which are drinking water catchments?

    Dr Alison Bleaney

  42. Gerry Mander

    March 27, 2010 at 11:19 am

    #39 It arose from deciding to position itself in the international certification spotlight by being a major driver of the Australian Forestry Standard, which it helped write !! ….Woodworker.

    There you have it! Forestry Tasmania writes it own standards and then tries to position them in the international market. Fortunately for us, and unfortunately for Forestry and Gunns, the world saw it for exactly what it was and gave it the thumbs down sign, to put it politely.

    The message was abundantly financially clear, and it is only in Tasmania that they are too dim to get the message. No PROPER certification by a recognised body and your dead in the water.

    It cames from an arrogant attitude that when forestry does something, the whole world has to sit up and take notice. We saw it with the PAL Act and the MIS schemes. For a short time they appeared to be working in forestry’s favour, but without any real foundation and without consultation with the stakeholders – the people – they came to their inevitable end and took the proponents, such as the Forestry, Gunns and the Givernment with them. (I was going to correct that typo, but decided against it.)

    And about bloody time! And now all the sycophants are wailing about lost jobs and lost income and the whole economy is about to collapse if we don’t subsidise, stimulate and shove what remaining money we have into to the maw of this moribund industry.

    On the other hand, I for one am rejoicing that we may have inadvertently found a cure for this cancer on our land!

  43. William Boeder

    March 27, 2010 at 11:02 am

    The energy and efforts put into play to support/justify/confuse/accept the whole concept of turning much of Tasmania into plantation tree estates has been an extremely costly endeavor, yet still this goes on, (plantation monoculture expansions.)
    The prospect of easy money to only some of the participating proponents is alone responsible for such an embrace toward plantation estates.

    Whether or not this monoculture mania has proven its adverse affect upon the environment, well those profiting proponents care not a damn for those consequences.
    Corporates seek and are so allowed to rule through their very might and financial power.

    Profits are not to be gained by giving consideration to any and all aspects of their environmental plunders and slaughters, which in fact is the real aim of their game.

  44. Frank Strie

    March 27, 2010 at 5:41 am

    Cont…

    “But where it’s impacted on Tassie is that some of the mills that have closed were the mills that were quite comfortable in accepting Australian Forest Standards certification [PEFC], the mills that are operating are FSC certified.”… http://www.abc.net.au/rural/tas/content/2010/03/s2856081.htm

    For Timber Workers for Forests’ position regarding the market situation, the future of Tasmania’s forest management and FSC: http://www.abc.net.au/rural/tas/content/2010/03/s2855032.htm

  45. Frank Strie

    March 27, 2010 at 5:39 am

    My response:

    http://www.abc.net.au/rural/tas/content/2010/03/s2855032.htm

    [edit to make compliant with TT code]

    #39 claims that the move for AFS/PEFC was all about “a deliberate and necessary decision from a political and marketing point of view” and not as the FSC process aims at the triple bottom line and best business practice.

    [edit to make compliant with TT code]

    #39’s typical approach [minor edit] reflects the value of the wasteful image makeover called ‘NEW FORESTRY‘, a taxpayer funded propaganda strategy by FFIC & FT.

    The ‘NEW FORESTRY’ strategy Tassie style was a cunning pretender approach.
    For example it used strategically placed slogans such as “Forestry Tasmania: Stewards of the Forests”; as if forest stewardship is compatible with forest conversion through broad acre clearfelling, and helicopters dropping napalm and chemicals over mountainous terrain …!

    The brains behind the pretender plans thought that due to the remoteness of Tasmania the world community, the international customers, the world trade dependent wood and wood fibre processors would be satisfied by continued ‘masking’ the realities behind the boom gates and thin propaganda strips. How clever was that?

    Electronic information technology, Google Earth, satellite imagery, digital camera recordings, YouTube video and audio recordings store, and transfer and report the truth.

    There is no need to travel to overseas companies anymore to make them aware of what GUNNS, Forestry Tasmania and their hanger-on people are doing down here.

    If need be, they use instant translation tools to read the exchange in Australian media and on blogs like (our) oldtt.pixelkey.biz.

    In fact the Customers make it their business as FSC’s controlled wood standard procedure require to periodically visit Tasmania to find out what the truth is.

    It appears as #39 had missed TCA’s Barry Chipman on ABC Country Hour this week, where he confirmed the reality:
    Barry Chipman says due to the economic downturn, Tasmania has lost markets in Japan for it’s woodchips, in particular for those certified by Australian Forest Standards.

    “The indications we got is that two pulp mills have closed in Japan, and 17 paper machines in various paper mills that have closed.

    Some of those paper mills that have closed were recipients of pulp that came from Tasmanian woodchips.”

    “It’s very clear that the Forest Stewardship Council certification is important,…

  46. Pete Godfrey

    March 26, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Post 39 could have been written by Dr Drielsma you and he are in lock step woodie.
    Unfortunately for the industry in Tasmania that old dinosaur thinking will just sound the death knell for the Tasmanian forest industry.
    Have you thought about what will happen to Forestry Tasmania if Gunns ltd goes to the wall. If the industry had listened to those horrible green groups such as Timber Workers for Forests years ago and moved over to FSC instead of writing their own claytons standard (FSC and the chain of custody for SST) the industry would be in good shape.
    What we have now is the customers trying to drag FT and Gunns into the new world of sustainable forestry.
    Instead of bagging out the inevitable why don’t you actually do what the Fine Timbers Scheme says they do and go over to the Tarkine and look at what is being destroyed and burnt there. We have only a very short time to save the SST industry and the current practices aren’t going to do that.

  47. George Harris aka woodworker

    March 26, 2010 at 1:34 am

    The decision by Forestry Tasmania to cease converting native forest to plantations was a deliberate and necessary decision from a political and marketing point of view, and one it was very willing to take.
    It arose from deciding to position itself in the international certification spotlight by being a major driver of the Australian Forestry Standard, which it helped write, and to sign up with the world’s largest forest and forestry certification scheme, the PEFC. When compared with FSC, AFS leaves it for dead.
    FSC is promoted by green groups, (they get money out of it, for sitting on their arses), and willingly supported by the media, who are green sychophants, and too lazy to research it, let alone understand it, for themselves.

  48. Dr Kevin Bonham

    March 25, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Re #37 yes you can certainly suggest that. I do find the suggestion that the WWF interventions were a tipping point interesting because WWF are much maligned by the most sweeping and hard-core critics of forestry in this state, but perhaps by avoiding the strident path they actually have more policy influence. That said, while conversion is unquestionably damaging to species diversity at a coupe scale, and probably damaging at a landscape scale when too high a proportion is converted, it is not so damaging as to be truly tantamount to other forms of “land clearance”.

  49. Charles and Claire Gilmour

    March 25, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    (33) May we suggest Dr Kev, that the idea of FT/State gov stopping plantations in native state forests, was done because it wasn’t considered to be bio-diverse enough…. pushed over the edge as it were … by WWF: Bio diversity: the key issue for Tasmanian forests.

    http://www.panda.org/who_we_are/wwf_offices/australia/news/?14719/Biodiversity-the-key-issue-for-Tasmanian-forests

    Or was it done from a totally economical or political point of view?

  50. J A Stevenson

    March 25, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Whatajoke.Re: 19 20 21. Thank you for clarifying the situation. I could not see how Most Northern Hemisphere have timbers depending on the age of the tree. Obviously Southern Hemiphere trees are no different.The English oaks under 40 years of age are used only for fire wood, even then the stable heart wood area is quite small. Only when the trees reach 150 years of age are they really valuable. Douglas Fir does not mellow from red to yellow and become Oregon Pine until 250 years of age. The Sitka Spruce used in aircraft production will never be seen again.
    The reputation of Eucalytus has been based on timbers as old as these or older. Obviously this timbers should be jealously guarded and used sparingly. When mention is made of preserving these the cry goes up from woodworker and his ilk. What about our jobs. As 90% of so called forestry workers are just truck drivers, bulldozer or excavator drivers they will have to do like everyone else, get another. At least then their children and grand children may have a future.

  51. slaker

    March 25, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Malini, pretty ordinary reference at the best of times (#31) and it doesn’t pass muster. What’s the source the writer (Peter Austin) of that article used – a quote from Robert Belcher, a well known anti-plantation agitator.

    You have to do better than that! I suggest you find a credible figure and the reference to go with it. There is one out there, but that’s for you to find.

  52. Pete Godfrey

    March 25, 2010 at 9:20 am

    On the issue of conversions. The supposed cessation of conversions on public land at the end of 2006 appears to have taken place this year. Unfortunately the conversion rate on private land has increased to keep the figures fairly constant. In the last 10 years the rate has varied between 6,000 and 11,000 ha per annum.
    With the tapering off of conversions on state land there has been a corresponding increase on on private property.
    As far as figures go on farmland conversions. Good luck. It is not even possible to get the list of Private Timber Reserves in Tasmania, which was available until June2007.
    I am sure if any figures of conversion and agricultural land plantings exist they are deeply buried in the vault.

  53. Dr Kevin Bonham

    March 25, 2010 at 2:57 am

    Re #31, the question is of no relevance to my statements in #15 since the pattern of conversion changed radically with the phase-out of significant conversion of native forest on public land to plantations in 2007. Furthermore I don’t know whether there actually are any publicly available stats that would identify the area created specifically from conversion of standing “mixed forest” (however Dr Obendorf defines that often problematic term) on the time scale in question from both public and private lands. There are many difficulties in the accurate mapping of the extent of mixed forest.

    Nonetheless I’d be happy to make further attempts to locate such data [b]after[/b] Dr O tells us which “referenced literature on the biodiversity within Eucalypt monoculture plantations compared with the biodiversity of a mixed teperate [sic] forest with intact understorey” formed the basis of his comment in #9. 😉

  54. Malini

    March 24, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    #18

    300 000 hectares isn’t my figure, I got it from Stock and Land:

    http://sl.farmonline.com.au/news/state/agribusiness-and-general/finance/call-for-probe-on-toxic-plantations/1761337.aspx

    Sorry, should have referenced that 🙂

  55. David Obendorf

    March 24, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Kevin, {comment #15] one question for you, what are the area stats on forest plantations created on previous pasture lands or land cleared for agriculture versus forest plantations created after clearing of standing mixed forest in Tasmania, say, since the RFA was signed?

  56. Steve

    March 24, 2010 at 12:41 am

    27; C’mon George, all power to your egotism and all that, but I don’t think you are the only WW in existence.
    Perhaps to avoid confusion, you could be WW1?

  57. George Harris aka woodworker

    March 24, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Re #28, yeah, but I can’t resist the opportunity to have a go. WW for woodworker is close enough for that, even if Water Wizard and myself are at opposite points of the compass.
    It is just sad that the barb in my next sentence was edited out! It was only a little more harsh than my ‘tight underpants’ line, but I am glad you found that one amusing….

  58. a bit straighter

    March 23, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    um, george, slaker wasn’t refering to you, thanks for the chuckle. and slaker, the following is not what ‘an insider’ would be promoting. “Get rid of the tax dodge and the improved E.nitens business will go belly up”.

  59. George Harris aka woodworker

    March 23, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Re #26: Wowzers! they are on to me! You will never get my Random Word Generator! (apologies to Inspector Gadget)
    Yeah, let’s have a chuckle, and give this lot a rest for a while. I think you’ll find their gut feeling turned out to be just tight underpants!
    I’m sick of ’em.

  60. slaked lime

    March 23, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    WW, It’s dawned on me! You are actually a forest industry plant but appearing to be plausibly a wacko green. You make suggestions and points that hover on the crazy, not to attack the industry, but to ultimately make the anti-brigade look crazy. I suspect you have one of those random word generators that saves you wasting too much time writing your posts (“Potassium ions in the water supply cause diabetes (a health spike in diabetes is a good tell tale) and can combine with HCN (glucose & oil from Nitens leaves) in the foaming process at water jumps (in the river) to make KCN in solution. Low, cronic doses of KCN cause auto-immune diseases and brain lesions/cancers. The drought would have made the dose bigger”). Please give me the link to it; I need one too.

    ps: give me a call and confirm your real name. We can have a chuckle ;-).

  61. Water Wizard

    March 23, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Get rid of the tax dodge and the improved E.nitens business will go belly up.

    Unfortunately that’s a problem. The only thing keeping any kind of unholy balance is the the spray that kills the Beetle. No spray, lots of Beetle larvae. Lots of Beetle larvae, lots of toxin in the water supply. The improved E.nitens have more glucose & oils/leaf weight (up to 7%).

    Mammals that eat the Beetle larvae from the improved E.nitens go deaf first, then blind, then slow death. Other signs are lip tumors. It all depends on whether they eat the larvae whole or have to share them because of competition. A choice between frontal lobe lesions, otic hair rigidity, kidney disease or mouth necrosis.

    That’s not to say the pyrethrum spray is good. It may just be better to grow chrysanthemum across the plantation. The flowers could be treated to attract the Beetle pupae.

    Urea is OK. Getting spayed with ammonium nitrate is going to make breathing difficult. Sounds like a dumb way to apply it.

    Its the KNO3 in the other fertilizers that’s a big problem. Its mostly used by the horticultural farmers.

    The growing regime for modified E.nitens (put out by UTas and CRC) specifies KNO3 for faster growth, but its expensive so I assume forestry only load it up for the first years of growth.

    Potassium ions in the water supply cause diabetes (a health spike in diabetes is a good tell tale) and can combine with HCN (glucose & oil from Nitens leaves) in the foaming process at water jumps (in the river) to make KCN in solution. Low, cronic doses of KCN cause auto-immune diseases and brain lesions/cancers. The drought would have made the dose bigger.

    Unfortunately CN in solution may go straight through activated carbon filtration which is usually made with KOH. Its the ‘perfect’ poison because it leaves no trace.

  62. Pete Godfrey

    March 23, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Well Woodie,we agree, I much prefer native forest timbers to plantations as well.
    My issue with the current crop of plantations is that they would not be there at all if it wasn’t for people trying to avoid TAX.
    They aren’t there for wood supply, paper or anything other than as a cash cow for the Ponzie scheme companies and as a tax dodge for the so called investors.
    I would like to see them all replaced in time with mixed species timbers. That way we can prevent many of the problems that they are creating now. As far as fertilizer input goes I have personally seen helicopters dumping Urea on plantations out our way. I don’t know how widespread this practice is but obviously some plantations need top ups of fertilizer.
    They also need a lot of sprays. Supposedly to control beetles but a toxin is a toxin and alphacypermethrin kills the beetles and all the other insects as well, plus the fish (Huntsman1995) and makes people sick. Me and 5 friends 2009.
    So get rid of them and put in a real forest.
    No Tax dodge, no Ponzi.

  63. J A Stevenson

    March 23, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Mono-culture in agriculture and forestry are to be deplored. However in agriculture they ocupy a a very small time scale before pest or deseases become imune to costly to attempt to control them by artificial means.
    Perhaps someone can explain to me how a section of old growth forest can be felled and burnt sending thousands of tons of carbon into the atmosphere and then claiming carbon credits for this action. When these mono blocks are felled after a very short period of time who then pays for the release of that carbon?

  64. Water Wizard

    March 23, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Lets not generalize to “all Eucalypts”. These improved E.nitens have some nasty problems. It may not be possible to grow a plantation of them in a water catchment without killing the mammals dependent on that catchment.

    If the catchment only had Nitens in it that would work. This problem is caused by poor planning. The people from UTas & CRC should have examined monoculture plantations and their effect on the local environment. If they had done the work there would be loads of reference papers.

    This problem should never have happened. Those researchers have not been interested enough in their chosen profession to be worried about the long term effects of toxins. They have failed their communities. They take the peoples money then allowed their environment to be poisoned. Its clear to the community that these people don’t care.

    The mere fact that Marcus Scammell can find toxic foam in the local river and that foam has not been examined for years by UTas or the CRC reflects poorly on the competence of Forestry Research in Tasmania. The only excuse I can see is they must have drunk the water.

  65. Whatajoke

    March 23, 2010 at 10:58 am

    3. The California Eucalypt plantation story
    continues:

    … “The eucalyptus companies advertised for investors to be partners in the enterprise. An investor could buy land fully planted and make monthly payments. The company did all of the work, and shared what profits there were with their business partners. It took normally ten years before a profit could be realized. An acre planted in eucalyptus cost $250 with the promise of making $2,500 an acre at harvest time ten years later. This offer was tempting, and widows, teachers, and small businessmen invested their life savings in the eucalyptus boom. Farmers ripped out staple crops to plant eucalyptus.”
    “The railroads took an interest. Santa Fe Railroad planted eucalyptus on thousands of acres at Rancho Santa Fe for ties, poles, and interior woods for railroad cars. By 1908, the railroad discovered, just as the Central Pacific Railroad did several decades before, that unseasoned eucalyptus wood twisted and cracked thus putting an end to their project. Even the novelist Jack London got into the act. He planted 100,000 trees on his ranch with the intention of using the wood for furniture. This would not eventuate.”
    “From Fall 1909 to Spring 1910, 23,000 acres in California were planted in eucalyptus, mostly red and blue gums. These investments were obviously at an infancy stage as it would take years before harvesting could take place. Eucalyptus still at this point was being used primarily for firewood.”
    “The boom fizzled. It was found that eucalyptus wood could not be seasoned properly to do the things that had been anticipated. Tests of seasoning were performed and processes were structured for proper curing, but there was a great dissatisfaction with these. Eucalyptus wood warped, cracked, twisted, and became too tough once cured. The yields that were projected it was found would take too many years to be realized. The hardwood shortage that spurred the boom was resolved by the use of steel, cement, and other substitutes. Wagons and carriages were being replaced by metal automobiles, thus ending that hardwood market. Using eucalyptus for fuel was diminished by the discovery and rising use of oil, gas, and electricity.”
    “The boom ended. Lumber mills using exclusively eucalyptus timber closed. Furniture manufacturers moved back East. Plantation trees were sold for firewood. Pharmacologists dropped their support which meant that eucalyptus would not be used in most medicines. Prime agriculture land was returned to traditional crops. Nurseries unloaded their eucalyptus stock. Through the rest of the twentieth century eucalyptus would be used mostly for fuel, windbreaks, and in certain medicines.
    Not everyone was enchanted with the eucalyptus anyway, and now even more felt a dislike as represented in this sarcastic piece from The Argonaut:
    There is a craze all over the state about the eucalyptus or Australian blue gum tree… Eucalyptus will frighten away fevers and murder malaria. Its leaves cure asthma. Its roots knocks out ague as cold as jelly. Its bark improves that of a dog. A dead body buried in a coffin made from the wood of the blue gum will enjoy immunity from the exploring mole and the penetrating worm… this absurd vegetable is now growing all over the State. One cannot get out of its sight… crops up everywhere in independent ugliness. It defaces every landscape with botches of blue and embitters every breeze with suggestions of an old woman’s medicine chest. Let us have no more of it.”
    “There are between 70 to 100 species growing in California today.”

    So we have Cooper, Kinney, Metcalf, Walker, and some nameless Australians to blame for “this absurd vegetable”.
    Having raked tons (literally) of fallen eucalyptus bark, branches, and nuts out of our gravel driveway in northern California when I was a kid, I really really hate the tree and anyone responsible for bringing it from Australia to California.
    It’s too late for California and the eucalyptus, but as for the future of hubris, “let us have no more of it”.
    posted by Rico on
    historicalhubris.blogspot.com

  66. Whatajoke

    March 23, 2010 at 10:57 am

    The Eucalypt planation story from California

    …”Building on this idea in 1888, George McGillivrey published an article in Overland Monthly entitled The Economic Value of the Eucalyptus in which he presented the many possible products the eucalyptus could produce. He based his pitch on the manufacturing done in Australia; however, this was manufacturing that utilized centuries-old eucalyptus instead of young trees which is a crucial distinction. McGillivrey went on to praise the adaptability of the eucalyptus to California and the possibilities of its many species. It was quite simple to him. Just plant eucalyptus and “while quietly the forest advances almost without expenditure and care, its wood treasures increase from year to year without taxing the patience of generations.” He summarizes, “The propagation of Eucalyptus is easy, rapid, and inexpensive.” Who could argue differently after seeing the process and its living results.”
    “The reason for this caution and guarded skepticism can be seen in this comment from the authors Betts and Smith: ” The problem utilizing eucalyptus wood readily without undue waste is a difficult one because of its tendency to warp, shrink, and check during drying. They went on to note that the promise of eucalyptus in California was based on the old virgin forests of Australia. This was a mistake as the young trees being harvested in California could not compared in quality to the centuries-old eucalyptus timber of Australia. It reacted differently to harvest. The older trees didn’t split or warp as the infant California crop did. There was a vast difference between the two, and this would doom the California eucalyptus industry.”
    “Its text made claims in the usual superlative fashion, such as, This tree at this particular moment is in many instances the most valuable one on the face of the globe. Maturity is in a decade or two. No Teak, Mahogany, Ebony, Hickory or Oak was ever tougher, denser, stronger or of more glorious hardness…” …

  67. Whatajoke

    March 23, 2010 at 10:50 am

    #16 Who has done MIS before?

    Hubris is as hubris does
    A place to record the work of those who, through their overweening egos, contribute to the destruction of the world:

    http://74.125.153.132/search?q=cache:doi-tfvHB1QJ:historicalhubris.blogspot.com/+pyramid+schemes+eucalypt+plantations&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au

    Stupid Aussie tree…
    “In California, early on, there sprang up botanists and enthusiasts who introduced the general populace to eucalyptus and advanced subsequent efforts on its part. One such person was Ellwood Cooper who came to California in 1870 and settled in the Santa Barbara area. He took early note of the eucalyptus species already growing there, and could see the potential of such a tree. He immediately bought land and planted eucalyptus groves covering some 200 acres. His groves became renowned for their beauty and lushness. This was said in 1904: One can stroll through his groves as through primeval forests. In the canyons, Eucalypts twenty-five years old tower high above oaks…”
    “A successor to Cooper was Abbot Kinney of Los Angeles. He was chairman of the California Board of Forestry from 1886 to 1888 during which time he launched a program that resulted in the planting of thousands of eucalyptus.”
    “Next on the eucalyptus scene was Woodbridge Metcalf. For over fifty years, he would dominate the field. He began his professional career in 1914 at the University of California, Berkeley where he taught forest botany, tree management and tree identification. In 1926, he became the first California Extention Forester who strongly advocated the usage of eucalyptus as windbreaks for citrus groves.”
    John Hittel wrote in his 1863 book on California: “Most of the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, the Colorado Desert, the eastern slopes of the Coast Mountains, and the Coast Range south of latitude 35 degrees, are treeless.”
    “It was during the gold rush, that the eucalyptus was introduced into California either by Australians, or by Americans who had been to Australia, or knew of the tree and had seed shipped in.”
    “In 1849, over 2,600 Australians left Sydney for San Francisco. It took between three to four months to make the passage with the American clipper ships completing the trip quicker than the more bulky blue gum vessels. It was on one of these voyages that the first sack of eucalyptus seed was imported. Because eucalyptus seed is tiny, a small sack, which can hold several thousand seeds, was all that was needed.”
    “There is some speculation as to who was the first person to plant eucalyptus in California. Most accounts seem to point to W.C. Walker who was the owner of the Golden Gate Nursery in San Francisco located at Fourth and Folsom Streets. It is believed that he planted the first seeds in 1853 from 14 different species.”
    “The eucalyptus tree was a curiosity to most and were bought for beauty or shade.”
    “In 1877, Assistant Chief Engineer for the Central Pacific Railroad, J.D. Scupham, bought 40,000 eucalyptus seedlings, mostly blue gum, from nurseries in Oakland and Hayward. The railroad planted the seedlings in the San Joaquin Valley and in some instances near wells as an attraction to settlers. The next year, 250,000 seedlings were bought from Locke of Pasadena and 300,000 from George Baxter of Hayward. In the two year planting program, the railroad planted about one million trees. The program was a bust though. Soon it was discovered that eucalyptus ties would crack and check if not seasoned properly. These ties could not hold a spike in place securely which was obviously of great importance to track stability. The eucalyptus wood also rotted away easily. Thus ended the first real experiment of eucalyptus for an industrial purpose.” …

  68. George Harris aka woodworker

    March 23, 2010 at 2:13 am

    What an innaccurate and exaggerated load of nonsense!
    For a start, there are not “over 300,000 hectares of nitens” in Tasmania. There is almost 300,000 hectares of plantations in Tasmania, but around 70,000 hectares of that are softwood plantations, (pinus radiata), and of the balance, there is a lot of Eucalyptus Globulus, (The Tasmanian Blue Gum), as well as E. Regnans, E. Delegatensus, and E. Obliqua, and plantations of various other species.
    Discharge from E. Nitens is claimed to be toxic, but how toxic? Isn’t it to do with the concentration of a toxic element? I reckon it is not that hard to kill a line of cells, even human cells, in a laboratory situation, but that does not mean that small concentrations of such elements are toxic to humans, or other vertebrates, in normal circumstances. Equally, many other things are toxic, in the right dose. For example, too much fresh clean water can kill you, and I don’t mean by drowning. People who deliberately over-hydrate themselves, (thinking they are doing the right thing), run the risk of diluting potasium levels, interrupting cellular function, and sometimes this is fatal.
    Many plants have chemical defence systems which deal with insect and parasitic attack, and many plants cause observable discharge into the environment. Have you ever seen the tannin in the creeks through the button grass plains of the World Heritage Area?
    While I aint so struck on plantations, and I don’t like plantation timber, I concede that plantations have a role to play, and they do take some pressure off native forests in their role of supplying timber and wood fibre, I have to say I prefer native forest as a source of timber.
    Native forest looks more natural, it is bio-dynamic and bio-diverse, it supports a wide range of other plants and animals, it supports multiple use and human recreation activities, has a rotation of 70 to 120+ years during which time it looks completely natural, requires no irrigation and regenerates quickly when small tracts are harvested in a patchwork that can leave little visual disruption if done properly.
    Some people do not like forestry of any kind, whether native forest, or plantations. These people are the source of conflict in our community! However, the community has a need for good building materials that have a low carbon impact, are renewable, and have a comparitively low embedded energy component. On these criteria, timber is far better than concrete, steel, aluminium, bricks, or glass.
    If you want to have a go at an issue, you have to be strong on accuracy, and avoid exaggeration, or you fall at the first hurdle.

  69. William Boeder

    March 23, 2010 at 1:20 am

    Why do we seem so bogged down with so many addicts to scientific validation, are seeking artificially enhanced, synthetically modified, or even now chemically protected strategies to perform such a simple act as the growing of a tree?
    100 Years ago none of this fancy-nancy in-vitro diagnostic support, along with the many technical references thereto, were considered necessary.

    Our Ancient Forests were never in need of such elaborate sophistications, why now for simple tree-growing?

    Yes yes, Its all about the money.

    Meanwhile all about us and that within our environments, goes to prove to us all today to be struggling to cope with all the many magic banana treatments and applications so constantly endorsed by the mighty corporate world to sell their poisoning chemicals.
    All this nonsense for goodness sake, just to bugger up what nature does of its own accord?

  70. Shirley Glen of West Tamar

    March 22, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    #14 Stephan I don’t think they actually care what the end product is after 10 to 20 years, they are just interested in the money plantations generate now – via MIS.

  71. Dr Kevin Bonham

    March 22, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    David Obendorf (#9) describes comparing plantation with pasture for biodiversity as a “feeble comparison to make”. He misses the exceedingly obvious (and then some) point that replacement of pasture with plantations is a very common means by which plantations are now started in this state. He also misses the even more obvious point that whatever you think of the comparison it at least refutes the overgeneralisation that monocultures “• Decrease space for animal and insect habitat”. Indeed, the planting of eucalypt or pine plantations on former farmland surrounding very small bush remnants increases habitat area for any species living in the remnant that can live in the plantation but not the farmland and in some cases is likely to be a critical buffer against stochastic species loss from small remnants.

    I’d be interested to know which parts of the “referenced literature on the biodiversity within Eucalypt monoculture plantations compared with the biodiversity of a mixed teperate [sic] forest with intact understorey” Dr Obenford refers to since I have read quite a deal of that sort of literature myself (and even written something along those lines, depending on your interpretation of “intact understorey”). Indeed, while the general finding that plantations are usually less biodiverse than such forests would be no surprise to anyone, the extent to which older plantations do support invertebrate diversity in particular would be an eye-opener to anyone still swallowing the urban myths that plantations are “biological deserts” or anything else along such lines. Furthermore the question of the overall impact on species diversity indicators of the presence of [i]some[/i] plantations within a native forest landscape, considered at a landscape scale rather than a coupe scale, is an unresolved one.

  72. Stephan

    March 22, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Shane (Post #11)

    That’s Steve (or Stephan) thanks Shane.

    As for the “stringent” monitoring, well perhaps I overstated with the use of that word. However, I could think of no other when considering that if any product from a farm started making people sick there’d be one heck of an investigation. Come to that, all chemicals and fertilisers are generally put through a fairly exhaustive set of tests before being released. And when they are there are instructions that the user (the farmer?) is supposed to follow. Got another word for me?

    As for Nitens being toxic, that actually goes without saying. ALL eucalypts are toxic. Go and drink some eucalyptus oil if you don’t believe me (DON’T!!). As with everything else it all depends on volume and delivery.

    For me, this series of stories peaked with the report of a toxic compound in water and the possibility that there is an enhanced (either selectively or GM, whichever) non-native species being grown for wood chips. Ostensibly for paper and chip board.

    I still have a hard time understanding the business logic behind mollycoddling a tree, and hijacking, perhaps poisoning, a local environment, for at least ten to twenty years simply to make paper and board from it.

  73. J A Stevenson

    March 22, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    *There are many facts that I could state, not the least that plantations improve bioviversity over pasture, and are much better for carbon management that other commercial land uses*

    No, there is nothing at all under the shade of young Nitens. As soon as the canopy begins to opens up they are felled and replaced by another mono crop of the same species. Orchards have a great diversity of plants growing underneath the boughs, not to mention insect life etc.Pasture is not just grass, it contains a host of different plants. Wheat,poppies and lettuces are only grown one year in four. These mono crops of trees are planned for ever more.

  74. Gerry Mander

    March 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    ‘A short term, quick-money focus and desperation has driven industry to choose monocultures, but it invites a vicious cycle, that will ultimately end in a number of environmental, economic and social crises which will be much harder to solve later, than sorting out the issue now.’

    The secret lies in the fact that permacultures cannot make money fast enough to supply the greed of large corporations. They are slower growing and yield less of the base product that this industry requires. The problem actually goes deeper, and is related to the lifestyle demands of modern society, where they want more money and the want it now. The timber industry caters to this insatiable demand with monoculture plantations, regardless of the actual cost to the environment or civilisation as a whole. It is a one-way track, with disaster looming at the end of the line.

    And the problem is…. they can’t get there fast enough!!!

  75. Shane Weatherall

    March 22, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Peter (#8)

    What are the stringent monitoring that occurs?

    I am not aware of them and am involved in the industry. It is actually quite a concern that things like onions get sprayed on average 12 times.

    The reason for crop rotation for things like lettuces etc that you alluded to is due to the soil getting exhauseted. This doesn’t happen with the way plantations are managed in Tasmania.

    # 6: You may not have read my blog properly. Do you honestly think that 150 grams of DAP per seedling over a 15 year period is going to cause ‘leakages’ as you call it.

    And also, who said that Nitens are toxic … that hasn’t been proven anywhere apart from the fact that if you ingested enough leaves you would get crook, just as if you ingested enough tea tree you would get crook, just as if you ingested enough huon pine needles you would get crook, and so on.

    Also, you are correct that burnoffs are possibly toxic in large quanities, but surely you are aware that there in very little buring of plantations that occur? The burning that does take place is for the protection of private property … people.

    It is improper to make assertions that are not based on fact.

  76. Malini

    March 22, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    #3 That’s right, I’m against ALL monocultures in ALL contexts – unless they’re naturally occuring – That’s the whole point of this article – there are other, smarter methods of farming – look to other cultures for more info

    #4 You have forgotten all the other ecosystems in the world – like tropical wet forests (not monocultures) that contain 50% of the biodiversity

    #7 Other cultures have managed – that’s the whole point of my article … agroforestry provides food and it’s much more efficient (it’s just been kept totally hidden in the West – deliberately)

  77. David Obendorf

    March 22, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Paul Jensen [comment #3] -” There are many facts that I could state, not the least that plantations improve biodiversity over pasture, and are much better for carbon management that other commercial land uses.”

    “Improve biodiversity over pasture”….what a feeble comparison to make!

    Try researching the referenced literature on the biodiversity within Eucalypt monoculture plantations compared with the biodiversity of a mixed teperate forest with intact understorey from the same locations.

    Then Paul, you’d come up with a completely different biodiversity assessment and conclusion.

  78. Stephan

    March 22, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Peter (Post #3) it’s a blog mate – I get dyslexic fingers to.

    Peter (post #3) and Shane (post #4).
    When I went to school I learnt about something called “crop rotation”. This, I was told, was something developed long ago in response to crop degradation happening in response to planting the same crop time and time again on the same piece of ground.

    Shane mentions monocultures like Lettuce, Apples and goodness knows what other crops that actually provide a tangible benefit to the human race as well as the business that “grows” them. The chemicals used on these monocultures are stringently monitored and controlled because the products are ingested and the last thing you want is a sick consumer.

    Please tell me how a tonne of woodchips from an overly protected plant that also protects itself by poisoning its environment benefits mankind on the positive side of the impact ledger.

  79. Confused

    March 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    What will we eat and where will we live? Monocultures have been adopted because they are the most efficient way of growing the things we need. If we cease using modern technologies we will need a far larger land base to feed our populations because we will grow less volume of food or wood per hectare – this means more clearing of natural ecosystems to make the space to grow the food. Perhaps you are advocating a one child policy worldwide as opposed to famine?

  80. Water Wizard

    March 22, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    All agriculture that allows toxins into the river catchments is bad. Methods must be employed that minimize such toxic outcomes.

    Part of the catchment problem is caused by potassium leakage. A telltale is a dramatic lift in diabetes. Especially in children. It would have originated from fertilizer used by forestry & agriculture. Similar stories apply for pesticides & herbicides.

    Small country Water Authorities are just not set up to deal with toxins. They use a sand filter & chlorine. If it gets through that then its too expensive to do much else.

    Tasmanian set ups have the advantage of short rivers. It would be possible to get town water from a level above the agriculture & plantation usage line. Holding tanks on hill sides would allow solids to settle and water to be tested, treated and oxygenated. All this could run by gravity.

    The issue is who is going to pay for a better outcome. The State Government solution is to centralize water authorities to reduce costs etc. This is OK if the State Government can keep its hands out of the water authority’s pocket. This never happens. They take savings put aside for future upgrades and spend them elsewhere. They put in meters to justify higher prices.

    Governments always create more bureaucracy to get re-elected. Imagine an election platform on reduction of the public service? Or vote for us, we will be boring and not spend more?

    Eventually agriculture & forestry chemicals start killing people and the government conveniently forgets it allowed it to happen because of poor planning.

    In the case of improved E.nitens, the crop is toxic, the pests are toxic, the burn-off is toxic. It does not make a profit.

    Why is anyone doing this? Well its the tax saving that keeps it going. The government supports plantations that poisons fauna & voters, financed by people who don’t pay taxes, for an industry with no future. No-one benefits. However, there will be a bureaucracy that can prove there is a benefit.

  81. hugoagogo

    March 22, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Malini;

    Such a breathtaking blind spot – This is a joke, right? You’re fishing for this response aren’t you? You know, look someone’s gone to all the trouble…ha ha.

    Sigggghhhhhhh.

    FYI all (solvent) modern agriculture is monocultural, in Tasmania plantations occupy 300,000 ha of a total 2 million ha of agricultural monocultures, so you’ve missed 84% of your target. Yeah, beef, sheep, milk, apples, hops, whineyards etc, all on ex-forest, all with disturbed soil profiles, disconnected wildlife, escaping GMOs, leaking nitrates and worse, but even more ghastly, the tree changers and marginally solvent farmers who pretend that their privileged bucolic lifestyle is for your benefit.

    All these enterprises are based on intensive management using chemical and genetic inputs; with inevitable effects on the nature they subsume; and they are usually orchestrated by some godless monopoly running a huge factory whose self interest at least stocks the shelves in your supermarkets. That’s how it works.

    And they don’t plant nitens in India.

    Sheesh.

  82. Shane Weatherall

    March 22, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Malini

    Respectfully I wish to disagree with your opinion.

    For starters, monocultures are more common that not in many forest ecosystems. For example, the Taiga forests, the beech forests in NZ, even the globulus forests in Tasmania.

    And I disagree that the nitens plantations are not biodiverse. A small percentage certainly are, but only where it seems that there has been pasture conversion where the soil has been impacted severely by pesticides and fertilers. However,by the nest rotation there is a wide diversity of species and animals.

    Your assertion about intensive herbicides is quite simply wrong. The average plantation receives two to three applications over its average 15 year rotation, which is probably the least intense of any form of crop management.

    With respect to fertilsers, here in Tasmania, most plantations get 150 grms of DAP per seedling (applied by workers) and that is all for about 80% of the estate over the next 15 years.

    It is also a good thing that the farms are converted as the average area permanently reserved at the time of forestation is about 35%, mainly about streams, this is great as it increaese biodiversity, aids in carbon management and enhances the water quality.

    As for soil, plantation improve it – they add humus, aeration, nutrients and so forth. Just look to NZ where approximately 30,000 hectares of pine forest has been coverted to Dairy Farms – the soils required no remedial treatment, in many cases the locals say that the soils are now better than they were when they were in pasture.

    Also here in Tassie, any native forest conversion to plantation has been halted voluntarily by Forestry Tasmania and Gunns (which is good), and will be illegal by other parties including farmers by about 2014.

    And so forth.

    Regards

  83. Paul Jensen

    March 22, 2010 at 10:59 am

    What a load of absolute codswallop, and I sincerely hope that the sensible people that occassionally look at this bolg will also realise it.

    There are many facts that I could state, not the least that plantations improve bioviversity over pasture, and are much better for carbon management that other commercial land uses.

    Why don’t you try the same argument with other “monocultures” like wheat, apples, pasture, lettuces, poppies?

    Absolutley appalling article … anyone can find anything on the net that suits their cause …

  84. J A Stevenson

    March 22, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Tasmania had some of the finest timber in the world with the Huon Pine. This was all thrown away during the 19th century. There was an excuse for them then, when few resourses had been developed.The 20th century saw this policy broadened. What is the excuse today. What will be the verdict on the 21st century? Will this be the century of new enlightenment or just the final nail in Tasmania’s coffin.

  85. William Boeder

    March 22, 2010 at 9:00 am

    my understanding of it all is that there would be massive tomes of information from overseas forestry operations, field tests and whatever else, yet it seems this has not been referenced or just plain simply been ignored by the local troglodytic thinking of the present forestry incumbents.
    There is definitely one stand-out process that is head and shoulders above all else.
    The people of Tasmania have been kept from so much or so many of the negative factors.
    This must have been considered irrelevant in Tasmanian by the overlords and by this State government.
    Unfortunately we are not all members of the woodchip lovers outfit, there are a few scientists, academics and thinkers also dwelling in this land of Tasmania.
    I now refer to the cloaked over secret stuff that is kept from the public view, this should never have been authorised by this blind anti the people State government.
    It is my considered opinion that much of Tasmania could have been saved from the ills and perils currently given the full steam ahead!

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