Only 10 percent of Victoria’s native forests are logged. Yet anti-logging campaigners are still unhappy, ramping up a campaign in conjunction with the upcoming state election to have the industry closed down completely.
Why anyone would oppose the sustainable harvest of such a small percentage of Victoria’s extensive native forest estate is difficult for me to understand. Then again I see both environmental and economic benefits in growing and cutting down trees as part of the active management of a native forest.
In ‘Campaigners can’t see forest for trees’ Mark Poynter* expains the value of logging in terms of carbon sequestration:
“Sustainable logging in Victoria’s designated wood production zones produces about 1.5 million cubic metres of hardwood sawlogs and residual logs a year from an estimated total harvested biomass of about 2.1 million cubic metres, including roots, bark, branches and foliage. The concept of sustainability dictates that annually harvested amount is replaced by an equivalent volume of growth.
Carbon sequestered each year in new biomass growth in Victoria’s production zones is estimated to be equivalent to saving 2.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. This is net of emissions from fuel and power use inherent to timber production and emissions from the regeneration process. It is also additional to the carbon that could have been sequestered if the forest had alternatively been left unlogged.
Putting this into perspective is that clean energy produced from Victorian wind farms has been estimated to save 250,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year. Put another way, if anti-logging campaigns were to close Victoria’s native forest timber industry, 10 times as many wind turbines as now exist would be required just to make up for the carbon sequestration lost by “locking up” wood production forests.
Enhanced carbon sequestration is only part of the “greenhouse” benefit of sustainable logging. Australian domestic hardwood production also offsets imports of tropical hardwoods and the use of steel, aluminium and concrete that offer poor environmental outcomes.”
Read the full article, click here .
If 10 times as many wind turbines would be required to offset the locking up of wood production in the 10 percent of the forest that is still harvested, how much more carbon could be sequested if government allowed logging in say 30 percent of the forest estate? Not to mention the potential environmental and economic benefits.
Mark Poynter is a forestry consultant, member of the Institute of Foresters of Australia and a member of the Australian Environment Foundation (AEF). His slide show entitled ‘Saving Australian Forests, A Counter-Productive Indulgence’ given at the recent AEF conference can be viewed by clicking here.