Logging emits 4 times more carbon than bushfires

Nov 11, 2014

There's 4 times more carbon loss from logging than bushfires. This is from new research presented to the World Parks Congress in Sydney this week from ANU scientist Dr Heather Keith.

"In a [logged] forest, the amount of carbon stored in the regrowth ..., plus wood products and landfill, is about half that stored in protected forest ... In contrast, only about 10% of the carbon stock in the forest was combusted during the 2009 Victorian bushfires, and most of this will be replaced within a decade in the regrowing forest."
"Protecting forests by ending logging could double the amount of carbon stored in the trees."

"Avoiding emissions from logging native forests is important to help fight climate change."

New research has found Mountain Ash forests provide more value to the community and the global climate when protected and not logged.

Research scientists at the ANU, in partnership with technologists at Fujitsu Laboratories in Japan, have used long-term field data from the Central Highlands in Victoria to calculate the social, economic and environmental values of the forests after wildfire and after logging.

"Quantifying natural resources and the services they provide for human wellbeing is important in evaluating land management decisions," said researcher Dr Heather Keith from the Fenner School of Environment and Society.

The results show that natural disasters such as bushfires do not have as great an impact on carbon storage as [logging]the forest.

The research points to the need for land management decisions to be made in partnership with researchers, corporations and the community, to ensure the best economic and environmental outcomes for the greater number of people.

A community proposal is to create a Great Forests National Park in the Central Highlands region of Victoria, which will provide a suite of ecosystem services.

Dr Keith said protecting the forests is a long-term investment because it will secure Melbourne's domestic water supply catchments, conserve the state's faunal emblem, the Leadbeater's Possum as well as many other species, support the maximum storage of carbon,provide conditions to minimise bushfire severity , and also generate economic activity through eco-tourism.

The two research papers are Evaluation of ecosystem services: the case for protection of the Mountain Ash forests in Victori and Protecting natural ecosystems is the best form of climate change mitigation in the land sector.


Abbott's slush fund for polluters

Nov 7, 2014

Tony Abbott’s plan to deal with climate change is very worrying. It gives incentives to burn native forests and will term this as ‘renewable energy’! Abbott is handing a slush fund to industry dressed up as climate action.

To date no one has wanted to build a forest furnace to generate electricity because they are not economically viable. Currently they are not allowed Renewable Energy Certificates nor can they earn carbon credits under the Carbon Farming Initiative Act which states they aren’t allowed to destroy forests to burn.

But the Abbott- Palmer deal wipes this clause. They can now rewrite the rules to claim forest destruction is good because burning trees they say, will take the place of burning coal so has to be positive – therefore can gain carbon credits (ie money).

This provides the long-sought after business support for the destruction of more forests.

Combine the above with the likely change that would allow burning forests for power to gain Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) (more $) and these two new income streams going into the pockets of logging enterprises would be huge encouragement to build forest furnaces.

The Greens forced a reluctant ALP to include a prohibition on RECs from native forest as part of the Clean Energy Future Package some time ago. So, will the ALP keep this prohibition in place to at least stop one of these two dodgy income streams?


Gas could kill Maryvale pulp mill

6th November 2014
As the price of gas is set to treble, Maryvale pulp and paper mill is not happy. They are the state’s biggest gas user, burning an astronomical 18-30 TJ of gas per day. The average household uses in a year, 0.055% of what this forest pulping enterprise uses in a day! .

At a Grattan Institute talk last month (Oct 2014) Brian Green, ex-SECV and now Australian Paper’s energy manager, said he has been unsuccessfully trying to negotiate a deal with gas producers for over a year.

Gas prices will increase sharply to match the international price for gas once the export facility at Grafton in Queensland opens next year and goes into full production from CSG and other unconventional gas sources. This will make Australia the world biggest gas exporter, overtaking Qatar.

For households, the biggest part of the bill is distribution and retailer charges. For industry, the biggest percentage of the bill is the cost of the gas itself. So industries' power bills will go up more than household bills. Australian Paper estimates it would add an additional $30-40 million onto their energy costs annually. It claims their profits are already marginal. This could be the blow that the paper mill's owner, Nippon, needs to close this forest devouring loss maker down.


Eco-timber certification label loses eco-credibility

24th October 2014

An East Gippsland sawmill is in the process of applying for the very same timber certification label that has been condemned by environment groups across the country this week, after the logging of WA’s 600 year old Karri forests was given a ‘green tick’.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a global timber certifying body which outsources the inspection of forest logging operations. The auditors measure a number of criteria to ensure the wood is obtained in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

“Environment East Gippsland, as a member group of the FSC, is now extremely cautious of the plan to gain FSC certification by one of the region’s sawmills”, said Jill Redwood.

“The ease at which unscrupulous auditing companies can be employed to simply tick the boxes without ensuring proper compliance or accountability is concerning. It is discrediting certified timber in general and the FSC name in particular.

“Montana sawmill in Nowa Nowa is proposing to log the coastal and foothill forest durable timber trees and is investigating the burning of unwanted trees in an electricity furnace.

“In West Australia, the government logging entity has just been given the OK to destroy the habitat of over 15 rare and threatened species, and sell the timber as environmentally kosher under the FSC label. This should alert everyone to the possibility of similar outcomes for Montana mill’s plan to gain FSC certification here.

“We would encourage all community stakeholders involved in this plan to have their sham detectors well and truly on high alert.

“To gain a green badge on native forest timber, the company must genuinely earn it, not simply employ an auditing company that gives away certificates to ensure future business.


VicForests backs out of 81 planned logging areas

9th October 2014
VicForests has agreed not to log 81 of its planned logging areas as part of our court case for the owls - at least until mid December.

These stands of forest have been identified as areas known to contain, or are adjacent to areas that contain threatened species of owls.

After last summer's fires destroyed many of their protected forests, prime owl habitat will be at a premium for the three threatened owl species. The State Government must ensure a minimal number of areas are set aside to guarantee the owls survive.

EEG lawyers asked VicForests not to start destroying the identified forests before the case is heard. It responded by offering not to log until December and if the case will be heard later, we can negotiate an extension. We are happy with this initial offer.


Leadbeater’s Possum Action Statement

4th October 2014

In July the Leadbeater’s Possum was declared “Critically Endangered”, just one step before “Extinct”.

The government’s Leadbeater’s Possum Advisory Group (LPAG) was set up earlier this year. It’s a group of government employees and logging industry reps. Unsurprisingly their recommendations were piss weak and so were used to rewrite a new protection plan or Action Statement. No biologists had input and the author remains a mystery. Its ‘Actions’ will not save the Possum from extinction.

To rub it in, the Napthine Government pledged $11 million to be spent on putting the Action Statement into action, but $7 million is to be given to VicForests!

Read more here


Suing the government again - for the owls

23rd September 2014

Environment East Gippsland is suing the state government for a fourth time! We lodged the legal papers on Monday 22nd Sept.

The summer fires destroyed thousands of hectares of critically important habitat for East Gippsland’s threatened wildlife. This region is the stronghold for large forest owls yet DEPI refuses to urgently review the protection measures for them as they are obliged to.

In the fires 46 protected owl zones burnt. These sites might no longer contain the values for which they were originally protected. The government is legally obliged to establish protection zones for each of the Powerful, Sooty and Masked owls across the region (these zones are woefully inadequate but that’s another issue). The survival needs of owls and the demands of the logging industry are similar, both prefer the rich forests containing large trees. The government’s loyalty though seems to be with the demands of VicForests and the logging industry.

We wrote to Ministers Walsh and Smith in April requesting an urgent review of owl zones, but the environment minister refused. They plan to clearfell 81 stands of mature and old growth forest where owls have been identified. These unprotected areas of prime owl habitat could be critical for the survival of our large forest owls.

We believe DEPI and VicForests are in breach of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, the East Gippsland Forest Management Plan, Action Statements for the Large Forest Owls, the Code of Forest Practices, the Precautionary Principle, the Sustainable Forests Act, the Forests Act, conditions in the Allocation Order and conditions in the Amended Timber Release Plan.

Such lawlessness by the very body which writes legislation and regulations can’t be an accident, not after we have taken legal action against the government on three other occasions.

Even before the fires, the requirement that around 80,000ha of high quality habitat (old growth) must be protected for Powerful Owls in East Gippsland was not being met. Only 64,000ha was set aside. Some even considered that 800 ha per pair of owls to be at best about a third of the area needed.

Since the 2014 Goongerah-Deddick fires, the owls in the burnt zones could have easily perished as they are very territorial. Old growth and other suitable owl habitat is at a premium in the region meaning surviving owls would have found it difficult to move into and survive in poorer habitat that doesn’t support good populations of their prey species.

Citizens should not be forced to sue their own government for breaking its laws. It is a costly, stressful and time consuming action, but when our rare wildlife is in diabolical trouble, we have no other option.

As the case progresses we may have to pass the hat around for financial support. We’ll see how we go and keep you updated on developments.

To keep up with forest and wildlife news in general ‘like’ us on Facebook, and ‘get notifications’ (under the ‘like’ button). www.facebook.com/EnvironmentEastGippsland

VicForests new website is a hoot

16th September 2014
A wonderful new website designed to look behind the monster that VicForests really is, has just been launched! Enjoy!



Logging increases forests flammability - new research

15th August 2014

New landmark research shows conclusively that the deadly Black Saturday fires were more extreme due to the thick flammable LOGGING regrowth.

Scientists from Melbourne University and the ANU (Professor David Lindenmayer, Dr Chris Taylor and Dr Michael McCarthy) say the study showed the deadly blaze was more extreme where it ripped through young logging regrowth.

The study is dynamite and is published in Conservation Letters.

A complimentary study by Michael McCarthy can also be found here.

Read more on our website here or at the ABC news website.

The findings have massive implications for whole towns and communities where they are surrounded by regenerating forests 7-40 years after logging. Of course the logging industry is in an uproar about scientist that dare come up with such research findings. The industry has devised a counter pseudo ‘scientific’ report in an attempt to prove otherwise, yet their own diagram 4 reinforces the point Dr Taylor et al made.

See also summary of the research on The Conversation:
theconversation.com/victorias-logged-landscapes-are-at-increased-risk-of-bushfire and one which focuses on the long term destruction of natural forests in successive bushfires.


11th Sept 2014

So why isn’t the Government accepting recommendation 5 of the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry? Peter Ryan claims it’s just too difficult to get carbon monoxide monitoring equipment to a site within 24 hours. Yeah? How long does it take to drive a hand held CO monitoring device from Melbourne to Victoria’s far ends? 6-7 hours max.

The real answer is more likely to be due to the government wanting to avoid any exposure of its own deliberate annual air pollution.

We have all suffered the choking smoke of government autumn burns, more so since 2009. These government decreed pollution events could often prove to exceed health limits for CO and the very dangerous and carcinogenic fine particulate matter called PM2.5.

In an emergency it is the DEPI Incident Controllers that have the responsibility to notify the public when the smoke reaches levels that are dangerous to public health. This little fact came from the Chief Health Officer during the mine fire inquiry (there’s a footnote link to her evidence from the transcript at page T.1155 to T.1160) hazelwoodinquiry.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/HMFI-040614-Day08.pdf

Smoke isn’t just a short term annoyance that effects the elderly or those with respiratory problems. Even for healthy people it has irritants, carcinogens and toxins. Then there is also the less easy to detect but deadly carbon monoxide danger. If this reaches 9ppm it should require a community to be evacuated, which is of course costly for governments. You can see why they'd prefer they didn't know how bad it was. A bit like not looking for endangered wildlife before they log.

If the government refuses to accept a simple recommendation to carry out air testing in situations dangerous to public health, then what use are the other recs relating to responding to that information?

We have the recs of two inquiries at odds with each other here – the 2009 Bushfire Royal Commission recommended (despite no scientific back-up) a trebling of annual burns, creating masses of pollution that threatens community health. And now the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry that recognises the health dangers of smoke, wants to limit the smoke impacts and ensure an appropriate response to unhealthy levels of smoke and carbon monoxide.



16 August 2014
Will Napthine hand VicForests $18M from our pockets next year to log East Gippy forests?

This is despite their being no market for the bulk of the trees they cut down. The East Gippsland community could do so much more with that money. It could kick start more useful and more healthy, growing sectors - eco-tourism, new agricultural initiatives, fire preparedness ...

Are our Gippsland politicians like Garry Blackwood, Danny O'Brien, Peter Ryan and Tim Bull are caught in a time warp from the 70s? The markets have spoken and the show is over.

The below opinion piece from the Herald Sun shows fairly clear evidence of the millions from public taxes that are channelled into logging industry welfare. This is a destructive and shrinking extractive operation that's now supporting about as many jobs as a jam-making cottage operation might.





Don't be conned! These envelopes should be avoided as they just provide free promotion for the farce that is the Australian Forest Standard.

AFS is the loggers-own 'green tick' they invented to try and cover their 'business as usual' forest destruction.


BIOMASSACRE - Don't trash our forests for energy

The logging, woodchipping and energy industries are poised to unleash plans to use native forests to produce electricity, and to convert forests into liquid bio-fuels.


www.biomassacre.com has a cyber action that you can easily be part of. Sign the online action now to ask electricity retailers if they plan to boycott selling power that has been generated from burning native forests.
dont trash forests for bioenergy/say no to a biomassacre

More details at http://biomassacre.com/

This short video explains how forests and our climate are so closely connected. Forests are our greatest land based carbon stores, shade the earth, moderate our climate and provide clouds and rainfall.


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