Myth-busters

Must'nt be elitistOne method the planet exploiters, like VicForests employ to justify their carnage, is to feed the masses utter bullshit dressed up as ‘facts’. They have their own definitions and interpretations that are very different to what most of us understand and in fact see. Here’s a sample of their spin doctoring and twisted facts they try to force feed us.
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Is logging really good for jobs, the climate and the planet?
Below is a sample of the favourite myths that the logging industry spreads. Please use our responses to help you understand what’s really going on, or to help you write letters or respond to those who you find yourself arguing with.

Myth on JOBS and ECONOMICS
The logging industry is a significant economic, environmental and social contributor to Victoria, comparable in size to the dairy and tourism industries.
Facts on JOBS and ECONOMICS
Tourism
From Tourism Victoria website: Tourism directly contributes $8.6 billion1 to the Victorian economy, and indirectly another $7.2 billion1.
Direct employment in tourism 105,3001 jobs and indirectly 79,5001.
Dairy
Direct employment – 13,2321 in dairy production and 8,0421 in dairy processing
(1source DPI website 2010)
Native Forest Logging
VicForests employs 132 people and directly contracts with 400 people (source VicForests 2009 Sustainability Report).
Our analysis shows that there are approximately 1710 total direct jobs in the native forest sector, 690 depend on woodchipping (85% of forest product) and less than1000 in sawlogs – (sources, industry reports, personal communications with mill workers and truck drivers, company statements and reports).
There is no peer reviewed work on the total $ of native forest logging as opposed to plantation logging.
ABARE figures from 07/08 show that total wood production in Victoria was 6.3 million tonnes. Of this, sawn timber from native forests is about 0.45 million tonnes, or only about 7% of the state’s total sawn wood. Yet, the industry continues to ‘hitch its little caboose’ to the much larger plantation sector.

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Myth on TINY AREA LOGGED
Of 7.8 million hectares of native forest in Victoria, about 5,500ha is logged annually or less than 0.07 per cent of the total forest estate.
Facts on AREA LOGGED
The ‘total forest estate’ includes “unproductive” forests that the industry does not want. And about 40% of that 7.8m ha is state forest. Of that 3.2 million ha of state forest the quality loggable area is 740,000 hectares. Much of this has been clearfelled and converted to pulp farms over the past 50 years. Of what remains as original forest the annual 5,500 hectares clearfelled is a very large percent of the small area of high quality forest that remains unlogged. Their tiny percent is targetting the very best of what remains.

(figures from July 2010)

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CompromiseMyth on BALANCING NEEDS OF ENV with LOGGERS
The logging industry strives to achieve a balance between appropriate environmental conservation and economic development, playing a significant role in fighting climate change.
Facts on BALANCE
This is a motherhood statement They may ‘strive’ to do this, but VicForests favours only the economic side. This is proven in the case EEG vs. VicForests. VicForests admitted that it has no expertise or experience in relation to fauna or ecology.
For every native forest coupe clearfelled and burnt, carbon is released into the atmosphere, thus contributing to climate change. The forest is logged again as a ‘thinnings’ operation (often within 20 years), then logged again on a 50-80 year basis. The 600 year old trees that stored carbon previously are lost, and the forest can never re-capture pre-logging levels. This is not ‘balance’.

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Myth on LOGGING being CLIMATE NEUTRAL
The Federal Government recognises our sector as the only one that removes more greenhouse gas than it emits and Victorian Government modelling supports that by showing public land stores more carbon than it releases, inclusive of logging.
Facts on LOGGING & CARBON EMISSIONS
This is from the Federal Government’s 2008 State of the Forest Report. The line neglects to say that native forest logging releases greenhouse gases, and that this quote includes forests re-growing from logging in the past, and offsets the figures against this. The Australian government does not correctly measure the GHG emissions from native forest logging – it is Tier 1 (back of the envelope) accounting. It does not report on the emissions from the native forest logging, it reports on net native forest sequestration. Even so, the AGO reports native forest logging releases 31 Mt of GHG annually – 7% of Australia’s annual emissions. A report by the Green Institute argues that if properly recorded, this could be well over 100Mt or closer to 20%. The rest of the forests growing back from logging 20,30, 40 or 100 years ago, has nothing to do with the actual logging the NF sector does.
The Native Forest logging sector has as much claim to the credits from previously logged forests as the nursing sector. It does not belong to them.

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Myth on BUSHFIRE EMISSIONS
It identifies bushfires as the biggest source of carbon emissions from public lands.
Facts on BUSHFIRE EMISSIONS
Bushfires do emit large amounts of carbon, however, it is minute compared to that lost from clearfelling and the hot management burns afterwards. The regenerating forests after a fire absorb much of the carbon in a relatively short period of time. Soil carbon remains intact. Trees and understory mostly survive and re-shoot quickly. This does not happen after logging – it takes the forest back to bare dirt – to square one. It would take hundreds of years to capture and store the carbon lost in one month of logging. Studies also show that regrowth after logging is more flammable, so native forest logging is actually contributing to bushfire threat.

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Dunny paper as carbon storeMyth on CARBON STORAGE in TIMBER
Wood and paper products continue to store carbon long after their useful product life.
Facts on CARBON STORAGE in TIMBER
The government’s own reports gives a lifecycle for carbon (on average) in paper as 3 years, hardwood pallets and palings at 10 years. Whilst individual products may last longer, this is incomparable to the thousands of years of carbon storage in forests, woodlands and soils. The percent of a forest which is manufactured and sold as paper or timber is about 20% of the forest that is destroyed.

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Myth on REGROWTH
Areas harvested are not simply left as vacant carparks - they're replanted with seed local to the area, removing significant amounts of carbon as they grow.
Facts on REGROWTH
For the past 40 years, the management of native forests has been a deliberate conversion to intensively managed single aged, single species tree crops. Native forests are being steadily industrialised to only grow the commercial tree species and nothing else. As well, even this regeneration is failing. A DSE report on native forest logging, finds that VicForests and DSE are 19,000 hectares behind in even evaluating regeneration success, let alone the forests actually growing back. At current rates this would take decades to survey. If areas that are logged are not adequately regenerated then logging cannot be seen as being sustainable.

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Myth on IMPACTS of BUSHFIRES
Issues such as the devastating fires of 2003, 2006-07 and 2009 and a drastically reduced land base have contributed to the challenging operating environment we operate in.
Questions on IMPACTS of BUSHFIRES
If this is the case, why did VicForests recently extend its contracted licence volume with Australian Paper, the largest single customer of VicForests by approximately 200,000 tonnes of pulplogs?
Why also is VicForests seeking to increase its contracts out to 20 years, when there is inherent risk in its ability to supply logs?

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Myth on WHAT’S CAUSING THE INDUSTRY TO SHRINK
During the past 10-15 years, the annual sustainable supply of sawlogs has reduced from near one million cubic metres to less than 500,000 cubic metres, largely due to increased nature reserves.
Facts on WHAT’S CAUSING THE INDUSTRY TO SHRINK
Much of the cut-backs that occurred in the past have been due to wild overestimates of sawlog quality trees rather than added reserves.
Pulplog volumes from VicForests’ logging in native forests continue to grow at record levels. But the sawn timber market is now dominated by pine – almost 90%.
Over the past 2 years, approx 58% of VicForests’ sales revenue was from pulplogs and only 42% from sawlogs.
By volume, approximately 77% of VicForests’ product is pulplogs and E (lowest) grade log and only 23% sawlogs.

(figures from July 2010)

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Myth on PLANTATIONS UNABLE to meet TIMBER NEEDS
The contention that we can meet our current timber requirements by switching from native forest timber to plantation timber is simply not true.
Facts on PLANTATIONS UNABLE to meet TIMBER NEEDS
Based on Freedom of Information request to VicForests we have an ‘indicative end product’ breakdown on native forest sawn timber.
We can substitute pulplogs, pallets, palings, roof battens and almost all structural timber with plantations – these products all come from plantations already. Currently, there is only a very small supply of hardwood plantation wood for flooring purposes. However, flooring also comes from softwood.
Of the 6.4 million tonnes of wood logged in Victoria, 0.45 percent is native forest flooring and 0.8 per cent is native forest joinery.
So whilst we may not be able to immediately switch 100% of native forest wood, we can probably switch about 96 - 98%!!

(figures from July 2010)

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Myth on HARDWOOD PLANTATIONS
Hardwood timber could not feasibly be sourced from existing plantations. Nobody wants to invest in hardwood crops on private land.
Facts on HARDWOOD PLANTATIONS

The cost of public native forests is heavily subsidised. The royalty rates are set by government far below what it costs to manage logging. Private tree growers cannot compete and sell the same type of tree. There is no incentive for private plantation growers in such a skewed market. If the subsidy were removed, the incentive would be there to grow hardwood plantations and supply the very small amount of native hardwood sawn timber not currently available from plantations.
Washusen et al at the FWPRDC have been successfully trialing young plantation wood that substitutes for native forest logs at a very young age.

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Myth on WOODCHIPS
Woodchips ... are all too often demonised in rhetoric by anti-timber activists.
...there is a range of by-products produced resulting in close to 100 per cent resource utilisation by processors.

Facts on WOODCHIPS
Woodchips account for the bulk of ‘product’ coming from public forests. All wood product that is extracted from a forest (sawn timber logs and woodchip logs) still only accounts for about 20% at most of the entire forest that is destroyed in the clearfell operation. Woodchipppers don’t just use the ‘waste’, they are extremely fussy about the quality of tree they take out.

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Plantations can meet almost all of our wood and paper needs right now – meaning there is no excuse not to move out of native forests.

Those who profit from logging our native forests still try to muddy the waters and deny plantations can meet our wood needs. The following questions are commonly asked:

Are there enough eucalypt and pine plantations in the ground to supply Victoria’s timber needs?

There are more than enough mature plantations in the ground across Australia and Victoria to meet over 98% of our current building timber and woodchip markets.

Many new building products like compressed wood board (flooring/craft wood/paneling etc) don’t require large diameter trees. These products and house frame timber are easily supplied by pine plantations.

The 2% of feature grade hardwood timber that can’t yet be supplied by eucalypt sawlog plantations (such as for high grade hardwood flooring and panelling) can be provided by alternate and engineered wood products, recycled hardwood or carefully selected trees from native forests (not clearfell logging). The vast majority of the uses of hardwood timber from our forests are able to be easily substituted by other products. Some of the eucalypt plantations that were planted for woodchips for paper, can be sawn in a special way to get good timber from them.

Are there plantations that the East Gippsland industry can shift into?

The larger plantations exist across the border in NSW and can be trucked in if mills want to retool and process pine logs.

The logging industry is in terminal decline in East Gippsland due to decades of ‘cut-out and get-out’ management. Employment is now a tiny percent of the region’s total workforce. To give secure employment to these workers, the industry needs to:

1. Retool mills if they want to process plantation wood (from Tumut NSW).

2. Be given govt assistance to relocate workers and families to the plantation areas of Western Vic. The plantation companies there are actually importing workers from overseas to fill the employment gaps in logging.

3. Take exit packages and be assisted into other areas of employment. The number of workers displaced should be easily absorbed into other suitable jobs.

4. Learn to do more with less – adapt to processing high value product from small quantities of carefully logged selected trees.

Aren’t plantations bad for the environment?

If planted in the wrong places and managed badly – yes. They also suck up large quantities of rainfall runoff that should go into creeks and rivers – just as regrowth from clearfelled forest does.

The plantations that are in the ground now were mostly planted over farmland in the 70s-80s. These should be favoured over and above native forests to supply our wood needs.

No more plantations need to be established. Those which are planted need to be reassessed at their first rotation to determine if they have a negative impact on water catchments etc.

The plantation industry needs to be cleaned up but this is another campaign. Ideally they should use multiple species and be chemical free.

Reduced demand for wood is also an important part of any impacts. The public and industry must also be educated to use less paper products and recycle more.