I know I'm preaching to the converted, but I've just got to get a couple
of things off my chest.
The first is to quote a man who rang 3LO (Melbourne ABC) talkback and
said that 'forests are a renewable resource, so we should log them'.
He made the all-encompassing statement that trees grow back in 40 years,
so we should log everything only once in 40 years!
Now, despite this man's utter ignorance of what really goes on out there
(he wouldn't know a Nathofagus if it fell on him - I wish!) I'm afraid he
probably represents a large chunk of the population. People just don't
understand how fine a balance most ecosystems are in: the experts barely
understand it, so what chance does the 'man in the street' have? Most
people really believe that it's OK to log anywhere and everywhere as long
as 'something' is replanted. They have no concept of niches and habitat
dependency. I would wager that most Year 12 Biology students would be
unable to transfer what they learn in the lab to what they read about in
the papers (those few who actually read the papers).
My second grumble is related to this, and was mentioned by John Leonard:
the overwhelming and unquestioned priority of economics over environment.
Every time I hear a forestry worker claim that it's either 'trees or
jobs' that must go, I have a sudden rush of anger. Sure, they're
correct, but how self-centred and short-sighted is it to say that 'my job
is more important than keeping forest X or species Y'? In 100 years time
the worker will be dead whether he logs forests, enters parliament,
retrains as a mechanic or teacher, grows dope or just goes on the dole.
But if the forest is logged, how many lots of 100 years will it take to
put it back, with all its infrasctructure and habitat diversity? And how
many generations will have missed the presence of not just the forest,
but the species associated with it? Just for the sake of a few workers
staying in their greedy careers!! I can't believe how much value the
public places on the right of a few people to engage in destructive, if
lucrative, occupations. We don't allow people to make money by selling
narcotics; we're not allowed (thankfully) to collect galahs and sell them
to overseas collectors. Why are our forests any different? Ok, so we
NEED timber for our 20th century lifestyles, but why can't we use only
properly managed plantations in areas that have already been cleared? Why
clear MORE areas? To keep a few workers in their jobs?!! What is it
with the forestry industry? What special right have they to choose to
stay in an industry that is already over-supplied with labour? Should we
accept loss of forests just to keep people in logging jobs? This is what
the industry wants us to accept! It doesn't happen in law and medicine,
and certainly not in education. I want a tenured position in a
university, but I can't demand that a place is created for me!! But the
logging lobbyists want this privilege....
Phew! I feel better now. And my ire has subsided quite a lot, because I
just rushed outside to watch a female Golden Whistler singing its heart
out. The male was calling too, but I only got a quick glimpse. This is
what living is about!
Institute of Koorie Education