I read with interest a review yesterday of the 'Vanclay report' by Jim
Walker in the back of the Victorian Field Naturalists' Club Newsletter.
For the benefit of those of you who are not members, I have summarised what
he had to say (see below). I like many others am surprised to read this.
Clear and transparent information it seems is still not getting through from
the state government to its voting community.
'On 21 February this year, the Vi. Premier announced statewide reductions
[30% I believe] in sawlog allocations ... based on the report by Prof.
Vanclay and Dr. Turner. The report evaluated data and methods used to
estimate sawlog yields for each of the 15 Forest Management Areas (FMAs) in
'The first thing to note about the Vanclay report is that no patch of bush
will be saved as a result. The reductions are to ensure a sustainable sawlog
cut, not to protect forests or forest values. The same amount of bush will
be logged but at a slower rate.'
Walker goes on to say...
There is a legislated sawlog yield for each FMA which roughly speaking
serves as a cap on the annual cut. However, there is no cap on pulplog
production and following institution of the Regional Forest Agreements
(RFAs), there is no restriction on the export of woodchips derived from
native forests. Although Walker suggests that there may be a direct
relationship between sawlog yield and pulplog yield (as one is in part a
by-product of the other), this is an over simplification. In some areas for
example, extensive thinning programmes independently yield large volumes of
pulplogs from regrowth forest.
He states that: 'In East Gippsland pulplog production will go from 1.1
million tonnes last year to an estimated 1.7 million tonnes this year'.
Therefore, Walker suggests that despite an apparent reduction in overall
sawlog production, the intensity of logging is 'clearly increasing' as
woodchip production is expected to increase by 60%.
The remainder of the article is spent reminding readers that the RFAs have f
ailed to meet their objective to establish sustainable sawlog yields - and
secure jobs and investments ad infinutum., It also goes on to say how the
state government has been recently humiliated by re-analysis of its own data
that revealed sawlog production was incontrovertibly unsustinable despite
many years of political spin to the contrary.
By virtue of the fact that this latest exposee is news to me and many
others, this article seems to indicate that the voting public are still
unaware of the major facts concerning the timber industry in Victoria. I for
one would welcome more transparent media dialogue with the government over
these issues. Just recently I was phone-surveyed over the Marine Protected
Areas legislation - a survey that was apparently commissioned by the State
government. On the end of this survey suddenly sprang questions about
logging e.g. do you support the government's reduction by 30%...? and, would
you ever consider taking part in a demonstration...? I refused to answer
these questions on the grounds that I was not privy to enough background
information with which to answer appropriately and that my responses could
be interpreted incorrectly. This was obviously the right decision to make
under the circumstances.
I would be interested to know if there is anyone else who partook in these
surveys and whether they had the same concerns.
Anyway, I hope you find this of interest as I have no doubt it is of
relevance to birders and other conservationists.
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