Image for Clearfall, burn and sow ... how the eucs win

#16 Amidst all of the noise and shouting at the Huonville meeting last Thursday night the mostly logging industry audience asked questions that indicated certain understandings of forest ecology. I’m reminded of this by the link to the FT site that you provided which asserts/implies that after the clearfall, burn and sow treatment in wet mixed forests “it all comes back”.

Of course, something comes back, but with the artificial competitive advantages of disturbance, a very hot fire and then aerially sown seed, the eucalypts win hands down against rainforest species. Coupe 39a in the Picton now sports a fine crop of 22 yo eucalypts. It is likely that there will be some rainforest seedings there, especially close to the boundary where the fire was less intense and where seed from adjacent intact forest might have fallen. Rainforest seedlings that are suppressed beneath thickets of eucs, woody weeds and cutting grass though. They will not reach reproductive maturity before the 90 years is up, according to FT research. And then, with an interlocking mosaic of silvicultural eucalypt regrowth, there will not be adjacent old forest to supply new rainforest seed. The final nail in the coffin to conversion - effective elimination of rainforest species, practiced broad-scale in the wet forests of Tasmania.

The second belief, enunciated very clearly by the logger/forester audience last Thursday was that dense silvicultural regrowth, with all those stems per hectare, sequesters more carbon that old forest. Unfortunately not. In the natural old forest we have massive trees, a well developed under-storey and deep organic soils, which may hold as much carbon as the above-ground biomass. Logging gives us a very minor percentage (

< 5%) of enduring wood products, large volumes of woodchips which enter the short term stream and persist for a few years or a decade or two, and an average (from FT's own 2001 study) of 700Tonnes/hectare of smoke, direct to the atmosphere. Its a disastrous and globally perilous equation.

A variation on the carbon question, stated by FT'S chief scientist Steve Read in this mornings's Mercury, is that any carbon emitted by logging burns is more than compensated for by that absorbed by the growing trees in the FT estate. To make this claim is to effectively assign carbon credits for land under FT control. But if we allow this for FT's land, we must also allow credits to accrue for forest on private land, or in national parks. The point is that logging causes massive emissions - it is a carbon cost and in its absence or if it was reduced those emissions would not occur or would be correspondingly reduced.

The third belief expressed at the meeting was that when the eucalypts die out at the end of their 400 or so year life span and pure rainforest results, those rainforests really are crumbling down, falling apart, ending. This ignores the fact that pure cool temperate rainforests in Tasmania, at the apex of ecological succession, are very happy perpetuating themselves without disturbance or fire, indefinitely. Many have done so since the last ice age, 10,000+ years ago.

The one thing that I did like about the meeting last thursday though, was simply having loggers and greenies together in the same room. With some notable exceptions, it'd be interesting for these people to talk, not shout, to each other.

This comment was first published on this article, HERE


• Underwear models expose Victoria’s (dirty little) secret

24 May 2011

Victoria is hiding a dirty little secret, exposed today by lingerie wearing protestors in central Sydney and Melbourne. Around 15 models braved the cold and stripped down to expose the fact that Reflex Paper is sourced from logging that is pushing Victoria’s emblem, the Leadbeaters Possum, to the brink of extinction .

Victoria’s Central Highland forests are being logged, processed and sold as Reflex Paper in Officeworks stores nationwide – despite alternative, plantation sources being available.

“We are calling on Officeworks to stop the greenwash and honor their own policies” said Peter Cooper, Campaigner for The Wilderness Society Sydney.

“Officeworks is well aware that scientists are saying that this logging is pushing species incredibly close to extinction – yet they continue to support forest destruction and the Reflex brand.”

The protest was held by the buffed and beautiful Wilderness Society who wore skimpy Victoria’s Secret style lingerie to reveal the truth.

“We’ve exposed both ourselves and Officeworks today, showing that their environmental policies are no more than shameless greenwash” said protestor Malcolm Fisher, who was wearing a black and pink corset and briefs at the time.

Images from today’s Sydney protest are available for download from

All images by Sarhn McArthur