Image for Dear Mr Wilkinson

Here’s the letter I wrote in response to an article in the Forest Practices Authority newsletter, and the chairman’s initial response:

Graham Wilkinson, Chief Forest Practices Officer at Forest Practices Authority, is clearly of the same mindset as those running Forestry Tasmania.

In the April version of FPA’s newsletter he claims “leading edge research, monitoring and independent enforcement” is used in Tasmania’s forests, and our system is “one of the most effective in the world”. He even has the gall to ask why the current debate is more about locking up forests in reserves, rather than “an informed debate about how we manage our forests” - clearly he hasn’t been listening for the last 30 years, as the people have fought to have just that debate!

He states our forests are increasingly at risk of being polarised into reserves and high density logging - surely that is due to the desperation felt by those who wish to save what we can now, before even more is destroyed. His claim that current practices are sustainable and based on good science is farcical, but that they are adequately and independently monitored is even more so as damage to water courses, over-spraying of private land, out of control burns and excessive levels of pollution bring no reprimand.

Industrial style logging, unsustainably short regeneration periods, huge regeneration burns using petroleum jelly (napalm) and no regeneration of true mixed species forest are all part of the current “good management practices”.

Mr Wilkinson claims that forestry of the last 25 years has “maintained natural and cultural values” - but with diminishing habitat for endangered species, destruction of Aboriginal values and karst systems, severely degraded water catchments and no regard for communities who must live with the results of forestry activities, this is just rhetoric unsupported by the facts.

Graham Wilkinson’s initial response:

Jo McRae presents a rather distorted view of my recent article in the Forest Practices Authority newsletter. In that article I argue for an informed debate about future forest management and for a process that provides for the meaningful engagement of all stakeholders. I put forward the view that whilst Tasmania has an excellent system of forest regulation some of the overarching forest policies need review. I discuss the fact that maintaining the natural and cultural values of our forests is more complicated than simply putting more forests into reserves, particularly if this results in an intensification of harvesting or clearing in the remaining forests. I agree with Ms McRae that forest management needs to be informed by facts, not rhetoric.

Graham Wilkinson
Forest Practices Authority