‘The people who advocate the position of denying RET certificates for this material should be condemned, and encouraged to undertake a proper examination of the science and practicality of modern forest management practices in the presence of those who really do know what they are talking about.’…… Bob Beasley. HERE which was a reponse to HERE: Oakeshott Must Change Native Forest Furnace Stance
Science is not limited to Forestry and there are many others who do know what they are talking about. On the other hand, there are many in Forestry who don’t, or are prepared to push a limited and distorted view in order to further their own agenda.
So let us take a look at some of the factors involved and then apply a little science. The material that concerns us in this analysis is just that which is classified as ‘native forest’ and excluding plantations. Sustainability and regeneration implies carbon neutrality when it is burnt or chipped, which in turn implies that an equal amount of biomass is regenerated for the amount destroyed. It is this biomass that I am highlighting in this analysis. So, having defined the terms, let’s take a look at it.
Firstly, what exactly is this ‘waste’ we are talking about?
There are so many definitions and it is not confined to sawmill offcuts and sawdust. That is probably the ONLY true waste in the whole equation, and that is certainly not enough to keep a major power station running. Saw logs only account for approximately 10% of all timber harvested, and the waste proportion of this is at the most, is about 30%. So this waste in terms of a clearfell harvest is actually only 0.03%.
However, ‘Waste’ in terms of Forestry accounting is all that timber that is normally sold as pulpwood after the saw logs and special timbers have been extracted. On the generous side, that is about 75% - 80% of all timber harvested. That is ignoring the 7.2 million tonnes of biomass per annum that goes up in smoke from ‘regeneration’ burns.
Now the whole philosophy behind this, whether it is to create wood chips or to power electricity generation, is based on the proposition that this is renewable and sustainable. However, nobody has actually put this logic to any scientific test, so let’s try and set some parameters for this now. Using Forestry figures for woodchip production as being the amount of waste generated and which will now be the source of this biomass fuel, we find that they create 2.8 million tonnes per annum from an average clearfell of public native forest and about the same from privately owner forests. For this to be sustainable they must replant and grow the equivalent amount of timber per year. However, they state that for the trees to regrow takes a period of ninety years. Given that is for saw log quality and the ‘waste’ is probably younger wood, we can afford to bend these parameters a bit in their favour, so let’s say on an average the trees are approximately forty five years old at the time they are harvested for woodchips.
During this 45 year growing period, each and every coupe is carbon negative for the entire time, even excluding the older trees from this calculation. As the trees grow, they become one forty-fifth closer to being neutral each year, but as Forestry is a continuous process, each year more coupes are added into the bottom of the cycle, so even after the full 45 years, the average balance can be no greater than 50% carbon replacement. As Forestry has already been clearfelling for about thirty years, there is a considerable outstanding balance to restore before it can claim to even start being carbon neutral.
But as each individual tree burnt (or chipped) takes 45 years to regrow to maturity, if it is turned into biofuel, you are then burning this ‘waste’ at a rate of 45 times greater per annum than the rate at which it can be replaced, which means that to be carbon neutral, you need to plant at least 45 seedlings for every tree destroyed now , backdated for the 30 years of operation to compensate for the annually carbon biomass loss over the next 45 years. This would then suggest that an area of 45 times the size of the original coupes needs to be planted immediately, or an area of approximately between 675 000 ha – 1 800 000 hectares, based on the EPA and DPIPWE figures for Forestry and private land, which, when added together is probably greater than the land mass administered by Forestry Tasmania! And then you have to add in a bit for the annual big smoke as well, plus the yearly cull of 300 000 cubic metres of old growth saw logs.
And that is the size of the carbon negativity so you can now judge the veracity of their statement from their own site which says:- ‘The sustainability charter is a forest management plan that reflects FT’s role as stewards of the forest. The document guides FT’s decision making over the next ten years, and outlines how our commitment to sustainable forest management and protection of the environment will be balanced with responsible economic and social outcomes.’
The ‘economic’ outcomes are defined by the size of their annual loss and the ‘social’ outcomes by their continuing to ignore the IGA agreement and moratorium. Such fine stewards!
This whole concept of ‘sustainable’ and ‘renewable’ is nothing more than a sophisticated con racket!
But Forestry claims to be science driven, yet they can’t do simple arithmetic. Their scientists meanwhile are paid large salaries per annum. And they have also been pushing this myth for the last 30 years, but nobody has picked up on this deliberate error or challenged them. Their spinners are possibly paid even more!
And those terms, ‘sustainable’ and ‘renewable - they are profanities, aren’t they?