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Victorian law change abandons native forests to loggers

At the end of this month, the Victorian Parliament is expected to pass a Bill giving industry long-term control of timber resources in Victoria’s native forests. The government says the changes are important…

Forests and forestry are both important to Victorians: the government should keep an eye on them. lizardstomp/Flickr

At the end of this month, the Victorian Parliament is expected to pass a Bill giving industry long-term control of timber resources in Victoria’s native forests.

The government says the changes are important for the state’s economic prosperity. But the Bill removes important safeguards and regulatory oversight of native forest logging. If enacted, the Bill will leave Victoria’s forests - and the creatures living in them - in a precarious position.

Victoria has some of the most carbon-dense forests in the world. These native forests are home to endangered and protected species like the Leadbeater’s possum.

VicForests, a state-owned timber business, can log state forests with approval from the government. Ownership of native forests is transferred to VicForests before it starts logging and it must abide by certain laws, including a forestry code of practice and the Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act 2004. This Act requires Victoria’s forests to be managed in a way that considers principles of ecologically sustainable development.

What’s changed and why?

The Bill reduces the level of government scrutiny of VicForests’ logging activities, moving to a model of self-regulation. It aims to “deliver clarity, efficiency, security and sustainability to Victoria’s native timber industry” and “reduce the regulatory burden” on VicForests, on the back of a review of the forestry regulations and the state government’s Timber Industry Action Plan.

Even without considering environmental or economic matters, the new regulatory regime for Victoria’s state forests is problematic squarely from a governance perspective.

Long-term forest allocation with minimal government oversight

Allocation orders give VicForests access to certain areas and types of native forest and set the conditions for logging them. There is currently a 15-year limit on allocation orders; the Bill would give VicForests ownership of these forests indefinitely.

The state’s faunal emblem - the Leadbeater’s possum - is threatened by logging. D. Harley

There will be no more mandatory five-yearly government review of the orders. And the Bill stops the Minister varying an allocation order where VicForests has sold the timber to a third party. In short, this means that VicForests could enter into contacts that potentially tie up Victoria’s forests for decades.

While the second reading speech included a condition requiring VicForests to seek Ministerial approval to enter into timber supply contracts longer than 20 years, there is nothing in the legislation to this effect.

Self-regulation of logging operations

Before logging in a particular area in the allocated forest (known as a “coupe”), VicForests must prepare a timber release plan saying where and when it will harvest. Currently, it can only start logging if the government is satisfied that the plan is consistent with the allocation order and forestry rules. If the amendments are enacted, VicForests won’t have to get government approval for these plans. According to the second reading speech, it will be up to VicForests' board of directors to make the assessment themselves.

VicForests is a business enterprise with a singularly commercial objective. It stands to benefit from access to particular logging coupes. If the Bill is passed, VicForests will be in charge of deciding whether it can commence logging and the government will have no power to review and change timber release plans. Under this arrangement VicForests is judge, jury and executioner. Worse still, the Bill removes the five-year limit on the logging operations that can take place under timber release plans.

How should public resources be managed?

Victoria’s native forests are more than a mere timber resource to be exploited. They supply Victoria with fresh, clean water, house threatened and vulnerable species, hold significant economic and environmental value in their carbon stores, and are a source of jobs.

A prudent approach to the governance of this public asset would account for these varied social, economic and environmental interests both now and into the future, and it would be transparent and accountable. Removing the government’s oversight of native forest logging and its power to intervene to protect broader matters of public interest for the sake of securing long-term commercial interests flies in the face of these principles.

The changes to be introduced by the Bill also raise questions about Victoria’s compliance with the Regional Forest Agreements (RFA) that exist between the state and the Commonwealth. RFAs entrust the conservation and sustainable management of a number of Victoria’s forests to the state government, removing Commonwealth involvement in protection of matters of national environmental significance. A condition of the RFAs is that

Neither party will seek to use existing or future legislation to undermine or impede this Agreement.

There has been some opposition to the Bill from the Environment Defenders Office and environment NGOs. John Lenders, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, has said, “If the board of VicForests is trying to make a profit — and that is part of its obligation — the danger always is, if there are no obligations in such matters, that corners will be cut.” But the Bill has already been passed by the Legislative Council, so will this opposition be enough?

If this Bill is passed by the Legislative Assembly (Lower House), it will cast a shadow on the effective governance of Victoria’s native forests, and have consequences for potentially decades to come.

Join the conversation

74 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Henry Verberne

    Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

    Sad to think that this state LNP government treats the custodianship of our forest wealth in such a cavalier fashion.

    But they have form in treating our precious natural resources as only valuable for their exploitation with few safeguards that they impose in other areas.

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    1. Rex Gibbs

      Engineer/Director

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Not much noise from Socialist Labor so they must see this as a progressive step.

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  2. George Takacs

    Physicist

    This is a complete, unmitigated disaster. Unfortunately, it is also typical of measures proposed by other state Coalition governments. Once there were members of the Liberal party that cared about the environment. Where have they all gone?

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to George Takacs

      George, the ugly, hard right of the party - the ultra-dries - purged all the old true 'small l' liberals years ago - it's now a party of extreme economic neo-liberalism in awkward coalition with socially conservative populism - pretty much the worst of both worlds.

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  3. Chris Owens

    Professional

    "The government says the changes are important for the state’s economic prosperity". Given that VicForests have managed to destroy a state asset at a financial loss for 5 years running, how is this idiocy important for the state's economic prosperity?

    The conservatives like to spruke an economic rationalism mantra until it collides with their anti environment ideology, then ideology wins every time.

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  4. Thomas Duff

    Postdoctoral Fellow, Forest and Ecosystem Science at University of Melbourne

    It was my understanding that the environmental standards remain unchanged (including independent audits) but the initial approval process now will have less government involvement. Is this correct?

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    1. Lisa Caripis

      Intern at the Centre for Climate and Resilience Research (CR2), Santiago, Chile; Research Assistant, Centre for Resources Energy and Environmental Law at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Thomas Duff

      Hi Thomas,

      That's correct. The Bill does not amend the applicable environment protection standards, like those contained in the Forestry Code of Practice, or the general auditing processes.

      It is possible, however, that the changes to be introduced by the Bill could undermine environment protection efforts. Most significantly, if the Bill is passed, VicForests will not have to get approval from the department Secretary before it starts logging operations.

      At the moment, before it can start…

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    2. Wil B

      B.Sc, GDipAppSci, MEnvSc, Environmental Planner

      In reply to Lisa Caripis

      Lisa, please note that if you follow the legal trail of enforceability, the Code of Practice is now unenforceable. It was of only questionable application previously, but now, particualrly with changes to S.45, it's quite clearly entirely toothless.

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    3. Mark Poynter

      Forester

      In reply to Lisa Caripis

      Lisa

      I guess this explanation pretty much exemplifies that your article is founded on the errant predication that VicForests is the 'logging industry' and so is driven by greed to produce as much wood as possible thereby overiding environmental protection requirements to do so.

      Of course the problem with this view (which reflects that of ENGOs campaigning to close the native hardwood industry) is that VicForests is in fact a Government agency which employs staff to plan and manage timber harvesting…

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    4. Russell Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      The very fact that DEPI oversight of VicForests exists betrays the fact that someone, at some point, did not trust VicForests to place adequate emphasis on ecological values. I don't know the historical background of that. I'm sure you do and I'd be interested to learn from you about it.

      But at the end of the day it comes down to enculturation and values once again. You, VicForests workers, DSE forestry workers, the Minister, "ENGO" volunteers and everyone else are all victims of enculturation…

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  5. Mark Poynter

    Forester

    Over the years, forest managers and those involved in the timber sector have become accustomed to an appalling level of scare-mongering in relation to their activities from ENGOs pushing an agenda; but that this example emanates from a tertiary institution which is supposed to be objective, scientific, and above pushing an agenda, makes it somewhat worse.

    Firstly, some much needed perspecative. Only 9% of Victoria's public forests are both legally available and suitable for timber production…

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      Mark, that's a pretty savage attack on the author. do you have anything other than your personal opinion to back the slur in your final paragraph? Otherwise it's little more than personal abuse.

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    2. Mark Poynter

      Forester

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix

      As a forester with 35-years experience in Victoria and Tasmania I am pretty well versed on the facts and statistics associated with timber harvesting, inc working as a consultant on some aspects of the changes associated with the Bill, and on independent auditting of VicForests performance. As such my comments are not personal opinion, but based on fact.

      On that basis, my critiscism of the author is valid because she has done nothing to put this issue into its proper perspective, and has not researched what these changes actually mean, preferring instead to go down a completely unwarranted alarmist path.

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    3. Chris Owens

      Professional

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix, Marks "unwarranted alarmist path", was summarised thus in this mornings Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/26/logging-pushing-possum-towards-extinction

      Otherwise all the same tired arguments and spin trotted out everytime The Conversation has an article on logging.

      Having a Forest Industries media spokeperson consulting on changes associated with the bill, and Rob de Fégely, a logger and current President of the Institute of Foresters of Australia on the board of VicForests is surely is a prime example of putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank.

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    4. Mark Poynter

      Forester

      In reply to Chris Owens

      Chris Owens

      I agree with your point about "all the tired arguments and spin trotted out everytime The Conversation has an article on logging" in relation to the article's themselves.

      Many of us are frustrated by articles on The Conversation which are seemingly designed to further emotional agendas under the guise of supposed academic credibility. The instigator of the Guardian article to which you have linked is arguably the main perpetrator of this as he prosecutes a personal campaign which…

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    5. Wil B

      B.Sc, GDipAppSci, MEnvSc, Environmental Planner

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      Mark, speaking as someone who’s been on the same side of these sorts of debates here and elsewhere in the past, and as someone who agrees that a sustainable native forest timber industry could operate in Victoria, this time I have to disagree with you. The Code of Practice is an excellent document (I would say that, having been its author), but its enforceability has always been questionable, and now it is clearly further away.

      I will agree that on the broader theme of the forestry debate, yes…

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    6. Chris Owens

      Professional

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      Mark, if it is appropriate that foresters/loggers are consulted on forestry management and indeed have their own representative on the board of VicForests, shouldn't there also be a an ecologist also represented, to ensure commercial considerations do not override environmental outcomes?
      Dont worry, its a rhetorical question.

      You may question my qualifications (as you have done previously) however the fact that you have worked in an industry for 35 years does nothing to address the question…

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    7. Mark Poynter

      Forester

      In reply to Wil B

      Will B

      As one of the three authors of the original Code of Practice from 1986 until it was ratified in 1989, can I say that it was never designed to be the enforcable document per se. It was a motherhood document which informed the far sharper local operating prescriptions and the timber harvesting regulations (the penalty points system for penalising errant contractors) that was developed at the same time.

      I believe this is still the case, but I'm not sure if the regulations and its penalty…

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    8. Murray Webster

      Forestry-Ecology Consultant/Contractor

      In reply to Chris Owens

      I really dislike the way the whole article was framed i.e. "abandons native forests to loggers" immediately sets up a polarised debate. Did you see Q&A last night? Once this polarisation is setup it becomes almost impenetrable, the solitary aim is to defeat the other side. Trying to argue the benefits of active forest management for a range ecosystem services to people who emphatically (and frequently subconsciously) believe in "the balance of nature" paradigm is like arguing with Fred Nile about…

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    9. Peter Rutherford

      logged in via email @yahoo.com.au

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Hello Felix,
      I have worked in the plantation and native forest sectors of the forest industries for over 35 years. I even spent time in the wastepaper collection segment of the forest industry. During that time, I have tried to better understand the divergent opinions that surround the use of native forests. Given my experience, I agree with the advice that Mark has given Lisa in the closing paragraph. If you think Mark was making a savage attack and personally abusing Lisa, you must live a very closeted life.
      The following shows just a little of the gentle repartee that many people who work in the native forests must endure from activists that appear to know as much about forest management as Lisa does.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6tU8JWv0Cg
      http://www.youtube.com/user/pedrocam100

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    10. Russell Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      The fact is, Mark, there is no real “separation of roles” between a state-owned logging company, a government department, government and vested interest. It may well be that the individuals involved genuinely see themselves as having independence and integrity, and it may well be that they actually are competent, as judged by the parameters of their role. They may very well be “objective” and “scientific” and see themselves as “above pushing an agenda.” Your conviction towards those ends is convincing…

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    11. Mark Poynter

      Forester

      In reply to Russell Edwards

      Russell

      I agree with much of what you say about values, and even your presumption about what the general public may think.

      However, the public perceptions are heavily skewed towards that view because they almost never hear the most fundamental and basic information about forestry and timber harvesting - namely that the vast majority of forests are not logged, and those that are will regrow back to what they were given time.

      In my view most reasonable people would think it quite OK to harvest…

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    12. Russell Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      Mark, if I walked up to a beautiful long-haired woman in public and shaved off a strip of hair right along her crown, in order to sell it to a foreign-owned wig-making corporation, I'd be locked up. If I tried to defend myself by saying "it's only 9% of your hair", "it will grow back in time (at which time I'll be back to shave it back off again)", "you'd have got lice if I hadn't done it", "your hair was a fire hazard", "I'm the expert in hair management and you are not qualified to hold an opinion about it", etc, the judge would simply increase the sentence.

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    13. David Collett

      Sales at https://aussiebuilder.com

      In reply to Russell Edwards

      "Mark, if I walked up to a beautiful long-haired woman in public and shaved off a strip of hair right along her crown, in order to sell it to a foreign-owned wig-making corporation, I'd be locked up."

      A forest isn't a sentient being so that comparison is like comparing an apple with a packet of Smith's chips...the two are simply unrelated.

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    14. Russell Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to David Collett

      Hair isn't a sentient being either. The woman is the public and her hair is their forest.

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  6. David Collett

    Sales at https://aussiebuilder.com

    Good article.

    "sustainable" should mean the point at which there is no felling of old growth forest and all logging is of regrowth (or that the natural old growth is spreading faster than the felling rate). At what point in the future will we be achieving that in VIC? I can't tell from a quick look at VIcForests.

    I see no stated intention to achieve the above on the VicForest site.

    We need to ween ourselves off car subsidies and logging old growth forests.

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    1. Mark Poynter

      Forester

      In reply to David Collett

      David

      For your information, there is no old growth forest logged in Victoria anymore, and the fact that you still see this as a significant issue speaks volumes about the success of ENGO campaigns (and perhaps articles such as this) which imply that there is.

      In East Gippsland, there may be occassional old growth trees scattered within younger forest that may be affected by timber harvesting, but this is not considered to be old growth forest which are contiguous areas of old trees. All of these have been protected in reserves for years, the last of these reserves was declared in 2006.

      In the Central Highlands where the discussion about Leadbeaters Possum is focussed, there has been no old growth harvesting for decades.

      By the way, there is no old growth harvesting in WA and NSW public forests, and only a small amount in Tas where around 90% of the old growth was already reserved (before the recent 'peace deal' agreement)

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    2. David Collett

      Sales at https://aussiebuilder.com

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      Mark, I am happy to hear that.

      If the VIC forest industry is using re-planted trees then sounds fine to me.

      Are the ENGO campaigns about stopping all new-growth logging too?

      This is not an issue I follow, except for doing some reading on the Tas forestry agreement but that was more for a project management assignment on the failure of a change program..

      Are the ENGO campaigns about stopping all new-growth logging in VIC ?

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    3. David Collett

      Sales at https://aussiebuilder.com

      In reply to David Collett

      sorry for the double sentence, was going to delete the first one.

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    4. David Collett

      Sales at https://aussiebuilder.com

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      then the real question for the author of this article should be:

      "does this Bill allow the resumption of old-growth logging in VIC?"

      "Does this Bill allow VicForests to increase logging to unsustainable levels where unsustainable means the rate of extraction is greater than the rate of replenishment?"

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    5. Mark Poynter

      Forester

      In reply to David Collett

      David

      Yes, the ENGOs have always been engaged in a long term campaign to end all timber production from native forests - both older forests and regrowth. You only need refer to the policies of the major groups such as the Wilderness Society to confirm that.

      No, this Bill doesn't change the tenure of public land and so does not allow timber harvesting to expand beyond the current area of available and suitable State Forest. In addition, it does not weaken environmental controls such as the Code…

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    6. Martine Maron

      PhD; Senior Lecturer in Environmental Management at University of Queensland

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      Hi Mark,

      I find this an interesting debate and so I went to the 2008 Victorian State of the Forests Report http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/101489/2008_State_of_Forests_Report_v2.pdf. This includes the statement that 77% of old-growth forest in Victoria is protected in reserves. Do you know why the discrepancy?

      I was also interested to note that the use of the term 'forest' is probably quite different to what many ecologists would use. For example, the stats on 'public forest' seem to include the huge mallee parks, which are of course in many areas sparsely vegetated with shrubs and mallees. So it would be interesting to know what percentage of 'forest' in the ecological sense (that is, excluding woodlands and shrublands for example) is subject to timber harvesting in Vic.

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    7. Mark Poynter

      Forester

      In reply to Martine Maron

      Martine

      Re old growth: The discrepancy relates to the difference between formal and informal reserves, and effective reservation in forest types or topography where timber harvesting doesn't occur.

      The 77% figure reflects what is contained in formal reserves such as national parks, state parks and other legislated reserves. There are also informal reserves such as Special Protection Zones in State Forests where special values such as old growth may also be protected, or management reserves…

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    8. David Collett

      Sales at https://aussiebuilder.com

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      I think the only problem with this article is the headline. I have been noticing it a bit in the conversation, it's often just the headline that is the problem.

      Example: https://theconversation.com/taxpayers-will-now-fund-political-parties-administration-14691

      The headline is false, but it was published.

      My guess is this is not coming from the academics who write the articles, but from The Conversation.

      I don't understand the logic of putting spin in article titles here, the whole point of the government funding is supposed to be that we don't do spin anymore ?!?!?!

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    9. Wil B

      B.Sc, GDipAppSci, MEnvSc, Environmental Planner

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      "there is no old growth forest logged in Victoria anymore"

      Mark, that's not true, not at all. It is true in the central highlands, but in East Gippsland a vareity of small areas of OG are still being logged.

      Of course, more broadly, what this means for conservation is another question.

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    10. Wil B

      B.Sc, GDipAppSci, MEnvSc, Environmental Planner

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      Mark, still not true. About 500 ha a year of PG are harvested. Of course, this is entirely dwarfed by the tens of thousands of hectares of mature forest being recruited into OG each year, and the impacts of major bushfires.

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    11. Mark Poynter

      Forester

      In reply to Wil B

      Will B

      I'm happy to acknowledge my error here. The latest VicForests figures show that 330 ha of old growth was harvested in East Gippsland per year (which is equivalent to 0.05% of the State's total area of old growt). My understanding is that this is contained in mostly small patches and individual trees interspersed with younger trees in mixed coupes. It is still very small and hardly a significant issue in my view. All the large, contiguous areas of old growth are reserved or effectively reserved.

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  7. margaret m

    old lady

    Compound this short term narrow ideology ignoring the long term possible negative effects by Liberal National Parties captured by the IPA how can it be sustainable.

    There is a push to demolish safe guards to dismantle our institutions and reduce the public service to render it incapable by lack of human resources etc and funding to make it ineffective allowing big business free to profit at our expense. The saying PROFIT OVER PEOPLE AND OUR ENVIRONMENT.

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  8. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    Excellent article, I love the idea of self regulation, its halerious

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    1. Rex Gibbs

      Engineer/Director

      In reply to Michael Shand

      halarious - is that a form of halitosis - i.e an imaginary condition invented to market a product of doubtful efficacy.

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    2. Mark Poynter

      Forester

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Michael

      Are you suggesting perhaps that 'software testers' for example, should be regulating forestry operations? Now that would be hilarious.

      The fact is that Government agencies and their employees trained in forestry regulate the timber industry. There is a seperation of roles that articles such as this sadly seek to deny.

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    3. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Mark Poynter

      Hey mark, where on earth did you get the suggestion that I was appointing myself as dictator of forestry regulations?

      I mean how out of your mind do you have to be to read my comment and walk away with the suggestion that I believe software testers should regulate the forestry industry?

      How pompus "Ohhh I do declare" and self rightousness do you have to be to get such a wrong impression from my comment

      Have you anything productive to add?

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  9. Ross Chester-Master

    logged in via Facebook

    Heavy restrictions on timber in our market place over the last 30 odd years have forced the masses to environmentally damaging building products - (concrete, brick, steel, aluminium all of which are very heavy users of fossil fuels)- the irrational green has prevailed and tries again.

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    1. Rick Fleckner

      Student

      In reply to Ross Chester-Master

      There would be no trees left if everyone used timber only. What are the consequences, do you think, of this? Have a look at the salinity creeping and expanding where "foresters"have held sway over 'irrational' greens.The timber industry is also a heavy user of fossil fuels, as well as benefitting from fossil fuel subsidies because it is allegedly a primary industry. Yes it requires a large amount of energy to manufacture cement. I am of the opinion that will change over time with innovation, possibly driven by a carbon price.

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    2. Murray Webster

      Forestry-Ecology Consultant/Contractor

      In reply to Rick Fleckner

      Actually Foresters generally want to have a career in forestry and if they cut down all the trees such that there were none left, they would no longer have a career and hence no source of income.
      If you read Tim Flannery's "The Future Eaters" you will find that he does refer favourably to the forestry professions' long term vision in maintaining timber supply.
      The exemption from fuel excise (which I assume you mean when you say fossil fuel subsidies) applies to all vehicle use off public roads. It applies to mining and agriculture as well. The reason for this is that when the Govt put the excise on fuel price it was to raise funds for public roads using the 'user-pays' principle. But yes the govt could change that if they wanted too, but look out for higher priced food and a negative change in our terms of trade, particularly agricultural and manufactured exports...

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    3. Ross Chester-Master

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rick Fleckner

      foresters grow trees and design environmentally responsible logging... so if they are logged, foresters find the way to grow more. Shell oil has a resource of high thermal density timber (on non agricultural land on three continents) which they can turn into liquid fuel .. I worked peripherally to the research programme, some 30 years ago when they thought fossil fuels would be off-the-menu by international consensus at the turn of the last century. 2/3rds of the north Queensland rainforest which meet biological criteria for world heritage listing had been through two logging cycles. Most of the creeping salinity problems are due to below standard agricultural and pastoral pursuits. Keep studying.

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    4. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Ross Chester-Master

      Yes, all forestry work is all environmentally sustainable, thats why we have the problem of too many tree's on this planet because of how responsible logging and the foresty industry have been

      I mean, do you really think that people would be stupid enough to cut down all the tree's and leave the land bare and desertified - thats never happened, never ever ever and thats because all forestry workers are honest and forward thinking right

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    5. Wil B

      B.Sc, GDipAppSci, MEnvSc, Environmental Planner

      In reply to Rick Fleckner

      Actually, Finland once they won their independence from Russia had no forests left and no forestry industry. Now they have both and are major innovators and exporters.

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    6. Ross Chester-Master

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      well, yes, that has happened but not at the hands of foresters. It has happened at the hands of criminals and community-supported alienation of land to agriculture where the agriculture has been destructive and /or totally unsuccessful. Land that should have been left in the hands of responsible forest managers.

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    7. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Ross Chester-Master

      "that has happened but not at the hands of foresters. It has happened at the hands of criminals and community-supported alienation of land to agriculture" - Ohh I see, its a definitional thing

      When logging is done sustainably it is forestry

      But

      When logging is done unsustainable it is criminal

      Therefor, by definition, any forestry..sorry, any logging done unsustainably is not forestry

      Would we accept this sort of double talk in any other situation

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    8. Ross Chester-Master

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      The software person is at fault because the hardware was not constructed properly ... do you accept that ?

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    9. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Ross Chester-Master

      I'm sorry, you will have to explain that analogy to me

      you said that any logging that is done badly is not forestry
      but only logging that is done sustainable is foresty

      If there is a problem with the software - its a software defect, nothing to do with hardward

      If there is a problem with the hardware, its not the problem of the software - ie. regardless of whether the software is good or not the hardware issue is still a hardware issue

      So if the hard drive isnt spinning - thats got nothing to do with the software

      I dont understand your analogy

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    10. Ross Chester-Master

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Forestry is forest management to supply a range of goods and services and maintain the forest. Logging without forest management is either deliberate conversion of the land to other uses , like suburbs , cities or agriculture or a criminal activity. Goods and services, including wildlife diversity, is maximized by a mosaic of age classes in the forest area in both time and space. Yes, I know the difference between software and hardware and who is responsible for which portion. Obviously, you do…

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    11. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Ross Chester-Master

      Ohhh my apologies, I think I get it now, Forestry is the management of a forest so that logging can continue indefinitely, which may or may not involve ecological or environmental concerns

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    12. Murray Webster

      Forestry-Ecology Consultant/Contractor

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Micheal. Thanks for asking about a definition for forestry.
      Just a quick tip here:
      Definitions are easy to find using a "search" (like google for example) on the "World Wide Web".
      here is the first result I came up with:
      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/forestry
      forestry [ˈfɒrɪstrɪ]
      n
      1. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Forestry) the science of planting and caring for trees
      2. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Forestry) the planting and management of forests
      In practice management objectives are not limited to timber production or fibre production, but also clean water, habitat, fire management etc..... Many of the foresters I trained with now work for national parks services.
      It's really about trying to balance out community expectations/demands for ecosystem services which - as can be seen from the diametrically opposed and passionately articulated views expressed on the pages of 'the conversation' - is not an easy task.
      Thank goodness for politics.

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    13. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Murray Webster

      Thanks for the tip, you are right I should of done this first.

      As I understand Forestry is about sustainable logging right? not ecological concerns or environment protection

      ie. a forestry company makes money by logging, not protecting natural habitats of flora and funa

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    14. Murray Webster

      Forestry-Ecology Consultant/Contractor

      In reply to Michael Shand

      here's another one:
      for·est·ry (fôr-str, fr-)
      a. The science and art of cultivating, maintaining, and developing forests.
      b. The management of a forestland.
      Forestry does not necessarily involve sustainability, eg many pine plantations in NZ were harvested and then converted to dairy farms due to changing economic circumstances - obviously sustainable production of timber was not an objective there. But generally foresters are instilled with the sustainability mantra.
      The term 'sustainability…

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  10. Murray Webster

    Forestry-Ecology Consultant/Contractor

    It would be really good if interested people were able to look up facts about forests - I wonder if there is a website for that? How can we have informed 'conversation' without fundamental information?

    For example Mark Poynter is stating that only 9% of Victoria's public forests are available for timber production. This is a critically important piece of information and I do wonder why critical 'big picture' statistics like this (or links to) are not included in the article.

    another example…

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    1. Ross Chester-Master

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Murray Webster

      the fundamental information would have to be on government department websites .. part of their statutory obligation to keep track of their responsibilities on behalf of the citizens

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    2. Mark Poynter

      Forester

      In reply to Ross Chester-Master

      Ross

      And this information is indeed on Govt websites and is easily accessible through Govt publications such as Australia's Forests at a Glance..... but unfortunately this is just ignored by those pushing a certain agenda...... which I guess hardly surprising given that it would substantially weaken their case.

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    3. Wil B

      B.Sc, GDipAppSci, MEnvSc, Environmental Planner

      In reply to Murray Webster

      Actually the DSE (now DEPI) website is crap and not very informative at all. Bureaucrats find it both boring and risky, so dont really like it. . But if you know where to look you can find most of the info. The last "State of the Forests Report" was 2008, the next one should be out this year.

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  11. Gideon Maxwell Polya

    logged in via Facebook

    Excellent article. This is an atrocious move by the ignorantly, ideologically and irresponsibly anti-environment Victorian Coalition Government, especially in relation to the worsening climate crisis as outlined below.

    The overwhelming international scientific consensus is that man-made global warming is a major threat to Humanity and the Biosphere and that we are badly running out of time to deal with the problem. The atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration is now 397 parts per million…

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    1. Murray Webster

      Forestry-Ecology Consultant/Contractor

      In reply to Gideon Maxwell Polya

      Hi Gideon, I agree with almost all of what you have said there.
      Just one point. Only 9% of Victoria's public forests available for timber harvest, and with those areas rapidly regrown. Reserved national parks however have seen the greatest conversion of older forest into regrowth due to massive bushfires. A lot of the forest sites where measurements were undertaken as part of academic research no longer carry that amount of carbon, many were burnt to the ground. If maintaining carbon stores in Victorias wet forests is your priority then massive wildfire should be of greater concern than logging regrowth forest in such a small percentage of the area.

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    2. Russell Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Murray Webster

      Murray - out of all the ecotypes out there or whatever the latest bureocratic jargon is for different ecosystems - which of those is most exposed on a percentage basis to logging, and what is that percentage?

      An honest question. I don't know. I rather suspect that wet sclerophyll ash forests are going to be close to the top of the list and the percentage is going to be a lot higher than 9%, and that that ecotype ranks close to the top on various scales of value, but I await your reply with interest.

      In any case, 9% is 9%. If 9% of people were available for slavery, would that be an acceptable minority?

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    3. Murray Webster

      Forestry-Ecology Consultant/Contractor

      In reply to Russell Edwards

      I don't know either. But I don't really get the reference to slavery.

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    4. Russell Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Murray Webster

      If 9% of anything with inherent value is up for destruction, that's a problem. Every fraction of something precious is itself precious. Unless you're going to achieve some fantastic thing by sacrificing it, leave it alone.

      Maybe 100 years ago destroying forests meant the difference between starvation and survival for humans. Now, doubtful. Therefore, unethical. A few bucks for shareholders in a Japanese paper company? Forget it!!!!!

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    5. Murray Webster

      Forestry-Ecology Consultant/Contractor

      In reply to Russell Edwards

      Actually, having thought a bit about this, I recall that the grassy woodlands of the plains are the most cleared. Eg Yellow Box/Redgum, Grey Box, White Box etc, where extensively cleared for agriculture. e.g over 90% and more.
      Rainforest was also cleared extensively.
      So for my two-bobs worth, restoration of these ecosystems is where I would be putting resources if I was in charge. Rather than arguing about well-reserved ecological vegetation classes (EVC - I think that is what Vic is using…

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    6. Murray Webster

      Forestry-Ecology Consultant/Contractor

      In reply to Russell Edwards

      I'm not quite with you on that one, Russell.
      My reading of the statistics convince me that 'destruction' of forests in Vic national parks due to wildfire covers a far greater area than logging and is more destructive, in terms of habitat, water quality, erosion, carbon stores, etc. So reserving all the wet forests as national park just does not seem to me to be a solution.
      As logging is practised now, it is less destructive than wildfire. Wildifre does not stop for creeks, or possums or anything else. But it seems to me that we can reduce the environmental impact of wildfire, as well as maintain regional economies by including timber harvesting in native forests. for example I have read scientific studies that show water yield and quality can be increased by thinning fire-regrowth forests in moist Vic forests.
      However I do reserve the right to change my opinion in the light of new information... Nothing here to do that but - it quickly regressed into tribal/polarised argument.

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    7. Russell Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Murray Webster

      Absolutely Murray, I certainly support regeneration of those ecosystem types almost wiped out by the largely unrecognised ecological disaster of the agricultural "development" of SE Australia.

      On rainforest - much of the remaining tiny pockets of cool temperate rainforest are under threat from logging, because they border or are mixed with E. regnans forest.

      Look, this really is about values. Sit yourself down in a stubble paddock, then go and sit in a wet sclerophyll forest, and then while you're at it, if you can find one in amongst all the logging devastation and don't forget the Aerogard, a cool temperate rainforest. I'm guessing from your comments that you're not a youngster and you've done all of these many times before.

      Be honest. The wet forests are amazing. Whether it's ashes and ferns, or beech, sassafras and ferns - they are amazing.

      Is it really worth sacrificing that for the sake of profits to shareholders in a Japanese paper corporation? Why???

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    8. Murray Webster

      Forestry-Ecology Consultant/Contractor

      In reply to Russell Edwards

      to be quite frank, I do feel the same way when looking at immediately before and after logging. But when I look at the long term and how we are to handle the various pressures we have now, including carbon, economy, biodiversity, water, I think that timber harvesting (logging) has an important role to play.

      Thats about all from me on this one....

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    9. Russell Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Murray Webster

      Looks like our replies are getting a bit out of sync somehow but in response to "i'm not quite with you..."

      Agreed, the 2009 fires in particular were devastating to mountain ash forests. Logging, at least in any one year, may be less devastating than one summer's worth of manmade bushfire disasters. So?

      Stabbing is less destructive than shooting. Mind if I stab you?

      How about I stab you after someone's shot you but missed a single vital organ? That's what VicForests are doing by logging the unburnt patches in the Toolangi area missed by SPAusNet's little fire.

      Look, sorry, I respect the politeness with which you have engaged in this debate, but at the end of he day politeness can disguise the gravity of an issue.But the facts remain - logging harms forests, forests have value, and we don't need to log. So why do it?

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    10. Russell Edwards

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Murray Webster

      In response to "to be quite frank..." I really appreciate your engagement and hope you'll suffer through one more reply...

      I appreciate your honesty, and look, as a hunter and having made a conscious choice to become a hunter, having previously been an ethical vegan, I can assure you I appreciate the fact that our existence is predicated upon appropriation from other organisms. Nothing reminds you of that more than blood on your hands. (Even chainsawdust.)

      But really, read your post again…

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