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Sharing the Load

Sharing the Load

Part of the CERES Fair Food newlsetter series, words by Chris Ennis.


This summer over 40% of forests set aside for native logging operations have burned.

With the end of native logging in Victoria recently announced, the bushfires have just ramped up the fight for what’s left in our forests a whole lot of notches.

Up in the Victorian central highlands VicForests’ logging contractors, who were already struggling to fill woodchip and timber quotas before the bushfires, have continued clear-felling forests.

Desperate to protect the now much-reduced greater glider, smoky mouse, sooty and powerful owl habit, citizen science group WOTCH successfully sought a supreme court injunction to stop the logging.

Meanwhile, The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) are lobbying politicians to keep woodchippers and timber mills going by giving them the go ahead to begin salvage logging in State Forests and National Parks.

Countering the call Professor David Lindermeyer, a prominent landscape ecologist and conservation biologist, says studies show salvage logging pollutes waterways, kills surviving wildlife and potentially delays forest recovery by more than a hundred years.

The AFPA are also talking up “mechanical thinning” as a means of hazard reduction and as a source of woodchips and timber into the future.  Pushing back, conservationists view thinning as a cover to continue and expand native logging.

Before Christmas we didn’t have enough forest. Now we have even less.

The scale of the fires boggles my mind; 10 million hectares of forest burned so far, one billion animals killed.

Sometimes I’m tempted to think that we’ve actually lost this and my thoughts turn to stockpiling lentils and enrolling our kids into crossbow classes.

But the other day I saw this email from Philippa Noble, a tree farmer among other things at Brimin Lodge Farm near Yarrawonga.

It was written to the President of the Institute of Foresters of Australia, it read…

…..In a drier climate with more dry lightning strikes igniting fires, timber plantations near mountainous native forest areas will become more and more risky. 

If all farmers were encouraged to plant 10% of their farms to managed plantations of fire tolerant species, not only would it spread the resource, benefit farmers and make the industry more resilient, it would also assist with habitat creation and carbon mitigation.

We are being told that we need transformational change to deal with the changing climate – this is an opportunity for transformational change…..

It was so sensible, so practical and so doable; a shared, low-tech solution requiring a small but powerful change in the way we grow our food and fibre.

It was LandCare for our timber.

And who couldn’t get behind that?