Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thought for the day

{A disturbing reality}

Just a few days before Federal Parliament rose, the Gillard Government passed new Renewable Energy legislation that counts “waste” from woodchip mills as clean, green renewable energy. The Government refused to close this loophole that gives a huge subsidy to burn our forests for electricity. The Abbott Opposition was even worse; they tried to amend the legislation to make all forests available for power generation, bypassing even the woodchip mills.
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In our trip around Aus, we went to these old growth forests that have been so hard hit by the logging companies. The tension between the workers in these towns, and the environmentalists that lobby to save the untouched beauty of south-western Tasmania is hard not to notice.

{Welcome sign to Maydena}

A year or so ago, the logging industry got it's cash from selling woodchips to the Japanese (among others) for very cheap. They didn't need to spend anything to plant or maintain these trees, they just bulldozed their way in and chopchopchopped it all down.

We managed to find trail maps leading us to some of the oldest and biggest trees in the world, that were saved from logging. We traveled along the roads built by the logging companies, freaking out when truckies in their massive semi-trailers overtook us along the narrow dirt roads. A few (very, very few) areas of the forest have been protected from the logging industry. We arrived at one, in the Styx valley, and found this amazingly well maintained trail that meanders past hundred year old ferns and eventually leads to the majestic tree that saved the little area from near destruction.

{Styx valley}

I find it so unbelieveable that the government doesn't protect more of these forests. For such a small amount of money, going to such few people, we are wasting a priceless part of Australia. Of the world. All I can think is that we are so fortunate we have these passionate people litterally putting their lives on the line to save such small areas of untouched, beautiful wilderness.

{the 'big tree' reserve}

{the 'chapel tree'}

The worst part of all is mapped out in the cartoon above. The problem is that more than 80% of all forests logged in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia go straight to the woodchip mill. Officially this is “waste” from sawlog operations but the truth is that the woodchip industry controls native forest logging in Australia. The industry sees a new market for woodchips as their salvation at a time when woodchip exports for paper making are in serious decline because finally the Japanese and other buyers are starting to refuse woodchips from native forests.

As a result of the fall in export woodchips, major companies such as Gunns in Tasmania are now considering whether to abandon forest logging and make the transfer to plantations with the assistance of industry restructure funding from the Federal and State Governments. To make this happen in Tasmania and to extend it to the other States we have to keep up the pressure on the industry and the politicians throughout this election period

8 out of 10 Australians want a stop to logging our forests (Galaxy Poll May 2010). A stop will reduce Australia’s CO2 emissions by nearly 10% (not to mention other benefits) yet our Labor and Liberal politicians tell us it is too hard to even cut 5% without paying billions of dollars of "compensation" to the coal, steel and aluminium industries.

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