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caring for our forests « Previous | |Next »
December 16, 2003

It is extremely hot in Adelaide today. Tis another one of those 40 degree plus days when the hot north wind blows down from the desert, turning the city streets into a furnace. Power bills will soar. More blackouts. No doubt ETSA will blame the weather for the power cuts.

It's another day in an Adelaide summer. That means the bush fire season is on us again.

Extremely hot & dry conditions means that it is a fire danger day. Red alert. Total fire bans across most of the state. Police patrols out looking for arsonists.
Remember the Canberra fires last year?

I remembered reading this a week or so ago by Alan Oxley, a director of ITS Global, a strategic consultant on international issues. Oxley is also acting as consultant for the Sustainable Timber Industry Coalition.

From what I remember the article was about the logging industry's case for greater access to our forests to prevent a repeat of last summer's tragic bushfire season. Commercial loggers are the good guys because they practice forest management, whereas environmentalists are the bad guys as they just lock up the forests and do not practice the active management of the noble loggers.

A moral is drawn from the Californian experience:

"California's timber industry has pointed out for years that unmanaged forests not only create fire hazards, but get sick and die. Insect infestation and dead wood are killing the Sierra Nevada range. California environmentalists want it preserved as a wilderness "biosphere" to protect the spotted owl. But foresters warn that if nothing is done to restore the health of the range, it is increasingly at risk of being destroyed by super wildfires.

The moral? Wilderness is no good. Plantations are good. Oxley's conclusion? "Our forests do need protecting. But not from the timber industry. They need to be protected from bad environment policy."

That's how the Timber Industry understands sustainability. Unmanaged forests are a firebomb waiting to explode. They need to be logged and burnt regularly to make them less fire-prone.

Unlock the forests is the subtext. Let foresters manage forests. As Gavan McFadzean, a Victorian campaigns manager for the Wilderness Society, says:

...."letting the loggers into Victoria's precious and protected old-growth and native forests to be managed by foresters is like giving Dracula a key to the blood bank."

So true. So very true.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:36 PM | | Comments (6)


wasn't it that 'managed forest' next to Duffy that cost the lives of some Canberra residents?

yes it was. And Curtinas well.

Both suburbs---Duffy and Curtin---in Canberra were surrounded by pine plantations with plenty of roads and easy access.

This is a drier and more fire-prone environment than the bush.It created a firestorm.

The majority of fires are started by humans not lightening strikes.

Interesting reading about your posts Gary. There is a common thread about how we are becoming 'americanilised' in Australia.

Not only we have a government who is spending big on defence while cutting back on health and education, we also have a push to treat our forests with Californian ones which are a completely different ecosystem.

even more so if the Free Trade Agreement goes through.

I see that Vaile is in Washington for another week of talks. More concessions will be made by Australia no doubt.

sorry Gary I should have mentioned mine was a rhetorical question. i was in Canberra the day before the fires and the week after. scary stuff. i have sometimes stayed with friends in duffy (who lost their homes as did a few others i know - one barely escaping with is life)

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