Monday, May 24, 2010

logging costs us billions of litres

Over the last weekend I toured the Central Highlands with a group of concerned citizens from across Melbourne. The tour took us to logging coupes as well as pristine areas of wet forest across the Central Highlands region.

Cement Creek is a forest with considerable tracts of high conservation old growth forest, precious for its lead beaters possum habitat, it includes a site of aboriginal significance and not to mention its value as a carbon store. It is part of Melbourne’s Water Catchment.

The Cement Creek Water Catchment remains intact, but for how long? Back in 2008 Cement Creek received a reprieve from scheduled logging, however there is no long term guarantee that this pristine and important part of Melbourne’s water supply will not be logged in the future.

It is a travesty that our water catchments continue to be logged, back in 1999 the opposition (now the current Government) promised to cease logging in Melbourne’s water catchments, but we’ve seen no commitment to fulfil this promise. In fact the agency who manages our forests, Vic Forests, wants an additional 148 logging coupes across the Powelltown, Toolangi and Marysville regions.

This logging coupe is in the Starvation Creek region. Industrial logging of our wet forests is changing the make up of the forest, turning them into drier, more fire prone forests.

Logging has a detrimental impact on the water quantity and quality in our water catchments. We have already lost billions and billions of litres of water supply from past woodchipping. We have a government that has spent $1 billion on a pipeline with questionable water supply and $4.8 billion on a desalination plant which will cause untold environmental damage.

This “habitat” tree has been left to provide a home for native animals. It is stranded in a desolate landscape with no connectivity to any other trees or undestorey at all. The coupe's ‘regeneration’ burn has damaged the tree’s inner core. This will ultimately kill the tree, which spans 16 metres at the base.

If our government stopped logging all our catchments tomorrow we would gain 18 gigalitres of water a year, that’s 18 billion litres of water returned to Melburnians every year.Post 2009 bushfires, the forest in the burnt areas of our water catchments is in a far more fragile state.

The forest near Marysville is undergoing regeneration, if left, fire affected forests will regenerate and once again be a place that flourishes. Salvage logging these regions will see them destroyed forever with no chance to truly regenerate back to a wet forest.

The best thing for Melbourne’s water supplies, fauna and flora would be to let the forest naturally regenerate however salvage logging is going on at an alarming rate in our water catchments right now (see blog).

A logging coupe just off the Acheron Way. Logging is undertaken back from the road so tourists travelling through the region see a tract of native forest, however look beyond this buffer and you will see countless logging coupes. Victoria’s Mountain Ash forests are the most carbon dense in the world, worth protecting, not worth woodchipping.

Victoria is in a fortunate position, we don’t have to log our forests. Victoria has Australia’s largest plantation estate and it’s finally reaching maturity. Our plantations have enough timber to supply all our woodchipping needs allowing us to protect our precious water supplies and retain timber industry jobs.

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