Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A response to John Clarke's " WA's regrowth forests thrive ". Monday 13th February, 2012.

This man is quite wrong. I thought I would respond to this one and send a letter to the editor.. doubt it'll get published.. but anyway.

I was wondering when someone would bring Boranup forest into this argument about preserving the remaining forests of the south-west. Boranup forest is indeed a magnificent site and was indeed logged many years ago, however it is an unnatural forest in that it is all the same size and evenly spaced, giving people an air of looking at a cathedral and deluding them that regrowth forest is all this magnificent to look at. Some areas of regrowth may look okay but there is less and less opportunity for forests to recover as climate warms and rainfall reduces there will be a struggle to recover their density and species mix.

While mining is often overlooked in some of these arguments for preserving forest, at least the major companies have the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to adhere to and have researched and introduced many groundbreaking restoration activities to rehabilitate bauxite mines.

When one has seen the magnificent size of an old growth tree then you realise how puny most forest regrowth is. It's like comparing a road train with a toy car. Saplings and young trees have much less ecosystem complexity within and around them than a mature old growth tree. The mature tree contains huge amounts of carbon (stored where it can't be readily released into the atmosphere) and they use less water than a catchment covered in young regrowth, thereby logging regrowth reduces our water inflow to dams and aquifers. Young trees in catchment areas actually end up being thinned to allow water flow back into the dams. This lack of leaf canopy also exposes more soil to erosion and another set of problems

Currently the Forest Products Commission (FPC) is logging in areas where threatened and endangered species live, there have been inadequate fauna surveys carried out and there are habitat trees being cut down; reserving habitat trees is one of the few guidelines that the FPC is meant to follow and they are blatantly ignoring it. The logging industry in losing money and it is unsustainable. Tourism and ecosystem services such as oxygen, pollination, pest control and wind reduction are more important than the small amounts of money received for turning a 300 year old tree into a throwaway single use product such as a piece of paper.