Logging to restore forests – another threat to koalas and standards

Early this week the ABC reported on convictions imposed for ‘fraudulently exporting timber by using fake stamps to make Commonwealth documents’. Three directors and an employee of a Brisbane timber company pleaded guilty to 74 charges, were fined $850k and sentenced to a combined 4 and a half years jail.

According to the Private Forestry Service Queensland, the case ‘could harm the integrity of certifications like the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS)’, and is ‘a worry for the long-term integrity of our certification processes’.

Another worry for the AFS, and coming in under the radar, could be the EPA’s proposed ‘ Designing the IFOA forest regeneration conditions‘. The design is intended to determine ‘key regeneration values to be monitored and assessed and … requirements for rehabilitation of any poorly regenerated forests’.

This proposal raises the issue of the $600k of public funds FCNSW  spent on Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), as part of the Corridors and Core koala habitat project. The most recent information from the project indicates –  “The project has been supporting survey and vegetation restoration work on private land adjacent to the identified koala activity areas. This component of the project is also using LiDAR data from the previous project stage to develop a vegetation condition map that will then be used to prioritise further areas for restoration.”

 

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The original intention was to employ LiDAR in State forests, to look for sawlogs, although how this is done remains unclear. However, as there was no response my request for clarification if the project had changed, it seems likely LiDAR has also been employed on private land, to identify restoration and timber supply areas.

Should information be forthcoming, the graphs, from FCNSW’s previous research (Turner 2007), provide an example of  the different LiDAR patterns in BMAD affected and non-affected forests. What is apparent in the graphs is the BMAD forests are/were significantly taller than the healthy forests.

This difference is consistent with the fact that taller forests, on the more fertile soils, are most susceptible to BMAD. The worry is whether restoration and timber supply are one and the same, given FCNSW believe logging such areas will restore the forests, and the EPA intend to increase timber supplies from private land, to prop up timber supplies.

While it’s a shame that koalas come a poor second to the loggers, should restoration via logging become accepted, the question of who will certify these operations, will be a moot point.

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