Logging National Parks – not a balanced outcome

The ABC posted an article last week by Nick Cameron, a consultant to the forestry industry and Maree McCaskill, general manager of Timber NSW, calling for National Parks to be opened up for logging. According to the authors, vulnerable native species would benefit from ‘preventative measures’ like ecological thinning (logging) and fire mitigation (burning).

Naturally it would be helpful if the native forest logging industry had any evidence to back their claims, but that isn’t the case and there is no mention of dieback.

Rather, they have some support from Senator Richard Colbeck, who has endorsed a “broad landscape” approach to forest management, because the decline in biodiversity is similar in production forests and National parks. Of course the idea that the lot for threatened species will be improved by running 20 tonne machines over soils, that are losing the capacity to support large trees, is what one can expect from an unsustainable industry.

However there is merit in the ‘broad landscape’ approach, but the constraints can be found in the fixed ideas of loggers and conservationists.

For example, NSW National Parks Association science officer Dr Oisin Sweeney said ” . . . Protecting large, intact landscapes, controlling invasives and letting nature do the rest is our best approach.” He goes on to say , ” . . . Of course species have declined. Logging national parks is not going to restore key habitat features: time will.”

2069regrowThe problem is that time will not return the species that forests need, this should be the major focus of active adaptive management. Another is the issue of what grows back after logging.

As indicated in the photo above the outcome of logging critical koala habitat in this case has been thick black wattle regrowth. This regrowth, in a so called Visual resource protection buffer adjacent to a main road, may not have been so thick if 50% of the original canopy had been retained, as indicated in the Harvesting Plan. A small area of EEC that was also logged during the operation, is also dominated by black wattle regrowth.

There seems little doubt this regrowth represents a significant  present and future wildfire threat to flora, fauna and local residents.

According to Nick Cameron ” . . . we need a rethink of our native forest management that reflects the true balance of environmental, social and economic values.”

Couldn’t agree more, although true balance, where the aim is forest restoration, seems unlikely to come from either the logging industry or the conservation movement.

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