AUTHOR: Anna Krien
Anna Krien's review of Tasmania's forest wars avoids big city pomposity and intellectual hauteur. For a St Kilda girl, Krien comes across as agreeably bogan. She appears to drift with immunity from her encounters with key players, forest ferals and spluttering polemicists to pubs populated with defensive, testy
fluoro-jacketed drinkers. Even the truly undeserving get a break - but not much chance at redemption. If they present badly, it
wasn't for the want of an opportunity to speak and to convince us.
Corrupt governments are nothing new and the sinister face of big business monopolies is a recognisable face. The obvious tragedy
- the logging of pristine old-growth forests in the Styx, the Weld and the Florentine valleys is less comprehensible. In this age, most Australians would not support such clearfelling. It seems incredible that any government would allow it. The battle for the Franklin River has already been won and the people have spoken. The broader timber community beyond Big Business is probably content to leave
slow-growing cool-climate forests largely in place. High valley Mountain Ash is a defining part of Tasmanian landscape
- but not a highly-prized appearance-grade species as timber. Other species such as Sassafras and
highly-prized as specialty timbers, but not mainstream products on merchant shelves. It hurts to think they were chipped.
On some of this essential detail Krien is a bit weak. She relies heavily on Wilderness Society briefs and on ANU's Judith Adjani. There are echoes of Adjani in the claim that hardwood is losing the structural battle to softwood plantation product. But there is no battle. The shift to appearance-grade products away from structural products was made in the early 1990s when RFAs determined log supply would be both progressively diminished and dependent upon investment in kilns and drymill technology. Does anyone cut green hardwood scantling nowadays? In housing it's all plantation softwood framing and native hardwood floors. Adjani refers constantly to the 'displacement of native forest resource by plantations' - never specifying that this is for the paper industry and has no relevance to the timber industry.
Mainland media feed voraciously from this trough of nonsense - forever seeking simple truths and highly newsworthy ingredients. In recognition of news values so prized by media, the defenders of Tasmania's woodchip logging offer a grotesque parody of rural quietude. Called Timber Communities of Australia, they seem in lockstep with Gunns. True
battlers? Mercenaries? Or a burlesque of rural solidarity? Activists wearing tuckshop lady lippie, dropping the kids off at
crèche, and packing apples to pay for hubby's Kubota tree harvester. The media surely get the photo opportunities they deserve.
In Tasmania everything seems different. Time has stood still. Sawmilling volumes died before 2001 but no one went to the funeral. Woodchip took over - and where woodchip went, pulplog plantations followed. A financier will tell you that if any investment scheme has a return on investment beyond 10 years, it will either fail - or fail to return a dividend. For a risky investment like pulplog, 12 to 15 year rotations are a tad long. For 50-80 year rotation sawlog - no chance! The media have access to this type of information, but failed to differentiate these two forestry models or offer genuine scrutiny of investment schemes until after the collapse of Timbercorp, Great Southern, Willmot Forests and FEA.
Had the clearfelled forest been left for regrowth, indigenous seed and lignotuber could have provided a natural forest in coming years. Trees would have regenerated in characteristic and idiomatic patterns that favoured each species by soil type, terrain and aspect. By seeding with a monoculture and suppressing regrowth, this outcome is lost forever. In the age when other states were moving towards sustainable forestry, Tasmania lost a swathe of its old-growth forests behind the fog of a flawed national policy initiative. Not, Krien would say, due to incompetence. Put it down to mendacity, to a craven greed, to a culture of corruption and a climate of fear, to desperation as well.
There have been successful activist models for saving high conservation value forests. One instance is more than a decade old. The Otways Ranges Environmental Network
(OREN) brokered a deal with both community and state government to cease clearfelling in the Otways and phase out all logging by 2008. There was plenty of
argie-bargie over the years, but OREN's core approach was both scientific and surgical. Woodchippers, sawmills and the logging interest were clearly defined, the economics were held up to scrutiny and the community interest was argued in terms of
- forgive me my jargon this once - non-forestry values. Newsworthy images like napalm were not mentioned, I don't think
- but we still have to gaze dismally over Adjani's beloved pine plantations covering the high ridges on the road to Apollo Bay. Just because it predates 1994, doesn't make it less of a lost opportunity. If it were a native hardwood regrowth forest, it would have its own winsome asymmetry even without
This wide plank timber has had successful applications in shop
fit-outs and as a sarking or lining board on the underside of roofs and mezzanines
KD Spotted Gum 160 x 19mm T & G Flooring (220m2) Rustic Grade
Rate: not $86.00/m2 but only $69.00/m2 based on pack price
That's the same rate as the NFG
130 x 19mm boards!
KD Spotted Gum 86 x 32mm Decking (100m2)
Rate: $6.80 per metre (reduced from $8.00) based on pack price
That makes it the same price as 19mm decking!
A product with a range of applications - screens for stairwells, room dividers and landscaping, outdoor shower stalls, duckboarding, steps and pickets.
Did I mention
balasters? Clothing rails and wall features in stores? Kitchen shelves? Give me time,
I'll add to the list.