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TAS Country : September 9th 2010
14 Tasmanian Country Friday, September 10, 2010 YOUR SAY Nonsense in forest decisions TOO PRECIOUS: The chocolate lily. A measure of the success of forest conservation could be the maintenance of the range of forest age classes, both regrowth and ecologically mature forest, of any particular forest community.' THE notion of ''forest conservation'' equating to forest lock up is ecological nonsense. Policy, based on this notion, is based on misconception and un- truths. From the media and the pro- ponents of the term ''high conservation value forests'' we get very little notion of what is meant. Is the main objective of conservation to protect an individual forest com- munity with its gene pool, its complex set of species interactions and the forces that maintain them or is it to exclude human intervention of any kind? All our native forests have conser- vation value, particularly those dimin- ished by land clearing, or containing threatened species. Habitat loss is a major threat to many species, both plant and animal. All eucalypt forests, either wet or dry, considered as having ''high conser- vation value'' or not, require disturb- ance for their regeneration the next generation of forest and of individual forest species. Of similar absurdity is the notion of ''protecting old growth forests''. Eucalypt forest species are similar to us; they are born (out of the fire), they grow and they die. The important principle is that they reproduce. All ''old growth'' forest is regrowth forest which has matured --- it was not born as ''old growth''. A measure of the success of forest conservation could be the maintenance of the range of forest age classes, both regrowth and ecologically mature for- est, of any particular forest com- munity. This principle appears to be absent in reviews of forest policy. Forest disturbance in the form of fire or forest harvesting is often unpleasant to the eye, for a short period, and the ill- informed often refer to it as ''forest destruction''. The removal of forces that regener- ate and maintain the bio and genetic diversity of eucalypt forests is tanta- mount to ecological vandalism. Forest lockup appears to be at the root of Green forest policy, both in Tasmania and nationally. The ''lockup your forests in the name of conservation'' policies potentially have a number of adverse environ- mental outcomes. Eventually eucalypt forests will burn. Untimely and intense wildfire can create extreme disturbance, often unfavourable to the forest community --- not to mention human life and property. On the other hand if disturbance becomes too infrequent, rare or threatened fire-dependent species may become even more threatened. For true conservation of the diver- sity in eucalypt forests the intensity and frequency of disturbance must match the ecological needs of the of each forest community. It is a rela- tively complex science. Let us bring truth and science into decisions about forest management --- for the sake of our forests. DAVID BOWER Forest Ecologist Westbury BENEFICIAL: Sassafras-Wesley Vale Irrigation Scheme committe member Stuart Greenhill. Irrigation going hand in hand with conservation. Picture: CHRIS KIDD Species protection goes with irrigation THE Sassafras-Wesley Vale Irrigation Scheme (SWIS) is an example of threatened species and development coexisting. The scheme is now in the final stages of assessment by the Tasmanian and Australian governments and the TCT anticipates that approvals will be granted for the scheme to be constructed. When the scheme was first proposed earlier this year, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust had grave concerns that the installation of miles of underground irrigation pipelines would destroy key habitat of the nationally threatened species, the Central North Burrowing Crayfish and the Green and Gold Bell Frog. The project was being rushed, the needs of the threatened species had not been properly considered and the Australian Government correctly stepped in to require a more thorough assessment. Work done by the Tasmanian Irrigation Development Board (TIDB) since February has greatly improved the proposal. With additional refinement, not only will the pipeline avoid all threatened species habitat but it will provide additional water for streams and wetlands which will benefit the threatened species. The lesson for governments and developers from this project is that the TIDB were able to incorporate the needs of threatened species by obtaining good scientific information, consulting closely with the community and conservation groups and used this information to carefully plan their project. The other key factor which should see this project win approval is the TIDB took a cautious approach to identification of threatened species habitat. The TIDB could not determine whether crayfish burrows were occupied by the threatened Central North Burrowing Crayfish or common crayfish species found in the area, so they planned for the pipeline to avoid all crayfish burrows. This is a case of the precautionary principle in action and the TCT applauds the TIDB for this. The Sassafras-Wesley Vale Irrigation Scheme can incorporate the needs of threatened species mainly because it is in an existing irrigation area and the project is only increasing the amount of water available to farmers and not seeking to expand the area under irrigation. Major new instream dams and projects which expand irrigation into new areas are more likely to have critical flaws and cannot proceed without destroying threatened species. So the State Government can greatly reduce the conflict between threatened species conservation and irrigation development by having a policy that seeks to direct funding into assisting existing irrigation areas rather than opening up new areas or building major new dams. PETER McGLONE Director Tasmanian Conservation Trust Fingal coal to solve power crisis I REFER to Karolin MacGregors article (Tasmanian Country, September 3) stating Jan Davis's dismay at the 21 per cent electricity price rise. We have heard it all before Jan and we will keep on hearing it into the future with bigger numbers and greater frequency. The Premier's food bowl will turn into a begging bowl as the pivots, pumps, milking machine and proces- sors wither and die because of elec- tricity cost. In 2009 25% of our electricity came down Basslink and you can bet that the mainland generators and the Singa- pore based Basslink are laughing all the way to the bank. Tasmania needs a base load coal fired carbon capture and storage gener- ator on the coal resource in the Fingal Valley. Politicians have been running off at the mouth for years about how much money they have available for carbon capture. Here is an opportunity to actually do something constructive about the car- bon problem as well as solving Tas- manias chronic electricity undersup- ply. The alternative is to keep throwing more dollars into imported electricity and slide into the economic basket case category. Agricultural businesses with small margins and large power bills will be the first to go. BOB OATES St Marys Let's hear from you Send your opinion to Tasmanian Country, 93 Macquarie St, Hobart, Tasmania or e-mail tas.country @ dbl.newsltd .com.au Emailed letters should have Letter to Editor' as their subject. Beware Labor power plays The ink hasn't even dried on the deal Julia Gillard made with NSW Indepen- dent Rob Oakeshott and already Labor members are haggling, destabilising the Government. Posturing by Sid Sidebottom, hours after the deal was done, is symptomatic of the unsettled nature of Labor. The Government hasn't even been sworn in and we are seeing a return to more of the same power plays within Labor that we saw before the election when the factions dictated Kevin Rudd's demise. This unseemly grasping for the spoils of office by Labor would-bes like Sid Sidebottom is typical of Labor's general dysfunction. Rob Oakeshott should take note: Labor will do any- thing and say anything but when you get into bed with Labor make sure you know who else is sharing the pillow. ERIC ABETZ Tasmanian Senator
September 2nd 2010
September 16th 2010