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TAS Country : October 21st 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010 Tasmanian Country 11 News PULP FRICTION: Plantations will not be able to supply decent sawlogs for 30 years or so. Count private forests outTFGA matters with Jan Davis WELL, at long last the much-awaited statement of principles on forestry has been released. You'd never know to listen to all the media comments that this agreement is only a first step. It's an agreement to have a discussion about having an agreement, so there is an awful long way to go before anything happens at all. The other thing you would never guess from the media comments is that the focus of the principles document is solely on native forest on state-owned land. In fact, if you look at the detail of this document you will be lucky to find any mention even of public land or public forests, so it's no surprise that the commentators have not made that very important distinction. That it does not cover private land suits Tasmanian farmers down to the ground, if you'll pardon the pun. Tasmanian farmers have proved themselves to be world leaders in adopting sustainable management systems and I cite Peter and Anne Downie, John Lord and Ian Dickenson, to name but a few, and Private Forests Tasmania in a corporate sense. It would also have been immoral to have roped private forests into the agreement with conservationists given the huge sacrifices that private foresters and farmers had already made. They had already made a significant contribution (read: sacrifice) to the cause of conservation through the three principal milestone agreements over the past 30 years --- the Forests and Forest Industry Strategy (FFIS), the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) and, by default, the Tasmanian Community Forestry Agreement (TCFA). As we said during our representations to the talks in July: ''We've done our bit. It's not our shout this time.'' Many people who have their two bobs' worth on forestry issues tend to overlook the scale of our private forest estate. More than 26 per cent of Tasmania's forest cover, 885,000ha, is privately owned native forest, most of it on land that is also farmed. We have always held the view, and it's the view we put to the secret talks, that private landholders have shown that they can successfully continue to harvest timber from natural forests while maintaining the resource for future generations. In addition, they are a positive force for the future of the planet. John Lord cites research that, as a society, we can sequester a lot more carbon when a forest is actively managed by selective logging than when it is simply allowed to grow and kept as a carbon store. The critical issue that we put to the settlement talks was that owners of private forests had to retain stewardship of their forests. They have done so, but they are not unaffected by the signing of the statement of principles. Plantations take on the major role in the future of the industry, not just for pulpwood but for sawlogs, and, as Terry Edwards of the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania quickly pointed out, you can't look at existing pulpwood plantations, predominantly of eucalyptus nitens, to suddenly become sawlogs. It doesn't happen like that. A sawlog plantation has to be nurtured to be slower growing, more closely grained so that it becomes of sawing quality. With pulpwood, the aim is to separate the grains and grow it is fast as possible. So if, as Mr Edwards says, we may be 30 years away from a sawlog industry based on plantations, and sawmills cannot get sawlog timber from native forests, where do they go? Clearly, private forests are an option and have to remain so. Project helps farmers monitor carbon cycles FARMERS will be able to get a better understand- ing of the carbon cycle of their properties, thanks to a new project. The Carbon Story proj- ect is run by NRM North and funded by a Cli- mateConnect grant. Officially launched by Climate Change Minister Nick McKim, the Carbon Story looks at a farm's annual carbon cycle, tak- ing into account all as- pects of the operation, including livestock, ferti- lisers, electricity and dif- ferent soil types. The data is presented as maps and graphs, which farmers can then use to gauge the impact of land-management changes on carbon emis- sions and sequestration from their properties. ''In a practical sense, the project will ensure farmers have the know- ledge and tools to work with any carbon system that may be implemented at a national or state level,'' Mr McKim said. ''Everyone needs to do their bit to combat dangerous climate change, and farms can make a big contribution to lowering our greenhouse gas emis- sions by adopting emis- sions and energy re- duction strategies.'' The project initially targeted eight farms, but the knowledge is now being shared with the wider community. The Carbon Story has been developed in line with the National Carbon Accounting Guidelines.
October 14th 2010
October 28th 2010