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TAS Country : January 5th 2012
Friday, January 6, 2012 Tasmanian Country 7 Use forest residue as a fuel source MARTIN MORONI OPPORTUNITY LOST: Forest residue can be used to generate heat or power. IN our transition out of fossil fuels we need renew- able energy -- cost-effective renewable energy that is easily and rapidly deploy- able. Forest harvest and pro- cessing residues, including those from managed native forests, form such a renew- able energy source. Residues can simply be burned in a boiler to gener- ate heat and/or electricity. Consequently, such tech- nologies are associated with rapid uptake and strong support inter- nationally. Yet in Australia, using residues from managed native forests is opposed by green NGOs, so we are missing easy, proven op- portunities to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on fossil fuels in a cost- effective way. Forest residues include processing residues (saw- dust) that accumulate at mill sites, as well as har- vest residues (stem tops) left in landscapes after har- vest. Processing residues can't be left to accumulate on mill sites -- they get in the way, form a fire hazard, and must be disposed of. While a portion of har- vest residues should be retained as habitat or to support regeneration burns in some forest types, a continuing supply of large amounts of harvest residues can be collected from sustainably managed forests. As harvested forests are regrown, harvesting and processing residues form a potential source of renew- able energy. Forest residues will eventually become greenhouse gases, whether they are used for biofuel or left in the landscape to burn or decompose. If forest residues are left in landscapes, then we miss the opportunity to generate renewable energy for society, forcing the use of alternative energy sources, including fossil fuels. Energy extracted from forest residues is among the most cost-effective forms of renewable energy and is supported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, United Nations Food and Agricul- tural Organisation and the International Energy Agency. In the absence of this form of biofuel, we will either use more fossil fuels, thereby increasing emis- sions; or more expensive renewable energy sources, thereby increasing energy costs. Thus biofuel production from native forest residues will make it easier for Australia to meet its re- newable energy targets and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while placing Australia with Europe and North America where such technologies enjoy ra- pid uptake and significant investment. For example, the co- generation of heat and elec- tricity from wood waste in on-site boilers is allowing schools, hospitals and oth- er buildings to meet their energy needs. Green groups argue that excluding support for biofuels from native forest residues is required to pro- tect biodiversity. It is pre- sumed that supporting the use of native forest resi- dues as a biofuel will pro- mote the harvesting of more native forests solely for biofuel, with concomi- tant pressure on biodiver- sity values. This position is reflected in the Federal Govern- ment's Clean Energy Fu- ture and Carbon Farming Initiative, which excludes biofuels from native forest residues for renewable en- ergy credits. However, this simplistic position ignores Aust- ralia's highly regulated in- dustry, which includes regulation for the manage- ment of biodiversity. The National Forest Pol- icy Statement, Regional Forest Agreements, Forest Practice Codes and inter- national forest certifi- cation bodies require biodiversity values to be identified, managed and protected. In their current form, these instruments allow native forest residues to be used for biofuel while pro- tecting biodiversity. They could be modified, if necessary, to address fur- ther concerns. Harvesting native for- ests solely for renewable energy is neither economi- cally attractive nor the best outcome for greenhouse gas mitigation with forest management. Sawlogs earn a far greater return for the land manager when used to produce structural or ap- pearance grade products than they would if sold as biofuel. Furthermore, using wood in construction dra- matically reduces fossil fuel emissions when sub- stituted for metal, concrete and plastic alternatives. Greenhouse gas miti- gation from the use of structural or appearance grade wood far outweighs the greenhouse gas miti- gation benefit of using wood directly as a biofuel. However, forest residues and obsolete wood prod- ucts accumulate and form a readily available energy source that is otherwise lost as it decomposes on the landscape or in landfill. Leaving excess forest resi- dues to decompose to greenhouse gases on the landscape without generat- ing energy for society will increase greenhouse gas emissions from the burn- ing of fossil fuels. This is not a green out- come. Generating energy for society from excess forest residues is. Martin Moroni is the senior research scien- tist, forest carbon, with Forestry Tasmania. Your Say Freight cost overhaul needed FAIR GO: The Freight Equalisation Scheme doesn't provide a level playing field. IN reply to Doug Dick- inson (Tasmanian Country, December 23), the TFGA is well aware of the inequities evident in the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme (TFES) for Tasmanian agricul- tural producers. When it was intro- duced in 1976, the TFES was intended to ensure Tasmanian businesses were not disadvantaged in com- parison with main- land businesses in terms of the cost of freighting their goods or importing the in- puts for their produce. It seeks to equalise the cost of freighting by sea and road since we have no road con- nection with inter- state markets. The TFES guidelines clearly state that if produce is staying in Australia, freight costs to the mainland are claimable. If the product is destined for an export market, they are not. About 25 per cent of the state's agricultural pro- duction is exported each year and farmers are not eligible to claim assist- ance for the cost of the sea-leg freight for these products from Tasmania to the mainland. The distinction be- tween the end desti- nations of products is simply not justified. No matter where the ultimate destination of a product, it has to be trans- ported by ship from here to Melbourne. The situation has wor- sened since the with- drawal of direct export shipment services from Tasmania. This means all our export products must now go through the port of Melbourne, clearly add- ing to freight costs. The situation is made more complex by the fact that in many cases the farmer who pays the freight costs does not ac- tually know where their products will end up. They may be intended for export but downgrad- ed by an agent or whole- saler, or redirected to meet shortages in the domestic market. Until there is a high- way across Bass Strait, Tasmanian producers will continue to face high- er freight transport costs as a result of sea ship- ment than comparable producers on the main- land, regardless of where their products end up. The TFES therefore re- mains an important program for Tasmanian businesses, but there is a clear need for guidelines to be overhauled. The TFGA believes it is important for the Govern- ment to provide an even playing field for agricul- tural businesses in Tasmania. In 2011, we raised this issue on a number of occasions with the Federal Government and stressed the need for that overhaul, particu- larly with respect to the situation facing exported produce. We will continue to make this point in 2012. Jan Davis TFGA chief executive officer TASMANIAN ALKALOIDS Value Adding in Tasmania The security of our Poppy Industry is vital. Report any suspicious activity in or near your poppy crop immediately. 2058141-120106 2073596-120106 SLASHERS AUSTRALIAN MADE www.delmade.com.au FREECALL 1800 335 623 RELIABLE ROBUST RUGGED FULL RANGE FOR EVERY BUDGET FREE STATEWIDE DELIVERY
December 22nd 2011
January 13th 2012