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TAS Country : March 22nd 2012
8 Tasmanian Country Friday, March 23, 2012 Opinion TFGA IT S NOT JUST A FENCE. IT S A FENCING INNOVATION. At Waratah , we are continually developing new products that incorporate the latest innovation, manufacturing technology and fencing design. All of the components of a Waratah fence work together to make it faster to build, easier to maintain, longer lasting and ultimately more cost effective for you over the life of the fence. There is simply no better fence for Australian conditions. Registered trademark of OneSteel Wire Pty Limited, Ingall Street, Mayfield, NSW 2304. Phone: 13 10 80. ABN 59 000 010 873. ONE1472/TC. Biomass rejection is flawed policy TFGA matters with Jan Davis EARLIER this week, we marked World Forestry Day, which is an opportunity to celebrate our forests, the products they produce and the people involved in their sustainable management. In this same week, in Canberra we saw yet another example of ill- informed and narrow-minded opinion resulting in a decision that will under- mine that sustainable forestry manage- ment we are so proud of. Last year, the Australian Parlia- ment's Multi-Party Climate Change Committee refused to recognise the key role that biomass can play in generat- ing renewable energy. It refused to grant renewable energy certificates (RECs) for bioenergy projects. Bioenergy is essentially renewable energy created using power derived from biological sources. One method involves burning or- ganic products in an incinerator --- straw, greenwaste, sugarcane, forest waste --- to generate electricity. This is not an out-there concept. The Scandinavians have used forest waste to generate electricity for years. The European Commission predicts biomass-derived electricity will soon account for 15 per cent of overall consumption. So, if the biomass is a true waste product and is not the prime reason that a forest is being logged, then it should qualify for RECs. But don't take my word for it. Dick Adams, the Federal Labor member for Lyons, chairs the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Resources, Fisheries and Forestry. In November last year, this com- mittee handed down a report on the Australian forestry industry. It looked at biomass-sourced electricity and con- cluded '' bioenergy sourced from native forest biomass should continue to qualify as renewable energy where the biomass is a true waste product and does not become a driver for harvesting native forests''. This week, independent MP Rob Oakeshott moved a motion in Federal Parliament to allow foresters to claim RECs for biomass, to support the recommendations of the Adams' com- mittee. The vote was lost on a casting vote from the Speaker of the House. The Labor Party, the Greens, And- rew Wilkie and Tony Windsor all voted against this motion, while the Coalition voted for it. This decision means that there is now no incentive for anyone to utilise biomass (including forest waste prod- ucts) to generate electricity. This flies in the face of all science and commonsense. Mr Adams says he is a friend of Tasmanian forestry --- yet he voted against this motion --- a motion that reflected the recommendations of his own committee. Why? ''I was up against the multi-party agreement, which included the inde- pendents and the Greens, which the Government had signed,'' he said. ''Oakeshott took a different line. The committee's recommendation had a higher value test. ''I still have that opinion but I am bound by the party's rules.'' So Mr Adams was ''bound by the party's rules'' rather than stand up for his principles and support a decision that would bring clear benefits to his electorate and to Tasmania as a whole. We shall all draw our own con- clusions about that decision. The TFGA represents the interests of the owners and managers of Tas- mania's private forest estate. They are responsible for 850,000ha of native forest, a little over 27 per cent of Tasmania's native forest estate. For these farmers, forestry is an integral component of a modern diver- sified enterprise. Trees are in effect another crop --- a long-rotation crop, but nonetheless another crop. As with any crop, farmers need to be able to maximise the returns from all parts of a product --- the high-value parts and also the less obvious and lower-value parts. For forestry crops, it is imperative that farmers retain all options: high- grade native timber for saw logs and high-end uses; lesser timber and forest residues for pulp or electricity gener- ation; standing trees for carbon seques- tration; even foliage for the ornamental flower industry. There may well be uses that we've not even thought of yet that add value to the overall product mix and financial return --- and farmers should have the right to take advantage of any viable market opportunity. It is clear the weight of global science supports the use of biomass, including that from native forest residues, for generating energy and heat, and that there is a significant reduction of carbon emissions as a result. It is counter-intuitive to exclude biomass generated by harvesting from eligibility for RECs. It also runs coun- ter to overseas best practice. For Australia to dismiss this tech- nology through economic disincentives defies logic. Why waste a resource when it can be used in an environmentally-sustainable manner using proven technology? Biomass is a genuine renewable source which has the potential to be a contributor to the climate change challenge of our time. This is a colossal lost opportunity for all Australians.
March 15th 2012
March 29th 2012