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Tas doctors dabble in bushfire control; leave it to foresters says IFA

Bob Gordon

The IFA/AFG has responded to a group of Tasmanian doctors’ public letter calling for Premier Peter Gutwein to end the harvesting of native forests. Institute of Foresters of Australia and Australian Forest Growers (IFA/AFG) President Bob Gordon said the importance of trusted specialists in the community influencing public opinion within their own areas of expertise was recognised. Source: Timberbiz

“As the association for forest scientists we respect the knowledge and experience of doctors in identifying and flagging health issues that are impacting the community and concerns about the impact that climate change is having on the health of Australians,” Mr Gordon said.

“However, we ask that these doctors also respect the knowledge, research and experience of Australia’s forest scientists.

“In the group’s letter they claim ‘scientific research shows that logging native forests further intensifies bushfires’.

“Such supposed scientific evidence includes a recently published paper that was funded by the Bob Brown Foundation, which was later withdrawn by the authors due to inaccuracies,” Mr Gordon said.

Mr Gordon said that, to the contrary, credible evidence showed native forest management had a vital role to play in addressing climate change, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognising sustainable forest management as a viable strategy to maintain and enhance forest carbon stocks.

“The carbon storage potential of native forests is maximised in actively growing forests, with carbon transferred to wood products for long-term storage after harvesting, before the cycle begins again as new forests are planted and grow,” Mr Gordon said.

This process enabled society to obtain timber and other wood products from a renewable, carbon neutral source, rather than relying entirely on fossil fuel intensive alternatives such as aluminium, concrete and steel, and coal or petroleum-based fuels.

“Maintaining a strong native forest timber industry is also integral to reducing the risk of catastrophic bushfire events, which is more important than ever as Australia faces hotter and drier conditions as a result of climate change,” he said.

“This fire benefit is two pronged. Firstly, active forest management significantly reduces potential fuel loads of fires and secondly, having experienced forest managers and timber crews on the ground and equipped with the skills and resources to mount rapid attacks is an ideal first response to any fire outbreaks.

“The sustainable management of native forests for timber production also provides a broad suite of flow-on socio-economic benefits, including road access for recreation, fire control, ecotourism and production of non-timber products like honey.”