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Tassie Greens out on a limb locking native forestry

The Tasmanian Greens have again got it wrong, calling for the locking up of native forest that is sustainably managed for multiple benefits, according to the Australian Forest Products Association. Source: Timberbiz

The Mercury in Hobart reported that the Federal Government’s State and Territory Greenhouse Gas Inventories 2018 says Tasmania remained Australia’s only carbon-neutral state or territory, contributing a net reduction in the nation’s overall emissions.

The Mercury reported that Tasmania cut its emissions by 111.2% between 2005 and 2018, with land use change and forestry making up most of the change.

The state’s reliance on hydro-electricity give is a major advantage, but the report noted the reduction in emissions was “mainly resulting from reductions in native forest harvesting”.

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor responded by claiming that the single biggest contribution Tasmania can make to a safe climate is to protect native forests and reforest degraded lands.

“The latest greenhouse accounts also confirm the huge carbon positive impact of getting loggers out of more than half a million hectares,” she said.

“The science tells us it takes at least a century for a logged and burned coupe to recover the carbon that’s been lost,” she said.

“We don’t have a century to ensure a safe climate. These forests, our carbon bank and gift to the world, need protection.’’

But AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said Tasmania should be rightly lauded for its emissions reduction credentials but not for the reasons that the Ms O’Connor has detailed.

“The reality is our renewable forest industries can significantly contribute to climate change mitigation as acknowledged in the 4th assessment report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

That report stated: ”A sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit.”

“The modest amount of native timber harvesting in Tasmania, about four trees out of every 10,000, is entirely compatible with sound, sustainable, environmental management,” Mr Hampton said.

“Under Tasmanian law every small area which will be harvested is carefully surveyed for native species and protections put in place before operations. After timber harvesting is completed, each area is regenerated, and the growing forest continues to store carbon and very quickly becomes suitable habitat again,” he said.

Mr Hampton said that sustainably managed forests were a win-win for Tasmania and Australia, as they provided multiple benefits, including stored carbon, economic activity, and regional jobs.

They stored carbon both in the growing trees and over the long life of the renewable wood and paper products. Also, relative to alternative building materials used in new home builds and other construction, wood products had low embodied energy, with very low fossil fuel energy inputs used in their production.

“Calls for locking-up native forest that is sustainably managed for multiple benefits is ill-informed and have not considered all the ramifications,” Mr Hampton said.

“It doesn’t make sense in terms of long-term emissions reduction of mitigating the fire risk and closing down regional jobs. It doesn’t make sense when it comes to protecting biodiversity or environmentally as all it would mean is Tasmanian’s would have to import all appearance grade hardwood,” he said.