OPINION: We all have ‘skin in the game’

DEAR News Of The Area,

WITH regard to the recent discussion regarding the native hardwood timber industry, can I suggest that every living organism on the planet has ‘skin in the game’ when it comes to our native forests.

In an ideal world we would all be able to afford native hardwood flooring and decking, instead of the inferior, imported, fire prone, petroleum based alternatives.

The issue is ‘existential’, but not only for the current industry, workers and their families.

Where are the future native hardwood plantations?

In regard to the historic management of our public forests I refer to the record provided by E.H.F. Swain and his 1912 ‘Forests of the Bellinger River’ report, in which he described the original pre-colonial forests and lamented the wastage.

Extractive industries such as forestry and mining typically rely on an application of science which is primarily concerned with enabling and sustaining operations where impacts are often viewed as ‘collateral’ and come under a ‘monitoring’ regime.

Sadly, preservation of biodiversity has always been secondary to the main game, and it shows.

A walk through our oldest local managed State Forests such as Pine Creek, gazetted early last century, shows clear evidence of historic degradation.

Lowland rainforest has long been obliterated or compromised.

A conversion regime favouring commercial species is also evident, as is deliberate wastage of non-commercial species (allowed under a TSI – timber stand improvement regime) and an even more alarming invasive weed load.

Current rules providing an allocated time of one hour to cover one kilometre of forest in pre-harvest surveys is typical.

No wonder they find little.

The lack of a requirement for a substantial buffer around retained habitat trees is like saying “You can keep your home; but the shopping centre must go”.

In regard to Forestry Corporation’s reliance on the koala work of Dr Brad Law, can I simply suggest that a bellowing male koala, while indicative of presence, does not make a viable resident population.

Alarmingly his work is currently being used to justify large clear-felling operations.

A comprehensive ‘must read’ 2023 review of Law’s work by Andrew Smith and John Pile can be found here: https://assets.nationbuilder.com/ncec/pages/40/attachments/original/1701591755/Smith_A.P._and_Pile_J._2023_PineCreek_Koala_Report.Final.pdf?1701591755

Dave WOOD,

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