MEDIA RELEASE: THE FACTS ABOUT FOREST FIRES AND LOGGED FORESTS. 09.12.2011
Visiting scientist warns residents of fire risk from logging native forests.
Melbourne scientist Chris Taylor was in the region last weekend to look at local forests and talk about his findings on the relationship between land use and fire intensity, based on his studies of the tragic Victorian bushfires.
He presented his evidence, that the most intense fires occurred in grassland, plantations and logged forests, and that unlogged forests were the most resilient to fire and where the fires were finally halted, at a forum that was hosted by the South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA), Friends of Five Forests and the South East chapter of the NSW National Trust.
“Logged forests are highly fire-prone for 5-25 years after logging. Mature forests repel fire and recover quickly” Chris Taylor said. He added, "Native forest loggers have lost their social licence to operate. They are the meat in the sandwich between state forestry agencies and industry.”
Chris Taylor visited logged southeast forests around the Nippon Paper chip mill at Eden, where 90% of trees are chipped for export to Japan. He said that the logging is some of the worst he has seen, with Silver Top Ash taking over forests, and is on par with current logging in Victoria where Mountain Ash forests comprise less than 1% of the original forests.
Logging dries out forests because of canopy removal. In conditions that were the worst in Australia’s history in terms of drought, temperature and wind speed, we witnessed how a moist forest stopped the Victorian wildfire. Consider the benefit in normal conditions. Had the wind changed, this fire would have born down on a vast area of Melbourne’s suburbs. Apart from loss of life and homes, the insurance bill would have been enormous.
The ongoing practice of logging close to south east townships creates an insurance risk. Retaining our native forest to allow them to become moist ones is the best insurance policy against fire.
"The Community is up in arms. With NSW’s forests running out of supplies of contracted timber, logging is now coming close to towns and villages such as Bermagui, Tanja and Tathra. This logging is putting residents at risk from wildfires " warned another Forum speaker, Jamie Shaw, former NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service employee.
“We know now from Chris Taylor’s and ANU’s David Lindenmayer’s research, that decades of over-logging in this region has not only caused irreparable damage to the beauty of forests, their koala habitat and water supplies, and destroyed natural carbon storage systems, but is also making the communities around these areas much more vulnerable to fire" said SERCA spokesperson, Prue Acton.
“Let’s not leave it until a tragedy happens, let’s get rid of this dangerous, unsustainable and uneconomic industry once and for all.”
Contact Prue ph./fax 0264945144
Chris Taylor m.0409 338 887