Incendiary at Dark Mofo Hobart

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This year, Bob Brown Foundation joined in Dark Mofo, holding an unofficial fringe event to show how much we love Dark Mofo but hate seeing Tasmania’s forests incinerated after logging.

The wild and scenic beauty of Tasmania, including its magnificent ancient forests, is what attracts visitors to our island. Yet Tasmania’s government continues to clear vast tracts of forests, firebombing what remains every autumn. We are just coming out of the recent 'burning season' when more than 3500 hectares of logged forests were incinerated.

Featuring projected art and sounds on the burning of Tasmania’s forests, INCENDIARY ran at the Waterside Pavilion 7-12 June on the waterfront between Dark Park and the Winter Feast.

Here are some pics of INCENDIARY by Dan Broun...

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LU040F - Australia’s most southerly scheduled logging coupe

Where the wild land meets the sea in southern Tasmania, logging is decimating this place rich in culture and endemic threatened species.

LU040F is Australia’s most southerly scheduled logging coupe of 83.90ha, it contains mature stands of stringy bark (Eucalyptus obliqua), pockets of blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus), Australia’s tallest flowering plant the mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) and is bordered by picturesque buttongrass moorland.  

Buttongrass moorland bordering scheduled clear-fell logging coupe LU040F
Buttongrass moorland bordering scheduled clear-fell logging coupe LU040F

The landscape has a strong energy abound with tales and signs of human occupation for thousands of years. This is Lylequonny land, a clan of the South East nation.

Just a stone’s throw from this coupe is Recherche Bay, the landing site of the French scientific expeditions captained by Bruny d’Entrecasteaux where his two ships the Recherche and Esperence anchored in 1792 and 1793. These expeditions were amongst Australia’s first botanical surveys.  Encounters with Lyluequonny were peaceful and well documented.

To the south and east of the coupe lies Southport Lagoon Conservation Area, home to the critically endangered herb, the swamp eyebright (Euphrasia gibbsiae psilantherea). This beautiful flowering plant occurs nowhere else on earth.

Aerial photograph of northern area of Recherche Bay, 2005
Aerial photograph of northern area of Recherche Bay, 2005

Ecologists conducted a call playback survey for the masked owl (Tyto novaehollandiae castanops) in late 2016 within the coupe and got an immediate response which indicates the owl may be roosting or nesting within the scheduled coupe. The Tasmanian masked owl has an important ecological role as a predator of the night skies.

Whilst Australia’s two largest carnivorous marsupials, the endangered Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) and spot-tailed quoll (Dasyuris maculatus) patrol the ground. This nocturnal bird of prey is listed as endangered under the Tasmanian threatened species act, primarily due to a loss of habitat much like that found in scheduled coupe LU040F.

Tasmanian Masked Owl (Photo: Luke O’Brien)
Tasmanian Masked Owl (Photo: Luke O’Brien)

The endangered Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle (Aquilla audax fleayi), Australia’s largest bird of prey occupy the forest and utilize a nest within the coupe. Sea eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) and the majestic white goshawk (Accipiter novaehollandiae) are often observed soaring the skies. 

The mature stringy barks provide nesting habitat for swift parrots (Lathamus discolor) while stands of blue gum provide key foraging habitat for this nectarivore. The swift parrot is an obligatory breeding migrant (one of only two migratory parrots in the world) to Tasmania and has recently been up listed to a critically endangered status so the protection of suitable hollow bearing trees such as the stringy barks in this coupe is of utmost importance for its survival to say the least.    

Mature Eucalyptus obliqua in scheduled logging coupe LU040F
Mature Eucalyptus obliqua in scheduled logging coupe LU040F

The current Forest Practices Plan (FPP) which determines how logging operations are to be undertaken in this coupe is outdated and considering threatened flora and fauna have been up-listed and detected within or near to the scheduled coupe in question, a revision of the FPP must be undertaken. Logging cannot commence unless the FPP has been revised and updated to meet current threatened species protection prescriptions and forestry management procedures.

For a number of reasons, some mentioned above, logging of LU040F would be a real shame and an insult to the traditional owners and others who value this land much more than a logging coupe. It’s time forestry practices like this stopped in southern Tasmania for the forestry scarred landscape needs to heel. This place is culturally, historically and ecologically significant at a global scale.

 

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Environment groups oppose East Gippsland RFA extension

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Letter 19th December, 2016 - via email - to the Premier of Victoria The Hon Daniel Andrews MP and The Hon Lily D' Ambrosio MP - Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change.

RE: East Gippsland's Regional Forest Agreement and the logging industry exemption from federal environment laws

Dear Premier Andrews,

Since the flawed Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) were signed 20 years ago, fires, climate change and markets have all combined to create a vastly different set e of circumstances, threats and opportunities in Victoria's forests.

Please do not support the regressive move to extend the obsolete RFAs.

The RFAs exempt the logging industry from complying with the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

The industry is given special treatment by not having to refer planned logging operations for assessment and approval under the EPBC Act.

The exemption from the EPBC Act is based on state logging regulations protecting federally listed threatened species. However, for many Victorian forest-dependant species listed under the EPBC Act, there is very limited or no protections from logging under Victorian law.

The Greater Glider is an iconic Australian animal that has recently been listed as vulnerable to extinction under the EPBC Act. Very limited protections for Greater Gliders in East Gippsland were created over 20 years ago when the species was relatively common. These protections have failed. This is evidenced by a dramatic decline in the last 20 years, mainly due to extensive logging of habitat with very weak state based protections. In other regions in Victoria, the species has no protection from logging whatsoever.

The Greater Glider's decline shows how the RFAs have failed threatened species. Despite the Greater Glider's listing as vulnerable under the EPBC Act, the outdated state based protection in East Gippsland has not been reviewed and strengthened in light of its decline and listing as threatened under federal law.

Other industries need approval from the Commonwealth Environment Minister before taking an action that may significantly impact federally listed threatened species. Native forest logging does not. The result has been catastrophic for Victoria's forest dependant wildlife.

In February 2017 the East Gippsland Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) will expire. We respectfully request that you do not extend the East Gippsland RFA and instead ensure that logging is subject to the same environmental assessment and approval processes as any other industry under the EPBC Act.

Whilst the Victorian Government is examining options for the conservation of Victoria's forests and threatened species through the Forest Industry Taskforce, it would be irresponsible to extend or reinstate the failed and out-dated East Gippsland RFA. An extension would result in prolonging the special treatment the logging industry has exploited for 20 years.

This means more destruction of habitat for federally listed threatened species at a critical time when important steps to conserve native forests and wildlife need to be taken.

Yours sincerely,


Ed Hill - Goongerah Environment Centre - geco@geco.org.au

Jill Redwood - Environment East Gippsland - eeg@eastgippsland.net.au

Andrew Lincoln - Fauna and Flora Research Collective - asl80@hotmail.com

Cam Walker - Friends of the Earth - cam.walker@foe.org.au

Lauren Caulfield - Lawyers for Forests - laurenvcaulfield@gmail.com

Jenny Weber - Bob Brown Foundation - jenny@bobbrown.org.au

Matt Ruchel - Victorian National Parks Association - mattruchel@vnpa.org.au

Peg Putt - Markets for Change - peg.putt@gmail.com

Sarah Rees - My Environment - sarah@myenvironment.org.au

Steve Meacher - Friends of Leadbeater's Possum - smeacher@netspace.net.au

Tom Crook - East Gippsland Rainforest Conservation Management Network - facilitator@egrainforest.org.au

Oisin Sweeney - National Parks Association of NSW - oisins@npansw.org.au

Frances Pike - Australian Forests and Climate Alliance -francespike@yahoo.com.au

John Hermans - Gippsland Environment Group - john.g.hermans@gmail.com

Martyn Hiley - Friends of Mallacoota - martyn@hiley.cx

Susie Russell - North Coast Environment Council & North East Forest Alliance - susierussell2k8@gmail.com

Virginia Young - Australian Rainforest Conservation Society - virginiayoung9@gmail.com

Karina Doughty - Warburton Environment - karina.bend@gmail.com

Karena Goldfinch - Knitting Nannas of Toolangi - karenagoldfinch@bigpond.com

Harriet Swift - South East Regional Conservation Alliance - harriett@savetheforests.org.au

Frances Pike - Native Rules - francespike@yahoo.com.au

Sarah Day - Eco Shout - sarah.day@ecoshout.org.au

Bertram Lobert - Strathbogie Sustainable Forest Alliance - bertram.lobert@activ8.net.au

Bernard Mace - Save Mount St. Leonard Community Campaign - bm@alphalink.com.au

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Bob Brown: Charges dropped over Lapoinya Forest anti-logging protest

Environmentalist and former Greens leader Bob Brown will not face prosecution over his arrest at an anti-logging protest in Tasmania's north-west.

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www.abc.net.au

Tasmania Police commissioner Darren Hine issued a statement saying the charges had been dropped.

"The decision not to proceed was made by Tasmania Police after receiving legal advice from the DPP," he said.

"In this case the DPP observed that it was difficult for police officers to determine whether a person was in a business access area or on business premises."

Read the full story on the ABC website.

Also see similar articles at:

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Abolish Failed Forest Deals

Regional Forest Agreements should end when they expire if not before

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Swift Parrot. Photo: Henry Cook

For nearly 20 years native forest logging in Victoria, Tasmania, NSW and WA has received special treatment under commonwealth environmental laws. Other industries need approval from the commonwealth Environment Minister before taking an action that may affect threatened species or World Heritage. Native forest logging does not. The result has been catastrophic for wildlife and other forest values.

The environmental exemption for native forest logging is governed by Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs). These 20-year contracts, like the Coalition’s stalled ‘one stop shop’ plan, hand state governments the power to make environmental decisions about native forest logging. Numerous assessments show how comprehensively they have failed.

RFAs start expiring from 3 February 2017 (East Gippsland) followed by Tasmania, other Victorian RFAs, WA and NSW. Special treatment for native forest logging should end. RFAs should be abolished forthwith or at the latest when they expire.

A number of groups (including the Bob Brown Foundation) have endorsed the following RFA statement and will not accept extension, roll-over or renewal of Regional Forest Agreements. Any future proposal to log public native forests should be subject to commonwealth environmental laws in the same way as for all other industries.

Download the full RFA statement (PDF) here.

 

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Forestry Tasmania under fire over tourist attraction

The Mercury, Sunday September 6 2015, NEWS 17 - article by David Benuik.

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"Locals and environmentalists have raised serious concerns about cash-strapped Forestry Tasmania's ability to provide a world-class tourism experience around its reopened Tahune AirWalk.

Government enterprise FT closed down the attraction and its access road for six weeks during winter for maintenance and to log a nearby eucalyptus forest coupe."

See the related posts: "Forestry Tasmania Lockout", "Arve Forest Gallery", and "Arve Forest Logging Aftermath" for further information.

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Arve Forest Logging Aftermath

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Logged coupe. Photo: Adam Burling. September 2015

As a follow-up to our press release "Forestry Tasmania Lockout" and article "Arve Forest Gallery", here is a photo of the effect of logging near the main tourist route (Arve Road) inland from Geeveston to the Tahune Airwalk and the Hartz Mountains National Park.

From forest:

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Forests intact before logging. Photo: Dan Broun. July 2015

To log:

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Log truck - with logs from this coupe. Photographed August 2015

Forestry Tasmania is currently about $30 million in debt. The tourist industry seems to be doing quite well. Perhaps this log is more valuable as part of a healthy forest along the road to the popular Tahune Airwalk.

 

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Arve Forest Gallery

Dan Broun has put together a gallery of photos of the Arve Rd forests near Geeeston and the tourist destinations of Tahune AirWalk and the Hartz Mountains National Park.

"Conservationists are calling for an immediate halt to planned logging as Forestry Tasmania conducts a lockout on a main tourism route Arve Rd near Geeveston in southern Tasmania for the next six weeks and log ancient forests surrounded by five registered giant Eucalyptus trees."

Read the full press release here.

 

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Vote against inclusion of native forest biomass into Australia's renewable energy target

An open letter to Australian Senators from the Dogwood Alliance.

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www.dogwoodalliance.org

Dear Senator,

My name is Julianna Martinez, and I am a campaign organizer at Dogwood Alliance. Dogwood Alliance is an environmental non-governmental organization that works to protect the forests of the Southern United States from unsustainable industrial logging practices. We urge you to vote against inclusion of native forest biomass in Australia's renewable energy target.

There is a common misconception amongst lawmakers in Australia, that biomass energy is non-controversial and commonly supported in the United States and around the world. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The movement against the biomass industry is growing, and this issue has gained widespread attention, including pieces featured on NPR and in the Washington Post. We need leaders such as yourself to join the opposition to this misguided industry and to help mitigate the effects of the biomass industry.

Dogwood Alliance recognizes the dangers and fallacies of these destructive biomass industries. This summer, we are going on an “SOS: Save Our Southern Forests” tour to campaign against the biomass industry. We insist that “Our Forests Aren’t Fuel,” and we aim to educate citizens, policymakers, and industry members about the dangers of this false energy solution as well as pressure companies who stand to gain from this practice to put a stop to it.

European policymakers are increasingly promoting the clearcutting of Southern forests to burn them for electricity to satisfy their “clean energy” standards. However, this is not a climate-friendly solution, and in many cases it can release more carbon emissions than coal. Our standing forests gather and store carbon, which makes them a key solution for carbon pollution and one of our best defenses against climate change.

Additionally, the biomass industry is destroying wetland forests, and communities in the Southeast U.S will not stand for this. The industry has devastating impacts on our communities, our forests, and our local economies here in the Southern U.S. It poses serious threats to our health and lifestyles, destroys much of the biodiversity in the Southern U.S, and is entirely driven by unsustainable subsidies which creates unfair competition with our traditional wood products industries. The industry claims to use only wood waste, however, we have investigated different facilities and proven that they do not merely use residues rather they clearcut high volumes of whole logs from intact forests.

Dogwood Alliance does not support the biomass industry, rather we are in favor of alternative and competitive energy sources such as solar and wind energy. However, the inclusion of native forest biomass may further reduce the share of the Renewable Energy Target for wind and solar by up to 15%.

The inclusion of native forest biomass into the Renewable Energy Target could provide an incentive for the burning of native forest wood waste for bio-energy, which could lead to devastating outcomes for biodiversity and the destruction of intact carbon stores. Wood waste from native forests should not be an eligible renewable energy source.

We urge you to save Australia from going down the same destructive path as European policymakers have in the recent past. The inclusion of native forest biomass into the national Renewable Energy Target would have adverse effects on climate, forests, communities, and local economies. Vote against inclusion of native forest biomass into Australia's renewable energy target.


For Our Forests,

--

Julianna Martinez

Campaign Organizer

Dogwood Alliance

828-251-2525 x24

julianna@dogwoodalliance.org

http://www.dogwoodalliance.org/act-now/sos-tour/

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OPEN LETTER TO THE AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT, Senators and Members June 17 2015

Australian Forests and Climate Alliance.

We are scientists, researchers and analysts with a direct interest in the management, exploitation and conservation of Australia’s native forests.
We write to express our sincere opposition to the inclusion of native forest wood as an eligible fuel source for electricity generation under the Renewable Energy Target.

The inclusion of native forest wood in the RET is being driven in part by the idea that burning native forest wood for electricity production will lower carbon emissions, replace coal and be based on residues left from sawlog production. However, these pressures are misguided and superficial. We ask that you not accept them on face value.

Federal legislation should not allow for the burning of native forests to be termed ‘renewable’ and included in the government’s Renewable Energy Target.

The claim in early June by Environment Minister Greg Hunt that forest waste is better burnt even if creating CO2, than left to rot and produce methane is an extremely ill‐informed and concerning statement as part of a Parliamentary speech.

The definition of ‘waste’ is a key point and still remains without an adequate answer. Trees cut for pulplogs for paper production are considered ‘waste’ even when they comprise most of the logs taken from a forest. Australia should not be repeating the mistakes of the past 50 years of supporting a woodchip industry based on this distorted definition of waste.

There is currently a growing demand in the Asian region for cheap wood pellets to burn in power plants. This gives an incentive to Australian forest industries to provide the resource for overseas use as well. In fact the current situation points to this being the most immediate market and one which would replace the recently collapsed export woodchip industry. If Australia begins to supply this market the demand could be difficult to curtail in the future. It could intensify the industrialisation of native forest management beyond the current practices and cause irreversible impacts on forest ecosystems.

Medium to large wood‐fired generators are very inefficient and require huge volumes of wood fuel to produce a small amount of energy. Existing forest based biomass power plants in the USA emit at least 50 per cent more CO2 than coal, for the same energy produced 1. The 70MW Laidlaw plant in NH USA burns 113 tons of wood an hour. Such demands for feed‐stocks cannot be met by the ‘waste’ materials and residues.

Greenhouse gas emissions created by forest logging include the loss of soil carbon, the output in the post logging site burn, emissions involved in transporting the materials from forests to processors then to generators and the emissions created by processing logs to a form suitable for a furnace. The additional CO2 the trees would have absorbed if left to grow should also be part of calculations. Recapturing this carbon loss by regenerating the logged forest takes hundreds of years. This is far longer than the period in which we need to address the serious problem of climate change. 2 3

Drax, the world’s biggest biomass energy plant in the UK, is selling its power for £80 per MW/hr, two‐and‐a‐half times more expensive than coal, but last year received £340 million in ‘green’ subsidies. Without these subsidies, its biomass operation would collapse.

Native forests are a critical component to climate mitigation and should be protected and restored as an extremely effective carbon capture and storage tool.

Offering Renewable Energy Certificates to biomass burners or exporters would rob credits and therefore financial assistance from Australia’s true clean green energy alternatives.

Energy‐related subsidies should be spent on measures that reduce carbon emissions and overall energy use, and on genuinely low carbon and sustainable forms or renewable energy.

Using Australia’s native forests as fuel at an industrial scale would have long term impacts, ecologically, economically and would be counter‐productive to reducing Australia’s CO2 levels. At the very least a public inquiry is needed into whether using forests in this way can help reduce CO2 emissions.

We ask you to consider these points carefully and exclude native forest wood ‘waste’ as a fuel source in the Renewable Energy Target.

Yours sincerely,

1. Professor Peter Gell, Professor of Environmental Science, Federation
University Australia
2. Professor David Lindenmayer AO, BSc, DipEd, PhD, DSc, FAA, Fenner
School of Environment and Society, ANU.
3. Adjunct Professor John R. J. French, USC, Faculty of Science, Health,
Education and Engineering, Qld.
4. Don White, Adjunct A Professor, School of Chemical and Biomolecular
Engineering, University of Sydney
5. Dr Greg. P. Clancy, Ecologist, Coutts Crossing, NSW
6. Ian Penna PhD, Honorary Research Fellow, Federation University, Ballarat.
7. Dr Mark Aaron Gregory, PhD, Chemistry, University of Melbourne Vic.
8. Dr Steve Leonard, Department of Ecology, Environment and Evolution, La
Trobe University Vic.
9. Linda Selvey, MBBS(Hon), MAppEpi, PhD, FAFPHM, Associate Professor,
Director of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences,
Curtin University WA.
10.Steve Phillips, B.Sc.(Hons), Ph.D. Managing Director/Principal Ecologist,
Biolink Ecological Consultants NSW.
11.Alan Roberts, MSc Solid State Physics Melb University (1967), NSW
12.Mark Graham, B. App. Sc (Env. Res Mngmnt) ‐ collaborator with UNSW,
Macquarie, UNE, UTS, SCU.
13.Dr Oisín Sweeney, Science Officer, National Parks Association of NSW .
14.Annette McKinley, M. Litt (Botany), consultant plant ecologist, NSW.
15.Barbara Stewart B.Sc (Hons) Ph D, Consultant plant ecologist, NSW.
16.Lucie Bradley, PhD, Organic chemistry, science communication, Monash
University Vic
17.Fiona Sutton, Botanist B.Biol.Sc. (Hons.), Ecology Australia, Vic
18. Dr Peter McQuillan, Honours Programme Coordinator, School of Land and
Food, University of Tasmania.
19.Marion Carey, MBBS (Hons) MPH FAFPHM FRSPH, Adjunct Associate
Professor (Research), Monash University, Vic.
20. Elaine Bayes BSc (Hons), MSc, ecologist with Rakali Ecological Consulting
21. David Cheal, Assoc. Adj. Professor, Centre for Environmental
Management, Faculty of Science & Technology, Federation University, Vic
22.Damien Cook, Principal Ecologist, Rakali Ecological Consulting, Vic.
23. Dr Graeme Lorimer, PhD, F.Airqual, 'Director, Biosphere Pty Ltd' Vic.
24.Bertram Lobert, BSc, MSc, Ecologist & Conservation Coordinator
Strathbogie Ranges Conservation Management Network.
25.Michael Calver, Associate Professor in Biological Sciences, School of
Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University.
26.Andy Baker, BSc (Hons), Wildsite Ecological Services.
27.Harry F. Recher, FRZS, AM, Senior Fellow, The Australian Museum.
28.David Milledge MRSc, wildlife ecologist (UNE).
29.Rhonda James, BBus M.EnvMan. Ecologist, Manager, Bushland Restoration
Services, NSW
30.Neil Marriott, B Ed. Environmental Consultant, Stawell, Vic.
31.John Kershaw, B.Env.Sc., Dip.Nat.Res.Mgt. Senior Botanist, Ecology
Australia Pty Ltd.
32.Keely Ough, Scientist, BSc Hons.
33. Bernard Mace, ARMIT, LIM, GMOO‐STS, RSV.
34. Geoffrey William Carr, BSc, Director, Ecology Aust Pty Ltd.
35. Ruth Marr, BSc(Hons), Ecologist, Ecology Australia.
36.Dr Linden Gillbank, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies,
University of Melbourne.
37.Doug Frood, BSc (Hons), Principle, Pathways Bushland and Environment.
38.Susie Duncan, BSc (Hons), Director, Hinterland Bush Links, SE Qld.
39.Dr Chris Belcher, BSc, MSc PhD, Principle Ecosystems Env Consultants Vic
40.Dr Heather Keith, Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU.

1. http://www.pfpi.net/wp‐content/uploads/2014/04/PFPI‐Biomass‐is‐the‐New‐Coal‐April‐2‐2014.pdf
2. Logging native forests causes immediate emissions (around 60% of forest carbon in SE NSW forests is lost in logging) that
cannot be recovered except over centuries (an estimated 53 years to recover 75%, 152 years to recover 90%).
3. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1757‐1707.2012.01169.x/abstract

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