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Ramblings on clear-felling

Introduction

Written 18th February, 2004, modified 2005/01/21
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Australia's governments claim that they have done a good job by reserving a large percentage of Australia's remaining old growth forest from cutting. In a rational world, rather than one run by greed, not only would all old growth forest be reserved, clear-felling would also be banned from any forest that had not previously been clear-felled.

Our society has not placed a high value on biodiversity, I'm convinced that our descendents will blame us for this. Government representatives and the pro-forestry lobby assure us that more forest is being planted than is being cut; this is not the point. Natural, mixed, forest with a high level of biodiversity is being cut; it is being replaced with a different mix of species, sometimes even with monoculture: a very unnatural system in which one species vastly dominates all others.

Clear-felling also, when done on hilly land as often happens, leaves the soil very susceptible to erosion.

Jobs

Modern forestry is often justified by saying that it produces jobs. The fact is that forestry has become steadily more and more destructive at the same time as providing less and less jobs, because of steadily increasing mechanization. A hundred years ago it was a labour intensive industry, now it is a low-labour, high capital industry. The only way that a nearly consistent level of jobs can be maintained in modern forestry is to steadily increase the number of hectares felled each year.

Also see Clear-felling: a big, burning issue and an article about former state forest auditor Bill Manning's revelations about illegal practices in Tasmania's forestry industry; Green Left online.