Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Open for Debate - Bushfires and Logging

Whether and what connection there is between bushfires and logging is the subject of much passionate debate in Australia right now.  

Does logging cause or exacerbate bushfires? Or can logging or forestry management minimise the risk of bushfires?  Can it do this without compromising the environment? Which is more fire resistant – an unmanaged, untouched forest or a well-managed forest? Are they now, or can Australian forests be sustainably logged? Perhaps the answer to all of these questions is,  “it depends”, and if it is, depends on what?

Or is the whole debate a furphy and the actual practical question to be asked now, really, is ‘how’? How can Australian forests, as they are now, be best managed to achieve the best outcome with the least adverse consequences both for the forestry and timber industry and for the environment?

If you have expert experience or knowledge in this field, your input – as balanced and unemotional as possible – is invited.

If you know someone who should contribute to this debate, let them, or me, know.



Bushfires and logging debate: Tasmanian Government statement

The Tasmanian Government is continually monitoring new scientific research to ensure the way we regulate forestry is contemporary and consistent with best practice. The Government takes bushfire management and mitigation incredibly seriously and is taking a number of important steps to manage future risk and keep our communities safe. The Government’s position, that actively managing our forests can markedly reduce fuel loads, is supported by a significant number of scientific publications.

Bushfires and logging debate: Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change (Vic)

There is much debate within the scientific community regarding the relationship between bushfire and forestry but what is not debated is the overwhelming impact climate change is having on the frequency and intensity of severe weather events and resulting bushfires. In the past 50-years there has been a 40% increase in very high fire danger days, and this is set to triple in some parts of Victoria by the end of the century according to the International Journal of Wildland Fire.

Bushfires and logging debate: Senator Jonno Duniam, Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries

Blaming bushfires on forestry is just another attempt from those ideologically opposed to forestry to shut down an industry they fundamentally disagree with. There is a constant pattern of behaviour from the those who disagree with the forestry industry of using misinformation and cherry picking from report and science to support their claim. As we currently stand there is no unequivocal or generally accepted evidence that forestry operations increase fire risk.

Bushfires and logging debate: Robert Onfray

We have a fire problem in Australia that is not being addressed. And it has nothing to do with climate change. Nor is logging a major contributing factor since very small areas are available for harvesting each year. It is about the decisions in the 1990s across most states, but particularly in NSW and Victoria to lock up millions of hectares of forest into national parks and manage them by benign neglect and allow the fuel levels to build up.

Bushfires and logging debate: South East Timber Association

In southern Australia, whether native forests are subject to harvesting or left untouched, if appropriate landscape scale forest fuel management is not undertaken, high intensity bushfires at a mega scale can occur in any summer, particularly when there are two or more years of below average rainfall. Any climate change effects are a reason to do more mitigation by fuel reduction.

Bushfires and logging debate: Vic Jurskis

Forests across all tenures are declining and/or exploding from lack of sustainable management. A miniscule proportion is available for logging. Logging can have a beneficial effect on local fire behaviour, but no effect on a regional scale. The bushfires and logging debate is a dangerous distraction from our real major environmental issue – sustainable fire management.


Logging increases risk of severe fire: ANU research

The study, published in Ecosphere, analysed the severity of Australia's 2019-2020 bushfires by examining the amount of damage to vegetation. Co-author Professor David Lindenmayer said weather had a large effect on the fires. "However, forests also burned at very high severity when they were between 10 to 40 years old. Young forests regenerating after logging were particularly susceptible to very high severity fire," he said.


Celebrating the role of science in our forests

The Institute of Foresters of Australia and Australian Forest Growers is celebrating the role that forest science plays in ensuring a healthy and resilient future for Australian society and the environment for National Science Week 2021. IFA/AFG CEO Jacquie Martin highlighted the benefits of forest management underpinned by data and research, paying tribute to the membership’s forest scientists.


Greater use of small planes, helicopters and drones in prescribed burning in order to achieve safe and healthy landscapes

John O'Donnell. Real data gathered from almost 60 years of historical data from the forests of south west WA unequivocally shows that when the area of prescribed burning trends down, the area of uncontrolled bushfires (wildfires) trends up. There is a simple explanation: bushfires are more difficult to put out in long unburnt, heavy fuels ... New technology is assisting in increasing the safety and efficiency of prescribed burning programs.


IFA/AFG welcomes paper reviewing the role of timber harvesting in the Black Summer bushfires

A new paper reviewing the science behind claims that forest management and timber harvesting worsened the 2019/20 bushfires has been welcomed by the professional association representing some 1,000 scientific and professional forest land managers in Australia.


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