Forests - Another Chance for Peace

Monday, January 23, 2017

In 2010, economist Judith Ajani wrote about the forest wars that have besieged us over the last 40 years or more, the bad decisions made and what needs to be done. This is still as relevant today – in fact even more so as the industry is set to collapse due to overcutting but with the bosses screaming for more logs. Sadly, much of the remaining forests’ ecological values that were so critical to save then, have been lost – making the urgency now extreme. It’s a war between possums and pulpwood basically, politics and ethics. Below is the abstract to the article.

Abstract: Forty years ago, governments - with opposition party support signed off on native forest export woodchipping. At best, their decision was shrouded in a fuzzy understanding of the implications. Many politicians, today and now retired, might not repeat such a decision with the wisdom of hindsight and some with serious political damage experiences. Or would they? We will soon find out because today our political leaders face essentially the same decision as their late 1960s colleagues. With native forest logging now under siege from a plantation driven hardwood chip glut, Australia's forestry industry has proposed new and potentially substantial markets for native forest wood-electricity production (forest furnaces) and other biomass feedstocks (for example heat generation, liquid fuels, fuel pellets and plastic substitutes). Government can decide to quash these proposals and thereby install a strategic backstop to end four decades of native forest conflict. If, however, government chooses to facilitate native forest wood into electricity and biomass feedstocks, they will have only themselves to blame for the conflict that is sure to follow.

Issue 33 (Spring 2010)

Ajani, Judith