A convenient myth

The logging industry is currently in overdrive trying to make logging look like a positive effort in the fight against global warming. Forests are one of our greatest carbon stores. They have taken hundreds of years to amass the 700 -1,200 plus tonnes of carbon per hectare. Cutting them down only secures about 3 to 5% of the forest’s total carbon biomass into sawn timber The rest is woodchipped for short-lived products like packaging and paper and cremated in high intensity post-logging management burns. So about 95% ends up in the atmosphere helping to warm and dry our planet.

A study conducted by the Australian National University and the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Accounting found that Australian forests could sequester and store up to 1,500 tonnes of carbon per hectare if maintained as mature old growth.

Logging industry digs it

The logging industry claims that by changing forests into commercial wood products, the timber stores the carbon much better. Yet according to Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics statistics, less than one in ten native forest trees end up being sawn for timber, and only one quarter of the tree is used. Some of the other trees are woodchipped for low-value, short-lived paper products. The remainder of the forest is burnt.
A NSW logging industry group dug up part of a rubbish tip. This gave them the ‘research’ to show paper can last for donkey’s years once buried. But even Jaakko Poyry (logging industry analysts) released a document “Analysis of Wood Product Accounting Options for the National Carbon Accounting System” which showed the carbon in paper and packaging was released after three years on average.

Fires will get them if we don’t

Let’s clear the smoke on the claim that fire is as damaging as logging.

Carbon is stored both above and below ground. Forest parts above ground lose roughly 800 tonnes per ha when logged and burnt. Using figures both Federal and State governments have been quoting in parliament, the recent fires sent less than 40 tonne/ha into the sky.
Forests store about 670 tonnes of carbon per ha under the soil as roots, fungi, mulch, invertebrates and so on (it’s a jungle down there!). A fire burns only 16 tonnes per hectare of stored underground carbon, but logging reduces this by a massive 573 tonnes/ha.


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