In 1996 the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) provided figures to the public about its ‘success’ of growing back trees after forests are ravaged by clearfelling. Seven years on and DSE has released a new report to the public.
This report covers regeneration attempts during the period 1993/94-1996/97 and has been delayed for years while DSE tried to sort out problems with its data and produce some credible figures for a change.
Mind you, when we complained about the quality of the data in a draft version of this report two years ago, Gerard O’Neill, then Executive Director of Forest Services, promised that the new report would provide all the data up to 1998/99. After waiting for so long, it is quite unacceptable that the new report has two years of data missing. However, looking at what figures have been supplied in the report reveals some pretty shocking outcomes.
In East Gippsland’s High Elevation Mixed Species (HEMS) forests, 27% of coupes failed to meet the acceptable regeneration standards. In the adjoining Tambo forests, the result for HEMS forests was even worse – 61% of the coupes are not growing back!
For these clearfelled areas, the land will require further expensive taxpayer funded rehabilitation work. From 1993 – 1997, about 800 ha has been left butchered and unable to grow back, but DSE has only attempted to treat about 40 ha of this land. This report shows the Tambo forests have an appalling regeneration failure rate and despite these failures, DSE is continuing to fall behind in its task of growing back trees (let alone forests).