Logging report finds link to aquatic decline

A recent Tasmanian study finds a “significant relationship” between logging management (clearfell and burn) in a stream’s headwaters and sediment pollution and declines in stream life.  The very same would be true for similar forests and logging techniques in East Gippsland’s forests.

The research carried out by experts from the University of Tasmania and the Forest Practices Authority compared 43 waterways in logging and non-logging catchments.

The study found:

  • Sedi­ment run-off from logging and logging roads impacted as far as 10km downstream.
  • Measures are needed to prevent run-off from unsealed gravel logging roads.
  • Changes to the extent and intensity of logging are needed.
  • Even a minor amount of clearing of headwaters causes harmful sediment to in-stream life such as crayfish.
  • A need for decent 30m buffers around headwaters, and limit logging to a smaller % of headwaters.
  • A “significant relationship” between the amount of clearfelling and post-logging burns upstream and the numbers of insects like mayfly, stonefly and caddisfly downstream.
  • A “clear and significant relationship” between cleared areas and the amount of sand and silt downstream.
  • A “significant” link was found between dirt logging roads and a decline in aquatic insects downstream
  • Rare giant freshwater crayfish numbers dropped dramatically in heavily clear-felled catchments.

The FPA and Forestry Tasmania have refused to recognise downstream impacts or impose logging-free buffer zones around headwaters flowing into the habitat of threatened species.

Despite being partly funded by logging lobbyists and the industry, the report calls for a broad rethink of forestry planning and practices!

Read the article from The Australian newspaper here

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