Drought and irrigation needs have almost tipped our fragile river red gum wetlands over the edge. As if that weren’t enough, Mr Bracks now plans to have more than 100,000 red gums cut down for Victorian railway sleepers.
The Murray River has no replacement for its red gum forests. The Mildura railway line does; it can easily use concrete sleepers instead. Why is the choice so difficult for Mr Bracks? The logging industry is claiming red gum is renewable and more carbon neutral than concrete.
An independent report commisioned by The Australian Rail Track Corporation Ltd found that the CO2 emissions from timber sleepers are 500 % greater than using concrete.
A Victorian Auditor General’s report last year found that maintenance costs of timber were three times that of concrete. (www.audit.vic.gov.au/reports-mp-psa1602.html)