Secret SFRI data

NRE is currently trying to produce estimates of how much forest and log volumes are available that don’t leave everybody rolling around the floor with fits of laughter. The Statewide Forest Resource Inventory (SFRI) aims to replace the old system of estimates on “log volumes” (read “forests”).

NRE has produced quite a little PR campaign surrounding the SFRI project including CDs with detailed maps showing where they expect to find most of the trees. You could almost believe that NRE has turned over a new leaf and become open and accountable.

However, there are limits to what NRE is happy to disclose. Five months ago, we asked NRE for some of the data used to create the model to estimate available log volumes. This data had been used in a number of technical journals like ‘Australian Forestry’. It’s standard practice that published scientific data should be available for outsiders to check.

About two months ago, NRE released some of the data requested. When I compared this with the published reports, discrepancies showed up. For example, NRE claimed that their model was built using data from stands where the trees were over 28m tall; the data provided included areas where the trees were less than 20m tall.

I asked NRE to confirm that their figures were the same as those used in their predictive model and to clear up other questions. No reply. I asked again. A weird reply came from the person in charge of the project telling me that due to the pressure of work from the Timber Licence Renewal Project (TLRP), they couldn’t answer my questions ‘in the foreseeable future’. In other words, bugger off, we don’t want outsiders checking up on us.

Dean

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