Plans by the Tasmanian government to entrench and expand native forest logging by encouraging the burning of large volumes of freshly logged forests for electricity production have been flying under the radar despite the certainty of conflict and highly dubious claims of environmental benefit.
Markets For Change is exposing the funding plans that could provide for a dozen or more biomass burning facilities around Tasmania to get a leg up at the expense of large tracts of public and privately owned forests, as Friday’s deadline for submissions to the Wood and Fibre Innovation Program draws near.
“There is a strong focus on bioenergy in the $1.25million program of taxpayer funding and this would be largely from burning native forest woodchip type material coming direct from freshly logged forests,” said Markets For Change CEO Peg Putt. “There is no substitute economically and environmentally for leaving native forests standing.”
“Studies already done for the Huon and Dorset municipal areas show big volumes from private land, opening the prospects of renewed rural neighbourhood conflict over such logging as occurred when Gunns got into woodchipping private land 15-20 years ago in forested valleys where others had settled because of the environment.”
“The worst is that making electricity or industrial process heat from burning native forest biomass is actually highly emissive of greenhouse gases and not climate friendly as claimed by the government and forest industry. It’s a climate change disaster. The forests simply cannot grow back in time to make a difference in the next two decades which is what is required to turn around man made global warming.”
“The assertion that burning native forest biomass for energy production is carbon neutral is the modern equivalent of the flat earth argument.”
“The alternative is clear, demonstrated in Tasmania’s official greenhouse inventory figures after woodchip exports from Tasmania collapsed and logging volumes reduced substantially leading to a huge reduction in emissions. Together with a consequent increase in biomass carbon sequestration from the growth of trees and understorey vegetation this alone has led to a dramatic reduction in the state’s emissions.”
“The opportunity is there for Tasmania to make a substantial ongoing contribution to restraining global warming by backing off logging native forests and collecting payments for avoided emissions and carbon sequestration rather than expanding back into the high conservation forests previously earmarked for protection under the Tasmanian Forest Agreement,” Ms Putt concluded.