Reply to John Clarke’s previous posting, by Colin Fairclough.
NB This posting contains quotes from a previous posting by John Clarke in bold. Reactions by Colin Fairclough are in plain format.
My thanks, also, for the hard work the Symposium workers / presenters / caterers/ etc, did. I was also moved by the palpable commitment (connection) the majority of researchers projected.
I am a member of the most under-represented demograph at the Symposium, and the most *under-represented demograph* in the development of WA’s current Forestry Policy. We have the ‘least’ effective input to current Forest Management Planning. I attended the Symposium as an optimistic participant, in the drive for achievable, sustainable, community ‘acceptable’ solutions, to a *forest* in crisis (“The Peoples Forest”). Several times, on the day, I felt I was propelled back to the 1980’s. Thankfully, Paul Barber succinctly highlighted that the word ‘community’ was under-represented in discussions / presentations, broaching policy planning, thereby negating ‘community’ driven solution strategies / options.
“I’m still worried that there was/is not enough articulation of and widespread support for clear, realistic and achievable actions to redress some of the problems identified”.
Widespread support will come (if it was meant to come) by an *OPEN and INCLUSIVE involvement* of all stakeholders, as was enthusiastically discussed and positively received in the closing stages of the Symposium Wrap-Up.
“Some of the small scale projects on small reserves as reported at the symposium are fine, but there is a need to take actions on large, landscape scales”.
The precautionary principle must apply. NO action should be undertaken on a large scale, until it is ‘unequivocally’ proven to be sustainable, effective and ecologically appropriate (Through an open process).
All parties (not just the IFA, DEC, FPC and Industry) need to stop forcing short term cycles (long term impacts!) on the Peoples Forest in search of ‘preferred’ outcomes. Any thinning ‘TRIAL’ MUST be scaled / paced accordingly, and with full community support. ‘Blanket thinning’ of all forest types, on all soil types, in a rapidly diminishing rainfall environment is fundamentally flawed. Sudden clearing of native vegetation has ALWAYS precipitated Salinity issues in WA.
As noted, at the Symposium, by Dr Neil Davidson, of the CRC on Forestry, the (unacceptable) risk of depleting genetic health of the current (industry created) re-growth, by way of wholesale thinning, will compromise the genetics of the healthiest, most vigorous ‘disease resistant’ individuals ( forests), going forward. The Timber Industry (major beneficiary of any subsequent forest products) must provide comprehensive research infrastructure / funds for any / all thinning trials. The minimum infrastructure would include comprehensive (independent) ecological, geological and hydrological studies (baseline and ongoing) (All data would be publicly available).
“There are really only two tools at our disposal: use of fire and silviculture (thinning)”.
This position (dichotomy) is an IFA policy position. Fire could actually deliver a new paradigm of forest structure. It’s a diverse ecosystem, NOT a plantation. (eg. A struggling canker infested Marri forest, is highly possible, post burning.) Natural, time-driven selection may be the safest route for Jarrah thinning. All options on a, ‘small scale’ and ‘long term’, time frame need to be given EQUAL weight. Repeat Message! Sudden clearing of native vegetation has ALWAYS precipitated Salinity issues in WA.
“Foresters are generally unanimous in their views in this regard, but their voices tend not to be widely heard”.
The IFA is far more influential at the current policy level than are all non-fiscally *dependent stakeholders*. (*My demographic.) (e.g.: The recently released FMP for Karri and for the Dryandra mallet.)
The IFA work with the assistance of FPC and DEC, and have a far greater access to their data, policies and ‘ears’ than the average ‘ forest advocate,’ group or individual has. As confirmed, by Geoff Stoneham DEC, at the symposium, despite forest collapse and climate change, the Jarrah forest harvest rate looks set to continue at the same, or greater, rates in the next Jarrah FMP. The IFA has helped drive that outcome. Many FPC and DEC employees are actually members of the IFA.
‘Generally unanimous’ is like half pregnant.
“I have recently assumed the position of chair of the WA Division of the Institute of Foresters of Australia and will be doing my best to promote our policies”.
Given the Peoples Forest is a public asset; this policy development process should be shared and published widely for full community input.
“Our primary concern is for the ongoing health and welfare of our native forests”.
Here is the ‘Common Ground’ from which all stakeholders ‘could’ work together!
South West Forest communities recognize the primary interest of the IFA, DEC (Forest Division) and the FPC is to ‘commodify’ the Peoples Forests. 100,000 plus Ha of juvenile stands (industry created) proves that ecological values have long been ignored, in seeking a sustainably managed forest.
“(As no doubt most people would be) but unlike some people, foresters accept that our forests can and should be managed for all their values, and that all acceptable users of those forests should be given a fair go”.
(Who does the IFA define as ‘acceptable users and ‘some people’.) At no time since the inception of the IFA, has the timber industry ‘NEVER’ had access to the Peoples Forest for fiscal advantage. The IFA ‘fair go’ policy should be extended to the iconic WA species most at risk of the current and Draft Jarrah FMP plan for The Peoples Forest.
Starting with the ‘building block’. The unique Jarrah Forest itself (and its associated flora / fauna).
On this ‘fair go’ point I would like to see the IFA position change, on the wholesale removal of habitat trees for firewood and for industrial char.
WA has three species of endangered Black Cockatoos. Many of their few remaining habitat hollows are infested with feral bees, invasive parrots and galahs, kookaburras and other secondary species.
This firewood/char industry is the lowest possible value use possible for stored carbon, let alone viable habitat.
“We support sustainable use of forests for timber production”.
Sustainable use means the bole size should not be continually diminishing. But it is. If the IFA has a ‘desire’ to restore health to our failing Jarrah Forest, they are to be commended. However, this process must be ecologically driven, and not used as a tool to set up another income stream capitalising on the industry created ‘toothpick’ forest.
“I was encouraged by the remarks from Chrissy Sharp”.
Dr Sharp, I believe, suggested thinning TRIALS, which is an acceptable concept to many.
(Such trials would need to be done at a small scale, independently managed and researched. At all stages they must be community driven and accountable to full and open public scrutiny). I also recall her emphasis on reconciliation and moving forward.. She stated that the largest remaining jarrah trees should be left standing (Something never on the IFA RADAR).
I am sure Christine Sharp will clarify her position.
BIG PICTURE STUFF
* Open inclusive: dialogue, research and policy development, is the way forward.
* Without prioritizing Ecology over production more forest collapses are imminent.
* Treatment options should be based on sound independent science (small scale and open trials) and must be ecologically driven.
* These trials should be compared to all other options including ‘do nothing’ options.
* The IFA, FPC, DEC must immediately establish hardwood plantations to supply industry.
* The true history of WA’s forestry management can be found by analyzing the continually ignored recommendations of WA Royal Commissions of 1903 and 1922 and other subsequent Official Enquiries into Forestry.
* Recommended reading “The Trees That Were Natures Gift”, Irene Cunningham,
(If you want to know about how we no longer have, what we once did.)
Un-doctored photo of Neil Murray, (Musician and Writer of “My Island Home”) with what all sustainably logged Jarrah forest should look like.
There are WAY less than 100 of these Ancient trees ALIVE on the Earth.
Trees like this were still being logged in the Eighties. (Under the watch of DEC, FPC (CALM) and the IFA.) (Copyright_2002)