Otway Ranges Environment Network



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Sustainable yield report Otway findings misrepresented
by pro-logging groups.

Professor Jerry Vanclay - Sustainable Logging Review


The Wombat Forest Society did a fantastic job in exposing the maximum rates of logging allowed under all five Victorian RFA's were far too high and unstainable. The State government accepted this and in 2001 conducted a Sustainable Logging Review, which examined the levels of logging in all State Forest Management areas within Victoria. The results(which included the Otways) were taken into account in the formation of the Our Forest, Our Future policy (2002).

As a part of the review, an independent Expert Data Reference Group headed by Professor Jerry Vanclay, collected technical data on what constitutes sustainable levels of logging. In October 2001 a report about the technical issues surrounding suitability of logging in the Otways (and the rest of the State) was released titled: Evaluation of Data and Methods for Estimating the sustainable Sawlog yields of sawlogs in Victoria, Oct. 2001.

The Otway Ranges Environment Network made a submission to this process.

Read the Vanclay Report (900K pdf)

Results of Sustainable Logging Review

In February 2002, an announcement was made by the State Government that the results of the review will result in an average 30% cut in the levels of hardwood sawlogs supplied from state forest across Victoria.

However for the Otways the "maximum level" of logging remained unchanged at 27,000 cubic metres of sawlogs per annum. (Note: The Otway sustainable sawlog yield dropped by 33% as a part of the RFA process in 2000.)

The fact that there was no cut in log output for the Otways confirms what conservationists already knew, that there is still forest to be saved from woodchipping.

In contrast, the announcement to cut the sawlog volume in areas such as the Wombat state forest by 80% was to some extent cold comfort for conservationists in the region. Over-logging the Wombat State forest area has already destroyed most of the forest and now there is nearly no forest left undisturbed from logging.

In general the closer to a woodchip mill the more the forest had been logged out and the bigger the cut. For example, in the Central Gippsland Forest Management Area, there was a 50% cut in logging rates. This was due in part to the close proximity of the Australian Paper Maryvale pulpmill which has been using half a milion tonnes of native forest woodchips per year.

Pro-Logging groups misrepresent report recommendations

Since the State Government changed its policy in favour of an expanded National Park for the Otways and an end to clearfell logging, the Liberal Party and the native forest woodchipping industry have argued that this report says logging in the Otways is acceptable because it was found to be sustainable.

However the report released by the Expert Data Reference Group (Professor Vanclay and Dr Turner) recommended that the sustainable levels of logging for the Otways had not in fact been resolved.

Key two report findings that support this are:

1. Section 8 "Management implications" (page 47 Table 5) has concluded that the data used to calculate the present rates of logging for the Otways is "inadequate".

2. Section 6 "Environmental Considerations"(pages 38 & 39)

Recommendation 16: Acknowledge two components of sustainable yield: the maximum timber yield that can be sustained and the optimal harvesting rate that delivers the greatest benefit to stakeholders.

Recommendation 16 provides an acknowledgment that the figure of 27,000 cubic metres of sawlog is a maximum rate of logging for the Otways but an optimum rate of logging factors in issues such as the need to protect water catchments, tourism values and nature conservation values.

Given this position, the State Government decided that the "optimum rate" of logging for the Otways was zero and was re-elected in 2002 with this zero logging policy based on issues such as the impact of clearfell logging on water yields from Otway forested catchments.

Pro-logging supporters are in denial of the reports findings. Instead VAFI and some Liberal Party members claim that the "maximum levels of logging" quoted in the report mean woodchip-driven clearfell logging should continue in the Otways at that level.

The State Liberal Member for Polwarth, Terry Mulder used the sustainable yield process to attack conservationists.. The following is an extract from the Colac Herald (22/2/02).

Otways quotas maintained in industry overhaul

Colac Herald 22/2/02

Member for Polwarth Terry Mulder said the Otway Ranges exemption would undermine environmentalists campaign to end clearfell logging in the area. "This gets back to the issue that the figures have been checked and proven so many times that the argument can't continue," Mr Mulder said.

"Where does the anti logging movement go from here? Their other argument throughout the past five years of drought has been that logging in water catchments affects water yield, but a return to normal rainfall this year has proven that wrong."

"The only argument left is the tourism debate. If they can prove that tourism could grow
without logging, then that is all they have. But they need to then look for the potential to have a tourism-based venture in sustainable timber harvesting"

It seems Terry Mulder not only selectively read the report released by Professor Vanclay but was also shown to be unable to comprehend the recommendations given to the ALP State government. (The government that was re-elected in November 2002 with its popular Otway policy to set an "optimum rate" of logging for the Otways to zero.)

See more about the Liberal's support for continued clearfell logging native forests in the Otways



  Read the Vanclay Report (900K pdf)

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