Recently I took part in a guided tour of our remaining native Karri forests with the West Australian Forest Alliance . I remember visiting these forests as a child, it is always inspiring. The first time I climbed the Gloucester tree near Pemberton I was barely in my teens. At 72m tall, the Gloucester tree was the highest 14-year-old me had ever been.
When I heard the new Forest Management Plan will double the scale of logging in our remaining Karri forests (1), I wanted to see the implications of this for myself. I knew it would be painful to see, but I had to go. I had to bear witness and share the tragic reality of clear-felling with you.
Only 10% of our native Karri forest remain today, BEFORE logging expands.
After what I witnessed I have no doubt this new plan, if allowed to continue, will leave us with no pristine Karri forest left. It’s no wonder activists have begun taking direct action to halt the destruction (1,2,3).
I am very glad they have.
We’re not talking a few trees here, we’re talking about the whole forest.
The whole forest is destroyed during clear-felling, the trees are virtually all chopped down, the undergrowth intentionally stomped with machinery. Once the process is complete and no wood remains to be logged, the area is set on fire.
From canopy to understory, to soil and, eventually, to river systems, the destruction is all consuming. I can barely imagine how we might damage the ecosystem more if we tried.
All that remains are a few ‘habitat trees’, required to be left behind at a rate of 5 trees per hectare in mixed Karri/Jarrah forests, and only 2 trees per hectare in Karri only areas (1).
This rate of retention is not nearly high enough to maintain a healthy forest canopy, let alone support the wide variety of native birds and other unique wildlife whose survival has depended upon these forests for thousands of years.
Even the chosen ‘habitat trees’ are often damaged during the logging.
In the short term felled forest are left with no canopy to provide shade, vital to maintaining moisture levels of rich forest soils. As the soils dry out they release methane, carbon, and are drained of nutrients.
In the tracks of earth moving equipment used during felling – extreme soil degradation becomes evident immediately. Soils held together for centuries by year-round moisture now rapidly turn to mud.
In Challar Forest the next heavy rains will wash now muddy soils of recently clear-felled forests into our south-west’s last remaining pristine river systems around Deep River.
Why isn’t this better regulated?
Why is the forestry industry NOT subject to the same wildlife conservation laws and environmental standards required of the mining and tourism industries? It sure should be. No industry should be exempt from environmental regulations.
We all have an obligation to preserve our ecosystems for future generations. Especially those receiving public funding in a democratic society.
It doesn’t even make cents (or sense).
Did I mention native forest logging actually COST taxpayers in Western Australia more than $20 million last year? Yes, you read correctly.
It makes no sense for us to continue logging native forest. No logical argument stands to show this industry is more beneficial to the state than it is damaging and expensive.
On the other hand, maintaining our native forests offers a significant no-risk income stream in the form of carbon credits, and real sustainable jobs in the fields of tourism, agriculture and forest management.
It is time the State Government stepped up and put a blanket ban on the logging of our remaining native forests and extended environmental protection laws to fully cover the logging industry.
Lets keep our remaining forests beautiful for future generations.
Support the West Australian Forest Alliance and join the fight to stop the logging of WA’s remaining native Karri forests.