The RIC Good Wood Guide
Plantation vs. Old Growth Timber
Make the right choice in timber - our forests are in your hands!
Fenella Barry - The Wilderness Society 2
- In Australia, there still exists the common myth that the only way
to get wood is by logging native forests. In fact, there is another way
of obtaining wood and that is by harvesting it from plantations. Despite
this, and the fact that the timber industry could flourish through production
of plantation timbers alone, the relentless logging of our native forests
continues at a faster rate than ever before.
- By using native forest sawlogs, you are not only accounting for that
particular log but for all the timber that was clearfelled in order to
obtain it. In places like East Gippsland, 85 percent of forests ends-up
as woodchips or waste in order that the logging corporations can take their
15 percent of usable sawlogs. In NSW and Tasmania, this figure can be as
high as 95 percent woodchips or waste.
- Despite woodchipping being the driving force behind forest destruction,
the timber industry claims that native forest operations are "sawlog-driven",
ie, driven by the demand for sawlogs. By using native forest timbers, we
are effectively validating woodchipping operations.
- The timber industry needs to shift its focus and energies out of old
growth forests and into plantations - this is the only sustainable alternative.
There are more than enough plantations to meet current and expanding needs.
- You, as a consumer, can help save our native forests and help to ensure
that the industry moves into the already-existing plantations. Only use
timber that is plantation-grown or recycled.
THE FUTURE OF THE TIMBER INDUSTRY
- The future for the Australian timber industry is in plantations. This
is not wishful thinking, but hard commercial fact. Plantation timber has
many advantages over native forest timber. Plantations already supply the
majority of our domestic timber needs. A recent study of the wood products
industry in Victoria predicts that the amount of sawlogs will double over
the 1990's, with a further doubling possible in the following decade. This
situation is similar throughout Australia.
- While the timber industry continues to stubbornly persist in logging
native forests, it is consequently destroying our priceless natural heritage
and actually reducing employment. Tourism based on our spectacular native
forests has enormous potential.
- There is great potential for the timber industry to expand without
logging native forests. The role of the consumer (you and me) in speeding-up
the transition to use of plantation timber is very important. Never use
any Australian timber unless it is grown on plantations. Remember that
using plantations now makes dollars and a great deal of sense!
1. See also the article The
Case for Plantations, by Sean Cadman of the Native
Wilderness Society is just one of many conservation groups which wants
to see an immediate end to all old growth forest logging. (See Forest
Activist Groups in the Alternative Directory).
3. This seemingly outlandish figure of 3000
football fields per day being cleared was the 1990 estimate. It may be close
to double that amount now, as the end of the millenium approaches. The Biodiversity
Unit of the Commonwealth Dept of Environment, Sport & Territories stated
that, for 1994, permits for the clearing of 1,079,297 hectares of land were
granted in Queensland alone. (Refer to the book, The
National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity
- see Books, Miscellaneous in the Alternative Directory.)
4. While it is widely accepted that the
timber industry needs to shift out of native forest logging with all haste,
it is by no means a consensus viewpoint that there is presently in place
sufficient plantation resource "for our current and expanding needs".
If the end-use of some plantation softwood entails, for example, it's being
treated with toxic chemical preservatives, then there remains a cloud over
its eligibility for being deemed a responsibly used resource. Quantities
of durable softwoods and hardwoods are not yet available, so preservative-dependent
timber will be an unfortunate fact of life for some time to come.
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