Author responds to ‘The Forest Wars’ criticism

Professor David Lindenmayer has hit back at criticism of his book on native forestry logging. Photo: Contributed

Comment

Professor David Lindenmayer

MARK Poynter has written a critique of my new book The Forest Wars (Allegations facing ‘forest wars’, Gippsland Times, 16/04/2024) . He is fully entitled to do this. But readers should be acutely aware of Mr Poynter’s strong connections to the native forest logging industry.

As I point out in the book, there are some key problems with the industry.

It destroys large amounts of biodiversity because it logs the parts of forests that are most important for native animals and plants, including those places where many threatened species occur.

Logging is a danger not just to animal and plant communities, but also to human communities in rural Australia.

This is because it makes forests more flammable and prone to higher-severity wildfires, in some places for many decades after logging is finished. And the carbon emissions from the industry are making climate change worse.

These risks might be palatable for the taxpayer if the native forest logging industry provided the wood to build houses. But it doesn’t.

The industry is overwhelmingly dominated by woodchips and producing pulp to make paper and box liners.

The industry also might be tolerable if it made money. But it doesn’t.

It has been a financial basket case for years, everywhere – Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. In these tough times, perhaps the industry’s drain on the public purse might pass muster if it employed lots of people. But it doesn’t. Employment levels have been plummeting for years now.

I was once a strong advocate of the native forest logging industry. I no longer am.

The costs of propping up the industry not only to the taxpayer but also to the environment and climate are just too great. These costs are among the key reasons why I wrote the book.

Readers should examine my book and make up their minds for themselves.

David Lindenmayer is a professor at The Australian National University