You might be forgiven for thinking that once an area of forest has been burnt, it is essentially a dead zone, a pile of charred remains, devoid of life or possibility. You’d be wrong.
Research performed by David Lindenmayer, a researcher at the Australian National University and one of the world’s most cited forest ecologists, and colleagues over the past three decades has mapped regeneration and growth in areas of forest up the east coast of Australia - areas that have been badly damaged in horrific bushfires.
This research has shown incredible rates of recovery in areas of forest that appeared decimated by fires - but only if that forest is left alone in the aftermath. The worst thing that we can do post-bushfire is allow the logging of these burned areas, known as salvage logging.
This practice can set forest regeneration back by decades, and for about 40 years these areas of forest carry an increased risk of canopy burns (setting the regeneration back repeatedly). According to Lindenmayer, animals that miraculously escaped the fires, if they are not killed in the logging process, are unlikely to return to logged areas for up to 180 years, if ever.
Yet this is exactly what the Andrews Government is proposing to undertake in East Gippsland and North East Victoria.
Despite having announced an end to Old Growth logging, and committed to end all native logging by 2030, the state government would clear large swathes of this essential habitat, setting the probability of these ecosystems never recovering to almost 100%. The Victorian government's logging agency, VicForests, has revealed plans to log 3,500 hectares of forests burnt during the catastrophic summer fires in the next few years, saying salvage logging will occur in areas where "most of the standing trees have been killed".
As Lindenmayer observes in his article of January 29th this year, the irony of the state government dropping carrots and sweet potatoes from helicopters with one hand, and logging the remaining habitat of surviving animals with the other, should not be lost on us. Salvage logging has been shown to be the most damaging form of logging native forests.
The 2030 date is now untenable; if the East Gippsland forests are to have any chance of recovering, we must refrain from logging at all costs.
VicForests have identified 59 areas that they propose to log in East Gippsland and North East Victoria. There was a brief public consultation about their plans which closed on the 10th July.
You can read more about VicForests plan, and see details on the location of the proposed logging here.
Please send a simple message to the Premier.
With the subject line:
Forest industry transition now/ no salvage logging
And say something like:
The Hon Daniel Andrews
Premier of Victoria
I write to call on you to immediately implement the transition plan to move the native forest logging industry out of our forests.
Last summer’s fires had a massive impact on forests and wildlife. It is essential that your government show leadership and act now to protect native forests through fast-tracking the transition out of native forest logging. Allowing 'slavage' logging through the Timber Release Plan proposed by VicForests will further entrench the damage of last summer's fires. Salvage logging has been shown to be the most damaging form of logging native forests.
I welcome your commitment to phase out native forest logging. However, 2030 is too far away. Please act now to protect our remaining forests and support workers through the inevitable changes that are coming to this industry and stop the plan to open 59 areas to salvage logging.
(the more you personalise your email, the more impact it will have).