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Environment Essay: Old Growth Forests in Western Australian

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How does one rationalize reducing majestic, centuries old, life-giving trees to piles of woodchips, sawdust, timber or waste? Examine where these products end up and you will realize that the plight of Western Australian (WA) old growth forests is more than just a local issue.

The message from conservationists is loud and clear - "Stop logging and save our trees". This is the notion at the heart of what has become a bitter, bureaucratic argument in Australia, centered around the Government's recently signed Regional Forest Agreement (RFA).

However, implementing this apparently simple plea has complex repercussions. Surely, the first objective we should have if attempting to preserve our forests is to reduce demand. To simply condemn the logging of old growth trees seems to ignore the reality that the products manufactured from old growth logs will be gained from elsewhere if not from Australia's own forests.


For example, 99% of the Marri and 57% of Karri wood logged during 1996/97 clearfelling operations became woodchips which were sold to Japan by Westfarmers, Bunnings and Whittakers (Take A Stand, 1998). If the Australian Government did not sell Australian woodchips to these companies (for a price that is too low according to conservationists), the multi-million dollar corporations would buy woodchips from elsewhere.


A likely second choice is the rich and diverse forests of South America, in countries such as Brazil. Such a choice would be even more socially irresponsible given that the Brazilian forest ecosystem is less managed, less regulated and less controlled than forests in Australia. Forests such as those in the Amazon Basin have already been exploited to the point where scientists are afra...

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...quarie Library Pty Ltd, New South Wales.


Schultz B., "Green View - Forest sellout is a slap in the face", The West Australian newspaper, 10 May, 1999, p. 12.


"Fire and Forests" 1996, Facts about WA Forests, Department of Conservation and Land Management, Australia.


"Reserve and Off-reserve Management" 1998, Australia's Forests - The Path to Sustainability, Department of Primary Industries & Energy and Department of Environment, Australia.


"Take A Stand - Jane State Forest", 1998, Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics Report, Friends of Jane Inc, Australia.


"Where Do Our Old Growth Forests Go?", 1999, Forest Information Resource Kit, WA Forest Alliance, Australia.


"Endangered species and Our Old Growth Forests", 1999, Forest Information Resource Kit, WA Forest Alliance, Australia


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