Warning of pain in lumber region
TIMBER'S ability to fight global warming through its role in construction and design has been dealt a blow in the federal government's proposed carbon tax, according to a coalition of more than 80 forest scientists and timber company representatives.
TIMBER'S ability to fight global warming through its role in construction and design has been dealt a blow in the federal government's proposed carbon tax, according to a coalition of more than 80 forest scientists and timber company representatives.The coalition, in a letter to the Climate Commission, referred to "flaws, omissions and lost opportunities" in looking at the best way to use forests to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The commission's latest report, The Critical Decade, formed an intellectual base to the proposed carbon tax."We are deeply concerned that climate change policy will be based on assertions not supported by sound analysis or scientific evidence," the coalition said.The signatories included academics such as the Professor Emeritus of Forest Science at the University of Melbourne, Ian Ferguson former executives from CSIRO forestry products and senior personnel from HVP Plantations, Norske Skog, Carter Holt Harvey and Auswest Timbers.The chief complaint is the lack of recognition of the carbon sequestered in wood products from sustainably managed sources, particularly when this wood is used, rather than alternatives such as metal, concrete and plastic."This is particularly concerning, given [that] the 2009 Garnaut climate change review argued for the inclusion of carbon stored in wood products," the letter said."There is now considerable science to support this arrangement."The coalition said the government should accept the views of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, and most forestry scientists: the sustainable management of forests, including a mixed strategy of conservation and timber production is optimal for carbon reduction.The panel's fourth report was clear on this point: "A sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustainable yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit."The coalition said it supported the role of afforestation in the policy, such as reforestation for timber, biodiversity, biofuels, water quantity and quality, and landscape protection. "Afforesting land, including agricultural land, produces a variety of goods and services, including carbon sequestration," they said.However, the simplistic and flawed argument to stop timber harvesting from native forests for carbon emission mitigation should be rejected.Allan Hansard, chief executive of the Australian Forest Products Association, said the government appeared to have made these decisions to obtain agreement from the Greens.A spokesman for the Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, said that under the carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS), carbon credits would have been issued for internationally recognised increases in carbon storage, such as existing commercial plantations.The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) aimed to deliver additional greenhouse abatement that could be used by companies to offset emissions. It would also provide incentives for other forestry activities that increase the carbon stored in the landscape, such as new long-rotation hardwood and mallee plantings.The spokesman said under the CFI, the forestry industry would not have to pay for emissions from fertiliser, timber harvesting, or off-road vehicles and machinery."Over time, carbon pricing will increase the value of wood products," he said."Products that compete with timber, such as cement, steel and fossil fuels, will be covered by the carbon price."This meant timber products would become relatively more attractive to buyers as the world moved to a low-carbon future.