Forest and climate forum

HEATWAVES, bushfires and logging are a deadly combination for forests as more frequent and severe heatwaves occur in southern Australia, 90 delegates were told at the third Australian Forest and Climate Forum at the ANU on Saturday.

“Bush fires in young ash forests burn with greater severity than those in older forests; so that means they are destroyed more completely than unlogged forests,” Dr Chris Taylor said.

“Climate change causing more frequent bushfires combined with the impact of logging means fewer seedlings are able to regenerate.”

He said forests that are logged every twenty years cannot produce seed severely limiting restoration.

Dr Heather Keith from ANU who has been studying forests for three decades said forests that had not been logged lost little carbon from bushfires.

“In mountain ash forests that have been harvested in the central highlands, carbon sequestration can be double if the forests regrow from their current age class distribution.”

“The effect of wildfire as a natural disturbance event, on emissions of carbon is small (about 10 per cent), compared with the effects of logging.

“Carbon stocks in regrowth forest after harvesting, plus storage in wood products and landfill, is less than half the stock in old growth forests.”

Professor Brendan Mackey from Griffith University said industrial logging is removing forests ability to store carbon, store water and support wildlife.

“The mitigation value of forests lies not so much in their present net uptake but in the longevity of their accumulated stocks. Restoration has severe limitations as a solution because there are limits on the maximum amounts of carbon that can be stored,” Prof Mackey said.

Organiser of the Australian Forest and Climate Action Forum Mike Thompson said, “The take away message from our highly respected scientists, economists, business, Conservation Councils and youth is, to leave fossil fuels and living forests in the ground for the climate and our children’s future”.

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