Opinion: Forestry leading climate change response

The Tasmanian forestry sector is clean, sustainable and a leader in our state’s response to climate change, writes Nick Steel.

The debate is over. Climate change is one of the biggest threats to our future. Around the world governments are responding to this threat and, in Tasmania, the forest industry is leading the charge.

It’s agreed that natural forests and timber plantations are net absorbers of greenhouse gases, and forestry products store this carbon and lock it away for the life of the product.

Unfortunately, not every government is proactively fighting climate change. For example, did you know that the Amazon basin has switched from a carbon sink to a carbon source?

The Amazon is one of the planet’s largest carbon stores and is critical to the earth’s health. However, unchecked deforestation is destroying the forests, and out of control wildfires are releasing carbon faster than the rapidly shrinking rainforest can absorb it.

We know that forests are one of the world’s great natural resources, and when such a valuable resource is left unprotected, we will see the greed and recklessness that we are now seeing in the Amazon.

But what’s happening in the Amazon is a world away from the way we manage forestry in Tasmania.

In Tasmania, every tree harvested is replaced by either regenerating natural forests or through the cycle of plantation harvesting and, as new trees grow, they draw more carbon from the atmosphere.

We lead the world in sustainable forest practices with 59 percent of the state’s forests protected, 87 percent of the state’s old-growth protected and an expanding plantation sector.

The reality is that only 14 of every 10,000 native trees are harvested in Tasmania, and remember, every single tree is regrown and replaced for the future.

Tasmania’s forestry industry has invested in more than 302,000 hectares of softwood and hardwood plantation forests, and we are leading the way in developing new and innovative products from these plantation timbers.

In fact, wood is such an amazing and flexible product with a wide myriad of uses that if it didn’t exist, we would have to invent it because we all use products made from it every day.

Tasmanians need wood, and we love the products made from timber. We just need to make sure the timber we use is from responsible production systems like in Tasmania.

Nick Steel is the CEO of the Tasmanian Forest Products Association. 


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