What is Intensive Forest Management?

Imagine you are part of the logging industry in East Gippsland. The RFA is over and has given you resource security for twenty years. But noone wants to buy your product and 9 cents a tonne royalties can’t last forever. So what do you do? You get together with a bunch of your mates from around the country, invite a couple of people from The Dark Side (ie. greenies) who you can vent your frustrations on, act like you’re scientific and come up with "intensive forest management". It goes something like this:

  1. Clearfell everything outside the reserve system as fast as you can. Destroy the remaining old growth so noone has anything to compare to the ecological disaster you create.
  2. Establish plantations using herbicides and fertilisers where biodiverse forests once stood.
  3. After ten years, chop down the tallest and healthiest trees using a whippersnipper or an injection of poison and clear one metre around each tree you kill.
  4. At 25 and 45 years, undertake commercial thinnings operations, seeking new pulp markets for your crap wood that can’t be used for anything but woodchips.
  5. At 60 years, clearfell the lot and start again. Desperately try to find sawn timber markets for your young hardwood trees which split when felled, are brittle, warp easily and are terrible as sawn timber. Try to find any market for your product - burn it, make chemicals out of it, adhesives, tannins, oils, anything! Give up and woodchip the lot anyway. Meanwhile, Daishowa and other woodchipping multinationals are rubbing their hands together with glee. Not suprisingly, they like the fact that Silver Top Ash tends to grow prolifically after clearfelling - a tree that produces nice, white woodchips for paper.

Luckily for you, a comprehensive and adequate reserve system was created by the RFA. Thanks to this, Intensive forest management isn’t constrained by such pesky management obligations as the maintenance of ecological criteria. Even better it will automatically meet certification criteria. That should shut those bloody greenies up, shouldn’t it!

Forest Management Corporatised?

In March this year, the Senior Forester in Orbost revealed plans to split the DNRE into two, creating Forestry Victoria which he described as a “service agency” for the commercial side of forestry. He denied that this was a step on the way to the corporatisation of the department. This change was announced by Marie Tehan in May, and the implications of the change became clear following the Intensive Forest Management conference held in Orbost.

Forestry Victoria will attempt to make the native hardwood industry more commercially viable so that in the future it will be more attractive to be sold to private enterprise - yet another public institution to be privatised by the Kennett government. The Intensive Forest Management agenda will be implemented by Forestry Victoria, which is only concerned with economic, not environmental values of the forest. At the moment the logging industry is so riddled with inefficiency, government subsidisation, and corruption it is hardly an attractive investment, but Forestry Victoria plans to change all that, and our forests can only suffer for it.