Media release 22nd January 2003
Fire intensity in forest: The role of logging old, closed
canopy forest over the last 50 years.
Mr Tom McLoughlin, policy officer with Ecology Action Sydney gave evidence
to the 1994 coronial inquiry into the 1994 fires. Mr McLoughlin said today:
'This is a time for the Australian community
to pull together. Conservationists are fighting fires in their local area with the rest of the community just as they did
in 1994 and more recently.
'There will be political and legal review of property damage and tragic loss of life at
the city/bush interface.
'In 1994 the coroner identified climate namely low humidity, wind, temperature as critical
and this has been identified again. This and other factors were again analysed as per the Fire and Biodiversity Conference
'I submit the role of forest humidity needs more understanding. Prolonged hot weather is not the
only factor. Scientists have shown for instance that old growth forest is naturally a high water storage and water yielding
complex like a sponge - see study Tantawangalo Research Catchments, Change in Water Yield after Logging, by E. Wronski, Forestry
Commission of NSW, 1/7/93.
'But this high humidity complex is destroyed by high intensity logging disrupting the closed
canopy. A mass of tinder dry fuel results as the forest dries out. An excellent diagram illustrating this conversion effect
with scientific referencing can be found in 'Old Growth Forests and their High Conservation Value' by Taylor, Woof, Thomson
1995 (available on request).
Regretably, vast areas of our forest estate have been damaged this way with old growth
targetted first by the woodchippers for their high volumes. Tragically society is reaping a fire harvest from that reckless
forest industry approach over 40 or 50 years.
Loggers also routinely use regeneration burns. Several years ago an
eye witness reported a forest hillside erupting in flame from a smouldering regeneration burn in the upper Deua on the south
coast. This kind of accidental ignition and the affect of logging on local water cycling needs further investigation by the
authorities' concluded Mr McLoughlin.
More: Tom McLoughlin 0410 558838, 02-......
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