Environment

Salvage logging could destroy habitat for vulnerable animals, expert warns

Dominic Giannini 26 January 2020
Greater Glider

An endangered Greater Glider. Photo: Pavel German.

One of Australia’s leading experts on landscape ecology and biodiversity has warned that salvage logging and bushfire clean-up may hinder the ability of animals and ecosystems to bounce back after the fire crisis.

Professor David Lindenmayer said that bushland can still provide a habitat for animals that have survived the blaze, and trees that may be removed during salvage operations have the potential to resprout after fires.

Professor Lindenmayer is an expert in landscape ecology, forestry management and conservation and biodiversity at the Australian National University (ANU). He says action must be taken to ensure the survival of local species.

“We should resist the temptation to clean up,” he told Region Media.

“It looks as though half the distribution of the southern populations of the Greater Glider has been extensively damaged, so there will be a big effect on that species.

“We are talking about numbers in the tens of thousands, and the impact of the bushfires can last many, many decades, with numbers continuing to decline, which is what happened after the 2009 Victoria fires.

“We are still seeing the impacts of that fire 10 years later.

“The Corroboree Frog and Alpine She-oak Skink have also been affected, so there is a range of species that are doing badly as a consequence of the fires.

“A lot of people think ‘oh look there is a dead tree, let’s clean it up’, when in fact many of these trees have the ability to resprout and recover.

“Salvage logging is a really negative thing to do. The fire wipes out habitats so animals have no food, they are left without shelter, and now we have salvage logging which occurs after these fires.”

Salvage logging in the aftermath of fires can further impact already threatened species by removing possible refuges, as feral animals and selective logging are already proving to be an existential threat to some animals.

Professor David Lindenmayer

Professor David Lindenmayer. Photo: ANU.

“You have the fire, which directly kills many animals, and then what happens is that after the fires you can have the effects of feral animals like possums, cats, horses and deer that can have really major impacts on ecosystems as well,” Professor Lindenmayer said.

“An example is horses in the high country. Those animals have hard hooves which have a big impact on very fire-sensitive soils, native fish, frogs and reptiles.

“We should not be salvage logging and we should be involved in controlling these feral animals.”

The forest industry and CFMMEU have already called for the selective logging of national parks to reduce fuel loads, a proposal that’s been rejected by conservation experts.

Professor Lindenmayer says unburnt vegetation must be protected at all costs.

“You have to protect these areas, and areas of unburnt vegetation because they are critical refuges,” he told Region Media.

“If we lose the Greater Glider, we lose an animal that has a key role in the food chain. It is food for iconic animals like the Powerful Owl, so there is a big knock-on effect if we lose some of these key species in the ecosystem.

“The productivity of forests will start to fall away, and forests are where we get our water from and carbon storage for climate change, and essentially the system starts to unravel. Key things that play a big role in the function of the system start to drop out.”

Although trees may look burnt and dead, they are still important carbon vaults, which is why we need to be careful about salvage logging operations.

“For many of these forests when the fire comes through the green leaves get burnt off the trees but the trunk is still there, which is where most of the carbon is,” Professor Lindenmayer said.

“Most of the root system is still there and is not killed, so what happens is they are regrowing and begin to absorb carbon again.

“We studied the trees after the fires in 2009 and roughly 10 per cent of the carbon was lost, but the rest of the carbon was still in the system. It is really important that this carbon is stored.

“The fires in Victorian forests, some of those areas burnt at close to 80,000 kilowatts per square metre, which was getting close to what the intensity of the fires around Hiroshima were.

“Still, we had 85 to 90 per cent of the carbon still there.”

Original Article published by Dominic Giannini on The RiotACT.

What's Your Opinion?

36 Responses to Salvage logging could destroy habitat for vulnerable animals, expert warns

Judith Bourne 9:48 am 27 Feb 20

Can this article be sent to ABC to provide ”balance’ to the article
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-26/lock-it-up-and-leave-it-not-the-solution-to-bushfire-problems/11995176

Andrew Harrop Andrew Harrop 8:51 pm 27 Jan 20

The Bush will regenerate and burn again just leave it be

Elisabeth Apps Elisabeth Apps 6:47 pm 27 Jan 20

It’s obvious that the national parks and state forests have been the most heavily burned- where no clearing or back burning is allowed. Gaia has a way of restoring balance.

Julie Rose Julie Rose 11:52 am 27 Jan 20

I agree with this - the biggest problem is the people who started the fires

Jude Lamb Jude Lamb 9:48 am 27 Jan 20

We need proper discussion with Indigenous & ecology experts before government officials start making decisions for and about our burnt forest environments ...what is left of the bush needs to be managed with proper respect & knowledgeable understanding if our native fauna, flora and water ways are to recover...healing and understanding not fear and removal driven...

Alicia GAuld Alicia GAuld 9:07 am 27 Jan 20

One answer just does not fit all & it is unhelpful to try to blur the lines between 'forestry' & 'national parks.'

Rob Young Rob Young 6:33 am 27 Jan 20

Well what a surprise Lindenmayer anti logging.

Evan Carter Evan Carter 5:14 am 27 Jan 20

No clean up was the reason for the severity of the fires.

James Peel James Peel 11:37 pm 26 Jan 20

Luckily we are only cleaning up around settlements. A little common sense would help him to understand that if the bush isn't managed properly there will be no bush left for any animals if they survived a bushfire fueled by undergrowth and unprecedented fuel loads from mismanagement. Clearing dead trees is not even remotely an issue.

JM Cregan JM Cregan 11:37 pm 26 Jan 20

Exactly the argument that the greens have been proclaiming for years.. do not clean up.. don't move fallen logs... it provides habitat.. Well, in case people haven't noticed.. All it has done in the last two months is BURN HABITAT, ANIMALS, HUMAN TRAGEDY AND DEATH! CLEAN UP THE DEBRIS..we must ensure this doesn't happen again! the bush will recover.. but cannot with dead and burned wood laying around.. 'experts'.. from where a classroom and text books!

    Penny Hunt Penny Hunt 2:53 pm 27 Jan 20

    JM Cregan lying around, not laying, unless the wood is going to produce eggs. Grammar on a par with your reasoning......

Fiona Elizabeth Izon Avery Fiona Elizabeth Izon Avery 6:33 pm 26 Jan 20

Salvage the pines that have been farmed, leave the natural bush to regenerate as much as possible.

Hazard reductions only work for lower level fires, not catastrophic ones in intense drought

    Peter Bond Peter Bond 9:10 pm 26 Jan 20

    In nearly all the fire scenes on TV the leaves are not burnt.

    In these cases the fires were not intense.

    Seán Burke Seán Burke 1:03 am 27 Jan 20

    Peter Bond They're all well cooked at the top of the trees down here, except for the backburns.

Jenifer Mather Jenifer Mather 3:29 pm 26 Jan 20

Lisa Ryan A MESSAGE FROM AN RFS CAPTAIN

From Wytaliba in the north of the state to Nerrigundah down south there is a consistent message. Hazard reductions have been done and that won’t stop these fires.

Ron Threlfall, the Nerrigundah captain says:

"The whole valley was aflame. There was nothing usual about it," he said.

It was so dry. The drought had gone on for so long. It (the fire) had plenty of time to build up and she just hit us like a tonne of bricks.

No matter how much hazard reduction you've done, it wouldn't have changed anything.

"I can't see us having another one again, but it depends whether the temperature of the earth goes up. If it goes up any more, I can't see us being able to live here."

John Barilaro needs to drop his ideological rants against National Parks and get on with the job of finding the responses that help the recovery.

These fires have affected ALL land tenures and in case he didn’t notice it, Canberra Airport was recently closed by a bushfire. Hardly a National Park is it Mr Barilaro?

Gladys Berejiklian Andrew Constance MP Mike Kelly MP National Parks Association of NSW Great Southern Forest South East Region Conservation Alliance Inc Understorey: a film on the south east forest campaigns NSW Rural Fire Service Reclaim Kosci

ABC South East NSW About Regional

Bega District News 2EC The Canberra Times The Sydney Morning Herald

Madeline Spry Madeline Spry 3:24 pm 26 Jan 20

Stop logging and use steel

Peter Bond Peter Bond 2:48 pm 26 Jan 20

What animals.

Insects dead. Birds flown or dead.

Small animals crawl back to the space that saved their lives.

Large animals dead or gone.

The best thing to do, plant ((on a mass scale) seeds of less flammable trees.

Allow fire wood collectors to clean up the large logs and knock down any doubtful trees.

Jenifer Mather Jenifer Mather 2:20 pm 26 Jan 20

Salvage logging in the aftermath of fires can further impact already threatened species by removing possible refuges, as feral animals and selective logging are already proving to be an existential threat to some animals.

    Paul Patti Paul Patti 2:31 pm 26 Jan 20

    Jenifer Mather Stop your ecobabble and get real. Your statement is false short term land stewardship not long term sustainable land management ! Nature's balance can not be fauna only.

    Jenifer Mather Jenifer Mather 3:19 pm 26 Jan 20

    Paul Patti what is wrong with that statement , it's ok to take away habitat, and keep.on.logging.

    Reina Hill Reina Hill 9:56 am 18 Feb 20

    So many arm chair no experts venting their opinions. And that is all they are. If we listened to the expertise and actual knowledge of scientists like Prof Lindenmeyer the environment would no be so stuffed. Instead of sounding off time would be better spent in learning something worthwhile and listening to what the experts say.

    Jenifer Mather Jenifer Mather 10:12 am 18 Feb 20

    Paul Patti I suppose you support feral horses in national parks as well

Michele Blight Michele Blight 1:40 pm 26 Jan 20

Has he even seen the utter devastation down here? Does he live in danger zones? Those of us who live here actually care about the environment in a constructive way, let us clear the dead wood and turn it into proper mulch to enhance and improve the soils.

    Jenifer Mather Jenifer Mather 2:19 pm 26 Jan 20

    Michele Blight Salvage logging in the aftermath of fires can further impact already threatened species by removing possible refuges, as feral animals and selective logging are already proving to be an existential threat to some animals.

    Michele Blight Michele Blight 2:23 pm 26 Jan 20

    Jenifer Mather go and have a look between Mogo and Batemans Bay, there’s no selective logging to be done, just blackened trees and ash covered dirt.

    Jess Prendergast Jess Prendergast 2:30 pm 26 Jan 20

    Michele Blight a little less habitat that they can still travel through or a raging fireball with nowhere to escape, I know what I’d prefer

    Forest Embassy Forest Embassy 2:46 pm 26 Jan 20

    Michele Blight those forests actually WERE selectively logged. DIdn't stop them from burning.

    Jess Prendergast Jess Prendergast 3:04 pm 26 Jan 20

    Forest Embassy the way that fire came through it wouldn’t have mattered either way

    Jenifer Mather Jenifer Mather 3:20 pm 26 Jan 20

    Michele Blight I don't have to, I live there.

    Jenifer Mather Jenifer Mather 3:28 pm 26 Jan 20

    Michele Blight there are plenty of trees that will recover and grow and provide habitat to animals once they return.

    Jenifer Mather Jenifer Mather 3:28 pm 26 Jan 20

    Lisa Ryan A MESSAGE FROM AN RFS CAPTAIN

    From Wytaliba in the north of the state to Nerrigundah down south there is a consistent message. Hazard reductions have been done and that won’t stop these fires.

    Ron Threlfall, the Nerrigundah captain says:

    "The whole valley was aflame. There was nothing usual about it," he said.

    It was so dry. The drought had gone on for so long. It (the fire) had plenty of time to build up and she just hit us like a tonne of bricks.

    No matter how much hazard reduction you've done, it wouldn't have changed anything.

    "I can't see us having another one again, but it depends whether the temperature of the earth goes up. If it goes up any more, I can't see us being able to live here."

    John Barilaro needs to drop his ideological rants against National Parks and get on with the job of finding the responses that help the recovery.

    These fires have affected ALL land tenures and in case he didn’t notice it, Canberra Airport was recently closed by a bushfire. Hardly a National Park is it Mr Barilaro?

    Gladys Berejiklian Andrew Constance MP Mike Kelly MP National Parks Association of NSW Great Southern Forest South East Region Conservation Alliance Inc Understorey: a film on the south east forest campaigns NSW Rural Fire Service Reclaim Kosci

    ABC South East NSW About Regional

    Bega District News 2EC The Canberra Times The Sydney Morning Herald

    Rob Young Rob Young 6:34 am 27 Jan 20

    Forest Embassy didn’t see you out there fighting the fire

Peter Morales Peter Morales 12:37 pm 26 Jan 20

Someone should explain to him we only clean up out road's from log's, he must be under the impression we manicure our forest's. The expert need's educating

    Jenifer Mather Jenifer Mather 2:17 pm 26 Jan 20

    Peter Morales Salvage logging in the aftermath of fires can further impact already threatened species by removing possible refuges, as feral animals and selective logging are already proving to be an existential threat to some animals.

    Peter Bond Peter Bond 2:47 pm 26 Jan 20

    Jenifer Mather

    What animals.

    Insects dead. Birds flown or dead.

    Small animals crawl back to the space that saved their lives.

    Large animals dead or gone.

    The best thing to do, plant ((on a mass scale) seeds of less flammable trees.

    Allow fire wood collectors to clean up the large logs and knock down any doubtful trees.

    Peter Morales Peter Morales 10:53 am 27 Jan 20

    Jenifer Mather Yes i know i am not for it, nor did i mention cleaning up any of the bush

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