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Liberals and Labor Attacking Scientists to Cover for Bushfire Logging Risk

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Sunday, 30 August 2020

Tags: Bushfires, Forests, Native Forest Logging, Climate Change

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader and Forests spokesperson

There is apparently no low Resources Minister, Guy Barnett, and his Labor counterpart, Shane Broad, won’t stoop to to defend current logging practices.

Seizing on a decision by Tasmanian researchers, led by Dr Jen Sanger, to withdraw a paper on logging and bushfire risk over problems with data extracted from Forestry Tasmania, Barnett and Broad are trying to pretend there is no link.

There is, and as lawmakers it is reckless of Barnett and Broad to dismiss the risk

Dr Sanger and her team are undertaking research, backed up by findings nationally and globally, in the public interest. 

Minister Barnett and Dr Broad are working against the public interest by attacking scientists doing this vital work in an age of climate extremes.

In January this year, Australian National University‘s world expert in forest ecology, Professor David Lindenmayer, confirmed his studies of fire behaviour in logged areas of NE Victoria.

At the time, Professor Lindenmayer said, ‘...  multiple academic and forest industry studies showed forest thinning and logging in Australia ‘makes forests more fire prone.’

Dr Sanger’s fellow researcher, UTAS Distinguished Professor, Dr Jamie Kirkpatrick, said in June this year, ‘The clear and overwhelming evidence is that logging makes forests more flammable. These are the findings of four peer-reviewed, published scientific studies from four institutions in six years, and of multiple scientific reviews.’

The Greens have no doubt that if the UTAS researchers have the correct data, the findings of national and international studies on logging and bushfire risk will be replicated in Tasmania.

Forestry Tasmania needs to provide its data to the researchers. These are public forests and the data should be publicly available. 

This is vital research. It should be strongly supported by Government and the Opposition, not attacked and undermined. 

This is a matter of life and death. 

Minister Barnett and Dr Broad shouldn’t need reminding they have a duty of care to Tasmanians who face accelerating climate extremes, and are entitled to expect their elected representatives to priortise community safety over unscientific, partisan politics.