Satellite images unlocks extent of logging

Snapshot of the view of logging in Tasmania.
Photo: Google Earth

//www.smh.com.au/news/web/satellite-images-unlocks-extent-of-logging/2006/12/13/1165685727367.html#

Asher Moses December 13, 2006 - 12:32PM

Australian anti-logging groups are using Google Earth to show the impact of forest clearing.

At least two groups - the Tasmanian arm of The Wilderness Society and the Victorian Rainforest Network (VRN) - have created Google Earth "overlays", which can be downloaded from their websites.

An overlay adds a layer on top of the basic Google Earth satellite map, and can be used in this case to add specific information about logging campaigns beside the relevant geographical area.

The Wilderness Society's overlay provides details on Forestry Tasmania's logging plans for the coming year based on information publicly available on its website, says Vica Bayley, a forest campaigner with The Wilderness Society.

These details include the outline of logging zones, as well as pop-up text boxes that provide further information and images on individual logging areas.

Mr Bayley said Google Earth allowed the group to more effectively convey the impact of logging, which had been difficult to do previously as many Tasmanian forest areas were closed off to the public.

"For those people who don't go out to the forest a lot, it basically unlocks the gates," he said.

"Many of these areas are hidden in more remote catchments where people can't get in, can't get a look, and can't see for themselves what's going on."

Paul Oosting, a spokesman for The Wilderness Society, added in a statement: "These images highlight the close proximity of logging operations to the Tasmanian wilderness World Heritage area."

While The Wilderness Society has a national presence, its Google Earth campaign is limited to Tasmania.

This is because other states "don't have a government department, such as our Forestry Tasmania, that produces maps and plans of exactly what they're going to clear", Mr Bayley said.

He said logging in NSW was "not as forwardly planned as it is here in Tasmania", so there wasn't sufficient data available for a NSW overlay.

In Queensland, it was mainly "rogue landowners that are clearing", which also meant data on proposed logging plans was sparse.

But the VRN has managed to acquire sufficient information for a Victorian overlay, and provides similar information to the Tasmanian version, including past and future logging plans, and how close these are to national parks and water catchments.

Environmental groups say logging causes habitat loss, water degradation and climate change.

"Logging is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases and climate change in Tasmania - more than the entire transport sector," Mr Bayley said.

"Not only are you destroying huge and globally important carbon sinks [the trees], but you're actually releasing vast, vast amounts of that stored carbon back into the atmosphere through huge forestry burns in autumn, [and] through broad-scale woodchipping."

-- Tim Hermach
Native Forest Council
PO Box 2190 Eugene, OR 97402
541.688.2600
541.461.2156 fax
web page: //www.forestcouncil.org


Informant: Scott Munson

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