Challenge the status quo

How to stop swallowing the spin


Dear xxxx

Thank you for your email.

State forests in Melbourne’s water catchment provide two highly-valued resources: clean water and high value wood.

The truth: The resources provided by Melbourne’s catchments are; Low value Wood going to make woodchips. This year - the state governments logging agency Vicforests ran its fourth year at a loss. This year it turned 120 million dollars worth of wood into a loss of 5 Million that was buffered against by the state government with another free logging handout.  It doesn't matter how much the timber is worth if there is no buyer and if the agency responsible is selling it for less than it costs to extract. The re growing trees soak up 50% of the run off that should be going into our dams and the water that does flow in is likely to be contaminated with silt.

If logging were stopped immediately it would make little difference to water supplies in the short term. Timber harvesting impacts on water yield due to the high water use of young, regenerating forests.

The truth : The trees start re growing after 2 years! Do we manage our forests over an electoral period or do we manage our water for long term security? The long term impact of logging is currently being felt due to the last 30 years of heavy clearfelling and will be felt by a further 16 billion litres of water to be forfeited by the time our children are having their first children.

Harvesting is closely controlled to ensure current water yields are not diminished and that the quality of water meets agreed standards. As part of this, Melbourne’s catchments are managed as a combination of “open” and “closed” catchments. Logging is, and will continue to be, banned in the “closed” catchments, which are an important source of clean drinking water.

The truth: Logging has an impact on water supplies, the governments own scientists have recommended logging cease by 2009/2010 to maximise water yields, why would they recommend this if it wasn’t having an impact and furthermore, why does this site lie and tell us the impacts are negligible?

The area being logged is very small. The maximum area that can be harvested each year within Melbourne catchments is 340 hectares (the total area of Melbourne catchments is 157,000 hectares).

The truth: The area being logged is irrelevant. In the Thomson catchment alone, most of the rainfall takes place in approximately 30% of the catchment area. Approximately 70% of this high rainfall area has now been clear fell logged. Whilst the big old trees they are “harvesting” for woodchips do not drink much water the young re growing tree’s that have re established are the fastest growing, biggest drinking species in the catchments.  It is for this reason that the area they are logging is irrelevant, its not how much you log its what you log and where. The fact that a government department puts this statement on their website is unbelievable as it is misleading.

The truth: The recommissioning of the Tarago Dam will cost $100 million dollars for the same amount of water logging is taking away - 16 billion litres annually.

The timber available for harvesting in these forests is mostly Victorian Ash, a highly-regarded hardwood valued for uses such as floorboards and furniture. It is not easily replaced. Existing resources of plantation-grown timber are not currently suitable as a substitute.

The truth: 85% of wood taken from these forests end up as woodchips bound for the Maryvale Mill going to make Reflex copy paper or for export. According to ABARE, only 3% of native forest wood end up as appearance grade paper, not enough of a reason to justify the massive impacts.

Best regards,

The truth: So Nick we ask you again: Why is Mr Brumby logging our catchments at a future water loss of 16 billion litres, at a timber loss of $5 million dollars annually and yet asking us to give up our drinking water?


WaterSmart Team

Dept. of Sustainability and Environment

L12, 8 Nicholson St, East Melbourne VIC 3002

tel. 03 9637 8918


The state government have kindly provided the water consumers of Victoria with an interactive water coach. His name is ‘Nick’. He has been assigned to give us the answers we need and then post our questions up for everyone to use as a reference. Lets test Nick. Click on the image of Nick (below) to go to his question form. Ask Nick Why the State government is still logging catchments when their hydrologists have told them to stop if we want to maximise water. When you are done, lets see if Nick gives you the same ‘spin’ Nick seems to be giving everyone who asks this question - see below for our response from Nick.

Generic spin response From ‘Nick the DSE water coach’:

So lets see if Nick gives you a different response with our points on this issue now we’ve made ourselves clear. And lets see if any of the several hundred logging questions being currently sent to Nick make it on the website? If not, then we think the public should be very concerned that truth does not seem to be part of this Melbourne Water initiative.

Summary of Hydrological Studies and Impact of Forest Management –