The single greatest threat to the future of the Tarkine as a wild area, and of the myriad forms of animal and plant life that the Tarkine supports, is logging. Large areas of forest within the proposed Tarkine National Park has been designated as being open to the wood-chipping industry (RFA 1997), which allows for logging and extraction of large volumes of timber for wood-chipping, largely via highly destructive clearfell logging practices, where every tree is cut down, and the area is then fire-bombed. Logging is currently occurring in ancient Old-growth Eucalypt forests within critically important parts of the proposed Tarkine National Park, and whilst significant tracts of rainforest in the Tarkine were protected in 2005, there are still very important areas of ancient rainforest in the Tarkine that are open to logging.
Logging is occurring and is proposed within significant tracts of myrtle rainforest in the Tarkine. The Tarkine contains a significant proportion of the rainforest on basalt soils within state forest in Tasmania. The Tarkine contains the largest tract of contiguous wilderness rainforest on the continent, and logging of rainforest within the Tarkine is degrading these extraordinary wilderness values. In other Australian states, reservation of rainforest is close to 100%.
Even selective logging in myrtle rainforests inflicts significant and unacceptable environmental damage. Logging destroys the wilderness qualities of the rainforest, allows a pathway for pests and disease, and dramatically increases the risk of fire within the rainforest. Logging also leads to a dramatic increase in the incidence of a natural disease called myrtle wilt, leading to an exponentiating zone of myrtle death around logged areas. (Kirkpatrick. J 2003) Myrtle wilt is naturally occurring to a small degree in Tasmanias rainforests and predominantly affects older trees within the stands, however the disease is significantly exacerbated by disturbance, such as forestry operations, as damage to the trees by machinery facilitates infection by the pathogen (Packham 1991). Localised effects of this disease are increased by activities such as roading and logging. Myrtle rainforest takes many hundreds of years to reach climax state, and logging destroys these ancient rainforest stands.
Whilst much work has been done and progress has been made to protect the Tarkine’s Rainforests all of the Tarkines Rainforests need proper protection as a National Park. Only a very small fraction of the Tarkines Rainforests are fully protected, as many of the rainforests protected from logging are still open to environmentally destructive practices such as mining and road-building.
Eucalypt and Mixed Forest Logging
The Tarkine contains some very important ancient, old-growth tall eucalypt and mixed forest ecosystems. These awe-inspiring forests contain giant trees up to several hundred years old. Logging operations threaten the future of these ancient forests. Those forests that adjoin forestry operations are also placed at risk, through the increased risk of fire escape from post logging burns, combined with roading impacts and spreading of the disease Phytophthora cinnamomi (root-rot). These forests also contribute largely to the maintenance of native wildlife by providing habitat islands and corridors, to allow the passage of animals between the Norfolk Range and the coast.
There are a number of logging coupes currently occurring and proposed within eucalypt and mixed forests in the Tarkine, and there have been some horrendous clearfell logging operations in Eucalypt forests in the North-Western sections of the Tarkine near places like the Frankland river in recent years. A large majority of these eucalypt and mixed eucalypt forests are old-growth. The logging regimes proposed and occurring within these forests, destroy the old-growth mixed forest ecosystem, and cause consequent damage to soil, water quality and regional biodiversity. Many of these mixed forest-logging coupes have been replaced with plantations species. These wet and dry eucalypt forests are targeted by the woodchip industry, and large areas of Old-growth Eucalypt forests within the proposed Tarkine National Park will be destroyed if the State or Federal government fails to step-in to fully protect the Tarkine.