Do current forestry practices threaten forest fauna? A perspective
Wayne Braithwaite, 2004. "Do current forestry practices threaten forest fauna? A perspective", Conservation of Australia's Forest Fauna, Daniel Lunney
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The question posed is whether current forestry practices threaten forest fauna? No confident direct answer can be given to this question. There are numerous reasons for this uncertainty. The question entails ‘proof of the negative’ which, in science, is typically a difficult task. Necessary observations of a sufficiently broad and relevant nature and over a sufficient time frame are of an anecdotal kind and few in number. There is a large number of fauna species involved, many of them rare and about which relatively little is known or it is difficult to obtain information concerning them. There are problems of scale in undertaking the appropriate scientific study of the possible impacts of forestry activities on native fauna. Then there is also the long time frame of logging cycles. Given sufficient time highly improbable contingencies have a propensity to become probable.
An indirect answer to the question is offered by way of the provision of comment on over-arching priorities in the future conservation management of our forest fauna. Knowledge and information in two themes are canvassed. The first theme relates to our own species, or rather to our capacity for technological innovation and, as a consequence of that innovation, our impact on the environment. The second theme concerns our knowledge of the ecological resource requirements of the fauna in which we are interested, together with a perspective on the nature and reasons for our losses of this fauna.
The core strategy in the future conservation management of forest fauna I see should be that of Popper's inverse (or negative) utilitarian. Rather than focussing on positive management the aim should be to identify and set priorities to avoid or minimise undesirable impacts of our human uses of the Australian landscape: to identify and ameliorate the undesirable impacts, or better, to desist from doing those things that are harming our fauna. In the context of the above strategy all evidence suggests that government decisions and policies that encourage or condone the permanent clearing of the native vegetation from lands of better quality soils, irrespective of land tenure, if continued, will probably have the most damaging of impacts on Australia's native fauna. In that same context the evidence indicates that whilst such land clearing continues, concern over threats to our native fauna by current forestry practices would be considerably misdirected.