Just Stop: ‘Forest War’ Claims Disrespect ANZAC Diggers!

Exclusive: Respected forester and conservationist Rob de Fégely is calling on the media to change the language around forestry.

Thu 25 Apr 24


Recent claims by activists, media, industry advocates and politicians about the existence or emergence of ‘forest wars’ are completely misleading and disrespectful, according to veteran forester and conservationist Rob de Fégely.

“The definition of War is a state of armed conflict between countries or groups of people,” he told Wood Central, adding that “in the 50 years I have been studying and working in Australian forestry, there has never been any armed conflict in Australia’s forests!”

“To describe a contentious debate and/or protest as warfare is not only misleading but an insult to people in Ukraine, the Middle East and any other parts of the world where communities are intimidated or threatened by armed force and conflict.”

“It is also a massive insult to our returned service personnel, past and present, who have endured the horrors of real global conflicts. We will never know what they have endured and suffered due to their bravery.”

“However, I am in awe of how many carried their experiences stoically and bravely to make great contributions to building our wonderful economy and community on their return from active service. We owe them a lot,” he said.

“Sadly, in my opinion, claims of ‘forest wars’ are designed to heighten outrage in our caring but often uninformed communities.”

It is an abuse of our language!

He said that the debate over how we use our natural resources to meet the twin demands of conservation and consumption for 8 billion people on our planet is important, “but it needs to be respectful of the range of opinions and knowledge.”

“Everyone deserves three meals per day, to be well clothed and housed, which means we need to produce food, clothing and housing materials somewhere on our planet.”

“Avoiding impact is impossible,” he said. 

The challenge, particularly with wood production, is to develop a natural system with minimal inputs that has multiple benefits, including conservation, recreation and production. “Australia’s trained foresters work hard to achieve this.”

“Everyone loves wood, which is the perfect renewable resource as we can grow, harvest, and regrow it in perpetuity. Unlike wind turbines and solar panels, it does not require the mining of critical minerals to fulfil its functions.”

Despite being the sixth most forested country in the world, Australia cannot meet its demand, “so we rely on wood imports from forests overseas where harvesting standards are often far lower than ours.”

“As we prepare to honour our returned service personnel this ANZAC day and reflect on the armed conflicts past and present, I am tempted to say ‘shame on you’, but I will simply say show more respect!”

  • Rob de Fégely AM is a Registered Forestry Professional, a Director of Margules Groome Consulting, Chair of Sustainable Timber Tasmania and a Director of Forestry Corporation of NSW. The comments are his personal comments and do not reflect the opinion of the entities he works for.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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