Logging stings honey

Tristan WheelerManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Pemberton Honey owner Michael Cernotta is worried about the impact logging will have on his business.
Camera IconPemberton Honey owner Michael Cernotta is worried about the impact logging will have on his business. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times

Pemberton Honey and Whispering Woods owner Michael Cernotta is concerned about the impact Forest Products Commission logging in the Treenbrook area will have on his businesses.

Mr Cernotta’s estimate is that logging the native forest that surrounds his property will cost his business over $1 million.

“The biggest impact we will feel is with the beekeeping business, because it’s a very valuable resource that we can’t access from our property,” he said.

Bees harvest karri flowers up to 3km from their hives and Mr Cernotta said 800ha of prime beekeeping bush had been lost, with hundreds of hectares to be harvested in the next three years.

“That forest, along with all the other areas that are clear-felled in our State, is now useless for up to 40 years while we wait for the trees to regrow,” he said.

“Beekeepers receive no compensation for the loss of a resource like this, despite paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a year as an industry to have access to State forests.

“Adding salt to the wound, the Treenbrook 12 coupe has an incredible amount of bud on the trees that was due to flower in six months.

“We having been waiting for that crop for five years.”

A Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions spokesperson said that from 2015 to 2019, 396ha of the Treenbrook Forest block had been harvested — 158 thinned and 238 clear-felled — with an additional 770ha scheduled for harvesting between 2020 and 2022.

Mr Cernotta said the distinction between clear fell and thinning was irrelevant for the purposes of beekeeping, as the volume of trees that remained were not enough to produce honey.

Forest Products Commission operations director Gavin Butcher said Treenbrook was an example of successful forest management practices.

“Treenbrook is an area of forest that was clear felled and successfully regenerated in the 1930s, and is an outstanding example of sustainable forest management,” he said.

“The harvest of regrowth forest in Treenbrook has been ongoing since the 1980s and supports the timber industry, as well as providing other values to the community.”

Mr Cernotta believes the logging will also negatively impact Whispering Woods, his accommodation and venue business.

“(Regarding) the visual amenity and the aesthetics, we sell an experience-based business here with the weddings and the cabins,” he said.

“If you take away that asset and people are driving through a clear felled forest, what’s the likelihood that they’ll ever want to come back?”

Mr Butcher said the FPC was attempting to minimise the impact on neighbouring areas and businesses.

“To address these concerns, the FPC has amended harvest boundaries, planned to thin rather than clear fell some areas and established undisturbed buffers to maintain views,” he said.

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