>home >news >alerts >events >links >about fn >forest facts >contact us

Site Search: Rimbunan Hijau Watch __Masalai i tokaut
search tips sitemap

Forest Facts

What happens to native forests

Central Highlands Statistics

"Realities for the Nineties and Diet for New America" by John Robbins

When it takes 5000 litres to make a Big Mac

Facts and Figures on Autralia's Environment

Bioregions Australian Native Vegetation Assessment 2001



60% of Victoria's Forests have been cleared since European settlement.

85% of native forest felled in Victoria is used for woodchipping.

More than 60% of timber produced in Australia currently comes from plantations, which are rapidly taking over from native forest logging.This is not necessarily a good thing, plantations have serious environmental impacts.

The native forests logging industry is heavily subsidized - by around $140 million a year.

The Keating Government's cave-in to the logging industry in early 1995 left Victoria with only 14 out of 762 high conservation value forest areas gaining protection.

Since export woodchipping began, there has been a 40% increase in forest felled and a 40% decline in jobs in the native forest logging industry.

Export woodchipping accounts for a mere 2% of direct jobs in the timber industry.

Source - Environment Victoria.

Australian forests now cover 164 million hectares which is 21% of land area and 60% of the original cover. Australia has lost 25% rainforest, 45% of open forest, 32% woodland forest and 30% of mallee forest in 200 years. Note that these figures only refer to forest cover removed not forest converted from old growth to regrowth.

Conservation reserves cover 16% of 164m/h or about 16m/h in total. The global average is 8%.

RF covers 4.3m/h (2.6% of all forest). 25% or about 1m/h of rainforest is protected. According to current definitions there is only 15000 hectares of RF in Victoria.

Of this 164m/h , 122 m/h is woodland & mallee.

Plantations cover 1.3 m/h (71% introduced pine species).

Victorian forest covers 7.7 m/h which is 34% of the states land area and 5% of Australian forest. RF= 0.2%, 70% open forest and 29% woodland. 85% of forest is on public land

Source - Environment Australia

Source - The Widerness Society

Central Highlands Statistics

About one hour east of Melbourne.

Cover more than one million hectares.

Supply 3 million Victorians with drinking water.

5 catchments supplying 28% of Melbournes drinking water are open to clearfell logging which reduces water quantity (yields down by up to 50% and taking 150 years to recover) and quality (roads alone can input 45-60 tonnes of sediment per hectare per year into catchment rivers).

Timber versus water - if the Thompson catchment alone were not logged the Victorian community would be $147 million better off.

Rare and threatened species - Leadbeaters possum, Spotted tree frog, Baw Baw frog, Tall Astelia lily, Barred Galaxias (fish), Sooty, Powerful and Barking Owls.

The RFA process allows 500,000 tonnes of timber to be removed every year for the next twenty years. 70-80% of this timber will end up as woodchips.


The figures below are from "Realities for the Nineties and Diet for New America" by John Robbins


User of more than half of all water consumed for all purposes in the United States: Livestock production

In California the number of gallons of water needed to produce I edible pound of:

Tomatoes 23 Wheat 25
Grapes 70 Chicken 815
Lettuce 23 Carrots 33
Milk 130 Pork 1630
Potatoes 24 Apples 49
Egg 544 Beef 5214
Oranges 65    


How long it takes a person to use 5200 gallons of water showering (at 5 showers week, 5 minutes per shower, with a flow rate of 4 gallons per minute). One year.

Pounds of edible product that can be produced on an acre of prime land:

Cherries 5,000 Apples 20,000
Potatoes 40,000 Celery 60,000
Green beans I0,000 Carrots 30,000
Tomatoes 50,000 Beef 250


Number of complete vegetarians who can be fed on the amount of land needed to feed I person consuming a meat-based diet: 15

Calories of fossil fuel expended to produce I calorie of protein frombeef: 78

Calories of fossil fuel expended to produce1 calorie of protein from soybeans: 2

Number of acres of U.S. forest which have been cleared to create cropland, pastureland and rangeland currently producing a meat?centered diet: 260,000,000

Number of acres of U.S. land which could be returned to forest if Americans adopted a Meat-free diet and ceased exporting livestock feed: 204,000,000

Number of acres of U.S. land, which could be returned, to forest for each American who adopts a meat-free diet: 0.8

Amount of U.S. mothers' milk containing significant levels or DDT. 99%

Amount of U.S. vegetarian mothers' milk containing significant levels of DDT. 8%

Average chemical pollution of breast milk in US women compared to complete vegetarians according to one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine: 35 times higher

Dairy industry advertising claim: Milk is nature's most perfect food

Reality: Milk is nature's most perfect food for a calf, who has four stomachs, 50 will double its weight in 47 days, and can weigh up to 1000 pounds within a year.

Dairy industry advertising claim: To grow up big and strong, drink lots of milk

Reality: The enzyme necessary for digestion of milk is lactase. 20% of Caucasians and up to 90% of black and Asian people have no lactase in their intestines, causing cramps, bloating and diarrhea upon drinking milk.

Amount of total antibiotics used in U.S. fed routinely to livestock: 55%

Staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1960: 13%

Staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1988: 91%

Major contributing cause: Breeding of antibiotic resistant bacteria in factory farms due to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock.

Effectiveness of antibiotics: Declining rapidly

Major contributing cause: Breeding of antibiotic resistant bacteria in factory farms due to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock.

The meat, dairy and egg industries tell us: We are well-fed only with animal products.

Reality: The diseases which can be commonly prevented, consistently improved, and sometimes cured by a low-fat diet, free from animal products, include Strokes Heart disease Prostate cancer Breast cancer Osteoporosis Colon cancer Hypertension Trichinosis Salmonellosis Hypoglycemia Peptic ulcers Endometrial cancer Diabetes Hemorrhoids Obesity Asthma Constipation Diverticulosis Irritable colon syndrome Gallstones

Percentage of male college students sterile in 1950: 0.5

Percentage of male college students sterile in 1978: Up to 25

Sperm count of average American male compared to 30 years ago: Down 30%

Major contributor to sterility and sperm count reduction in U.S. males: Chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides, including dioxin, DDT, etc.

Meat industry advertising claims the dioxin and other pesticides in today 's beef are not a concern because: The quantities are so small

A mere ounce of dioxin could kill I million people.

When it takes 5000 litres to make a Big Mac

Letter to The Melbourne Age October 12, 2006

I AM an irrigator. On our farm we normally use about 1,500,000,000 litres of irrigation water annually to supplement the 2,400,000,000 litres of rain that falls on our 600 hectares. More rain, less irrigation water needed, but overall water is absolutely essential for our farm system. With reasonable rain and availability of irrigation water we produce 3,000,000 litres of milk and about 30,000 kilograms of beef and veal annually. This output also depends on 800 tonnes of wheat we buy annually from neighbours who use about 180,000,000 litres of rain plus irrigation water to grow it. So overall it takes about 1500 litres of water to produce a litre of milk in our farming system. Trials have shown this to be at the top end of the water efficiency scale.

The picture for other efficient farming systems can be calculated easily and shows the litres of water to produce a kilogram of yearling beef is about 40,000; lamb, 60,000; rice, 1600; wheat, 2000; peaches 450. And rest assured that our farmers are among the best on the planet in achieving these water use efficiencies.

The water debate rarely, if ever, reflects on the water to produce food on farm. A simple Big Mac needs at least 5000 litres of farm water (and the meals in Epicure take many times more). If we restrict Melbourne's citizens to two Big Macs per day, total on-farm water used to grow the ingredients would be 3,500,000 people times 10,000 litres. This is about 36 gigalitres on farm from rain and irrigation water, or around 13,000 gigalitres annually.

Farmers, especially those who irrigate, ensure product quality and continuity of supply for incredibly low-price food in Melbourne. Supermarkets cannot understand why the suburban media dabbles in the water debate at such a trite level. The reported 300 litres a day to wash and toilet a Melburnian overwhelms the media's thinking yet most people require well over 10,000 litres a day to grow their food. Moreover, they expect farmers to provide this food for a pittance: all our milk is sold as fresh milk in Melbourne and Sydney, and we receive 24 cents a litre; our beef is lucky to bring $2 a kilogram.

If I could buy "temporary trade" water for $200 per megalitre, under current conditions the water cost per litre of milk produced is about 30 cents. So it is no wonder that your economics editor, Tim Colebatch, believes there will be farmers prepared to sell their water to the city ("Living with the big dry", Opinion, 10/10). And banks will be coercing farmers to sell their water. After all, our governments see these types of farmers as "willing sellers".

Meanwhile, those of us remaining as irrigation farmers will face sharply increasing costs for the operation and maintenance of the irrigation infrastructure as the water goes urban. Then one day urbanites, while taking a shower, may contemplate the cause of availability and price problems with their food.

Barry Croke, Naringaningalook

World Environment Day 2002

Facts and Figures on Autralia's Environment

Australia is one of only 17 megadiverse countries in the world, that is it is home to a very high number different life forms. Other megadiverse countries include Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Madagascar, China, India, and Indonesia. Together they are home to three-quarters of all the planet's lifeforms.

Australia is home to more than one million species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.

About 85 per cent of Australia's flowering plants, 84 per cent of mammals, more than 45 per cent of birds, and 89 per cent of inshore, temperate-zone fish are endemic - that is they are only found in Australia.

Australia is also very rich in some groups of particular species such as the Acacias (or wattles), comprising perhaps 1070 species, subspecies and varieties.

Up to 70 per cent of international tourists come to Australia to experience our natural assets, including our unique plant and animal life.

It is estimated by researchers that the economic contribution of the koala to the Australian tourism industry is $1.1 billion per year through its iconic role in attracting international tourists

About 40 million hectares, or 6.4 per cent of the Australian continent, are protected under the terrestrial reserve system.

Australia's marine area extends about 16 million square kilometres, from Antarctic to near equatorial latitudes, more than double the size of Australia's land mass. It includes one of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones in the world (11 million square kilometres).

Australia's oceans hold 4,000 fish types of the 22,000 known worldwide.

They are home to the largest area of coral reefs and 30 of the world's 58 seagrass species.

Australia was one of the first countries in the world to ratify the World Heritage Convention in 1974.

There are now 14 Australian areas on the World Heritage list, the most famous of which are Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Kakadu National Park, the Daintree rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef is made of 207,000 square kilometers of living coral polyps. It is one of the wonders of the world and the largest structure ever built by living things. The Reef is home to 500 species of coral and 2000 species of fish, along with other sea life.

Australia has the world's third largest area of mangroves, covering 11,600 square kilometers. Mangroves fringe 22 per cent of Australia's coast. Over 60 species of crabs inhabit mangrove mudflats and 200 species of birds have been recorded on mangroves, 14 of which are confined to the habitat.

The world's tallest flowering plant is found in Victoria - the East Gippsland mountain ash grows to 100 metres high.

About 70 per cent of Australia's land mass is covered by a mosaic of arid habitats linked by dry watercourses and broken ranges. A wide variety of wildlife is adapted to live in parts of the mosaic - small dragon lizards in dunes, while kangaroos and birds, such as cockatoos and parrots range of large areas in search of water.

Australia has 56 wetlands, covering around 5.3 million hectares, listed as sites of International Importance under the Convention on Wetlands (known as the Ramsar Convention). These include Kakadu National Park, the Gippsland Lakes, Roebuck Bay, Myall Lakes and the Ord River Floodplain

Since 1996, through the Governments Coastcare program more than 60,000 people and nearly 2,000 community groups have tackled a range of projects including weed removal, dune and headland protection, wetland restoration, the construction of boardwalks and viewing platforms, cultural awareness and marine and intertidal zone awareness.

Nearly 3000 Waterwatch community groups monitor the quality of our water in 200 catchments around the country. Regular monitoring occurs at approximately 5,000 sites nationally.

Australian May 25 2002

Bioregions Australian Native Vegetation Assessment 2001, a report by the National Land and Water Resources Audit, finds that less than half of Australia's bioregions (areas with distict landscapes) are in good health and about 10% are under stress.

The most environmentally stressed regions are in south-west WA, the Tasmanian midlands, southern Queensland and the lowlands of Queensland's wet tropics. Australia-wide, 13% of the continent has been cleared.

Most cleared land is used for settlement and agriculture and concentrated on the more fertile soils. Over one quarter of eucalypt woodland have been cleared since settlement, accounting for 45% of the nation's clearing.

Over one third of the mallee has been cleared, accounting for 14% of the total.

About 15% of inland acacia vegetation (largely brigalow and mulga) has been cleared, accounting for 10% of the total.

About 30% of rainforest has been cleared, accounting for 1% of the total.

Nearly half the heathland has been cleared, accounting for 2% of the total.

About 10% of tussock grassland has been cleared, accounting for 6% of th total. Colin Creighton, executive director of the audit, said that once native vegetation falls below 30%, biodiversity suffers, with native fauna falling in both population and species. Of the 85 bio-regions, 5 (4 in south-east Australia and the Avon wheat belt in WA) are below 30%,. Another 22 have between 30% and 70%.


For more interesting facts go to the

Australia's State of the Forests Report 2003 - Summary PDF - Downloads

OREN site

Kim and Julies site

Forest Facts


Australia's Native Vegetation Map