08. December 2021

Timber advocates use freedom of information to access emails from scientist and journalists


Timber advocates use freedom of information to access emails from scientist and journalists

By Miki Perkins and Mike Foley

Timber business advocates have used freedom of information requests to access emails between outstanding Australian National University scientist ecologist David Lindenmayer and atmosphere journalists.

In a freedom of information (FOI) request lodged with ANU, a timber business advocate utilized to access any emails between Professor Lindenmayer and The Age’s atmosphere reporter Miki Perkins. The similar individual, who can’t be named, additionally requested emails between Professor Lindenmayer and Michael Foley, the local weather and power correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Professor David Lindenmayer.

Professor David Lindenmayer.Credit:Michael Clayton-Jones

In a separate software, Justin Law, the managing director of Forest and Wood Communities Australia, made an FOI request for emails between Professor Lindenmayer, ANU analysis fellow Chris Taylor and the ABC’s nationwide science know-how and atmosphere reporter, Michael Slezak.

Professor Lindenmayer is one of the world’s most cited scientists, and has beforehand clashed with the Australian forestry business over his name to instantly finish native forest logging. He says his analysis reveals logging makes native forests extra inclined to fireplace as a result of they lose moisture and develop again extra densely. These findings have been challenged by another scientists.

Professor Lindenmayer mentioned he was shocked to obtain the FOI requests, and described the method as attempting to “shoot the messenger”.


“I do my work to make my contribution to the country and it’s impossible for journalists to keep up with science these days, so we’re asked to communicate our results, as we should,” Professor Lindenmayer mentioned.

“This whole process of trying to shoot the messenger – which is journalists – and beating up on scientists is not in the spirit of trying to progress discussions and debates.”

Professor Lindenmayer has greater than 30 years’ expertise in ecology and has written greater than 1000 printed objects, together with greater than 600 scientific papers in worldwide journals and 40 books.

Justin Law is the managing director of Forest and Wood Communities Australia, which describes itself on its web site as representing households and communities that depend on a “prosperous timber industry and want to see us stand up to bad government policy and bias [sic] media”. Mr Law mentioned the group has 350 monetary members.

In response to questions, Mr Law mentioned he made the FOI request of the ABC on behalf of his organisation to get a greater understanding of the connection between the ANU’s Fenner School of Environment and Society [where Professor Lindenmayer works] and “some sectors of the media which appear to support and willing amplify the views of a number of academics on issues which affect our membership”.

Mr Law mentioned his organisation supported impartial scientific assessments which examined hypotheses.

He agreed to difficulty a public apology in April after Professor Lindenmayer sued him for defamation within the Victorian County Court after Mr Law made private assaults on him on social media.

In his apology, posted on social media, Mr Law mentioned he accepted his statements could possibly be interpreted as which means Professor Lindenmayer’s opinion didn’t deserve to be thought of.

A spokesperson for ANU mentioned it supported Professor Lindenmayer, and described him as a world-renowned scientist and one of the main forestry consultants on the planet.


“We actively encourage all ANU researchers to engage with the media,” the spokesperson mentioned.

“We would be deeply concerned if external forces were attempting to gag our researchers from speaking to the media, especially if it was motivated by a disagreement with the research or scholarly ideas produced by our experts.”

The ANU launched some emails via the FOI course of.

Last 12 months greater than 100 Australian and worldwide scientists wrote to the Andrews authorities to again Professor Lindenmayer after the pinnacle of Victoria’s logging company, VicForests chief govt Monique Dawson, refused to settle for his printed opinions or “consider him an authority”. At the time, a spokesperson for VicForests mentioned many lecturers and fireplace consultants agreed that harvesting didn’t elevate fireplace danger.

The ABC declined to touch upon the matter.

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