Labor must ask whether industrialised native forest logging has a place in an era of climate and wildlife crises.

Labor’s forestry plan, released today by Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Joel Fitzgibbon, raises concerns that Labor is poised to repeat the mistakes of the past and fail to learn from international experience, says the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA).

While welcoming the focus on plantations, NPA is calling on Labor to honour its previous commitment to review Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) in light of up to date science on climate change and threatened species[1] and timber industry research that shows a strong majority of Australians strongly oppose the logging of native forests[2].

“The NSW RFA renewal process was a box ticking exercise that cherry-picked industry research downplaying the impact of logging on carbon stores and climate change and ignored the large volume of independent science[3] that shows protecting forests is the only way to maximise carbon storage”, said NPA’s Senior Ecologist, Dr Oisín Sweeney.

“The new RFAs underpin an appalling new logging regime in NSW[4] that permits clearfelling in prime koala habitat, the logging of giant, hollow-bearing trees and clears the way for the logging of areas of protected old-growth forests.

“It’s beyond doubt that this will impact on nationally threatened species, yet the Commonwealth government has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to the environment and signed them anyway. Labor must do better should they be elected, otherwise more extinctions are inevitable.

“We contend that Mr Fitzgibbon’s expression of support for RFAs is pre-emptive. Why support a framework that has been shown repeatedly to have failed to protect forest wildlife, failed to underpin a thriving timber industry and resulted in a scenario where a strong majority of people oppose logging2 and support funding workers to exit the industry[5]?

“Almost unbelievably, Mr Fitzgibbon also appeared to open the door to burning native forests for electricity. This approach is a climate and ecological catastrophe. How do we know? Because overseas, protected forests are being felled to feed into power stations[6], and scientists are calling out burning forests as driving, not solving, the climate crisis[7].

“We hope that, should they be elected, Labor will recognise that protecting forests from industrialised logging offers a way to deal with both the climate and wildlife crises facing Australia.”

ENDS.
 
MEDIA CONTACT: Oisín Sweeney | 9299 0000


[1]In March 2018, Tony Burke and Joel Fitzgibbon said in a joint statement that: “Labor will always support proper, independent and full scientific assessments of RFA outcomes as part of the agreed framework. This includes all relevant science, including climate science and impacts on threatened species”. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/29/labor-vows-full-scientific-assessment-of-logging-agreements

[2]https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/bush-turns-its-back-on-support-for-logging-native-forests-20181113-p50frc.html

[3]For example: Keith et. al. 2015; http://dx.doi.org/10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0139640; Keith et. al. 2018;https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2018.11.001

[4]https://theconversation.com/proposed-nsw-logging-laws-value-timber-over-environmental-protection-97863

[5]https://www.kiamaindependent.com.au/story/6083708/pollies-must-tackle-this-issue/?cs=12

[6]https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/24/protected-forests-in-europe-felled-to-meet-eu-renewable-targets-report?CMP=share_btn_fb

[7]https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/14/eu-must-not-burn-the-worlds-forests-for-renewable-energy

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