The Great Southern Forest (GSF) campaign seeks to protect all of the 430,000 hectares of public native forests of the Southern and Eden Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) regions following the expiry of the RFAs.
The area in which the GSF is located suffers from some of the most intensive logging in the country, and this destruction is a driver of ongoing conflict. The intensity of logging is due to the presence of the Eden woodchip mill that processes and exports a huge quantity of native woodchips every year. Japan is a major recipient of these woodchips which are then processed to make short-lived paper products, destroying forests and driving climate change.
The GSF would see all of the regions’ magnificent forests protected in reserves of different types according to the needs of local communities. Woodchipping and native forest logging would be ended in the region. This would reconnect the landscape, increase resilience to climate change and benefit native wildlife – including koalas whose highly degraded habitat would begin to recover so that the small number left could grow their population and begin to recolonise the landscape.
Because of work done by Australia National University and the Australia Institute on carbon budgets in the region, there is a high degree of confidence that ending logging would result in substantial and rapid carbon storage in forests. Were these forests eligible for carbon credits, this carbon uptake could be monetised and used to fund forest recovery after woodchipping is ended.
The GSF would also complement existing tourism initiatives, such as Australia’s Coastal Wilderness and offer alternative options for tourism and recreation.
GSF media release from February 2017
“Conservationists met last weekend at Bermagui to discuss the future of our public native forests. They agreed that designating State Forests as protected areas would bring optimal environmental and financial outcomes.
“Members of the South East Region Conservation Alliance, the National Parks Association of NSW, and the National Trust far south coast branch, agreed to this initiative. The Nature Conservation Council endorses the GSF.
“Designating over 400,000ha of public native forests as protected areas would safeguard them from the threat of further logging for woodchips under the current anachronistic RFAs. Dr Somerset, SERCA, said,
“The RFA process fails economically and environmentally and is out of step with current climate pressures.”
She continued: “The value of carbon in the forests could be accounted for to fund jobs in forest landscape restoration and boost jobs in nature-based tourism.”
“Grahame Douglas, NPA NSW, applauded the principles of the Great Southern Forest (GSF) campaign. He stated, “There are cultural reasons why people want to protect areas. The south eastern forests and elevated landscapes represent important and unique refugia for biodiversity.”
He continued, “Climate change requires adaptation and mitigation; this means forest protection.”
“Kim Taysom, NPA, added, “Our forests are Australia’s finest asset: they are the heart and lifeblood of our country and need protection.”
“Dr Beaumont said, “The GSF will safeguard our forests, foster Indigenous involvement in forest management, lift regional employment, and protect biodiversity and wildlife.”
“Paul Payten, National Trust, noted, “Native forests are a part of our heritage which need to be protected in perpetuity and not sold off to overseas’ buyers at a loss.”
“Mr Douglas added, ‘We need to stop the woodchip industry and deliver outcomes for biodiversity, clean water, clean air, rich soils, climate, spiritual healing and enlightenment”. He concluded, “Why are we subsidising an industry which is causing so much damage to the natural environment?’
“That is the very question GSF supporters are now asking the State Government.”