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A Game-Changing Opportunity for the South East Forests

February 11, 2022

By Joslyn van der Moolen

The newly elected Member for Bega could implement a single game-changing move and reduce our current carbon emissions by about half whilst increasing jobs in both the forestry and mountain biking industries. 

These twin benefits would be achieved by simply ending native forest logging in the Eden and Southern RFA forestry regions and implementing an industry plan to focus 100 per cent on softwood plantations on marginal agricultural land. Keeping our native forests standing as a carbon sink is the simplest and most effective action that can be taken in south east NSW to reduce climate emissions.

Growing plantation trees to supply domestic construction generates more jobs than chipping public native forest as it involves planting as well as local milling and processing into wood and paper products for the domestic market.

The co-authored Frontier Economics and Professor Andrew Macintosh report Comparing the value of alternative uses of native forests in Southern NSW, released late last year, found that stopping native forest logging would have a net greenhouse gas abatement of 950,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year for the next 20 years.

So what’s stopping us from making the decision to stop native forest logging?

The Mark McGowan Labor government announced the end of native forest logging in Western Australia in September 2021. This follows the Victorian cessation of logging old growth forest and phasing out of native forest logging by 2030.

Let's keep our native forests standing as a carbon sink and focus on nature based tourism. For example, the two planned mountain bike hubs in Mogo State Forest and Bodalla State forest currently are being funded at a value of $8 million each.

Mogo Adventure Track
Mogo Adventure Track, mountain biking is a great alternative to use our state forests in a more environmentally friendly way. Photo supplied

Or do we keep going with business as usual? Business that saw Forestry Corporation NSW post a $20 million Hardwood Division loss to taxpayers in its 2020-2021 Annual Report. Business that last week saw the Chinese woodchip carrier Shanghai Express load 55,000 tonnes of woodchips from Eden. 

This by-election let's think about which future is better for our region? Keeping our forests standing as a carbon sink or continuing to export woodchips at taxpayer expense? Voting for climate action means voting for candidates that have sound policies on native forests to effect meaningful climate action in our region.

South East Shires Emissions Eden and Southern Regional Forest Agreement Areas (Native State Forest) Annual  Emissions avoided from ceasing native forest logging
  Annual Shire 2019 tonnes CO21 Pine Plantations (hectares) 2 Native State Forest (hectares) 2018/19 2 Native State Forest area as % of total Emissions avoided per year (tCO2)3 Emissions avoided as % of Shire Emissions per year
  a b c d = c/411,651 e=950,000 t CO2 x d f = e/a
Bega494,0005,561140,48034%324,19766%
Eurobodalla438,000-106,46226%245,69156%
Queanbeyan Palerang1,040,0001,35721,8585%50,4435%
Shoalhaven1,377,000-52,05213%120,1259%
Snowy Monaro735,00034,31528,8837%66,6569%
Snowy Valleys611,00098,43461,91615%142,88923%
Total4,695,000139,667411,651100%950,00020%

Source:

1. Carbon Emissions (CO2) Waste, Transport, Electricity, Gas, Agriculture not Land Use per shire (2019) CO2 Emissions Snapshots for municipalities.

2. Hectares of Softwood Plantation and Hardwood Forest Division in State Forest per council region Forestry Corporation NSW

3. Comparing the value of alternative uses of native forests in Southern NSW

Joslyn van der Moolen is a forest conservationist who moved to the south coast of NSW five years ago. Shocked by the logging of local spotted gum forests she works with local groups and agencies promoting digital citizens science surveying of state forests and carbon sink potential of our wild forests. Joslyn is the community liaison officer for the Friends of the Forest (Mogo) and a member of South East Climate Alliance.

Feature image: Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) in Mimosa Rocks National Park, south coast of NSW. Photo credit: David Gallan

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    2 comments on “A Game-Changing Opportunity for the South East Forests

    1. What a great opportunity, indeed, Jos! We did suggest this to Andrew C last time round though obviously it is more needed now. Thanks

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