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Are words enough to save our native forests?

December 27, 2018

The State and Federal Governments approved renewal of the Regional Forest Agreements before receiving public feedback. This decision will mean another 20 years of destruction for 432,575ha of public native forests in the Eden and Southern Regions of NSW–mostly woodchips for Asia and, at a loss to taxpayers.  The rules which govern logging (Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals) have changed to increase the damage.  Logging will now be permitted closer to streams, in old growth forests and in rainforests.  Thus, the sector’s oft-used term ‘sustainable forest harvesting’ is proven to be false.

Time will tell if the Great Southern Forest’s (GSF) well-articulated, logical proposal for conservation of the public native forests of south east NSW changes government opinion.

The GSF was conceived in 2012 by members of the National Parks Association Far South Coast branch to champion restorative and adaptive approaches to native forest management (as distinct from plantations).   Decades of research and experience have filtered down to form the essential elements, principles and strong arguments within the GSF proposal for native forest protection.

This initiative supports ‘justice for forests’ based on history, science, local knowledge and expertise and was written by people who value conservation of forests over industrial extraction.

The GSF proposal has been endorsed by over 40 conservation and community groups. See: http://www.greatsouthernforest.org.au  GSF’s FaceBook page has engaged thousands of users with local and regional environmental activities.  The message is simple: forests are of more intrinsic and economic value in the ground than from being logged.

The jury is still out on whether the results of the Federal and State Governments’ poorly run triple public feedback process will save our remaining native forests from loss-making logging for woodchips. For the first of their three feedback opportunities, seven government departments compiled over 400,000 words of background reading material for public ingestion.  Background material for the subsequent two feedback opportunities came close to equalling War and Peace.

people who are currently opposing logging of Corunna State Forest
people who are currently opposing logging of Corunna State Forest

Most submissions opposed further native forest logging.  If words aren’t convincing enough, the history of southeast NSW’s decades-long campaigns is meaningfully captured in David Gallan’s Understory and Aftermath.  Wildlife footage is absolutely stunning and re-enforces the critical need to conserve these fragile and beautiful creatures’ natural habitat to safeguard their survival. Walking through a beautiful coastal spotty gum forest to breathe in its beauty and then trudging through a logged coop to gasp at the destruction, should remove all doubt about the critical need for forest protection.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”  Rachel Carson, Silent Spring.

Dr Bronte Somerset | bjsomerset@gmail.com | 0487635539
Founder: Great Southern Forest | http://www.greatsouthernforest.org.au

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