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People Power Brings Native Forests One Step Closer to Protection

August 7, 2022

In an act of solidarity for our forests, an enormous number of people acted to force a discussion on the ending of native forest logging. The NSW Parliament is now compelled to debate the future of native forests logging after more than 20,000 people signed the parliamentary e-petition.

The petition calls for an end an end to native forest logging and the transition to a 100 per cent plantation-based industry by 2024.  

In the interim, all high-conservation-value state forests should be transferred to national parks and the use of native forest materials for energy generation (electricity and hydrogen) should be banned immediately. 

The parliamentary e-petition was drafted and promoted by a large range of groups interested in forest conservation, including South Coast organisation Brooman State Forest Conservation Group. 

The Legislative Assembly is scheduled to debate the petition sometime in September.  

Group spokesperson Takesa Frank lives in the Brooman State Forest and has been instrumental in developing the petition.

Group spokesperson Takesa Frank lives in the Brooman State Forest and has been instrumental in developing the petition to stop logging native forests
Group spokesperson Takesa Frank lives in the Brooman State Forest and has been instrumental in developing the petition. Photo supplied

Ending public native forest logging is so important,” Ms Frank said. “It’s time NSW follows in the steps of Western Australia and Victoria, which have committed to transitioning out of public native forest logging by 2024 and 2030 respectively.”

In 2019-20, 80 per cent of South Coast forests were burnt in the Black Summer bushfires. Many of these forests are yet to recover, however NSW Forestry began logging these forests one month after these fires. These forests and others are still being logging today and Forestry Corporation has no plans to stop logging these areas in the future.

Ms Frank is a proud Aboriginal woman living on Yuin country on the South Coast.

“In my culture we have deep care and respect for our environment from our oceans and lakes to our forests,” she said. “Under current NSW policies, we are destroying our country and environment, especially our native forests.”

big row of logs from mature native tree logging in NSW south coast state forests
Mature native trees are logged in bushfire affected NSW south coast state forests, it needs to stop. Photo supplied

“I live surrounded by the Brooman State Forest in the Shoalhaven and have so my entire life. In 2019-2020 I watched the forest burn around me and since then I have heard machines destroy the same forest and watch trees fall from my balcony. I am passionate about ending public native logging because I am seeing firsthand the damage caused by NSW Forestry and the logging industry.”

“The time to end public native logging in NSW is now.” 

Native Forest logging is an outdated, loss-making industry, propped up by taxpayer subsidies. In the 2020-21 year the hardwood division of Forestry Corporation ran at a massive loss of 20 million dollars.   

“Stopping logging in native forests will help dozens of threatened species heading towards extinction,” said Wilson Harris who works with Nature Conservation Council as its forest campaigner. “This is one of the single biggest actions we can take to turn around the extinction crisis, which, following the findings of the NSW 2021 State of the Environment Report, is an action we have to take immediately.” 
 
Over the past couple of months, Forestry Corporation has been prosecuted or  
fined five times by the courts as a result of illegal logging.

“It clearly shows a state-owned corporation that has a blatant disregard for the environment and a culture of ‘log first, ask questions later’, Mr Harris said. “As a result, Forestry Corporation has been ordered to pay fines and costs of $530,600 recently and faces the potential of a further $18 million in fines.” 
 
“The government needs to listen to the community and commit to ending this industry and develop a plan to phase out of native forest logging into 100 per cent plantation timber.”  

Photo, from left to right, of Alison Worthington (Greens councillor of Eurobodalla Shire Council), Cate Faehrman (Australian Greens) and Takesa Frank (spokesperson for Brooman State Forest Conservation Group) with a sign stating Stop Logging the Forest
From left to right: Alison Worthington (Greens councillor for Eurobodalla Shire Council), Cate Faehrman (Australian Greens) and Takesa Frank (spokesperson for Brooman State Forest Conservation Group) campaigning to stop native forest logging. Photo supplied

FULL TEXT OF THE PETITON  

The petition has now closed and will be debated in the lower house in September. We include the wording of the petition for your interest.

To the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly,  

Public native forest logging is pushing iconic species like the koala, swift parrot and greater glider towards extinction.  

The 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires burnt over 5 million hectares of forest and have left them more vulnerable to the impacts of logging.  

The Natural Resources Commission (NRC) and the Environmental Protection Agency have recommended that in bushfire affected areas logging should cease entirely or face tighter restrictions, as current logging practices may cause irreversible damage to ecosystems and wildlife.  

Logging of public native forests is tax-payer subsidised. Forestry Corporation’s Hardwood Division has been operating at a significant loss for the past decade.  

In 2020/21 it ran at a loss of $20 million, with predictions that it will face losses of $15 million until 2024.  

Reports also show our state forests can generate far more income through their protection than from logging, through recreation, tourism and carbon abatement.  

The Western Australian and Victorian Governments have already committed to ending this industry and have developed transition plans to support affected workers and businesses.  

The petitioners ask the Legislative Assembly to:  

1. Develop a plan to transition the native forestry industry to 100% sustainable plantations by 2024.  

2. In the interim, place a moratorium on public native forest logging until the regulatory framework reflects the recommendations of the leaked NRC report.  

3. Immediately protect high-conservation value forests through gazettal in the National Parks estate.  

4. Ban use of native forest materials as biomass fuel.

You can follow the Brooman State Forest Conservation group via facebook here.

Feature image: People power brings native forests one step closer to protection. Stop native logging activists in Brooman State Forest. Photo supplied

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