Calls for an end to logging NSW’s public native forests are growing. One of the reasons for this call relates to threats to our biodiversity. Healthy native forests ecosystems provide essential habitat for native species including threatened species like koalas. Also forests with mature trees provide the hollows needed for a range of threatened birds such as parrots and large owls and arboreal mammals including gliders. Current logging practices destroy this important habitat value at a time when we are experiencing a growing biodiversity crisis.
Another reason is that our State Forests are vitally important in our efforts to mitigate climate change by providing an important store of carbon. Destroying forests releases carbon that has been stored over the trees’ lifetimes and contributes to climate change. Ceasing native forest logging will be a key component in successfully meeting our 2050 net zero emissions target.
Logging these important publicly-owned natural resources is unsustainable now – let alone in the long term – because of the damage it causes.
Having recognised this problem in their states, Victoria and Western Australia have decided to phase out native forestry logging. While their decisions were influenced by science, strong community campaigns eventually encouraged them to act. In NSW there is increasing community support for our government to take this action and many conservationists and others are urging the NSW Government to follow their example and phase out logging our public forests. Obviously a comprehensive transition plan for the current public forests industry will need to be developed as the plantation-based industry is expanded. Expansion of the plantations must only be on land that is currently cleared.
Public native forest logging is also economically unsustainable. The Forestry Corporation loses money each year with a loss of $20 million last year. A recent study by ANU’s Professor Andrew Macintosh and Frontier Economics found that ceasing native forestry logging in the south of NSW could produce over the period 2022-2041 a net economic benefit of about $60 million while reducing net greenhouse emissions by about 1 million tonnes per year.
- Leonie Blain
Published in the "Voices for the Earth" column in The Clarence Valley Independent , June 22, 2022.