WORTH MORE STANDING - Native forests in NSW are one of our greatest natural assets
Native forests are a vital part of the life support system on Earth. In NSW they are biodiversity strongholds, they provide clean water, breathable air and as carbon stores, are essential in our defence against the worst impacts of climate change, making them of critical importance to all people in NSW.
Native vegetation that is managed in state forests accounts for approximately 2.4% of land area in NSW and covers an estimated 1.9 million hectares but much of these areas have been degraded by generations of forestry operations. The NSW Forestry Corporation logs around 20,000 hectares of publicly owned native forest every year. These operations degrade soil carbon stocks, destroy habitat, reduce biodiversity and create large areas of young trees that are then the subject of future forestry operations.
Undisturbed and mature forests are more resistant to the effects of fire, store more carbon than forests that have been logged and regrown and provide habitat to forest dependent species. Many of the wildlife icons of our native forests are threatened with extinction including Greater and Yellow bellied Gliders, Sooty, Masked and Powerful Owls, Koalas, Quolls and Platypus. Logging damages the forest from canopy to creek, removing the diverse cover, shelter and resources these species demand.
It can take more than 100 years for a forest to recover from logging operations so we must act now to regenerate these beautiful and unique environments.
The Greens are calling for an immediate end to the logging of public native forests and a transition from an exploitive forestry industry to regenerative management.
Native forest logging in NSW is coming to an end. Years of destructive exploitation and the changing climate mean that there is a massive shortfall of harvestable trees for any high value use and native forest logging ran at a loss of $28 million over the last 2 years - a huge cost to NSW taxpayers.
A just transition and industry adjustment has been independently costed at $30.2 million per year over the next ten years. This would be leveraged to transition to 100% sustainable plantations which would be hugely profitable, create jobs and preserve our native forests to slow down climate change and preserve native biodiversity.
The Greens will:
- Immediately end all native forest logging on public land
- Fund the transition for workers and industry to 100% sustainable plantations
- Rehabilitate, regenerate and actively manage our public native forests to slow the extinction crisis and create new jobs and regional opportunities
- Hand back management of native forests to First Nations custodians whenever possible
- Create low impact recreational hubs to facilitate community engagement with public native forests
Saving forests is climate action
Forests are the largest storage banks for carbon on land. Older trees are much more efficient at capturing dangerous carbon dioxide than younger trees.
Managing old growth forests and regenerating logged and regrowing forests is essential to reducing the impacts of climate change. Older forests are more resistant to fire, floods and drought and provide landscape resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Native forest logging in NSW emits approximately 3.6 million tonnes of carbon every year. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of 840,000 cars per annum and is worth $2.7 billion in climate mitigation.
Immediately end all native forest logging on public land
The Greens will immediately end the logging of public native forests. It is too late for a long phase out period of native forest logging. The damage has reached critical levels that threaten the ongoing integrity of these forests.
The shortfalls in harvestable trees and the increasing threat of extreme fires means that native forest logging will inevitably end but we cannot afford an unplanned and catastrophic end for native forests.
We now have the science, economic and social evidence to prove that native forest logging is a profitless and destructive industry that threatens every aspect of the environment and society.
Fund the transition for workers and industry to a 100% sustainable model
Workers and communities that are involved in native forest logging need a plan that provides a secure and viable pathway away from native forest logging.
The Greens will fund a transition that ensures a job for job guarantee so that workers are not abandoned by the collapse of the native forest logging industry.
Expansion of the plantation estate will increase revenue and create many more jobs than are currently employed by the native forest industry.
Our plan will include:
- $244 million restructuring package for worker redundancies, retraining and a buy back of current wood supply agreements
- $58 million investment over 10 years in regional economic diversification
- An expansion of the plantation forest estate by 33,000 hectares on marginal agricultural land.
Rehabilitate, regenerate and actively manage our public native forests creating new jobs and regional opportunities
The damage that has been done to native forests over the past 200 years of exploitation must be repaired. Our public native forest estate is in poor condition and needs rehabilitation, regeneration and active management to ensure it is healthy and productive into the future.
Our most iconic forest dependent species have been pushed to the brink of extinction. Koalas, Greater and Yellow bellied Gliders, Sooty, Masked and Powerful Owls, Koala, Quolls and Platypus are only just hanging on. We need healthy forests to turn this extinction crisis around.
Actively managed, our forests will be clear of invasive species and resistant to fire. These new forest jobs need to be done by a dedicated workforce that can serve as alternative employment opportunities for displaced workers from the native forestry sector.
Protected and managed forests will draw tourists and new economic potential for communities and diversify local economies.
Hand back management of native forests to First Nations custodians whenever possible
The Australian landscape was managed sustainably for tens of thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans and the over exploitation of natural resources. First Nations cultural knowledge, custodianship and sovereignty should be recognised so that protected area management can be returned to them.
Ecological and social outcomes are always improved when land rights and management are returned to First Nations people. These programs should receive ongoing and dedicated funding, including through profits from sustainable plantation forestry.
Create low impact recreational hubs to facilitate community engagement with public native forests
Native forests are tremendous contributors to the health and wellbeing of NSW residents through recreational and educational outcomes. Low impact infrastructure can enable higher utilisation of native forests by increasing accessibility and amenity without interfering with the natural landscape. Focussing these activities on the former public forest logging estate will take the pressure off some of our current National Park estate.
HOW THE GREENS HAVE BEEN FIGHTING FOR YOU
In the last parliament, it was the Greens who:
- Secured the release of documents about the privatisation of plantations
- Held Forestry Corporation responsible for the damage done to protected areas and trees during forestry operations
- Prosecuted the unprofitable and wasteful destruction of native forests for wood chip products
- Fought against native forests being burnt to produce energy in coal fired power plants
- Stood with First Nations people in asking for the cultural significance of forests to be recognised
- Pursued the Government for allowing logging of Koala habitat in state forests
- Joined forest defenders on the frontlines and stopped logging operations