Greens announce plan to end native forest logging in NSW
The Greens NSW have today announced their plan to end native forest logging and transition to a 100% sustainable plantation timber industry.
Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment and agriculture, Sue Higginson, said “Logging of public native forests is coming to an end in NSW, the only question left is whether it will be a planned transition or if it will catastrophically crash and leave forests and communities devastated and abandoned.
“The recovery of forests for habitat and climate mitigation needs to begin immediately, that’s why our plan calls for an immediate end to public native forest logging. NSW forests cannot afford a long phase out period because the cumulative damage from decades of exploitation has pushed them to the brink,
“Our plan will support the workers and communities that are currently reliant on native forest logging with a $300 million transition package. This plan includes worker retraining and redundancies, a buy back of wood supply agreements for timber mills and a regional economic diversification program.
“We want public native forests to be regenerated and managed using a dedicated workforce to ensure that they stay free from invasive species and resistant to fire. We want our many iconic animals that are threatened with extinction to recover and thrive in our forests.
“Healthy and managed forests create more jobs through maintenance works and tourism potential as well as ensuring biodiversity and natural values are maintained.
“Native forest logging in NSW emits around 3.6 million tonnes of carbon every year, equivalent to 840,000 cars. If we stopped this logging, native forests could contribute $2.7 billion worth of climate mitigation by 2050,
“Forests once again have become a battleground where members of communities across the state are at war with the Government’s exploitative forest policy. People are putting their lives on the line, to protect our forests, workers are frustrated and the police are getting roped into conflict.
“The time has come to resolve this protracted conflict once and for all, the peace deal is to follow the evidence and protect our precious public native forests,
“The Government and Opposition are hanging the community out to dry by ignoring the impending end of native forest logging.
“Only the Greens have a plan to support this necessary transition,” Ms Higginson said.
Roughly 1000 workers are directly employed in harvest/haulage and mills associated with native timber industry in NSW. Transition support for the NSW native forest sector (Frontier-Economics)
All of these workers could be retrained as plantation forestry workers, native forest managers or otherwise offered redundancy packages.
Native forest logging is unprofitable and wasteful:
Public native forest logging cost NSW $9 million in the last financial year and $19.6 million in 2021. Plantation forest logging by contrast earned $47 million in 2021 and 2022. Forestry corporation annual report (FY22)
The majority of native hardwood logs are turned into woodchip for export, firewood, fence palings, burnt for electricity production or other low-value uses.
The plantation estate would be increased by 33,000 hectares using marginal agricultural land to offset the loss of production in native forests. This would require an additional upfront investment of $323 million for land acquisition and plantation establishment.
Mature forests store a considerable amount of carbon, and the logging of these forests releases carbon that has taken centuries to accumulate. Previously logged forests on average store only half the carbon of natural, undisturbed forests.
The 3.6 million tonnes of carbon (CO2e) emitted by native forest logging in New South Wales per year is equivalent to the emissions of 840,000 medium sized cars, or is four and a half times the emissions of the New South Wales domestic aviation sector. NSW Carbon Report
Many of our precious 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 animals need. Many forest dependent species require hollows in old trees to survive.
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 to slow down the extinction crisis.
An increasing body of evidence indicates that there is a significantly greater risk of high-severity fire in logged forests relative to undisturbed forest. Elevated logging-induced forest flammability can last for several decades after cutting and is a particular concern in areas subject to prolonged and widespread industrial forestry.
The links between logging and fire and their combined effects on flammability, as well as on forest condition and biodiversity, suggest a need to cease widespread industrial logging in Australian native forests. Interacting and compounding impacts: fire and forestry in the 2019–20 wildfires