Fighting for our Forests: 2016 in Review | Samantha Dunn

Fighting for our Forests: 2016 in Review

Our native forests are worth fighting for and I've spent the last year doing just that.
Samantha Dunn
Wednesday, January 4, 2017

It was a big year campaigning to create the Great Forest National Park (GFNP) and protect our incredible native forests from senseless logging by the government-owned ‘business’ VicForests.

It’s a great pleasure to share with you some of the highlights of last year working to protect our forests. But let’s first take a quick look at what we need to overcome after the year that has been 2016...

And here’s a pretty good summary:

Can you believe it?

Yep. Labor continues to trade in our carbon-dense, clean air and water providing native forests to loggers at such a rate these trees will all be logged within five years, driving the Leadbeater’s Possum to extinction. And then they try to give the loggers a sustainability award.

But unfortunately that’s not all....

6 more unreasonable things the government’s still doing:

  • Not creating a plan, even following 18 months of the Forest Industry Taskforce being established, to transition out of native forest logging. 
  • Failing to commit to the Great Forest National Park
  • Refusing to launch an inquiry into VicForests despite continued illegal logging, the organisation’s own admission that it cannot sufficiently complete pre-logging surveys of threatened species, and an unsustainable, volatile and rarely profitable business model. 
  • Funding still not restored or increased to Parks Victoria
  • No mention of funding to support outcomes from the Forest Taskforce
  • Continuing to log native forests across Victoria

And compounding the government’s negligence is the fact that researchers have delved even further into VicForests’ unsustainable business model and the value of our forests.

And the new research is even more damning

For example, this new research by PricewaterhouseCoopers found VicForests is "not generating an appropriate return" to meet its stated objectives. In fact, it found:

It takes $5 million of investment to create a single timber job.

ANU researchers have also found that the value of our precious forests for water and carbon storage which is quantifiably worth much more than the $29 that native timber harvesting contributes per hectare per year. In fact, they found: 

The water supply provided by the Mountain Ash forests is worth 70 times more than native timber harvesting.

But just in case you thought it was only the Labor party with its head in the ground...

Such a disappointment.

In the last week of Parliament, the Liberals voted with the Shooters and Fishers Party for a moratorium on creating the GFNP for 5 years. The only silver lining was that I got to talk on one of my favourite subjects for 45 minutes.

But before you despair too much, remember this:

"Our movement has grown. Together we’re stronger, smarter and louder!"

We’ve showed the government that we won’t stand idly by while they destroy our future. We called for the creation of the GFNP: from protests in affected communities

to rallies of hundreds on the steps of Parliament. 

With your help we sent over 800 submissions to the federal Draft Recovery Plan for the Leadbeater’s Possum. Many of you also emailed the Premier to ask him to act now to create the GFNP.

Your help was invaluable!

Working together we were able to stop VicForests from logging areas home to critically endangered species like Victoria’s faunal emblem, the Leadbeater’s Possum. 

And citizen scientists have saved threatened species like this again and again.

It was my pleasure and privilege to stand with these citizen scientists and ask the Treasurer to recognise their work. 2017 must see effective, comprehensive surveys done...even if they’re just completed by VicForests itself!

Citizen scientists still waiting for payment...

My federal colleagues and I presented a practical and sustainable plan for Victoria’s future: an investment in the tourism potential of the Great Forest National Park. 

We had such a wonderful response to this!

And I also got to hold a critically endangered He Ho.

Can you tell I fell in love with the He Ho?

Finally, it was fantastic to meet so many of my constituents at a forum I hosted in Blackburn with the incomparable Bob Brown as our guest to talk about a plan to save our forests. 

We support the GFNP!

It has certainly been a huge year campaigning to protect our forests, but the events above continue to fill me with hope and optimism for the year to come.

This year we need to keep the fire in our bellies. Please have a listen to part of Bob Brown’s speech below if you need some inspiring:

Very moving. Thanks Bob.

Thank you for your hard work. Together I’m certain we can stop native forest logging for good, ensure a just transition for workers, and create the Great Forest National Park. If you’re not involved yet, please sign up here: http://possumsnotpaper.org.au/

I’ll see you out there,

Samantha Dunn MP

P.S: I couldn’t resist putting this little gem in too! One of my favourite trees, the Kalatha Giant, a Mountain Ash in Toolangi, was voted 2016’s Victorian Tree of the Year. The entire Mountain Ash ecosystem is currently critically endangered and Toolangi is an area currently not protected as part of a National Park. But Victorians voted the Kalatha Giant their favourite tree. What a symbol of things to come! #GFNPnow