An open letter signed by Australian and international forestry and climate experts, published by the Australia Institute today, has called for the immediate nationwide cessation of all native forest logging in response to the climate, fire, drought and biodiversity loss crises currently facing Australia.
The letter, signed by scientists from countries including Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand and more, warn that native forest logging increases fire hazards and calls for the redeployment of forestry workers into fire services and national park management roles.
A Ucomms poll commissioned by the Australia Institute of 1,136 residents across Tasmania on the evening of 22nd October, found almost two thirds of Tasmanians want to see takayna/Tarkine protected rather than logged.
Despite state government plans to log old growth and rainforest in takanya/Tarkine, support for preserving the forests in a national park remains strong at just under 66%
“We wanted to test community attitudes, given the governments strong advocacy for logging over the past 12 months and see if it had had an effect” Said Leanne Minshull, Director The Australia Institute – Tasmania
“More than any other state, Tasmanians live in and on the edges of the bush,” said Leanne Minshull, Director of the Australia Institute Tasmania.
“As the severity of fires increase, so does the impact on our homes, our communities and our economy, we need to look at this problem holistically to have any chance of dealing with it.”
"Our research shows us that there is a lack of understanding in the community when it comes to undisturbed forests and fires. The science shows us that undisturbed rainforest assists in slowing down the spread of bushfires.
The Western Australian government’s state owned Forest Products Commission (FPC) is logging WA’s native forests at a financial loss to the state, as shown in a new report from The Australia Institute, titled Barking Up the Wrong Trees.
“The people of Western Australia are losing jarrah and karri forests, and in the process making a financial loss,” Report author and researcher at The Australia Institute, Tom Swann said.
“Even if you love money more than you love trees, this not a good outcome -- especially for a state increasingly under budgetary pressure.”
The Forestry Corporation of NSW (‘Forestry Corporation’ or ‘the Corporation’) is a state-owned corporation that manages more than two million hectares of commercial native and plantation forests in NSW for the primary purpose of timber production.
The Renewable Energy Target (RET) requires electricity retailers to purchase a specified amount of renewable energy (the target) from certified generators of renewable energy.
At present burning native woodchips or other biomass, is not a certified form of renewable energy under the RET. Including biomass burning in the RET will cause a number of direct and indirect problems, including displacement of solar and wind in the RET cap, reducing investment in those technologies, and environmental harm caused by continued logging of native forests - a practice already highly subsidised.
The Tasmanian Government is taxing electricity users to prop up the losses that keep bleeding from Forestry Tasmania.
Indeed, the $30 million “woodchip levy” funded by Tasmanian business and households is significantly larger than the $22 million annual cost of the Renewable Energy Target that some Tasmanian businesses claim to be so disadvantaged by.
Energy Minister Matthew Groom announced last week that $30 million creamed from electricity users by TasNetworks, the Government-owned electricity transmission and distribution business, would be siphoned off and “invested” in the perennial loss-maker, Forestry Tasmania.
As the world coal price continues to fall, politicians are asking themselves what the Australian economy will look like by the time the downturn bottoms out.
They needn’t look far.
Tasmania offers a clear road map for what happens to an economy when the price of a significant export commodity falls.
And, most recently, with news the Tasmanian Government is considering turning away private investment into tourism to provide yet another bailout to one of its worst-performing industries, it also offers a lesson in what not to do in response.