Greens push for 21st century vision for Australia’s native forests

A year to the day that the first Regional Forest Agreement is due to expire, the Greens are calling for a comprehensive reassessment of how we manage native forests in Australia.

“Regional Forest Agreements were meant to bring the forestry industry into the new century, but right now the native forest logging industry is operating like it did in the 19th and 20th Centuries,” said the Australian Greens spokesperson for forests Senator Janet Rice.

“The past two decades have seen massive changes in our forest ecosystems, our climate and how we produce wood products.

“We are seeing the impacts of these changes right now, with communities across the country forced to cope with the destruction of their backyards through logging, increased risk of bushfires and dwindling populations of forest wildlife.

“The native forest logging industry has had 20 years to bring itself into the new century. With more than 85% of Australia’s wood products now coming from plantation sources, there is no reason to wait any longer.”

The East Gippsland Regional Forest Agreement, which came into effect 19 years ago in February 1997, was the first of ten such federal-state agreements.

A critical part of the agreements is that they exempt the native forest logging industry from our national environment and conservation laws.

“Animals like the Leadbeater’s Possum and the Swift Parrot are on the brink of extinction because of habitat loss. But the impacts of logging their habitat doesn’t have to be assessed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act,” said Senator Rice.

“We need to complete the shift of logging out of native forests, and while any logging continues it must  be subject to our national environment laws. Not even the mining industry benefits from such broad exemptions and there’s no reason this outdated industry should either.

“The government must not make the mistake of rolling over these agreements,” concluded Senator Janet Rice.

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