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Byron Shire
May 18, 2022

North coast forests an ‘industrial commodity’, says campaigner

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Nativesrule campaigner Frances Pike says forests are being plundered for big business. Photo contributed
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Forest advocacy group Nativesrule is turning its attention to the north coast, with its campaign truck travelling through through the Cowper, Page and Richmond electorates this week with a dire message about the state of our forests.

Nativesrule spokesperson, Frances Pike said Australia had the unenvied reputation of being ‘the world leader in mammal extinction and one of the eleven hotspots for global deforestation.’

‘If regional forest agreements are renewed our forests will go the same way as the Great Barrier Reef,’ Ms Pike said.

‘When we began to report on overcutting of forests under federal/state Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) people seemed confused. They just believed those old signs that used to say “Your forests, safe in our hands”. Now the signs don’t even mention wildlife. The public are being set up to accept a new approach to forests, as production landscapes feeding the energy sector.

Sign-of-Liberal-National-Forest-Policy‘Multinationals identified a long time ago profit was to be made through forests by an international biomass trade. The ‘biomass’ trade involves burning wood instead of fossil fuels.

‘Energy companies argued that burning wood instead of coal is carbon neutral because trees re-grow. Ignoring the basic facts that burning wood also produces CO2 and that logging native forests destroys carbon storage capacity, companies now burning native forest biomass are not only contributing to climate change but are being subsidised to do so.

‘The outrageous claim that burning wood reduces carbon emissions has been embraced by the Liberals and Nationals. In Australia this industry is being promoted by the Australian Forests and Products Association (AFPA) and supported by the Coalition,’ Ms Pike said.

She added that where major parties stand on this was made clear last week when AFPA, as a powerful industry lobbyist, interrogated political party representatives on what they would do for the timber industry if elected.

‘Tragically, most people are unaware that Australian forests are on the brink of being signed almost forever for bioenergy and other industrial purposes. The timber industry calls it ‘evergreen extensions’ to Regional Forest Agreements.

‘RFAs last for over 20 years but this is still not long enough for the big companies who want the ‘rights’ to Australian forests. AFPA insists not only that these be renewed but that they be almost automatically ‘rolled over’ in future decades. That is before they’re even due again. This is a total sell out of Australia and its environment.


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  1. All the political parties focus and promised spending programs regarding climate change is on reducing emissions. Though admirable its effectiveness is negated if carbon sinks (carbon capture) are being depleted. Currently our main regional “carbon sinks” are located in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. The forests of Papua are being logged and in Indonesia being burnt at an alarming rate. I cannot understand why this issue is not on the environmental radar.

    More research is needed in managing regional “carbon sinks” encompassing Australia, Papua & Indonesia. It maybe necessary to pay Papua and Indonesia to maintain and if possible expand their rain forests.

    Unfortunately, there is no votes in such a plan so I am very pessimistic that we (Australians) will tackle this problem effectively.


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