Greens NSW Forests spokesperson Jan Barham has called on the new premier Gladys Berejiklian to take action on climate change and the environment by halting the logging of public native forests.
In her final act as a member of parliament, Ms Barham said it was ‘time for the new premier to act on climate change and the environment by putting a stop to the logging of public native forests in NSW’.
Ms Barham told Echonetdaily it was ‘ironically fitting’ that her final political act was a call for an end to state forestry, as ‘my first campaign with Ian Cohen all those years ago was opposing logging in state forests’.
Ms Barham said the Berejiklian government ‘has an opportunity to protect biodiversity while delivering new economic opportunities in tourism, recreation and plantation forestry by bringing an end to destructive and unsustainable logging in state forests.
‘It will be a test of the new premier to see whether she listens to the science and the community by recognising that the Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) have failed, and a new direction in forest management is essential for the future of our forests and the protection of vulnerable species such as koalas,’ she said.
‘The RFAs have failed to deliver ecologically sustainable forest management and the state’s native forestry sector has been poorly managed and unprofitable over many years.
‘The government cannot consider new forest agreements and needs to recognise that the future of timber supply is in an enhanced plantation industry.
Ms Barham noted that as well as the biodiversity benefits, protecting native forests would make an important contribution to addressing the state’s need to improve climate action.
‘Saving our forests would deliver a substantial opportunity for carbon capture. The NSW Forestry Corporation manages 1.8 million hectares of native forests and research from the Australian National University has shown that natural eucalypt forests in southeast Australia store an average of 640 tonnes of carbon per hectare. Preventing the destruction of mature forests and allowing logged areas of native forest to regrow has the potential to make an effective contribution to climate change mitigation.
‘The NSW Government has set a long-term aspirational greenhouse gas emissions target but hasn’t taken responsibility for urgently acting on climate change now. They didn’t support the Greens’ climate change legislation that would require a whole of government approach to meet annual carbon budgets and identify strategies to reduce emissions.
‘The new premier can change course, beginning with the clear need to preserve our forests and use them to store more carbon,’ she said.
Ms Barham said that the 1992 National Forest Policy Statement, which was signed by all states, ‘promised a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system and ecologically sustainable forest management’.
But, she added, ‘this hasn’t occurred.’
‘The decisions of the current government will decide whether the next quarter of a century will see irreversible damage to forests, the extinction of more native species and continued global warming.
‘I urge premier Berejiklian to set NSW on a better course for future generations,’ Ms Barham concluded.
Jan Barham will be replaced as MLC by Dawn Walker on February 10.