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December 3, 2022

Time to turn Australia, and the world, around on deforestation

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Deforestation near Lieki, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo Axel Fassio/CIFOR Flickr: [email protected] and [email protected]

The news that Australia has signed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use, committing the nation to halting and reversing forest loss and land degradation by 2030 is cause for celebration. However, the fact that Australia has been declared one of the world’s worst deforestation hotspots, along with Brazil and the Congo, is shameful.

Landclearing at Kingvale Station. Photo Kerry Trapnell/ The Wilderness Society.

‘Eastern Australia has been identified by WWF as one of the world’s worst deforestation hotspots,’ Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.

Signatory countries collectively account for more than 80 per cent of the globe’s forests and woodlands and include deforestation hotspots Brazil, the Republic of Congo and Australia.

Just last week it was reported by the BBC that a study of forests that are protected as  Unesco World Heritage sites ‘Ten of the world’s most protected forests have become net emitters of carbon, as they are degraded by human activity and climate change.’

‘It revealed 10  protected forests had emitted more carbon than they locked away over the past 20 years.’

Australia no better

In April 2020 it was reported by the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) that land clearing in NSW had jumped by a staggering 1,300 per cent under the new (weakened) biodiversity and conservation laws that were implemented in late 2017 by the NSW Liberal-National government.

‘Latest land clearing data shows 150 hectares of wildlife habitat is bulldozed or logged every day in NSW, almost twice the average annual rate recorded before the Coalition overhauled nature laws in 2016,’ said Mr Gambian.

‘The annual Statewide Land and Tree Study (SLATS) data shows 54,500 hectares of forest were destroyed for farming, forestry and development in 2019.

‘Deforestation is not only driving climate change, it is pushing species to the brink, including koalas, which are on track for extinction by 2050 without urgent action.’

Deforestation in the Amazon area is driven mainly by industry and agriculture. Mato Grosso means “Thick Woods” and is the name of an inland state of central Brazil, where widespread forest clearing has had a dramatic impact on the land. Forest clearing has been centralized mostly along new roadways cut through the jungle. Photo Riccardo Pravettoni www.grida.no/resources/3127

Nineteen billion dollars has been committed as part of the Declaration, however, this is not enough said Federica Bietta, co-founder of the coalition for Rainforest Nation, this morning on the BBC World Service.

‘Unfortunately, the past 15 years working on these issues we saw so many commitments and so many statements from leaders. But if it is not backed by tools, by implementation and real finance [it won’t achieve its aims] – and were not talking about the $19b committed today,’ she said.

‘We have done analysis and to reduce and reverse global deforestation in the next ten years we really need $100m per year. So, we are talking about a trillion for the next decade. Unless we pay to keep these [trees] standing and we pay them more than the opportunity cost that is there, we are not going to reverse deforestation. So, we to go the soya bean, palm oil opportunity cost. That’s where the price needs to go.’

Land clearing in Southern Mexico for agriculture. Photo Jami Dwyer www.flickr.com.

End land clearing

The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) has called on the NSW Government to immediately act on Tuesday’s COP26 commitment to stop clearing NSW forests.

‘The United Nations Environment Programme’s Production Gap Report identifies that by 2030, governments’ production plans and projections would lead to around 240 per cent more coal, 57 per cent more oil, and 71 per cent more gas than permitted to limit global warming to 1.5°C,’ said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.

It also identifies that Australia is now the world’s largest coal exporter and the second largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, and that from 2019 to 2030 the Australian government intends increases in coal, oil, and gas production of 4 per cent, 32 per cent, and 12 per cent, respectively.

‘Given that forests take up 31 per cent of the world’s annual global carbon emissions it is vital that we retain and enhance their vital contribution to reducing atmospheric carbon and mitigating climate heating,’ Mr Pugh said.

Hewittville Holdings had no consent for the logging or roading within these Environmental Protection Zones near Limpinwood. Photo supplied.

‘It is essential that as well as stopping clearing, we actively restore forests and enhance their ability to sequester carbon. Logging has more than halved forest’s carbon storage, by stopping logging we avoid additional emissions and allow forests to sequester ever increasing volumes of carbon as they recover.

‘This is a planetary emergency, as a developed state in a developed country NSW has no excuse to delay forest action.

‘Last financial year 54,500 hectares of native vegetation was cleared in NSW; it is past time that this was stopped.

‘We also need to follow the examples of Victoria and Western Australia and urgently phase out the logging of public forests by 2023.’

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  1. Recently a large area was cleared of many trees at the back of Ingenia campsite in Byron and very recently most of a large fig tree has been cut on the corner of Myocum road and McAuleys lane and I’ve noticed other places where trees have been cut. Our road sides are Sprayed with dangerous chemicals in mega quantities and none of this will change unless people change their attitudes or care more about nature and the planet, more than they do about money or possessions. I can’t see much hope of global change enough to change our planet wrecking trajectory unless most people globally and in particular in rich western countries, make environmental issues their No 1 priority. I doubt many people think about environmental issues as they purchase and consume trivial unnecessary products, only to later throw them away and often after a single use. The changes in nature such as ice loss or global heating, or greenhouse gas emissions are speeding up at an ever increasing rate but our responses collectively are slow and unlikely to keep pace with what is required without a major change in priorities and thinking.

  2. AGREE TOTALLY ANDY…..OMG what would we do without the amazing & committed Dailan Pugh? For decades we have been arguing & battling in an attempt to STOP native forest logging & yet same shit different day. The AUSTRALIAN public says one thing (ie: that they care for our environment ) and then do the damn opposite like vote for the LNP? Go figure…when push comes to shove most Australians seem to be mighty greedy (lets not forget the Franking credits ordeal ) and somehow believe that they are separate from nature & actually don’t need her ? Our lives depend upon clean water/ decent soil / unpolluted air and all the benefits that wildlife provide us with that rarely get a mention. Native forests produce 17 tons per hectare of oxygen per year & significantly affect rainfall. Koalas actually need OLD gums as they provide more nutrition than younger gum trees. Tree hollows take a minimum of 100yrs to develop , this is precisely why so much of our wildlife is displaced & disappearing . This fact alone breaks my heart & I am lucky to know many people that feel just as I do. We also are involved with forest campaigns/are wildlife carers & rescuers etc we walk our talk. Sadly the greater Australian populous appears to be ecologically illiterate. WHEN THE LNP SCRAPPED THE NSW NATIVE VEGETATION ACT IN 2016, land clearing escalated beyond belief…..what a surprise that was. Now Mr Morrison & his mates are yet again attempting to weaken (thats an understatement) Federal Environment Laws & the ONLY people standing in his way are a few Senators that care for our wildlife & ailing ecology. Our beautiful native forests have been raped & pillaged since first settlement & not a lot has changed. Vote this lot out …VOTE GREEN .

  3. Well, we all know Gladys killed off the protection, that was , for NSW forest and now the good o’l mums and dads farmers have destroyed most of what was left of our depleted environment,squasing Koalas and anything in the way of greater profits.
    This government will never deliver any promises that conflict with the insane demands of the national party’s insane ‘profit at all costs’ with compensation for any policy for the common good.
    And as we already know Scottie is a compulsive liar.
    Cheers, G”)

  4. When Australia follows First Nation People, i.e. embrace COUNTRY over CONSUMERISM then we are headed in the right direction, but a long way from the destination. Mass clearing of the Brazilian rainforest, long known as ‘the lungs of the earth” is the world’s major concern. Somebody please write a Hollywood blockbuster movie depicting the demise of the earth then the penny will drop for many. Rumour has it that the sale of prestige motor vehicles in China is in sharp decline, the reason being is that the badges are no longer visible from the sidewalk. Yes, I must admit I’m a mindless drongo at times that follows fashion and trends. I’m now in negotiation with a tattoo artist to get a neck tattoo. It will be a reattached severed head with all its gory detail complete with a couple of Herman Munster thumb screws. Take a deep breath (depending on air quality) and soldier on.


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