Yesterday in Sydney the public gallery in the NSW lower house of parliament was packed with citizens hoping to hear their representatives support the community’s calls for an end to the logging of our public native forests.
The debate was forced by the success of a petition with over 21,000 signatures that calls for a rapid transition out of logging our native forests.
Tens of thousands of people
Greens spokesperson for the environment and agriculture Sue Higginson MLC said that tens of thousands of people from across the state have come together to call for an end to public native forest logging. ‘The time has come and the case has been made that our public forests are worth more to us standing.
‘The government has made no plans to transition out of this destructive industry and into sustainable plantations in the full knowledge that communities and workers will be left behind by their policies.’
Ms Higginson said that much public native forest estate has been impacted by drought, fires and floods. ‘We need to change our perception of native forests to recognise them as a vitally important line of defence against both the climate and the extinction crisis, but this senseless government is determined to destroy them.
The parliamentary petition calls on the NSW parliament to:
- Transition NSW’s native forestry industry towards sustainable plantations by 2024.
- Immediately place a moratorium on public native forest logging until the regulatory framework is introduced.
- Urgently protect high-conservation value forests through gazettal in the National Parks estate.
- And ban biomass fuel, made from native forest timber.
‘The response to the petition from the Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders was bitterly disappointing. Tens of thousands of people are calling for our forests to be protected and the minister has completely dismissed what’s best for communities and the environment,’ said Ms Higginson.
A remarkable degree of common ground
North East Forests campaigner Sean O’Shannessy who watched from the public gallery said the debate revealed a remarkable degree of common ground across the chamber with supportive comments from Liberal, ALP, Greens and Independent representatives. ‘The only substantial dispute with the petition came from the National Party – Minister Dugald Saunders denied that there was logging in State Forests.
‘Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis heckled his Liberal Party colleague Shelly Hancock as she introduced and spoke for the petition on behalf of her constituents.’
Mr O’Shannessy said the is a rapidly dawning realisation among all rational participants in the public discussion of the future management of native forests, that logging is not going have a place there.
‘Sustainable plantations will supply our timber needs and our forests will be protected in properly managed reserves. We can not afford to keep subsidising the destruction of our carbon sinks, water catchments and koalas homes,’ said Mr O’Shannessy.
The Government’s idea of ‘sustainable’
Ms Higginson said that the Government claims that sustainable native forest management includes cutting down critical habitat for threatened species, including koala habitat, clear felling areas of our forests and cutting down hollow-bearing trees which are essential for the survival of forest-dependent threatened species like gliders, owls and bats.
‘Bizarrely, the Government claims that cutting down our forests is good for the climate crisis in complete contradiction to scientific consensus. Old trees sequester more carbon than young trees, which on its own should be enough for us to be doing everything we can to protect them.
‘The end of public native forest logging is inevitable and we are so close to finally seeing the transition out of this industrial scale destruction.
‘Parliament could do this tomorrow if the government would stop blocking this important reform and develop a plan that delivers economic security for communities and protects our precious forests,’ said Ms Higginson.