Last year, NSW Forestry Corporation’s hardwood division lost $9 million (‘Costs of native forest logging to NSW residents revealed’, Echo, 18/11). But there are other losses too. It’s a little-known fact that mature forests dominated by Eucalyptus regnans have been found to store more carbon than any other forest known. But after logging, most of the stored carbon is lost to the atmosphere.
According to Professor Brendan Mackey from Griffith University, stopping the logging of our native forests would reduce CO2 emissions by 15 million tonnes each year, almost the same as the annual reduction needed to achieve our 2030 emissions reduction target.
Forests also provide critical habitat. Since settlement, 100 Australian species have become extinct with 13 added in 2021 alone. Now, more than 1,700 native species and ecological communities are known to be threatened and at risk of extinction.
As the NSW election approaches, the climate and biodiversity value of the state’s trees are clearly an election issue, evidenced by the quick scuttling of the Land Reform Bill introduced by Agriculture Minister, Dugald Saunders, in December last year. Unsurprisingly, after extensive and severe flood events, Local Government NSW has called for ‘urgent action to address the climate crisis… and fit-for purpose protections for biodiversity of native habitats’.
Phasing out the logging of native forests, as WA and Victoria have done, would be an excellent start.
Shall we give John Williamsons’, Rip Rip Woodchip song, another play.