Ryder is a forest activist. After the floods he spoke at a climate rally in Sydney in front of 5,000 people where he called for an end to fossil fuels. He is a forest protector who runs ‘tree listening’ tours in our local forests and was part of the citizen scientist group that found giant trees that had not been protected in Doubleduke State Forest. This led to the Forestry Corporation having to stop logging. Ryder is 10 years old.
How can we not be moved when a child leads the way? How do we hold our heads high when it is a child who must step forward, abandoning their toys and their innocence to know the truth about the world, and to call out the senseless greed and destruction? How can we sit idle when children take action?
Last Saturday around the country people gathered to end native forest logging. More than half of the forests and woodland in NSW that existed before European invasion are gone and over a third of what is left is degraded. Species that depend on the forest have been sucked into what has been called an extinction vortex, these include koalas, long-footed potoroos, long-nosed potoroos, southern brown bandicoots, and the south-eastern glossy black cockatoo. It is a shameful fact that Australia has one of the highest extinction rates in the world.
And don’t defend logging with ‘jobs’. Forest preservation and conservation creates more jobs and saves money. According to a report by ANU, ceasing native forest logging would return an economic benefit to NSW of around $60 million while also reducing net greenhouse emissions by almost 1 million tonnes per year. Native forest logging provides few jobs. It is a shrinking industry. In Victoria, each full-time equivalent job in native forest logging costs $5,041,000 in infrastructure investment.
It seems insane that at a time when the world is burning, when nearly 100 people have died in a wildfire right now in Maui, when our own country has burned and flooded at catastrophic levels, that government continues to fail to defend our forests. Our climate change defence force. Our frontline against global warming. Trees lock up carbon for decades, even centuries. When forests are cleared or burnt, stored carbon is released into the atmosphere. Deforestation contributes 12-20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Destroying forests is like shooting your own army at a time of an invasion by a conquering violent force. The conquering force is climate change and forests are our quiet protectors.
Logging native forest is clearly poor economic management. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald over one year ago, the state-owned Forestry Corporation suffered a $20 million loss with NSW taxpayers forced to pay $441 per hectare to log critical native forests. ‘The cost of destroying 13,500 hectares of red gum, ironbark and cypress trees – largely for woodchip exports and firewood – was $6 million, while one-off recovery costs following Black Summer bushfires soared to $14 million.’
It’s clear that it’s bad business. So why keep doing it when softwood plantations can deliver almost $4,000 profit for every hectare logged? Logging native forest is clearly not economically viable. It’s also not viable for the survival of many species, including humans. So why do it? It’s bad cultural practice. It’s what colonisers do. We have to stop colonising. We have to learn from and listen to Country. We have to listen to kids like Ryder.
We have to stop logging native forests. And we all have to step up. Lock on. Blockade. Protest. Apply pressure. This coming Saturday, 19 August there will be a rally and march for native forests in Brisbane at Musgrave Park in South Brisbane.