Now seems an opportune time to write to James Griffin, Minister for the Environment, and the Treasurer and Minister for Energy Matt Kean and others, regarding the future of native logging. Native forest logging ends in Western Australia in 2024 and a Workforce Transition Program is in place – what about NSW?
You may want to use some of the points in my letter, as well as your own – writing from your own knowledge and concerns.
Online form for The Hon. James Griffin MP, Minister for the Environment:
or letter: GPO Box 5341, SYDNEY NSW 2001, or phone (02) 8574 5240n
Online form for the Treasurer Matt Kean:
or letter: The Treasurer, the Hon. Matt Kean MP. GPO Box 5341, Sydney, NSW 2001, or phone: (02) 8574 6150
21 February, 2022
Firstly, congratulations on the recent decision by NSW Government regarding the future of this State and adaptable employment: ‘NSW fast-tracks renewables after Eraring closure — NSW Treasurer Matt Kean says Eraring power station workers will be offered work in the growing renewables sector when they lose their jobs.’ (SMH, 19 Feb).
Now it’s time for a similar forward-looking decision in forestry. This issue of jobs is at the heart of crucial NSW nature conservation and forestry issues.
Matt Kean, as Environment Minister at the time, admitted to the budget estimates hearing (16 Oct 2021), ‘I don’t think the government is doing enough to protect koalas. We need to do a lot better.’ So, are we doing better? Money is being belatedly thrown at Koala conservation now their extinction in this State is forecast.
A $193m five-year koala strategy (with no details) was unveiled in the NSW June State budget. And in January, the Federal Government promised $50m for Koala conservation (though without a recovery plan, a legal requirement since 2012).
This money might prove useful to create palatial zoos for these marsupials because their habit, their homes, are being destroyed – endangering many more species of animals, birds, insects and plants than the iconic Koala.
‘Analysis released by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) on Tuesday found that in the decade since koalas were declared vulnerable to extinction, the federal government had approved the clearing of 25,000 hectares of the species’ habitat.’ (The Conversation 9 Feb).
Last week, the NSW State of the Environment 2021 report was tabled in Parliament (16 Feb) – a sobering and depressing document. Land clearing in NSW has tripled over the past decade!! Last September, Matt Kean set the NSW Government the bold target of zero extinctions of native wildlife in the national parks estate, but that covers less than 10% of land.
What exactly are the current trends?
- Permanent clearing rate for woody native vegetation
- Extent of native vegetation
- Condition of native vegetation
- Ecological carrying capacity – all are getting worse!
The 2019–20 Black Summer fires were devastating for Koala habitat and burnt or displaced 3 billion vertebrate animals across south-east Australia. There are plenty of pressures on their habitat, including development and climate change.
Here on the Mid North Coast, communities are fighting desperately to stop the logging of native forests. The Great Koala National Park is a wonderful initiative supported by most of the relevant councils in this region, but is stalled. Despite, ‘Koala Tourism’ having an ongoing bright future for Koalas, tourism revenue and employment. What’s stopping the ending of logging native forests? – jobs.
‘The North East Forest Alliance [NEFA] maintains that Timber NSW’s claims of job losses due to the creation of the Great Koala National Park are inflated more than 6 fold and are insignificant compared to the 7,400 jobs they have shed in the past decade.’ (NEFA, 21 March, 2019).
This fulcrum issue can be put to bed. Forestry workers have intimate knowledge of the forests and their knowledge and skills are immediately transferrable from destruction to conservation. Earlier this month, the WA Government announced the Workforce Transition Program for forestry workers. An agreement was reached with the Australian Workers Union on a range of financial support programs. Why can’t that happen in NSW?
As Minister for the Environment, why not be bold as the Treasurer was last week with the future of Eraring power station workers? Koalas deserve this, as does a healthy future for the environment and for us all.
Dr John Bennett
Image, Newry SF, where we have been battling to stop reckless logging.