Tuesday 6 June 2023
Our forests are too important
Blanket bans of native forest harvesting will not improve our carbon balance or recover biodiversity according to the professional association for forest scientists, growers and managers, Forestry Australia.
President Dr Michelle Freeman said the consensus position of independent scientific experts, forest managers and researchers is that active management of forests is required to maintain forest health, mitigate fire risk, conserve biodiversity and maximise carbon outcomes.
“Although on face-value decisions to end native forest harvesting may appear to be a win for the environment, Victoria and Western Australia are now facing a range of unintended negative consequences,” Dr Freeman said.
“These decisions have been made without clear alternate strategies or funding for the active management and monitoring that is required. Passive approaches will actually risk our forests at a time when their key threats – bushfire, invasive species and climate change – are still increasing.
Additionally, the rapid exit of specialist skills, experience, knowledge and equipment from the forest management space is reducing our capacity to implement effective forest management plans and mitigate or respond effectively to bushfire emergencies.
“The serious implications of this cannot be overstated, and urgent investment in strategies to retain these people and implement strategic management programs is needed.
“In addition, a significant increase in imports of timber from overseas is already occurring – representing increased carbon emissions, reduced oversight of the sustainability of management practices yielding those products, and a shirking of our moral and ethical responsibility to meet local demand locally.
“Simply ending native forest timber harvesting will not act to solve the complex challenges facing our forests, nor act to meet society’s needs.
“These issues are too important to let politics and ideology drive decision-making.
“We need a strategy for the ongoing management of forests – one that is based on genuine science, the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the collective knowledge and lived experiences of the people who have dedicated their lives to evidence-based care for our forests,” Dr Freeman said.
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