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Forestry Australia calls for science to justify native harvesting decision

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Forestry Australia, Media Release, 14 January 2022

Forestry Australia is calling on the Western Australian Government to release scientific evidence in justification of its decision to end native forest harvesting.

The professional association represents forest scientists, professionals, managers and growers operating in all aspects of forest and natural resource management throughout Australia.

Forestry Australia President Bob Gordon said the association was concerned the decision to end native harvesting was not based on science, demonstrated poor understanding of WA’s world-class forest management practices and would result in increased imports of wood products from countries with lower management standards.

Felled tropical rainforest, West Papua
Tropical rainforest, burned, felled and destroyed, for timber extraction, livestock and monocultures such as palm oil. Waiego Island, West Papua, Indonesia. Stock photo.

“We are calling on the government to publish the scientific evidence that it used as a basis for the decision and its claim that halting native harvesting in WA will protect native forests,” Mr Gordon said.

“This thought-bubble policy is out of step with the rest of the world, which views well-regulated, sustainable native forest management and biodiverse plantings as the preferred source of timber, because of their positive contribution to climate change mitigation, biodiversity and forest resilience.

“Forestry should be viewed as a key part of the solution, not as a problem.

“Sustainable and science-based forest management can help us address many of the challenges of our modern world including addressing climate change, mitigating catastrophic fire, supporting biodiversity, supporting Traditional Owner self-determination and providing timber and other forest products, which are renewable and climate friendly resources that are in increasingly short supply and high demand.

“The decision by the Western Australian Government ignores these facts and will instead force WA to rely on timber imports from other countries, with associated high carbon miles and risks of illegal logging and unsustainable harvesting.

“At the time of the announcement to end native forest harvesting in WA, the Government claimed that, “the ever increasing impacts of climate change, the importance of maintaining biodiversity and forest health, the need for carbon capture and storage, and declining timber yields mean that it is essential that we act now to protect WA’s forests.”

“Forestry Australia is calling on the Government to release its evidence to support this statement. We are seeking the evidence that the Western Australian Government used to support its claims that timber yields are declining significantly, and evidence that demonstrates the decline of the health of WA’s State Forests.

“Forestry Australia notes that various reviews of the 2014-2023 Forest Management Plan (FMP), most recently in 2019, all reiterated that the potential effects of climate change on the growth rate of jarrah and karri trees had been applied when projecting future sustainable yields. 

“Forestry Australia is also calling for an independent review of the science that supported this decision.

“Federal Senator Jonathon Duniam recently wrote to the Western Australian Government questioning the scientific basis of the decision to close down native forestry operations.  No response was provided.

“Western Australia’s forest management must be based on science if we are to ensure our forests, and the communities who rely on them, remain healthy and resilient. Forestry Australia calls on the Western Australian Government to make available the scientific evidence underpinning it’s decision.”

Related stories: WA call another example of thought-bubble policy on native forestry: IFA/ AFG; What’s happening to the jarrah forest?; Media statement: McGowan Government’s historic move to protect native forests; Shock WA native timber decision shows total ignorance of global policy: FWCA; All states must follow Western Australia’s lead and end native forest logging: Greens

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