WA GREENS JOIN CHANT TO SHUT DOWN SUSTAINABLE HARVESTING OF NATIVE FOREST

‘REMARKABLY INSENSITIVE DEBATE AS STATE STRUGGLES WITH COVID-19’

Dumb idea… a ban on native harvesting would cut thousands of jobs.

SOUTH West Greens MLC Diane Evers is expected to introduce a bill into the Western Australian parliament to ban native logging and wind up the state’s Forest Products Commission.

The peak body for the state’s forestry industry has slammed the proposal as “absurd” and “ill thought-out”.

Ms Evers, who is the Greens spokeswoman for forestry, said it was something that needed to be looked at as a matter of urgency to protect native forests for future generations.

“This is something we need to do – we need to do it now,” she said.

“What we really need to be doing is putting much more of our land into plantations and over time those plantations will deliver much more in terms of growth for the state.”

The move comes after years of lobbying by the Victorian Greens, ending with a decision by the Andrews government to phase out native logging by 2030 starting from November this year.

Deputy executive officer of Forest Industries Federation WA  Matt Granger said while there was room for other vibrant industries in Western Australia, it was “naive” to suggest that they could not operate alongside the timber industry.

“You can have your vibrant tourism, honey sectors and you can have your sustainable, renewable regrowth forest-based operations,” he said “It’s a dumb idea that you can have either this or that,” he said.

“Really, for vibrant, healthy communities and economies you want to grab hold of as many diverse economic activities as you can.”

Mr Granger said it was a “remarkably insensitive” debate to be having at a time when the WA economy was struggling with the economic fall-out of Covfd-19.

According to a report from WA industry bodies, including the Forest Industry Federation, more than 2000 direct jobs were created by the forestry industry and another 2400 indirect jobs.

Paul Omodei… native forests in Western Australia has always been a huge industry in the South West – and still is.

Since then, the industry has grown, with a Queensland company committing to upgrade processing facilities at Nannup and Greenbushes and opening up a moth-balled facility at Manjimup.

Shire of Manjimup president Paul Omedei said native logging had been a part of West Australian society since the beginning and it was still going strong today.

“We still have about six small sawmills and a major part of our industry is the native thinnings from the native forests and also the blue gum chip logs that go to the production of paper,” he said.

“Moves to end logging are ill-considered and regressive. I know the Greens need votes … but they really need to adopt a common sense approach.”

In a statement, WA Forestry Minister Dave Kelly said most native forests were not available to be harvested, including all old growth forests in the state.

“The Forests Product Commission has access to 38% of our native forest estate, and this excludes all old-growth forest and annually harvests less than 1% of this allocation,” Mr Kelly said.

(ABC South West, WA).