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What is the future of our beautiful carbon dense forests and the wildlife which depends upon them?

Our world is at a critical crossroad. Our very future and the existence of life depend upon us transcending our limitations by evolving solutions which are at least one step above the thinking that created our problems. Dr Eugene Fernandez, 2014.

koala

Sapphire, long haired unique genotype, lives at Potoroo Palace on the far south coast of NSW. Her genotype has been reduced from thousands of koalas to a very small population. The good news is that these koalas may be coming back from the brink of extinction. It is up to the Commonwealth and State Governments to ensure that all native species in the Southern Forest Region can thrive and survive in a friendly and safe environment: not one which is threatened by native forest logging.


Moving beyond economic rationale and having the courage to protect, is a gift to humanity. Arrogant assumptions of decision makers who miss the point on land and sea need tempering.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UNEP.

The Australia Institute’s 2016 research found that Forestry Corporation of NSW lost $79 million over the past 7 years. If the native forests in the southeast forest region were preserved, carbon would earn about $19.5 million per year. This revenue could fund jobs in tourism, wildlife protection, forest restoration and help Australia meet its carbon emission reduction targets.

For 50 years, the native forests of south east NSW have been logged unsustainably.


TO MEMBERS OF THE FEDERAL AND NSW STATE PARLIAMENTS

The Great Southern Forest proposal presents a plan to manage public native forests in the Southern Forest Region of NSW for carbon capture as opposed to native forest logging and to fund this change with forest carbon credits.

The GSF will protect and connect forests, and link national parks, state forests and private land. It is not a proposal for further national parks but promotes protection of these forests and their natural carbon reserves. State Forests comprise over 400,000 hectares from Nowra in the north, to Eden in the south, and inland to the Tumut region.

Expiry of the Southern Forest Region's 20-year Regional Forest Agreements (RFA) in 2019 and 2021 is the catalyst for re-evaluating loss-making logging-based forest management. Major economic and environmental changes have occurred since the RFA process began. Thus it is now obvious that woodchipping is inappropriate for our native forests.

  • Logging of native forests for woodchips in southeast NSW is historically loss making and is in decline, unlike the established pine plantation sector. Forestry Corporation of NSW lost $79 million from native hardwood operations over the last seven years.
  • Our native forests are hugely carbon dense. Including this carbon in Australia's emissions reduction program could provide carbon credit funding of $20 million or more per year. This could fund over 500 jobs in forest restoration and wildlife protection, and expand jobs in nature-based and eco tourism.
  • Logging causes wildlife habitat destruction. Short logging cycles cause dramatic declines in numbers of many unique native mammals, birds and plants. Water catchments, soil, and wildfire preparedness need to be valued for survival.
  • Landscape aesthetics and natural beauty are vital for nature-based tourism.
  • Climate change threatens forest habitat and biodiversity. The GSF will help reduce forest fragmentation and thus equip forests with the connectedness and resilience to withstand a changing climate; factors not considered when the RFA were signed 20 years ago.

The GSF proposal highlights the potential for these biodiverse carbon rich forests to transition from a loss-making and detrimental activity into a sustainable, environmentally creditable and profitable 21st century enterprise.

The South East Region Conservation Alliance Inc, the National Parks Association and the far south coast branch of the National Trust support this proposal. Members of the Great Southern Forest team requested an opportunity to meet with State and Federal Members of Parliament to discuss how the principles of the GSF maximise benefits of the public’s native forest estate.