Chipping away

JANE HUTCHISON is one of WA Forest Alliance’s many volunteers.

THE state government’s commitment to end WA native forest logging calls for a big Fremantle celebration.

The current movement to save native forests in WA has a long lineage, stretching back to the mid-1970s and the formation of groups like the Campaign to Save Native Forests and South West Forest Defence Foundation. 

Later, members from these groups got together to establish the Western Australian Forest Alliance (WAFA) in the early 1990s. 

WAFA has been at the forefront of campaigns to protect native forests ever since. It has 26 member groups, the majority of them locally-based throughout the South West.

After two other very successful Forest Fiestas in Denmark and Margaret River, we are very happy to be celebrating in Fremantle as the city and its people have been a central point for the forest movement for many years.

To honour this activism, WAFA has been trawling the movement archives to piece together an exhibition: Memories of the Movement: Defending South West Forests. 

The exhibition will open in the Pakenham Street Art Space (PSAS) from 6:30pm on Friday 17th December to 5:00pm Sunday 19th December. 

There will also be a Forest Fiesta celebration, in and outside PSAS, on Friday evening. Checkout the advert on the front page of this paper, register and come along.

You will be moved and amazed at how determined, creative and bold the efforts of thousands of people to protect WA forests has been. 

But we do still have more to do.

Campaigning on

Some 400,000 hectares of karri, jarrah and wandoo forests will now not be logged. 

But to lock this in, WAFA is continuing to campaign for the next 10-year forest management plan to be a world-class conservation plan. 

Further, the forested land should be vested with the Bibbulmun indigenous people and the state government should work with them to co-design and implement the future plan.

Until the new plan is in place, WAFA will be working to ensure the impacts of final logging are avoided or minimised. 

And we want to ensure that future forest thinning is undertaken strictly for ecological reasons only and resulting logs are not burned in a new biomass industry in the South West.

Last, but not least, WAFA and The Wilderness Society will be campaigning with local groups – like the Jarrahdale Forest Protectors and the Dwellingup Discovery Forest Defenders – to stop the expansion of bauxite mining in the northern jarrah forest by Alcoa and South32/Worsley. 

Please keep an eye out for the Public Environmental Reviews the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) will be conducting for both proposed expansions in 2022. 

Climate action

Protecting the South West forests is an important piece of climate change action. 

This is because we know mature, standing forests are an important carbon sink, that is they absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than they release. 

It is not enough that the forests are allowed to regrow for a time after logging – or that it is ‘rehabilitated’ after mining. 

The carbon emissions into the atmosphere from logging and clearing are not balanced out 

by the regrowth. According to Australian researchers, it takes 150 years for a regrowth forest to approach the carbon carrying capacity of the original forest.

It is necessary to plant more trees to absorb more carbon dioxide, but this must not be at the expense of existing forest.

In WA, 85 per cent of logged timber has been turned into woodchips, charcoal, firewood or mill-waste. 

All release their carbon into the atmosphere within two years. 

Researchers tell us that, in the eastern states of Australia, only some 4 per cent of the carbon in native forests was subsequently made into timber products with lifetimes of more than 30 years.

Let’s celebrate the decision to end native forest logging – and continue to campaign for full protection forever.

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