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Monday, 4 July 2011
Page: 7449


Ms HALL (ShortlandGovernment Whip) (11:32): Mr Deputy Speaker, I note that you saw fit to visit the wonderful Shortland electorate at the weekend. I was sorry that I did not catch up with you. I would like to congratulate the member for Lyons for bringing this very important motion to parliament. I know it is an issue that he is absolutely passionate about. As members of parliament we should all be passionate about the issue of forests and their sustainability, celebrating this International Year of Forests.

Forests are a valuable global resource that act as the lungs of our planet and as such we must do everything in our power to ensure their sustainability. It is very appropriate that this parliament recognises 2011 as the International Year of Forests. The general assembly passed resolution 61/193 to set up this year as International Year of Forests. Part of that resolution called for:

Recognizing that forests and sustainable forest management can contribute significantly to sustainable development, poverty eradication and the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals …

It is Millennium Development Goal number 7 that really captures this issue of ensuring environmental sustainability. Target A says sustainable development should be used to reverse loss of environmental resources and, target B, reduction in the loss of biodiversity. I do not think you can just look at one Millennium Development Goal on its own. You need to link it in to the other Millennium Development Goals, such as those on poverty, health, and child and maternal health. All those goals come together, and this is a very important part of them. The overharvesting of forests and the illegal use of forest products cannot be separated from the poverty that exists worldwide. As such, I think it is very important to remember the connection that is being made in this International Year of Forests with Millennium Development Goals.

In Australia, forests and forest issues have always been very important. I am sure that other members have been contacted through widespread email campaigns in recent times about the historic agreement reached in Tasmania between logging industries and environmental groups. I think we should do everything in our power to see that we put in place sustainable forestry plans and that all groups work together. The Gillard government has taken some very positive steps in relation to forests. One of them, which I think links very nicely to the Millennium Development Goals, is the ban on the import of illegal forestry products. Taking away the market for these products ensures—or works towards—preventing those forests from being harvested in an illegal fashion.

There are no forests in the Shortland electorate. It is a coastal electorate, as you, Mr Acting Deputy Speaker Murphy, would know. It is an electorate in which the people are most concerned about ensuring the sustainability of forests, not only in our country but worldwide. There is nothing I find more enjoyable than spending time in a magnificent forest with those majestic trees. It links you into feeling how everything in our environment comes together. I think we should do everything in our power to ensure that forests are protected.

The other issue that has been raised by a number of speakers is the role forests play in the reduction of carbon in our atmosphere. (Time expired)