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Greens lay out plan to protect native forests for generations to come



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MEDIA RELEASE

Greens lay out plan to protect native forests for generations to come

The Greens have outlined a plan for a rapid planned transition out of native forest logging, including the immediate end to logging of all high conservation value forests.

The Greens’ plan was launched today by forests spokesperson Senator Janet Rice, joined by former Greens leader Bob Brown and Greens candidate for Wills, Samantha Ratnam. Bob Brown is visiting Melbourne to highlight forest issues, appearing at public meetings to put Victorian forest protection and the Great Forest National Park on the election agenda.

“Australia’s magnificent forests are a special part of our natural heritage,” said Senator Janet Rice, the Australian Greens forests spokesperson.

“Whether it’s for their outstanding ecological values, their Indigenous heritage, their roles as places of enjoyment, recreation and tourism or their vital contribution to the provision of clean water and a safe climate, we have a responsibility to protect them for future generations.

“Right now, our forests and everything they provide for us are being put at risk by an outdated mindset that subsidises the native forest logging industry instead of protecting the wide range of forest values.

“The Greens have a plan to transition the timber industry to sustainable plantations and farm forestry, and create jobs in long term sustainable industries.

“Our forests are massive drawcards for tourism and recreation and extraordinarily valuable assets to regional economies.”

The Greens will:

· Immediately stop logging of all high conservation value forests · Implement a rapid planned transition out of native forest logging · Scrap Regional Forest Agreements · Commit $25 million for the development of a comprehensive way forward for our forests

and regional communities living in forest areas · Protect wildlife and forest ecosystems through strong a new generation of strong national environmental laws, an independent environmental watchdog, re-establishing · Biodiversity Fund and a $130m Threatened Species Plan

Senator Rice highlighted that it’s crucial to scrap the 20 year Regional Forest Agreements, which the Coalition want to simply roll over as they begin expiring in 2017. The Labor party has indicated ongoing support for these RFAs.

“Regional Forest Agreements were meant to weigh up the needs of forest-based industries and conservation but instead have kept forest management stuck in the 19th and 20th Centuries,” said Senator Rice.

“The agreements mean that the impacts of logging the habitats of animals like Victoria’s animal emblem the Leadbeater's Possums, the Baudin's Cockatoo in WA and Swift Parrots in Tasmania, which are on all the brink of extinction, don't have to be assessed under environmental laws.

“Instead of the destruction of native forest logging, let’s get going with initiatives like the Great Forest National Park on Melbourne’s doorstep. This new national park will save Victoria’s animal emblem the Leadbeater’s Possum and boost the local economy with an influx of visitors.

“The transition of communities will be aided by a $25 million commitment to develop a comprehensive way forward for our forests and regional communities.

“The Greens are the only party that understands that economic prosperity and a healthy society goes hand in hand with the protection of our precious natural heritage.”

**Initiative attached**

MEDIA CONTACT: Sam Drummond, 0400 352 935

FORESTS FOR OUR FUTURE Protecting precious places for people and nature

Australia’s native forests are places of great beauty and

environmental significance. We must protect these natural wonders

for their outstanding ecological values, their Indigenous heritage, their

roles as places of enjoyment, recreation and tourism, and their vital

contribution to the provision of clean water and a safe climate. The Greens have a proud history of standing up for Australia’s magnificent forests. We recognise our forests as places of great beauty and ecological importance.

Australia’s forests are globally significant. They are home to precious wildlife; including critically endangered birds and animals.

Forests provide abundant clean water and they clean the air we breathe.

As places of great beauty and inspiration our forests are magnificent drawcards for tourism and recreation. They are extraordinarily valuable assets to regional economies.

The Greens will: • Immediately stop logging of all high conservation value forests. • Implement a rapid planned transition out of native

forest logging. • Scrap Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) • Commit $25 million for the development of a

comprehensive way forward for our forests and regional communities living in forest areas. • Protect wildlife and forest ecosystems through a new generation of strong national environmental laws, an

independent environmental watchdog, re-establishing a Biodiversity Fund and a $130m Threatened Species

Plan. 1

> THE GREENS HAVE A 21ST CENTURY VISION FOR OUR FORESTS Our forests help us in tackling global warming by trapping and storing carbon. The tall wet forests of southern Australia are the most carbon dense in the world. And allowing younger forests to grow old instead of being logged is one of the most effective means possible of soaking up carbon out of the atmosphere.

But the way our forests are managed is stuck in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Sadly, clearfell logging and burning continues across Australia, destroying complex ecosystems, endangering wildlife, polluting waterways and depleting carbon stores.

The Greens want a rapid planned transition for the timber industry to sustainable plantations and farm forestry, with logging of all high conservation forests stopped immediately.

Our forests are special places for Australian’s first peoples. Indigenous communities must be involved in their management.

> HIGH CONSERVATION FORESTS THAT NEED IMMEDIATE PROTECTION

The Greens want to immediately protect high conservation forests, including areas in:

• Victoria’s Central Highlands ash forests, home to the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum, in the proposed Great Forest National Park area

• East Gippsland forests in Victoria, home to threatened and endangered species including Long Footed Potoroos, Tiger Quolls and forest owls

• Tasmania’s takayna/Tarkine forests, which are the world’s largest remaining temperate rainforest and home to Tasmanian Devils

• Clarence and Richmond River Catchments in northern NSW • Glenbog and South Coast NSW state forests • Northcliffe, Treen, Court and other remaining

'two-tiered' karri forests in Western Australia • WA’s jarrah forests, including Arcadia, Helms, and Mowen Forests

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> SCRAP THE REGIONAL FOREST environmental approvals that gives big companies too much 2 AGREEMENTS The Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) that are currently in place as the primary management regime across key forest regions in Australia are not working. They must be scrapped.

RFAs were meant to weigh up the needs of forest-based industries and conservation. But we are still seeing clearfell logging in these regions that is environmentally and economically unsustainable with woefully inadequate understanding of the damage being done. Under the RFAs, there are abysmal protections for wildlife which depend on forests for survival.

These 20-year agreements are set to expire soon, with the first coming to its end in 2017.

The federal government has said that it intends to simply roll over and continue the RFAs, in a ‘business as usual’ approach to these sensitive and complex ecosystems. Labor has also indicated ongoing support for the agreements.

But with one year to go until their 20-year lifespan ends, the consequences of the agreements have been dire.

RFAs aren’t working to protect our complex and diverse forests for future generations, and they aren’t a sustainable economic plan for the future.

RFAs entrench clearfell logging, killing animals which live in the forests and resulting in species becoming increasingly rare and endangered. These animal species have no legal protections from logging operations under federal laws.

Animals like Leadbeater's Possum in Victoria, Baudin's Cockatoos in WA and Swift Parrots in Tasmania are on the brink of extinction largely because of logging, but the impacts of logging their habitat don't have to be assessed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The RFAs also have very limited flexibility to respond to loss of forest through bushfire. This means that if a natural event like a fire happens, governments are under pressure to over-log other areas.

They ignore climate change - both the impacts of the drying climate such as in south-west WA, and the cost of failing to manage ecologically intact forests as resilient long-term carbon stores.

> STRONG ENVIRONMENT LAWS The Greens will legislate for a new generation of national environment laws, the Environment Act and a tough new independent National Environment Protection Authority to better protect our precious places. The new generation of laws would expand federal oversight, and fix the rigged system of

power.

Right now our nationally significant forest wildlife is not protected by federal endangered species and environment laws. The Greens will abolish the legal exemptions that exist under the Regional Forest Agreements. We must ensure that wildlife in our forests have the same level of federal protections as all other species. Forests should be managed by environmental not resource and agriculture departments.

The Greens will re-establish the Biodiversity Fund and double the previous funding with $2 billion over 6 years to expand our protected areas, stop the loss of native wildlife, and better manage our established national parks, forests and reserves.

We will protect our unique native wildlife by investing $130 million over 4 years in a Threatened Species Plan to map and protect critical habitat and fund recovery plans.

> STOP BURNING NATIVE FOREST WOOD FOR ENERGY Our native forests have been clearfelled and woodchipped over decades, but the market for native forest woodchips is declining. Instead, the woodchip industry is looking for an alternative market, and burning our native forest products for energy and heat is a “solution” being pushed by vested interests.

A rapid transition of logging from native forest would mean that the production of this so-called ‘wood waste’ would stop.

The Greens do not support this environmentally destructive burning of native forests for energy. Our energy future lies in real renewables like wind and solar, as outlined in our Renew Australia plan.

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> A NEW WAY FORWARD FOR OUR FORESTS

The Greens will commit $25 million to develop a comprehensive way forward for our forests and regional communities. This review would report by 2018.

This review will: • identify areas of high conservation forest for immediate protection from logging; • facilitate a rapid transition of all logging from

native forests to plantations and farm forestry and the restoration and protection of native forests for habitat, carbon, water, tourism and recreation;

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• identify which forest areas should have the protection of national park status where conservation is the key management aim, and which areas should be managed for the broad range of forest values;

• engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and make recommendations regarding their involvement in forest management;

• assess the value of our native forests as carbon stores and in improving landscape resilience to climate change, to help meet Australia’s international obligations;

• recommend appropriate fire management, including management to reduce the risks posed by large areas of fire-prone logging regrowth and to protect forests and nearby communities from more intense and more frequent fires due to climate change;

• make recommendations on the economic sustainability and long-term jobs for communities living in our forest regions, including in forest management and recreation and tourism.

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