World Forestry Day on March 21st has been celebrated for over thirty years and is a recognition that forests are essential to life on Earth and are in need of protection and sustainable management if they are to continue to provide many benefits to all species on this planet.
“Unfortunately for Queenslanders we do not have a great deal to celebrate this year,” said Lois Levy, President of Gecko-Gold Coast and Hinterland Environment Council Assoc. In (Gecko) “the recent decision of the Newman Government to resume logging in high conservation value forests, previously protected under the South East Queensland Forest Agreement, is another step back in time for this Government. This Agreement provided an uneconomical industry an opportunity to restructure and the forestry industries were in accord with it.”
Conservationists on the Gold Coast are calling upon the Newman Government to reverse its recent decision to allow logging in National Parks and State Forests, breaking a long-standing agreement with the logging industry and the community that protected these high biodiversity areas. Queensland has the lowest percentage of national parks in Australia at 5% and many of these affected forests were destined to increase that percentage by becoming national parks.
Conservationists are further cautioning the government against changes to the Vegetation Management Act allowing extensive clearing of native forests for agriculture and changes to the South East Queensland Regional Plan, which would allow subdivision in the steep-sloped, forested areas of the hinterland, increasing costs of delivering infrastructure and destroying the values that these forests provide. Our cities cannot survive without the services that forests provide.
According to Lois Levy, President of Gecko – Gold Coast and Hinterland Environment Council, these policies were created based on science and after many years of committed negotiation with all parties. “These forests, full of threatened species of both plant and animal, should not be destroyed by some one-sided, simplistic decision of the Newman Government,” said Ms Levy.
“Very little of these high value forests is protected in South East Queensland,” she said. “The forests provide wildlife habitat as well as ecological services for residents, such as fresh air, clean water and stable soils. They are important for tourism and as a backdrop to the highly developed coastal areas. Native forests must be protected both on public and private land.”
A series of policies are in place at national, state and local levels of government to provide incentives for private landholders as well as government land managers to protect these areas from further fragmentation and heal the landscape.
It is time for the Newman Government to cease its attack on native forests and uphold agreements that protect the forests of South East Queensland for the benefit of all.
Each year more than 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of forests are lost, an area roughly the size of England. As the forests go so goes the plant and animal species they embrace – 80% of all terrestrial biodiversity. Most importantly, forests play a crucial role in climate change including global warming: deforestation causes 12-18 percent of the world’s carbon emissions – almost equal to all the CO2 from the global transport sector. Equally crucial, healthy forests are one of the world’s primary ‘carbon sinks.’ The forests support the livelihoods of 1.6 billion of the world’s poorest people by providing food, fiber, water and medicines, as well as regulating environments.
Those supported include indigenous peoples with unique and precious cultures.
“Forests are not just a source of timber and jobs, more importantly they provide us with oxygen to breathe without which the human race cannot survive. It is time the Newman Government’s four pillars included a fifth pillar or rather an environmental foundation for the pillars without which the four pillars will tumble. A healthy economy and society is dependent on a healthy environment, “ said Lois
Download a copy of media release Hands off Native Forests in SEQ