Dear NRPG members and interested,
A great newsletter for the end of the year with the history of the long campaign to save our forests, and celebrating that “…on the 31st of December 2023, this reckless logging of the SW forests for woodchip, firewood and charcoal officially and finally comes to an end”!
To minimise emails to you at this time of the year, I’d like to thank you all (on behalf of the NRPG Committee) for your membership and interest in the NRPG, and we look forward to continuing our advocacy in 2024!
Happy New Year,
President, NRPG Bushcarers
Latest forest updates from WAFA
| Dear Steve I’m sitting in the Kwoorabup office reflecting not just on a huge 2023, but on 33 years of WAFA’s efforts and achievements for the forests. I’ve been tidying up the office in between normal campaign business over the past few days, and going through old boxes of paperwork, newspaper clippings, photos and even old cassette tapes, because I’m off on sabbatical from next month and the time has come to do some long-delayed sorting. In these boxes are physical manifestations of thousands of people’s extraordinary dedication to these forests. And there are visceral reminders of the reckless devastation logging has wrought on them. I’ve been looking at photos of karri forest clearfells, and of industrial scale logging of the jarrah. And two things hit me at once: the enormity of the destruction we’ve witnessed here in WA, and the profound significance of the rapidly approaching end to native forest logging. We don’t know what thinning will bring next year – WAFA will be running a monitoring program to keep a close watch – and we do know that burning and mining remain major, highly destructive impacts on the forests, their wildlife and rivers and the climate. This gets in the way of a simple, heartfelt and complete celebration when our motivations are to just see the forests properly and securely protected. But with problems as wicked as extractivism, we don’t change everything all at once. When WAFA was formed at Donnelly River Village in August 1990, a decision was made to focus the new alliance’s efforts on the widespread and profoundly destructive logging of the South West’s forests. The next decade saw incredible campaigning in the city, in SW towns and in the forests. Then in 2001, Geoff Gallop was elected promising to end old-growth logging and protect 230,000ha of old-growth forests. Some of the very best of what was left of the Tingle, Karri, Marri and Wandoo forests were protected from logging on that day. If they hadn’t been, and if logging had continued at the rate it then was, all of those forests would have been logged by now. But the definition of old-growth was totally bogus, and the promise to also review and protect other high conservation value forests was broken, and the fight went on. For the past decade, we’ve seen an average of 10 football fields logged and cleared every day. Eighty-five per cent of that impact has been by logging, the other 15 per cent by clearing for bauxite and gold mining. Before that it was even worse. In the 1970s, an average of 45,489 ha of karri and jarrah forests were logged per year. That’s 62 football fields of mostly old-growth forests logged every single day. Since karri clearfelling was reintroduced in 1967, over one million hectares (1,102,110ha) of the South West’s forests have been logged, mostly for woodchips, firewood and charcoal. I am thinking of the many times I scraped thick mud off my boots after trudging through vast clearfells having photographed and measured the loss of ancient trees and nesting hollows. Often the cockies would fly over or they would be with me on my way home and my heart would be heavy. Letters of complaint I would later send would be dismissed: not a breach of guidelines / just guidelines, not laws. But the photographs and videos would be met with outrage, and support would grow. So many of you reading this have done the same, and much more besides, and I’m thinking of the breadth and depth of the effort over the decades. In 2013, I snuck into the Manjimup woodchip mill to take a sample from a giant karri tree dumped on the landing and sent it to Waikato University to be carbon dated. It was between 500 and 600 years old when it was cut down and sent to the chip mill. The loss we’ve seen has been immense. In 9 days’ time, on the 31st of December 2023, this reckless logging of the SW forests for woodchip, firewood and charcoal officially and finally comes to an end. There will be no further clear-felling of karri forests, or industrial scale logging of jarrah, and we will see a further 400,000 ha of forests protected in an expanded conservation system. This is a simple, complete and profound thing well worth celebrating. Yes, we will have other work to do, and WAFA will continue to champion the need to fully and securely protect the forests from multiple threats, but on New Year’s Eve, let’s celebrate for all the creatures whose homes will not be logged, for all the old trees that will stay standing, for the forests that will not be measured out by timber cutters and pushed over into the mud, and the extraordinary effort made by so many to get us to this place. I hope that you all have a wonderful break over the festive season. I will be taking a break for the first few months of 2024. You will be hearing more from Jess Boyce who will be Acting Director for WAFA until the end of April, and from the rest of the WAFA team including our new Media Officer Lucy Nicol and Senior Campaigner Jason Fowler. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support, wisdom, work and solidarity over the years. See you down the track. Yours in solidarity for the forests,
WAFA Director Photo by Donna Chapman EPA to assess Alcoa Last week, on the 18th of December the WA EPA published its decision to conduct a 10-week Public Environment Review of Alcoa’s Mining Management Plans (MMP) following WAFA’s referrals back in February. This will be the first time ever that the EPA has conducted an assessment of Alcoa’s MMPs. This should be great news. It should mean that clearing stops while the assessment is carried out, but on Thursday the 14th of December, the Cook Government published a new exemption order under Section 6 of the EP Act, allowing Alcoa to continue clearing and mining. Clearing under the two Mining Management Plans totals approximately 5,370ha over the next 4 years. This clearing of jarrah forests around Jarrahdale and Dwellingup will have massive, irreversible impacts on forests, wildlife and water and be devastating to local communities. It is anticipated that the EPA will take at least two years to carry out the assessment. To add to the absurdity, it must wait for Alcoa to provide data and reports on the likely impacts of its clearing. In the meantime, Alcoa has a free pass from the Cook Government to keep clearing. The exemption order limits clearing to 800ha per year, so we can expect to lose the best 2000 or so ha before the EPA even sends it recommendations up to the Minister. The story is by no means over. WAFA will continue to support the incredible efforts of local campaign groups and individuals fighting to protect these precious forests. Please continue to support this campaign. 2024 is going to be a very important year for the Northern Jarrah Forests. Please sign and share the letter to the Premier, Ministers and your local Members of Parliament, plus you can make a tax-deductible donation to the End Forest Mining campaign, by using the buttons below. This will help us ramp up this very important campaign! End Forest Mining events At the start of the month, two events were held for the new End Forest Mining campaign. We had a hybrid info night to share the goals and vision of the campaign as well as ways in which to get involved. A few days later we joined the End Forest Mining Rally and welcomed Tim Clifford from the Wilderness Society WA as he completed his one-day journey on foot from Jarrahdale to Parliament House, raising money for the campaign and highlighting Alcoa’s destruction of the Northern Jarrah Forests along the way. If you’re interested in getting involved in the campaign sign up with the button below and we’ll be in touch in the new year. Photo by Donna Chapman Online Shop The eye-catchingly bright orange End Forest Mining Forever shirts, stickers and signs are available to purchase through our store. They not only look fabulous on you and your friends, but they also make a very meaningful gift! Plus we now have the new version of our classic numbat t-shirts in stock. Photo by Donna Chapman Earth in Mind Retreat Join us for a 5-night Ecodharma Retreat on beautiful Menang boodja with teacher Rupert Marques 28 Jan – 2 Feb 2024. Inspired by the Insight meditation tradition and the teachings of Joanna Macy and Joseph Goldstein, this semi-silent retreat is designed as an invitation to deepen our connection and gratitude, and to resource and nourish ourselves as we navigate our way into an uncertain future. Photos by Jinni Wilson Gnangarra Pines Protected The State Government has announced it is protecting Gnangara and completely ceasing the clearing of the remaining pines. Thanks to everyone who has worked to protect the Gnangara pines, which supply a vital food source for the Carnaby’s Cockatoos. Read more in the WAtoday article here. Forest Management Plan 2024 – 2033 Published On Friday the 15 th of December, Minister Whitby announced that the next 10-year FMP has been finalised and will be in place from the 1st of January 2024. It’s been a long road since former Premier Mark McGowan announced the upcoming end to native forest logging and the addition of at least a further 400,000 ha of forests to the conservation system. Significantly, there is now a commitment in the Ministerial Statement associated with the FMP for this full area to be protected, and this is on top of the 320,000 ha of forests and other ecosystems that were proposed for protection under previous FMPs. This is a major step forward for the protection of the forests and their wildlife that has been a very long time coming. It also prevents the emission of at least 60 million tonnes of CO2 per decade, and substantially increases the forests ongoing capacity to draw down and store carbon that is already in the atmosphere.
As many of you will remember well, in August 2021, after an intense community campaign, then Environment Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson launched a survey prepared by the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute. The survey found that 95% of over 17,000 respondents wanted more forests protected, and 73% of respondents wanted native forest logging to end entirely.
One month later, the McGowan Government made the important and enthusiastically received decision to respond to the deep community sentiment and announce the upcoming end to native forest logging. This made WA the first state to end native forest logging and, over the following months, it demonstrated to other States that is not only possible, but also politically favourable, and pushed the door open a little further for other governments around the continent to follow suit.
The FMP is a massive disappointment when it comes to prescribed burning. It doubles down on an unscientific, head-in-the-sand attitude and has ignored thousands of submissions and expert opinion on the need for major and urgent reform. It overlooks the greenhouse gas emissions and air quality impacts of prescribed burning and it sets up another decade of fire management that is having catastrophic impacts on species and ecosystems. We have a lot of work to do over the coming years to raise awareness and change the policies and practices. The WA community and the State Government need to be fully cognisant of the fact that the current burning regime is not only an ecological disaster, it is also increasing fire risk. Frequent forest burning is creating unnaturally thick, tall understoreys that make fires burn hotter and faster and that quickly turn ground fires into canopy fires where they are far less able to be controlled.
As is so often the case, the FMP for 2024-2033 represents some profound steps forward, and some profound disappointments. Importantly, it is the first FMP that sets out a process for co-management with Noongar people; and it provides for the long-term protection of 400,000 ha of forests that will be securely protected from logging and mining in the conservation system. So, some fundamental and deeply meaningful progress has certainly been made. Photo by JC Photography Fire in the Styx Forest Peat swamps are ancient wetlands. Over millennia of saturation and particular plant-life associations, they form a thick, black, incredibly carbon-dense, organic base that sits below the water level, or pops up above it in big spongy domes. When they’re burnt, 1000s of years of accumulated carbon is released and the wetland is changed for centuries, if not forever, seriously degrading a vital part of the overall landscape. Empodisma peatlands have just been listed as Endangered by the Federal Government. The key risk they face and reason for their listing, is prescribed burning. But DBCA appears to be taking no additional measures to prevent their incineration. In late October, DBCA lit up the Styx forest near Denmark, apparently making no additional effort to the burning of several peat swamps in this precious, biodiverse part of the Walpole Wilderness Area. Read Mark Bennett’s article here. With DBCA showing such disregard for the protection of peats, it is vital that the Federal Government intervenes. Please write to Minister Plibersek and ask her to intervene to stop the burning of peat swamps: [email protected] Fundraising Supporter Antoine is running a half marathon along the Cape to Cape track, barefoot, to raise money for WAFA tomorrow as a way to support WA’s beautiful natural environment before he heads home to France. You can read more about Antoine’s journey and support the fundraiser with the button below. Thanks Antoine! Peer-to-peer fundraising like this is such an effective way of not only raising funds but also engaging people in the movement. Please get in touch if you’re interested in running your own fundraising campaign. You can get your networks to sponsor you for all kinds of activities such as walking, running or riding on trails or even achieving a new year’s goal. Photos by Antoine Coupe Julimar Forest for National Park Julimar Forest urgently needs National Park status. This precious forest provides critical habitat for endangered plants and animals including black cockatoos, chuditch and woylies. Act now! Julimar Forest Alliance have created an e-petition asking the Legislative Council to support the reclassification of the Julimar State Forest to give it National Park Status. We acknowledge and pay our respects to the traditional owners of the southwest forests across the Noongar/Bibbulmun nation. This always was and always will be Aboriginal land.
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