Forest Matters September 2023

By Steve Gates

Dear NRPG members and interested,

Another informative update from the WA Forest Alliance.

Kind regards,
Steve Gates

President, NRPG Bushcarers

Forest Matters September 2023

Latest forest updates from WAFA

  Welcome to the September edition of Forest Matters. We’ve got plenty to update you on in this edition, and we are also delighted to invite you to a picnic at the Serpentine Dam on Sunday the 8th of October to call for an end to Alcoa’s forest clearing, and a giant cockatoo formation action at Dumas House on Friday the 13th. 

WAFA has been going through some big internal changes too, and we’re saying goodbye to two much-loved members of our team, Nelson Gilmour and Jinni Wilson. Nelson has worked alongside me in the Kwoorabup office for the past 3 years, ably coordinating the legal case against Rio Tinto and stepping in to multiple projects with humour, commitment and a deeply-principled approach to everything he does. Jinni has been writing, publishing and coordinating socials, blogs, websites and doing media liaison, and taking stunning photos of trees and forests, as our media officer and Wadandi country correspondent, bringing thoughtful, creative, contextual talent to everything she does.

WAFA is incredibly fortunate to have a supportive, respectful and collaborative culture, and such a highly skilled and dedicated team. This is built and maintained by all of us every day in the way we approach our work and our team mates, and Nelson and Jinni have both contributed to this significantly. We wish them both the very best in their next endeavours.  Warm regards, and in solidarity for the forests, 
Jess Beckerling 
WAFA Director  Northern Jarrah Forests Alcoa Last month, the EPA decided that our referrals of Alcoa’s Mining Management Plans were valid, and called for public comments on the level of assessment it should set. Many thanks to everyone who made a submission. The EPA received a whopping 2572 comments, with 80% of these calling for a full Public Environmental Review. This is an extraordinary level of response for this 7-day stage of the EPA process and shows that there is very high community expectation that Alcoa be reined in and subject to the highest level of environmental regulation. After 60 years of Alcoa sidestepping environmental and social protections, and clearing 28,000 hectares of the Northern Jarrah Forests, it is time for the State Government to take action, draw a line, and protect these forests in secure National Parks.  While the EPA is considering the appropriate level of assessment, Alcoa is pushing back hard. We need to ensure that Premier Cook and Ministers McGurk (Water) and Whitby (Environment and Climate Action) take a strong stance to protect the south west forests against this US mining behemoth. It is critical that the EPA goes ahead with a full and robust assessment for both Alcoa’s Mining and Management Programs and the upcoming Public Environmental Review of their proposed expansions. It is also imperative that the State Government acts to protect these precious, biodiverse forests in National Parks where they, and our water catchments, will be safe. Please write to the government decision-makers today to tell them you want to stop Alcoa threatening our water and forests. This is a critical time to be having your voice heard.  Send an email  Picnic for forests at Serpentine Dam Join WA Forest Alliance, The Wilderness Society WA and Jarrahdale Forest Protectors for a picnic and community photo shoot at Serpentine Dam to highlight the public’s opposition to Alcoa’s destruction of forests and risks to water. When: Sunday 8 October 10:30am – 1pmWhere: We will meet at the Serpentine (Main) Dam Picnic Area. For more details about where to meet and what to bring head to our event page online. Please RSVP so we have an idea of numbers and can keep you updated. Register

  Julimar forest After 30 years of promises by the State Government there is still no formal protection for this vital island of biodiversity. Those of you who have spent time in this incredible place will know how beautiful, rare and significant it is, especially given the amount of clearing and degradation the surrounding landscape has been subject to.  Julimar was proposed as a conservation park by CALM way back in 1992, and we’re still waiting. Over the decades, the Toodyay Naturalist’s Club has recorded 110 species birds, 35 mammals and at least 350 invertebrates. Endangered species include black cockatoos, woylies and chuditch.  With the Avon National Park close by, there is an opportunity to improve forest connectivity and provide a lifeline for biodiversity into the future. The South West is now in the midst of a biodiversity crisis and it’s time for Julimar to be given the highest possible level of protection.The Julimar Forest Alliance have created a petition to Parliament, which you can sign via their website: Sign the petition   Lane Poole Reserve Meanwhile, another exploration application has been lodged over the forests around Dwellingup, Nanga and Lane Poole Reserve, this time by Access Mining. It’s unthinkable that this forest could subject to mining expansions and it’s time for the State Government to make it clear to mining companies and the community that the South West’s remaining forests are off-limits to mining.  Forest management update Earlier this month, the EPA published its assessment of the Proposed Forest Management Plan 2024-2033. It is vital that the next 10-year FMP is a robust plan that has what it takes to protect forests from various threats. While it is a far better plan that the last one, and we celebrate the gains that have been made, it is far too broad and permissive and fails to impose enforceable and prescriptive limits particularly on thinning and burning, leaving the door open for serious and irreversible impacts on forests, wildlife and climate. 

We have submitted an appeal to the WA Appeals Convenor calling for the plan to be remitted to the EPA for further assessment, and for a suite of binding and specific Ministerial Conditions to be imposed. We’ll let you know what happens next.  Thinning trials WAFA staff and a couple of committee members went on a tour of the thinning trial in Munro forest off the Kirup Grimwade road with Dr Katinka Ruthrof and others a few weeks ago. It was useful to see the different methodologies that have been applied, and speak to the scientists involved about the pros and cons of each approach, and how they see the program developing. The Munro trial has been carried out in a largely even-aged, dense regrowth jarrah forest that was intensively logged in the 1980s. Four different methods have been applied: trees cut and everything, including tops, removed; trees cut and the bole removed but tops left on the ground; trees cut and everything left; and trees poisoned or ring-barked and left standing. In all cases a minimum of 15m2 basal area was left standing. This means that the forest has been thinned back to a more or less natural density, and the canopy remains largely contiguous – a very different situation to some of the thinning for water or timber that goes as low as 10mbasal area and looks like a classic destructive logging operation. 

We were left with a number of unanswered questions and ongoing concerns. While we can see that light, cautious, strictly controlled thinning in minesite rehabilitation and dense immature regrowth can have benefits, these strict controls are not in place, there are no limitations to where the program could be applied – we haven’t even be assured that it will only be in immature regrowth and rehab – what basal area would be retained, what size machinery would be used, how habitat will be protected etc. This is totally unacceptable and could easily become logging by stealth. 

There is a solution to this. The Minister for Environment can impose binding and prescriptive Ministerial Conditions on the next Forest Management Plan and limit any thinning to these unnaturally dense, young regrowth forests and minesite rehabilitation under strict trial conditions with no fixed contracts. We have made detailed submissions on this, and we encourage you to get in touch with Minister Whitby and your own local MPs to express your concerns.   Image: Munro Trial Site. Cell three, whole tree removal. Illegal logging We’ve been hearing reports about an intensified rush on firewood this year, with illegal loggers felling trees and damaging surrounding forest in the process. Firewood extraction is particularly damaging as habitat trees are so often targeted.  DBCA has rules around firewood collection, including detailed maps of where firewood can be collected legally. However, these regulations are not being sufficiently enforced and the impact on forest habitats across the south west is enormous. Switching to alternative heating to avoid burning wood is the ideal option – for the forests, climate and air quality – but we recognise that many houses, especially in regional areas, are reliant on wood for space and water heating. Where people are genuinely reliant on firewood, it is critical that we ensure wood is being responsibly sourced, preferably from plantation firewood species.
Jarrah is just too precious to go up in smoke. If you’ve been seeing evidence of illegal firewooding in your area please make sure it’s reported to DBCA, let your local MP know and follow up to tell them what response you had from DBCA.  Save the Black Cockatoos Giant Black Cockatoo formation  12 noon on Wed the 11th October at Dumas House in West Perth.
Join us to create a Giant Black Cockatoo! Wear black and bring a black umbrella to help put pressure on our politicians to stop Alcoa destroying the forest habitat of these threatened birds and ensure the Northern Jarrah Forests are protected. Please register so we have some idea of numbers to plan the cockatoo formation. Register   Vote for Guardian Bird of the Year The Guardian is running its fourth ‘bird of the year’ poll. This year, Carnaby’s black cockatoos are in the running and a win would raise of the profile of these endangered birds. Please head over and cast your vote! Find the poll here. Black Cockatoo Crisis Adelaide Film Festival
Jane Hammond’s award-winning documentary is still showing at cinemas and community events around the country. The film has been nominated for the Change Award at the prestigious Adelaide Film Festival. The Festival runs from the 18th to 29th of October, and the public will get the chance to vote for the feature film they feel best fosters positive social or environmental impact. Find upcoming screenings on the graphic below, or head to the Black Cockatoo Crisis website for the latest updates. Screenings and tickets   Forests Atlas  Join the Wildflower Society of WA Murdoch Branch at their October meeting to hear Daniel Jan Martin speak about the Forests Atlas. Supper supplied, door prizes and good company! All welcome – bring a friend! Thursday 5th October, 7:30 – 9:30pm at The Wetlands Centre Cockburn, 184 Hope Road, Bibra Lake. Entry $3. More information is available on the Facebook event. Copies of the Forests Atlas will be available for purchase on the night, or you can find your copy on the WAFA website, where we also feature some of the original artworks by Alice Ford, which were commissioned for the Forests Atlas. The stunning artwork below is titled Forest Fungi hues (life sized). Fungi belong to a kingdom all of their own, neither flora or fauna. They are an intergal part of the forest floor networks across the south west. Painted here is a blue staining bolete, a ruby bonnet and a golden wood fungus (left to right). Online store   Original artwork by Alice Ford (Big Al) mounted on cream mat board. Artwork 29.5 x 45.5 cm, board 42 x 60 cm. Volunteer Banner painting session We’re looking for helpers to paint a giant banner for use at the Picnic for Forests at Serpentine Dam.  When: this Monday, the 2nd October 5pm – 8pm at Perth City Farm. Materials and snacks provided. No painting skills required but please wear clothes you don’t mind getting paint on! Please RSVP so we have an idea of numbers for catering. Register

  Co-work for forests Co-work for Forests now runs on Wednesday afternoons at our Boorloo office in West Perth. We’re always looking for volunteers to join us in the office, as well as at community outreach stalls at markets and events across Perth and the South West. If you are interested in volunteering in the office or at stalls, or if you know of an event that WAFA should have a presence at please get in touch. Find out more  In solidarity for the forests,The WAFA team. Invest in forest defence and become a regular donorStay connected via social media. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter    We acknowledge and pay our respects to the traditional owners of the South West forests across the Noongar/Bibbulmun nation. This always was and always will be Aboriginal land.  We have recently changed our email platform. Our apologies if you have received this email in error. Click here to unsubscribe.


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