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IFA/AFG says WA native forestry ban lacks scientific backing

Dr Michelle Freeman

WA’s native forestry ban has been made in the absence of public consultation and is not backed up by science or long-term thinking. Institute of Foresters of Australia and Australian Forest Growers vice president Dr Michelle Freeman said that while the association welcomed the Government’s commitment to plant 50 million more trees and support ongoing management to improve forest health, the singlemindedness of the decision to end native forestry was flawed. Source: Timberbiz

“The IFA/AFG is concerned that professional forest scientists, researchers and managers do not appear to have been consulted to inform this decision, and also questions whether the views and aspirations of Traditional Owners have been considered,” Dr Freeman said.

“This thought-bubble policy is out of step with the rest of the world, which views well-regulated, sustainable native forest management and biodiverse plantings as the preferred source of timber, because of their positive contribution to climate change mitigation, biodiversity and forest resilience.

“Although more softwood plantations are certainly required to address current and predicted future major shortfalls in domestic timber supply, we question how Western Australia will meet their ambitious plantation aspiration,” she said.

“Especially considering there are numerous reasons why national progress so far towards meeting the Federal Government’s plan for a billion new trees has been basically nil.”

The WA Government claimed its decision was made to protect the state’s native forests, however by removing resources, a skilled workforce and equipment tasked with sustainable management of the forests, it may well do the opposite.

Declaring National Parks and creating new protected areas is easy, but managing them – to maintain biodiversity, mitigate catastrophic fire and enhance resilience to climate change, pests and disease – is not.

“It is worth noting that the Government is continuing to support the flattening of forests for mining while ignoring evidence that sustainable native forestry is actually part of the solution to addressing climate change, threatened species and fire risk,” Dr Freeman said.

“The IFA/AFG considers that active management, in genuine partnership with Traditional Owners, is vital to the sustainability of native forests.  We advocate for ongoing investment and research into the causes of forest and species decline and the role that active and adaptive management needs to play in addressing climate change.”