South West residents converged on Parliament House to hand over a petition asking the WA government to protect high conservation value forests. Source: Bunbury Mail
High conservation value forests contain or provide habitat for threatened plants and animals, and provide protection of water ways, wildlife corridors or Indigenous or European heritage.
The petition, signed by more than 15,500 people, was tabled in the Legislative Council by South West MLC Diane Evers.
At the rally, Ms Evers said logging native forests was the wrong thing to do ecologically and economically and that the slaughter of native forest needed to stop.
The petition is one of the largest to be tabled in the WA parliament this century, with 5000 more signatories than the petition calling for a referendum on daylight saving in 2007.
However, Forestry Minister Dave Kelly rejected calls to shut down timber harvesting, which were welcomed by Forest Industries Federation of WA.
When asked about the petition relating to native forest harvesting, Mr Kelly told parliament that the government supported the Forest Management Plan.
The Forest Product Commission native forest operation currently operate at the lower limit of the FMP. However, a proposal by the FPC to establish an integrated timber processing yard in the South West could see an increase of native forests logged if the proposal is successful.
“We are committed to protecting jobs throughout the South West, including in the forest industry, and we will see the forest management plan implemented,” he said.
The Forest Industries Federation of WA acting chief executive officer Matt Granger said the FMP was a policy instrument which secured part of an industry worth $1.4 billion in WA each year, and supported 6000 jobs, predominantly in regional WA.
“Less than 1% of WA’s total native forest area is harvested annually, exclusively in regrowth forests,” he said.