Labor positions on current forests and forestry related issues

Since 2011 the Liberal National Government has in NSW has done more to harm koalas than save them, including:

  • Introducing land clearing laws that could see eight million hectares of core koala habitat destroyed;
  • Signing off on clearing codes that will allow 99 percent of koala habitat on private land to be cleared;
  • Selling off core koala habitat to developers for $250,000 at the Mambo Wetlands in Port Stephens;
  • Directing the route of the Pacific Highway Upgrade at Ballina through core koala habitat;
  • Refusing to support the Great Koala National Park, instead calling it “a political gimmick”;
  • Allowing housing development in core koala habitat in the Macarthur region and including the upgrade of Picton Road without adequate protections for the only chlamydia-free koala population in NSW;
  • Carting off koalas in sacks from the Liverpool Plains to make way for the Shenhua coal mine; and
  • Allowing logging operations that do not properly take into account koalas in state forests, with further weakening of the protections currently in place.

Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (Statement by Penny Sharpe, 17 May 2018)

Ms Penny Sharpe, NSW Shadow Minister for Environment: “Labor does not support the weakening of environmental protections that were agreed in the past. If it has been protected previously, it should remain protected.” (Message to members and candidates 17 May 2018)

Regional Forests Agreements (The Guardian, 22 March 2018)

“NSW Labor has demanded that climate change be on the table as part of a full scientific assessment of the state’s regional forest agreements (RFAs), which are set to expire over the next two years.

Penny Sharpe, opposition environment spokeswoman, said NSW Labor would not sign off on proposed extensions because the government “knows the science underpinning the RFAs is out of date and incomplete”. She said: “Importantly, the RFA assessment must include climate change as a consideration. Given the key role of forests for carbon storage, no RFA should be renewed.”

Sharpe criticised the Berejiklian government’s consultation on the long-overdue reviews of the RFAs and called for a proper assessment without a predetermined outcome. “No one has been fooled by this all-in-one review and sham consultation exercise being undertaken in NSW – a review for which the outcome has already been decided is not really a review, so it is no wonder that numerous key stakeholders abandoned the consultation process.

She said concerns about the consultation had also been raised by scientists and environment groups which have withdrawn from the consultations because the government announced that it is was committed to renewing the RFAs regardless. “Labor has been unequivocal: Labor will not sign off on a rollover of the RFAs until there is a proper, independent, scientific assessment of their outcomes, and the assumptions of the original RFAs are revisited.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/22/nsw-labor-refuses-to-approve-forestry-agreements-based-on-out-of-date-science?

Great Koala National Park (NSW Labor Platform 2017)

An elected Labor Government will continue its legacy of National Park creation. Labor will direct the National Parks and Wildlife Service to develop funded reserve proposals and a plan for progressing the implementation of the NSW National Parks Establishment Plan. Our first priority is the creation of the Great Koala National Park on the state’s north coast.

Great Koala National Park (NSW Labor Leader, Luke Foley, Address to NSW Country Labor  Conference, 5 December 2016, Dubbo)

Delegates, the koala is a symbol of Australia. Instantly recognisable, they are a beautiful, unique and iconic animal. But today, we face the very real prospect of the koala becoming extinct in our state. New South Wales is now home to fewer than ten per cent of the nation’s koalas. Are we prepared to accept that in a couple of decades from now, koalas will only exist in captivity, in zoos and wildlife parks? Understand this is the trajectory we’re on. Unless we act. I will act. Labor will act.

Today I commit that the next Labor Government of New South Wales will prioritise the creation of national parks that protect the remaining koala populations of the north coast. China’s panda reserves are world famous. Reserves covering a million hectares of the panda’s bamboo forest habitat have been established and provided with World Heritage listing. They attract tourists from around the world. The Australian koala is as internationally recognisable as the Chinese panda. Yet to date no reserves have been established here to ensure the protection of the koala in the wild. We will change this. And….…koalas benefit the Australian economy.

The New South Government itself tells us that they create over 9,000 jobs and contribute up to $2.5 billion per year to tourism in Australia. Koala reserves, like China’s panda reserves, will attract tourists from around the world. Our plan to save koalas will also grow jobs and tourism in northern New South Wales. Eucalypt forests and rainforests that are home to significant koala populations will be assessed for priority additions to the national park estate.

I also call on the current government to hold a New South Wales Koala Summit, as a matter of urgency, to bring together experts and all stakeholders concerned with koala protection to plan effective action across the state. The last Koala Summit was held in 1988. I want to see land managers, scientists – including those involved in ground breaking chlamydia vaccination research – voluntary wildlife carers and rehabilitation providers come together to save the koala.

Source: http://www.lukefoley.com.au/nsw_labor_country_conference_speech

NSW Government Koala Strategy (Penny Sharpe News Release, 7 May 2018)

Labor has slammed the Berejiklian Government’s Koala Strategy as a miniscule fig leaf to cover the damage the NSW Government has wrought on endangered koalas across New South Wales.

The NSW Koala Strategy was released yesterday, one year late and five years after the previous, comprehensive Koala Recovery Plan, developed in 2008, had lapsed. Labor further criticised the strategy as lacking in detail and missing important information about key koala populations in places like Port Macquarie, Bellingen, Ballina and Coffs Harbour. NSW is home to fewer that ten per cent of Australia’s koalas and 90 per cent of our koala populations are in decline.

Labor will release a comprehensive koala policy in coming months but has already committed to:

  • Prioritising the creation of national parks that protect the remaining koala populations of the North Coast. Eucalypt forests and rainforests that are home to significant koala populations will be assessed for priority additions to the national park estate.
  • Holding a New South Wales Koala Summit, as a matter of urgency, to bring together experts and all stakeholders concerned with koala protection to design and deliver an effective recovery plan across the state. The last Koala Summit was held in 1988.
  • Restoring land clearing laws to protect koala habitats.

Source: http://www.pennysharpe.com/berejiklian_government_koala_strategy_a_fig_leaf_for_7_years_of_inaction_over_koalas 

Private Forestry bill to get NSW Upper House review (District Bulletin, 24 May 2018)

THE FORESTRY LEGISLATION Amendment Bill 2018 transfers much of the responsibility for the management of Private Native Forestry from the EPA to Local Land Services. It also amends the Forestry Act 2012 and Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016*  to “update” the regulatory framework for public native forestry.

The Bill, introduced by the Minister for Lands and Forestry, Paul Toole, was the first ever to be sent for an Inquiry by the Selection of Bills Committee. The Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill 2018  was referred to the Upper House Standing Committee on State Development with the help of the ALP and cross-benchers. The proposed changes are causing alarm within environmental groups fearful of opening up old growth forests, as well as groups such as beekeepers and downstream farmers worried about the impacts of the new Integrated Forestry Operation Approval model on matters such as pollination levels and water quality.

“This will ensure closer scrutiny and more community input before this Bill comes back to Parliament,” said Shadow Minister for Primary Industries and Lands Mick Veitch.

NSW Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said: “The Bill should require publication of private native forest plans on a public register so people with an interest in conserving our unique forests and threatened wildlife can review proposals before logging occurs.” She said the bill should also include third-party appeal rights so if governments fail to act, the public can take action in the courts to ensure environmental laws are upheld.

Source: https://districtbulletin.com.au/private-forestry-bill-get-nsw-upper-house-review/

Labor calls not he government to act now on land clearing (Federal Shadow Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke, and Federal Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Mark Butler, Statement, 15 May 2018)

The only reason the Kingvale station approval skated through the Queensland process is because Mr Turnbull and Mr Frydenberg’s mates in the Campbell Newman Government had abolished the previous land clearing laws. Otherwise, this proposal would have been prevented from the start. As part of the Reef 2050 sustainability plan, the Turnbull Government signed up the ending of broad-scale land clearing of remnant vegetation in Queensland. This was an essential part of ensuring UNESCO did not place the Great Barrier Reef on the ‘endangered list’.

Enough is enough, we’ve already cleared about two-thirds of this continent causing pollution to spike, devastating local biodiversity particularly in Queensland and causing additional run off onto an already deeply stressed Great Barrier Reef.

 It’s simply not good enough for Mr Frydenberg to answer every question about the Great Barrier Reef by quoting dollars of government expenditure. Mr Frydenberg has a choice. Is he going to back the Great Barrier Reef and the commitment his government made to UNESCO and to the people of Queensland, or is he again going to give in to the bullying of the National Party MPs? Because the Reef won’t be protected if the Turnbull Government continues to neglect it by allowing land clearing in catchment areas and failing to deliver any climate change policy.

Forests (NSW Labor Platform 2017)

1.63 NSW Labor will:

  • Oppose mineral exploration and mining in national parks and other reserves.
  • Oppose any forestry operations in national parks and other reserves.
  • Ensure that the ecological integrity and biological diversity of national parks, conservation reserves and the biosphere are maintained.

1.64 NSW Labor will protect our State Forests. NSW Labor will:

  • Ensure the dedication of viable reserves, representative of all native forest ecosystems in the State and minimise further clearing of native forests.
  • Ensure that where forests are determined to have a timber production role, the forest resource is managed on environmentally sound sustainable yield and multiple use lines.
  • Forests NSW property assets are to be maintained and kept under the control and ownership of the NSW State Government. Any excess Forests NSW assets are to be transferred to National Parks and Wildlife Services with suitable allocation of resources (labour and capital) to support its operations.
  • Forests NSW (or any other name by which it may be known by in the future) is to remain a wholly owned and operated Government entity.

Labor recognises the intrinsic value of nature, along with the vital role forests – on public land as National Parks and State forests, and on private land – play in protecting biodiversity and water systems and in mitigating the effects of climate change. NSW Labor supports world heritage recognition for internationally significant NSW forests.

1.80 Prohibition on burning native forests and cleared vegetation for electricity Burning of native forest timber and cleared vegetation for electricity production is not clean or renewable energy, and forms no part of a credible strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Labor will reinstate the prohibition on burning native forests and cleared vegetation for electricity.

8.11 NSW Labor will promote ecologically sound and sustainable forestry practices, including:

  • Re-afforestation of forests and cleared land.
  • Minimisation of wasteful uses of forest products.
  • Large scale planting of eucalyptus species for specific purposes.
  • Protection of water catchments.
  • Mandatory eucalyptus planting when wood  chipping licenses are granted.
  • The ecological effect of forest product use be considered in relation to native flora and fauna.
  • Encouragement of primary producers to expand their agricultural base to include native forestry.
  • Developing and implementing a plan
    of management for the timber industry including millable timber and timber for woodchips.
  • Supporting public ownership of State Softwood Plantations.

8.12 NSW Labor supports initiatives already implemented to:

  • Ensure that no woodchip licences are issued until full environmental impact studies are undertaken.
  • Cease clear felling of natural forests and implement ecologically sustainable silvicultural timber harvesting practices of Australian Group Selection (AGS) and Single Tree Selection (STS).

Updated: 3 June 2018