Last stand for WA south-west forests

October 23, 2013
The south-west has a higher concentration of rare and endangered species than any other part of the country. Photo: Alex Bainbri

About 500 people rallied in Perth on October 19 to protest against a new forest management plan approved by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in July, which could destroy 2000 square kilometres of native forest over the next 10 years. 

The rally was organised by campaign group Forest Legacy, and indicates the re-emergence of the movement to protect forests in WA, important at a time of increased attacks from state and federal Liberal governments. 

The crowd heard from Nyoongar elder Uncle Ben Taylor, musician Kelly Newton-Wordsworth, Jess Beckerling from the WA Forest Alliance, fashion designer Liz Davenport, Greens senator Lynn MacLaren, and Patrick Weir from Forest Legacy.
The biodiversity of Western Australia’s south-west forests is important on a global scale. The south-west has a higher concentration of rare and endangered species than any other part of the country.

The protection of old growth forests was won in 2001. However, the definition of “old growth” has since been undermined to allow logging.
The steady erosion of the 2001 victory has set the stage for the new forest management plan, which allows increased logging, a decrease in wildlife protection zones and even wood-fired power, all without the EPA applying a single environmental condition.
The prospect of wood-fired power is particularly disturbing. A biomass power plant has been approved for Diamond Mill, between Manjimup and Pemberton. So far the approval is for the use of plantation wood, but in the long run government and industry want to see Karri trees used as feedstock.

Forests are also threatened by gas fracking, global warming, fire and disease. Rather than subsidising the forest industry, which runs at a loss, the state government should consider addressing the environmental threats to the south-west. Along with plantation timber, this should provide ample employment opportunities to people currently working in the timber industry.
[To help the campaign to save south-west WA’s forests, contact Forest Legacy on (08) 9496 0514]

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