On Tuesday, the Victorian State Government announced a historical decision: Native forest clearfell logging will end, on January 1st, 2024.
This is a campaign that Friends of the Earth has been campaigning for decades. Now we want to use this win as a catalyst for change in the rest of the country.
A Huge Win!
Native clear fell forest logging has been a continual issue in the country for decades. We have some of the most carbon dense forests in the world, and the violent destruction of them releases huge amounts of carbon into the air, fueling the climate crisis. We saw this happen with the Black Summer Bushfires only a few years ago.
On top of that, it destroys ecosystems, forcing hundreds of species of wildlife to the brink of extinction. It damages and ruins sacred first nations sites, perpetuating the ongoing genocide of their culture. There is no excuse for native forest logging.
Our member groups, such as FoE Melbourne, GECO, and WOTCH have been working for decades to protect these forests. This is a huge win for them and the forests. Friends of the Earth Australia thanks every single person who has fought so hard for this win for Climate Justice.
Now is a sensitive time for workers, and we will be working hard to ensure that the transition serves the needs and respects the transferable skills of regional workers and communities, building regional resilience in this time of climate crisis and ensures the return of land to First Nations custodians.
So, What's next?
With logging due to end by January 1, 2024, we will continue advocating for the best protections possible for forests over the next 7 months and working closely with communities and the broader movement to ensure the best possible outcome for the forests of Victoria. The future of forests should be cared for the benefit of people, biodiversity, water and land, not exploited for profit and cheap products. Management of forests should braid First Nations Cultural Knowledge together with peer-reviewed integrity based ecological studies and maintain respect for both knowledge systems.
Now more than ever, we must advocate for other states to follow the footsteps of the Victorian Government. Native forests in Tasmania and NSW are under threat, and we must call on their premiers, as well as the Federal Government, to follow this precedent.
In the Victorian space, we also must advocate for the disbandment of the Wood Pulp Agreement. As our member group GECO puts it: This agreement locks in harvest obligations with the Maryvale Mill and Opal / Nippon. Without this agreement being disbanded it's likely we'll see logging appear under other categories, such as bushfire mitigation and disaster logging. Pressure may increase in forested areas currently, or in the near future, subject to disaster logging - including Wombat State Forest and the Dandenong Ranges National Park.
If we want to see native forest logging end for good, in the whole country, we must continue to put the pressure on, now more than ever. The Bob Brown foundation is holding national actions between the 17th and 19th of August, to call for an end to native forest logging in Tasmania.
We must also call on the Federal Government to abolish the old EPBC laws that allow the logging industry to continue to profit off our forests. A new one must be introduced that protects our forest and First Nations culture.
As Alana Mountain, a forest campaigner from FoEM puts it: "This is justice for climate, forests, and humanity. The community just protected one of the world’s largest carbon sinks in this state, a globally significant area for climate mitigation and biodiversity”.
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