Forest News

Forest Media 31 March 2023

Hi, I started doing regular media summaries in late 2019. The format has changed over time. My coverage significantly improved when NCC gave me access to their daily media monitoring results – I thank them for it. I find it interesting to keep up with what’s happening in NSW and around the world, though it takes a large part of my time. I wanted to keep going untill after the election, though will now be calling it quits, instead focusing on occasional articles.

New South Wales

The North East Forest Alliance welcomed the election of the Minns Labor government with their promise to create a Great Koala National Park, and called for a moratorium on logging within the park proposal until the promised assessment is complete. The Bellingen Environment Centre also did a media release calling for an immediate moratorium, saying the unions and industry have no role in what should be a scientific review.

The Echo also has a longer article talking about the need to protect forests to mitigate climate heating, issues around Doubleduke, including the EPAs statement that their requirement to protect the gully of the giants has lapsed - and the only way to reinstate it is if the Forestry Corporation agrees, and the request for a moratorium on the GKNP.

Along with NBN, ABC radio has an interview with Penny Sharpe about the Grear Koala National Park, where she reaffirms her commitment to it, rules out a moratorium (again), that it needs to be worked out with unions and industry, and mentions corridors linking existing reserves (a worrying theme). As in the ABC interview, the Coffs Coast Advocate has an article claiming the vote for the National’s Singh in Coffs Harbour shows the community does not support the Great Koala National Park.

The Australian Forest Products Association has urged the new State Government to address the state’s looming timber supply challenges as a priority and the Australian Forest Contractors Association to protect forest workers from workplace harassment and trespass, while praising the previous government.

News of the Area covers the story about Mark Graham being visited by the riot squad at 10 pm at night, claiming they were enforcing bail conditions, though Mark’s bail conditions were not to enter State forests, not to stay at home.

Save Bulga Forest welcomed the change of the status of the two compartments the focus of their campaign since 20 December has been changed to “suspended”, showing the Forestry Corporation, having been able to log for only 2 days, have backed off for the time being as a result of community pressure, resulting in the camp being closed and a focus on the Government to permanently protect it.

The Forestry Corporation are obviously feeling brave since the ALP ruled out putting any part of the Great Koala NP under moratorium, or they are looking for some other Koala habitat to log, on the 29 March they approved compartments 6 and 7 of Braemar SF for logging. These are the compartments where we found an exceptional density of Koalas in 2019, with most Koalas killed in the 2019 fires, though a remnant population is still there, and most of their feed trees survived the fires - so they can rebuild. This is part of NEFA's Sandy Creek Koala Park - that the ALP committed to protect (in a smaller form) 2 elections ago, but has since dropped it.

The Echo wrote a belated article on the $15,000 fine for breaches in a PNF operation in Kyogle Shire, and the bigger problem this uncovered with 133 approved PNF operations unlawful because they did not obtain consent from Council – a 13 year problem, Council recently wrote to the 133 PNF operators telling them their logging is unlawful and they require DAs.

NSW Election:

Many forest protectors were delighted that the National Party forestry fiefdom was finally overthrown, particularly as the new Labor government at least has a commitment to protecting “a” Great Koala National Park, and maybe Koalas elsewhere. The initial results suggested they would easily achieve a majority in the Lower House, as counting proceeded it became apparent that they would likely be a minority Government, one or two seats short of a majority, with there likely to be nine independents and three Greens they have multiple choices for getting support – though they still need to get it through the Upper House. The progressive vote in the Upper House also went backwards as counting proceeded, and now seems destined to be a finely balanced house with 21 Labor and progressives and 21 Coalition and conservatives, with the final balance depending on who takes on the role of president. Irrespective, with 4 Greens and (hopefully) 2 progressives, Labor is going to have strong reliance on their vote. Many of the Liberal seats picked up late in the process gave the moderates a lead within their party.

As noted by the Guardian, there are some common themes among the independents: gambling reform, including advertising of betting services; reforms to the planning system to ensure consideration of climate change impacts; prohibitions on conversion practices and other LGBTQ+ issues; reforms to land clearing; expanding koala protections; and other environmental reforms.

Wollondilly was the only electorate to be lost to a “teal”, Judy Hannan, leading the defeated Liberal member Nathaniel Smith to accuse the NSW Liberal Party of failing to protect one of its most ardent right-wing warriors.

Australia

With an average deforestation of 416,840 hectares of forests per year between 2015-2020, Australia ranks fifth in the world, and the only developed country on the list, the good news is that our deforestation is down from the pre-2000 rate. An article by Dr David Shearman argues that land clearing, even by bits and pieces, and logging of native forests, has to stop. He particularly focuses on South Australia.

A new report card on Australia’s environment for 2022 identifies the wet La Nina years have been a boon for our rivers, wetlands, waterbirds and vegetation, except in the Top End in the Northern Territory, southern inland Western Australia and western Tasmania which missed out, and those millions of fish. The ocean around Australia was the warmest on record and the Great Barrier Reef suffered its fourth bleaching in 7 years. The combination of habitat destruction, invasive species and climate change took a big toll. The 2019/20 wildfires were primarily responsible for 30 species being added to the official list of threatened species, increasing it to 1,973 species, with abundances of threatened species declining about 3% a year.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has introduced the Nature Repair Market Bill to parliament aimed at establishing the market-based scheme, her green Wall Street, creating financial credits for landowners who restore and protect important habitat, leading to the creation of biodiversity offsets whereby developers can pay for destroying habitat - likely a repeat of the failed NSW biodiversity offsets and failed carbon offsets. The Nationals claimed that it is their previous bill, developers welcomed it, and conservation groups condemned it – there is likely to be a Senate inquiry.

The Greens have criticised some environment groups, notably ACF, for undermining their negotiations with the ALP over the safeguard mechanism, accusing some groups of being too interested in “access to government and perceived influence”.

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) claims The Greens amendments to the National Reconstruction Fund to remove native forest harvesting eligibility from the National Reconstruction Fund “was a stunt with no practical effect”, welcoming the Albanese Government’s explicit guarantee that projects involving the processing of native forestry products will be eligible for funding.

VicForests is appealing the 2022 Supreme Court decision that the company failed to adequately survey and protect the endangered greater glider and yellow-bellied gliders in its operations, which led them to halt logging in East Gippsland and the Central Highlands while they developed new survey techniques to comply with the court orders, claiming a lack of procedural fairness and a shifting of regulatory definitions. Vicforests are trialing drones to undertake the court ordered surveys for Southern Greater Glider and Yellow-bellied Gliders.

Species

Bangalow Koalas are celebrating planting of their 250,000th tree, halfway to their goal of 500,000 trees by 2025.

The Deteriorating Problem

The IPCC Synthesis Report was considerably watered down in the process of achieving unanimous buy-in from delegates of all 195 nations involved, particularly relating to the environmental costs of burning fossil fuels and consuming meat, while inflating the claimed benefits of capture carbon and storage technologies.

Scientists warn that business as usual will cause sustained melting of Antarctic ice, likely resulting in the rate of circulation of deep ocean currents in the southern hemisphere slowing down by 40 per cent by 2050, causing deoxygenation of waters at the bottom of the ocean, a reduction of nutrients in upwellings, the monsoon to the north of Australia becoming much drier, more rainfall north of the equator, and less rainfall south of the equator.

Due to record-high temperatures in 2022, 500 wildfires burnt 306,000 hectares in Spain, and following a winter drought and unseasonal hot temperatures, an early fire has burnt over 4,000 hectares and forced 1,500 people to flee their homes, leading to concerns that this could be another bad year as climate heating leads to mega fires.

As fires increase so too does the aerial application of the pretty pink ammonium phosphate-based retardant, in California the Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology have waged a decade long legal battle against its use near streams because of its significant impacts on aquatic ecosystems, particularly fish, also questioning its effectiveness in most conditions, creating a panicked reaction from many, resulting in lawfare.

Turning it Around

NASA researchers have used satellite images and an artificial intelligence algorithm to count 9.9 billion trees and measure how much carbon they store across 10 million square kilometers.in the semiarid Sahel, a belt of land stretching across Northern Africa, from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, with the method ready to be deployed elsewhere in the near future.

If you are interested in what’s happening regarding forests in Europe, North America or India regarding global promises to end forest loss, Deforestation Inc. reporters checked and found authorities were failing on a number of key forest protection measures. Their earlier revelations that one of North America’s largest pulp and paper manufacturers, Paper Excellence, that now controls nearly 54 million acres of Canadian forests, is linked to entities in Indonesia and China has created controversy in Canada. Deforestation Inc also have a lengthy article about voluntary timber certification, highlighting how shoddy the processes are, focusing on KPMGs role in developing voluntary standards and their vouching for an Indonesian company with a supply chain beset by deforestation allegations and a project in Canada that led to an Indigenous forest’s “death by a thousand cuts”.

More than 28 million credits have been sold for the Cordillera Azul National Park project in Peru, which aimed to stop deforestation, yet tree loss has more than doubled, according to satellite analysis tree canopy loss jumped from an average of 262 hectares (650 acres) per year in the five years before the project launched to an average of 572 hectares (1,400 acres) per year from 2009 to 2021, in addition to this the worth of the project was greatly overstated.

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Great Koala National Park:

… time for a moratorium:

The North East Forest Alliance welcomed the election of the Minns Labor government with their promise to create a Great Koala National Park, and called for a moratorium on logging within the park proposal until the promised assessment is complete. The Bellingen Environment Centre also did a media release calling for an immediate moratorium, saying the unions and industry have no role in what should be a scientific review.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/03/nefa-welcomes-the-election-of-a-new-government/

https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2023/03/27/great-koala-national-park-finally-becomes-a-reality/

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-31-march-2023

The Echo also has a longer article talking about the need to protect forests to mitigate climate heating, issues around Doubleduke, including the EPAs statement that their requirement to protect the gully of the giants has lapsed - and the only way to reinstate it is if the Forestry Corporation agrees, and the request for a moratorium on the GKNP.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/03/call-for-labor-government-to-reinstate-logging-moratorium-now/

… no moratorium:

Along with NBN, ABC radio has an interview with Penny Sharpe about the Grear Koala National Park, where she reaffirms her commitment to it, rules out a moratorium (again), that it needs to be worked out with unions and industry, and mentions corridors linking existing reserves (a worrying theme).

https://www.abc.net.au/coffscoast/programs/breakfast/gknp-sharp/102153176

… no mandate:

As in the ABC interview, the Coffs Coast Advocate has an article claiming the vote for the National’s Singh in Coffs Harbour shows the community does not support the Great Koala National Park.

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/coffs-harbour/coffs-coast-residents-show-little-hunger-for-great-koala-national-park/news-story/b13a82fdfbe79606b8876954e9fa54a5?btr=8d61fbe2fddb8b506cb96240e53d590e

loggers praise the past and seek to make a better future:

The Australian Forest Products Association has urged the new State Government to address the state’s looming timber supply challenges as a priority and the Australian Forest Contractors Association to protect forest workers from workplace harassment and trespass, while praising the previous government.

AFPA NSW … “However, we remain concerned about the impact of Labor’s commitment to create a Great Koala National Park on the future of thousands of timber jobs and the supply of essential timber products across NSW.

“NSW Labor has committed to work with the timber industry and to do due diligence on the implementation of a Great Koala National Park. We urge the Minns Government to listen to the science, which shows that the state’s sustainable, regenerative native forestry operations have no impact on koala numbers while contributing $2.9 billion annually to the state economy.”

“AFCA has enjoyed a positive and constructive relationship with the NSW Coalition over a number of years, and especially wishes to thank Minister Saunders and his office,” she said.

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/labor-elected-in-nsw-and-a-great-koala-national-park/

Intimidating dissenters:

News of the Area covers the story about Mark Graham being visited by the riot squad at 10 pm at night, claiming they were enforcing bail conditions, though Mark’s bail conditions were not to enter State forests, not to stay at home.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-31-march-2023

Bulga suspended:

Save Bulga Forest welcomed the change of the status of the two compartments the focus of their campaign since 20 December has been changed to “suspended”, showing the Forestry Corporation, having been able to log for only 2 days, have backed off for the time being as a result of community pressure, resulting in the camp being closed and a focus on the Government to permanently protect it.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/03/bulga-forest-logging-suspended/

Sandy Creek Koala Park:

The Forestry Corporation are obviously feeling brave since the ALP ruled out putting any part of the Great Koala NP under moratorium, or they are looking for some other Koala habitat to log, on the 29 March they approved compartments 6 and 7 of Braemar SF for logging. These are the compartments where we found an exceptional density of Koalas in 2019, with most Koalas killed in the 2019 fires, though a remnant population is still there, and most of their feed trees survived the fires - so they can rebuild. This is part of NEFA's Sandy Creek Koala Park - that the ALP committed to protect (in a smaller form) 2 elections ago, but has since dropped it.

133 illegal logging operations in Kyogle Shire:

The Echo wrote a belated article on the $15,000 fine for breaches in a PNF operation in Kyogle Shire, and the bigger problem this uncovered with 133 approved PNF operations unlawful because they did not obtain consent from Council – a 13 year problem, Council recently wrote to the 133 PNF operators telling them their logging is unlawful and they require DAs.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/03/15000-fine-and-warnings-over-illegal-logging-in-kyogle-shire/

NSW Election

Many forest protectors were delighted that the National Party forestry fiefdom was finally overthrown, particularly as the new Labor government at least has a commitment to protecting “a” Great Koala National Park, and maybe Koalas elsewhere. The initial results suggested they would easily achieve a majority in the Lower House, as counting proceeded it became apparent that they would likely be a minority Government, one or two seats short of a majority, with there likely to be nine independents and three Greens they have multiple choices for getting support – though they still need to get it through the Upper House. The progressive vote in the Upper House also went backwards as counting proceeded, and now seems destined to be a finely balanced house with 21 Labor and progressives and 21 Coalition and conservatives, with the final balance depending on who takes on the role of president. Irrespective, with 4 Greens and (hopefully) 2 progressives, Labor is going to have strong reliance on their vote. Many of the Liberal seats picked up late in the process gave the moderates a lead within their party.

Current lower house primary votes are 37.1% Labor (up 3.8%), 35.5% Coalition (down 6.1%), 9.5% Greens (down 0.1%), 1.7% One Nation (up 0.6%), 1.5% Shooters (down 1.9%) and 14.7% for all Others (up 3.7%). Others includes 9.0% for independents (up 4.3%).

https://theconversation.com/nsw-labor-unlikely-to-win-majority-after-flopping-on-pre-poll-votes-202715?utm

… reason for hope:

As noted by the Guardian, there are some common themes among the independents: gambling reform, including advertising of betting services; reforms to the planning system to ensure consideration of climate change impacts; prohibitions on conversion practices and other LGBTQ+ issues; reforms to land clearing; expanding koala protections; and other environmental reforms.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/mar/30/crossbench-prepares-to-flex-its-power-while-nsw-labor-still-short-of-forming-majority-government

Infighting in Liberals:

Wollondilly was the only electorate to be lost to a “teal”, Judy Hannan, leading the defeated Liberal member Nathaniel Smith to accuse the NSW Liberal Party of failing to protect one of its most ardent right-wing warriors.

[Nathaniel Smith] “Matt Kean was the number one complaint at polling booths from conservative voters, saying he’s too woke. And they went straight to One Nation.”

Hannan, who says she is not a teal but espouses the values of other Climate 200-backed candidates, has said she was a classic example of the female candidate the Liberal Party had lost to the independent movement.

“I probably should have been [a Liberal],” she told the Herald last week.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/nsw/liberals-blindsided-in-sydney-s-south-west-by-independent-20230328-p5cvys.html

AUSTRALIA

Australia needs to do better to be world leaders:

With an average deforestation of 416,840 hectares of forests per year between 2015-2020, Australia ranks fifth in the world, and the only developed country on the list, the good news is that our deforestation is down from the pre-2000 rate.

From 2001 to 2021, Australia lost 8.73Mha of tree cover, equivalent to a 21 per cent decrease in tree cover since 2000, and 2.40Gt of CO?e emissions, according to Global Forest Watch

You can view the full report here.

While Australia’s deforestation rate is concerning, the 2015-2020 figures represent a 33 per cent reduction on the 626,200 hectares that was cleared between 1990 and 2000. Globally, this is the fourth biggest decrease in deforestation rates over the period. 

https://thefifthestate.com.au/business/public-community/deforestation-how-does-australia-fare-in-global-comparisons/

An article by Dr David Shearman argues that land clearing, even by bits and pieces, and logging of native forests, has to stop. He particularly focuses on South Australia.

We carry only a small share of the world’s responsibility for reducing greenhouse emissions, but we are totally responsible for protecting our own natural environment by stopping many damaging practices, foremost land clearing, which continues throughout the entire country.

In terms of health and the environment, this logging is bleeding requiring urgent application of a tourniquet.

https://johnmenadue.com/land-clearing-an-environmental-and-human-health-disaster-that-must-stop/

Wins and losses for 2022:

A new report card on Australia’s environment for 2022 identifies the wet La Nina years have been a boon for our rivers, wetlands, waterbirds and vegetation, except in the Top End in the Northern Territory, southern inland Western Australia and western Tasmania which missed out, and those millions of fish. The ocean around Australia was the warmest on record and the Great Barrier Reef suffered its fourth bleaching in 7 years. The combination of habitat destruction, invasive species and climate change took a big toll. The 2019/20 wildfires were primarily responsible for 30 species being added to the official list of threatened species, increasing it to 1,973 species, with abundances of threatened species declining about 3% a year. 

Australia’s emissions are not falling anywhere near fast enough. They were almost the same in 2022 as in the previous year. And our national emissions remain among the highest in the world per person.

Decisive action is needed. Slowing down habitat destruction, invasive species and climate change is key to preserving our natural resources and species for future generations.

https://theconversation.com/2022-was-a-good-year-for-nature-in-australia-but-three-nasty-problems-remain-201778?

https://www.ausenv.online/aer/vegetation/index.html

Offsetting environmental destruction:

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has introduced the Nature Repair Market Bill to parliament aimed at establishing the market-based scheme, her green Wall Street, creating financial credits for landowners who restore and protect important habitat, leading to the creation of biodiversity offsets whereby developers can pay for destroying habitat - likely a repeat of the failed NSW biodiversity offsets and failed carbon offsets. The Nationals claimed that it is their previous bill, developers welcomed it, and conservation groups condemned it – there is likely to be a Senate inquiry.

Greens environment spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young said her party would not support the bill in its current form.

“Nothing in this bill will save Australia’s koalas from extinction. Until we have laws that protect critical habitat and stop native forest logging, no amount of market spin will save nature,” she said. “The inclusion of offsets as part of a market intended to repair nature is a red flag. What is to stop this from becoming a free pass for industry to continue destroying the environment?”

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/federal/plibersek-s-biodiversity-credits-won-t-save-koalas-greens-say-20230329-p5cwb3.html

https://www.farmonline.com.au/story/8140890/environment-minister-wants-to-pay-landowners-to-help-repair-nature/

Negotiation tactics:

The Greens have criticised some environment groups, notably ACF, for undermining their negotiations with the ALP over the safeguard mechanism, accusing some groups of being too interested in “access to government and perceived influence”.

McKim said some green groups were afraid to criticise the government “in case they lose access or suffer brand damage”. He singled out the Australian Conservation Foundation, which he said had “pulled the rug out from under us at a critical stage” by calling on MPs to “strengthen and pass” the safeguard legislation and then keep working to stop new coal and gas in this term of parliament.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/mar/31/greens-senator-nick-mckim-blasts-climate-groups-after-divisions-over-safeguard-mechanism

Funding wood manufacturing:

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) claims The Greens amendments to the National Reconstruction Fund to remove native forest harvesting eligibility from the National Reconstruction Fund “was a stunt with no practical effect”, welcoming the Albanese Government’s explicit guarantee that projects involving the processing of native forestry products will be eligible for funding.

https://www.nationaltribune.com.au/afpa-thanks-government-and-key-senators-for-native-forestry-value-add-recognition-under-the-national/

VicForests is appealing:

VicForests is appealing the 2022 Supreme Court decision that the company failed to adequately survey and protect the endangered greater glider and yellow-bellied gliders in its operations, which led them to halt logging in East Gippsland and the Central Highlands while they developed new survey techniques to comply with the court orders, claiming a lack of procedural fairness and a shifting of regulatory definitions.

Senior Counsel for VicForests Rachel Doyle argued the terms of the initial trial launched by environmental group Environment East Gippsland had shifted during proceedings and the decision lacked fairness.

"The trial would have been different or could have been different, had VicForests been on notice at first instance of the approach that Your Honour intended to take," she said.

https://www.dailyliberal.com.au/story/8133486/vicforests-fights-supreme-court-logging-decision/

Vicforests are trialing drones to undertake the court ordered surveys for Southern Greater Glider and Yellow-bellied Gliders.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/8143783/gliders-seem-unfazed-by-drones-buzzing-over-vic-forests/

SPECIES

Halfway there:

Bangalow Koalas are celebrating planting of their 250,000th tree, halfway to their goal of 500,000 trees by 2025.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-30/bangalow-koala-charity-restoring-koala-habitat-250000-trees/102154790

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

Reducing climate impacts, the easy way:

The IPCC Synthesis Report was considerably watered down in the process of achieving unanimous buy-in from delegates of all 195 nations involved, particularly relating to the environmental costs of burning fossil fuels and consuming meat, while inflating the claimed benefits of capture carbon and storage technologies.

In fact, corporate influence over global climate efforts is so well documented at this point that the IPCC authors wanted to include references to it in the final report summary released last week, Thomas wrote in his report for Distilled. “In a leaked draft, scientists cited studies showing the impact of lobbying. They included ‘vested interests’ as one of the ‘factors limiting ambitious transformation,’” he said. “But it appears that those very vested interests deleted this text too. The final report makes no mention of the role that lobbying plays in preventing climate action.”

https://mailchi.mp/insideclimatenews/corporate-interests-watered-down-the-latest-ipcc-climate-report-investigations-find?e=6624c72df8

Slowing currents to have major impacts:

Scientists warn that business as usual will cause sustained melting of Antarctic ice, likely resulting in the rate of circulation of deep ocean currents in the southern hemisphere slowing down by 40 per cent by 2050, causing deoxygenation of waters at the bottom of the ocean, a reduction of nutrients in upwellings, the monsoon to the north of Australia becoming much drier, more rainfall north of the equator, and less rainfall south of the equator.

https://theconversation.com/torrents-of-antarctic-meltwater-are-slowing-the-currents-that-drive-our-vital-ocean-overturning-and-threaten-its-collapse-202108?utm

https://www.straitstimes.com/world/antarctic-ice-melt-could-disrupt-the-world-s-oceans-study

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/technology/environment/oxygen-depleted-new-warning-about-our-oceans/news-story/8428c1a117a0a0f36214c521853cbda6?btr=1a33dee78b9e2bbbc1e350c2c99bc49e

The mega fire era:

Due to record-high temperatures in 2022, 500 wildfires burnt 306,000 hectares in Spain, and following a winter drought and unseasonal hot temperatures, an early fire has burnt over 4,000 hectares and forced 1,500 people to flee their homes, leading to concerns that this could be another bad year as climate heating leads to mega fires.

If the country faces “another summer in which temperatures don't fall below 35C for 20 days and it doesn't rain for four months, the vegetation will be liable to go up in flames” with the first lightning bolt, warns wildfire expert Pablo Martin Pinto.

“We are moving from the era of big forest fires to mega forest fires in Spain,” says the Valladolid University professor, warning that such vast blazes were “here to stay”.

https://www.euronews.com/green/2023/03/27/the-era-of-mega-forest-fires-has-begun-in-spain-is-climate-change-to-blame

Retarding fire, water and earth:

As fires increase so too does the aerial application of the pretty pink ammonium phosphate-based retardant, in California the Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology have waged a decade long legal battle against its use near streams because of its significant impacts on aquatic ecosystems, particularly fish, also questioning its effectiveness in most conditions, creating a panicked reaction from many, resulting in lawfare.

https://phys.org/news/2023-03-lawsuit-jeopardizes-crucial-wildfire-retardant.html

https://fox40.com/news/california-lawmakers-join-us-forest-service-in-battle-to-continue-the-use-of-aerial-fire-retardant/

TURNING IT AROUND

Making every tree count:

NASA researchers have used satellite images and an artificial intelligence algorithm to count 9.9 billion trees and measure how much carbon they store across 10 million square kilometers.in the semiarid Sahel, a belt of land stretching across Northern Africa, from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, with the method ready to be deployed elsewhere in the near future.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/03/230301120828.htm

Ending forest loss:

If you are interested in what’s happening regarding forests in Europe, North America or India regarding global promises to end forest loss, Deforestation Inc. reporters checked and found authorities were failing on a number of key forest protection measures.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/deforestation-inc/deforestation-inc-reporters-checked-global-promises-to-end-forest-loss-this-is-what-they-found/?utm

Revelations that one of North America’s largest pulp and paper manufacturers, Paper Excellence, that now controls nearly 54 million acres of Canadian forests, is linked to entities in Indonesia and China has created controversy in Canada.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/deforestation-inc/canadian-lawmakers-call-for-probe-into-pulp-and-paper-giant-following-deforestation-inc-revelations/?

Deforestation Inc also have a lengthy article about voluntary timber certification, highlighting how shoddy the processes are, focusing on KPMGs role in developing voluntary standards and their vouching for an Indonesian company with a supply chain beset by deforestation allegations and a project in Canada that led to an Indigenous forest’s “death by a thousand cuts”.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/deforestation-inc/audit-firms-kpmg-environmental-sustainability-logging/?

Another failed carbon offset project:

More than 28 million credits have been sold for the Cordillera Azul National Park project in Peru, which aimed to stop deforestation, yet tree loss has more than doubled, according to satellite analysis tree canopy loss jumped from an average of 262 hectares (650 acres) per year in the five years before the project launched to an average of 572 hectares (1,400 acres) per year from 2009 to 2021, in addition to this the worth of the project was greatly overstated.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/03/30/peru-cordillera-azul-carbon-credits-deforestation/212839f4-cf01-11ed-8907-156f0390d081_story.html


Forest Media 24 March 2023

Tomorrow is D-day where we find out whether we have another 4 years of the National’s savage attacks on our forests and iconic Koalas, or possibly a minority Labor Government, giving the Greens and independents the balance of power where they can force decisions favourable to ending logging of public forests and protecting Koalas. We will soon know. Keep an eye on the Upper House as it appears likely to be a cliff hanger that could go either way. 

I wait with baited breath …

New South Wales

To mark International Day for Forests, NEFA announced it has mailed out one of two leaflets to 75,000 residents of Manly, Pittwater and North Shore urging them to vote for a future with koalas, by putting the Liberals last. Meanwhile a Koala made homeless by logging in Yarratt State Forest moved into one of the Norfolk Island Pines on the Manly beachfront, before moving to a fig tree outside a polling booth to bring his plight to our current Environment Minister (and voters).

The protest at Doubleduke had a run, with 70 protectors, and a couple of horses, blocked by a plethora of police. The EPA say they are investigating complaints, though have inspected the operation twice before and not found any.

Friendly Jordies has another video A Dangerous Man, this time focussing on the harassment of Mark Graham by loggers, Forestry, EPA and police. It was apparently effective, as in retribution the riot squad visited his home at 10pm at night to make sure he wasn’t up to nefarious activities, claiming it was to make sure he was complying with bail conditions, presumably making sure he wasn’t out in a State forest somewhere. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VXLP7p5HFw

News of the Area has four letters to the editor lamenting ongoing logging, Koalas decline and the harassment of Mark Graham, as well as an add organised by FEA (which NEFA contributed to). NCC have released a short video calling for protection of native forests and a transition to ‘sustainable’ plantations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGQ8YcIZUMA

A new study found that more than half of the forests and woodland in NSW that existed before European invasion are now gone and more than a third of what’s left is degraded, and since 2000, 435,000 hectares had been degraded through logging operations, affecting 244 threatened species – 104 of which are federally listed as endangered or critically endangered.

The Hill End fire on the New South Wales Central Tablelands burnt 18,000 hectares, destroyed eight homes, killed hundreds of livestock, and had a massive impact on hollow-bearing trees and native animals, though a small colony of disease-free koalas near Hill End were spared and wombats seemed to escape the worst.

The Australian Rural and Regional News has published a nuanced letter from Forestry Australia to the ALP regarding the Great Koala National Park, not actually opposing the park but arguing for the assessment to conducted carefully and holistically, for logging to be part of a landscape-wide approach to active management and not to lock up many areas of regrowth and planted eucalypt trees.

NSW Election

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Coalition and Labor are now neck-and-neck on 38 per cent after the Coalition’s primary vote jumped six points in the past three weeks while Labor’s remained steady. Perrottet also edged ahead personally, leading Opposition Leader Chris Minns as preferred premier by 40 to 34 per cent. Nevertheless they suggest Labor is on track to return to power, but will probably need the backing of crossbench MPs to form a minority government. The election will likely come down to western Sydney, with a Teal wave in northern Sydney less likely than federally.

Greens NSW are confident Labor will want their support in forming a minority government and their price includes the end of coal and gas in the state, scrapping the public sector wages cap, introduction of cashless gaming cards, introduction of rent controls and a ban on unfair evictions, the end of native forest logging, introduction of nurse-to-patient ratios, pay rises for public sector workers, anti-protest laws to be repealed and a community-led Truth and Treaty process.

The Manly Daily has a series of statement of candidates for the seats of Manly and Pittwater, while a number of candidates mention protecting the environment, Joeline Hackman running as an independent for Manly is the only one who mentioned Koalas and ending logging “I want to ensure there is no new gas exploration off our coastline and we must protect our koala habitat, by bringing an end to native logging”. Another report has the Pittwater independent Jacqui Scrubby (who some tip as the most likely of the Teals to succeed) suggesting that NSW follow VIC and WA in committing to end native forest logging in order to protect biodiversity and koala habitats. She is critical of subsidies for the industry and the Liberal’s Koala Strategy as “they don’t need money, they need habitat.” It also has The Greens Hilary Green as supporting ending native forest logging, Labor’s Jeff Quinn as “supports scaling back, but not stopping, native forest logging”, and Liberal’s Rory Amon as supporting logging. The Guardian doesn’t include Pittwater as a seat to watch, though includes two other seats the Teals are running in, Lane Cove and Wollondilly, it also flags Minn’s seat of Kogarah, and Murray as being a three way between the ex-Shooters member, their new candidate and the Nationals.

Port Macquarie is seeing a contest between the Liberal’s Koala loving and National’s defector Leslie Williams, and the climate change denier and newly converted National’s Mayor Peta Pinson, though it seems unlikely their division will allow Labor to get up between them. 

The Minerals Council is said to be behind the release of questionable polling showing Matt Kean faced a 16% swing against him, with most of the vote shifting to One Nation and the Liberal Democrats, though they refuse to release key details such as polling size or the questions asked.

Labor will boost Landcare funding to a record $59 million over the next four years to support the 60,000 volunteers, 3000 local groups and 84 full time coordinators across NSW. And promised $2 million for the Port Stephens Koala Hospital.

Australia

Forest defenders have returned to the ancient forest of Tasmanian Central Highlands where logging continues.

Dr Sophie Scamps MP for the Federal north shore seat of Mackellar gave a detailed and strong speech in parliament calling for an end to logging of native forests.

The Saturday Paper has an article about the mess the Victorian logging phase-out is in, highlighting the Parliamentary Budget Office recently calculated that ending native forest logging in 2023 would save Victoria $205 million over the next decade, the rorted old-growth definition and logging of patches they said they would protect, the auditor-general finding last October that VicForests was not being effectively regulated, the closure of the Maryvale paper mill despite the massive exporting of plantation eucalypts, and the vast quantities of plantation timber being exported rather than processed locally. 

The felling of trees illegally for firewood is an increasing problem in Victorian parks, some for personal use though with many large-scale commercial poachers, last year the Conservation Regulator laid 625 charges and issued 85 infringement notices for firewood offences in Victoria.

In a Western Australia study Associate Professor Zylstra found prescribed burning has undermined natural processes to create a more fire-prone landscape by causing mass thickening of vegetation beneath the main forest canopy, increasing fire risk, whereas a natural forest cycle would see these short-lived ‘coloniser’ shrubs disappear and the understorey become more sparsely vegetated over time, also identifying why regrowth is more fireprone: “Taller plants ‘self-prune’ or shed their lower branches and, after some decades, grow beyond the reach of many flames. Instead of acting as fuel, they slow the wind beneath them and become ‘overstorey shelter’.”

As the deadline for stopping logging of WA’s public native forests looms, the Forest Products Commission (FPC) has launched a campaign calling for forestry operators, from around Australia, who may be available to undertake commercial harvesting, ecological thinning, or log haulage, focussed on thinning for ecological health within native forests, increased utilisation of fibre from mining operations, and the harvesting of sharefarms.

For International Day of Forests 2023, the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Joel Fitzgibbon issued a media release extolling logging as the solution to climate change, claiming we need plantations and regrowth to sequester carbon – forgetting all the carbon released when those big old trees are logged.

The Queensland Labor government are being accused of “abrogating” their responsibility to protect forests by exempting wind farms from the Vegetation Management Act and the Nature Conservation Act, resulting in forests being clearfelled – Skynews liked the story – presumably because its an attack on both wind power and the ALP.

Species

Scientists have named 626 Australian species new to science in the last calendar year, including seven new subspecies, with several of the newly-named species already under threat, including the tube-web spider, a mountain frog, superb myrtles, orchids and a subspecies of white-footed dunnart that are facing pressure from bushfires, feral species and climate change.

The Hunter Community Environment Alliance has continued their campaign for the Barrington to Hawkesbury Climate Corridor proposal, with a report from Paul Winn on the climate change impacts on 74 threatened flora species finding 64 (or 86 per cent) are likely to suffer significant contractions, with 38 (or 51 per cent) having no suitable habitat within the next 50 years under a worst case climate scenario.

Research commissioned by the Sydney Basin Koala Network found in just one generation of koalas, the number of fatalities from vehicle strikes around Sydney’s basin has doubled and in some places quintupled, coinciding with both urban expansion and koala population growth in that area. Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) have attacked NSW’s State Vegetation Type Mapping (SVTM) as inaccurate and severely under mapping primary koala habitat, thereby falsely highlighting areas where koalas cannot survive, potentially paving the way for devastating habitat clearing. Researchers are finding good numbers of koalas in the Blue Mountains, and are claiming they will be a climate refugia for Koalas of increasing importance in the future due to its deep gullies and old growth trees which provide a lot of shade and cooling.

Richard Kingford recognises the reason for the unprecedent fish kill at Menindee is low oxygen but emphasises it is caused by too much upstream diversion reducing river flows, and the barrier stopping them escaping into the Menindee Lakes, stating “it is a not a natural disaster. It is man-made”.

Ahead of a South Australian parliamentary inquiry into duck shooting, video has been released of hunters walking around with injured birds and a seagull being shot, while the shooters say there’s definitely not an issue there.

The Conversation has an article on the spreading threat of Myrtle Rust, focussing on the emerging threat to Lord Howe Island.

The Deteriorating Problem

The latest IPCC Synthesis Report was released, painting a dire picture of the consequences of proceeding down our current path, with global heating likely to pass 1.5oC by the early 2030s and go on climbing, potentially reaching 4.4oC by 2100 under a worse case scenario, with associated ecosystem collapse under all scenarios, it reinforces that forests are potentially part of the solutionSome options, such as conservation of high-carbon ecosystems (e.g., peatlands, wetlands, rangelands, mangroves and forests), deliver immediate benefits, while others, such as restoration of high-carbon ecosystems, take decades to deliver measurable results”, and “Maintaining the resilience of biodiversity and ecosystem services at a global scale depends on effective and equitable conservation of approximately 30% to 50% of Earth’s land, freshwater and ocean areas, including currently near-natural ecosystems (high confidence). Conservation, protection and restoration of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and ocean ecosystems, together with targeted management to adapt to unavoidable impacts of climate change reduces the vulnerability of biodiversity and ecosystem services to climate change (high confidence)”.

As many animals are retreating to higher elevations as the climate heats, we are expanding our impacts on mountainous forests, a study found 78m hectares (7%) of mountain forest have been lost across the world in the past two decades due to logging, agriculture and wildfires, sharply increasing after 2010 as once relatively inaccessible steep land is increasingly exploited, with Asia, South America, Africa, Europe and Australia all badly affected.

The growing period of hardwood forests in eastern North America has increased by an average of one month over the past century as temperatures have steadily risen, a new study has found.

Logging has reawakened a series of ancient landslides in British Columbia's Cariboo region, costing hundreds of millions in federal disaster assistance funds and prompting warnings that the millions spent will be wasted if the cause isn’t recognised.

Turning it Around

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) and WWF Australia have released a report ‘Trees: The forgotten heroes for our health’ that outlines the growing evidence connecting trees and forests to human health and well-being, including how trees cool our communities, minimise the effects of climate change, help protect us from infectious diseases and boost our mental health.

Purchases of carbon credits quadrupled in 2021 to $2 billion, attracting lots of carpetbaggers reaping the profits, short-changing indigenous owners, and failing to deliver claimed benefits, with South Pole, the world’s leading purveyor of offsets, now facing allegations that it exaggerated climate claims around its forest-protection projects, skimmed profits and left lots of companies with devalued carbon credits. In another study researchers assessed almost 300 carbon offset projects, responsible for 11% of all carbon offsets ever issued, that aimed to improve forest management and include offsets practices like waiting to harvest trees when they’re older, limiting the number of trees that can be cut per hectare, or minimizing the environmental impact of logging infrastructure such as roads, finding they had been generated against a baseline of aggressive harvesting practices that didn’t align with past practices in the area, meaning developers could have been paid to avoid harvesting that wouldn’t have happened anyway.

A review focuses on the importance of forest soils for storing carbon, especially fungi and bacteria, describing the impact of global change on the forest ecosystem and its microbiome and proposing potential approaches to control the adverse effects of global change on forest stability - you need to pay for access, though there are similar papers accessible on line.

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

To mark International Day for Forests, NEFA announced it has mailed out one of two leaflets to 75,000 residents of Manly, Pittwater and North Shore urging them to vote for a future with koalas, by putting the Liberals last.

"The Liberals have proved that they will not stand up for Koalas against their junior partners the Nationals, allowing them to triple land clearing and remove constraints on logging Koala homes," said NE Forests campaigner Sean O'Shannessy.

"After the June 2020 Koala inquiry found that without urgent government intervention to protect habitat, the koala will become extinct in New South Wales before 2050, the Nationals instigated the Koala Wars and successfully forced the Liberals to capitulate on Koala protections.

"It was exciting to see over a hundred people rallying in Manly for koalas and an end to this koala killer government. When a hundred people march on your electorate office chanting ‘James Griffin, Minister for Extinction’ you would have to be worried that the gig is up.

Meanwhile a Koala made homeless by logging in Yarratt State Forest moved into one of the Norfolk Island Pines on the Manly beachfront, before moving to a fig tree outside a polling booth to bring his plight to our current Environment Minister (and voters).

“I’ve come to the home of the NSW Environment Minister James Griffin. He says he cares about koalas and has a plan and a strategy. But I judge him on his actions not his words.

“In my forest hundreds of hectares of high quality koala habitat has been destroyed. And it is continuing as I sit here.

“Minister Griffin agreed to renew Wood Contracts at the same levels they were set at 20 years ago, his own experts advising against it.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/03/homeless-koala-house-hunting-in-manly/

More on Doubleduke:

The protest at Doubleduke had a run, with 70 protectors, and a couple of horses, blocked by a plethora of police. The EPA say they are investigating complaints, though have inspected the operation twice before and not found any.  

The confrontation with police was peaceful. A few protesters tried to get closer to Doubleduke by going through the roadside woods but they were stopped by police.

“The EPA is currently assessing these complaints and will undertake further compliance inspections in the forest,” the spokesperson said.

“The EPA will take appropriate regulatory action should any non-compliance be identified.”

The EPA has inspected forestry operations in Doubleduke State Forest in late 2022 and again in January this year to monitor and enforce compliance with the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval. No non-compliance issues were identified, the EPA said.

https://indynr.com/cops-stop-logging-protest-from-entering-forest/

Police Harassment:

Friendly Jordies has another video A Dangerous Man, this time focussing on the harassment of Mark Graham by loggers, Forestry, EPA and police. It was apparently effective, as in retribution the riot squad visited his home at 10pm at night to make sure he wasn’t up to nefarious activities, claiming it was to make sure he was complying with bail conditions, presumably making sure he wasn’t out in a State forest somewhere. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VXLP7p5HFw

News of the Area has four letters to the editor lamenting ongoing logging, Koalas decline and the harassment of Mark Graham, as well as an add organised by FEA (which NEFA contributed to).

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-24-march-2023

NCC have released a short video calling for protection of native forests and a transition to ‘sustainable’ plantations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGQ8YcIZUMA

Just stop the extinction vortex that is logging:

A new study found that more than half of the forests and woodland in NSW that existed before European invasion are now gone and more than a third of what’s left is degraded, and since 2000, 435,000 hectares had been degraded through logging operations, affecting 244 threatened species – 104 of which are federally listed as endangered or critically endangered.

Many species that depended on forests were now being sucked into “an extinction vortex” because of logging, one of the study’s authors, the University of Queensland’s Prof James Watson, said.

During the current state election campaign, neither of the two major parties has released plans to address rates of land clearing. Unlike in Western Australia and Victoria, there are no plans to end native forest logging in the state.

Authors of the research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, said the state was “locking in extinction through legislative inadequacies” because regional forestry agreements were allowing critical habitat to be logged while being exempt from the main federal environmental protection law.

Dr Michelle Ward, a conservation scientist at WWF-Australia … said it was often claimed that logging had minimal impact, but this didn’t account for the habitat already destroyed.

NSW needed to stop logging native forests and move to sourcing wood from plantations, she said.

Watson said species that depended on forests had “suffered terribly” from land clearing and fires.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/mar/24/more-than-half-nsw-forests-lost-since-1750-and-logging-locking-in-species-extinction-study-finds

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2023.02.22.529603v1.abstract

Incinerating homes and inhabitants:

The Hill End fire on the New South Wales Central Tablelands burnt 18,000 hectares, destroyed eight homes, killed hundreds of livestock, and had a massive impact on hollow-bearing trees and native animals, though a small colony of disease-free koalas near Hill End were spared and wombats seemed to escape the worst.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-21/alpha-road-bushfire-hill-end-nsw-devastates-wildlife/102110086

Don’t stop all logging:

The Australian Rural and Regional News has published a nuanced letter from Forestry Australia to the ALP regarding the Great Koala National Park, not actually opposing the park but arguing for the assessment to conducted carefully and holistically, for logging to be part of a landscape-wide approach to active management and not to lock up many areas of regrowth and planted eucalypt trees.

The koala is an iconic wildlife species and an important part of Australia’s biodiversity and, accordingly, Forestry Australia’s members consider that that the proposed assessment process to create a new Great Koala National Park must be conducted carefully and holistically.

Further, we note the existing State Forests located between Kempsey and Grafton include many areas of regrowth and planted eucalypt trees, that provide the resources necessary to sustain some of Australia’s most sophisticated remaining value-adding hardwood timber processors and transmission pole producers.

https://arr.news/2023/03/20/an-open-letter-to-the-hon-chris-minns-mp-and-the-hon-penny-sharpe-mp-forestry-australia/

NSW Election

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Coalition and Labor are now neck-and-neck on 38 per cent after the Coalition’s primary vote jumped six points in the past three weeks while Labor’s remained steady. Perrottet also edged ahead personally, leading Opposition Leader Chris Minns as preferred premier by 40 to 34 per cent. Nevertheless they suggest Labor is on track to return to power, but will probably need the backing of crossbench MPs to form a minority government. The election will likely come down to western Sydney, with a Teal wave in northern Sydney less likely than federally.

No explicit two party estimate was given, but the SMH article talks about a 4.5% swing to Labor from the 2019 election, implying a 52.5-47.5 lead for Labor; this would be a 3.5% gain for the Coalition since the late February Resolve poll.

https://theconversation.com/nsw-resolve-poll-has-narrow-lead-for-labor-five-days-before-election-201944?utm

Greening the ALP:

Greens NSW are confident Labor will want their support in forming a minority government and their price includes the end of coal and gas in the state, scrapping the public sector wages cap, introduction of cashless gaming cards, introduction of rent controls and a ban on unfair evictions, the end of native forest logging, introduction of nurse-to-patient ratios, pay rises for public sector workers, anti-protest laws to be repealed and a community-led Truth and Treaty process.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/nsw-election-greens-expect-call-for-support-from-labor/news-story/640fab5741881cb44a7e51ea3b4f4aad?btr=6b379bb81b4aad3482eeb34138dfb203

A close call:

Several seats in western Sydney are shaping as tight contests. With roughly one-third of total votes cast at the election to be lodged in Sydney’s west, there is no path to victory for the Coalition or Labor without the region’s support.

Stokes’ seat of Pittwater is among a clutch of northern Sydney electorates facing challenges by independent candidates. However, a repeat of the federal “teal wave” is unlikely, given the optional flow of preferences, and mitigating budget measures from Treasurer Matt Kean with a focus on women and sustainability.

This is an unusual election. Conventional analysis – and the bookies – suggest a Labor win, likely in minority government. But the Coalition are rolling the dice in narrowly targeted areas and on atypical issues.

https://theconversation.com/labor-is-odds-on-for-a-narrow-victory-in-nsw-election-but-it-is-far-from-a-sure-bet-201174?

North Sydney:

The Manly Daily has a series of statement of candidates for the seats of Manly and Pittwater, while a number of candidates mention protecting the environment, Joeline Hackman running as an independent for Manly is the only one who mentioned Koalas and ending logging “I want to ensure there is no new gas exploration off our coastline and we must protect our koala habitat, by bringing an end to native logging”.

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/manly-daily/nsw-election-meet-all-the-candidates-for-manly-pittwater-and-wakehurst/news-story/72f591091cd0d897c5826c2aff5f756b?btr=169aab405d41e3f18066ae39d27e809c

Another report has the Pittwater independent Jacqui Scrubby (who some tip as the most likely of the Teals to succeed) suggesting that NSW follow VIC and WA in committing to end native forest logging in order to protect biodiversity and koala habitats. She is critical of subsidies for the industry and the Liberal’s Koala Strategy as “they don’t need money, they need habitat.” It also has The Greens Hilary Green as supporting ending native forest logging, Labor’s Jeff Quinn as “supports scaling back, but not stopping, native forest logging”, and Liberal’s Rory Amon as supporting logging.

https://manlyobserver.com.au/pittwater-electorate-voting-locations-candidates-and-early-voting-for-the-state-election/

The Guardian doesn’t include Pittwater as a seat to watch, though includes two other seats the Teals are running in, Lane Cove and Wollondilly, it also flags Minn’s seat of Kogarah, and Murray as being a three way between the ex-Shooters member, their new candidate and the Nationals.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/mar/24/seats-to-watch-the-nsw-election-is-likely-to-come-down-to-these-key-electorates

Port Macquarie 3 way:

Port Macquarie is seeing a contest between the Liberal’s Koala loving and National’s defector Leslie Williams, and the climate change denier and newly converted National’s Mayor Peta Pinson, though it seems unlikely their division will allow Labor to get up between them. 

Ms Williams said she ultimately left the party because its policies, particularly in relation to koala protection, no longer aligned with her community, given Port Macquarie has one of the largest koala populations in NSW.

The koala wars erupted in 2020 over proposed planning regulations to protect the animals, including increasing the number of protected tree species that opponents said would restrict farmers from felling trees on their own land.

Fresh battles over koala policy have arisen since then, including over the related debate on the future of the native forest timber industry.

"This community is very clear about its position … and I wasn't going to stand by and not really express their views when it came to koala protection and the protection of the koala habitat in our local community," Ms Williams said.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-18/leslie-williams-peta-pinson-three-cornered-contest-nsw-election/101944658

Minerals Council claim Kean not liked:

The Minerals Council is said to be behind the release of questionable polling showing Matt Kean faced a 16% swing against him, with most of the vote shifting to One Nation and the Liberal Democrats, though they refuse to release key details such as polling size or the questions asked.

Kean rejected the reported polling. “If a fake polling campaign is the price I have to pay for keeping energy prices down, it’s a price I’m willing to pay,” he told Guardian Australia.

In Leppington, the polling found net favourability of the Liberal premier, Dominic Perrottet, as minus-four compared with the Labor opposition leader, Chris Minns, at plus-six. Kean, who is also the deputy Liberal leader, was described as having a net rating of minus-39. No other politicians’ ratings were cited.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/mar/23/nsw-liberals-accuse-minerals-council-of-feeding-poll-data-that-undermines-matt-kean-to-the-media?CMP=oth_b-aplnews_d-3

Caring for Landcare:

Labor will boost Landcare funding to a record $59 million over the next four years to support the 60,000 volunteers, 3000 local groups and 84 full time coordinators across NSW. And promised $2 million for the Port Stephens Koala Hospital.

https://www.netimes.com.au/2023/03/21/labor-commit-to-funding-boost-for-landcare/

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/labor-commits-2-million-for-port-stephens-koala-hospital

AUSTRALIA

Defending the high ground:

Forest defenders have returned to the ancient forest of Tasmanian Central Highlands where logging continues.

We are back in this forest where old and rare communities of white bark Eucalyptus viminalis trees are being logged by forestry Tasmania. We were defending them a week ago, and it is terrifying to witness how much destruction has happened in only one week. Tasmania’s ancient native forests are being chipped at an industrial scale despite the IPCC report warning that forests must be left standing,” said Dr. Colette Harmsen.

https://tasmaniantimes.com/2023/03/central-highlands-logging-protest-continues/

Independent support:

Dr Sophie Scamps MP for the Federal north shore seat of Mackellar gave a detailed and strong speech in parliament calling for an end to logging of native forests.

https://www.sophiescamps.com.au/native_land_forestry

The Victorian mess:

The Saturday Paper has an article about the mess the Victorian logging phase-out is in, highlighting the Parliamentary Budget Office recently calculated that ending native forest logging in 2023 would save Victoria $205 million over the next decade, the rorted old-growth definition and logging of patches they said they would protect, the auditor-general finding last October that VicForests was not being effectively regulated, the closure of the Maryvale paper mill despite the massive exporting of plantation eucalypts, and the vast quantities of plantation timber being exported rather than processed locally. 

Given that Australia has one of the longest histories of plantation timber in the world, and that timber is of adequate quality for paper production and building materials, and is usually more economical than logging in native forests, we should be turning to our plantations to help us transition to a more sustainable timber industry. But here is another problem. Victoria grows about 3.9 million tonnes of eucalypt pulp logs to make paper and woodchips every year yet 2.9 million tonnes go to China and Japan, export markets that date back to the 1970s. According to Professor David Lindenmayer, “Diverting 10 per cent of that plantation timber would alleviate the timber and paper crisis in Victoria. We could process just a quarter of that for our own needs, and you would have more jobs in the forest industry than you have now.”

This problem gets even knottier, because it’s considered easier for growers to put timber on a ship in Portland and send it around the world than to truck it 700 kilometres across Victoria. The growers receive better prices on their export product than they would on timber sold locally.

https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/environment/2023/03/18/the-cost-native-forest-logging#mtr

Logging in parks:

The felling of trees illegally for firewood is an increasing problem in Victorian parks, some for personal use though with many large-scale commercial poachers, last year the Conservation Regulator laid 625 charges and issued 85 infringement notices for firewood offences in Victoria.

Ground-dwelling animals likes bush stone curlews and lace monitors (tree goannas) are declining in the [Goulburn River] national park, while the once prominent Murray Darling carpet python has all but disappeared.

While those taking wood for personal use tend to be frustrated but co-operative when confronted by enforcement officers, Mr Mercier says commercial thieves can be aggressive or try to escape, fearing the seizure of their saws, trailers and vehicles.

Many perpetrators have existing criminal records, Mr Chant says, and magistrates aren’t holding back when handing out penalties of almost $10,000 and jail time if the matter goes to court.

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/state/vic/2023/03/18/firewood-thieves-pillaging-vic-forests/

Burning increases burning:

In a Western Australia study Associate Professor Zylstra found prescribed burning has undermined natural processes to create a more fire-prone landscape by causing mass thickening of vegetation beneath the main forest canopy, increasing fire risk, whereas a natural forest cycle would see these short-lived ‘coloniser’ shrubs disappear and the understorey become more sparsely vegetated over time, also identifying why regrowth is more fireprone: “Taller plants ‘self-prune’ or shed their lower branches and, after some decades, grow beyond the reach of many flames. Instead of acting as fuel, they slow the wind beneath them and become ‘overstorey shelter’.”

Associate Professor Zylstra said the findings explained a recent analysis of state departmental fire records for forest management, which found that prescribed burned forests of the South West have experienced up to seven times more bushfire than forests with no prescribed burning.

https://www.curtin.edu.au/news/media-release/study-finds-why-prescribed-burned-forests-in-wa-became-so-fire-prone/

https://theconversation.com/new-research-reveals-how-forests-reduce-their-own-bushfire-risk-if-theyre-left-alone-201868?utm_

We know long-unburnt mountain forests in south-east Australia are far less fire-prone than more recently burnt areas. And forests in south-west Australia have the lowest fire risk when they’ve not been subjected to prescribed burning.

So what did we find? As the understorey of red tingle forest ages and thins, the lower branches of taller plants “self-prune” – in other words, they shed dead leaves and twigs.

When this litter is on the ground, it begins to decay and poses a lower fire risk than if it were still suspended.

The lower branches of taller plants, once self-pruned, are then less likely to ignite as fuel. Instead, they act as “overstorey shelter” that reduces wind speed and fire severity. In this way, mature forests control fire rather than drive it.

Our study showed that, due to this calming effect, fires in mature red tingle forests could be extinguished by firefighters most of the time.

By contrast, our study showed that prescribed burning in red tingle forests creates dense regrowth, which burns severely during bushfires. In such cases, our study showed firefighters are often unable to extinguish the flames and must resort to backburning - a risky fire suppression technique.

One thing is clear: if we still want forests in our flammable country, we must stop burning their defences away.

https://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/features/features-articles/new-research-reveals-how-forests-reduce-their-own

WA WTF:

As the deadline for stopping logging of WA’s public native forests looms, the Forest Products Commission (FPC) has launched a campaign calling for forestry operators, from around Australia, who may be available to undertake commercial harvesting, ecological thinning, or log haulage, focussed on thinning for ecological health within native forests, increased utilisation of fibre from mining operations, and the harvesting of sharefarms.

https://www.wa.gov.au/government/announcements/campaign-launched-attract-new-forestry-operators

Logging the solution to climate:

For International Day of Forests 2023, the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Joel Fitzgibbon issued a media release extolling logging as the solution to climate change, claiming we need plantations and regrowth to sequester carbon – forgetting all the carbon released when those big old trees are logged.

“Australia needs climate solutions to meet our emission reduction targets and forest industries should be a key part of the mix. Growing more timber trees in plantations and native forests locks up carbon while increasing our future local supply of sustainable timber and wood fibre. This also enhances Australia’s sovereign capability while creating sustainable jobs for thousands of people, many in rural and regional areas.

https://www.miragenews.com/forest-industries-urged-to-combat-climate-change-970782/

Clearing for wind:

The Queensland Labor government are being accused of “abrogating” their responsibility to protect forests by exempting wind farms from the Vegetation Management Act and the Nature Conservation Act, resulting in forests being clearfelled.

https://www.skynews.com.au/opinion/chris-kenny/queensland-government-have-abrogated-their-responsibility-to-protect-forests/video/ffc219e2acd43b01118393c8196ce591

https://www.skynews.com.au/opinion/chris-kenny/north-queensland-is-destroying-what-is-left-of-its-forests-to-build-wind-farms/video/74e4837255599c13d46f8c5d03563c75

SPECIES

626 new Australian species:

Scientists have named 626 Australian species new to science in the last calendar year, including seven new subspecies, with several of the newly-named species already under threat, including the tube-web spider, a mountain frog, superb myrtles, orchids and a subspecies of white-footed dunnart that are facing pressure from bushfires, feral species and climate change.

https://minister.dcceew.gov.au/plibersek/media-releases/626-new-species-discovered-australia-last-year

Threatened plants contracting:

The Hunter Community Environment Alliance has continued their campaign for the Barrington to Hawkesbury Climate Corridor proposal, with a report from Paul Winn on the climate change impacts on 74 threatened flora species finding 64 (or 86 per cent) are likely to suffer significant contractions, with 38 (or 51 per cent) having no suitable habitat within the next 50 years under a worst case climate scenario.

State Labor has indicated that it supports the report's five recommendations with the exception of a moratorium on further land clearing.

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/8127616/half-of-the-plants-between-barrington-and-hawkesbury-facing-extinction-report-warns/

https://www.gloucesteradvocate.com.au/story/8127616/half-of-the-plants-between-barrington-and-hawkesbury-facing-extinction-report-warns/

Running down Koalas:

Research commissioned by the Sydney Basin Koala Network found in just one generation of koalas, the number of fatalities from vehicle strikes around Sydney’s basin has doubled and in some places quintupled, coinciding with both urban expansion and koala population growth in that area.

The vehicle-strike research was conducted by ecological consultants Biolink, which found the “dramatic increase” in vehicle strikes around southwest Sydney coincided with both urban expansion and koala population growth in that area.

[WIRES} “The most obvious thing we need to do is preserve their habitat,” she said. “So we need to stop clearing and actively create more habitat. Without food and shelter then extinction can happen.”

https://au.news.yahoo.com/fears-sydney-koalas-on-road-to-extinction-as-devastating-statistic-revealed-210210444.html

Mis-mapping Koala habitat:

Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) have attacked NSW’s State Vegetation Type Mapping (SVTM) as inaccurate and severely under mapping primary koala habitat, thereby falsely highlighting areas where koalas cannot survive, potentially paving the way for devastating habitat clearing.

AKF analysed Port Stephens Local Government Area (LGA), where there is pressure for koalas to be listed as critically endangered due to the drastic decline in Koala numbers. AKF found the new vegetation mapping downgraded their primary habitat by an alarming 80% compared to the Koala Habitat Atlas.

https://www.miragenews.com/experts-warn-of-koala-election-risk-due-to-969519/

Koala refugia:

Researchers are finding good numbers of koalas in the Blue Mountains, and are claiming they will be a climate refugia for Koalas of increasing importance in the future due to its deep gullies and old growth trees which provide a lot of shade and cooling.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-24/blue-mountains-koala-numbers-on-rise-despite-climate-change/102133436

The dying Darling:

Richard Kingford recognises the reason for the unprecedent fish kill at Menindee is low oxygen but emphasises it is caused by too much upstream diversion reducing river flows, and the barrier stopping them escaping into the Menindee Lakes, stating “it is a not a natural disaster. It is man-made”.

But two events like this in five years speaks to a deeper cause. The Darling River – known as the Baaka by Barkandji Traditional Owners – is very sick. Too much of its water is siphoned off for agriculture. Our native fish are hardy. They’re used to extremes. But this is too much, even for them.

But our panel also examined the long-term changes to the river. We found the long-term cause for the river’s decline was simple: too much water was being diverted upstream.

It wasn’t just climate change – it was irrigation. We warned it could happen again. Now it has

This is what’s known as a blackwater event (in reality, more greeny-brown). As the floodwaters moved downstream and the Darling’s flow decreased, millions of fish fled the floodplains and found themselves crammed back in the narrow river channel where they were hit by plummeting oxygen levels.

Yes, fish kills have always occurred but not at this scale. The fundamental reason the fish of the Darling keep dying is because there is not enough water allowed to flow.

https://theconversation.com/how-did-millions-of-fish-die-gasping-in-the-darling-after-three-years-of-rain-202125

Ducking for cover:

Ahead of a South Australian parliamentary inquiry into duck shooting, video has been released of hunters walking around with injured birds and a seagull being shot, while the shooters say there’s definitely not an issue there.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-23/rspca-beachport-duck-hunting-video-ahead-of-inquiry/102130602

Rustic forests:

The Conversation has an article on the spreading threat of Myrtle Rust, focussing on the emerging threat to Lord Howe Island.

https://theconversation.com/what-is-myrtle-rust-and-why-has-this-disease-closed-lord-howe-island-to-visitors-202045?utm

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

Now or never for the earth:

The latest IPCC Synthesis Report was released, painting a dire picture of the consequences of proceeding down our current path, with global heating likely to pass 1.5oC by the early 2030s and go on climbing, potentially reaching 4.4oC by 2100 under a worse case scenario, with associated ecosystem collapse under all scenarios, it reinforces that forests are potentially part of the solutionSome options, such as conservation of high-carbon ecosystems (e.g., peatlands, wetlands, rangelands, mangroves and forests), deliver immediate benefits, while others, such as restoration of high-carbon ecosystems, take decades to deliver measurable results”, and “Maintaining the resilience of biodiversity and ecosystem services at a global scale depends on effective and equitable conservation of approximately 30% to 50% of Earth’s land, freshwater and ocean areas, including currently near-natural ecosystems (high confidence). Conservation, protection and restoration of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and ocean ecosystems, together with targeted management to adapt to unavoidable impacts of climate change reduces the vulnerability of biodiversity and ecosystem services to climate change (high confidence)”.

https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-cycle/

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/we-have-everything-we-need-to-fix-the-climate-crisis-but-we-need-to-do-it-now-20230320-p5cthx.html?

Forget new coal and gas; the emissions from existing fossil fuel projects, alone, could be enough to blow the remaining global carbon budget by the end of the decade if they carry on unabated.

Rather, with the huge – and cheap and ready – contributions that renewables, energy efficiency and electrification can make to reductions in both carbon and methane emissions, we should be going full steam ahead in the other direction.

Professor Malte Meinshausen from The University of Melbourne, and a member of the report’s core writing team, says the assessment provides an indication of 60% greenhouse gas emission reductions below 2019 levels by 2035, and for CO2, 65%.

For 2030, the goal is for a 43% reduction in greenhouse gas, 48% for CO2, and for methane, roughly a 30% reduction by 2030.

https://reneweconomy.com.au/ipcc-climate-warning-leaves-no-room-for-coal-and-gas-little-room-for-offsets/

Finally, we need to protect and expand our natural carbon sinks, such as forests, and then deploy carbon capture and storage technology at scale to harvest the warming agent from the atmosphere.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/our-last-climate-chance-act-now-on-everything-everywhere-all-at-once-20230320-p5cti8.html

Intergenerational inequities are also likely. A child born now is likely to suffer, on average, several times as many climate extreme events in their lifetime as their grandparents did.

Over the past week in Interlaken, Switzerland, several hundred representatives from most of the world’s governments scrutinised the IPCC report’s 35-page summary. The scrutiny happens sentence by sentence, often word by word, and number by number. Sometimes it’s subject to intense debate.

We were both involved in this process. The role of the reports’ authors and IPCC bureau members is to stay true to the underlying science and chart a way between different governments’ preferences. It is a unique process for scientific documents.

Moving people off flood-prone areas and returning these areas to more natural systems can reduce flood risk, increase biodiversity and store carbon dioxide in plants and soil.

https://theconversation.com/it-can-be-done-it-must-be-done-ipcc-delivers-definitive-report-on-climate-change-and-where-to-now-201763?utm

The high immoral ground:

As many animals are retreating to higher elevations as the climate heats, we are expanding our impacts on mountainous forests, a study found 78m hectares (7%) of mountain forest have been lost across the world in the past two decades due to logging, agriculture and wildfires, sharply increasing after 2010 as once relatively inaccessible steep land is increasingly exploited, with Asia, South America, Africa, Europe and Australia all badly affected.

Zhenzhong Zeng from Southern University of Science and Technology, one of the paper’s authors, said: “What needs our attention is that mountain forest loss has encroached on areas of known high conservation value to terrestrial biodiversity, especially in the tropics. Various types of agriculture expansion and forestry activities are key drivers there.”

The paper found that creating protected areas within biodiversity hotspots lowered the rate of loss. “Increasing the area of protection in mountains should be central to preserving montane forests and biodiversity in the future,” it said.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/mar/17/alarming-rate-of-mountain-forest-loss-threat-to-alpine-wildlife-aoe

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-64900743

Growing longer:

The growing period of hardwood forests in eastern North America has increased by an average of one month over the past century as temperatures have steadily risen, a new study has found.

https://www.labmanager.com/news/forest-growing-season-in-eastern-us-has-increased-by-a-month-30016

Wakening sleeping giants:

Logging has reawakened a series of ancient landslides in British Columbia's Cariboo region, costing hundreds of millions in federal disaster assistance funds and prompting warnings that the millions spent will be wasted if the cause isn’t recognised.

The slides and flooding in spring of 2020 and 2021 washed out roadways surrounding Quesnel, where geotechnical studies have also linked ongoing land movement beneath hundreds of homes with historic, slow-moving landslides.

But University of B.C. forestry professor Younes Alila says forest loss due to extensive logging, as well as mountain pine beetle infestation and wildfires, is playing a key role in the hydrological disruptions behind the slides.

Alila said he's concerned money being spent on rebuilding roads will be wasted if officials and engineers don't account for that.

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/logging-forest-loss-may-awakened-080000212.html

TURNING IT AROUND

Healthy trees:

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) and WWF Australia have released a report ‘Trees: The forgotten heroes for our health’ that outlines the growing evidence connecting trees and forests to human health and well-being, including how trees cool our communities, minimise the effects of climate change, help protect us from infectious diseases and boost our mental health.

Trees feed us, shelter us from heat, and filter our water and air. They can help reduce stress and lessen depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.
Tree climbing helps children develop strength, spatial awareness, creativity, imagination and self-confidence. Trees encourage people of all ages to exercise.
Intact ecosystems of trees can help prevent some infectious diseases from emerging in humans.
Globally, the loss of trees through deforestation and land use change has increased our exposure to wild animals and the risk of zoonotic diseases, which jump from animals to humans. Up to 70% of emerging infectious diseases worldwide are zoonotic.

Trees fill nature’s medicine chest. Over one-third of all medicines we use today are derived from nature. Who knows how many more remedies are waiting to be discovered in our forests?

We need trees as homes for a wide range of pollinators that help us secure a bountiful and diverse food supply.
We know climate change is one of the greatest threats we currently face and that it’s vital we rapidly transition away from fossil fuels to greener renewable energy solutions. Trees can play a helping hand in mitigating the climate crisis by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide in their trunks and roots,

Trees are critical for supplying, purifying, and protecting freshwater. Trees act like sponges that absorb water when it is plentiful and release it over time, recharging groundwater supplies.

https://dea.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/WWF_DEA_Trees-Health-Report_FINAL_030323.pdf

https://johnmenadue.com/environment-trees-good-plastics-bad-why-dont-governments-turn-it-around/

No end to rorted offsets:

Purchases of carbon credits quadrupled in 2021 to $2 billion, attracting lots of carpetbaggers reaping the profits, short-changing indigenous owners, and failing to deliver claimed benefits, with South Pole, the world’s leading purveyor of offsets, now facing allegations that it exaggerated climate claims around its forest-protection projects, skimmed profits and left lots of companies with devalued carbon credits.

But the claims underpinning South Pole’s success have been losing ground like the ice underfoot that day two summers ago. The company’s biggest moneymaker is a mega-project in Zimbabwe called Kariba, which South Pole claimed has prevented the annihilation of a forest nearly the size of Puerto Rico. That’s South Pole’s business model: help finance projects that can credibly counteract rising levels of greenhouse gas, such as by stopping deforestation, and then sell the resulting credit to corporate clients who want to compensate for their own planet-warming pollution. 

Yet according to several outside experts and South Pole’s own analysis, the firm and its partner ended up vastly overestimating the extent of the preservation by Kariba. As a result, Gucci, Nestle, McKinsey and other South Pole clients have — unwittingly — overstated their own progress in combating climate change, because the Kariba credits they bought haven’t generated enough real atmospheric benefit. (South Pole says the credits are legitimate and will still benefit the climate.) 

Companies have bought 23 million credits from Kariba, enough to offset more than half of Switzerland’s annual emissions.

But the original prediction of mass deforestation was wildly overstated. The companies generated — and sold — credits for saving trees that, it turns out, weren’t under threat. 

In November, Elias Ayrey, chief scientist at carbon ratings firm Renoster, estimated Kariba claimed 30-times more carbon credits than it deserved. Sylvera and Calyx Global, another ratings firm, put the factor at five to eight. 

Sylvera estimates that South Pole and CGI would have to operate Kariba for another 25 years to fulfill the credits it’s already generated.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2023-03-24/carbon-offset-seller-s-forest-protection-projects-questioned?leadSource=uverify%20wall

Researchers assessed almost 300 carbon offset projects, responsible for 11% of all carbon offsets ever issued, that aimed to improve forest management and include offsets practices like waiting to harvest trees when they’re older, limiting the number of trees that can be cut per hectare, or minimizing the environmental impact of logging infrastructure such as roads, finding they had been generated against a baseline of aggressive harvesting practices that didn’t align with past practices in the area, meaning developers could have been paid to avoid harvesting that wouldn’t have happened anyway.

An investigation by Bloomberg published in 2022 also found that almost 40% of the offsets purchased in 2021 came from renewable energy projects that didn’t actually avoid emissions. The reality many researchers have found, shows that project developers were often able to generate credits even when no changes in emissions from their actions were made. That issue is urgent and needs to be addressed respectively.

https://carbonherald.com/new-study-shows-further-shortcomings-with-forestry-carbon-offset-projects/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/ffgc.2023.958879/full

The importance of soil:

A review focuses on the importance of forest soils for storing carbon, especially fungi and bacteria, describing the impact of global change on the forest ecosystem and its microbiome and proposing potential approaches to control the adverse effects of global change on forest stability - you need to pay for access, though there are similar papers accessible on line.

Forests influence climate and mitigate global change through the storage of carbon in soils. In turn, these complex ecosystems face important challenges, including increases in carbon dioxide, warming, drought and fire, pest outbreaks and nitrogen deposition. The response of forests to these changes is largely mediated by microorganisms, especially fungi and bacteria. … The future of forests depends mostly on the performance and balance of fungal symbiotic guilds, saprotrophic fungi and bacteria, and fungal plant pathogens. Drought severely weakens forest resilience, as it triggers adverse processes such as pathogen outbreaks and fires that impact the microbial and forest performance for carbon storage and nutrient turnover.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41579-023-00876-4


Forest Media 17 March 2023

New South Wales

On Thursday forest protectors walked into closed forests in Yarratt SF, and Doubleduke SF, claiming they have been closed to the public by the Forestry Corporation to hide the destruction that is occurring at taxpayer expense. Brooman State Forest Conservation Group and Friends of the Forest (Mogo), Knitting Nannas in the M.U.D (Milton Ulladulla District) and Manyana Matters Environmental Association had a solidarity action in Bateman’s Bay. There was a good turnout at all locations, with 70 protestors at Doubleduke met by 7 police cars.

On Monday Sean O’Shanessy locked on to the front gate, with a tree-sit attached, to give the Forestry Corporation a taste of their own medicine by shutting access to their headquarters in Pennant Hills. Sean was cut off and let go, the person in the tree-sit came down after their line to the gate was cut, and let go. It got good coverage on Channel 7 in Sydney, but no other mainstream media.

On Saturday Save Bulga Forest dropped a giant fluoro and red banner Save Native Forest across the cliff face of the iconic Ellenborough Falls as a reminder that the water flowing over the waterfall comes from the Bulga forest and that with each truck full of logs taken from the forest the water reservoir that the forests provide, diminishes. NBN had a good story on it. Last Friday, after 2 months of continuous occupation, Lola’s tree-sit in Bulga State Forest was dismantled by the Forestry Corporation when she had to descend to attend a medical appointment. The Daily Telegraph has an article about the court appearances of those arrested at Bulga, the burning Blinky Bill and a motion by Greens councillor Lauren Edwards to Thursdays Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to lobby authorities to halt logging in Bulga.

The News of the Area story about formation of an Orara East action group (covered last week) is online.

There are two new videos doing the rounds, please watch them and get the message out. David Bradbury has prepared a 34m video focussed on the Bulga action, though wide-ranging, “Gondwana Going, Going...Gone?” https://youtu.be/XSm_KxJ2U9Y

Friendly Jordies has prepared the 30m “Valley of Death” based on a visit to Wild Cattle Creek with Mark Graham – more serious than his last on Wedding Bells – while released on March 15 it had 490,000 views when I looked on March 17. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fogLmItSZns

Deanna "Violet" Coco was last year handed a 15-month sentence with a non-parole period of eight months for blocking a lane of the Cahill Expressway for 30 minutes, though on appeal the jail sentence was overturned and she was placed on a 12-month conditional release order, despite the police lying and the prosecution describing her as a "danger to the community".

We thought we had killed it with the change to Federal legislation to stop wood from native forests being eligible for tradeable Large-scale Generation Certificates, but the proposed restart of the Redbank Power Station using 850,000 tonnes of forests to generate electricity has been resurrected as a State Significant Development. Renew Economy has a good background article.

The Sydney Morning Herald has an in-depth article about the coalition’s conservation record, starting with Kean’s deal with the Nationals over Koalas to get their support for renewable energy, declining Koala populations, the National’s act to protect feral horses and their rising numbers, the threefold increase in land clearing, the recent increases in reserves still leaving NSW the second worse in Australia (a quarter of Tasmania’s), which many attribute  ‘to horse-trading between Liberals and Nationals’.

Sue Higginson says that being involved in protests in the 1990s shaped the direction of her life, and wants the draconian anti-protest laws repealed for non-violent protestors to give others the chances in life she had.

NSW election

Polls continue to give Labor the lead, though the swings needed for Labor to gain seats indicate its likely to be a close election, with a hung lower house giving minor parties and independents the balance of power, and a power split between left and right parties in the upper house.

Juice Media have a fun brief overview (including forests), giving all the reasons why you should vote for the coalition https://www.thejuicemedia.com/

The ABC has a podcast Matters of State on regional issues that mentions the Koala wars and Leslie Williams defection and Geof Provest’s threat to cross the floor, and the brumby and land use issues, talks about the split between coastal and inland Nationals.

The Bob Brown Foundation hosted a rally in Manly on Sunday to protest the incessant logging and mindless destruction of koala forest habitat under the LNP government over the past twelve years, with speeches by Susie Russell and Sean O’Shannessey, including a march through Manly to James Griffin’s office – though I couldn’t find any mainstream media coverage.

The NSW Greens have outlined seven demands it will make if it ends up holding the balance of power in the NSW parliament after the March 25 state election, including repeal the anti-protest laws and end logging of public native forests.

The Guardian has an article about the crucial environmental issues ahead of the next Government, highlighting, that neither of the major parties are intending to do anything about rampant landclearing (which they are unlikely to be able to continue to ignore), the plight of Koalas (Labor with a Great Koala NP and the coalition $195 million), the failed biodiversity offsets scheme (which Labor says if will fix and the coalition reform), logging of public native forests (which the coalition is proud of and Labor silent on), and the burgeoning emissions from new coal mines (which both support).

News of the Area has Coffs Harbour candidates responses to ‘The environment/Great Koala National Park’, with the ALP’s Mr Judge saying ‘It can be the single greatest environmental and economic boost for Coffs in decades’, the Nationals Mr Singh extolling the government propaganda including that logging has no impacts on Koalas, Independent Dr Townley supporting phasing out logging of native forests, in a mixed response The Greens Mr Nott says the Greens support the GKNP while saying he supports sustainable logging but ‘cannot support logging public forests at an economic loss’ and ‘builders struggle to find local timbers’, with candidates Ms Ellison and Ms Cully also supporting the GKNP. 

The Echo put a number of questions to candidates for the seat of Ballina, including (1) should we stop logging of native forests, and (2) should Forestry be held accountable for logging Koala habitat, The Greens simply answered yes and ‘They should be forced to stop’, the Nationals no and ‘I support penalties commensurate with the law being broken’, Labor was more equivocal, recognising forests value for carbon, stating they are ‘committed to creating a Great Koala National Park around Coffs Harbour and at the same time ensure there are no job losses’, supporting a transition to plantations, tourism facilities in new reserves, involvement of all stakeholders in reaching decisions about forest management, and ‘Labor will act to protect Koalas and Koala habitat’(apparently by increasing fines).

The Shooters Fishers and Farmers want to change zoning laws and give farmers freedom to do what they want.

Australia

The Albanese Labor Government is seeking feedback on the principles that will guide which areas could be formally recognised for their contribution to achieving the 30% by 2030 goal, saying they already have 22% protected (mostly desert) but still need to protect an additional 60 million hectares which they intend making up using “other effective area-based conservation measures” (OECMs) - though there is a worry that they could include multiple-use areas (productive landscapes), time to demand they don’t include areas used for logging, that targets be met on a regional basis (with a forest bias as climatic refugia) and that they now protect public native forests. To have your say on OECMs, visit: https://consult.dcceew.gov.au/consult-draft-principles-for-oecms-in-australia 

Cosmos has an article about the shambles that Victoria’s phase-out of logging public native forests has become, with VicForests losing $54.2 million last year, unable to meet commitments to customers, blaming the multitude of court cases forcing them to protect habitat of threatened species, accusations of illegal logging, closure of the Maryvale paper plant, and a 2020 assessment that found stopping logging immediately would save taxpayers $192 million.

In south-west Australia, Alcoa has long-term approval to clear jarrah forest for bauxite mining, though all they need to do to claim it is rehabilitated is do some landscaping and some seeding, leaving large areas in a parlous state, with 27,860 hectares of jarrah forest cleared none has rehabilitation completed.

Species

Wild populations of Orange-bellied Parrots are being sustained by captive breeding and release holding extinction at bay as the natural birth rate is too low to compensate for the high death rates of juveniles, though until the threats to their survival in the wild are addressed their population can only survive by regular releases.

Australian Ethical says it has sold its $11m in shareholdings in Lendlease after it failed to provide “critical information” about the width of planned koala corridors at stage two of its Gilead housing development, claiming it is one of the first funds managers in Australia to divest from a company because of concern for an endangered species.

The Growling Grass Frog has not been recorded at Winton Wetlands, in northern Victoria, for more than 50 years, so 30 frogs captured in the wild are being returned to the now rehabilitated wetland, with Chytrid fungus the biggest threat.

Six kangaroos were mowed down and left to die by hoons at Long Beach in Batemans Bay, coming after 14 'roos were killed in October, 2021 in the same area, with one joey surviving the incident. 

Researchers have analysed the whiskers of Tasmanian Devils to determine what they eat, finding that in farmland they mostly fed on Tasmanian Pademelon roadkill (which exposes them to becoming roadkill), and in logged forests they also had relatively restricted diets, while in oldgrowth rainforest they had varied diets. Their concentration onto large carcasses in disturbed environments increases the risk of spreading devil facial tumour disease, that has wiped out 68% of their population.

Researchers recommend that learning to live with Dingoes, through guardian animals, deterrents, predator proof paddocks etc, can have benefits for graziers by reducing the competition for pasture from wild herbivores such as kangaroos and goats, as well as killing or scaring off foxes and feral cats – to my mind, the sooner we return dingoes to control ferals the better.

Its horrific, once again millions of dead Bony Bream carpet the surface of the Darling River at Menindee, with an increasing number of golden perch and even a few Murray cod, poor water quality is a likely cause again, possibly deoxygenated flood waters from floodplains.

A new plastic-induced fibrosis in seabirds has been termed plasticosis, which results in scarred digestive tracts affecting their ability to digest food and making them more vulnerable to infection and parasites.

A new plastic-induced fibrosis in seabirds has been termed plasticosis, which results in scarred digestive tracts affecting their ability to digest food and making them more vulnerable to infection and parasites.

Lord Howe Island’s parks have been closed to visitors after an outbreak of the fungus Myrtle Rust, that attacks plants of the myrtaceae family, was found to have spread across most of the park preserve, with the hope that they may be able to eradicate it, like they did in 2016.

Out of roughly 21,000 native Australian vascular plant species 3,715 (or 18%) do not have a single field photograph in major databases, the less charismatic small herbs, plants with tiny or dull flowers, or groups such as grasses or sedges tend to miss out, particularly in remote areas. Many could go extinct without any record of what they looked like alive.

The Deteriorating Problem

An assessment of satellite data found extreme dry and wet events have been increasing since 2002, but the most intense events have been occurring more frequently since 2015 with increased temperatures, proving the increase in extremes due to climate heating.

For the Mediterranean Basin, South and Central Asia, East Africa and the west coasts of North and Central America, the land might be reaching a tipping point in terms of its ability to host significantly forested land and absorb significant amounts of carbon, with extensive forests at risk of turning into scrubland and other ecosystems that don’t act as carbon sinks, causing a “spiraling” effect.

A global rainforest study has found deforestation and forests lost or damaged due to human and environmental change, such as fire and logging, are fast outstripping current rates of forest regrowth, though regrowth can still sequester significant carbon volumes.

Turning it Around

Ian Dunlop argues that we are in a desperate race to avoid locking in a pathway to human extinction due to climate heating, which dwarfs threats from China, Russia or the US, arguing for brutal honesty on the threats, support for the Greens policy of no new fossil fuels, and unprecedented global co-operation.

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Refusing to be locked out:

On Thursday forest protectors walked into closed forests in Yarratt SF, and Doubleduke SF, claiming they have been closed to the public by the Forestry Corporation to hide the destruction that is occurring at taxpayer expense. Brooman State Forest Conservation Group and Friends of the Forest (Mogo), Knitting Nannas in the M.U.D (Milton Ulladulla District) and Manyana Matters Environmental Association had a solidarity action in Bateman’s Bay. There was a good turnout at all locations, with 70 protestors at Doubleduke met by 7 police cars.

https://www.begadistrictnews.com.au/story/8123393/grass-roots-protestors-want-logging-to-be-the-top-agenda-item-this-election/

https://www.merimbulanewsweekly.com.au/story/8123393/grass-roots-protestors-want-logging-to-be-the-top-agenda-item-this-election/

https://nofibs.com.au/thread-forestry-corps-total-forest-closure-notice-is-fake-no-arrests-at-forestwalkon/

https://greens.org.au/nsw/news/media-release/day-action-across-nsw-take-back-forests-forestry-corporation

Locking Forestry Corporation out:

On Monday Sean O’Shanessy locked on to the front gate, with a tree-sit attached, to give the Forestry Corporation a taste of their own medicine by shutting access to their headquarters in Pennant Hills. Sean was cut off and let go, the person in the tree-sit came down after their line to the gate was cut, and let go. It got good coverage on Channel 7 in Sydney, but no other mainstream media.

"The NSW government of Domenic Perrottet allows the Forestry Corporation to operate like a dictatorship. They are secretive and intolerant of dissent. They run a sophisticated propaganda machine aimed at greenwashing the devastation they create in our public forests.

"This rogue Government owned corporation routinely ignores increasingly urgent calls from communities around the state for an end to native forest logging and protection of our increasingly threatened wildlife.

“We are in the midst of a climate emergency and extinction crisis. Forests help stabilise our climate, both by absorbing carbon, regulating water supplies, and cooling the land. Every truckload of logs ripped out of our native forests threatens the possibility of a safe future.

GOOGLE DRIVE LINK TO TO IMAGES & VIDEO

https://greens.org.au/nsw/news/media-release/forest-defenders-bring-fight-forestry-corporations-front-door

Water and forests:

On Saturday Save Bulga Forest dropped a giant fluoro and red banner Save Native Forest across the cliff face of the iconic Ellenborough Falls as a reminder that the water flowing over the waterfall comes from the Bulga forest and that with each truck full of logs taken from the forest the water reservoir that the forests provide, diminishes. NBN had a good story on it. Last Friday, after 2 months of continuous occupation, Lola’s tree-sit in Bulga State Forest was dismantled by the Forestry Corporation when she had to descend to attend a medical appointment.

The Daily Telegraph has an article about the court appearances of those arrested at Bulga, the burning Blinky Bill and a motion by Greens councillor Lauren Edwards to Thursdays Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to lobby authorities to halt logging in Bulga.

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/mid-north-coast/bulga-forest-protest-in-taree-court-port-councillor-backs-calls-to-stop-logging/news-story/cc2b1cadb08d0d6cca72d90e2c4d7536?btr=e820e1eee02db199e3bf977387a177f2

The News of the Area story about formation of an Orara East action group (covered last week) is online:

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/orara-east-group-stand-against-industrial-logging-of-native-forest

Forest videos:

There are two new videos doing the rounds, please watch them and get the message out. David Bradbury has prepared a 34m video focussed on the Bulga action, though wide-ranging, “Gondwana Going, Going...Gone?” https://youtu.be/XSm_KxJ2U9Y

Friendly Jordies has prepared the 30m “Valley of Death” based on a visit to Wild Cattle Creek with Mark Graham – more serious than his last on Wedding Bells – while released on March 15 it had 490,000 views when I looked on March 17. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fogLmItSZns

Justice prevails despite false police evidence:

Deanna "Violet" Coco was last year handed a 15-month sentence with a non-parole period of eight months for blocking a lane of the Cahill Expressway for 30 minutes, though on appeal the jail sentence was overturned and she was placed on a 12-month conditional release order, despite the police lying and the prosecution describing her as a "danger to the community".

Judge Williams rejected the Crown's suggestion Ms Coco was a "danger to the community" and had "no insight into her offending".

The court heard Ms Coco was sentenced on a "false factual basis" after a set of police facts claimed an ambulance under lights and sirens was prevented from attending an emergency due to the incident.

But that claim has since been retracted and Judge Williams asked how it found its way into the matter.

Mr Glover, who has been a firefighter for some 40 years and was at risk of being terminated due to his conviction, was also placed on a 12-month conditional release order and his conviction was set aside.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-15/nsw-court-climate-change-protester-jail-sentence-overturned/102097354

Redbank rises again:

We thought we had killed it with the change to Federal legislation to stop wood from native forests being eligible for tradeable Large-scale Generation Certificates, but the proposed restart of the Redbank Power Station using 850,000 tonnes of forests to generate electricity has been resurrected as a State Significant Development. Renew Economy has a good background article.

Verdant Earth Technologies Limited (the Applicant) has acquired the power station and is seeking approval to restart and operate the plant using waste wood residues as a sustainable fuel to produce near net zero CO2 emissions and enable the power station to produce “green” electricity. Secondly, it is proposed that pilot trials using alternative fuels will be conducted to support the operations of the power station (the Proposal)

The Proposal would use up to 850,000 tonnes of waste wood residues as a supplementary fuel for conversion into electricity. A key aspect of the Proposal is to operate the power station on sustainable waste wood residues comprising a mix of available legally sourced native and plantation forestry residues, sawmill residues and uncontaminated wood wastes.

https://pp.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/projects/restart-redbank-power-station

The problem is, woody biomass – particularly that derived from native forest logging – is quickly losing its green sheen, if it ever had one.

As it stands, burning woody biomass for power does emit carbon dioxide and does involve cutting down forests, which means removing carbon sinks, destroying biodiversity and releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere.

“We call on all political parties to immediately rule out this ridiculous proposal to waste taxpayers’ money to bulldoze our forests and create millions of tonnes of emissions,” said the group’s CEO Jacqui Mumford.

https://reneweconomy.com.au/green-group-promises-relentless-fight-against-bid-to-convert-coal-plant-to-woody-biomass/

Horse-trading:

The Sydney Morning Herald has an in-depth article about the coalition’s conservation record, starting with Kean’s deal with the Nationals over Koalas to get their support for renewable energy, declining Koala populations, the National’s act to protect feral horses and their rising numbers, the threefold increase in land clearing, the recent increases in reserves still leaving NSW the second worse in Australia (a quarter of Tasmania’s), which many attribute  ‘to horse-trading between Liberals and Nationals’.

Modelling predicts that only 496 of the 991 terrestrial species listed as threatened are predicted to survive in 100 years’ time.

[Mummford] “What we have heard from people close to negotiations between [the Nationals] and the Liberals is that they were very transactional in nature, that there were plenty of Liberal ministers who want to do more to protect natural resources, but that they always had to bring a deal to the table.

“I think if you look at the timing of the koala wars and the energy package that Kean got over the line, the timing of that suggests that perhaps there was a deal done.”

When Labor leader Chris Minns launched his party’s campaign last Sunday his speech did not include the word “environment” – a point noted by Griffin.

Unlike the government, Labor supports the creation of a Great Koala National Park on the state’s North Coast, but is in lockstep with the government over maintaining native forest logging opposed by conservationists.

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/how-the-nsw-government-acted-for-climate-at-the-expense-of-the-environment-20230308-p5cqf7.html

The benefits of protesting:

Sue Higginson says that being involved in protests in the 1990s shaped the direction of her life, and wants the draconian anti-protest laws repealed for non-violent protestors to give others the chances in life she had.

"Engaging at the pointy end of the democratic process and exercising my right to have a voice through non-violent and peaceful civil disobedience empowered me to become a lawyer and fight for community justice in the legal system and now to fight for justice in the parliament."

During the early 90s, Ms Higginson spent months protesting at Chaelundi State Forest, now Chaelundi National Park, in northern NSW.

Aged about 21, she blockaded the area with the North East Forest Alliance to challenge the NSW Forestry Commission's attempts to log thousands of hectares of old-growth forest.

After the 1991 protest, the NSW government adopted its first threatened species legislation, the National Party forests minister was demoted and the Liberal premier and environment minister resigned after corruption hearings.

https://www.ulladullatimes.com.au/story/8116972/former-bulldozer-blocking-mp-wants-to-protect-activists/

https://thewest.com.au/politics/election/former-bulldozer-blocking-mp-wants-to-protect-activists-c-10001061

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/03/freedom-to-protest-needs-to-be-protected-as-environmental-activists-targetd/

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/03/greens-will-see-anti-protest-laws-repealed/

NSW election:

Polls continue to give Labor the lead, though the swings needed for Labor to gain seats indicate its likely to be a close election, with a hung lower house giving minor parties and independents the balance of power, and a power split between left and right parties in the upper house.

The Coalition won the 2019 election by a 52-48% statewide margin, so the polls taken in late February that gave Labor between 52% and 53% of the statewide, two-party vote imply a 4-5% swing to Labor from 2019.

On current polling, Labor is unlikely to make the gains it needs to secure its own majority, so there’s a strong likelihood of a hung parliament.

The NSW upper house has 42 members, with 21 up for election

Right-wing parties (the Coalition, One Nation, Shooters and Christian Democrats) currently have a 22-20 upper house majority over left-wing parties (Labor, the Greens and Animal Justice).

With Labor’s current modest lead in the statewide lower house polls, the left is most likely to win 11 of the 21 seats up for election. That would give the left a one-seat gain, but the upper house would be tied at a 21-21 left-right split.

https://theconversation.com/nsw-election-preview-labor-likely-to-fall-short-of-a-majority-which-could-result-in-hung-parliament-201289?utm

Juice Media have a fun brief overview (including forests), giving all the reasons why you should vote for the coalition https://www.thejuicemedia.com/

The ABC has a podcast Matters of State on regional issues that mentions the Koala wars and Leslie Williams defection and Geof Provest’s threat to cross the floor, and the brumby and land use issues, talks about the split between coastal and inland Nationals.

At 15.50 -19.30

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/matters-of-state/nsw-03-koala-wars-brumbies-and-regional-nsw/102094660

Manly protest:

The Bob Brown Foundation hosted a rally in Manly on Sunday to protest the incessant logging and mindless destruction of koala forest habitat under the LNP government over the past twelve years, with speeches by Susie Russell and Sean O’Shannessey, including a march through Manly to James Griffin’s office – though I couldn’t find any mainstream media coverage.

https://www.facebook.com/Bob.Brown.Foundation

https://www.facebook.com/savebulgaforest

Greens balance of power demands:

The NSW Greens have outlined seven demands it will make if it ends up holding the balance of power in the NSW parliament after the March 25 state election, including repeal the anti-protest laws and end logging of public native forests.

Top of the list is no new coal and gas projects, meaning the end of Santos’ planned coal seam gas project in Narrabri and a pipeline across the Hunter.

“We cannot afford new coal and gas. It’s deadly, it’s dangerous and it will cost us the earth,” federal Greens leader Adam Bandt told the party faithful in Sydney on Saturday.

“Breathtaking” anti-protest laws that lock up grandmothers and students “while the coal and gas companies are given public money to mine, burn and frack our future” would also be on the chopping block, Mr Bandt said.

The party also wants rent controls and a ban on unfair evictions, the start of a community-led treaty process, hospital-wide nurse-to-patient ratios and real wage increases for the public sector.

The women-dominated party expects to retain its three lower house seats, and gets back to a quartet in the upper house.

Lynda-June Coe, a Wiradjuri and Badu Island teacher and activist sitting at No.3 on the upper house ticket, would likely face a battle for the 21st and last seat with Mark Latham-led One Nation, Ms Faehrmann said.

https://michaelwest.com.au/nsw-greens-put-up-a-list-of-balance-of-power-demands/

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/state/nsw/2023/03/11/nsw-greens-ultimatum-to-minns/

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-11/greens-seek-balance-of-power-after-nsw-election/102084236

https://www.denipt.com.au/national/bandt-to-help-launch-nsw-greens-election-demands/

In any balance of power situation after polling day on March 25th the Greens will fight for real and meaningful action to:

  • Ensure no new coal or gas
  • Ban unfair evictions and control rents
  • Start a community-led Truth and Treaty process
  • Repeal the anti-protest laws
  • Mandate ratios for nurses & midwives, scrap the public sector wage cap and deliver real wage increases
  • End logging of public native forests
  • Introduce a mandatory cashless gambling card

Decades of logging have left native forests on the brink, destroying precious habitats for threatened species like koalas. The Greens will move to end native forest logging and protect koala habitat.

https://greens.org.au/nsw/news/media-release/greens-launch-plan-hold-balance-power

The forgotten environment:

The Guardian has an article about the crucial environmental issues ahead of the next Government, highlighting, that neither of the major parties are intending to do anything about rampant landclearing (which they are unlikely to be able to continue to ignore), the plight of Koalas (Labor with a Great Koala NP and the coalition $195 million), the failed biodiversity offsets scheme (which Labor says if will fix and the coalition reform), logging of public native forests (which the coalition is proud of and Labor silent on), and the burgeoning emissions from new coal mines (which both support).

It gets only limited attention in the Sydney media, but there is a significant fight in regional NSW over the ongoing clearing of primary native forest relied on by koalas and other species. About 14,000 hectares of state forest is logged each year.

Protests against logging have intensified in parts of the mid-north and north coasts. Campaigners contrast the situation with Western Australia and Victoria, which have promised to end native forest logging in 2024 and 2030 respectively. In NSW, the Greens have proposed spending $300m on supporting industry and workers through an immediate transition out of native forest logging, but the major parties have not committed to a change.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/mar/17/beyond-saving-the-koala-environmental-challenges-that-will-confront-the-next-nsw-government

Coffs Harbour Candidates:

News of the Area has Coffs Harbour candidates responses to ‘The environment/Great Koala National Park’, with the ALP’s Mr Judge saying ‘It can be the single greatest environmental and economic boost for Coffs in decades’, the Nationals Mr Singh extolling the government propaganda including that logging has no impacts on Koalas, Independent Dr Townley supporting phasing out logging of native forests, in a mixed response The Greens Mr Nott says the Greens support the GKNP while saying he supports sustainable logging but ‘cannot support logging public forests at an economic loss’ and ‘builders struggle to find local timbers’, with candidates Ms Ellison and Ms Cully also supporting the GKNP. 

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-17-march-2023

Ballina candidates:

The Echo put a number of questions to candidates for the seat of Ballina, including (1) should we stop logging of native forests, and (2) should Forestry be held accountable for logging Koala habitat, The Greens simply answered yes and ‘They should be forced to stop’, the Nationals no and ‘I support penalties commensurate with the law being broken’, Labor was more equivocal, recognising forests value for carbon, stating they are ‘committed to creating a Great Koala National Park around Coffs Harbour and at the same time ensure there are no job losses’, supporting a transition to plantations, tourism facilities in new reserves, involvement of all stakeholders in reaching decisions about forest management, and ‘Labor will act to protect Koalas and Koala habitat’(apparently by increasing fines).

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/03/nsw-election-candidate-qa/

Taking aim at environmental zones:

The Shooters Fishers and Farmers want to change zoning laws and give farmers freedom to do what they want.

Kate Richardson (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers): "The SFF has always had the policy that farmers and landholders should be able to manage their properties to reduce the fuel load, reducing the chance of fire on their property. This can be achieved through changes to NSW zoning laws and reducing the red tape involved in this decision-making process.

https://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/8117095/central-west-view-what-will-they-do-when-disaster-strikes/

AUSTRALIA

Achieving 30x30 using OECMs:

The Albanese Labor Government is seeking feedback on the principles that will guide which areas could be formally recognised for their contribution to achieving the 30% by 2030 goal, saying they already have 22% protected (mostly desert) but still need to protect an additional 60 million hectares which they intend making up using “other effective area-based conservation measures” (OECMs) - though there is a worry that they could include multiple-use areas (productive landscapes), time to demand they don’t include areas used for logging, that targets be met on a regional basis (with a forest bias as climatic refugia) and that they now protect public native forests. To have your say on OECMs, visit: https://consult.dcceew.gov.au/consult-draft-principles-for-oecms-in-australia 

Other effective area-based conservation measures are defined by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity as:

A geographically defined area other than a Protected Area, which is governed and managed in ways that achieve positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the in-situ conservation of biodiversity, with associated ecosystem functions and services and where applicable, cultural, spiritual, socio-economic, and other locally relevant values. 

Once finalised, the new framework will guide landholders on how to meet requirements to achieve OECM recognition.

“We have set an ambitious national target to protect and conserve 30 per cent of our land by 2030. And we are on our way with 22 per cent of Australia’s landmass now protected.

“That means that we still need to protect or conserve an additional 60 million hectares, roughly 9 times the size of Tasmania. High quality conservation areas or other effective area-based conservation measures can help us get there.

https://minister.dcceew.gov.au/plibersek/media-releases/using-every-tool-box-conserve-more-our-iconic-landscapes

. .. OECM recognition should be considered for areas that do not meet the protected area definition, or where formal protected area designation is not possible or supported. For example:

  • Where the primary purpose is not biodiversity conservation, but the land is managed for biodiversity conservation as a secondary or ancillary purpose, e.g. urban parklands.
  • Where connectivity can be achieved between existing protected areas, but the connecting land has a primary purpose not compatible with protection.

Sustainable use that is consistent with conservation outcomes is allowable. Sustainable use is defined under the CBD as the use of components of biological diversity in a way and at a rate that does not lead to the long-term decline of biological diversity, thereby maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of present and future generations (CBD Article 2).

Recognising that biodiversity conservation does not have to be a primary management objective for OECMs, management arrangements for a site may not relate only to biodiversity conservation. Where the primary objective of a site’s management is not biodiversity conservation, but it is a secondary objective, site management arrangements should include, at a minimum, a section on biodiversity conservation that outlines the conservation objectives for the site, actions to adaptively manage it, and relevant jurisdictional land management requirements.

https://storage.googleapis.com/files-au-climate/climate-au/p/prj254b838e20ec4ca9dfe0a/public_assets/OECMs%20-%20Principles%20consultation%20paper.docx

The collapsing phase out:

Cosmos has an article about the shambles that Victoria’s phase-out of logging public native forests has become, with VicForests losing $54.2 million last year, unable to meet commitments to customers, blaming the multitude of court cases forcing them to protect habitat of threatened species, accusations of illegal logging, closure of the Maryvale paper plant, and a 2020 assessment that found stopping logging immediately would save taxpayers $192 million.

https://cosmosmagazine.com/earth/phasing-out-native-logging-victoria/

Forest mining:

In south-west Australia, Alcoa has long-term approval to clear jarrah forest for bauxite mining, though all they need to do to claim it is rehabilitated is do some landscaping and some seeding, leaving large areas in a parlous state, with 27,860 hectares of jarrah forest cleared none has rehabilitation completed.

https://www.watoday.com.au/environment/sustainability/alcoa-must-stop-spinning-the-facts-and-start-fixing-our-forests-20230313-p5crmc.html

SPECIES

Propping up populations to avoid extinction:

Wild populations of Orange-bellied Parrots are being sustained by captive breeding and release holding extinction at bay as the natural birth rate is too low to compensate for the high death rates of juveniles, though until the threats to their survival in the wild are addressed their population can only survive by regular releases.

Inability to mitigate threats may result in lost opportunities for released animals to learn crucial behaviours such as migration or song, and ultimately, the decline of wild populations.

Given the global popularity and visibility of captive breeding programs, it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security that they are a quick fix for the extinction crisis. However, identifying the threats to wild populations early is crucial because re-establishing “extinct in the wild” species from captivity is extremely difficult, albeit not impossible.

https://theconversation.com/orange-bellied-parrot-shows-theres-more-to-saving-endangered-species-than-captive-breeding-201226?

Koala divesting:

Australian Ethical says it has sold its $11m in shareholdings in Lendlease after it failed to provide “critical information” about the width of planned koala corridors at stage two of its Gilead housing development, claiming it is one of the first funds managers in Australia to divest from a company because of concern for an endangered species.

“For over four years we have used our shareholdings in Lendlease to encourage it to strengthen koala protections, but Australian Ethical cannot continue to support a company that appears to be failing to take biodiversity protection seriously,” Australian Ethical spokesperson Amanda Richman said.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/mar/13/australian-ethical-offloads-lendlease-shares-over-development-threat-to-koala-population

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-13/australian-ethical-divests-lendlease-koala-corridors-gilead/102086068

Returning the growling:

The Growling Grass Frog has not been recorded at Winton Wetlands, in northern Victoria, for more than 50 years, so 30 frogs captured in the wild are being returned to the now rehabilitated wetland, with Chytrid fungus the biggest threat.

Chytrid fungus is a waterborne fungal pathogen that frogs can pick up through water or direct contact with each other.

"Once it gets into a site, chytrid just continues to spread throughout the populations until the frogs either decline or learn to live with it," Dr West said.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-14/growling-grass-frogs-reintroduced-to-victorian-wetlands/102087822

Hoons killing roos:

Six kangaroos were mowed down and left to die by hoons at Long Beach in Batemans Bay, coming after 14 'roos were killed in October, 2021 in the same area, with one joey surviving the incident. 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11861615/Kangaroos-run-left-die-Long-Beach-Batemans-Bay-NSW-south-coast.html

By a whisker:

Researchers have analysed the whiskers of Tasmanian Devils to determine what they eat, finding that in farmland they mostly fed on Tasmanian Pademelon roadkill (which exposes them to becoming roadkill), and in logged forests they also had relatively restricted diets, while in oldgrowth rainforest they had varied diets. Their concentration onto large carcasses in disturbed environments increases the risk of spreading devil facial tumour disease, that has wiped out 68% of their population.

However, the results were different for devil populations in old-growth rainforest habitats which have never been logged. There, devil diets were diverse. Larger devils tended to eat mammals such as Tasmanian pademelons and brushtail possums, and smaller devils consumed birds such as green rosellas.

Over the past 25 years the disease – an aggressive, transmittable parasitic cancer is – has caused Tasmania’s devil population to fall by 68%. And this year the disease was detected for the first time in Tasmania’s north-west, from the same population as many devils in our study.

Only in old-growth rainforests did devils have a diverse diet that lived up to their reputation as opportunists. The results suggest conserving these wild landscapes is vital to protecting Tasmanian devils.

https://theconversation.com/tasmanian-devil-whiskers-hold-the-key-to-protecting-these-super-scavengers-201468?utm

Call for a truce in Dingo wars:

Researchers recommend that learning to live with Dingoes, through guardian animals, deterrents, predator proof paddocks etc, can have benefits for graziers by reducing the competition for pasture from wild herbivores such as kangaroos and goats, as well as killing or scaring off foxes and feral cats – to my mind, the sooner we return dingoes to control ferals the better.

Our research on this area has led to a new Australian guide. This approach relies on a variety of effective non-lethal tools and practices to protect livestock three main ways:

  • humans or guardian animals such as dogs and donkeys watch over and defend livestock from dingoes, as well as using fencing to create a physical barrier
  • using knowledge about dingo biology and behaviour to find better deterrents, such as the use of lights, sounds or smells
  • stronger land management and livestock husbandry to increase the productive capacity of pastures and livestock resilience.

This is not hypothetical. Graziers and landholders already using predator-smart tools and strategies report many benefits. They include:

  • fewer animals injured or killed by dingoes
  • less time spent stalking and killing dingoes
  • lower total grazing pressure from feral grazers such as goats
  • boosting pasture growth and livestock profitability.

Landholders for Dingoes promotes the work of landholders who are coexisting with dingoes.

It’s time to modernise Australia’s approach to dingoes. This approach offers a potential win-win for farmers and dingoes, as well as significant gains for nature.

https://theconversation.com/killing-dingoes-is-the-only-way-to-protect-livestock-right-nope-200905?utm

Fucked:

Its horrific, once again millions of dead Bony Bream carpet the surface of the Darling River at Menindee, with an increasing number of golden perch and even a few Murray cod, poor water quality is a likely cause again, possibly deoxygenated flood waters from floodplains.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-17/menindee-fish-kill-pictures-show-mass-deaths-in-nsw/102110570

The curse of plasticosis:

A new plastic-induced fibrosis in seabirds has been termed plasticosis, which results in scarred digestive tracts affecting their ability to digest food and making them more vulnerable to infection and parasites.

Plastic pollution is becoming so prevalent that the scarring was widespread across different ages of birds, according to the study, published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.

Young birds were found to have the disease, and it is thought chicks were being fed the plastic pollution by parents accidentally bringing it back in food.

They found that the more plastic a bird had ingested, the more scarring it had. The disease can lead to the gradual breakdown of tubular glands in the proventriculus. Losing these glands can cause the birds to become more vulnerable to infection and parasites and affect their ability to digest food and absorb some vitamins.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/mar/03/plasticosis-new-disease-caused-by-plastics-discovered-in-seabirds?utm

Myrtle rust spreads to Lord Howe Island:

Lord Howe Island’s parks have been closed to visitors after an outbreak of the fungus Myrtle Rust, that attacks plants of the myrtaceae family, was found to have spread across most of the park preserve, with the hope that they may be able to eradicate it, like they did in 2016.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/most-of-lord-howe-closed-after-fungal-outbreak-20230316-p5csp1.html?utm

Plant photos needed:

Out of roughly 21,000 native Australian vascular plant species 3,715 (or 18%) do not have a single field photograph in major databases, the less charismatic small herbs, plants with tiny or dull flowers, or groups such as grasses or sedges tend to miss out, particularly in remote areas. Many could go extinct without any record of what they looked like alive.

https://theconversation.com/thousands-of-our-native-plants-have-no-public-photographs-available-heres-why-that-matters-199100?utm

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

Heating extremes:

An assessment of satellite data found extreme dry and wet events have been increasing since 2002, but the most intense events have been occurring more frequently since 2015 with increased temperatures, proving the increase in extremes due to climate heating.

Intense drought and heavy rainfall events occurred more often in the last eight years — the hottest years on record — than in the previous decade, according to a new study released in Nature Water on Monday. Warmer global temperatures are increasing the extent, duration, and severity of these extremes, the authors found, and are having more of an effect than natural climate patterns.

“These findings not only verify model predictions, but also the ‘dry gets drier, wet gets wetter,’ hypothesis,” groundwater scientist Melissa Rohde wrote in a separate review article that appeared in Nature on Monday.

“As the world warms, it’s fair to say that we may expect to see more frequent, more intense droughts and wet events,” said Rodell. “Here, we have the evidence that’s already happening.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2023/03/13/drought-rainfall-climate-hottest-years-extreme/

Collapsing forests:

For the Mediterranean Basin, South and Central Asia, East Africa and the west coasts of North and Central America, the land might be reaching a tipping point in terms of its ability to host significantly forested land and absorb significant amounts of carbon, with extensive forests at risk of turning into scrubland and other ecosystems that don’t act as carbon sinks, causing a “spiraling” effect.

Across the globe, landscapes are showing signs of losing their ability to absorb the amount of carbon they once could, according to a study called “Diagnosing destabilization risk in global land carbon sinks,” published in Nature last month. That would pose serious obstacles to the fight against climate change, as carbon storage in forests, peatlands and other ecosystems is key to keeping the global temperature below 1.5° Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit).

Researchers noted that certain parts of the world, such as the Amazon and central and northern Europe, are less likely to see this destabilizing effect. In fact, their capacity for carbon storage has increased in recent years, they said. Nevertheless, they stressed that the countless landscapes across the globe that are at risk of losing carbon storage capacity need to be addressed.

“We need to take care of our land better and not let all the trees get cut down and converted to cropland,” McGuire said. “Trees can hold a lot more carbon than crops or grasslands.”

https://news.mongabay.com/2023/03/global-ecosystems-are-at-risk-of-losing-carbon-storage-ability-study-says/

Stop cutting it down and let it grow back:

A global rainforest study has found deforestation and forests lost or damaged due to human and environmental change, such as fire and logging, are fast outstripping current rates of forest regrowth, though regrowth can still sequester significant carbon volumes.

Although the results demonstrate the important carbon value of conserving recovering forests across the tropics, the total amount of carbon being taken up in aboveground forest growth was only enough to counterbalance around a quarter (26%) of the current carbon emissions from tropical deforestation and degradation.

Co-author Dr Jo House, Reader in Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Bristol, who has authored many international assessments on climate change and forests, said: "Countries have repeatedly made pledges to reduce deforestation and forest degradation and restore deforested areas.

"This is the most cost-effective and immediately available way to remove carbon from the atmosphere, alongside many co-benefits such as biodiversity, flood control and protection of indigenous peoples' livelihoods. Yet targets are repeatedly missed due a lack of serious international co-ordinated support and political will. Our research demonstrates that time is running out."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/03/230315132407.htm

TURNING IT AROUND

Avoiding the existential threat:

Ian Dunlop argues that we are in a desperate race to avoid locking in a pathway to human extinction due to climate heating, which dwarfs threats from China, Russia or the US, arguing for brutal honesty on the threats, support for the Greens policy of no new fossil fuels, and unprecedented global co-operation.

The science has long indicated that, to avoid locking in far worse irreversible climatic tipping points, the current fashion for achieving net zero emissions by 2050 (NZE 2050) is totally inadequate. The objective must be to reach zero emissions as close to 2030 as possible (ZE 2030).

In addition to rapid emission reduction, atmospheric carbon concentrations must be drawn down from the present level of 420 ppm CO2, toward a more stable level below 350 ppm CO2. A task not even mentioned in the Australian debate.

We are in a desperate race to avoid locking in a pathway to human extinction. This requires brutal honesty on the threats we face.

https://johnmenadue.com/negotiating-with-the-laws-of-physics-is-not-good-climate-policy/


Forest Media 10 March 2023

New South Wales

On Thursday a tree sit was rigged from machinery to halt logging advancing through an old growth valley in Doubleduke State Forest. They were unable to get Valerie Thompson out of her tree sit on Thursday, so it continued on Friday. The local ABC had a great interview from Valerie in her tree sit, but then a waffly interview with logging advocate Professor Jerry Vanclay from Southern Cross University saying forests can recover from fire and logging, the action made it onto ABC national news. Andrew George who held up logging in a tree-sit in Doubleduke State Forest for five hours in February, was fined $3,200 in court on Monday, charged with interfering with timber harvesting equipment, carrying on activity in a forestry area that poses a risk to safety, entering a forestry area without permission if prohibited by a displayed notice, and contravening direction to leave a forestry area given by an authorized officer.

Forest actions extend to Shallow Crossing State Forest in the south-east as young indigenous woman Takesa Frank (who initiated the petition to stop native forest logging) occupied a tree sit in a bid to halt logging operations. Protectors later came under attack for leaving the tree-sit and rubbish behind after they were evicted from the forest – as if they had a choice.

Mark Graham, who was arrested in Ellis State Forest and bailed on the condition that he not enter any State forest, appealed the condition in Coffs Harbour court last week, with 50 supporters outside the court and testimonials from a bevy of prominent people who rely on his expertise, the prosecution spuriously argued he needs a scientific licence to enter State forests and the case was adjourned for 2 weeks. A group of 60 residents have formed an action group to protect Orara East State Forest near Coffs Harbour to protect the unburnt refugia for threatened species, including resident Koalas, with concern of logging increasing fire risk, erosion and lantana.

Juliet Lamont, and her daughter Luca, arrested in Yarratt State Forest on January 30 for tree sits, appeared in Taree Court on Wednesday, accompanied by supporters outside and Extinction Rebellion’s animatronic burnt Koala, they pleaded not guilty and the case will be heard at a later date. Prime TV gave the story good coverage. Sydney Criminal Lawyers have an interview with Knitting Nanna Dominique Jacobs about bringing logging in the Bulga Forest to an end, the reasons she’s challenging the Perrottet government’s harsh protest laws, and why it’s important to continue fighting for humanity and planet.

Timberbiz is promoting an online petition by Forest and Wood Communities for people to show their support for sustainable forestry, regional communities and local timber production, citing their PR claims, with 1,502 claimed to have signed on so far. Pentarch Pty Ltd has apparently changed its name to Vertrex Pty Ltd.

NSW Election

A poll for The Sydney Morning Herald, conducted February 22-26 from a sample of 803, gave Labor 38% of the primary vote (up one since January), the Coalition 32% (down two), the Greens 11% (down one), independents 13% (up one) and others 7% (up two), which an analysist though would equate as 56-44 to Labor, a one-point gain for them since January. Another poll gave Labor a 53-47 lead, and another gave Labor a 52.5-47.5 lead.

The ABC has an in-depth NSW election guide by Anthony Green, with an overview and a assessments of every seat. Tweed, with a margin of 5%, is identified as a decider seat. Other north-coast seats to watch are Lismore (Saffin expected to hold), and Port Macquarie (where there will be a contest between the Nationals and Liberals). On the south coast seats to watch are Bega (Labor expected to hold), Kiama (where the disgraced Liberal member turned independent, Labor may win), and Monaro (where Labor has a chance). The Singleton Argus says thanks to a redistribution, the Upper Hunter has a wafer thin margin of 0.5%, making the seat the Coalition's second most marginal seat in the state, identifying newcomer Labor's Peree Watson as a major threat to National’s Mr Layzell being re-elected for a second term, with the Hunter Gas Pipeline a major issue.

The Echo asked all of the candidates in the running for the Seat of Lismore the same set of questions, with The Greens Adam Guise strongly advocating ending logging of public native forests, and the Nationals Alex Rubin strongly advocating for the Dunoon Dam and a crackdown on drugs. The Echo also has profiles of the electorates of Richmond, Ballina, Lismore and Clarence.

Shredding protections for koalas in a bid to reinvigorate the logging industry will be a key priority of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (SFF) members if elected on March 25, with the party’s NSW leader declaring: “We don’t believe koala are as endangered as what the major parties are implying” and that they “oppose the Great Koala National Park … it’ll effectively be the death knell of the timber industry”.

Labor’s commitment to protecting public land between Glenfield and Appin as the new Georges River Koala National Park, has been welcomed by conservation groups as saving ‘the koalas in that important area of bushland faster and better’ than what the coalition is proposing – I am surprised this wasn’t done years ago. Chris Minns has put out a statement ‘Saving Koalas from Extinction’ to ‘help save koalas from extinction by protecting key habitats and restoring environmental protections torn up by the Liberals and Nationals over the past 12 years’, emphasising their plans for a review of the Great Koala National Park and to identify and protect wildlife corridors on Sydney water land to link the Heathcote National Park, the Royal National Park and Dharawal National Park. New South Wales Labor has promised to fix the state’s “broken” environmental offsets system if it wins government in March, saying current policies are causing decline of endangered ecosystems instead of avoiding more damage, and they want them to be a last resort.

Peta Pinson, National’s candidate for Port Macquarie expressed her views on climate change at a Meet the Candidates at Laurieton, blaming it on changes in the earth’s solar orbit, and nothing to do with fossil fuels.

Australia

The Albanese government has agreed to the Greens’ demands to ban the $15 billion national reconstruction fund from direct investment in coal, gas and native logging projects, which led to outrage from logging and gas supporters, though Industry minister, Ed Husic said there may be other avenues to fund them.

The Greens have introduced a bill to the Senate to repeal the Regional Forest Agreements Act which grants logging operations an exemption from national environmental laws, also requiring annual statements on how logging is affecting Australia’s progress towards the government’s zero extinctions target, and its commitment to protect 30% of the country’s land areas by 2030.

An article in The Conversation argues the glaring problem with Labor’s safeguard mechanism is that there is still no requirement for polluters to actually cut their emissions as they can choose to buy unlimited carbon credits or offsets to meet their obligations instead, maintaining that carbon stored in soils and trees remains part of the active carbon cycle, while releasing carbon buried for millions of years adds to active carbon.

David Lindenmayer reviewed Victoria’s Immediate Protection Areas (the first areas protected for the transition out of logging), finding they are too small and often established in forests already burned and/or logged, concluding ‘Some areas even appeared to have been chosen because they were no longer needed for logging’. After having lost $52.4 million last year, VicForests was forced to compensate contractors more than $12 million and logging companies $25 million because it could not supply timber, and sent the bill to the Victorian government to pay, blaming court orders preventing timber harvesting until surveys for endangered species had been completed left them with nowhere to log.

The Wilderness Society Tasmania has written to Minister for Tourism and Minister for (Forest) Resources about logging due to take place at Maydena asking that the Government acts to halt the imminent logging of the rainforest next to the Maydena Bike Park and at Junee Cave, two of the town’s premier tourism destinations.

Australia exported $1.3 billion worth of woodchips in 2022, and the company Midway is encouraged that Indonesia has a declining domestic supply of wood while they're expanding their pulp-mill capacity, creating more market opportunities, particularly for their plans to clear 30,000 ha of plantations on Tiwi Island by 2030, with replanting aided by the new carbon credit rules.

John Menadue has an article in Pearls and Irritations commenting on David Lindenmayer’s article about the loss of trees and giant trees in particular, the fight to stop water from Springbrook being sold in 32 million plastic bottles every year, the Doom Loop and the loss of up to 10% of insect species in the last 150 years.

From 13-26 March, WWF are presenting the Earth Hour Film Festival, including The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, The Lake of Scars, Black Cockatoo Crisis, The New Joneses, Regenerating Australia, and Cry of the Forests.

Species

The Sydney Morning Herald has an article about Kosciusko’s critically endangered 10cm Stocky Galaxis, restricted to reaches of streams above waterfalls that introduced trout can’t climb, and in its refuges threatened by horses and the potential of the larger Climbing Galaxias to be introduced by Snowy 2.0.

The Canberra Times has an article focussed on a flying fox colony that roosts in Melbourne’s Yarra Bend Park, discussing their importance as pollinators, their vulnerability to heat stress, attempts to cull them, and Fly By Night’s shelter taking hundreds into care each year, mostly after being caught in tree netting, barbed wire and power lines.

Victorian environmental groups have accused the government of failing to perform due diligence before approving planned burns in Strathbogie Ranges in northern Victoria, known to be home to an unusually large population of the nationally endangered Southern Greater Glider, worried that hundreds could be killed. 

Multilevel societies are where individuals belong to family groups, which belong to clans, which belong to tribes, like many traditional human societies, as well as many other species, including Fairy Wrens. To test the bonds for fairy wrens, researchers played distress calls and tested reactions from each hierarchy, with family members responding most fervently and willing to take risks, other members of the community less so and unwilling to take risks, and strangers not at all.

The building of a feral-proof exclusion fence to cordon off the 50,000-hectare Wilsons Promontory sanctuary has led to scientists to call for it to be ‘rewilded’ with apex predators such as dingoes, Tasmanian devils, spotted-tailed quolls and eastern quolls to control populations of native species and restore ecological balance, even calling for dingoes to be introduced to control the ferals before the project is completed.

Attempts to remove brumbies from the river red gum forests in the Barmah-Millewa forest, on both sides of the Murray River are being met with strong local opposition, most are in the Barmah National Park, on the Victorian side of the border, where the plan is to reduce them from 540 in 2020 to 100 by 2023, with the end goal of removing all brumbies, though locals say the floods may have already achieved this.

The Deteriorating Problem

In a familiar story, police (backed by local politicians) have moved to forcibly remove the blockades put up by indigenous Penan groups in Sarawak to attempt to discourage the loggers who have been laying illegal waste to some of the regions last remaining virgin forests and ‘protected’ Belian species.

The 2019/20 wildfires took out 1% of the atmosphere’s ozone (damage that will take a decade to fix), the smoke transported substances containing chlorine into the stratosphere where it destroys ozone molecule by molecule, meaning the ozone layer will be slowly degraded as wildfires increase in frequency and intensity due to climate heating.

Killing thousands and displacing tens of millions, flash floods can be more devastating in drylands than in wetter areas because parched soils repel water rather than allowing it to soak in, drylands experience less than half (47%) of deadly flash floods globally, yet saw almost three-quarters (74%) of related deaths, the frequency of sudden inundations is skyrocketing due to the warming atmosphere holding more water, with the proportion of the world’s land area classed as arid or semi-arid projected to increase as the world warms — from 41% in 2000 to 48% by 2025.

A long-running drought in the Horn of Africa is expected to continue for the next three months as forecasters predict dry weather during this year’s March-to-May rainy season, likely creating the worst drought on record, expected to result in a famine worse than that in 2011 when 260,000 people in the region died of starvation.

Another study confirms the importance of tropical forests in recycling rainfall back into the atmosphere to generate region wide increases in rainfall, showing that clearing rainforest decreases regional rainfalls, finding that at a scale of 200 km a 1 percentage point of forest loss reduced precipitation by 0.25 ± 0.1 mm per month.

Climate heating has left a fifth of the conifer forests that blanket California's Sierra Nevada stranded in habitats that no longer suit them, with researchers finding that over the past 90 years they had shifted about 112 feet higher in elevation, though their climatically suitable habitat has shifted about 600 feet higher, leaving behind mature trees but no youngsters, meaning that if the mature trees are logged or killed in an extreme event the forest can’t grow back, an expanding zombie forest.

Turning it Around

In America a start-up Living Carbon, raised $21 million earlier this year to plant 5 million genetically modified poplar trees, which they say grow 50% faster and capture 27% more carbon than before, so that they can use them to generate carbon credits (and then log them). And this is only the start.

As part of its Deforestation Inc. reporting, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism has uncovered dozens of forestry product companies that publicly promoted their green credentials to consumers and investors, all the while parts of their operations were linked to questionable suppliers or facing allegations of environmental wrongdoing, providing three case studies.

Researchers have designed an algorithm that uses a smartphone LiDAR sensor to estimate trunk diameter automatically from a single image in realistic field conditions, the researchers plan to make their app publicly available for Android phones later this spring.

All across Scandinavia, some pre-schools are ensuring kids get regular time outdoors where children play in the woods and learn to appreciate nature, some bussing them in from urban areas, and come rain, sleet or snow, young children nap outside even in mid-winter.

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Trouble in Doubleduke:

On Thursday a tree sit was rigged from machinery to halt logging advancing through an old growth valley in Doubleduke State Forest. They were unable to get Valerie Thompson out of her tree sit on Thursday, so it continued on Friday. The local ABC had a great interview from Valerie in her tree sit, but then a waffly interview with logging advocate Professor Jerry Vanclay from Southern Cross University saying forests can recover from fire and logging, the action made it onto ABC national news.

Spokesperson Naomi Shine says “We all want these magnificent old trees to continue to exist in this native forest that is right on our doorstep – along with the diversity of wildlife they are home to.  Saving these towering trees also supports climate stability on which all life depends. It is time to end native forest logging for good.” 

Ecologist Anastasia Guise says “Doubleduke is a rare and important native forest that is home to all three great owls – the Powerful Owl, Masked Owl and Barking Owl, as well as a range of other vulnerable species such as our iconic koala. It is also a hotspot for the vulnerable Yellow-bellied glider, spotted in this forest less than a week ago.”  

[Tree sitter Valerie Thompson said on Friday] “At the moment it’s not looking good. We had hoped that the Forestry Corporation would leave these giants, but we’ve seen one on a log truck and another in the log dump.

“I felt compelled to do something, hoping against hope that as a result of my helping to bring this travesty to public attention someone in authority might be prepared to negotiate. I understand a formal complaint is being submitted today about Forestry’s breaches and calling for an immediate Stop Work Order. I’d be happy to free the machines if they’ll let the old trees live in peace.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/03/police-attempt-to-remove-forest-protector-so-gully-giants-can-be-logged/

Andrew George who held up logging in a tree-sit in Doubleduke State Forest for five hours in early February, was fined $3,200 in court on Monday, charged with interfering with timber harvesting equipment, carrying on activity in a forestry area that poses a risk to safety, entering a forestry area without permission if prohibited by a displayed notice, and contravening direction to leave a forestry area given by an authorized officer.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/03/man-in-court-over-nonviolent-action-halting-logging/

https://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/subscribe/news/1/?sourceCode=GCWEB_WRE170_a_GGL&dest=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goldcoastbulletin.com.au%2Fnews%2Fregional%2Flismore-climate-protester-andrew-george-fined-after-halting-logging-operations-at-doubleduke-state-forest%2Fnews-story%2F14eaf8276d325f44a2a0737fdeb23b3b&memtype=anonymous&mode=premium

Stopping Crossing:

Forest actions extend to Shallow Crossing State Forest in the south-east as young indigenous woman Takesa Frank (who initiated the petition to stop native forest logging) occupied a tree sit in a bid to halt logging operations. Protectors later came under attack for leaving the tree-sit and rubbish behind after they were evicted from the forest – as if they had a choice.

[Sue Higginson] “The ongoing conflicts in our forests across the state are a result of government inaction and a policy to destroy our most precious natural resources. Community members shouldn’t have to take matters into their own hands like this, but unfortunately they are left with no choice. 

[Takesa Frank] “My family fought the fires to protect our home and the neighbouring Shallow Crossing State Forest. My family knows this forest. We hear the Powerful Owl calling at night. We see endangered Gang - Gangs raising their young, in the hollows of big old trees.  My sister and I learned to swim in the Clyde River and played through the forest as kids. Takesa said.

https://www.suehigginson.org/shallow_crossing_state_forest

https://www.batemansbaypost.com.au/story/8115332/environmental-activists-under-fire-for-shallow-crossing-mess/

Punitive bail conditions:

Mark Graham, who was arrested in Ellis State Forest and bailed on the condition that he not enter any State forest, appealed the condition in Coffs Harbour court last week, with 50 supporters outside the court and testimonials from a bevy of prominent people who rely on his expertise, the prosecution spuriously argued he needs a scientific licence to enter State forests and the case was adjourned for 2 weeks.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-10-march-2023

Orara East getting organised:

A group of 60 residents have formed an action group to protect Orara East State Forest near Coffs Harbour to protect the unburnt refugia for threatened species, including resident Koalas, with concern of logging increasing fire risk, erosion and lantana.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-10-march-2023

Burning Koalas:

Juliet Lamont, and her daughter Luca, arrested in Yarratt State Forest on January 30 for tree sits, appeared in Taree Court on Wednesday, accompanied by supporters outside and Extinction Rebellion’s animatronic burnt Koala, they pleaded not guilty and the case will be heard at a later date. Prime TV gave the story good coverage.

Juliet Lamont. … ‘It is unbelievable that the NSW Government can talk about doubling koala numbers and spending millions on their recovery when what they are really doing is greenwashing. Koalas don’t eat money. They have their favourite trees and they live in colonies. Unless we identify and protect those colonies, koalas won’t survive in the wild. It’s as simple as that.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/03/mother-daughter-protesters-face-court-over-tree-sit-at-yarratt-state-forest/

Why protest?

Sydney Criminal Lawyers have an interview with Knitting Nanna Dominique Jacobs about bringing logging in the Bulga Forest to an end, the reasons she’s challenging the Perrottet government’s harsh protest laws, and why it’s important to continue fighting for humanity and planet.

Firstly, and very simply, to address the climate emergency we are told that we must stop deforestation and any new fossil fuel projects.

Can you believe that we are destroying forests and it’s costing us to do this? I’m a wildlife carer. I know that life is tough out there for our animals.

The climate movement has failed to acknowledge the vital role of forests in carbon capture and storage, as well as providing shade and coolth and water.

https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/taxpayers-fund-forest-depletion-in-nsw-knitting-nanna-dominique-jacobs-on-stopping-logging/

Saving logging:

Timberbiz is promoting an online petition by Forest and Wood Communities for people to show their support for sustainable forestry, regional communities and local timber production, citing their PR claims, with 1,502 claimed to have signed on so far.

“This issue has become a key election platform for political opportunists, but we can show the Government that our vital timber sector and the timber communities it supports are more important than unnecessarily locking up more bush.”

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/sign-the-petition-to-save-timber-communities-and-sustainable-forestry/

Pentarch Pty Ltd has apparently changed its name to Vertrex Pty Ltd.

NSW Election

A poll for The Sydney Morning Herald, conducted February 22-26 from a sample of 803, gave Labor 38% of the primary vote (up one since January), the Coalition 32% (down two), the Greens 11% (down one), independents 13% (up one) and others 7% (up two), which an analysist though would equate as 56-44 to Labor, a one-point gain for them since January. Another poll gave Labor a 53-47 lead, and another gave Labor a 52.5-47.5 lead.

https://theconversation.com/labor-slides-in-a-federal-newspoll-nsw-polls-give-labor-a-modest-lead-200734?utm

The ABC has an in-depth NSW election guide by Anthony Green, with an overview and a assessments of every seat. Tweed, with a margin of 5%, is identified as a decider seat. Other north-coast seats to watch are Lismore (Saffin expected to hold), and Port Macquarie (where there will be a contest between the Nationals and Liberals). On the south coast seats to watch are Bega (Labor expected to hold), Kiama (where the disgraced Liberal member turned independent, Labor may win), and Monaro (where Labor has a chance).

https://www.abc.net.au/news/elections/nsw/2023/guide/preview

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/nsw/the-seats-that-will-decide-the-outcome-of-this-election-20230220-p5clvt.html

The Singleton Argus says thanks to a redistribution, the Upper Hunter has a wafer thin margin of 0.5%, making the seat the Coalition's second most marginal seat in the state, identifying newcomer Labor's Peree Watson as a major threat to National’s Mr Layzell being re-elected for a second term, with the Hunter Gas Pipeline a major issue.

The Hunter Gas Pipeline, acquired by gas producer Santos in August 2022, was mentioned in the May 2021 by-election but this election for affected landholders from the Upper Hunter right through to Maitland it is major election issue.

https://www.singletonargus.com.au/story/8113893/upper-hunter-a-seat-to-watch-in-state-election-heres-what-you-need-to-know/

The Echo asked all of the candidates in the running for the Seat of Lismore the same set of questions, with The Greens Adam Guise strongly advocating ending logging of public native forests, and the Nationals Alex Rubin strongly advocating for the Dunoon Dam and a crackdown on drugs.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/03/election-2023-lismore-qa-local-and-state-issues/

The Echo also has profiles of the electorates of Richmond, Ballina, Lismore and Clarence.

https://www.echo.net.au/category/elections/nsw-elections/

Shooters take aim at Koalas:

Shredding protections for koalas in a bid to reinvigorate the logging industry will be a key priority of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (SFF) members if elected on March 25, with the party’s NSW leader declaring: “We don’t believe koala are as endangered as what the major parties are implying” and that they “oppose the Great Koala National Park … it’ll effectively be the death knell of the timber industry”.

Top of that list is slashing away at koala protection policies brought in by the NSW government, with Mr Borsak also saying the party opposes a national park specifically formed to protect koalas on the north coast near Coffs Harbour.

“We oppose the Great Koala National Park … it’ll effectively be the death knell of the timber industry,” he said.

Mr Borsak said forests used for logging provided safer habitats for koalas as they were actively managed, unlike national parks.

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/state-election/nsw-election-2023-bizarre-policies-backed-by-greens-shooters/news-story/296c68f702dc112fda7cb4858645df4b?btr=3680890bcd562749024a7d5f17a1b99d

Another Koala park:

Labor’s commitment to protecting public land between Glenfield and Appin as the new Georges River Koala National Park, has been welcomed by conservation groups as saving ‘the koalas in that important area of bushland faster and better’ than what the coalition is proposing – I am surprised this wasn’t done years ago.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-04/nsw-votes-labor-vows-create-georges-river-koala-national-park/102054326

Chris Minns has put out a statement ‘Saving Koalas from Extinction’ to ‘help save koalas from extinction by protecting key habitats and restoring environmental protections torn up by the Liberals and Nationals over the past 12 years’, emphasising their plans for a review of the Great Koala National Park and to identify and protect wildlife corridors on Sydney water land to link the Heathcote National Park, the Royal National Park and Dharawal National Park.

Labor will also use partnerships, planning, cooperation, and the levers of government to:

  • Complete the National Parks and Wildlife Service ‘National Parks Establishment Plan’ to identify key habitat and wildlife corridors, and expand protected areas into the future.
  • Convene a koala summit with all key stakeholders to review and refocus the NSW Koala Strategy to ensure it is a legitimate recovery plan for koala populations across NSW.
  • Ensure the statutory review of the Biodiversity Conservation Act strengthens environmental protections, stops run away land clearing, and fixes the biodiversity offset scheme.
  • Work cooperatively with landowners (public agencies, First Nations, Councils, farmers and other private land holders) to develop ways to protect key habitat through partnerships & investment on all types of land.
  • Work cooperatively with the Commonwealth Government to meet the objectives of the Threatened Species Action Plan 2022-2032 and the 30% protected areas by 2030 commitment to meet the goal of no new extinctions.

https://www.chrisminns.com.au/savingkoalasfromextinction

Fixing offsetting:

New South Wales Labor has promised to fix the state’s “broken” environmental offsets system if it wins government in March, saying current policies are causing decline of endangered ecosystems instead of avoiding more damage, and they want them to be a last resort.

Sharpe said she wanted to ensure the right standards for maintaining and improving habitat were in place and planned to address the practice of “double-dipping”, where lands already set aside for conservation purposes are traded again as offsets.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/mar/07/nsw-labor-vows-to-fix-broken-environmental-offsets-system-if-elected

Another National’s climate denier:

Peta Pinson, National’s candidate for Port Macquarie expressed her views on climate change at a Meet the Candidates at Laurieton, blaming it on changes in the earth’s solar orbit, and nothing to do with fossil fuels.

NASA admits that climate change occurs because of changes in the earth’s solar orbit and not because of SUVs and fossil fuels… fraud… I’m not convinced because there is alternate information … net zero to cost up to 130,000 jobs … I can’t buy into something there is an alternate viewpoint on  

45.36 m in

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn-dKjztjM0

AUSTRALIA

Denying funding for gas and logging:

The Albanese government has agreed to the Greens’ demands to ban the $15 billion national reconstruction fund from direct investment in coal, gas and native logging projects, which led to outrage from logging and gas supporters, though Industry minister, Ed Husic said there may be other avenues to fund them.

Allman-Payne said the Coalition “tried to use public money to fund coal and gas through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and they were unable to do so because of the guardrails that the Greens and Labor put in place”.

JLN senator, Tammy Tyrrell, responded furiously to the deal, arguing it breached a commitment by Anthony Albanese in May 2022 to support native forest harvesting.

“Giving in to the Greens’ demands is a smack in the face to Tasmanians,” Tyrrell said.

Industry minister, Ed Husic … noted that there “may be other vehicles that support” the list of investments now prohibited in the NRF, that is in coal, gas and native-forests logging.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/mar/09/labor-greens-deal-national-reconstruction-fund-ban-investment-coal-gas-native-logging

Repealing RFAs:

The Greens have introduced a bill to the Senate to repeal the Regional Forest Agreements Act which grants logging operations an exemption from national environmental laws, also requiring annual statements on how logging is affecting Australia’s progress towards the government’s zero extinctions target, and its commitment to protect 30% of the country’s land areas by 2030.

[Janet Rice] the Regional Forest Agreements have allowed for decades of reckless destruction of native forests across Australia, pushed native wildlife to the brink of extinction, endangered our water supplies, heightened bushfire risk, and made the climate crisis worse.

If passed, this bill will end the destructive logging of Australia’s precious native forests, by repealing the Regional Forest Agreements and closing the loopholes used by the logging industry to skirt our national environment laws.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2023/mar/09/australia-politics-live-albanese-india-robodebt-voice-cost-of-living-climate-interest-rates-weather-health-nsw-qld-vic?topics=ORG%3AGreens#key-events-carousel-desktop

https://www.beagleweekly.com.au/post/rice-introduces-the-greens-ending-native-forest-logging-2023-bill-to-the-senate

Fossil carbon adds to active carbon:

An article in The Conversation argues the glaring problem with Labor’s safeguard mechanism is that there is still no requirement for polluters to actually cut their emissions as they can choose to buy unlimited carbon credits or offsets to meet their obligations instead, maintaining that carbon stored in soils and trees remains part of the active carbon cycle, while releasing carbon buried for millions of years adds to active carbon.

When we burn fossil fuels, we release carbon locked away for millions of years (hence “fossil” fuels), pumping vast new volumes of carbon into the active carbon cycle.

They cannot solve the central problem which is that every year, we add another 33 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels.

https://theconversation.com/a-tonne-of-fossil-carbon-isnt-the-same-as-a-tonne-of-new-trees-why-offsets-cant-save-us-200901?utm

Reserving stuffed forest:

David Lindenmayer reviewed Victoria’s Immediate Protection Areas (the first areas protected for the transition out of logging), finding they are too small and often established in forests already burned and/or logged, concluding ‘Some areas even appeared to have been chosen because they were no longer needed for logging’.

The number of sites occupied by species teetering on the edge of extinction, such as Leadbeater’s Possum, has fallen by half in the last 25 years. Logging is a major driver of its decline.

As important as the size of the areas of land protected is what lives on it, and the ecosystem services it provides. To prevent extinctions in Australia, some ecosystems will need total protection of every fragment remaining, especially those under significant threat where key species are in marked decline.

https://theconversation.com/when-is-a-nature-reserve-not-a-nature-reserve-when-its-already-been-burned-and-logged-200528?utm

Victorian’s pay for not logging:

After having lost $52.4 million last year, VicForests was forced to compensate contractors more than $12 million and logging companies $25 million because it could not supply timber, and sent the bill to the Victorian government to pay, blaming court orders preventing timber harvesting until surveys for endangered species had been completed left them with nowhere to log.

https://amp.theage.com.au/environment/conservation/taxpayers-fork-out-38-million-as-logging-agency-fails-to-supply-timber-20230307-p5cq1a.html

Logging or tourism:

The Wilderness Society Tasmania has written to Minister for Tourism and Minister for (Forest) Resources about logging due to take place at Maydena asking that the Government acts to halt the imminent logging of the rainforest next to the Maydena Bike Park and at Junee Cave, two of the town’s premier tourism destinations.

https://tasmaniantimes.com/2023/03/tws-call-for-halt-to-maydena-logging/

Woodchipping booming:

Australia exported $1.3 billion worth of woodchips in 2022, and the company Midway is encouraged that Indonesia has a declining domestic supply of wood while they're expanding their pulp-mill capacity, creating more market opportunities, particularly for their plans to clear 30,000 ha of plantations on Tiwi Island by 2030, with replanting aided by the new carbon credit rules.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-04/australian-woodchips-and-wastepaper-exports-to-indonesia/102048668

More about the Doom Loop:

John Menadue has an article in Pearls and Irritations commenting on David Lindenmayer’s article about the loss of trees and giant trees in particular, the fight to stop water from Springbrook being sold in 32 million plastic bottles every year, the Doom Loop and the loss of up to 10% of insect species in the last 150 years.

https://johnmenadue.com/environment-does-bad-news-about-the-environment-create-doom-loops/

Earth Hour Film Festival:

From 13-26 March, WWF are presenting the Earth Hour Film Festival, including The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, The Lake of Scars, Black Cockatoo Crisis, The New Joneses, Regenerating Australia, and Cry of the Forests.

https://documentaryaustralia.com.au/earth-hour/?mc_cid=36d8b84d31&mc_eid=f89b379131

SPECIES

Guardians of the Galaxis:

The Sydney Morning Herald has an article about Kosciusko’s critically endangered 10cm Stocky Galaxis, restricted to reaches of streams above waterfalls that introduced trout can’t climb, and in its refuges threatened by horses and the potential of the larger Climbing Galaxias to be introduced by Snowy 2.0.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/conservation/the-upstream-battle-for-a-tiny-aussie-fish-with-too-many-enemies-20230119-p5cdti.html

Night bees:

The Canberra Times has an article focussed on a flying fox colony that roosts in Melbourne’s Yarra Bend Park, discussing their importance as pollinators, their vulnerability to heat stress, attempts to cull them, and Fly By Night’s shelter taking hundreds into care each year, mostly after being caught in tree netting, barbed wire and power lines.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/8108345/bees-of-the-night-crucial-for-australias-forests/

Burning gliders:

Victorian environmental groups have accused the government of failing to perform due diligence before approving planned burns in Strathbogie Ranges in northern Victoria, known to be home to an unusually large population of the nationally endangered Southern Greater Glider, worried that hundreds could be killed. 

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-06/planned-burns-strathbogie-ranges-southern-greater-gliders/102051182

Multilevel societies:

Multilevel societies are where individuals belong to family groups, which belong to clans, which belong to tribes, like many traditional human societies, as well as many other species, including Fairy Wrens. To test the bonds for fairy wrens, researchers played distress calls and tested reactions from each hierarchy, with family members responding most fervently and willing to take risks, other members of the community less so and unwilling to take risks, and strangers not at all.

https://theconversation.com/fairy-wrens-are-more-likely-to-help-their-closest-friends-but-not-strangers-just-like-us-humans-198231?utm

Predators needed for rewilding:

The building of a feral-proof exclusion fence to cordon off the 50,000-hectare Wilsons Promontory sanctuary has led to scientists to call for it to be ‘rewilded’ with apex predators such as dingoes, Tasmanian devils, spotted-tailed quolls and eastern quolls to control populations of native species and restore ecological balance, even calling for dingoes to be introduced to control the ferals before the project is completed.

“There is strong scientific evidence from Australia and elsewhere to indicate that the planned eradication of all introduced predators from Wilsons Promontory would profoundly harm overall biodiversity unless pre-European predators, including dingoes, are returned to maintain predator pressure,” the letter states.

They suggest dingoes could be reintroduced to control animals like kangaroo and wallabies, Tasmanian devils to control wallabies, spot-tailed quoll to control possums, and eastern quoll to reduce rat and rabbit populations.

“Parks Victoria could potentially save a lot of time, money and killing of animals if they were to reintroduce dingoes up front and not wait for the eradication of introduced species, which could take years,” said Yugovic.

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/rebalance-the-ecosystem-the-plan-to-return-dingoes-and-devils-to-the-prom-20230303-p5cp62.html?utm_

Another front in the brumby battle:

Attempts to remove brumbies from the river red gum forests in the Barmah-Millewa forest, on both sides of the Murray River are being met with strong local opposition, most are in the Barmah National Park, on the Victorian side of the border, where the plan is to reduce them from 540 in 2020 to 100 by 2023, with the end goal of removing all brumbies, though locals say the floods may have already achieved this.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/mar/04/brumby-country-the-fight-over-feral-horses-in-the-barmah-millewa-forest

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

A familiar tale:

Police (backed by local politicians) have moved to forcibly remove the blockades put up by indigenous Penan groups in Sarawak to attempt to discourage the loggers who have been laying illegal waste to some of the regions last remaining virgin forests and ‘protected’ Belian species.

Such has been the Hii and Lau familys’ contribution to mankind and their present to our maker.  However, like obese bed-ridden gluttons, it is clear that these companies and their directors can never be satiated, exercise restraint or abide by the proper way of doing things.

If there are still living things that can be killed and turned to cash they desperately want to be the ones to do it.

They will push and grab and employ every device to force their way in to snatch from those indigenous folk who have so little with which to protect their lands.

In their pockets, the GPS government and political masters kept fed for decades by the same tycoon companies.

https://www.sarawakreport.org/2023/03/stop-the-criminals-behind-the-illegal-looting-of-sarawaks-last-remaining-forests-now/

Burning the Ozone Layer

The 2019/20 wildfires took out 1% of the atmosphere’s ozone (damage that will take a decade to fix), the smoke transported substances containing chlorine into the stratosphere where it destroys ozone molecule by molecule, meaning the ozone layer will be slowly degraded as wildfires increase in frequency and intensity due to climate heating.

It means the ozone layer will be slowly degraded by wildfire smoke. Fires burn in both northern and southern hemispheres, and their smoke is swept around the globe by natural processes. That means we’re likely to see falling ozone concentrations in new places rather than just around the South Pole. Affected areas would include the mid-latitudes around the equator, where billions of people live.

… Bushfire smoke could undo the good work of the Montreal Protocol.

In retrospect, achieving this protocol seems relatively straightforward: ban one class of chemicals. To stop bushfire smoke eating away at our ozone umbrella means reversing climate change. And that is something we are struggling to do.

https://theconversation.com/bushfire-smoke-eats-up-the-ozone-protecting-us-from-dangerous-radiation-the-damage-will-increase-as-the-world-heats-up-201375?utm

Flashy floods:

Killing thousands and displacing tens of millions, flash floods can be more devastating in drylands than in wetter areas because parched soils repel water rather than allowing it to soak in, drylands experience less than half (47%) of deadly flash floods globally, yet saw almost three-quarters (74%) of related deaths, the frequency of sudden inundations is skyrocketing due to the warming atmosphere holding more water, with the proportion of the world’s land area classed as arid or semi-arid projected to increase as the world warms — from 41% in 2000 to 48% by 2025.

Last year, around two-thirds of Pakistan was affected by widespread flash flooding, with more than 1,500 people killed and around 33 million made homeless. Almost 2,000 people died in flash floods across Africa, and parts of the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Yemen were inundated with water.

For example, protection measures might encourage more development in flood-prone areas — as was the case in Columbia, South Carolina, which experienced extensive damage from a flash flood in 2015. And dams and levees built to hold back small floods could offer a false sense of security from rare, extreme inundations7, including one that flooded the Atacama region in South America in 2015. Failure of one protection element, such as a reservoir, can send flood waters cascading downstream, as was narrowly averted at California’s Oroville Dam in 2017. The environmental impacts need to be understood, such as those resulting from stopping the silt and sediment that fertilize the floodplain.

In flood-prone areas, governments should develop plans for temporary and even permanent resettlement. Elevated roads, evacuation routes and emergency shelters must be designed, such as those used in Indonesia for tsunamis and in the United States for hurricanes. In the longer term, as climate-change impacts accelerate, managed retreat might be required8. For example, the Chinese government has relocated more than 600,000 people from flash-flood zones in the arid mountains of southern Shaanxi province over the past decade.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-00626-9?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=212956406e-briefing-dy-20230308&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-212956406e-46198454

Record drought expected in Horn of Africa:

A long-running drought in the Horn of Africa is expected to continue for the next three months as forecasters predict dry weather during this year’s March-to-May rainy season, likely creating the worst drought on record, expected to result in a famine worse than that in 2011 when 260,000 people in the region died of starvation.

“The Horn of Africa may soon see its worst drought on record, ,” reports New Scientist. “This would be the sixth consecutive failed rainy season in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia since the end of 2020.”

“This would be the sixth consecutive failed rainy season in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia since the end of 2020.”

So far, “the severe drought, along with conflict and ongoing economic pressures, has displaced more than a million people, and led to a hunger crisis for more than 20 million others,” the UK-based publication adds.

“This drought is slowly killing everything,” Mahmoud Geedi Ciroobay, a nomadic pastoralist from Kalsheikh, Somaliland, told Oxfam International. First it took the land and the pastures; then it took the animals, which became weaker and eventually died. Soon, it will take the people, he said.

“Communities are experiencing the severe impacts of the climate crisis in many forms such as severe drought. And conversely, in some areas, flooding, changing weather patterns, and its impacts are undermining food production and traditional livelihoods.”

https://www.theenergymix.com/2023/03/08/millions-face-food-insecurity-as-horn-of-africa-braces-for-worst-drought-ever/?utm_

Forests 4 rainfall:

Another study confirms the importance of tropical forests in recycling rainfall back into the atmosphere to generate region wide increases in rainfall, showing that clearing rainforest decreases regional rainfalls, finding that at a scale of 200 km a 1 percentage point of forest loss reduced precipitation by 0.25 ± 0.1 mm per month.

In the Amazon and Congo river basins, somewhere between a quarter and a half of all rainfall comes from moisture pumped from the forest itself. This recycling of moisture helps to maintain the large amounts of rainfall tropical forests need.

Our work suggests that so much tropical forest has been cleared globally over the past two decades that the tropical forest heartbeat has started to slow, resulting in less rainfall in the surrounding regions. We estimate that if tropical forests continue to be cleared, rainfall could decrease by an additional 10% by 2100 over the most heavily deforested regions. If enough forests are cleared and rainfall declines too much, a tipping point could be reached where there is not enough rain to sustain the remaining forests.

Conservation is often perceived as a trade-off, but the local and regional climate benefits of healthy forests can reduce heat stress, boost crop yields and maintain stable water flows to predictably generate hydroelectricity. It can make more economic sense to protect forests rather than clear them.

https://theconversation.com/rainforests-pump-water-round-the-tropics-but-the-pulse-of-this-heart-is-weakening-201136

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-022-05690-1

Zombie forests:

Climate heating has left a fifth of the conifer forests that blanket California's Sierra Nevada stranded in habitats that no longer suit them, with researchers finding that over the past 90 years they had shifted about 112 feet higher in elevation, though their climatically suitable habitat has shifted about 600 feet higher, leaving behind mature trees but no youngsters, meaning that if the mature trees are logged or killed in an extreme event the forest can’t grow back, an expanding zombie forest.

Mature trees are able to survive even after their local climate has shifted, but the species is not likely to grow back in these areas after a major disturbance, like a catastrophic wildfire, logging event or period of extreme drought. Instead, the study found, the forest is more likely to be replaced by smaller, shrublike vegetation that is adapted to warmer, drier conditions.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/03/06/climate/california-zombie-forests.html

TURNING IT AROUND

Mass release of genetically modified trees:

In America a start-up Living Carbon, raised $21 million earlier this year to plant 5 million genetically modified poplar trees, which they say grow 50% faster and capture 27% more carbon than before, so that they can use them to generate carbon credits (and then log them). And this is only the start.

https://qz.com/living-carbon-genetically-modified-trees-climate-change-1850163716

Deforestation Inc.:

As part of its Deforestation Inc. reporting, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism has uncovered dozens of forestry product companies that publicly promoted their green credentials to consumers and investors, all the while parts of their operations were linked to questionable suppliers or facing allegations of environmental wrongdoing, providing three case studies.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/deforestation-inc/green-claims-case-studies/

Using phones to measure trees:

Researchers have designed an algorithm that uses a smartphone LiDAR sensor to estimate trunk diameter automatically from a single image in realistic field conditions, the researchers plan to make their app publicly available for Android phones later this spring.

Amelia Holcomb, Linzhe Tong, and Srinivasan Keshav. ‘Robust Single-Image Tree Diameter Estimation with Mobile Phones.’ Remote Sensing (2023). DOI: 10.3390/rs15030772

https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/phone-based-measurements-provide-fast-accurate-information-about-the-health-of-forests

Prepping environmental appreciation:

All across Scandinavia, some pre-schools are ensuring kids get regular time outdoors where children play in the woods and learn to appreciate nature, some bussing them in from urban areas, and come rain, sleet or snow, young children nap outside even in mid-winter.

The educators all agree: young children who spend their days outside have better self-confidence and are sick less often.

In the 1920s, an Icelandic doctor recommended that babies sleep outdoors to strengthen their immune systems, a practice now common across the Nordic countries and which the medical community has never contradicted.

"They get a lot of fresh air, (so) they sleep longer, they sleep better," said Johanna Karlsson, the head of the "Ur & Skur" (Come Rain or Shine) preschool, unbothered by the day's temperature of five degrees Celsius (41 Fahrenheit).

https://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/wild-education-the-joy-of-scandinavias-forest-preschools/news-story/786d3e64ce6086a9bc60508781b7c8c1


Forest Media 3 March 2023

New South Wales

A tree sit, capturing machines tied by ropes to a tree platform, was established in Ballengarra State Forest south of Kempsey, with the sitter soil scientist Tim Evans stating “We can't afford to lose more biodiversity, these forests represent diminishing ecosystems that are crucial for our survival. Without these forests we have no hope of restoring a functional, safe climate”. He held up logging for 9 hours before being arrested. The tree sit in Bulga State Forest has been in place now for over 50 days.

NBN has a comprehensive story on the growing momentum to stop logging of public native forests, focussing on Bulga State Forest and MidCoast Council’s support for protecting it. Ex-forester Kevin Carter, now with the Bulahdelah Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, has called on the MidCoast Council to reconsider their unanimous motion that Council advocate to permanently cease all logging in Compartments 41 and 43 of the Bulga Forest, and transition out of logging public native forests, claiming towns such as Bulahdelah would be devastated, and that forests have shown time and time again that they can regenerate to their former glory.

On World Wildlife Day a homeless Greater Glider, Quoll, Masked Owl, Yellow-bellied Glider, Pygmy Possum, Glossy Black Cockatoo and Koala moved into a Taree park and unsuccessfully pleaded with authorities to help find crisis accommodation given their forest homes were destroyed by giant logging machines, sent in by the NSW Government.

Rojech PTY LTD has been fined $15,000 for breaching the Private Native Forestry (PNF) Code of Practice for logging trees in a Riparian Exclusion Zone of an unmarked drainage line near the entrance to the Border Ranges National Park, north of Kyogle – the site of an action by Kyogle Environment Group last year. The Landholder has also been issued with a Formal Warning for not adequately ensuing that the PNF operator complied with the Code of Practice. The fact that the whole operation was illegal because it hadn’t obtained consent from Council slipped EPA’s minds.

The Bob Brown Foundation is hosting a rally calling for an end to native forest logging in NSW at the Uniting Church in the Sydney CBD on Sunday 19 March at 5 pm, with MC Wendy Harmer, Dr Bob Brown, candidates committed to ending logging in the next term of government and forest activists.

Sue Arnold has a story describing the degrading logging system in NSW, worries that NSW native forests are heading for a potential ecological collapse, while complaining mainstream media is censoring a major NSW election issue as industrial logging of NSW native forests continues to gather dust in political closets.

Australian Marine Conservation Society, National Parks Association of NSW, Surfrider Foundation, Nature Coast Marine Group, Clarence Environment Centre, Dive Industry Association of Australia and Ocean Youth are calling for an end to land clearing in NSW, saying it too heavily impacts our coast and marine environment.

Ernst & Young’s Report, commissioned by the Commonwealth- funded North East NSW and South East NSW Regional Forestry Hubs, claims the hardwood timber industry is of critical importance to the Northern NSW economy, contributing $1.8 billion in revenue, adding $700 million to NSW GDP and employing 5,700 people in the region – it is a shoddy report and gives very different figures from their 2019 report which claimed that stopping public native forest logging in north-east NSW would result in direct regional losses of 566 jobs (inflated to 1,395 jobs with multipliers), loss of $570 M in output and $224 M in value adding, with their noting “the forestry industry is not a major generator of output or employer in the [region] when looking at the whole economy (1% of total output and jobs)". Timberbiz uses the new report, citing Timber NSW CEO, Maree McCaskill as claiming the Great Koala Park is unnecessary as only 10% of publicly owned forests on the north coast of NSW are available for logging, no “scientific research shows that koala populations in North East NSW State Forests are stable and are not being impacted by timber harvesting”, logging is “critical to forest health and minimising bushfire risk”, “plans to ‘transition’ timber supplies from native forests to plantation timber are a fantasy”, and “One job loss in a rural area has the impact of 100 job losses in the cities, impacting schools, local services and small businesses”.

Farmers, scientists and other community members across NSW have criticised the state’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for ignoring reports of damage to crops and vegetation from agricultural chemicals drifting on the wind, with the Community Overspray Groups saying they don’t know whether its “indifference, ignorance or just plain negligence, but they are not fulfilling their role”.

The NSW Government has announced it has purchased seven properties totalling 3100 hectares from Tenterfield to Cooma to be added to national parks to safeguard koalas, bringing the total purchased since 2018 to 10,765 ha - meanwhile they have left the Koala SEPP intended to protect Koalas on private lands in tatters. The NSW Government has also announced a new 437,400 hectare national park addition in the far north west of NSW, encompassing a significant portion of the Bulloo Overflow flood plain, an addition to the Narriearra Caryapund Swamp National Park and nearby Sturt National Park, taking their total area to about 1 million hectares, and increasing reserves to 10.2 per cent of the state, -still far short of the 30% goal by 2030. Though farmers are whingeing about Government competition for properties – in what has to be the most marginal grazing country in the State, and deteriorating rapidly in response to climate heating. The Nature Conservation Council assessed that of the lands added to the national parks estate by the Coalition over the past 11 years, only 3.1% are in areas of significant koala habitat, renewing their calls for protection of public native forests, including all core koala habitat, and to stop clearing it.

The Government has announced an $8 million program of targeted surveys using animal camera traps, acoustic monitoring and vegetation surveys in national park areas to monitor threatened species, such as koalas, powerful owls and Wollemi pines.  A different set of surveys will track populations of feral animals and weeds and generate fire management metrics.

Currently the Liberal-Nationals have 47 seats, Labor 37, Greens 3 and crossbenchers 6 seats. A redistribution of electoral boundaries has improved Labor’s chances, still requiring a 6% swing to win an outright majority. A Newspoll, conducted February 20-23 gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a two-point gain for the Coalition since a September NSW Newspoll. This represents a 4% swing which one analyst suggests would give Labor 43 seats and the Coalition 40, resulting in a hung parliament. The two most marginal seats in NSW are identified as opposition Leader Chris Minns’ seat of Kogarah in the south and Liberal-held East Hills in the south-west down to 0.1 per cent. Climate 200-backed candidate for Pittwater, Jacqui Scruby is neck and neck with Liberal candidate Rory Amon on a two-party-preferred vote of 48 to 52, according to The Australian Financial Review Freshwater NSW Poll, due to support from Green voters, though the Liberal may get up with Labor preferences.

In a meet the candidates forum on 28 February for the Clarence electorate, Labor’s candidate Leon Ankersmit assured the audience that the Great Koala National Park they are proposing is up to around 140,000 ha, of which 110,000-120,000 is already protected, just intending to protect some 20-30,000 ha as Koala corridors and links – a bit short of the 175,000 ha of State Forests in the proposal. As politicians seek to assure voters that they won’t privatise any more public assets, Labor is reported as saying that if elected it would fund future infrastructure projects from the dividends of state-owned corporations such as Essential Energy and the Forestry Corporation – more likely they would have to sell assets to fund the Forestry Corporation

The NSW Greens have released their policy for expansion of the protected area network in NSW to 30% of the state by 2030, accelerating Native Title claims over Crown Land areas and resource First Nations land management programs, ending inappropriate development and infrastructure in or adjacent to national parks and the protected area network, and increasing funding for park management.

Animal Justice Party held a rally outside the office of Tweed National’s MP Geoff Provest on World Wildlife Day to highlight that this election will decide the fate of koalas, that koalas simply can’t afford another term of this LNP government and urging people to please vote for koalas this election.

NCC had their leaders forum, with Sue Higginson, and much of the crowd, in favour of stopping the logging of native forests and transitioning the industry's roughly 1000 workers to other jobs, and Mr Griffin saying his government was working to increase timber plantations but said there needed to be discussion with affected communities "I met with the CFMMEU... on the South Coast. They do want to have this conversation. But we need to have a pragmatic real one that looks at the detail of how a transition would take place", while backing the Environment Protection Authority in governing what occurs in state forests – its unfortunate they don’t.

Wagga Wagga MP Joe McGirr says his condition of support for the next Government rests on the abolition of the so-called “Barilaro Brumbies Bill” and a significant reduction of the 18,000-strong population in the alpine region, which would probably require ground shooting.

Australia

Australia will host to the 30th session of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) on 2-6 October in Sydney, with the theme ‘Sustainable forests for a sustainable future’, followed by a meeting of the Montreal Process Working Group on 6-7 October.

As the global mountain biking spotlight focuses on Maydena in southern lutruwita/Tasmania for the prestigious Enduro World Series, the Tasmanian Government is about to start logging the local native forest next to it.

The Western Australia Forest Alliance referred two of Alcoa’s plans to mine jarrah forests in Perth’s water supply catchment to the WA Environment Protection Authority, asking for them to be reviewed, particularly in light of state government agencies fear they will endanger Perth’s water supply.

The ABC has a story about genuine farm forestry (unlike in NSW where native forest logging is now being called farm forestry), where planting increased tree cover by some 16%, trees were managed by pruning lower branches, there was no reduction in lamb and wool production, and 35 years later they are now reaping the rewards.

The ABC have a radio story on the fight between eco tourism developers and conservationists over national parks intensifying, focussing on Queensland’s Great Sandy region, with concerns the public will be shut out of more pristine areas by ecotourism developments.

Species

An article in The Conversation argues against the proposal to remove species from threatened species lists that are breeding-up in fenced safe havens but still declining in the wild, as it removes the need to protect and recover wild populations while leaving fenced populations vulnerable to catastrophic losses.

Saving our Species Year in Review 2021–22 identifies that there are 947 species, 111 ecological communities and 49 populations at risk in NSW, and highlights what they consider to be their successes for the expenditure of $42,386,088 last financial year, claiming that 258 species are on track to survive the next 100 years, their case studies include a number of releases of captive bred species - though they don’t report on their survival.

A review of the status of Red Goshawk concluded “The Red” had completely disappeared from more than a third (34%) of its range, being almost certainly extinct in New South Wales and the southern half of Queensland, and in decline over another third of its range, with its last strongholds in northern Australia under increasing threat, prompting calls for it to be up-listed to nationally endangered.

It was bad enough to find that Whitehaven Coal are sponsors of the Gunnedah Koala tourism venture (as reported last week). Port Maquarie Koala Hospital has long had a questionable relationship with the Forestry Corporation, now their Guulabaa Tourism Precinct in Cowarra State Forest has shown the depth of this relationship with construction of The Hub, commenced with a sod turn event by Leslie Williams in February 2023, with funding of $2.3 million from the NSW Government’s Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Package, combined with $2.1 million from the Forestry Corporation of NSW and the North Coast Timber industry, and now $250,000 from the NSW Government’s Creative Capital program. The Hub will link Koala Conservation Australia/Port Macquarie Koala Hospital’s Wild Koala breeding facility, Bunyah Local Aboriginal Land Council café and gallery, Wildnets Adventure and Hello Koala’s. The Hub will showcase locally grown hardwood timbers, and promote the Forestry Corporation and their logging supporters Big River Group, Coffs Harbour Hardwoods, Machin’s Sawmilling, Hayden Timbers, Hurfords, Pentarch Forestry and Weathertex.- all those millions donated during the bushfires, and our taxes, are being used to promote logging Koala homes.

University of the Sunshine Coast researchers and Quandamooka land custodians have hailed a two-year collaboration to assess the effects of cultural burning on Koalas on Minjerribah/North Stradbroke Island a success, in that there were no measured negative impacts on the densities or stress levels of the genetically unique koalas after the first burn in July 2021, across 130 hectares. – not unexpected (doing nothing would have had no effect either), though the real test is whether the forest is less prone to burning in a wildfire.

The Saturday Paper has a proposal for a koala strike, a ban on ministers entering zoos and animal parks for photo opportunities for as long as the Albanese government continues to approve fossil fuel projects, as it should not benefit from the positive feelings people have towards the animals and environments it is destroying. – maybe it should be for while they allow clearing and logging of Koala habitat, though Koalas are notoriously apathetic and unwilling to stand up for themselves.

Conservation projects in the Nambucca Valley, Dorrigo Plateau, Coffs Harbour and North Bellingen have been given a share of the $507,215 in funding for Koalas from the Federal Government. MidCoast Council has secured over $1 million from the NSW Government for their Koala Safe Spaces Program (also funded by their environmental levy) to undertake surveys and establish “safe spaces” for koalas. The Perth Mint has issued Australian Koala Silver Bullion Coins, with the queen on one side and Koalas on the other, the 1 kilo coin is worth $30 and the 1 ounce coin $1 – loose change could get very heavy.

The federal environment department has begun public consultation after it was asked to reconsider the construction of Brisbane’s multi-billion dollar Coomera Connector over concerns for endangered koala populations, after a group argued that "substantial new information about the impacts of the proposed action" and a "substantial change in circumstances that was not foreseen at the time of the decision" warranted a reconsideration of the project.

The Conversation has an article highlighting the social structure and habits of some of Australia’s more than 1,650 native bee species. With another referring to the Marvel character Ant Man, discusses the strength and abilities of ants, their super-strength, speed, farming practices, and their ability to create supercolonies all governed by “swarm intelligence” rather than a ruler.

It's not just NRL teams, wild eels are being exposed to Cocaine as it becomes increasingly common in some streams, when European eels were exposed to the same amounts found in some rivers for 50 days it was found to accumulate in their bodies, making them hyperactive, affecting their muscles and hormones. 

The Deteriorating Problem

Direct (scope 1) emissions from Australia’s oil and gas sector – mostly from facilities that are covered by the safeguard mechanism – have increased by 7.8% in the latest reporting period, according to new data from the Clean Energy Regulator, largely due to methane venting from increased production. Lock The Gate Alliance says eight coalmining applications to extend or modify existing mines represents "the largest coal expansion since the Paris Agreement in 2016", claiming NSW had approved 26 coal and gas projects since the Paris Agreement came into force in November 2016, with combined emissions of 4.4 billion tonnes.

The Boreal forests in the north of Russia, Canada and America constitute one of the most extensive biomes on Earth, dominated by pine, spruce and fir trees, they are suffering under climate change, they typically account for 10 percent of global fire carbon dioxide emissions, though beset by expanding wildfires over the past two decades, in the severe droughts of 2021 they contributed 23 percent, equivalent to 1.76 billion tons of CO2, about the same as fossil fuel emissions from Japan.

The Guardian has an article about the areas worst-hit by Cyclone Gabrielle in New Zealand, one story is of a family appreciating the clear blue sky the day after, only to see a tsunami of mud and logs rushing towards them and through their house, as a flood dam of logging debris burst, a scenario repeated more often as bared hillsides and logging slash (from pine plantations) wash away in intense rainfall events, and the industry remains in denial.

Turning it Around

Forests cover 31% of the earth’s land area, a third are primary forest, they contain half of the terrestrial carbon, they are home to 80% of amphibians, 75% birds, and 68% mammals, and 10 million hectares are wiped out each year.

British Columbia’s forestry industry is shrinking both in scale and importance to B.C.’s overall economy, with the biggest impacts of sawmill and pulp mill curtailments and closures felt in smaller cities and towns as the combination of weak demand and impacts of longer-term forces affecting timber availability have triggered yet another cascade of mill closures – maybe they should now save what’s left of their oldgrowth.

Tiny forests in urban areas, often the size of a tennis court, are rapidly growing at a rate of 50 a year in the UK, based on dense planting of diverse species, planted by volunteers who collect data on plant and animal life, urban cooling and carbon capture.

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Ballengarra latest front in the forest wars:

A tree sit, capturing machines tied by ropes to a tree platform, was established in Ballengarra State Forest south of Kempsey, with the sitter soil scientist Tim Evans stating “We can't afford to lose more biodiversity, these forests represent diminishing ecosystems that are crucial for our survival. Without these forests we have no hope of restoring a functional, safe climate”. He held up logging for 9 hours before being arrested. The tree sit in Bulga State Forest has been in place now for over 50 days.

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/ballengarra-tree-sit-stops-logging

NBN has a comprehensive story on the growing momentum to stop logging of public native forests, focussing on Bulga State Forest and MidCoast Council’s support for protecting it.

https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2023/02/25/support-growing-for-save-the-bulga-forest-movement/

Ex-forester Kevin Carter, now with the Bulahdelah Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, has called on the MidCoast Council to reconsider their unanimous motion that Council advocate to permanently cease all logging in Compartments 41 and 43 of the Bulga Forest, and transition out of logging public native forests, claiming towns such as Bulahdelah would be devastated, and that forests have shown time and time again that they can regenerate to their former glory.

“This has serious implications for timber towns such as Bulahdelah where about 30 percent of the population are involved directly and indirectly with the hardwood timber industry,” Mr Carter told News Of The Area.

“It would have a devastating effect on our and other towns in this industry should these ideas continue as employment opportunities for such a large number of displaced would be very difficult to fill.”

With some areas having been logged up to four times over many decades and the devastating effects of recent bushfires, the forests have demonstrated that over time they can regenerate to their former glory.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/advocating-for-a-sustainable-future-in-forestry

https://www.greatlakesadvocate.com.au/story/8100514/chamber-challenges-council-motion/

Homeless animals snubbed:

On World Wildlife Day a homeless Greater Glider, Quoll, Masked Owl, Yellow-bellied Glider, Pygmy Possum, Glossy Black Cockatoo and Koala moved into a Taree park and unsuccessfully pleaded with authorities to help find crisis accommodation given their forest homes were destroyed by giant logging machines, sent in by the NSW Government.

Prime TV covered it

Fined for logging world heritage entrance:

Rojech PTY LTD has been fined $15,000 for breaching the Private Native Forestry (PNF) Code of Practice for logging trees in a Riparian Exclusion Zone of an unmarked drainage line near the entrance to the Border Ranges National Park, north of Kyogle – the site of an action by Kyogle Environment Group last year. The Landholder has also been issued with a Formal Warning for not adequately ensuing that the PNF operator complied with the Code of Practice. The fact that the whole operation was illegal because it hadn’t obtained consent from Council slipped EPA’s minds.

https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1631206035175387136

Forest Rally in Sydney:

The Bob Brown Foundation is hosting a rally calling for an end to native forest logging in NSW at the Uniting Church in the Sydney CBD on Sunday 19 March at 5 pm, with MC Wendy Harmer, Dr Bob Brown, candidates committed to ending logging in the next term of government and forest activists.

Ignoring the forestry rort:

Sue Arnold has a story describing the degrading logging system in NSW, worries that NSW native forests are heading for a potential ecological collapse, while complaining mainstream media is censoring a major NSW election issue as industrial logging of NSW native forests continues to gather dust in political closets.

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/medias-censorship-of-major-issue-in-pre-election-nsw-appalling,17284

Time to end land clearing to protect marine parks:

Australian Marine Conservation Society, National Parks Association of NSW, Surfrider Foundation, Nature Coast Marine Group, Clarence Environment Centre, Dive Industry Association of Australia and Ocean Youth are calling for an end to land clearing in NSW, saying it too heavily impacts our coast and marine environment.

https://eglobaltravelmedia.com.au/2023/02/27/nsw-surfers-divers-recreational-fishers-conservationists-unite-to-oppose-land-clearing/

Forestry inflation:

Ernst & Young’s Report, commissioned by the Commonwealth- funded North East NSW and South East NSW Regional Forestry Hubs, claims the hardwood timber industry is of critical importance to the Northern NSW economy, contributing $1.8 billion in revenue, adding $700 million to NSW GDP and employing 5,700 people in the region – it is a shoddy report and gives very different figures from their 2019 report which claimed that stopping public native forest logging in north-east NSW would result in direct regional losses of 566 jobs (inflated to 1,395 jobs with multipliers), loss of $570 M in output and $224 M in value adding, with their noting “the forestry industry is not a major generator of output or employer in the [region] when looking at the whole economy (1% of total output and jobs)".

https://arr.news/2023/02/27/economic-contribution-study-of-the-nsw-hardwood-timber-industry/

Timberbiz uses the report, citing Timber NSW CEO, Maree McCaskill as claiming the Great Koala Park is unnecessary as only 10% of publicly owned forests on the north coast of NSW are available for logging, no “scientific research shows that koala populations in North East NSW State Forests are stable and are not being impacted by timber harvesting”, logging is “critical to forest health and minimising bushfire risk”, “plans to ‘transition’ timber supplies from native forests to plantation timber are a fantasy”, and “One job loss in a rural area has the impact of 100 job losses in the cities, impacting schools, local services and small businesses”.

While NE NSW Forestry Hub modelling identified cleared land in the North East that could support the growth of hardwood plantations, only a small fraction of this land is likely to be available. It cannot hope to replace supply from the 782,000 hectares of native State Forests in the region. Even given available land, any transition would take 40-60 years and be financially unfeasible.”

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/great-koala-park-is-unnecessary-but-timber-and-jobs-are-needed/

Ignoring the drift:

Farmers, scientists and other community members across NSW have criticised the state’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for ignoring reports of damage to crops and vegetation from agricultural chemicals drifting on the wind, with the Community Overspray Groups saying they don’t know whether its “indifference, ignorance or just plain negligence, but they are not fulfilling their role”.

A group of scientists chaired by ANU adjunct professor Richard Thackway visited parts of the central west last year and determined that there was enough evidence to warrant investigation into the links between large-scale vegetation stress and agricultural chemicals.

"The group [of scientists] has widely observed symptoms of chemical drift on non-target vegetation over the past few decades and the degradation of vegetation does not appear to be occurring from natural causes," the statement said.

"What we know from monitoring [in Queensland] is that pretty much all waters that drain from agricultural land in Australia are contaminated with residues of products applied as pesticides," Dr Landos said.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-28/spraydrift-ag-chemicals-prompts-calls-for-epa-investigation/102017874

Reservations about reservations:

… buying private land for Koalas while they log public land:

The NSW Government has announced it has purchased seven properties totalling 3100 hectares from Tenterfield to Cooma to be added to national parks to safeguard koalas, bringing the total purchased since 2018 to 10,765 ha - meanwhile they have left the Koala SEPP intended to protect Koalas on private lands in tatters.

  • 280 hectares next to Captains Creek Nature Reserve, 59 km north-east of Tenterfield
  • 388 hectares next to Mount Hyland Nature Reserve, south-west of Dorrigo
  • 3 hectares of bushland next to Queens Lake Nature Reserve, around 20 km from Port Macquarie
  • 380 hectares next to Morton National Park, 38km south-east of Goulburn
  • 424 hectares next to Kybeyan Nature Reserve, around 35 km from Cooma
  • 525 hectares between Wadbilliga and Kybeyan, 60 km east of Cooma
  • 83 hectares connecting two areas of Dangelong Nature Reserve, about 25 km east of Cooma.

https://www.camdencourier.com.au/story/8100396/koala-habitat-near-queens-lake-now-protected-in-perpetuity/

https://www.miragenews.com/thousands-more-hectares-of-koala-habitat-955073/

https://afndaily.com.au/2023/03/01/thousands-more-hectares-of-koala-habitat-protected-forever/

https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/news/thousands-more-hectares-of-koala-habitat-protected-forever?

… the biggest national park on the most marginal land:

The NSW Government has announced a new 437,400 hectare national park addition in the far north west of NSW, encompassing a significant portion of the Bulloo Overflow flood plain, an addition to the Narriearra Caryapund Swamp National Park and nearby Sturt National Park, taking their total area to about 1 million hectares, and increasing reserves to 10.2 per cent of the state, still far short of the 30% goal by 2030. Though farmers are whingeing about Government competition for properties – in what has to be the most marginal grazing country in the State, and deteriorating rapidly in response to climate heating.

https://www.watoday.com.au/environment/sustainability/bigger-than-yosemite-how-nsw-s-parks-will-protect-a-million-hectares-20230227-p5cnsg.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_feed

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/feb/27/vast-national-park-to-be-created-and-native-animals-protected-in-nsw-government-land-purchase

https://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/onceinalifetime-national-park-acquired-by-nsw-government/news-story/3d19d143153088c0ef090e0b868597b1

https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/-/media/OEH/Corporate-Site/Documents/Parks-reserves-and-protected-areas/Parks-management-other/thurloo-downs-factsheet-final-230097.pdf

With so many stations purchased in recent years, local grazing families are questioning the potential impact on their long-term livelihoods.

Pastoralists Association of West Darling president Terry Smith said while a national park would be good for tourism, he held reservations about the project.

"It makes it pretty hard for farming families that want to expand to set their kids up, if they've got to continually go up against the state government with their deep pockets."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-28/largest-ever-national-park-acquisition-thurloo-downs-nsw-outback/102030204

The Nature Conservation Council assessed that of the lands added to the national parks estate by the Coalition over the past 11 years, only 3.1% are in areas of significant koala habitat, renewing their calls for protection of public native forests, including all core koala habitat, and to stop clearing it.

“One of our most iconic species is being subjected to native forest logging and out of control land clearing, and the National Parks estate can’t save it unless something big changes.

“Koalas now face extinction in our lifetimes without urgent action. Yet their habitat has virtually no protection from the logging and clearing that is driving this decline.

“We need a new deal for nature, a new deal for koalas in NSW. The Government can’t keep logging and clearing the vast majority of the best koala habitat and expect to double the number of koalas.” said Ms Mumford.

This NSW election, the Nature Conservation Council of NSW is calling on candidates to:

  • Stop logging public native forests and shift to plantations.
  • Convert state forests to reserves by 2024 and conserve all core koala habitat on publicly owned land, including the creation of the Great Koala National Park
  • Ban the clearing of koala habitat, and overhaul land clearing laws and the biodiversity offset scheme.

https://www.miragenews.com/koalas-need-homes-with-np-expansions-956335/

Monitoring parks:

The Government has announced an $8 million program of targeted surveys using animal camera traps, acoustic monitoring and vegetation surveys in national park areas to monitor threatened species, such as koalas, powerful owls and Wollemi pines.  A different set of surveys will track populations of feral animals and weeds and generate fire management metrics.

The surveillance network alone will involve more than 2400 camera traps, 1200 acoustic devices and 1200 bird surveys. Vegetation surveys and soil samples will provide additional data on the health of park habitats.

For more information on the programs, visit National Park Performance Scorecards pagelaunch on the Environment NSW website.

https://www.nsw.gov.au/media-releases/nsw-national-parks-healthy-survey

NSW election:

Currently the Liberal-Nationals has 47 seats, Labor 37, Greens 3 and crossbenchers 6 seats. A redistribution of electoral boundaries has improved Labor’s chances, still requiring a 6% swing to win an outright majority. A Newspoll, conducted February 20-23 gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a two-point gain for the Coalition since a September NSW Newspoll. This represents a 4% swing which one analyst suggests would give Labor 43 seats and the Coalition 40, resulting in a hung parliament. The two most marginal seats in NSW are identified as opposition Leader Chris Minns’ seat of Kogarah in the south and Liberal-held East Hills in the south-west down to 0.1 per cent.

https://theconversation.com/labors-lead-reduced-in-a-nsw-newspoll-four-weeks-before-election-voice-support-steady-200451?utm

Climate 200-backed candidate for Pittwater, Jacqui Scruby is neck and neck with Liberal candidate Rory Amon on a two-party-preferred vote of 48 to 52, according to The Australian Financial Review Freshwater NSW Poll, due to support from Green voters, though the Liberal may get up with Labor preferences.

https://www.afr.com/politics/teals-close-to-wresting-battleground-seat-from-libs-20230227-p5cnu9

… Labor’s diminishing Lesser Koala National Park

In a meet the candidates forum on 28 February for the Clarence electorate, Labor’s candidate Leon Ankersmit assured the audience that the Great Koala National Park they are proposing is up to around 140,000 ha, of which 110,000-120,000 is already protected, just intending to protect some 20-30,000 ha as Koala corridors and links – a bit short of the 175,000 ha of State Forests in the proposal.

About 31m in

https://www.youtube.com/live/AHP5nd8VpFg?feature=share

… Labor to use Forestry Corporation profits to fund infrastructure:

As politicians seek to assure voters that they won’t privatise any more public assets, Labor is reported as saying that if elected it would fund future infrastructure projects from the dividends of state-owned corporations such as Essential Energy and the Forestry Corporation – more likely they would have to sell assets to fund the Forestry Corporation

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-28/dominic-perrottet-nsw-election-no-more-privatisation/102033604

… a Greener state:

The NSW Greens have released their policy for expansion of the protected area network in NSW to 30% of the state by 2030, accelerating Native Title claims over Crown Land areas and resource First Nations land management programs, ending inappropriate development and infrastructure in or adjacent to national parks and the protected area network, and increasing funding for park management.

https://greens.org.au/nsw/news/media-release/greens-call-nsw-government-move-faster-expanding-protected-area-network

… vote for Koalas:

Animal Justice Party held a rally outside the office of Tweed National’s MP Geoff Provest on World Wildlife Day to highlight that this election will decide the fate of koalas, that koalas simply can’t afford another term of this LNP government and urging people to please vote for koalas this election.

Habitat loss, including unregulated land clearing, logging and the climate emergency is killing koalas. An estimated 8,000 koalas were killed in NSW in the Black Summer Fires, yet Forestry NSW are decimating what is left of our burnt-out public forests with industrialized logging, even in forests included in the proposed Great Koala National Park.’

Ms Hearder says that how people vote in this election will determine the government priority given to koalas and their fate. ‘We must protect their homes and prevent any more winding back of legal protections, as we saw during the “Koala Wars”. If we can’t save koalas, one of the most loved animals on the planet the rest of our wildlife doesn’t stand a chance.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/03/an-election-to-decide-the-fate-of-koalas/

… Griffin supports transitioning out of SE public native forests?:

NCC had their leaders forum, with Sue Higginson, and much of the crowd, in favour of stopping the logging of native forests and transitioning the industry's roughly 1000 workers to other jobs, and Mr Griffin saying his government was working to increase timber plantations but said there needed to be discussion with affected communities "I met with the CFMMEU... on the South Coast. They do want to have this conversation. But we need to have a pragmatic real one that looks at the detail of how a transition would take place", while backing the Environment Protection Authority in governing what occurs in state forests – its unfortunate they don’t.

https://www.sheppnews.com.au/national/koalas-and-brumbies-environment-candidates-face-off/

https://www.goulburnpost.com.au/story/8105388/koalas-and-brumbies-environment-candidates-face-off/

About 28m Griffin talks about transitioning in the south-east.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-jOVX-MqaA

… getting rid of brumbies bill:

Wagga Wagga MP Joe McGirr says his condition of support for the next Government rests on the abolition of the so-called “Barilaro Brumbies Bill” and a significant reduction of the 18,000-strong population in the alpine region, which would probably require ground shooting.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/major-feral-horse-reduction-in-kosciuszko-key-to-independent-support-20230225-p5cnj3.html?utm

AUSTRALIA

You may want to put this in your diaries:

Australia will host to the 30th session of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) on 2-6 October in Sydney, with the theme ‘Sustainable forests for a sustainable future’, followed by a meeting of the Montreal Process Working Group on 6-7 October.

https://www.nationaltribune.com.au/australia-to-host-international-forestry-forum/

https://www.miragenews.com/australia-to-host-international-forestry-forum-956231/

Logging and bikes:

As the global mountain biking spotlight focuses on Maydena in southern lutruwita/Tasmania for the prestigious Enduro World Series, the Tasmanian Government is about to start logging the local native forest next to it.

Maydena is the gateway to the legendary Styx giant tree area, where some forests are protected from logging. The Maydena area gets more value from tourism, carbon sequestration and ecosystem services than it does from logging them at a loss,” said Ms Hardinge.

https://tasmaniantimes.com/2023/03/maydena-enduro-threatened-by-forest-destruction/

Challenge to forest mining:

The Western Australia Forest Alliance referred two of Alcoa’s plans to mine jarrah forests in Perth’s water supply catchment to the WA Environment Protection Authority, asking for them to be reviewed, particularly in light of state government agencies fear they will endanger Perth’s water supply.

The rare move brings into the open a battle between Alcoa’s need to keep its three alumina refineries supplied with 28 million tonnes of bauxite a year, and growing concerns about the northern jarrah forest ecosystem that the United Nation in 2022 rated as in danger of collapse due to hotter, drier conditions and greater fire risk.

Forest Alliance convenor Jess Beckerling said the risks from Alcoa’s mining warranted a full and transparent assessment of its cumulative impact.

In early February, this masthead revealed state government advisers feared Alcoa’s mining near Serpentine Dam risked driving sediment containing chemical pollutants and disease-causing pathogens into the dam if heavy rain occurred, which would cause the water to be undrinkable for months or even years.

Contamination of the dam that supplied 18 per cent of Perth’s water in 2022 could require construction of a water treatment facility costing up to $2.6 billion.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/conservation/environmental-watchdog-called-on-to-probe-alcoa-s-mining-of-wa-forests-20230227-p5co0g.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_feed

https://thewest.com.au/news/harvey-waroona-reporter/wa-forest-alliance-voices-concerns-about-rio-tinto-exploration-applications-along-darling-scarp-c-9533238

Genuine farm forestry:

The ABC has a story about genuine farm forestry (unlike in NSW where native forest logging is now being called farm forestry), where planting increased tree cover by some 16%, trees were managed by pruning lower branches, there was no reduction in lamb and wool production, and 35 years later they are now reaping the rewards.

He has grown and milled much of the timber being used to build his architect-designed house, including a 35-year-old mountain ash eucalypt with a girth of more than 80 centimetres.

"The creek lines and the drainage lines, the salt-affected areas, [we] planted those out as well, planted out the water-logged areas, the remnant vegetation areas," Andrew Stewart said.

"We're still producing the same amount of agricultural production as in prime lambs and wool now with 18 to 20 per cent tree cover compared to when we had 3 per cent tree cover," Mr Stewart said.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-26/forestry-timber-from-eco-friendly-plantations-yield-rewards/102015876

Developing parks:

The ABC have a radio story on the fight between eco tourism developers and conservationists over national parks intensifying, focussing on Queensland’s Great Sandy region, with concerns the public will be shut out of more pristine areas by ecotourism developments.

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/am/wrestle-over-future-of-national-parks-escalates-/102006720?fbclid=IwAR1rhdr2mvUsdEI2iIl445GADSTrUfPnjsvvw7dMNkJt98rxLMK6063j2QA

SPECIES

Safe Havens give false sense of security:

An article in The Conversation argues against the proposal to remove species from threatened species lists that are breeding-up in fenced safe havens but still declining in the wild, as it removes the need to protect and recover wild populations while leaving fenced populations vulnerable to catastrophic losses.

If you want to see some of Australia’s most charismatic threatened mammals such as bilbies, boodies and stick-nest rats, chances are you’ll have to go to a zoo – or a safe haven.

Safe havens are not the same as the wild. When we try to reintroduce animals outside the fences, they disappear down the maws of cats and foxes.

Yes, they fend off extinctions. But safe havens require ongoing management, which is expensive, challenging and rarely guaranteed long term. We should not rely on them to take species off the threatened list

There are worrying signs these islands ringed by fence or sea are not entirely sustainable. Many species within safe havens breed frantically, sending their populations skyward to unsustainable levels before a severe population crash. Ideally, they would be controlled by native predators, but the havens are too small to allow this. We’ve seen this play out with burrowing bettongs at one of our safe havens, Arid Recovery, in South Australia.

Some species struggle even inside fenced havens. The stick-nest rat has failed to establish in at least four havens.

Havens are exactly that – a desperate measure to stop extinction. We should keep species on the threatened list even if they have management-dependent haven populations. This will protect wild populations and drive innovation and interest in how we can best control feral predators and other threats.

We cannot simply put our threatened mammals behind fences and consider the job done.

https://theconversation.com/threatened-species-recover-in-fenced-safe-havens-but-their-safety-is-only-temporary-200548?utm_

Saving Our Species:

Saving our Species Year in Review 2021–22 identifies that there are 947 species, 111 ecological communities and 49 populations at risk in NSW, and highlights what they consider to be their successes for the expenditure of $42,386,088 last financial year, claiming that 258 species are on track to survive the next 100 years, their case studies include a number of releases of captive bred species - though they don’t report on their survival.

https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/-/media/OEH/Corporate-Site/Documents/Animals-and-plants/Threatened-species/saving-our-species-year-in-review-2021-2022-220646.pdf

Red Goshawk disappearing:

A review of the status of Red Goshawk concluded “The Red” had completely disappeared from more than a third (34%) of its range, being almost certainly extinct in New South Wales and the southern half of Queensland, and in decline over another third of its range, with its last strongholds in northern Australia under increasing threat, prompting calls for it to be up-listed to nationally endangered.

While the destruction of habitat through land clearing, which is still rampant in both New South Wales and Queensland, is a key reason for this loss, other factors must be at play.

We know that degraded forests, like those that are logged or suffer from inappropriate fire regimes, lose many of their species, particularly those higher up the food chain.

However, this doesn’t aptly describe the loss of red goshawk from seemingly large areas of intact habitat, such as Shoalwater Bay or Conondale National Park.

We must not repeat past mistakes and allow habitat in the tropical north to be fragmented, rendering the landscape unable to support native predators like the red goshawk. This means rigorously assessing developments and implementing protections commensurate with the large areas that The Red requires.

https://theconversation.com/australias-red-goshawk-is-disappearing-how-can-we-save-our-rarest-bird-of-prey-from-extinction-200339?

Using Koala’s misery to promote logging:

It was bad enough to find that Whitehaven Coal are sponsors of the Gunnedah Koala tourism venture (as reported last week). Port Maquarie Koala Hospital has long had a questionable relationship with the Forestry Corporation, now their Guulabaa Tourism Precinct in Cowarra State Forest has shown the depth of this relationship with construction of The Hub, commenced with a sod turn event by Leslie Williams in February 2023, with funding of $2.3 million from the NSW Government’s Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Package, combined with $2.1 million from the Forestry Corporation of NSW and the North Coast Timber industry, and now $250,000 from the NSW Government’s Creative Capital program. The Hub will link Koala Conservation Australia/Port Macquarie Koala Hospital’s Wild Koala breeding facility, Bunyah Local Aboriginal Land Council café and gallery, Wildnets Adventure and Hello Koala’s. The Hub will showcase locally grown hardwood timbers, and promote the Forestry Corporation and their logging supporters Big River Group, Coffs Harbour Hardwoods, Machin’s Sawmilling, Hayden Timbers, Hurfords, Pentarch Forestry and Weathertex.- all those millions donated during the bushfires, and our taxes, are being used to promote logging Koala homes.

Kathy Lyons, Senior Manager Forest Stewardship, Forestry Corporation of NSW, noted that The Hub would showcase beautiful, locally grown hardwood timbers, and highlighted the important role that Forestry Corporation and the North Coast Timber Industry plays in the community.

“Our state forests have been sustainably managed for over 100 years and the importance of local timber as a carbon friendly building product continues to grow,” Ms Lyons said.

“Supporting a sustainable, renewable, climate-friendly future is something that’s important to our organisation and to the communities within which we both live and work.”

“It’s great to see our local timber partners - Big River Group, Coffs Harbour Hardwoods, Machin’s Sawmilling, Hayden Timbers, Hurfords, Pentarch Forestry and Weathertex - supporting projects that are integral to building local visitor economies and sustainable tourism. It’s where we want to be,” Ms Lyons said.

“This is exactly the kind of project the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Package is designed to deliver, and I look forward to seeing the official opening of this completed tourism precinct in the coming year,” Mrs Williams said.

https://www.lesliewilliams.com.au/the-hub-takes-shape-at-guulabaa

https://www.forestrycorporation.com.au/visit/latest-visitor-updates/guulabaa-place-of-koala-in-cowarra-state-forest

Cultural burning claimed a success:

University of the Sunshine Coast researchers and Quandamooka land custodians have hailed a two-year collaboration to assess the effects of cultural burning on Koalas on Minjerribah/North Stradbroke Island a success, in that there were no measured negative impacts on the densities or stress levels of the genetically unique koalas after the first burn in July 2021, across 130 hectares. – not unexpected (doing nothing would have had no effect either), though the real test is whether the forest is less prone to burning in a wildfire.

https://phys.org/news/2023-02-cultural-koalas.html

Such fire activity encouraged the regeneration of suitable native plants. On the other hand, they controlled species like banksias and wattle to reduce the risk of fire reaching the canopy where koalas lived.

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/wildlife-biodiversity/indigenous-knowledge-australian-aboriginal-fire-practices-can-help-protect-koalas-from-bushfires-study-finds-87987

Koala strike:

The Saturday Paper has a proposal for a koala strike, a ban on ministers entering zoos and animal parks for photo opportunities for as long as the Albanese government continues to approve fossil fuel projects, as it should not benefit from the positive feelings people have towards the animals and environments it is destroying. – maybe it should be for while they allow clearing and logging of Koala habitat, though Koalas are notoriously apathetic and unwilling to stand up for themselves.

https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/opinion/editorial/2023/02/25/the-koala-strike

… the value of Koalas:

Conservation projects in the Nambucca Valley, Dorrigo Plateau, Coffs Harbour and North Bellingen have been given a share of the $507,215 in funding for Koalas from the Federal Government.

  • $199,200 for the 'Jaliigirr Koala Conservation Action in the Coffs Harbour & Bellingen ARKS' project delivered by Jaliigirr Biodiversity Alliance Inc.
  • $160,153 for the 'Dorrigo Plateau Corridor Digital Mapping and Koala Restoration' project delivered by Dorrigo Community Nursery Inc.
  • $147,862 for the 'Nambucca Valley Koala Conservation' project delivered by Nambucca Landcare Co-Ordinating Committee.

https://www.macleayargus.com.au/story/8101220/funding-boost-for-koala-ty-habitat-and-conservation-projects-on-the-mid-north-coast/

MidCoast Council has secured over $1 million from the NSW Government for their Koala Safe Spaces Program (also funded by their environmental levy) to undertake surveys and establish “safe spaces” for koalas.

https://www.miragenews.com/koala-conservation-in-spotlight-958967/

… worth their weight in silver:

The Perth Mint has issued Australian Koala Silver Bullion Coins, with the queen on one side and Koalas on the other, the 1 kilo coin is worth $30 and the 1 ounce coin $1 – loose change could get very heavy.

https://coinweek.com/bullion-report/perth-mint-issues-2023-australian-koala-silver-bullion-coins/

… reconsidering connector disconnecting:

The federal environment department has begun public consultation after it was asked to reconsider the construction of Brisbane’s multi-billion dollar Coomera Connector over concerns for endangered koala populations, after a group argued that "substantial new information about the impacts of the proposed action" and a "substantial change in circumstances that was not foreseen at the time of the decision" warranted a reconsideration of the project.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-03/federal-government-considers-review-of-coomera-connector/102043332

Native bees:

The Conversation has an article highlighting the social structure and habits of some of Australia’s more than 1,650 native bee species.

https://theconversation.com/move-over-honeybees-aussie-native-bees-steal-the-show-with-unique-social-and-foraging-behaviours-200536?utm

Super ants:

With another referring to the Marvel character Ant Man, discusses the strength and abilities of ants, their super-strength, speed, farming practices, and their ability to create supercolonies all governed by “swarm intelligence” rather than a ruler.

https://theconversation.com/from-deadly-jaws-and-enormous-strength-to-mushroom-farming-ant-man-is-only-tapping-into-a-portion-of-the-real-superpowers-of-ants-200530?utm

Drug addled eels:

It’s not just NRL teams, wild eels are being exposed to Cocaine as it becomes increasingly common in some streams, when European eels were exposed to the same amounts found in some rivers for 50 days it was found to accumulate in their bodies, making them hyperactive, affecting their muscles and hormones. 

They found the drug accumulates in the brain, muscles, gills, skin, and other tissues of the eels. The muscle of the fish also showed swelling and even breakdowns, and the hormones that regulate their physiology changed. These problems were even around after an enforced 10-day rehab period in which the researchers removed the eels from water with cocaine.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/european-eels-on-cocaine-polluted-rivers-science-environment-animals?rid=&cmpid=org=ngp::mc=crm-email::src=ngp::cmp=editorial::add=Daily_NL_Saturday_Photography_20230225

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29879672/

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

Foot on the gas:

Direct (scope 1) emissions from Australia’s oil and gas sector – mostly from facilities that are covered by the safeguard mechanism – have increased by 7.8% in the latest reporting period, according to new data from the Clean Energy Regulator, largely due to methane venting from increased production.

https://www.acf.org.au/new-data-oil-gas-emissions-still-on-the-rise

Lock The Gate Alliance says eight coalmining applications to extend or modify existing mines represents "the largest coal expansion since the Paris Agreement in 2016", claiming NSW had approved 26 coal and gas projects since the Paris Agreement came into force in November 2016, with combined emissions of 4.4 billion tonnes.

https://www.mudgeeguardian.com.au/story/8105885/lock-the-gate-alliance-and-nsw-minerals-council-head-to-head-on-mine-expansions/

Boreal burning:

The Boreal forests in the north of Russia, Canada and America constitute one of the most extensive biomes on Earth, dominated by pine, spruce and fir trees, they are suffering under climate change, typically account for 10 percent of global fire carbon dioxide emissions, though beset by expanding wildfires over the past two decades, in the severe droughts of 2021 they contributed 23 percent, equivalent to 1.76 billion tons of CO2, about the same as fossil fuel emissions from Japan.

"Boreal forests could be a time bomb of carbon, and the recent increases in wildfire emissions we see make me worry the clock is ticking," said Steven Davis, one of the authors of the study published in the journal Science.

https://www.barrons.com/news/boreal-forest-fires-a-time-bomb-of-carbon-emissions-48bed2aa

"This warming that's massing in the Arctic and boreal regions is going to continue," said Steve Davis, a climate scientist at the University of California, Irvine. "So we're what we're worried about is that it's not actually an anomaly. It's like the new normal. And there's going to be a lot of these boreal forests burning in the coming years."

https://phys.org/news/2023-03-carbon-emissions-boreal-forest-rose.html

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2362504-northern-forests-released-a-record-amount-of-carbon-dioxide-in-2021/

Damned plantations:

The Guardian has an article about the areas worst-hit by Cyclone Gabrielle in New Zealand, one story is of a family appreciating the clear blue sky the day after, only to see a tsunami of mud and logs rushing towards them and through their house, as a flood dam of logging debris burst, a scenario repeated more often as bared hillsides and logging slash (from pine plantations) wash away in intense rainfall events, and the industry remains in denial.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/25/like-a-tsunami-the-role-of-forestry-waste-in-new-zealands-cyclone-devastation

TURNING IT AROUND

Celebrating forests:

Forests cover 31% of the earth’s land area, a third are primary forest, they contain half of the terrestrial carbon, they are home to 80% of amphibians, 75% birds, and 68% mammals, and 10 million hectares are wiped out each year.

Forests cover almost a third, or 31 percent, of the global land area, according to a 2022 report by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

More than one-third is primary forest, which the FAO defines as being "naturally regenerated forests of native species, where there are no visible indications of human activities and the ecological processes are not significantly disturbed".

Four-fifths of the world's amphibian species live in forests, as do three-quarters of bird species, 68 percent of mammal species and many of the 60,000 kinds of trees found on Earth.

Three-quarters of the fungi species, two-thirds of the plant species and nearly half (45 percent) of the animal species considered vulnerable, endangered or extinct are found in forests.

They contain 662 billion tonnes of carbon, more than half of all the carbon found in soil and vegetation.

The forestry sector pumped more than $1.52 trillion into the world economy in 2015, directly and indirectly.

10 million hectares of forests were wiped out each year between 2015 and 2020.

https://phys.org/news/2023-02-world-forests-figures.html

https://japantoday.com/category/features/environment/fighting-for-their-lives-the-world%27s-forests-in-figures

Canadian logging collapsing:

British Columbia’s forestry industry is shrinking both in scale and importance to B.C.’s overall economy, with the biggest impacts of sawmill and pulp mill curtailments and closures felt in smaller cities and towns as the combination of weak demand and impacts of longer-term forces affecting timber availability have triggered yet another cascade of mill closures – maybe they should now save what’s left of their oldgrowth.

https://biv.com/article/2023/02/small-town-bc-hit-hard-forestry-downturn

Tiny is big:

Tiny forests in urban areas, often the size of a tennis court, are rapidly growing at a rate of 50 a year in the UK, based on dense planting of diverse species, planted by volunteers who collect data on plant and animal life, urban cooling and carbon capture.

Earthwatch has already surpassed its original target of 150 forests in the UK within three years. Now, it’s planning to establish 500 across the UK and Europe by 2030.

Hartley says the scheme has captured the imagination in a way large-scale tree-planting in rural areas rarely does. The lifeblood of each tiny forest is its volunteers.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/1740185/tiny-forests-new-scheme-miniature-woods


Forest Media 24 February 2023

New South Wales

On Wednesday the first 3 of those arrested in Bulga State Forest appeared in the Taree Courthouse, with threats of demonstrations of celebration of their actions and their cause outside the courthouse. About 30 protesters gathered on Wednesday morning to voice their support for those arrested over a recent attempt to block logging in the Bulga State Forest, all 3 pleaded guilty to the offences of entering a prohibited forest and putting themselves in an unsafe situation, each receiving no conviction and a nine month good behaviour period.

The Echo ran with my media release calling the EPA’s removal of a logging exclusion over an oldgrowth forest identified as a fire refuge in Doubleduke State Forest in 2020, a dereliction of duty, and calling for it to be urgently reinstated. The Echo also has an article about the Save Banyabba Koalas forest protection camp being moved on four times after originally setting up legally in Tabbimobile and then Doubleduke State Forests. 

NBN has a story on logging of the Great Koala National Park and the ALP promise, with the NPA calling for a moratorium on logging of native forests within the proposed Great Koala National Park.

It’s a miracle, Grandpa has been saved by the bypass, for months Transport NSW have been saying that redesigning the Coffs Harbour bypass to avoid the 0.5ha Grandpa’s Scrub would cost $50 million and delay the bypass project prohibitively, though now miraculously they have redesigned the bypass to bypass Grandpa without any increased costs and delays. 

Sue Arnold has a comprehensive article about the evidence that NSW’s forests are in deep trouble, citing the NSW Government’s own reports that they suppress and ignore, and the concerns raised by the 31 national and international scientists who requested the EPA undertake a comprehensive investigation of the cascading impacts of the 2019-2020 fires on CIFOA forests.

The Perrottet government has been accused of double dipping by using land that has already been bought with public funds and put aside for conservation to offset yet more clearing of endangered bushland for new housing developments in western Sydney.

The Daily Telegraph has an article on independents asks, with only one featuring koalas, with popular Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan, who has nominated as an independent for the seat of Wakehurst, including as his key issues the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council proposal for a 450 house development over bushland at Lizard Rock, as well as measures to protect endangered koala habitats “because clearly the current policy is not working”.

Australia

It’s a bit like boasting, David Lindenmayer has an article about the largest trees in Australia, and not unsurprisingly the tallest and fattest are mostly Mountain Ash in Tasmania and Victoria, though our figs rank as the fattest (albeit a bit bony) with a white fig in northern New South Wales with a 31m circumference and a Moreton Bay fig coming in number 2 at 29m. It is a reminder of why big trees are awesome and irreplaceable.

Hugh Possingham has an article in The Conversation arguing for private conservation reserves (and even multiple use “reserves”), identifying that Australia has the second-largest percentage of land managed privately for conservation in the world, with NGOs such as The Nature Conservancy, Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Bush Heritage Australia and Trust for Nature owning about 50,000 square kilometres.

Australian Regional and Rural News has a diatribe attacking the Victorian Andrews Government for phasing out logging, featuring the CFMEU’s Michael O’Conner.

Species

The story reported last week that 29 Australian species that were close to extinction are recovering, with 15 species warranting removal from threatened species lists, is still doing the rounds, while many of these have only recovered in feral proof enclosures rather than in the wild, I repeat the story because of the quote by Dr Woinarski : "There have not been any recoveries of threatened species affected by broadscale land clearing, forestry, climate change and changed fire regimes – Australia is not yet managing those threats adequately, and they represent formidable challenges."  

Renewable energy is a growing threat to Koalas, of the 140 proposals being considered by the Commonwealth that could threaten koala habitat, 29 are renewable energy projects, alongside 50 coal and gas projects and 37 property developments. The Sky shock jock Paul Murray loved this, as suddenly its not broadscale land-clearing (for agriculture, mining and urban development) logging or bushfires that are threats to Koalas, but rather renewable energy trying to displace fossil fuels. Tanya Plibersek wants praise for the Australian Government handing out more than $76 million through the Saving Koalas Fund for the conservation and protection of koalas - while on the other hand she wants us to ignore some of her approvals, and the thousands of hectares of Koala habitat logged each year under Regional Forest Agreements.

Gunnedah Koala Sanctuary, come tourist theme park, has just received a boost with $2 million in funding from Whitehaven Coal, making it a joint venture with the NSW Government ($20.1 M), Gunnedah Shire Council ($1.5 M and land) and Whitehaven Coal – maybe they could have bought out the Wood Supply Agreements instead.

Since they got rid of the rats on Lord Howe Island in 2019, populations of the Lord Howe Island woodhen have increased from 250 to over 1,100 birds in the latest survey, with seabirds returning to the island for breeding and “extinct” invertebrates coming alive. The Forestry Corporation reports that their latest results from a wildlife monitoring program have revealed small mammals are recovering strongly in Eden State forests following the Black Summer bushfires, reporting most of the small ground mammals have returned to 100% of their previous sites, with the exception of Southern Brown Bandicoots which have only reached 75 per cent site occupancy, though the success story is Bush Rats increasing 46 fold in two years - or maybe they just like having their photos taken.

In the Australian Alps Brushtail possums and ravens are the most common scavengers recorded, with ravens mostly scavenging in spring, and possums in winter - responsible for 81% of all recorded scavenging of Kangaroo carcasses.

There are estimated to be over 5 million pet cats in Australia, with a third of these contained and 3.5 million left to pillage, killing an average of 40 reptiles, 38 birds and 32 native mammals each per year, with a survey of NSW Councils showing a need for state legislation to allow them to establish cat-free areas, limit cat numbers and require cat containment.

Another mass fish kill is underway at Menindee, with thousands of fish, predominantly carp and bony herring, affected, along with a small number of Murray cod and yabbies, this time caused by the mass of carp that bred up in the floods being concentrated as flood waters recede and consuming all the oxygen.

The Deteriorating Problem

Chatham House has released a report 1.5OC-Dead or Alive warning of a climate “doom loop” where Governments are increasingly being diverted into spending money and resources dealing with the consequences of climate heating, leaving little to address its causes, and in worse cases increasing coal, gas, and oil exploitation to pay for adaptation, creating a self-perpetuating cycle. 

La Nina has caused a drought since 2019 that is devastating parts of Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Bolivia, which is being worsened by climate change and the clearing of the Amazon, with the rising temperatures increasing the evaporation of what little water there is, worsening a natural water shortage and adding to crop destruction. The Paraná River, one of the main commercial waterways in South America, which goes through Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina and provides water to 40 million people, has reached its lowest level in nearly 80 years due to a prolonged drought in Brazil that scientists attribute to climate change.

A new study incorporating satellite data on biomass in tropical forests with experimental data about the effects of temperature and precipitation suggests that forests may lose substantial amounts of carbon by the end of the 21st century, with low continued carbon emissions, tropical forests, especially those in the southern Amazon, could lose 6.8 - 12% of their aboveground carbon, with higher emissions it could be 13.3 - 20.1%. Another study found the world’s forests are losing their ability to absorb carbon due to increasingly ‘unstable’ conditions caused by humans, with dramatic changes becoming more likely in some regions across Earth, with less carbon consistently absorbed by the ‘land carbon sink’ provided by trees, soil and plants. Given land ecosystems currently remove around a third of our emissions, as their capacity diminishes, the more we need to cut emissions. Another research team in Missouri found that when forests reach their ecosystem wilting point, after 2-4 weeks of extreme drought, they are less able to function properly, which includes their ability to absorb carbon dioxide.

In New Zealand they are blaming logged pine forests on steep slopes for destroying critical public infrastructure; washing away or burying highly productive agricultural and horticultural land; knocking over houses, fences and sheds; upending people’s lives and dreams; and killing people. Leading many to call for establishing more native forest. The government has announced a ministerial inquiry into forestry slash and land use with Forestry Minister Stuart Nash saying things have to change.

Turning it Around

An American company Funga is intending on producing carbon credits by introducing fungi to forests to improve tree growth and help sequester carbon, based on the claim that reintroducing wild soil microbial biodiversity can speed up plant growth by about 64%.

Next year’s launch of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Biomass satellite will map above-ground forest biomass, which ESA defines as the dry weight of live organic matter above the soil, including stem, stump, branches, seeds and foliage from its 666-kilometer polar (dawn-to-dusk) orbit, giving us the most detailed assessment yet of the globe’s forests.

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Courting court:

On Wednesday the first 3 of those arrested in Bulga State Forest appeared in the Taree Courthouse, with threats of demonstrations of celebration of their actions and their cause outside the courthouse.

[Linda Gill] “At the time, the suffragettes were beaten, abused, imprisoned and treated brutally by the establishment fighting to maintain its privilege.

“Well these forest defenders, who are being criminalised by a system that is propping up private profits by destroying public assets, will be remembered the same way.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/02/forest-defenders-to-be-celebrated-at-courthouse/

About 30 protesters gathered on Wednesday morning to voice their support for those arrested over a recent attempt to block logging in the Bulga State Forest, all 3 pleaded guilty to the offences of entering a prohibited forest and putting themselves in an unsafe situation, each receiving no conviction and a nine month good behaviour period.

https://www.manningrivertimes.com.au/story/8095607/protesters-gather-at-taree-courthouse-to-support-pair-arrested-over-logging-action/

Magistrate Allison Hawkins took into account their good character and the fact that the offences occurred on forestry land and had not been an inconvenience to the general public.

[Aaron Crowe] ‘If you care about our forests and all the animals that call them home then now’s the time, the forest needs you! If we don’t stop them, they will sell every last tree that the fire didn’t get in order to fill their quota and you can kiss the greater glider, the koala, and many other national treasures goodbye.’

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/02/bulga-state-forest-logging-protestors-get-good-behaviour-bonds/

Protect fire and climate refugia:

The Echo ran with my media release calling the EPA’s removal of a logging exclusion over an oldgrowth forest identified as a fire refuge in Doubleduke State Forest in 2020, a dereliction of duty, and calling for it to be urgently reinstated.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/02/epa-asked-to-reinstate-protection-for-fire-and-climate-refugia-in-doubleduke/

The Echo also has an article about the Save Banyabba Koalas forest protection camp being moved on four times after originally setting up legally in Tabbimobile and then Doubleduke State Forests. 

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/02/forest-defenders-merry-go-round-of-camp-sites/

Great Koala story:

NBN has a story on logging of the Great Koala National Park and the ALP promise, with the NPA calling for a moratorium on logging of native forests within the proposed Great Koala National Park.

https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2023/02/19/calls-grow-louder-for-moratorium-on-logging-native-forests-on-north-coast/

Grandpa’s bypass successful:

It’s a miracle, Grandpa has been saved by the bypass, for months Transport NSW have been saying that redesigning the Coffs Harbour bypass to avoid the 0.5ha Grandpa’s Scrub would cost $50 million and delay the bypass project prohibitively, though now miraculously they have redesigned the bypass to bypass Grandpa without any increased costs and delays. 

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-24-february-2023

Feigned political ignorance:

Sue Arnold has a comprehensive article about the evidence that NSW’s forests are in deep trouble, citing the NSW Government’s own reports that they suppress and ignore, and the concerns raised by the 31 national and international scientists who requested the EPA undertake a comprehensive investigation of the cascading impacts of the 2019-2020 fires on CIFOA forests.

The cascading impacts of the 2019-2020 bushfires have been firmly tucked into the deepest political closet at both the state and federal levels. Reports indicating the need for urgent action are buried. 

Yet major protests, sit-ins, tree sits and an extraordinary level of community opposition to logging is happening on the mid, far-north and south coasts forests. The history of protests both at the scientific, community and government level are impossible to ignore.

NSW native forest logging is carried out under the provisions of the Coastal Integrated Forestry Approval Operation (CIFOA) which sets out the conditions and protocols designed to protect forest flora and fauna.

No recognition of the catastrophic fires has been made in the CIFOA, nor is climate change adequately recognised or provided for under the conditions and protocols.

Recently, 31 national and international scientists requested Tony Chappel, CEO of the NSW Environment Protection Agency to undertake a comprehensive investigation of the cascading impacts of the 2019-2020 fires on CIFOA forests. Climate change was identified in the scientific submission as the key driver of the fires. Submission concerns are echoed in the FMIP report.

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/perrottet-government-remains-ignorant-as-nsw-forests-vanish,17256

Caught double-dipping offsets again:

The Perrottet government has been accused of double dipping by using land that has already been bought with public funds and put aside for conservation to offset yet more clearing of endangered bushland for new housing developments in western Sydney.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/feb/23/just-a-disgrace-experts-condemn-nsw-use-of-public-land-to-offset-huge-housing-expansion

Political promises:

The Daily Telegraph has an article on independents asks, with only one featuring koalas, with popular Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan, who has nominated as an independent for the seat of Wakehurst, including as his key issues the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council proposal for a 450 house development over bushland at Lizard Rock, as well as measures to protect endangered koala habitats “because clearly the current policy is not working”.

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/state-election/state-election-2023-independents-reveal-their-wishlists-if-major-parties-need-their-support/news-story/3aa13124a624c8fc00283d42a5852caa?btr=69fe177bfbaf245cc8ed9cfc8b4393fa

AUSTRALIA

Theirs may be taller, though ours are fatter:

It’s a bit like boasting, David Lindenmayer has an article about the largest trees in Australia, and not unsurprisingly the tallest and fattest are mostly Mountain Ash in Tasmania and Victoria, though our figs rank as the fattest (albeit a bit bony) with a white fig in northern New South Wales with a 31m circumference and a Moreton Bay fig coming in number 2 at 29m. It is a reminder of why big trees are awesome and irreplaceable.

Our newly published paper documents the tallest and the biggest circumference trees across the continent, and the biggest trees in each state and territory.

The loss of large old trees can have major impacts on ecosystems. These trees store huge amounts of carbon. Stands of old-growth trees produce significantly more water than catchments dominated by young trees.

Large old trees also provide habitat for many species of other plants and animals, such as the leadbeater’s possum and greater glider. The hollows that develop in large old trees are especially important in Australia. More than 300 species of vertebrates depend on these hollows – a greater proportion than anywhere else on Earth.

Large old trees are at risk from wildfires, disease, logging and climate change. Even though such trees are now only rarely cut down in logging operations, logging in the surrounding landscape makes them more vulnerable to collapse from wind damage. Climate change, and especially long droughts, also can increase the chance of large old trees dying. This is because of the stress of pumping water all the way to the canopy.

The many important ecological and cultural roles played by large old trees mean we must work far harder to protect the ones that survive. One of the important protection strategies will be to create larger buffers in areas of forest.

We also need to think about growing the next cohorts of large old trees. It is not possible to become a big tree without being a small one first. We need to make sure younger stands of trees are protected so they can become new generations of giants in the centuries to come.

https://theconversation.com/why-tasmania-and-victoria-dominate-the-list-of-australias-largest-trees-and-why-these-majestic-giants-are-under-threat-200276?utm

Privatising parks:

Hugh Possingham has an article in The Conversation arguing for private conservation reserves (and even multiple use “reserves”), identifying that Australia has the second-largest percentage of land managed privately for conservation in the world, with NGOs such as The Nature Conservancy, Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Bush Heritage Australia and Trust for Nature owning about 50,000 square kilometres.

https://theconversation.com/the-new-major-players-in-conservation-ngos-thrive-while-national-parks-struggle-199880?utm

Bad Andy:

Australian Regional and Rural News has a diatribe attacking the Victorian Andrews Government for phasing out logging, featuring the CFMEU’s Michael O’Conner.

Michael O’Conner of the CEMEU wrote:

“Federal Labor’s task of convincing blue-collar workers and communities they will be looked after is threatened by the approach of the Andrews Government toward timber workers and their communities because these workers are being thrown on the scrap heap. When Daniel Andrews announced that his government would halve the Victorian native forest industry from 2024 and shut it down completely by 2030, it was a hammer blow which blindsided thousands of Victorian timber workers, their families and communities, and shocked and devastated an entire industry.”

https://arr.news/2023/02/23/native-forestry-set-for-the-chop/

SPECIES

Some good news, but not for forest species:

The story reported last week that 29 Australian species that were close to extinction are recovering, with 15 species warranting removal from threatened species lists, is still doing the rounds, while many of these have only recovered in feral proof enclosures rather than in the wild, I repeat the story because of the quote by Dr Woinarski : "There have not been any recoveries of threatened species affected by broadscale land clearing, forestry, climate change and changed fire regimes – Australia is not yet managing those threats adequately, and they represent formidable challenges."  

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-24/australian-animals-no-longer-meet-criteria-as-threatened-species/102020276

Renewable energy is clearly a threat to Koalas:

Renewable energy is a growing threat to Koalas, of the 140 proposals being considered by the Commonwealth that could threaten koala habitat, 29 are renewable energy projects, alongside 50 coal and gas projects and 37 property developments.

The projects registered with the department that would threaten koala habitat would remove habitat trees for site development and access roads as well as potentially fragment the species’ natural range, which has already been decimated.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/federal/one-in-five-developments-threatening-koala-habitat-are-renewable-energy-projects-20230217-p5clhg.html

The Sky shock jock Paul Murray loved this, as suddenly its not broadscale land-clearing (for agriculture, mining and urban development) logging or bushfires that are threats to Koalas, but rather renewable energy trying to displace fossil fuels.

“Guess what might be one heck of a threat to koalas – it ain’t bushfires … we learn today that renewable energy projects are a significant threat to koalas.

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/koala-habitats-under-one-heck-of-a-threat-from-renewable-land-clearing-murray/video/1d0cb48cef5a866ff1fbe4bb042f5ca2?btr=53e5328fdff54ea543b073d148a8d9c2

Look at this hand:

Tanya Plibersek wants praise for the Australian Government handing out more than $76 million through the Saving Koalas Fund for the conservation and protection of koalas - while on the other hand she wants us to ignore some of her approvals, and the thousands of hectares of Koala habitat logged each year under Regional Forest Agreements.

https://minister.dcceew.gov.au/plibersek/media-releases/koala-ty-care-aussie-icons

Gunnedah Koala’s have coal backing:

Gunnedah Koala Sanctuary, come tourist theme park, has just received a boost with $2 million in funding from Whitehaven Coal, making it a joint venture with the NSW Government ($20.1 M), Gunnedah Shire Council ($1.5 M and land) and Whitehaven Coal – maybe they could have bought out the Wood Supply Agreements instead.

Whitehaven's $2 million contribution builds on $8 million from the NSW Government under the Regional Tourism Activation Fund. The sanctuary was also awarded $5.62 million through the NSW Government's Resources for Regions program and $6.48 million from its Regional Communities Development Fund, while the Gunnedah Shire Council has provided the land and contributed around $1.5 million to the project to date. Construction began in late 2022.

https://www.marketscreener.com/quote/stock/WHITEHAVEN-COAL-LIMITED-6499701/news/Whitehaven-Coal-Contributing-to-conservation-through-a-2-million-investment-Gunnedah-s-new-Koala-43073143/

No rats:

Since they got rid of the rats on Lord Howe Island in 2019, populations of the Lord Howe Island woodhen have increased from 250 to over 1,100 birds in the latest survey, with seabirds returning to the island for breeding and “extinct” invertebrates coming alive.

"The masked booby is breeding on the main island for the first time since the rodents were there," Mr Fleming said.

The Lord Howe wood-feeding cockroach, presumed extinct on the main island, has meanwhile been rediscovered at a site in the north of the island.

Experts have also rediscovered four species of snail previously thought to be extinct.

[Mr Fleming] "So really Lord Howe, which has always been spectacular, is now coming alive again, with all of these rare and endemic species found nowhere else in the world. 

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-20/lord-howe-islands-wildlife-comeback-after-rodent-control-success/101995784

Lots and lots of rats:

The Forestry Corporation reports that their latest results from a wildlife monitoring program have revealed small mammals are recovering strongly in Eden State forests following the Black Summer bushfires, reporting most of the small ground mammals have returned to 100% of their previous sites, with the exception of Southern Brown Bandicoots which have only reached 75 per cent site occupancy, though the success story is Bush Rats increasing 46 fold in two years - or maybe they just like having their photos taken.

“More startling is the number of Bush Rat camera images, increasing 46 fold in two years, from 571 in 2020 to 26,492 images in spring 2022, suggesting a remarkable increase in abundance,” Dr Bilney said.

https://www.forestrycorporation.com.au/about/releases/2023/latest-monitoring-results-show-small-mammals-thriving-in-eden-state-forests

Carnivorous possums:

In the Australian Alps Brushtail possums and ravens are the most common scavengers recorded, with ravens mostly scavenging in spring, and possums in winter - responsible for 81% of all recorded scavenging of Kangaroo carcasses.

https://theconversation.com/dead-kangaroos-make-a-surprising-feast-for-possums-in-the-australian-alps-199867?utm

Carnivorous cats:

There are estimated to be over 5 million pet cats in Australia, with a third of these contained and 3.5 million left to pillage, killing an average of 40 reptiles, 38 birds and 32 native mammals each per year, with a survey of NSW Councils showing a need for state legislation to allow them to establish cat-free areas, limit cat numbers and require cat containment.

Concern about the impacts of roaming cats has led almost one-third of councils to introduce cat-free areas, cat curfews and containment requirements at all or some places in their local government area. Where adequately policed, these measures appear to be working.

… In NSW, Tweed Shire has designated some recently built and future suburbs, which are next to bushland with high conservation value, as cat-free.

Local councils in WA and NSW complained most often about this situation. They want changes to state laws to make it easier for them to set and police local rules about cat containment or cat prohibition. 

Many cats don’t bring home what they kill, or bring back only a very small proportion (15% on average), so their owners aren’t aware of the majority of the wildlife toll. Radio-tracking studies have shown a large proportion of cats are out on adventures when their owners thought they were inside.

On average, each roaming, hunting pet cat in Australia kills 40 native reptiles, 38 native birds and 32 native mammals per year.

Our suburbs are now home to around 55 cats per square kilometre. That adds up to about 6,000 native animals killed per square kilometre per year in our suburbs alone. The national wildlife death toll from pet cats is well over 300 million native animals per year.

https://theconversation.com/herding-cats-councils-efforts-to-protect-wildlife-from-roaming-pets-are-hampered-by-state-laws-200266?utm

Carp population boom killing carp:

Another mass fish kill is underway at Menindee, with thousands of fish, predominantly carp and bony herring, affected, along with a small number of Murray cod and yabbies, this time caused by the mass of carp that bred up in the floods being concentrated as flood waters recede and consuming all the oxygen.

“Now this will be like a domino effect because the more carp die, the worse the water quality will get and then more die. You’ll start to get deoxygenation because the carp start to rot and when they start to rot that sucks the oxygen out of the water.”

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/feb/23/menindee-mass-fish-kill-thousands-of-carp-dead-amid-water-quality-fears

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

Welcome to the doom loop:

Chatham House has released a report 1.5OC-Dead or Alive warning of a climate “doom loop” where Governments are increasingly being diverted into spending money and resources dealing with the consequences of climate heating, leaving little to address its causes, and in worse cases increasing coal, gas, and oil exploitation to pay for adaptation, creating a self-perpetuating cycle. 

The historical failure to sufficiently tackle the climate and ecological crisis
could create consequences that challenge the ability of societies to tackle the root
causes of this crisis. The vast changes needed to limit global heating and restore
nature must be achieved in ever shorter periods of time. Continued investments in
fossil fuels create more vested interests who oppose change. Meanwhile, societies
are being called upon to respond to the relentless, damaging symptoms of the
crisis. These challenges could increasingly distract from efforts to realise rapid
decarbonisation and nature restoration.

This is a doom loop: the consequences of the crisis and the failure to address it
draw focus and resources from tackling its causes, leading to higher temperatures
and ecological loss, which then create more severe consequences, diverting even
more attention and resources, and so on. We describe this as a ‘strategic risk’ to
our collective ability to realise a transformation of societies that ultimately avoids
catastrophic climate and ecological change.

Narratives where it is assumed 1.5°C is lost have a political impact on what happens
next, potentially encouraging or discouraging action to realise transformational
change. The shock of thinking the goal is lost might, for instance, inspire greater
pressure on leaders to deliver deep changes. Alternatively, it could be viewed as
proof that such change is unrealistic or even undesirable. In general, the growing
chance of breaching 1.5°C and the challenges of realising transformational
change can be exploited by vested interests to argue for technologies that are
underdeveloped, unproven and potentially dangerous to sustain the status
quo. Meanwhile, proven and deliverable changes such as large-scale demand
management, which also have vast co-benefits for health and the wider
environment, are marginalised or ignored.

https://us2.campaign-archive.com/?e=6624c72df8&u=7c733794100bcc7e083a163f0&id=bf591dd399

https://www.ippr.org/files/2023-02/1676546139_1.5c-dead-or-alive-feb23.pdf

South America’s turn:

La Nina has caused a drought since 2019 that is devastating parts of Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Bolivia, which is being worsened by climate change and the clearing of the Amazon, with the rising temperatures increasing the evaporation of what little water there is, worsening a natural water shortage and adding to crop destruction. The Paraná River, one of the main commercial waterways in South America, which goes through Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina and provides water to 40 million people, has reached its lowest level in nearly 80 years due to a prolonged drought in Brazil that scientists attribute to climate change.

https://apnews.com/article/science-weather-climate-and-environment-water-shortages-argentina-de1354320432a0a61dfd617df6eaba68

https://apnews.com/article/business-science-caribbean-droughts-south-america-ea4dd3021246322da8f62991d579b760

Destabilising forests and climate:

A new study incorporating satellite data on biomass in tropical forests with experimental data about the effects of temperature and precipitation suggests that forests may lose substantial amounts of carbon by the end of the 21st century, with low continued carbon emissions, tropical forests, especially those in the southern Amazon, could lose 6.8 - 12% of their aboveground carbon, with higher emissions it could be 13.3 - 20.1%.

“If you constantly get sick, your immune system would be shattered,” making you more susceptible to getting sick again, Saatchi said. “That really impacts your health, and this is something that we worry a lot [about] with these tropical forests.”

This study provides yet more evidence, he said, that underlines the need to protect tropical forests from degradation and destruction, which in turn increases their resilience when faced with worsening climate change.

“It basically means that we need to start quickly to reduce the temperature and keep our forests healthy,” Saatchi added, “because these [forests] are the ones that regulate the climate much better.”

https://news.mongabay.com/2023/02/carbon-uptake-in-tropical-forests-withers-in-drier-future-study/

Another study found the world’s forests are losing their ability to absorb carbon due to increasingly ‘unstable’ conditions caused by humans, with dramatic changes becoming more likely in some regions across Earth, with less carbon consistently absorbed by the ‘land carbon sink’ provided by trees, soil and plants. Given land ecosystems currently remove around a third of our emissions, as their capacity diminishes, the more we need to cut emissions.

Dr McGuire said,

Ecosystems on land currently absorb almost one-third of the carbon emissions created by humans. If they start to absorb less carbon, the earth’s natural ability to curb climate change diminishes. This means we may need to cut human-made carbon emissions even faster than we had previously thought.

https://swachhindia.ndtv.com/worlds-forests-are-losing-their-ability-to-absorb-carbon-due-to-climate-spiral-study-74239/

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-023-05725-1

Another research team in Missouri found that when forests reach their ecosystem wilting point, after 2-4 weeks of extreme drought, they are less able to function properly, which includes their ability to absorb carbon dioxide.

https://phys.org/news/2023-02-threshold-triggers-drought-response-forests.html

https://www.futurity.org/forests-droughts-response-2878752/

A pine disaster:

In New Zealand they are blaming logged pine forests on steep slopes for destroying critical public infrastructure; washing away or burying highly productive agricultural and horticultural land; knocking over houses, fences and sheds; upending people’s lives and dreams; and killing people. Leading many to call for establishing more native forest.

Landslides in harvested sites pick up the material and carry it downstream, causing significant damage. All the evidence from Cyclone Gabrielle shows that much of the damage was caused by radiata pine slash.

Sediment and slash from exotic tree harvesting sites were established as major factors in the damage that occurred during the June 2018 Tolaga Bay storm in recent court cases taken by Gisborne District Council.

https://theconversation.com/we-planted-pine-in-response-to-cyclone-bola-with-devastating-consequences-it-is-now-time-to-invest-in-natives-200060?utm

The government has announced a ministerial inquiry into forestry slash and land use with Forestry Minister Stuart Nash saying things have to change.

https://www.1news.co.nz/2023/02/24/forestry-industry-expects-major-changes-lie-ahead-in-wake-of-inquiry/

TURNING IT AROUND

Crediting fungi:

An American company Funga is intending on producing carbon credits by introducing fungi to forests to improve tree growth and help sequester carbon, based on the claim that reintroducing wild soil microbial biodiversity can speed up plant growth by about 64%.

https://carboncredits.com/startup-funga-uses-fungi-carbon-capture-forests/

Coming soon:

Next year’s launch of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Biomass satellite will map above-ground forest biomass, which ESA defines as the dry weight of live organic matter above the soil, including stem, stump, branches, seeds and foliage from its 666-kilometer polar (dawn-to-dusk) orbit, giving us the most detailed assessment yet of the globe’s forests.

Recent research in the tropics shows that natural forests hold 40 times more carbon than forests that are the result of tree farming, the authors of a 2019 paper appearing in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change write. Planet-wide, forests also remove the lion’s share of atmospheric carbon emitted by human consumption of burning fossil fuels, the authors note.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucedorminey/2023/02/24/esa-biomass-satellite-set-to-map-earths-essential-old-growth-forests/?sh=e6e3da25d535


Forest Media 17 February 2023

The current heatwave, particularly in western NSW with all those rain fed fuels now curing, is a taste of what we can expect now that La Nina is over.

New South Wales

On Tuesday a community camp to end native forest logging was established near Doubleduke State Forest calling on everyone concerned about our endangered species, climate and economy to join them in bearing witness and alerting fellow citizens to the rip off of our assets in progress in our forests. In a heavy handed move, the closure was vastly extended to include the camp, and six police vehicles were sent to shut down the Save Banyabba Koalas forest protection camp in Tabbimobile State Forest, this morning. The camp has been moved nearby.

Mark Graham’s claims that logging in the region’s catchments is the cause of the poor quality water in the Nymboida, not fires, with the regrowth reducing future yields, had an airing on NBN with his videos of clearfelling on the Dorrigo plateau.

The News of the Area article on Moonpar logging is now online. The February issue of The Nimbin Goodtimes has a great article by Susie on the Bulga blockade, extending to the bigger issue of stopping logging of public forests. As well as an article by Sue Higginson focussing on the Yarratt State Forest blockade. The Great Lakes Advocate ran the MidCoast Council supporting protecting Bulga and phasing out native forest logging.

The Guardian has an article about NSW forests, identifying that with no clear commitments, the gap between community expectations and actions of state MPs will be a major election flashpoint, citing NEFA, while focussing on the Government’s claims that we need the timber and the industry is well regulated.

Sanger’s assessment that stopping logging of native forests in NSW could yield as much as $2.7 billion in avoided carbon emissions between 2023 and 2050 (as reported last week) is garnering a bit more attention. She has combined her assessments in Tasmania, Victoria and NSW to identify the total tonnage as 11.2 million tonnes of carbon released by logging native forests each year, equivalent to the annual emissions of 2.6 million cars and greater than the annual emissions of Australia’s domestic aviation industry. - two things to be aware of, the first is that this is for both public and private forests, the second is that its only for avoided emissions (the volumes released by logging) and does not account for the massive volumes that will be sequestered by the recovering forests over that time.

The Eden Magnet has a story about The Green’s policy to end logging of public native forests, with Sue Higginson commenting on logging in the Eden area as "a war zone", seeing “logging operations taking place in a forest that just cannot accommodate it”, while the industry ignores the woodchipping, claiming the logging is for outdoor furniture, cladding, staircases and flooring. The paper is inviting comments in a poll – have your say. 

The Forestry Corporation is monitoring 300 sites in State forests along the east coast under the new Coastal integrated forestry operations approvals framework, to be measured in spring and autumn each year using sound recorders, ultrasonic sound recorders and cameras, claiming strong recovery after the fires.

The Greens have joined the calls for urgent intervention from the NSW Planning Secretary Michael Cassel to prevent the clearing of 40 hectares of Leard State Forest, including the Whitebox Critically Endangered Ecological Community, in the state’s northwest by Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek Open Cut Coal Mine.

With support of the Aboriginal Wollumbin Consultative Group, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has proposed a new walk in the Wollumbin National Park up to the rim of the inner caldera, with a master plan on public exhibition until 27 February. This was originally put forward as an alternative for closing the summit walk, though they aren’t saying that.

Australia

Production of white pulp and graphic paper at Opal Australian Paper's Maryvale mill in Victoria's Latrobe Valley has permanently ceased (though will continue production of packaging products), blaming the logging disputes, meaning an end to production in Australia, a reprieve for native forests, and a reduction in workers from 1,000 to 800 – despite massive volumes of hardwood plantation timber being exported the mill never bothered to make the transition.

The Federal Greens’ Senator Janet Rice has called on state and federal Labor governments to commit to ending native forest logging immediately and ensure a just transition for forestry workers, following the announcement that white paper production at the Maryvale paper mill is set to close, after failing to transition to plantations, leading to the comment “Native forest logging is a dying industry and there’s no way around it”.

As Western Australia continues its transition out of public native forest logging the third mill in a month has closed, Whiteland Milling in Busselton, leaving more than 30 workers out of a job. Though the Government is yet to decide who gets all the bonus trees from clearing for bauxite mining. Companies who convert hardwood sawdust and offcuts into mulch for gardens, farms and playgrounds are running out of supplies, it is being portrayed as a crisis, except that they can use pine.

The Forest Practices Authority estimates a 158,129-hectare – or 4.9 per cent – cumulative loss of native forest in Tasmania between 1996 and 2022, with 14,000 hectares of forest and woodland cleared between 2010 and 2019 (which is small compared to Queensland’s 544,360 ha and NSW’s 153,510ha), and penalties for unapproved land clearing often just seen as "the cost of doing business" for private landowners. 

Species

The Conversation has an article about the recovery of 29 Australian species that were close to extinction, with 15 species warranting removal from threatened species lists, though many of these have only recovered in feral proof enclosures, rather than in the wild, though the Cassowary has recovered because of increased reserves and restrictions on land clearing, Gouldian Finch by changed land management (incl. removing livestock), and Humpbacked Whales by stopping hunting, the big losers are species affected by logging and fish affected by stream degradation and diversions, but all is not yet lost.

The NSW Government has announced $2.8 million in funding to treat the spread of the deadly disease wombat mange affecting six per cent of wombats in NSW, mange is caused by mites that burrow into a wombat’s skin, causing itching and sores that can become infected, leaving wombats weak, malnourished and dehydrated.

Local Land Services (LLS) NSW has released a video titled “What has happened to the koalas around Gunnedah?” on which experts and others explain how they have witnessed a “massive decline” in koala numbers over the past decade. The article mentions the Great Koala NP. The Dungog Chronical has an article about the need local councils to develop comprehensive koala plans of management in the Cessnock and Lake Macquarie areas, referring to the recent reports by the Sydney Basin Koala Network and EDO, and Government commitments for $3 million to the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary, $450,000 for the MidCoast LGA and Port Stephens LGA to develop koala habitat maps, $600,000 to support habitat restoration works, and over $1.5 million for road-strike mitigation. Newcastle Weekly has a different focus, reporting that Koalas in Cessnock and Lake Macquarie are in imminent danger of extinction and it is legislative loopholes that are to blame, with the Sydney Basin Koala Network calling on candidates to commit to Koala protection. A million dollar 5 km Koala exclusion fence along Picton Road is in disrepair, leading to concerns from locals that it is putting Koalas at risk.

Seeing and tasting (the air) are the main ways snakes sense their environment, and it has long been claimed they can’t hear, only detecting vibrations through the ground, though new research found they can hear through the air (it may be somewhat muffled), particularly if you scream.

For the NSW election the Animal Justice Party is proposing $50m funding to establish and resource an Independent Commissioner for Wildlife to specifically advocate for the protection of wild animals, by implementing systemic change by prioritising animal habitat over development and intervening in planning and development applications to enforce habitat protection.

The flush of floodwater has seeped into wetlands and triggered one of the most widespread bird breeding events in decades, though birds are still recovering from past losses and in some locations their nests have been inundated by floodwaters. More than 350 birds, mostly ducks, were found dead, and others injured and sick, at Bells Swamp Nature Reserve near Bendigo, with testing under way, Birdlife Australia believes the most likely cause is avian botulism.

A booming population of feral horses is being relocated from a south-east Queensland forest, with authorities citing the increasing risk of car strikes to both horses and people.

The Conversation has an article about tree weeds, identifying some of the worst as Monterey pine, Camphor laurel, Desert Ash, Jacarandas, Willow, and the native Cootamundra wattle and Sweet pittosporum when outside their range, urging people to look before they plant.

The Deteriorating Problem

A group of 35 scientists conducted a new study that measures the extent and intensity of degradation in all Amazonian countries, finding 1 million square miles, 38% of what remains of the Amazon Forest — that is, what has not been deforested yet — suffers from some type of degradation caused by human action.

Turning it Around

Under Labor’s proposal for carbon offsets, businesses would be able to meet emissions limits by buying an unlimited number of carbon credits as offsets (each credit represents a tonne of carbon dioxide reduced or avoided somewhere else) as an alternative to cutting their own greenhouse gases, would likely greenlight new coal and gas developments and lead to a rise in emissions according to a new report, finding ‘every carbon credit used to offset one tonne of CO2 from liquified natural gas production in Australia led to about 8.4 tonnes of CO2 going into the atmosphere, … In the case of coal, every Australian carbon credit used to offset a tonne of emissions from coalmining was associated with between 58 and 67 tonnes of CO2’.

4 corners had an expose on a variety of Australian Government accredited rorted carbon offsets programs, this time in New Guinea. The company NIHT Inc started as a logging company, apparently deciding to cash in on carbon credits, selling more than 1.3 million carbon credits for an average of $US4 ($5.78) each, though land owners in New Ireland only received about 200 kina ($80) each, and some decided to sell the logging rights. With no due diligence process, major accreditation companies approved it and big companies bought the credits, and now the offset area is being logged. Other companies, such as Kanaka Management Services and Mayur Resources, are similarly signing up landholders for carbon credits who don’t understand what it’s about, and limited understanding of the documents they sign.

Solving climate change is a bit of a free-for-all, with solar geoengineering, a field that seeks to scatter or reflect solar rays before they hit the Earth another of those “solutions” that excuses us from having to deal with the problem, typically focussed on increasing air pollution with sulfur dioxide, the latest brainwave is to mine the moon to create a dust cloud to envelop the world. An article in the Conversation considers the launching some 10 million tonnes of Moon dust into space each year as unfeasible in the short term, and other earth-based “solar geoengineering” measures fraught with potential side-effects, concluding we are better off focusing on replacing fossil fuels. Companies are already exploiting opportunities, in 2022 the start-up company Make Sunsets launched balloons into the stratosphere to release sulfur dioxide to make the atmosphere more reflective, aiming to grab attention for the technique and sell ‘cooling credits’ for future balloon flights. While most climate scientists think solar geoengineering a bad idea, often with unintended consequences, one argues it still needs rigorous study

A group of over 1000 volunteers in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden has created a “walking forest,” a mobile forest made up of 1000 trees planted in wheelbarrows that can be moved around the city.

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Doubling down in Doubleduke

On Tuesday a community camp to end native forest logging was established near Doubleduke State Forest calling on everyone concerned about our endangered species, climate and economy to join them in bearing witness and alerting fellow citizens to the rip off of our assets in progress in our forests. In a heavy handed move, the closure was vastly extended to include the camp, and six police vehicles were sent to shut down the Save Banyabba Koalas forest protection camp in Tabbimobile State Forest, this morning. The camp has been moved nearby.

Community representatives from conservation organisations from Grafton, Kyogle, Lismore, Nimbin and Malanganee took time out of their busy lives to help establish the watch camp on Glencoe Rd next to Doubleduke State Forest yesterday.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/02/doubling-down-at-doubleduke-state-forest/

Logging is the problem in the Nymboida catchment, not fires:

Mark Graham’s claims that logging in the region’s catchments is the cause of the poor quality water in the Nymboida, not fires, with the regrowth reducing future yields, had an airing on NBN with his videos of clearfelling on the Dorrigo plateau.

https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2023/02/15/logging-activity-could-be-to-blame-for-clarence-valley-water-problems/

The News of the Area article on Moonpar logging is now online.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/locals-and-activists-dismayed-by-moonpar-state-forest-logging

The February issue of The Nimbin Goodtimes has a great article by Susie on the Bulga blockade, extending to the bigger issue of stopping logging of public forests.

https://www.nimbingoodtimes.com/archive/pages2023/feb/NGT-0223-2-9.pdf

As well as an article by Sue Higginson focussing on the Yarratt State Forest blockade.

https://www.nimbingoodtimes.com/archive/pages2023/feb/NGT-0223-10-17.pdf

The Great Lakes Advocate ran the MidCoast Council supporting protecting Bulga and phasing out native forest logging.

https://www.greatlakesadvocate.com.au/story/8078912/council-supports-a-ban-on-logging-in-bulga-state-forest/

Forestry under the spotlight:

The Guardian has an article about NSW forests, identifying that with no clear commitments, the gap between community expectations and actions of state MPs will be a major election flashpoint, while focussing on the Government’s claims that we need the timber and the industry is well regulated.

Russell says there is a “frustration and desperation” about the inaction over the future of native forest logging on public land.

“We are six weeks out from an election, and the major parties are offering nothing,” she says.

Independents targeting Sydney seats, including Pittwater – the seat held by outgoing senior Coalition minister Rob Stokes – are also calling for an end to native forest logging and new protections.

Saunders says he is proud of the Coalition’s record on forestry – “not just for the employment, tourism and economic benefits the industry provides, but also for the strict environmental protections we have in place to guide operations now and well into the future.”

Dailan Pugh“It’s not just the koala, it’s a whole raft of species. I think people are aware our threatened species laws are fairly dismal and protection of habitat is the best way forward,” he says.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/feb/13/nsw-forests-face-uncertain-future-as-desperation-builds-over-major-parties-inaction-over-logging?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Benefits of stopping logging:

Sanger’s assessment that stopping logging of native forests in NSW could yield as much as $2.7 billion in avoided carbon emissions between 2023 and 2050 (as reported last week) is garnering a bit more attention. She has combined her assessments in Tasmania, Victoria and NSW to identify the total tonnage as 11.2 million tonnes of carbon released by logging native forests each year, equivalent to the annual emissions of 2.6 million cars and greater than the annual emissions of Australia’s domestic aviation industry. - two things to be aware of, the first is that this is for both public and private forests, the second is that its only for avoided emissions (the volumes released by logging) and does not account for the massive volumes that will be sequestered by the recovering forests over that time.

She found that in NSW sequestering carbon in native trees rather than logging them could yield as much as $2.7 billion in carbon mitigation benefits between 2023 and 2050.

In Victoria that financial benefit comes to $3.1 billion and in Tasmania it’s $2.6 billion, for a combined $8.4 billion across the three states.

Last year, the right-leaning Blueprint Institute suggested that if Victoria halted wet forest native logging it could reap $59 million in benefits from tourism, water supply and carbon credits alone this decade, and it costs taxpayers more to keep the industry running than it gives back in jobs and profits.

https://reneweconomy.com.au/not-logging-native-forests-could-deliver-billions-in-climate-benefits-study-says/

Plantations were far more sustainable and profitable and were the source of 85 per cent of Australia’s timber, Professor Brendan Mackey from Griffith University told AAP.

“The native forest logging is really a legacy of how we used to do things,” Professor Mackey said.

“We don’t need to log native forests anymore because we have a very good plantation estate.”

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2023/02/13/logging-nsw-native-forests/

https://www.juneesoutherncross.com.au/story/8083841/call-to-end-outdated-logging-of-nsw-native-forests/

https://www.standard.net.au/story/8083841/call-to-end-outdated-logging-of-nsw-native-forests/

https://www.portstephensexaminer.com.au/story/8083841/call-to-end-outdated-logging-of-nsw-native-forests/

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/new-report-shows-forestry-carbon-emissions-higher-than-expected

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-17-february-2023

Recent reports have found that native forest logging in south-eastern Australia emits 11.2 million tonnes of carbon each year. That’s equivalent to the annual emissions of 2.6 million cars and is greater than the annual emissions of Australia’s domestic aviation industry.

https://www.nationaltribune.com.au/emissions-from-native-forest-logging-in-south-eastern-australia-are-greater-than-australia-s-domestic-aviation-industry/

The Eden Magnet has a story about The Green’s policy to end logging of public native forests, with Sue Higginson commenting on logging in the Eden area as "a war zone", seeing “logging operations taking place in a forest that just cannot accommodate it”, while the industry ignores the woodchipping, claiming the logging is for outdoor furniture, cladding, staircases and flooring. The paper is inviting comments in a poll – have your say. 

[Sue Higginson] "I feel like what I saw was a bit of a war zone and that the damage that we are doing is too much - the forest environment and that landscape will not cope."

Mr Rutherford said all Eden sawmill's products were used in higher end applications such as outdoor furniture and cladding.

https://www.edenmagnet.com.au/story/8086202/native-logging-war-zone-needs-to-end-say-greens/

Forestry Corporation monitoring:

The Forestry Corporation is monitoring 300 sites in State forests along the east coast under the new Coastal integrated forestry operations approvals framework, to be measured in spring and autumn each year using sound recorders, ultrasonic sound recorders and cameras, claiming strong recovery after the fires.

"Early observations are showing a strong recovery after the extended period of severe weather conditions - last spring was boom time for our flora and fauna," Mr Drury said.

https://www.ulladullatimes.com.au/story/8086640/new-monitoring-program-shows-wildlife-booming-across-nsw-state-forests/

https://www.southernhighlandnews.com.au/story/8086640/new-monitoring-program-shows-wildlife-booming-across-nsw-state-forests/

More clearing of Leard State Forest:

The Greens have joined the calls for urgent intervention from the NSW Planning Secretary Michael Cassel to prevent the clearing of 40 hectares of Leard State Forest, including the Whitebox Critically Endangered Ecological Community, in the state’s northwest by Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek Open Cut Coal Mine.

https://www.miragenews.com/greens-urge-protection-of-leard-state-forest-40-948681/

Alternative Wollumbin walk:

With support of the Aboriginal Wollumbin Consultative Group, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has proposed a new walk in the Wollumbin National Park up to the rim of the inner caldera, with a master plan on public exhibition until 27 February. This was originally put forward as an alternative for closing the summit walk, though they aren’t saying that.

The Caldera Walk Master Plan is on exhibition from 13 February until 27 February 2023 and is available here: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/caldera

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/02/have-your-say-on-new-proposed-caldera-rim-walk/

AUSTRALIA

Time for paperless offices:

Production of white pulp and graphic paper at Opal Australian Paper's Maryvale mill in Victoria's Latrobe Valley has permanently ceased (though will continue production of packaging products), blaming the logging disputes, meaning an end to production in Australia, a reprieve for native forests, and a reduction in workers from 1,000 to 800 – despite massive volumes of hardwood plantation timber being exported the mill never bothered to make the transition.

"Despite our best endeavours, Opal has been unable to source viable alternative wood supplies to replace the shortfall from VicForests," Opal said in a statement on Wednesday.

Opal's Japanese parent company Nippon Paper Group announced the closure of the mill, which opened in 1937 and is one of the region's largest employers.

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union blamed the early end of white paper production in Australia on the Victorian government's mismanagement of the sector and Opal's "bumbling" approach.

The Victorian Forest Alliance said the mill had driven the decline of threatened species for decades and a 30-year contract with Nippon to supply woodchips from Victorian native forests until 2030 was never going to be sustainable.

https://www.sheppnews.com.au/national/axe-falls-on-australias-last-white-paper-manufacturer-2/

In a statement on its website, Nippon said the company would withdraw from “graphic paper”, ie white paper, but would continue making paperboard, kraft paper, corrugated board and folding cartons in Australia and New Zealand.

Court rulings have prohibited the agency from logging native coupes without adequate wildlife surveying, which VicForests says has effectively blocked the supply of native hardwood timbers.

In the past financial year, VicForests recorded an unprecedented $52.4 million financial loss, which it blamed on the cost of court cases. The figure is significantly higher than the previous year’s loss of $4.7 million.

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/logging-future-uncertain-as-japanese-giant-nippon-closes-australia-s-last-white-paper-plant-20230215-p5ckm3.html

Time to stop it:

The Federal Greens’ Senator Janet Rice has called on state and federal Labor governments to commit to ending native forest logging immediately and ensure a just transition for forestry workers, following the announcement that white paper production at the Maryvale paper mill is set to close, after failing to transition to plantations, leading to the comment “Native forest logging is a dying industry and there’s no way around it”.

https://www.miragenews.com/greens-push-labor-to-halt-native-forest-logging-947858/

West Australia on track:

As Western Australia continues its transition out of public native forest logging the third mill in a month has closed, Whiteland Milling in Busselton, leaving more than 30 workers out of a job. Though the Government is yet to decide who gets all the bonus trees from clearing for bauxite mining.

"If they thought things were getting a bit tough, they should've maybe just cut back a fraction on the quotas and kept it going for another 10 years which would've given more time to plant more pine trees to help the industry."

https://www.busseltonmail.com.au/story/8083410/no-damn-need-for-it-more-jobs-lost-as-another-timber-mill-closes-doors/

… oh no, there is a shortage of hardwood mulch:

Companies who convert hardwood sawdust and offcuts into mulch for gardens, farms and playgrounds are running out of supplies, it is being portrayed as a crisis, except that they can use pine.

"I think we'll be alright, we just need to adapt."

He said people would turn to softwood timber, from plantations, to fill the gap.

"It's a very good mulch too for most applications."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-17/hardwood-mulch-shortage-ahead-of-wa-native-logging-ban/101985968

Seeing Tasmania clearly:

The Forest Practices Authority estimates a 158,129-hectare – or 4.9 per cent – cumulative loss of native forest in Tasmania between 1996 and 2022, with 14,000 hectares of forest and woodland cleared between 2010 and 2019 (which is small compared to Queensland’s 544,360 ha and NSW’s 153,510ha), and penalties for unapproved land clearing often just seen as "the cost of doing business" for private landowners. 

"People these days know that clearing trees is going to be under some kind of regulatory approval process, so I find it a little bit disingenuous if people say, 'oh I didn't know I wasn't allowed to do it'," [Peter Volker, retired Tasmania's chief forest practices officer] said.

"Over the decade between 2010 and 2019, in Tasmania, it's estimated that over 14,000 hectares of forest and woodland was cleared. Most of that was not done under licence.

Dr Cresswell said Australia ranked poorly internationally in preventing illegal native forest clearing, and Tasmania was among the worst states.

"People think of the clearing of the Amazon as being the worst sort of clearing you can have in the world, actually Australia ranks worse," he said.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-15/land-clearing-in-tasmania-hard-to-quantify-due-to-missing-data/101970900

SPECIES

All is not lost:

The Conversation has an article about the recovery of 29 Australian species that were close to extinction, with 15 species warranting removal from threatened species lists, though many of these have only recovered in feral proof enclosures, rather than in the wild, though the Cassowary has recovered because of increased reserves and restrictions on land clearing, Gouldian Finch by changed land management (incl. removing livestock), and Humpbacked Whales by stopping hunting, the big losers are species affected by logging and fish affected by stream degradation and diversions, but all is not lost.

Australia’s natural world is in deep trouble. Many of our species are getting rarer. Some are now perilously close to extinction, while entire ecosystems face collapse.

… Australia’s threatened bird species declined in abundance by an average of 44% from 2000 to 2016.

There has also been little success for the many species mostly affected by timber harvesting, broad-scale land clearing, fire and climate change.

Yes, the natural world is falling apart around us. But we do not have to passively accept such collapse. We can stop at least some of these losses. We can make a difference.

https://theconversation.com/we-found-29-threatened-species-are-back-from-the-brink-in-australia-heres-how-200057?utm

Mite-y wombats:

The NSW Government has announced $2.8 million in funding to treat the spread of the deadly disease wombat mange affecting six per cent of wombats in NSW, mange is caused by mites that burrow into a wombat’s skin, causing itching and sores that can become infected, leaving wombats weak, malnourished and dehydrated.

https://afndaily.com.au/2023/02/11/mite-y-funding-to-stop-the-spread-of-deadly-wombat-disease/

What are we gonna do about Koalas?:

Local Land Services (LLS) NSW has released a video titled “What has happened to the koalas around Gunnedah?” on which experts and others explain how they have witnessed a “massive decline” in koala numbers over the past decade. The article mentions the Great Koala NP.

[Mr Krockenberger] said current studies indicate that of the 20 female koalas that should be breeding – just one is currently doing so. The remainder is not because of chlamydia infection decimating koala populations.

It is thought that with stressed and dehydrated animals, this may be influencing the rate of infections of chlamydia and therefore further population declines.

Native wildlife rescuer and carer, Martine Moran, from Gunnedah … “I never thought I would be in the midst of the extinction of a species such as the koala - I am horrified about it,”.

Gunnedah landholder Doug Frend … “The koalas are fighting for their survival,” he said. “It is extremely grim - it doesn’t look good.”

https://www.gunnedahtimes.com.au/news/koalas-fight-for-survival-pollies-promise-protection

The Dungog Chronical has an article about the need local councils to develop comprehensive koala plans of management in the Cessnock and Lake Macquarie areas, referring to the recent reports by the Sydney Basin Koala Network and EDO, and Government commitments for $3 million to the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary, $450,000 for the MidCoast LGA and Port Stephens LGA to develop koala habitat maps, $600,000 to support habitat restoration works, and over $1.5 million for road-strike mitigation.

"Safeguards are failing; important legal safeguards aimed at safeguarding threatened species from hight-impact development, are poorly implemented or under-utilised."

SBKN has called on local councils to develop comprehensive koala plans of management, to be supported by NSW government legislation.

https://www.dungogchronicle.com.au/story/8083405/urgent-research-needed-to-understand-hunter-koala-populations-after-bushfire-devastation/

Newcastle Weekly has a different focus, reporting that Koalas in Cessnock and Lake Macquarie are in imminent danger of extinction and it is legislative loopholes that are to blame, with the Sydney Basin Koala Network calling on candidates to commit to Koala protection.

CEO Leanne Taylor  … “Last financial year WIRES received 617 calls from across NSW regarding koalas and more than half of these (337) were for koalas in the Sydney Basin area.  

“As their habitat and invaluable corridors continue to be destroyed, despite being reclassified as Endangered, it’s a now or never situation.” 

Mr Angel … “There are alarm bells going off across the region. Koala numbers in the Sydney Basin overall have declined by an estimated 22% in the past 20 years and NSW legislation and policy has continued to allow their decline.  

“Areas with the most significant koala populations are not being protected from development and other threats, despite their looming extinction.”  

https://newcastleweekly.com.au/regions-koalas-facing-extinction-says-conservation-group/

A million dollar 5 km Koala exclusion fence along Picton Road is in disrepair, leading to concerns from locals that it is putting Koalas at risk.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/koalas-in-danger-being-killed-governments-1m-fence-falls-apart-nsw-western-sydney-020836409.html

They can hear when you scream:

Seeing and tasting (the air) are the main ways snakes sense their environment, and it has long been claimed they can’t hear, only detecting vibrations through the ground, though new research found they can hear through the air (it may be somewhat muffled), particularly if you scream.

https://theconversation.com/snakes-can-hear-you-scream-new-research-reveals-199958?utm

AJP want Commissioner for Wildlife:

For the NSW election the Animal Justice Party is proposing $50m funding to establish and resource an Independent Commissioner for Wildlife to specifically advocate for the protection of wild animals, by implementing systemic change by prioritising animal habitat over development and intervening in planning and development applications to enforce habitat protection.

https://nsw.animaljusticeparty.org/independent_commissioner_for_wildlife

Flooding a bonanza:

The flush of floodwater has seeped into wetlands and triggered one of the most widespread bird breeding events in decades, though birds are still recovering from past losses and in some locations their nests have been inundated by floodwaters. 

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-11/record-flooding-in-nsw-triggeres-bird-breeding-bonanza-/101812042

… not for all:

More than 350 birds, mostly ducks, were found dead, and others injured and sick, at Bells Swamp Nature Reserve near Bendigo, with testing under way, Birdlife Australia believes the most likely cause is avian botulism.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/feb/15/birds-found-dead-parks-victoria-nature-reserve-bells-swamp

Another feral horse outbreak:

A booming population of feral horses is being relocated from a south-east Queensland forest, with authorities citing the increasing risk of car strikes to both horses and people.

Annually, the wild animals cause "multiple" road accidents in the area, Ms Hunt said.

"Eventually, someone will lose their life in a collision with a feral horse and that's not a situation that we can accept."

Two brumbies were hit by vehicles in the past fortnight.

https://www.msn.com/en-au/money/markets/booming-feral-horse-population-at-state-forest-north-of-gympie-leads-to-rise-in-road-accidents/ar-AA17wR3W

Tree Weeds:

The Conversation has an article about tree weeds, identifying some of the worst as Monterey pine, Camphor laurel, Desert Ash, Jacarandas, Willow, and the native Cootamundra wattle and Sweet pittosporum when outside their range, urging people to look before they plant.

So next time you’re looking to plant a new tree in your garden, look into whether the species is OK for the area. You could also consider joining a local group involved in caring for parks and reserves and help remove any weedy trees.

https://theconversation.com/trees-can-be-weeds-too-heres-why-thats-a-problem-182599?utm

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

It’s more than clearing:

A group of 35 scientists conducted a new study that measures the extent and intensity of degradation in all Amazonian countries, finding 1 million square miles, 38% of what remains of the Amazon Forest — that is, what has not been deforested yet — suffers from some type of degradation caused by human action.

The authors point out that degradation is being driven by four main disturbances: forest fires, timber extraction, extreme droughts — intensified by human-induced climate change — and edge effects (impact of open areas on adjacent forests).

“We compared estimates from a range of studies, and show that deforestation and degradation emission are actually very similar. Although deforestation is obviously more severe,  degradation affects a much larger area,” says Barlow.

While degraded areas emit enormous amounts of greenhouse gases, they are not included in national emissions inventories. “These are not official numbers, but there are many emissions in these areas,” Nobre points out.

One of the points raised by the researchers in the article is precisely the higher frequency of extreme droughts in the Amazon, mainly in its southern and central regions. During almost two decades covered by the study, four of these events of greater magnitude were recorded.

Increasingly frequent, long and intense, these “megadroughts” induce the expansion of fire, which spreads rapidly across the forest floor and causes the death of thousands of trees.

https://www.science.org/doi/full/10.1126/science.abp8622

https://news.mongabay.com/2023/02/invisible-destruction-38-of-remaining-amazon-forest-already-degraded/

TURNING IT AROUND

Offsetting a cover-up:

Under Labor’s proposal for carbon offsets, businesses would be able to meet emissions limits by buying an unlimited number of carbon credits as offsets (each credit represents a tonne of carbon dioxide reduced or avoided somewhere else) as an alternative to cutting their own greenhouse gases, would likely greenlight new coal and gas developments and lead to a rise in emissions according to a new report, finding ‘every carbon credit used to offset one tonne of CO2 from liquified natural gas production in Australia led to about 8.4 tonnes of CO2 going into the atmosphere, … In the case of coal, every Australian carbon credit used to offset a tonne of emissions from coalmining was associated with between 58 and 67 tonnes of CO2’.

The report by Climate Analytics found land-based offsets – created through projects including tree planting and forest regeneration – had fundamental scientific problems that meant they would not deliver what was promised of them.

A government-ordered review of Australian carbon credits led by the former chief scientist Prof Ian Chubb last month did not accept allegations the crediting system lacked integrity, but recommended significant changes in how the scheme is managed. Climate Analytics said the review had “effectively ignored well-grounded criticism on its key methodologies from prominent experts and scientists”.

Its analysis found most land-based offsets failed to deliver genuine, new or permanent emissions reductions. It said the problems were exacerbated when offsets were used to justify more fossil fuel mining, as that ultimately resulted in far more CO2 being released into the atmosphere than was stored in vegetation when the credits were created.

In global terms, it calculated that every carbon credit used to offset one tonne of CO2 from liquified natural gas production in Australia led to about 8.4 tonnes of CO2 going into the atmosphere, once the gas was sold and burned overseas. In the case of coal, every Australian carbon credit used to offset a tonne of emissions from coalmining was associated with between 58 and 67 tonnes of CO2.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/feb/11/labors-unlimited-use-of-carbon-offsets-could-lead-to-rise-in-emissions-report-says

Yet another rorted carbon trading scheme:

4 corners had an expose on a variety of Australian Government accredited rorted carbon offsets programs, this time in New Guinea. The company NIHT Inc started as a logging company, apparently deciding to cash in on carbon credits, selling more than 1.3 million carbon credits for an average of $US4 ($5.78) each, though land owners in New Ireland only received about 200 kina ($80) each, and some decided to sell the logging rights. With no due diligence process, major accreditation companies approved it and big companies bought the credits, and now the offset area is being logged. Other companies, such as Kanaka Management Services and Mayur Resources, are similarly signing up landholders for carbon credits who don’t understand what it’s about, and limited understanding of the documents they sign.

The Sydney Opera House, Planet Ark, Nespresso, the law firms Gilbert + Tobin, and Corrs Chambers Westgarth, and Active Super are among its clients.

They’ve been buying carbon credits from the NIHT project to offset their greenhouse gas emissions. And the pitch is attractive, with NIHT promising to stop “exploitative commercial timber harvesting in the project area” and to “alleviate the impact of poverty”.

The company now concedes logging has been happening since 2020.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-14/carbon-credits-projects-papua-new-guinea-logging-four-corners/101936714

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-13/carbon-colonialism/101968870 46m

Dusting the moon:

Solving climate change is a bit of a free-for-all, with solar geoengineering, a field that seeks to scatter or reflect solar rays before they hit the Earth another of those “solutions” that excuses us from having to deal with the problem, typically focussed on increasing air pollution with sulfur dioxide, the latest brainwave is to mine the moon to create a dust cloud to envelop the world.

Last month, Mexico banned the controversial earth-based experimentation by startup Make Sunsets, which had been experimenting with releasing sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere above Baja California as an experimental means of reflecting heat.

“And efforts to offset carbon dioxide-caused warming with sunlight reduction would yield a very different climate, perhaps one unlike any seen before in Earth’s history, with massive shifts in atmospheric circulation and rainfall patterns and possible worsening of droughts,” Mann added.

Then there is the possibility that more and more solar dimming will be required as the Earth continues to heat.

“Some proponents insist we can always stop if we don’t like the result,” he continued. “Well yes, we can stop. Just like if you’re being kept alive by a ventilator with no hope of a cure, you can turn it off.”

He argued that there is a far simpler solution: reduce or eliminate the reliance on fossil fuels.

https://thehill.com/homenews/space/3849861-dust-from-the-moon-could-help-slow-climate-change-study-finds/

An article in the Conversation considers the launching some 10 million tonnes of Moon dust into space each year as unfeasible in the short term, and other earth-based “solar geoengineering” measures fraught with potential side-effects, concluding we are better off focusing on replacing fossil fuels.

Proposed measures to cool Earth by reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the surface are often called “solar geoengineering” or “solar radiation management”.

The most-discussed method involves injecting a thin layer of aerosol particles into Earth’s upper atmosphere.

However, tinkering with the atmosphere in this way is likely to affect rainfall and drought patterns, and may have other unintended consequences such as damage to the ozone layer.

… we are better off focusing on replacing fossil fuels. The solutions to climate change are right in front of us, not in the stars.

https://theconversation.com/can-clouds-of-moon-dust-combat-climate-change-199592?utm

Companies are already exploiting opportunities, in 2022 the start-up company Make Sunsets launched balloons into the stratosphere to release sulfur dioxide to make the atmosphere more reflective, aiming to grab attention for the technique and sell ‘cooling credits’ for future balloon flights. While most climate scientists think solar geoengineering a bad idea, often with unintended consequences, one argues it still needs rigorous study.

As a climate scientist who studies the regional effects and policy implications of solar geoengineering, I find these facts disconcerting. If we start geoengineering instead of mitigating emissions, other effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — notably ocean acidification — would still happen. And without appropriate governance, elite interests could control the technique’s use and ignore the consequences for vulnerable people.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-00413-6?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=04ec464bcb-briefing-dy-20230215&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-04ec464bcb-46198454

A walking forest:

A group of over 1000 volunteers in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden has created a “walking forest,” a mobile forest made up of 1000 trees planted in wheelbarrows that can be moved around the city.

https://theogm.com/2023/02/16/the-walking-forest-how-1000-volunteers-created-a-mobile-greener-city/


Forest Media 10 February 2023

New South Wales

Three people were arrested and forestry operations halted as protesters launched simultaneous actions against State forest logging in northern New South Wales, one was in a tree-sit in Doubleduke State Forest and two were locked onto the gates of Pentarch Forestry's Heron Creek sawmill. Doubleduke also had a run on north-coast ABC.

The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers have attacked the Bulga protestors for intimidating, harassing and threatening workers, claiming one contractor was told their machinery would be “burnt to the ground”, and vowing to reintroduce their draconian bill to protect loggers from “from environmental activists who disrupt forestry operators with aggressive and violent behaviour that risks the safety of those who work on the site”.- maybe they need to be taken on for defamation.

On Wednesday Midcoast Council unanimously supported a motion put forward by Greens Councillor Dheera Smith, calling for a just transition from native forest logging to ecologically sustainably managed plantations and farm forestry, and also called on the State Government to incorporate part of the Bulga Forest into the Birawal-Bulga National Park, and to write to various politicians from both major parties calling on them to develop a transition plan.

The Greens NSW have announced their plan to end native forest logging immediately and transition to a 100% sustainable plantation timber industry, with a $300 million transition package for workers and $323 million for land acquisition and plantation establishment. The report commissioned by The Greens, NSW FOREST CARBON: An Effective Climate Change Solution has been released, it emphasis the need to retain forests as carbon sinks, though focusses on the logging emissions that can be avoided, finding ‘greenhouse gas emissions from native forest logging in New South Wales is approximately 3.6 million tonnes of carbon (CO2e) per year’ and by stopping logging ‘we could prevent 76 million tonnes of carbon (CO2e) from entering the atmosphere by 2050. This could provide close to $2.7 billion in benefit to help mitigate climate change.’

News of the Area has an article about the Forestry Corporation’s latest attack on a critical part of the Great Koala National Park, this time the best quality remaining Koala habitats in Moonpar State Forest on the Dorrigo Plateau. It has another about a raft of ecologists writing to the Government about the need for the Coffs bypass to bypass the small 0.5 ha, but unique stand of subtropical rainforest known as Grandpa’s Scrub. And another about the second episode in the 3 part series Australia’s Wild Odessey which focusses on the movement of water across the landscape, with the second episode featuring the forests west of Coffs Harbour and the transportation of water inland by forests, with expert commentary by Mark Graham and Uncle Micklo – well worth a look. (also see the article on biotic pumps and aerial rivers under Turning It Around)

Following a rejection by the Northern Rivers Planning Panel, and a pending court appeal, the current company that owns the controversial Iron Gates site, Goldcoral Pty Ltd has now been placed into administration, the same developer Graeme Ingles put Iron Gates Pty Ltd into liquidation more than 20 years ago, without undertaking the 21 Remediation Orders imposed by the Land and Environment Court. Locals are concerned that Council will have to foot the bill in the ongoing court case. The L&EC Court Conciliation meeting with a LEC Commissioner is to be held at Evans Head on 9 March as scheduled by the Court. 

Thirty-one national and international experts have slammed the NSW government for failing to measure the impact of the 2019 Black Summer bushfires and continuing to log native forests at the same rate as before, signing a request for a review of the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval by the NSW Environmental Protection Agency.

Australia

Illegal logging has surged in ACT parks and reserves as loggers wreak havoc, particularly for commercial firewood, with other outbreaks in parks and reserves around Shepparton in Victoria, and in NSW. An early morning sting involving police, park rangers and timber workers has led to seven people being charged over alleged illegal firewood gathering in a reserve in southern Tasmania.

Species

Tanya Plibersek dusts off a Morrisson Government proposal to establish a scheme to incentivise investment in nature restoration by creating tradable certificates for projects that protect and restore biodiversity, as the touted “green Wall Street”, amidst concerns of governance issues, projected lack of demand, and that it will become a biodiversity offset market. The exposure draft is open for comment.

The Sydney Basin Koala Network has commissioned two reports, one into the Koala populations and one into their legal protection, leading to concerns that Koalas are gone from the Shoalhaven, south-west of Nowra, as there has not been a koala sighting since the 2019/20 black summer bushfires, including in recent surveys.

The NSW Greens have proposed an immediate moratorium on the destruction of koala habitat, urgently creating the Great Koala National Park, prohibiting the destruction of koala habitat for urban development, mining or agriculture on public or private land by 2025,  and the creation of a "Koala Super Highway" as part of their pre-election plan to save the species.

Numbers of the north Queensland subspecies of the spotted-tail quoll, Dasyurus maculatus gracilis, which has 6 populations isolated at high elevations, have dwindled from previous estimates of 500 quolls to critically endangered levels now estimated as 221 adult quolls.

For the first time 15,000 dingo baits have been aerially dropped over 300,000 hectares central and northern Flinders Ranges in a twice annual program, that used to just target foxes.

Despite increasing spending, we are losing the fight against ferals as our environment deteriorates and wildlife disappear. The ACT independent senator David Pocock on Wednesday tabled a motion for an inquiry to be conducted by the Environment and Communications References Committee into how existing federal powers could override state governments to protect the national heritage-listed Australian Alps from brumbies.

Around Kingscliff High School up to 50 birds, of many kinds, have been found poisoned or bludgeoned by feral humans, with those found alive with irreparable injuries.

In a breach of a cane toad containment zone around NSW's far north coast, 51 cane toads were found at Mandalong and Lake Macquarie on NSW's Central Coast, the last outbreak was in 2010 when 650 cane toads were found in Sydney’s south.

The Deteriorating Problem

Although intact forest landscapes (IFLs) made up 20% of the world’s remaining tropical forest in 2020, they stored 40% of all the carbon held in these habitats. Since 2000, the global extent of IFLs has shrunk by 7.2%, a loss of 1.5 million km² – more than quadruple the area of Germany, with a third of this related to export of wood, energy, and mining products.

A week into the disaster, fires had razed more than 309,000 hectares in drought-stricken Chile, killing 24, injuring 2,180 and destroying 1,180 homes, with worse weather expected.

As they get stressed by droughts and heatwaves fir trees are now dying at a record rates in Canada's Pacific Northwest as the weakened trees come under attack by pine beetles. The largest pine beetle epidemic recorded happened in the 1990s and 2000s in B.C when more than 18 million hectares of forest were impacted, resulting in the loss of 53 per cent of merchantable pine volume by 2012. It is the same in America’s south west as the dry and hot conditions resulted in large sections of Central and Northern California experiencing exceptional and extreme drought, weakening the trees and making them more susceptible to bark beetles, resulting in the Forest Service recording about 2.6 million acres of dead trees, or the equivalent of about 36.3 million dead trees, in a survey of 39.6 million acres.

Turning it Around

Mongabay has an extensive article, with interviews, about a new film Rivers Above the Canopy, that explains the biotic pump concept in the context of the Amazon, basically transpiration by trees takes water from the ground and releases it to the atmosphere, in the process transferring heat and moisture to the atmosphere, cooling the land surface and creating rainfall and aerial rivers, while creating an area of low pressure that sucks in more moisture laden clouds. As we clear and log forests we disrupt this process with far reaching consequences.

The Sydney Morning Herald has an article identifying the 4 big issues for 2023 as the risk of rapidly rising temperatures as we transition into a possible El Nino, renewable energy, dealing with our extinction crisis (notably by fixing RFAs), and electric cars, noting ‘How urgently we respond to the climate and environment crises this decade will be hugely consequential for millennia to come’.

In Atlanta, Georgia a fight to save an urban forest and stop construction of a $90 million police training facility took a tragic turn when police violently cleared campers and tree-sitters from the forest, shooting one protestor 12 times and killing him. Protesters arrested have been charged with misdemeanors such as trespassing, though in mid-December six activists were charged with domestic terrorism.

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Logging protests ramp up:

Three people were arrested and forestry operations halted as protesters launched simultaneous actions against State forest logging in northern New South Wales, one was in a tree-sit in Doubleduke State Forest and two were locked onto the gates of Pentarch Forestry's Heron Creek sawmill. Doubleduke also had a run on north-coast ABC.

"We've lobbied, we've written letters, we've written reports [and] we've surveyed for koalas," said protester Naomi Shine.

"How far do you have to go to protect the wildlife?" 

"Doubleduke State Forest is a regrowth forest which has been harvested for timber and regrown multiple times over the past 100 years," the [Forestry Corporation NSW] spokesperson said.

The back gate of the facility was removed with Ms Baker still attached with a D-lock around her neck.

Juliet Lamont, an activist who was participating in the sawmill protest, said she found it "disturbing" and "abhorrent" the way police moved Ms Baker.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-06/native-forest-logging-protests-north-coast-nsw-election/101934810

A protester at Doubleduke has been suspended in a tree-sit 25 m above three industrial logging machines. Protests have also stopped logging in the Manning and in the mid North coast.

Tree-sitter Andrew George, an engineer from Lismore says the appropriate response to people trying to chop down our forests is to stop them. ‘Our forests are essential to climate resilience and biodiversity yet their destruction in NSW is being actively subsidised by the taxpayer.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/02/protesters-stop-logging-at-doubleduke/

… all guns blazing:

The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers have attacked the Bulga protestors for intimidating, harassing and threatening workers, claiming one contractor was told their machinery would be “burnt to the ground”, and vowing to reintroduce their draconian bill to protect loggers from “from environmental activists who disrupt forestry operators with aggressive and violent behaviour that risks the safety of those who work on the site”.- maybe they need to be taken on for defamation.

“Peaceful protest is essential in a democracy. However, there is nothing peaceful about the protests currently happening in the Bulga State Forest,” said Mr Banasiak.

“I am inundated with desperate calls for help from forestry workers who are intimidated, harassed and threatened by many of these protesters at their work site.

“Putting the safety of forestry workers at risk to win votes in an election is truly despicable behaviour by The Greens, although I am not surprised, I am appalled that a Member of the Legislative Council would encourage illegal behaviour,” said Mr Banasiak.

https://www.nationaltribune.com.au/sff-vows-to-protect-forestry-workers-under-threat-by-aggressive-protesters/

https://www.miragenews.com/sff-pledges-to-shield-forestry-workers-from-944866/

Time to stop it:

On Wednesday Midcoast Council unanimously supported a motion put forward by Greens Councillor Dheera Smith, calling for a just transition from native forest logging to ecologically sustainably managed plantations and farm forestry, and also called on the State Government to incorporate part of the Bulga Forest into the Birawal-Bulga National Park, and to write to various politicians, from both major parties calling on them to develop a transition plan.

Media Release by Susie Russel, Save Bulga Forest, February 8, 2023

Councillors unanimously supported a notice of motion to advocate to NSW Forestry and National Parks for a cease to logging in compartments 41 and 43 of the Bulga Forest and transition these compartments to National Parks, and advocate to the NSW Government to develop a plan for the transition of Forestry’s native forest sector to ecologically sustainable plantations.

Council will now make representations to a range of Members of Parliament, State Ministers and Shadow Ministers. Council notes the concerns of many MidCoast residents for better management of State Forests to support nature-based tourism, recreation, threatened species habitat protection and carbon sequestration.

https://www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/Your-Council/Council-meetings/Agendas-and-minutes/Summary-Council-meeting-8-February-2023

The Greens NSW have announced their plan to end native forest logging immediately and transition to a 100% sustainable plantation timber industry, with a $300 million transition package for workers and $323 million for land acquisition and plantation establishment.

Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment and agriculture, Sue Higginson, said “Logging of public native forests is coming to an end in NSW, the only question left is whether it will be a planned transition or if it will catastrophically crash and leave forests and communities devastated and abandoned.

“The recovery of forests for habitat and climate mitigation needs to begin immediately, that’s why our plan calls for an immediate end to public native forest logging. NSW forests cannot afford a long phase out period because the cumulative damage from decades of exploitation has pushed them to the brink,

https://www.miragenews.com/greens-announce-plan-to-end-native-forest-944153/

https://www.beagleweekly.com.au/post/greens-announce-plan-to-end-native-forest-logging-in-nsw

https://www.edenmagnet.com.au/story/8080052/greens-announce-300-million-plan-to-end-native-forest-logging/

https://www.batemansbaypost.com.au/story/8079905/greens-announce-300-million-plan-to-end-native-forest-logging/

… stopping logging saves $2.7 billion worth of carbon emissions by 2050:

The report commissioned by The Greens, NSW FOREST CARBON: An Effective Climate Change Solution has been released, it emphasis the need to retain forests as carbon sinks, though focusses on the logging emissions that can be avoided, finding ‘greenhouse gas emissions from native forest logging in New South Wales is approximately 3.6 million tonnes of carbon (CO2e) per year’ and by stopping logging ‘we could prevent 76 million tonnes of carbon (CO2e) from entering the atmosphere by 2050. This could provide close to $2.7 billion in benefit to help mitigate climate change.’

We need to take immediate action on climate change. Protecting New South Wales’ forests is a low-cost and effective way to reduce emissions. By ending native forest logging immediately, forests can continue to grow and draw down a significant amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it long-term. Protecting New South Wales’ native forests is real action on climate change.

Research conducted for this report found that greenhouse gas emissions from native forest logging in New South Wales is approximately 3.6 million tonnes of carbon (CO2e) per year. This shows that native forest logging in New South Wales is a significant source of emissions. It has the same annual emissions as 840,000 medium sized cars or is close to four and a half times the annual emissions of New South Wales’ domestic aviation.

This figure is based on ‘short-term’ and ‘long-term’ emissions. Around 64% of a forest’s carbon is released within a few years of logging. Most of the wood removed from New South Wales’ forests goes into single-use products such as paper, which have a short lifespan. As much as 40% of the forest’s biomass is incinerated, which immediately emits carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides in to the atmosphere.

Protecting New South Wales’ native forests is a real climate solution. If native forests currently managed for logging were protected, we could prevent 76 million tonnes of carbon (CO2e) from entering the atmosphere by 2050. This could provide close to $2.7 billion in benefit to help mitigate climate change.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1GdsrCyOiFAUzw_qQr44HzNvyw91NNYet

Moonpar under assault:

News of the Area has an article about the Forestry Corporation’s latest attack on a critical part of the Great Koala National Park, this time the best quality remaining Koala habitats in Moonpar State Forest on the Dorrigo Plateau.

[Mark Graham] The scientific evidence is clear, industrial logging operations are sending our Koalas to extinction, along with other globally significant forest fauna including Greater Gliders, Yellow-bellied Gliders and Glossy Black Cockatoos. All these species previously had the biggest strongholds in NSW within the globally significant tall Eucalypt forests of the Dorrigo Plateau. The fires of Black Spring, particularly the Bees Nest and Liberation Trail mega-fires wiped out many populations and sent these species much closer to extinction, with the Glossy Black Cockatoo alone declining by about 90% and continuing to do so. The NSW Government is intentionally targeting old growth, mature and intact public native forests for industrial logging, these forests only burnt lightly and small areas are unburnt; they represent the last refuges for these remarkable forest fauna species.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-10-february-2023

Helping Grandpa:

News of the Area has an article about a raft of ecologists writing to the Government about the need for the Coffs bypass to bypass the small 0.5 ha, but unique stand of subtropical rainforest known as Grandpa’s Scrub.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-10-february-2023

Forests redistribute water inland:

News of the Area has an article about the second episode in the 3 part series Australia’s Wild Odessey which focusses on the movement of water across the landscape, with the second episode featuring the forests west of Coffs Harbour and the transportation of water inland by forests, with expert commentary by Mark Graham and Uncle Micklo – well worth a look.

(also see the article on biotic pumps and aerial rivers under Turning It Around)

https://iview.abc.net.au/show/australia-s-wild-odyssey

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-10-february-2023

Administering Iron Gates:

Following a rejection by the Northern Rivers Planning Panel, and a pending court appeal, the current company that owns the controversial Iron Gates site, Goldcoral Pty Ltd has now been placed into administration, the same developer Graeme Ingles put Iron Gates Pty Ltd into liquidation more than 20 years ago, without undertaking the 21 Remediation Orders imposed by the Land and Environment Court.

Al Oshlack …‘As far as I’m concerned this charade over the Iron Gates development shows the director of Goldcoral has no sense of propriety and total disregard of the community.

‘This developer has defied Court orders to remediate his [$2M] illegal work then had the gall to set up a new company [Goldcoral] to try and get it reapproved.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/02/iron-gates-development-in-evans-head-land-owners-goes-into-administration-again/

Locals are concerned that Council will have to foot the bill in the ongoing court case. The L&EC Court Conciliation meeting with a LEC Commissioner is to be held at Evans Head on 9 March as scheduled by the Court. 

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/02/iron-gates-development-in-administration-but-still-taking-council-to-court/

Heavies weigh in:

Thirty-one national and international experts have slammed the NSW government for failing to measure the impact of the 2019 Black Summer bushfires and continuing to log native forests at the same rate as before, signing a request for a review of the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval by the NSW Environmental Protection Agency.

The scale of the fires and the breadth of vegetation types affected has implications for biodiversity conservation both in Australia and globally. A Planning Department report estimated soil loss was predominantly in National Parks and State Forests, reducing the “so-called ecological carrying capacity” by more than a third in burnt areas.

Professor Paul Ehrlich, the president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University,, says that “Forests are a crucial part of the natural capital on which human civilisation survives. Australia has a tradition of destroying that capital, not only its great stands of trees, its unique array of mammals, but the other elements of its life-support systems, including marine and mineral resources.”

https://michaelwest.com.au/scientists-slam-nsw-government-for-high-risk-native-forest-logging-since-black-summer-bushfires/

https://www.beagleweekly.com.au/post/scientists-slam-nsw-government-for-high-risk-logging-since-black-summer-bushfires

AUSTRALIA

Illegal logging

Illegal logging has surged in ACT parks and reserves as loggers wreak havoc, particularly for commercial firewood, with other outbreaks in parks and reserves around Shepparton in Victoria, and in NSW.

https://www.braidwoodtimes.com.au/story/8071694/a-lot-of-fly-by-nighters-illegal-felling-underway-in-act-parks-and-reserves/

An early morning sting involving police, park rangers and timber workers has led to seven people being charged over alleged illegal firewood gathering in a reserve in southern Tasmania.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-09/tasmania-police-nab-alleged-firewood-thieves/101950774

SPECIES

Have your say on “green Wall Street”

Tanya Plibersek dusts off a Morrisson Government proposal to establish a scheme to incentivise investment in nature restoration by creating tradable certificates for projects that protect and restore biodiversity, as the touted “green Wall Street”, amidst concerns of governance issues, projected lack of demand, and that it will become a biodiversity offset market. The exposure draft is open for comment.

An exposure draft, published shortly before Christmas, is similarly worded to legislation proposed by the previous government and would establish governance arrangements for the scheme.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/feb/06/labor-plan-for-nature-repair-market-rehashes-old-proposal-and-risks-failure-experts-say

Koalas going:

The Sydney Basin Koala Network has commissioned two reports, one into the Koala populations and one into their legal protection, leading to concerns that Koalas are gone from the Shoalhaven, south-west of Nowra, as there has not been a koala sighting since the 2019/20 black summer bushfires, including in recent surveys.

Jeff Angel from the Sydney Basin Koala Network …"We've lost Pittwater, we've lost the Central Coast, we're looking like we're losing Shoalhaven, and the only really growing koala colony is the one around Campbelltown Wollondilly and it is being assaulted by urban development," he said.

Bionet Ecologist Amanda Lane …"They burned about 60 per cent of the koala habitat in the Shoalhaven just during those few months of fires and we would assume as a result of that there has not been a sighting of a koala since in that area, which is really heartbreaking."

Environmental Defenders Office special counsel Cerin Loane said current laws intended to protect critically endangered koalas simply were not up to scratch and could all too easily be overruled.

"The problem with many of our laws is, at the end of the day, they don't say no to development or activities on koala habitat."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-08/koala-extinctions-report-bushfires-shoalhaven/101945036

https://www.queanbeyanage.com.au/story/8078374/nsw-planning-laws-failing-to-protect-koalas-report/

https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2023/02/08/calls-for-more-reforms-to-koala-policy-in-nsw/

However, the new legal analysis confirms there’s an opportunity to create immediate impact and halt the decline of koala populations across the state by:

  1. Ensuring laws apply to all koala habitat by adopting consistent, comprehensive mapping across NSW as a matter of urgency, to identify key areas for conservation so koala populations can recover and grow.
  2. Urgently reforming state laws to deliver certain protection and strong safeguards for koalas in all environmental, planning and land clearing legislation.

https://www.ecovoice.com.au/legislative-loopholes-driving-koalas-to-extinction/

Greening Koalas:

The NSW Greens have proposed an immediate moratorium on the destruction of koala habitat, urgently creating the Great Koala National Park, prohibiting the destruction of koala habitat for urban development, mining or agriculture on public or private land by 2025,  and the creation of a "Koala Super Highway" as part of their pre-election plan to save the species.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/8074942/greens-propose-moratorium-on-clearing-of-koala-habitat/

Quolls crash:

Numbers of the north Queensland subspecies of the spotted-tail quoll, Dasyurus maculatus gracilis, which has 6 populations isolated at high elevations, have dwindled from previous estimates of 500 quolls to critically endangered levels now estimated as 221 adult quolls.

The study was published in the journal Austral Ecology.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/feb/07/spotted-tail-quoll-populations-in-tropical-queensland-facing-extinction

SA poisoning dingoes:

For the first time 15,000 dingo baits have been aerially dropped over 300,000 hectares central and northern Flinders Ranges in a twice annual program, that used to just target foxes.

https://seedstockcentral.com.au/2023/02/05/cross-jurisdictional-collaboration-on-aerial-baiting-for-conservation-outcomes/

Rise of the ferals:

Despite increasing spending, we are losing the fight against ferals as our environment deteriorates and wildlife disappear.

There are billions of feral animals in Australia, and among the worst offenders are rabbits, cane toads, cats and carp. While the management of these pests is often done without too much community concern, there is one feral animal that has divided communities. Brumbies. The management of brumbies has become so controversial that NPWS staff suffer constant harassment for doing their work. Over the past few years, this has escalated to online stalking and even a threat of firebombing.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/conservation/a-feral-invasion-is-destroying-our-once-pristine-national-parks-20230201-p5ch6s.html

The ACT independent senator David Pocock on Wednesday tabled a motion for an inquiry to be conducted by the Environment and Communications References Committee into how existing federal powers could override state governments to protect the national heritage-listed Australian Alps from brumbies.

Parks Victoria surveys found horse numbers in the alps doubled in the five-year period from 2014 to 2019, from about 2300 to 5000 horses. While up to 200 horses have been removed annually from the Alpine National Park since 2008, numbers have not declined.

A spokesperson for NSW Environment Minister James Griffin said the state was dealing with its wild horse populations in line with its management plan, which was developed after public consultation and approved in 2021.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/federal/pocock-urges-plibersek-to-tackle-brumbies-in-high-country-20230208-p5citk.html

Feral humans on rampage:

Around Kingscliff High School up to 50 birds, of many kinds, have been found poisoned or bludgeoned by feral humans, with those found alive with irreparable injuries.

“None of those collected alive have survived,” said Corrina Lever, from Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers. “Most of the birds had sustained irreparable injuries and those that were alive were euthanised.

“Almost all of the birds have displayed symptoms of being poisoned, either accidentally or deliberately,” the letter reads. “Several carcasses have been sent off for toxicological testing to identify the poison. NPWS is awaiting the results.

“Many of the birds also had fractured spines or other broken bones consistent with being hit by a stick or club.”

https://7news.com.au/news/nsw/dozens-of-native-birds-found-poisoned-and-beaten-around-tweed-heads-high-school-c-9639231

Feral toads on the march:

In a breach of a cane toad containment zone around NSW's far north coast, 51 cane toads were found at Mandalong and Lake Macquarie on NSW's Central Coast, the last outbreak was in 2010 when 650 cane toads were found in Sydney’s south.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-06/51-cane-toads-uncovered-mandalong-nsw-outbreak-dpi/101911622

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

Shrinking Intact Forest Landscapes:

Although intact forest landscapes (IFLs) made up 20% of the world’s remaining tropical forest in 2020, they stored 40% of all the carbon held in these habitats. Since 2000, the global extent of IFLs has shrunk by 7.2%, a loss of 1.5 million km² – more than quadruple the area of Germany, with a third of this related to export of wood, energy, and mining products.

Increasing global demand for these commodities, which are often exported through globe-spanning supply chains, explains much of the ongoing removal, degradation and fragmentation of intact forests in a handful of countries including Brazil, Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Russia.

But even the intrusion of logging and mining into relatively small areas can degrade and fragment a forest, greatly damaging the ecosystem’s health and accelerating its destruction by making it easier for people to access what remains.

https://theconversation.com/global-supply-chains-are-devouring-whats-left-of-earths-unspoilt-forests-198625

https://www.cell.com/one-earth/fulltext/S2590-3322(22)00634-0?utm_campaign=Press%20Package&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=241473130&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_uESE6jJQx2vkMNsMr6ur0GhXSpYfLFyYjP07bM3yHLEkqJiRmwvo27wgourVM-4OZ_JLFRmmLTr_9XBeCj2BiG42NxfstdLoRxQHmhRvRk0GaxUM&utm_content=241473130&utm_source=hs_email

Chile is latest front in climate wars:

A week into the disaster, fires had razed more than 309,000 hectares in drought-stricken Chile, killing 24, injuring 2,180 and destroying 1,180 homes, with worse weather expected.

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20230208-battle-rages-against-chile-forest-fires-one-week-in

Stressed trees attacked:

As they get stressed by droughts and heatwaves fir trees are now dying at a record rates in Canada's Pacific Northwest as the weakened trees come under attack by pine beetles. The largest pine beetle epidemic recorded happened in the 1990s and 2000s in B.C when more than 18 million hectares of forest were impacted, resulting in the loss of 53 per cent of merchantable pine volume by 2012.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/climate-and-environment/beetles-barking-up-the-wrong-tree-canada-s-boreal-forests-dying-1.6264820

It is the same in America’s south west as the dry and hot conditions resulted in large sections of Central and Northern California experiencing exceptional and extreme drought, weakening the trees and making them more susceptible to bark beetles, resulting in the Forest Service recording about 2.6 million acres of dead trees, or the equivalent of about 36.3 million dead trees, in a survey of 39.6 million acres.

https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2023/02/california-lost-36-million-trees-to-drought-last-year/

TURNING IT AROUND

Biotic pumps and aerial rivers:

Mongabay has an extensive article, with interviews, about a new film Rivers Above the Canopy, that explains the biotic pump concept in the context of the Amazon, basically transpiration by trees takes water from the ground and releases it to the atmosphere, in the process transferring heat and moisture to the atmosphere, cooling the land surface and creating rainfall and aerial rivers, while creating an area of low pressure that sucks in more moisture laden clouds. As we clear and log forests we disrupt this process with far reaching consequences.

The biotic pump concept highlights the extent to which natural forests drive moisture-laden air currents, thereby governing wind and rain. This adds a level of urgency to the zero-deforestation pledge made by Brazil’s new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The theory calls attention to the dynamics of evaporation and condensation: water becoming gas (vapor) and then returning to liquid form. A forest dense with trees evaporates, or transpirates, prodigious quantities of moisture; Nobre likens the Amazon’s trees to geysers. This moisture rises from the canopy and eventually cools and condenses. When water changes from a gas to a liquid, it occupies less space. This creates a low-pressure zone so that moist air is pulled in, a kind of suction. The mechanism explains how regions far from the ocean get precipitation.

https://news.mongabay.com/2023/02/forest-modeling-misses-the-water-for-the-carbon-qa-with-antonio-nobre-anastassia-makarieva/

Making needed changes:

The Sydney Morning Herald has an article identifying the 4 big issues for 2023 as the risk of rapidly rising temperatures as we transition into a possible El Nino, renewable energy, dealing with our extinction crisis (notably by fixing RFAs), and electric cars, noting ‘How urgently we respond to the climate and environment crises this decade will be hugely consequential for millennia to come’.

Worldwide, climate scientists have been shocked at the rapid pace that global warming projections have unfolded, Dr Bradshaw says, adding the earth is entering a period of severe consequences for past inaction on climate change. “Decisive action this decade will make the difference between a survivable future and our worst fears,” says Bradshaw.

“We’re going to watch whether they can rein in regional forest agreements [which allow states to override national environment laws] and properly resource the new enforcement agency,” says Wintle. “This will mean success or failure on this good, but ambitious, no extinctions promise.”

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/el-nino-electric-vehicles-and-an-end-to-extinctions-the-big-climate-and-environment-topics-in-2023-20230127-p5cfvn.html?utm_

Dealing with forest protectors the American way:

In Atlanta, Georgia a fight to save an urban forest and stop construction of a $90 million police training facility took a tragic turn when police violently cleared campers and tree-sitters from the forest, shooting one protestor 12 times and killing him. Protesters arrested have been charged with misdemeanors such as trespassing, though in mid-December six activists were charged with domestic terrorism.

This is exactly what we feared – that the state’s repression tactics would get so extreme that they would kill someone just for dissenting and that’s exactly what has happened. And then they will try to suppress further dissent by trying to scare people that they will cage them and imprison them for essentially the entirety of their lives, because domestic terrorism charges come with up to 35 years in prison and that is ludicrous. Even the people that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 were not charged with domestic terrorism.

https://btlonline.org/police-killing-of-forest-protector-activist-wont-deter-atlantas-stop-cop-city-campaign/


Forest Media 3 February 2023

Hi, just basic media this week.

New South Wales

Logging protests shifted to Yarratt State Forest, the only unburnt forest in the Taree Management Area, in which the Forestry Corporation started logging high quality Koala habitat in 2021, straight after NRC called for a stop to all logging in the Taree MA for 3 years. Mother and daughter Juliet and Luca Lamont suspended themselves on tree sits attached to machinery, keeping the loggers out until late in the afternoon.

News of the Area has an article about locals objecting to the proposed logging of plantations in Orara East State Forest, of the 200 plus ha Tim Cadman says 10 ha is native forest. News of the Area also has an article about the NSW Government increasing funding for Mountain Biking, as part of their $30m Adventure Cycling Strategy, including in Wedding Bells State Forest, which was welcomed by the Woolgoolga Mountain Bike Club.

Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch says Labor’s commitment of $80M to create an iconic Great Koala National Park gives “Voters have a clear choice – vote for a party that has been caught up in koala wars or vote for a party that will commit to real action saving the koalas,”

As part of their pre-election PR, Minister for Environment James Griffin has announced 6 projects are receiving one million dollars in funding through the Environmental Research Grants Program, including radiotracking endangered Hastings River Mice, manipulating plant odour to protect threatened plants from animal predation, using machine learning to identify wildlife acoustically, using traces of eDNA from mosquitoes for fauna surveys, understand how alpine vegetation communities in NSW might adapt to increasing climatic extremes, and understand the impact of climate change on the threatened seagrass Posidonia australis.

Australia

With logging of some of south-east Queensland’s State forests due to be stopped by 2024, controversy over continued logging of forests proposed for protection next year continues, with Yabba State Forest inland from the Sunshine Coast the latest flashpoint.

The Australian Workers Union and Mining and Energy Union have attacked conservation and clean-energy groups trying to block fossil fuel companies from accessing carbon offsets under Labor’s tougher safeguard mechanism, warning that heavy industries could “collapse” – presumably if they can’t plant trees as they mine.

With our climate crisis deepening, climatologists are worried we could be headed for an extreme El Nino, one issue is that Australia is spending about 7 per cent of the approximately $1.6 billion per year needed to halt species loss, with the big question being whether the Commonwealth will reign in Regional Forest Agreements.

Species

In a letter to the editor Lindy Stacker from Bangalow Koalas joins the Koalas in clapping the retirement of Nationals MP for Clarence, Mr Gulaptis, the prime instigator of the NSW ‘Koala Wars’. With an election looming the Government is pumping out Koala stories, the latest is Wingecarribee Shire Council have secured $1 million in State Government funding for Koalas: $600,000 over the next four years for Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project, $150,000 to improve koala habitat and corridor mapping, $165,000 for Variable Message Signs and $100,000 for koala habitat restoration on private land. James Griffin has also announced more than $1.3 million in eight research projects as part of the $190 million NSW Koala Strategy, helping to fill knowledge gaps in disease management, climate change and the use of tree species for food and habitat. For all his efforts he doesn’t seem to have many media bites.

An urban population of Koalas living in Clevelan have become the latest aids in an ongoing battle against Walker Corporation’s Toondah Harbour proposal to destroy 42 hectares of Ramsar-listed wetland providing habitat to numerous migratory shore birds.

A project to boost populations of Australian bitterns in some 3,500 hectares of privately-owned rice fields by restricting herbicides, fox and cat controls, and pumping water into rice fields early to encourage breeding, is being claimed as a success, though with funding drying up and an El Nino lurking, farmers are considering marketing bittern-friendly rice at a premium to pay for the water needed.

The NSW government has ruled out aerial shooting of brumbies in the Kosciuszko National Park, despite a recommendation from an internal report and calls from environmental groups to resume the practice as brumbies continue to multiply. With herds of over 200,000, Australia’s north is over-run with water buffalo, which are destroying wetlands and belching a lot, with each buffalo belching more than 50 tonnes of CO₂ in a lifetime, leading to calls for carbon credits for killing them.   

The Deteriorating Problem

Researchers have found that its not just increases in mean temperatures that are the problem for species survival, but rather increases in extreme temperatures, where the hottest days become significantly hotter, with 2 in 5 land vertebrates potentially exposed to extreme temperatures by the end of the century. Climatically suitable habitat for many species is already shrinking and moving, meaning that reserve priorities need to also shift.

Turning it Around

An American study recommends protecting all mature trees, as well as oldgrowth, for their carbon storage and sequestration, considering that all trees over 80 years old should be protected.

Around half of Australia’s GDP has a moderate to very high direct dependence on ecosystem services provided by nature. A survey of ten super funds and ten retail banks about their responses to nature-related risks found only 20% of super funds and 10% of banks had attempted to assess how exposed they were, leading to calls for the Australian government to introduce mandatory nature risk reporting.

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Yarratt the latest front:

Logging protests shifted to Yarratt State Forest, the only unburnt forest in the Taree Management Area, in which the Forestry Corporation started logging high quality Koala habitat in 2021, straight after NRC called for a stop to all logging in the Taree MA for 3 years. Mother and daughter Juliet and Luca Lamont suspended themselves on tree sits attached to machinery, keeping the loggers out until late in the afternoon.

“The government’s own experts recommended that logging in the Taree area be stopped for three years. Instead, the NSW Forestry Corporation went straight in, obliterated half of it and have now started on the other half. That’s radical. Destroying endangered koala habitat is radical,” Lamont said.

Luca Lamont said: “I’m 24 years old and I’m here with my mother to highlight the facts about the harm that forestry is causing and to call them out. Even though the actual experience of getting arrested and the consequences aren’t things I am looking forward to, I feel that doing nothing is far worse than the horror of the reality that we are all facing in this catastrophic climate emergency.”

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/mother-and-daughter-stop-logging-yarratt-forest

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/01/mother-and-daughter-stop-logging-in-yarratt-forest/

Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment, Sue Higginson, joined the forest protectors this morning at the site of the action. She said, “it’s unfathomable what is happening here, I am on the battlefield of the Liberal National Coalition Governments Koala Wars. The Government is running its own protection racket, allowing Forestry Corporation to trash the forests and destroy koala habitat against its own rules. If it wasn’t for these brave forest protectors the Government would be out here again today destroying more koala habitat against their own expert advice,

https://www.suehigginson.org/_battlefields_of_the_government_koala_wars

Plantations contested:

News of the Area has an article about locals objecting to the proposed logging of plantations in Orara East State Forest, of the 200 plus ha Tim Cadman says 10 ha is native forest.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-3-february-2023

Forestry Adventures:

News of the Area has an article about the NSW Government increasing funding for Mountain Biking, as part of their $30m Adventure Cycling Strategy, including in Wedding Bells State Forest, which was welcomed by the Woolgoolga Mountain Bike Club.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-3-february-2023

Support for GKNP:

Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch says Labor’s commitment of $80M to create an iconic Great Koala National Park gives “Voters have a clear choice – vote for a party that has been caught up in koala wars or vote for a party that will commit to real action saving the koalas,”

https://coastcommunitynews.com.au/central-coast/news/2023/01/labor-pledge-to-protect-koalas/

Boosting environmental cred:

Minister for Environment James Griffin has announced 6 projects are receiving one million dollars in funding through the Environmental Research Grants Program, including radiotracking endangered Hastings River Mice, manipulating plant odour to protect threatened plants from animal predation, using machine learning to identify wildlife acoustically, using traces of eDNA from mosquitoes for fauna surveys, understand how alpine vegetation communities in NSW might adapt to increasing climatic extremes, and understand the impact of climate change on the threatened seagrass Posidonia australis.

https://www.nsw.gov.au/media-releases/threatened-species-funding-boost

AUSTRALIA

Queensland’s dilemma:

With logging of some of south-east Queensland’s State forests due to be stopped by 2024, controversy over continued logging of forests proposed for protection next year continues, with Yabba State Forest inland from the Sunshine Coast the latest flashpoint.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-02/logging-protection-sunshine-coast-yabba-state-forest-wildlife/101907938

Offsetting coal mining:

The Australian Workers Union and Mining and Energy Union have attacked conservation and clean-energy groups trying to block fossil fuel companies from accessing carbon offsets under Labor’s tougher safeguard mechanism, warning that heavy industries could “collapse”.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/unions-and-green-groups-clash-on-carbon-offsets/news-story/1b057dbea885d4a5137378f285b01520?btr=668c46bcf616b0e8f5ab279e4a04a984

El Nino another blow:

With our climate crisis deepening, climatologists are worried we could be headed for an extreme El Nino, one issue is that Australia is spending about 7 per cent of the approximately $1.6 billion per year needed to halt species loss, with the big question being whether the Commonwealth will reign in Regional Forest Agreements.

“That has got many of us pretty worried,” says Dr Simon Bradshaw, a researcher at the Climate Council. “There’s a staggering amount of heat built up in the ocean, which is primed for an El Nino, and the possibility it would send global temperatures into unchartered territory.”

Worldwide, climate scientists have been shocked at the rapid pace that global warming projections have unfolded, Dr Bradshaw says, adding the earth is entering a period of severe consequences for past inaction on climate change. “Decisive action this decade will make the difference between a survivable future and our worst fears,” says Bradshaw.

“We’re going to watch whether they can rein in regional forest agreements [which allow states to override national environment laws] and properly resource the new enforcement agency,” says [Professor Brendan Wintle]. “This will mean success or failure on this good, but ambitious, no extinctions promise.”

https://www.watoday.com.au/environment/climate-change/el-nino-electric-vehicles-and-an-end-to-extinctions-the-big-climate-and-environment-topics-in-2023-20230127-p5cfvn.html

SPECIES

One down:

In a letter to the editor Lindy Stacker from Bangalow Koalas joins the Koalas in clapping the retirement of Nationals MP for Clarence, Mr Gulaptis, the prime instigator of the NSW ‘Koala Wars’.

But the deputy premier, working for the Devil (Blinky Bill told me this) overruled the Environment Protection Agency to allow industrial-scale logging, and directed funds from the bushfire recovery grants to the timber industry. Some $38 million of the $177 million went into forestry ‘projects’. But wait, there’s more; then there was a further $46 million Mr Barilaro awarded to the forestry corporation for ‘bushfire recovery measures’… koalas got a big fat nothing.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/01/whos-extinct-now/

… largeness flows:

With an election looming the Government is pumping out Koala stories, the latest is Wingecarribee Shire Council have secured $1 million in State Government funding for Koalas: $600,000 over the next four years for Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project, $150,000 to improve koala habitat and corridor mapping, $165,000 for Variable Message Signs and $100,000 for koala habitat restoration on private land.

We can’t underestimate the importance of protecting our koalas. The Southern Highlands is home to 10% of the total number of koalas remaining in the wild State-wide, and we’ve toward maintaining that precious, local population.

http://media.wsc.nsw.gov.au/to-preserve-the-shires-koala-population-council-has-secured-critical-funding/

James Griffin has also announced more than $1.3 million in eight research projects as part of the $190 million NSW Koala Strategy, helping to fill knowledge gaps in disease management, climate change and the use of tree species for food and habitat.

https://www.nsw.gov.au/media-releases/koala-research-funding

Urban Koalas save wetlands:

An urban population of Koalas living in Clevelan have become the latest aids in an ongoing battle against Walker Corporation’s Toondah Harbour proposal to destroy 42 hectares of Ramsar-listed wetland providing habitat to numerous migratory shore birds.

https://www.acf.org.au/toondah-harbour-koalas-future-in-doubt

A bittern harvest:

A project to boost populations of Australian bitterns in some 3,500 hectares of privately-owned rice fields by restricting herbicides, fox and cat controls, and pumping water into rice fields early to encourage breeding, is being claimed as a success, though with funding drying up and an El Nino lurking, farmers are considering marketing bittern-friendly rice at a premium to pay for the water needed.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/8068516/once-bittern-but-farmers-not-shy-about-endangered-bird/

Burgeoning Brumbies:

The NSW government has ruled out aerial shooting of brumbies in the Kosciuszko National Park, despite a recommendation from an internal report and calls from environmental groups to resume the practice as brumbies continue to multiply.

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/aerial-shooting-of-brumbies-ruled-out-in-kosciuszko-despite-government-report-20230130-p5cgf6.html

Crediting mass slaughter:

With herds of over 200,000, Australia’s north is over-run with water buffalo, which are destroying wetlands and belching a lot, with each buffalo belching more than 50 tonnes of CO₂ in a lifetime, leading to calls for carbon credits for killing them.   

The world’s largest wild population of water buffalo now roam Australia. As does the largest wild herd of camels. We have millions of feral goats and deer. For these introduced species, Australia is a paradise. Plenty of vegetation, and not many predators, other than dingoes, crocodiles and humans.

A water buffalo belches an average of 76 kilograms of methane each year. That’s the equivalent of 2.1 tonnes of CO₂. Over a 25-year lifespan, that’s the equivalent of more than 50 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

We examined the feral buffalo population around the South Alligator River in Kakadu National Park, and simulated different culling scenarios. We found effective control would drastically reduce emissions, abating up to 913,000 tonnes of CO₂-e over 20 years. That would make aerial culling very profitable. The net income from these avoided emissions would be more than $26 million in credits – after taking out the cost of culling.

https://theconversation.com/how-culling-australias-feral-water-buffalo-could-help-tackle-climate-change-193103?utm

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

Too hot for some:

Researchers have found that its not just increases in mean temperatures that are the problem for species survival, but rather increases in extreme temperatures, where the hottest days become significantly hotter, with 2 in 5 land vertebrates potentially exposed to extreme temperatures by the end of the century. Climatically suitable habitat for many species is already shrinking and moving, meaning that reserve priorities need to also shift.

  • In a business-as-usual carbon emissions scenario — humanity’s current trajectory — two in five land vertebrates could be exposed to temperatures equal to, or exceeding, the hottest temperatures of the past decades across at least half of their range by 2099. If warming could be kept well below 2°C (3.6°F), that number drops to 6%, according to a new study.
  • More than one in eight mammal species have already lost part of their former geographical range. In many cases, this means those species no longer have access to some (or sometimes any) of their core habitat, making it much more difficult to survive in a warming world.

The results, recently published in Nature, suggest that if warming could be kept well below 2°C (3.6°F) by 2100, as agreed to at the 2015 Paris climate summit, then only around 6% of the vertebrate species analyzed would experience extreme temperatures across at least half their range by 2099. “Unfortunately,” says study co-author Uri Roll, “we are still dead course on the business-as-usual model” — of 4.4°C (7.9°F) warming by 2099 — “which means at least 40% of land vertebrates are at risk.”

The tropics too could take a major hit: under the business-as-usual scenario, much of South America, including the Amazon Basin, could become extremely hot for at least 100 days a year, putting extensive pressure on many species already threatened by human activities.

Likewise, many animals living on Pacific islands, where ranges tend to be tiny and moving away is exceedingly difficult, could be subjected to extreme temperatures of high intensity, frequency and duration across much or all of their range.

The new Nature study by Mirali and colleagues found that some species in their current ranges may experience extreme temperatures all year long by 2099.

https://news.mongabay.com/2023/01/temperature-extremes-plus-ecological-marginalization-raise-species-risk-studies/?mc_cid=dc17b61b79&mc_eid=c0875d445f

TURNING IT AROUND

Its not just about rot, maturity also counts:

An American study recommends protecting all mature trees, as well as oldgrowth, for their carbon storage and sequestration, considering that all trees over 80 years old should be protected.

Large trees in older forests that hold significant amounts of carbon located within U.S. national forests are vulnerable to logging, according to a new study published Jan. 6 in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change.

But long-lived forests, even if they’ve been logged too recently to meet the strict definition of old growth, provide many of the same benefits.

But their analysis also revealed that one- to two-thirds of that carbon stock on U.S. Forest Service land is at risk because it is held by large trees in mature forests that aren’t protected and potentially at risk of being logged.

“We hear all the time, at least from federal agencies, that they’re not logging large trees,” DellaSala said, “but no one’s been able to define what ‘large’ is.”

To make things simple, they suggest protecting all trees that are 80 years or older.

“These older forests are our best nature-based climate solution,” he said. “They buy us time, they give us hope, they give us a chance to turn the corner.”

https://news.mongabay.com/2023/01/u-s-mature-forests-are-critical-carbon-repositories-but-at-risk-study/?mc_cid=dc17b61b79&mc_eid=c0875d445f

Valuing disappearing services:

Around half of Australia’s GDP has a moderate to very high direct dependence on ecosystem services provided by nature. A survey of ten super funds and ten retail banks about their responses to nature-related risks found only 20% of super funds and 10% of banks had attempted to assess how exposed they were, leading to calls for the Australian government to introduce mandatory nature risk reporting.

That’s set to change. The private sector is waking up to nature’s value (and the risks of losing it). The world’s biodiversity rescue plan agreed to last year could help motivate governments and businesses to clean up their investments by directing more money to protect nature and less towards bankrolling extinction.

Fully half of the world’s total economic activity – around A$61 trillion – is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services.

In Australia, that figure is very similar: around half of our GDP – $896 billion – has a moderate to very high direct dependence on ecosystem services provided by nature.

… The tireless pollination work of honeybees, for instance, is valued at $14 billion a year. Or take Australia’s wheatbelt, where poor soil health is now costing farmers almost $2 billion a year in lost income.

… Risky nature credit markets aren’t going to cut the mustard.

You don’t have to sit back and wait. Why not ask your super fund and bank what nature-related risks they are exposing your money to?

https://theconversation.com/losing-the-natural-world-comes-with-major-risks-for-your-super-fund-and-bank-198669?


Forest Media 27 January 2023

Sorry about missing last week’s Forest Media, I had a deadline on a major project I was struggling to meet. I may also have trouble next week.

New South Wales

Labor has promised the NPA that should they win the election, their assessment of the Great Koala National Park will have a budget of $80 million, be undertaken in an open and transparent process with all stakeholders, cover the full 176,000 ha of State Forests, and undertake a new socio-economic study, though they won’t agree to a moratorium while the assessment is undertaken. Teal challengers facing off against moderate Coalition MPs in Manly, North Shore, and Pittwater have expressed their support for the Great Koala National Park, whereas Perrottet dismissed Labor’s plan. Amidst claims and counter claims between the ALP and the Environment Minister, chair of the Australian Koala Foundation Deborah Tabart said politicians need to offer action, not pledges, and the World Wide Fund Australia’s conservation scientist Dr Stuart Blanch compared the attitude around koala habitat protection to commercial whaling,

In a worryingly measured response, the Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA) says the opposition’s plan if elected to Government in the March State election to establish a Great Koala National Park will mean increased uncertainty in the forestry sector and potentially a mass exit of skilled labour. It seems that both AFCA and CFMEU have expectations that the ALP’s review won’t be too bad for them. Though maybe it’s not all bad, as dumped ALP MP Tania Mihailuk said, when swapping to One Nation, that the ALP want to ban the forestry industry in NSW.

The public exclusion from Bagawa State Forest has been extended from December to June, allowing logging to proceed and creating eco-anxiety in neighbours. News of the Area followed this up with a lengthy story about eco-anxiety.

WWF-Australia are seeking applicants for a full-time (or part-time to 0.8FTE) Forestry Transition Managerto help shift Australia from a global deforestation nation, to a Reforestation Nation, and hasten the national completion of the forestry-to-plantations transition. New South Wales transition opportunities will be a dominant focus, with an expectation to respond to other strategic opportunities around forestry and forest management in other states (e.g., Queensland, Victoria) and federally”. Applicants can apply via http://www.wwf.org.au/about_us/work_with_wwf/.

A memorial was held for 96 year old Alex Floyd OAM, who in recent years is best known for his role in creating the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden in Coffs Harbour, though for many of us involved in rainforest conservation in the 1970s and 80s he is best remembered for his reports on individual rainforests, tree identification keys, and invaluable advice and help. The attempts to have the Coffs Harbour Bypass bypass Grandpa’s Scrub continues, with botanist Rob Kooyman attesting to its importance as ‘the last of the Lowland Coffs Harbour White Booyong subtropical type at true lowland elevations’.

A 21 year old male pleaded guilty to malicious damage to camping areas in Chichester State Forest and paid $2835 in compensation

The NSW Greens have released their report ‘Concreting our Coast’ highlighting 17 coastal case studies ‘where inappropriate developments are going ahead, and gives evidence showing the cumulative picture of just how much of our state’s coast is at risk’, along with 9 principles to save our coasts.

In what has become a political issue, over 300 people attended a protest rally on Sunday, 22 January, to oppose proposals for tourist accommodation in lighthouse keepers’ cottages at Barrenjoey Headland, Palm Beach. To the outrage of conservationists, proposals to grant leases in the Gardens of Stone state conservation area to two companies, which are subsidiaries of the ASX-listed Experience Co, for "Four of the five areas identified as supported accommodation nodes on the multi-day walk" and "the development and operation of a multi-activity adventure, which includes zip-lines, via ferrata and suspension bridges" were listed on the NSW Department of Planning and Environment website for public comment from December 21 until January 18. Protestors climbed Wollumbin (Mt. Warning) on Australia Day to protest the wishes of the Aboriginal Wollumbin Consultative Group to ban public access to the mountain due to its sacred place in local Indigenous culture, with the support of renegade Elizabeth Boyd.

A Public Service Association organiser says the announcement of 250 jobs announced for NPWS before Christmas is nothing more than "smoke and mirrors", falling short of the 300 plus workers made redundant in 2018, complaining that staff who have been chronically over-worked in recent years, particularly as since 2019 600,000 hectares have been added to the parks estate, mostly in the western districts.

Following consultation, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has released its Climate Change Policy and Action Plan 2023-26, and they still intend doing nothing about forestry. Despite the multiple issues I raised that they ignored, and 108 submissions from individuals and 52 submissions from community groups (including environmental groups), they claimed 89%, supported their position, despite their only acknowledgement of forestry being that 20 individuals and 15 groups “Requests ban/phase out of native forestry and/or reduction of logging” (by my reckoning that’s 22% who clearly didn’t support their do-nothing approach).

For the looming NSW election, polling shows Labor ahead, as Liberals face threats from independents and Teals in their north-shore stongholds, with the nomination of Northern Beaches mayor Michael Regan as an independent for the seat of Wakehurst a serious threat to their stranglehold on a clutch of northern Sydney seats.

Australia

Human Rights Watch began the year with the release of its World Report 2023, in which it critiqued the disproportionate punishment of the NSW anti-protest regime, highlighting the draconian punishment handed down to Violet Coco. Australian Greens Senator David Shoebridge announced right before Christmas that he’ll be delivering a bill this year that enshrines the right to protest in federal law.

Alcoa has canned plans to export unprocessed bauxite by increasing clearing Western Australia’s Northern Jarrah Forest, and will instead go on clearing to supply the 36 million tonnes of bauxite a year used by its three West Australian alumina refineries. A small victory in the campaign to stop clearing Jarrah forests, now that logging is being stopped.

Species

A review of 517 projects referred under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to the Federal government between 2000 and 2015, found 365 were deemed “not significant” by the serving minister under the law, and 152 were judged to be a “controlled action”, though their designation made no actual difference to the amount of habitat destroyed, due to vague terms, ambiguous criteria, subjective decisions, reliance on companies’ consultants, and social and economic factors placed above environmental impacts. And more than 90% of clearing isn’t even referred to the Commonwealth.

The NPWS is now fencing in two declining Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby colonies in Warrumbungle National Park and Nattai National Park to keep out feral predators as parks continue to become more like open range zoos.

Emus were common in Tasmania until being hunted to extinction by the mid-1800s, now researches want to re-introduce them and restore their ecosystem services, particularly their ability to disperse seeds in a warming world. Birdlife Australia's NSW woodland bird program manager Mick Roderick reports seeing an unusually large flock of 310 Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos at Urunga, noting they seem to be moving more into urban areas after food, though still need those large tree hollows to nest in. Euan Ritchie has an article in the Conversation promoting 15 lesser known Australian species as potential mascots for Brisbane 2032 Olympic games, in an effort to increase knowledge of some of our other species.

In some Australian rivers more than 90 per cent of all fish are carp and extreme carp spawning is taking place as a result of flooding across the country, leading to renewed calls for release of carp herpes virus to control them. Their control would also be enhanced by restoring natural flows by removing weir pools and floodplain structures. Populations of feral deer are rapidly expanding, increasing from about 50,000 in 1980 to more than 2 million now, with an estimate they would cost the Victorian economy between $1.5 billion and $2.2 billion over the next 30 years, leading to a draft national feral deer plan. While the 2021 Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan is to reduce brumby numbers in Kosciuszko National Park to 3,000 by 2027, their numbers have jumped by more than 30 per cent in the past two years to 18,814.

The Deteriorating Problem

Some say that with predictions for “just” a 3 degree warming by the end of this century the worst scenarios are over, claiming its “still dangerous, but not hellish”.  Though others warn there could be enough “warming in the pipeline” to generate 7° to 10°C of global heating, once all climate feedbacks, including the “long-term” ones, have played out. Yet others expect the target of 1.5°C could slip out of reach as early as 2028 as later this year a resurgent “El Niño will cause global temperatures to rise “off the chart” and deliver unprecedented heat waves”. In his opinion, Bill Gates considers there is “no chance” of limiting warming to 1.5C, and “very unlikely” it could be kept to 2C, but that “to stay below 2.5C would be pretty fantastic”.

In July 2022, the European Union responded to the war in Ukraine by banning the import of Russian woody biomass used to make energy, so South Korea drastically upped its Russian woody biomass imports, though Russian biomass appears to still be making its way to European powerplants through other countries. The real winner has been Enviva, the world’s largest woody biomass producer, which operates chiefly in the Southeast U.S.A.

Turning it Around

Eco-anxiety is a growing problem, with 75 per cent of 16 to 25-year-olds in 10 countries surveyed for a study published in 2021 in UK medical journal The Lancet having described the future as “frightening”, with 25% in Australia extremely worried, 28% vey worried, 29% moderately worried, 10% a little worried, and 6% not worried at all. The positive from this is that eco-anxiety ‘coupled with a realistic sense of hope can be “really powerful” in getting people engaged’. A new survey of 25,000 people - conducted across 25 countries by research firm Elabe and water, waste and energy management company Veolia – reveals 30 per cent of the world's inhabitants feel distressed about the future, ‘often’ think about climate change and are considering giving up long term goals like having children.

Scaling up Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) is an urgent priority, as are efforts to rapidly
reduce emissions, if we are to meet the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. Scenarios
for limiting warming to well below 2°C involve removing hundreds of billions of tonnes of
carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere over the course of the century. A study estimates that the current global rate of CDR is around 2 billion tonnes per year, on land this comes from afforestation, reforestation and management of existing forests. About 0.1% of carbon removal — around 2.3 million tonnes per year — is performed by the new technologies this study focusses on. To limit global warming to less than 2 °C above pre-industrial temperatures, the report estimates that by 2030, the world will need to remove a further 0.96 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, compared with 2020. By 2050, this will have to rise even more, to around 4.8 billion tonnes above 2020 levels. As it stands, governments worldwide have proposed an increase of only between 0.1 billion and 0.65 billion tonnes of CDR per year by 2030 and 1.5 billion to 2.3 billion tonnes per year by 2050.

The oceans store around 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere and about 20 times more carbon than every plant and plot of soil on land combined, the problem is that as the oceans take up more carbon they are becoming more acidic, dissolving the calcium carbonate structures of a multitude of species. Liming the oceans on a large scale is being considered as a means of ocean alkalinity enhancement, now the latest is to increase their carbon storage by using crushed olivine, an abundant volcanic mineral, delivered by a fleet of ships.

In the USA the coastal temperate rainforests of Oregon are important carbon storage facilities and provide 80% of the state’s drinking water, with a recent study combining data on drinking water sources, biodiversity, carbon storage and forest resilience to determine which forests are the highest priority for conservation.

Research by The Guardian and others into Verra, the world’s leading carbon standard, used by companies such as Gucci, Salesforce, BHP, Shell, Disney, easyJet, Leon and the band Pearl Jam to “offset” their emissions, has found that, based on analysis of a significant percentage of the projects, more than 90% of their rainforest offset credits – among the most commonly used by companies – are likely to be “phantom credits” and do not represent genuine carbon reductions. A claimed 94.9m (tonnes) in carbon credits resulted in 5.5m in real emissions reductions. In Australia, carbon farming is set to take-off with a $4.5 billion carbon credit Australian government boost, though as soil carbon is very variable and with only one sample per 10-15 ha taken, the current methods for measuring how much carbon can be trapped in the soil are flawed, so we may be faced with another dodgy scheme that uses up billions of dollars and does little to help.

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Great Koala National Park:

Labor has promised the NPA that should they win the election, their assessment of the Great Koala National Park will have a budget of $80 million, be undertaken in an open and transparent process with all stakeholders, cover the full 176,000 ha of State Forests, and undertake a new socio-economic study, though they won’t agree to a moratorium while the assessment is undertaken.

Teal challengers facing off against moderate Coalition MPs in Manly, North Shore, and Pittwater have expressed their support for the Great Koala National Park, whereas Perrottet dismissed Labor’s plan.

But despite koalas being listed as an endangered species last year, Perrottet dismissed Labor’s plan, criticising the opposition for re-announcing a policy it previously took to the 2019 election and saying the government had made significant investments in the expansion of national parks in the state.

“I believe we’ve done more than ever than any government before us when it comes to the expansion and enhancement of national parks,” he said.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/jan/20/koala-preservation-opens-new-front-for-nsw-teals-as-they-seek-to-win-coalition-seats

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/jan/19/nsw-labor-promises-to-create-great-koala-national-park-if-it-wins-power

https://www.armidaleexpress.com.au/story/8053432/nsw-labor-eyes-80m-koala-national-park/

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-19/labor-great-koala-park-national-plan-grafton-to-kempsey/101871048

https://www.denipt.com.au/national/nsw-labor-eyes-80m-koala-national-park-2/

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-27-january-2023

Amidst claims and counter claims between the ALP and the Environment Minister, chair of the Australian Koala Foundation Deborah Tabart said politicians need to offer action, not pledges, and the World Wide Fund Australia’s conservation scientist Dr Stuart Blanch compared the attitude around koala habitat protection to commercial whaling,

“Up to 1978, Australia was commercially harvesting whales. Now we make heaps more money out of whale tourism. We need that switch,” he said.  

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/technology/science/nsw-labor-and-coalition-propose-plans-to-save-states-koala-population/news-story/aab794edad1850b9f4ce7fa04b241883?btr=225e9dcc92fe3b13291c66fd87e09d21

… loggers ‘doth protest too much’:

In a worryingly measured response, the Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA) says the Opposition’s plan if elected to Government in the March State election to establish a Great Koala National Park will mean increased uncertainty in the forestry sector and potentially a mass exit of skilled labour. It seems that both AFCA and CFMEU have expectations that the ALP’s review won’t be too bad for them.

Ms Porteous has called for NSW Labor to ensure it conducts its consultation in a balanced, transparent, and fair way if it truly wishes to make a difference in the endangered classification of this iconic animal.

“The industry supports the science. We encourage Labor to be thorough in its engagement process and not to fall into the trap of confusing ‘land-clearing activities’ with well managed forests,” she said.

The CFMEU Manufacturing division has warned that closing 176 ha of working forests will send NSW timber manufacturing offshore.

The union’s Alison Rudman said the proposal would not achieve any environmental improvements.

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/afca-warns-of-mass-exit-of-skilled-labour-if-national-koala-park-goes-ahead/

Though maybe they are not all bad, as dumped ALP MP Tania Mihailuk said, when swapping to One Nation, that the ALP want to ban the forestry industry in NSW.

The Labor Party “doesn’t represent” workers’ views in the forestry industry, according to independent MP Tania Mihailuk.

“They want to ban the forestry industry in NSW, they want to ban coal in NSW,” she told Sky News host Gary Hardgrave.

“I was a lone voice in that shadow ministry cabinet often.”

https://www.news.com.au/national/labor-doesnt-represent-workers-views-in-the-forestry-industry/video/18fe6a5e57a6efa8f1384aa4a862454c?btr=697e4f466aee91a3c4ad06401286c392

Bagawa closure extended:

The public exclusion from Bagawa State Forest has been extended from December to June, allowing logging to proceed and creating eco-anxiety in neighbours.

“To be informed and care for my environment is something I choose to do and to have a direct neighbour that causes habitat loss, helps create extinction of endangered species, creates an environment that will exacerbate bushfires, erosion and weed infestation, well that just makes me anxious.

“It’s eco anxiety and it’s a real thing,” said Jodie.

“I know there are positive and negative things going on around the world and normally I’m a glass half full type of woman, but now I lay awake at night worrying.”

The American Psychology Association (APA) describes eco-anxiety as ‘the chronic fear of environmental cataclysm that comes from observing the seemingly irrevocable impact of climate change and the associated concern for one’s future and that of next generations’.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/bagawa-state-forest-closure-extended-for-continued-logging

News of the Area followed this up with a lengthy story about eco-anxiety.

[Dr Brymer] “The organisations which are taking the trees down and destroying biodiversity don’t take into consideration what it’s doing to individual’s mental health.

“People are coming from the place of ‘I love this area, this is where I grew up. And now you’re destroying it.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-27-january-2023

Forestry Transition Manager wanted:

WWF-Australia are seeking applicants for a full-time (or part-time to 0.8FTE) Forestry Transition Manager “to help shift Australia from a global deforestation nation, to a Reforestation Nation, and hasten the national completion of the forestry-to-plantations transition. New South Wales transition opportunities will be a dominant focus, with an expectation to respond to other strategic opportunities around forestry and forest management in other states (e.g., Queensland, Victoria) and federally”. Applicants can apply via http://www.wwf.org.au/about_us/work_with_wwf/.

Rainforest legend dies:

A memorial was held for 96 year old Alex Floyd OAM, who in recent years is best known for his role in creating the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden in Coffs Harbour, though for many of us involved in rainforest conservation in the 1970s and 80s he is best remembered for his reports on individual rainforests, tree identification keys, and invaluable advice and help.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-23/botanist-alex-floyd-remembered-memorial-coffs-harbour/101880186

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-27-january-2023

Grandpa needs bypass:

The attempts to have the Coffs Harbour Bypass bypass Grandpa’s Scrub continues, with botanist Rob Kooyman attesting to its importance as ‘the last of the Lowland Coffs Harbour White Booyong subtropical type at true lowland elevations’.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-27-january-2023

Malicious forestry damage:

A 21 year old male pleaded guilty to malicious damage to camping areas in Chichester State Forest and paid $2835 in compensation.

https://www.forestrycorporation.com.au/about/releases/2023/collaboration-sees-$2800-paid-for-damage-to-chichester-state-forest-visitor-facilities

Concreting coasts:

The NSW Greens have released their report ‘Concreting our Coast’ highlighting 17 coastal case studies ‘where inappropriate developments are going ahead, and gives evidence showing the cumulative picture of just how much of our state’s coast is at risk’, along with 9 principles to save our coasts.

The 40-page report ‘Concreting our Coast’ was produced by my team in consultation with communities across the state. It shows case study after case study where inappropriate developments are going ahead, and gives evidence showing the cumulative picture of just how much of our state’s coast is at risk.

Alongside the report, we’ve also launched a Framework of Principles to Save our Coast. These 9 principles have been developed by affected community groups and call on all political parties to commit to them to stop the destruction.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/19vyS8vPbi86gQVrxYbjOthxNteO2FA0u/view

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-27-january-2023

Protesting lighthouse tourism:

In what has become a political issue, over 300 people attended a protest rally on Sunday, 22 January, to oppose proposals for tourist accommodation in lighthouse keepers’ cottages at Barrenjoey Headland, Palm Beach.

https://www.northernbeachesadvocate.com.au/2023/01/25/protestors-gain-concessions/

Gardens of Stone adventure park:

To the outrage of conservationists, proposals to grant leases in the Gardens of Stone state conservation area to two companies, which are subsidiaries of the ASX-listed Experience Co, for "Four of the five areas identified as supported accommodation nodes on the multi-day walk" and "the development and operation of a multi-activity adventure, which includes zip-lines, via ferrata and suspension bridges" were listed on the NSW Department of Planning and Environment website for public comment from December 21 until January 18.

"This is a reverse process where instead of having a development application so that people can comment on the proposals, we're having a lease being issued and being invited to comment on a lease," Mr Muir said.

"But [we] have almost no information to comment on."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-19/gardens-of-stone-proposed-ecotourism-leases-criticised/101866608

Wollumbin warning:

Protestors climbed Wollumbin (Mt. Warning) on Australia Day to protest the wishes of the Aboriginal Wollumbin Consultative Group to ban public access to the mountain due to its sacred place in local Indigenous culture, with the support of renegade Elizabeth Boyd.

In a statement, a group spokesman said they had been given the blessing of local Indigenous custodian Elizabeth Davis Boyd from the Ngarkwal people, who made headlines earlier this month when she broke down in tears at a public rally sharing her pain at the ongoing drama surrounding access to the beloved site.

Adrian Hoffman of the Reopen Mount Warning lobby group told climbers they would continue to fight for the trail to be reopened to the public.

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/queensland/protesters-defy-mt-warning-ban-with-summit-climb/news-story/84079b6bee560231f58256160e138c4f?btr=acdd547fcc01fbdcce506e0bf82a9259

Claiming credit for returning some of what was lost:

A Public Service Association organiser says the announcement of 250 jobs announced for NPWS before Christmas is nothing more than "smoke and mirrors", falling short of the 300 plus workers made redundant in 2018, complaining that staff who have been chronically over-worked in recent years, particularly as since 2019, 600,000 hectares have been added to the parks estate, mostly in the western districts.

https://www.theland.com.au/story/8052363/npws-jobs-just-smoke-mirrors-says-psa/

EPA plan to do nothing about forestry in relation to climate change:

Following consultation, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has released its Climate Change Policy and Action Plan 2023-26, they still intend doing nothing about forestry. Despite the multiple issues I raised that they ignored, and 108 submissions from individuals and 52 submissions from community groups (including environmental groups), they claimed 89%, supported their position, despite their only acknowledgement of forestry being that 20 individuals and 15 groups “Requests ban/phase out of native forestry and/or reduction of logging” (by my reckoning that’s 22% who clearly didn’t support their do-nothing approach).

https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/climate-change/policy-and-action-plan.

https://yoursay.epa.nsw.gov.au/climate-change-policy-and-action-plan.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-27-january-2023

NSW Election:

Polling shows Labor ahead, as Liberals face threats from independents and Teals in their north-shore stongholds, with the nomination of Northern Beaches mayor Michael Regan as an independent for the seat of Wakehurst a serious threat to their stranglehold on a clutch of northern Sydney seats.

The latest Resolve Strategic polling for the Herald shows Labor ahead with a primary vote of 37 per cent, while the Coalition’s primary vote is on 34 per cent, down from the 42 per cent secured when Gladys Berejiklian won in 2019.

However, one-third of voters prefer Perrottet as premier over Minns, who is just behind on 29 per cent.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/northern-beaches-battle-heats-up-as-local-mayor-enters-election-race-20230126-p5cfm1.html

AUSTRALIA

Right to protest:

Human Rights Watch began the year with the release of its World Report 2023, in which it critiqued the disproportionate punishment the NSW anti-protest regime, highlighting the draconian punishment handed down to Violet Coco. Australian Greens Senator David Shoebridge announced right before Christmas that he’ll be delivering a bill this year that enshrines the right to protest in federal law.

https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/enshrine-protest-in-law-as-our-future-depends-on-it-shoebridge-on-protecting-the-right/

Stopping clearing jarrah forests for unprocessed exports:

Alcoa has canned plans to export unprocessed bauxite by increasing clearing Western Australia’s Northern Jarrah Forest, and will instead go on clearing to supply the 36 million tonnes of bauxite a year used by its three West Australian alumina refineries. A small victory in the campaign to stop clearing Jarrah forests, now that logging is being stopped.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/companies/jarrah-forests-get-small-reprieve-after-alcoa-drops-bauxite-export-plan-20230123-p5ceve.html

SPECIES

Shuffling species into extinction:

A review of 517 projects referred under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to the government between 2000 and 2015, found 365 were deemed “not significant” by the serving minister under the law, and 152 were judged to be a “controlled action”, though their designation made no actual difference to the amount of habitat destroyed, due to vague terms, ambiguous criteria, subjective decisions, reliance on companies’ consultants, and social and economic factors placed above environmental impacts. And more than 90% of clearing isn’t even referred to the Commonwealth.

Some species were disproportionately hit. Of the habitat lost by endangered tiger quolls from projects in the study, 82% was from projects the government decided were not significant enough to need further assessment. For vulnerable grey-headed flying foxes, 72% was lost from “non-significant” projects.

“The system designed to classify development projects according to their environmental impact is more or less worthless,” said Natalya Maitz, who led the study at the University of Queensland.

Maitz said they found there was no statistically significant difference between threatened habitat destroyed, regardless of the minister’s decision.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/jan/24/system-to-protect-threatened-species-from-development-more-or-less-worthless-study-finds

Locking them up for their own good:

The NPWS is now fencing in two declining Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby colonies in Warrumbungle National Park and Nattai National Park to keep out feral predators as parks continue to become more like open range zoos.

https://psnews.com.au/2023/01/24/emergency-action-to-save-dying-wallabies/?state=aps

Rewilding Emus:

Emus were common in Tasmania until being hunted to extinction by the mid-1800s, now researches want to re-introduce them and restore their ecosystem services, particularly their ability to disperse seeds in a warming world.

https://theconversation.com/theyre-on-our-coat-of-arms-but-extinct-in-tasmania-rewilding-with-emus-will-be-good-for-the-island-states-ecosystems-197029?utm

Getting Cocky:

Birdlife Australia's NSW woodland bird program manager Mick Roderick reports seeing an unusually large flock of 310 Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos at Urunga, noting they seem to be moving more into urban areas after food, though still need those large tree hollows to nest in.

"They need enormously large hollows … a similar sized hollow to an owl," he said.

"So, if we do start losing more of our hollow-bearing trees they could easily decline very quickly."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-14/yellow-tailed-black-cockatoos-seen-in-large-flocks-mid-north-nsw/101830760

A mascot for Brisbane 2032:

Euan Ritchie has an article in the Conversation promoting 15 lesser known Australian species as potential mascots for Brisbane 2032 Olympic games, in an effort to increase knowledge of some of our other species.

https://theconversation.com/one-of-these-underrated-animals-should-be-australias-2032-olympic-mascot-which-would-you-choose-180794?utm_

Carping on:

In some Australian rivers more than 90 per cent of all fish are carp and extreme carp spawning is taking place as a result of flooding across the country, leading to renewed calls for release of carp herpes virus to control them. Their control would also be enhanced by restoring natural flows by removing weir pools and floodplain structures.

The impacts of carp are like a house of horrors for our rivers. They cause massive degradation of aquatic plants, riverbanks and riverbeds when they feed. They alter the habitat critical for small native fish, such as southern pygmy perch. And they can make the bed of many rivers look like the surface of golf balls – denuded and dimpled, devoid of any habitat.

Mathematical modelling suggests the carp virus could cause a 40-60% knockdown for at least ten years, which may help tip the balance in favour of native fish.

https://theconversation.com/exploding-carp-numbers-are-like-a-house-of-horrors-for-our-rivers-is-it-time-to-unleash-carp-herpes-198067?utm_

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/flooding-leads-to-carp-boom-and-calls-to-introduce-carp-herpes/101884484

Dear deer:

Populations of feral deer are rapidly expanding, increasing from about 50,000 in 1980 to more than 2 million now, with an estimate they would cost the Victorian economy between $1.5 billion and $2.2 billion over the next 30 years, leading to a draft national feral deer plan.

In just two decades, much of this creek and the surrounding Sherbrooke Forest have been damaged by the area’s soaring population of feral sambar and fallow deer.

They wallow in waterways, chew through young vegetation and rub and ringbark native trees with their antlers. As a result, the trees die and the canopy of this cool temperate rainforest is opened up to damaging sunlight.

The exploding numbers of deer across Australia – approximately a ten-fold increase over 20 years – has prompted a new draft national feral deer plan.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/sustainability/trouble-underfoot-feral-deer-a-dire-cost-to-the-environment-and-economy-20230117-p5cd7g.html?utm_

Brumbies increasing:

While the 2021 Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan is to reduce brumby numbers in Kosciuszko National Park to 3,000 by 2027, their numbers have jumped by more than 30 per cent in the past two years to 18,814.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-27/brumby-population-up-30-per-cent-in-kosciuszko-study-finds/101899022

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

It could be worse:

Some say that with predictions for “just” a 3 degree warming by the end of this century the worst scenarios are over, claiming its “still dangerous, but not hellish”.  Though others warn there could be enough “warming in the pipeline” to generate 7° to 10°C of global heating, once all climate feedbacks, including the “long-term” ones, have played out. Yet others expect the target of 1.5°C could slip out of reach as early as 2028 as later this year a resurgent “El Niño will cause global temperatures to rise “off the chart” and deliver unprecedented heat waves”.

Later this year, El Niño will cause global temperatures to rise “off the chart” and deliver unprecedented heat waves, scientists have warned. “It’s very likely that the next big El Niño could take us over 1.5°C,” Prof. Adam Scaife, the head of long-range prediction at the United Kingdom Met Office, told the Guardian.

“The probability of having the first year at 1.5°C in the next five-year period is now about 50:50.”

Just how big the next El Niño will be remains uncertain. “Many seasonal forecast models are suggesting the arrival of moderate El Niño conditions from summer 2023,” said Andrew Turner, professor of monsoon systems at the University of Reading. Early summer will bring greater certainty about what lies ahead, with the picture becoming much clearer by June.

Even a “moderate” El Niño will bring misery to hundreds of millions, with parts of Asia and Australia left parched and sweltering while other regions, like the Yangtze basin in China, are hammered by torrential rains. More drought will be in the cards for the already dangerously dry Amazon, for Southern Africa, and also for India, where El Niño tends to suppress monsoon rainfall.

https://www.theenergymix.com/2023/01/23/extreme-warming-a-risk-even-as-worst-case-scenarios-grow-obsolete/?utm

In his opinion, Bill Gates considers there is “no chance” of limiting warming to 1.5C, and “very unlikely” it could be kept to 2C, but that “to stay below 2.5C would be pretty fantastic”.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jan/23/no-chance-of-global-heating-below-15c-but-nuclear-tech-promising-in-climate-crisis-bill-gates-says

Biomass war profits:

In July 2022, the European Union responded to the war in Ukraine by banning the import of Russian woody biomass used to make energy, so South Korea drastically upped its Russian woody biomass imports, though Russian biomass appears to still be making its way to European powerplants through other countries. The real winner has been Enviva, the world’s largest woody biomass producer, which operates chiefly in the Southeast U.S.A.

https://news.mongabay.com/2023/01/the-eu-banned-russian-wood-pellet-imports-south-korea-took-them-all/?mc_cid=2f6c123eeb&mc_eid=c0875d445f

TURNING IT AROUND

Eco-anxiety growing:

Eco-anxiety is a growing problem, with 75 per cent of 16 to 25-year-olds in 10 countries surveyed for a study published in 2021 in UK medical journal The Lancet having described the future as “frightening”, with 25% in Australia extremely worried, 28% vey worried, 29% moderately worried, 10% a little worried, and 6% not worried at all. The positive from this is that eco-anxiety ‘coupled with a realistic sense of hope can be “really powerful” in getting people engaged’.

Eco-anxiety need not necessarily be seen as an entirely negative thing to experience because, he said, because research indicates that eco-anxiety coupled with a realistic sense of hope can be “really powerful” in getting people engaged.

Researchers have dubbed this galvanising emotion “practical eco-anxiety” and have said that it can help to alleviate severely pessimistic feelings.

“What’s particularly interesting is that this combination of eco-anxiety and hope seems to push people towards more communal forms of activism,” Mr Kurth said.

https://www.thenationalnews.com/climate/environment/2023/01/08/is-environmental-destruction-creating-eco-anxiety-in-us/

A new survey of 25,000 people - conducted across 25 countries by research firm Elabe and water, waste and energy management company Veolia – reveals 30 per cent of the world's inhabitants feel distressed about the future, ‘often’ think about climate change and are considering giving up long term goals like having children.

But it’s not all doom and gloom as it also reveals growing support for climate action.

75 per cent of the world's inhabitants now believe that climate change is being caused by humans.

This large majority believes in collective action to reduce its implications: 55 per cent think that we need to change the way we live, alongside implementing technological solutions.

The Netherlands, Finland, the USA, Nigeria, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have the highest percentage of deniers.

https://www.euronews.com/green/2023/01/23/a-third-of-people-are-changing-their-plans-for-the-future-because-of-climate-change

Past time to protect forests rather than turning them into biochar:

Scaling up Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) is an urgent priority, as are efforts to rapidly reduce emissions, if we are to meet the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. Scenarios for limiting warming to well below 2°C involve removing hundreds of billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere over the course of the century. A study estimates that the current global rate of CDR is around 2 billion tonnes per year, on land this comes from afforestation, reforestation and management of existing forests. About 0.1% of carbon removal — around 2.3 million tonnes per year — is performed by the new technologies this study focusses on. To limit global warming to less than 2 °C above pre-industrial temperatures, the report estimates that by 2030, the world will need to remove a further 0.96 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, compared with 2020. By 2050, this will have to rise even more, to around 4.8 billion tonnes above 2020 levels. As it stands, governments worldwide have proposed an increase of only between 0.1 billion and 0.65 billion tonnes of CDR per year by 2030 and 1.5 billion to 2.3 billion tonnes per year by 2050.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-00180-4?utm

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/633458017a1ae214f3772c76/t/63c8876b8b92bf2549e83ed5/1674086272412/SoCDR-1st-edition.pdf

… others focus on ocean sequestration;

The oceans store around 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere and about 20 times more carbon than every plant and plot of soil on land combined, the problem is that as the oceans take up more carbon they are becoming more acidic, dissolving the calcium carbonate structures of a multitude of species. Liming the oceans on a large scale is being considered as a means of ocean alkalinity enhancement, now the latest is to increase their carbon storage by using crushed olivine, an abundant volcanic mineral, delivered by a fleet of ships.

https://news.mongabay.com/2023/01/re-carbonizing-the-sea-scientists-to-start-testing-a-big-ocean-carbon-idea/?mc_cid=2f6c123eeb&mc_eid=c0875d445f

Prioritising reservation:

In the USA the coastal temperate rainforests of Oregon are important carbon storage facilities and provide 80% of the state’s drinking water, with a recent study combining data on drinking water sources, biodiversity, carbon storage and forest resilience to determine which forests are the highest priority for conservation.

A recent study published in Frontiers in Forests and Global Change is the first to determine which forests are the highest priority for conservation by analyzing data on drinking water sources, biodiversity, carbon storage and forest resilience.

https://news.mongabay.com/2023/01/study-identifies-priority-forests-in-oregon-for-max-conservation-benefit/?mc_cid=2f6c123eeb&mc_eid=c0875d445f

Phantom Offsets:

Research by The Guardian and others into Verra, the world’s leading carbon standard, used by companies such as Gucci, Salesforce, BHP, Shell, Disney, easyJet, Leon and the band Pearl Jam to “offset” their emissions, has found that, based on analysis of a significant percentage of the projects, more than 90% of their rainforest offset credits – among the most commonly used by companies – are likely to be “phantom credits” and do not represent genuine carbon reductions. A claimed 94.9m (tonnes) in carbon credits resulted in 5.5m in real emissions reductions.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/18/revealed-forest-carbon-offsets-biggest-provider-worthless-verra-aoe

Farming carbon:

Carbon farming is set to take-off with a $4.5 billion carbon credit Australian government boost, though as soil carbon is very variable and only one sample per 10-15 ha is taken, the current methods for measuring how much carbon can be trapped in the soil are flawed, so we may be faced with another dodgy scheme that uses up billions of dollars and does little to help.

But so far, only a single farmer, Niels Olsen in West Gippsland, has earned any carbon credits for his soil.

Olsen, who invented a seed planter to mulch and aerate the soil as it plants seeds, said his latest soil tests show each hectare of his 100-hectare farm is pulling 26 tonnes of CO2-equivalent out of the atmosphere each year. At today’s carbon credit spot price of about $33 per tonne, that’s more than $850 a hectare.

“The soil carbon method is flawed,” said Professor Andrew Macintosh, inaugural chairman of the federal government’s Emissions Reduction Fund assurance committee.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/carbon-farmers-are-raring-to-go-but-experts-say-the-soil-carbon-method-is-flawed-20230112-p5cbzi.html?utm_


Forest Media 13 January 2023

New South Wales

When loggers attempted to resume logging Bulga State Forest this year they were met by dozens of protectors, including a young forest protector on a tripod (Isla Lamont), accompanied by Sue Higginson. A grandmother in her 60s on a tree-sit is resolved to remain as long as possible while logging has been forced to move to a nearby plantation in the area. For more information visit Save Bulga Forest. The police singled out Susie Russell for arrest for briefly entering the closed forest to give encouragement to Lamont, and gave her bail conditions prohibiting her from entering into any part of the Bulga Forest. Lamont was also arrested. Their revised tactic was to get the local Labor candidate to visit, and focus on lobbying visitors to the falls campsite. There was a great story on NBN. Then action extended to Lorne State Forest which was blocked by a forest protector on a tree platform suspended over the road.

The notice of an application to register the Widjabal Wia-bal ILUA includes (under State agency) the clause “in relation to Bungabbee State Forest before that land is transferred to Widjabal Wia-bal Gurrumbil Aboriginal Corporation”. This is indeed happening, it appears it will be transferred to the Corporation as freehold though what they intend to do with it is unknown. Another loss for the Forestry Corporation. 

The NRC summary report on the deterioration of our forests had a run in the Guardian, emphasising the benefits the state’s forests provide are degrading and will continue to degrade, could become net carbon emitters in coming decades and undermining attempts to achieve net zero emissions without “major intervention”, leading to more calls to stop landclearing and commercial logging of native forests.

The Federal Government is to fast track regional plans early this year to ‘help protect, restore, and manage the environment’ and ‘enable better and faster decision-making under Australia’s national environment law’. In northern NSW these include: the Northern Rivers to support the relocation of the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation and reconstruction operations for flood affected areas, the Central Coast as an area experiencing urban development growth and pressure on biodiversity and the Hunter-Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone to support the delivery of the required transmission network infrastructure to support new renewable energy generation and storage. Once these plans are in place it is assumed they will apply to all developments, not just for the reasons given, so we will have our work cut out to make them adequate.

Grandpa’s Scrub, last remaining stand of original critically endangered White Booyong Lowland Rainforest in the Coffs Creek basin is currently destined to be destroyed for the Coffs Harbour bypass, sparking local protests and controversy over being able to “offset” such destruction by protecting rainforests elsewhere. News of the Area has letters from Mark Graham detailing records of Koalas in the Kalang Headwaters to counter a claim by a farmer that there are none there, and Warren Tindall about overlogging driving Koalas and the Greater Glider to extinction.

Forestry Corporation of NSW is recruiting a team of planners, coordinators, engineers, ecologists and cultural heritage experts to implement the $60 million NSW Government-funded Forest Infrastructure Repair Program.

Australia

The Chubb review of Australia’s controversial carbon credit system has dismissed claims the scheme lacks integrity and is not delivering real cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, while recommending significant changes to how it is managed, leaving Andrew Macintosh and colleagues who had criticised the system “disappointed and confused”. Cosmos has an explainer about carbon credits and the touted Green Wallstreet biodiversity trading scheme.

Cotton growers are moving from the drought ravished south to the northern savannah woodlands where they are clearing massive tracts for new farms, sometimes illegally as the Northern Territory Government turns a blind eye. Federal senators and environmental groups are calling for an urgent inquiry into land clearing in the Northern Territory, with senator Sarah Hanson-Young writing to Tanya Plibersek asking for an inquiry into this unauthorised land clearing, backed by senator David Pocock.

Western Australia is committed to protecting 30% of its lands by 2030, but their head of national parks management says it would be difficult for the state to meet this goal, despite already having about 23.3 per cent of the state registered in the national reserve system – what is NSW going to do with only 9% protected?

Species

A market where koala credits, along with other species, are traded is central to the federal Labor government's plan for halting Australia's extinction crisis, though businesses are claiming that for market forces to work it needs to be profitable therefore requiring regulation to force companies to buy the credits and/or lots of Government money.

The federal Environment Department is assessing 140 proposals with the potential to have a detrimental impact on koalas, on which Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek will be the final decision maker, in a test of the government’s pledge to halt the decimation of native species. Dr Leigh is promoting the higher, cooler and wetter forests of the Blue Mountains world heritage area as a potential climatic refuge for Koalas, despite being devastated by the 2019-20 bushfires.

The Deteriorating Problem

As floodwaters continued down the Murray, focus shifted to record floods in the Kimberley region, with the Fitzroy River peaking at a record height of 15.8 metres, almost 2m above the previous record in what has become a vast inland sea, at Fitzroy Crossing. Europe is experiencing an insane record heatwave as winter turns to summer. Meanwhile researchers find 68% of the world’s glaciers could be gone this century, increasing sea-levels and depriving millions of a reliable water supply.

A study concludes the earth’s water cycle is clearly changing, the air is getting hotter and drier, which means droughts and risky fire conditions are developing faster and more frequently. For Australia, warning of a switch to an El Niño halfway through this year which may see a return to heatwaves and bushfires, flash droughts, and the start of another multi-year drought.

Turning it Around

Extinction Rebellion’s founding branch in the U.K. has announced that it would “prioritize attendance over arrest and relationships over roadblocks” this year by halting disruptive protest tactics at least through spring, in light of evidence of public disapproval, though other groups intend to continue. But in Australia XR said it had no intention of toning down its tactics, with activists from around the country organising a series of actions to disrupt the Santos sponsored bicycle race Tour Down Under. Doctors for Environment Australia have weighed in against allowing Santos’ sponsorship of the Tour Down Under. Then two women from XR were arrested in Adelaide's CBD after gluing themselves to a pile of bicycles in a street for half an hour.

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Bulga blockade continues:

When loggers attempted to resume logging Bulga State Forest this year they were met by dozens of protectors, including a young forest protector on a tripod (Isla Lamont), accompanied by Sue Higginson. A grandmother in her 60s on a tree-sit is resolved to remain as long as possible while logging has been forced to move to a nearby plantation in the area. For more information visit Save Bulga Forest.

[Lamont] ‘If not me then who?’

‘If I have children I want them to have the chance to see Greater Gliders, Sooty Owls, Spotted-tailed quolls and Koalas.’

The group has set up a forest support camp at the Ellenborough Falls campground to provide food and care for all those who come to help with their efforts.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/01/forest-protectors-determined-to-save-bulga/

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/resistance-logging-continues-bulga-state-forest

The police singled out Susie Russell for arrest for briefly entering the closed forest to give encouragement to Lamont, and gave her bail conditions prohibiting her from entering into any part of the Bulga Forest. Lamont was also arrested.

‘I have no doubt I was arrested in order to try and limit my involvement in the campaign. It has however, made my resolve stronger.’

‘I have watched the forests of my region being steadily degraded over three decades. In the 1990’s a spotlighting trip through these forests would reveal dozens of Greater Gliders. Now we are lucky to see one. There is nothing ecologically sustainable about this logging. It is smash and grab and runs at a loss. These forests will take centuries to recover.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/01/veteran-forest-campaigner-says-she-was-targeted-by-police/

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/peaceful-activists-arrested-resisting-native-logging-bulga-state-forest

https://www.2nm.com.au/news/local-news/111372-two-logging-protesters-arrested-at-bulga-state-forest-entrance

[Forestry Corporation] "Late last year a crew was operating in two native regrowth compartments," the statement said.

"This work ceased at the end of the year. The crew is now working in a plantation within the forest. The protest today was at the native regrowth site and so harvesting has continued in the plantation."

In terms of the Forestry Corporation's financial performance, the past two financial years have been heavily impacted by fire and floods, she said.

"The assertion that native forest harvesting runs at a loss is incorrect," the statement said.

https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/8042121/two-arrested-as-bulga-locals-fight-against-logging-of-native-forests/

https://thenewdaily.com.au/life/science/environment/2023/01/09/arrests-logging-protest-nsw-forest/

Their revised tactic was to get the local Labor candidate to visit, and focus on lobbying visitors to the falls campsite. There was a great story on NBN.

https://www.echo.net.au/2023/01/labor-candidate-visits-bulga-state-forest-protection-camp/

https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2023/01/11/elands-residents-set-up-camp-to-protest-bulga-state-forest-logging/

… and another starts:

Then action extended to Lorne State Forest which was blocked by a forest protector on a tree platform suspended over the road.

[Jane McIntyre] “Inspired by the action of the Elands community standing up for the Bulga Forest, we reached out for some assistance to enable us to do the same, and make a public statement that we will no longer stand idly by and watch the daily destruction.

“We know that a majority of people in NSW, think that the ongoing logging of our publicly owned forests is sheer madness. The time is now. It has to stop."

Forestry Corporation NSW suspended operations at Lorne State Forest following the protest.

Mid North Coast Police District Inspector Stuart Campbell said protestors have been compliant and no arrests have been made at this stage.

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/8045849/it-has-to-stop-activists-shut-down-logging-operations-at-lorne-state-forest/

Determining Bungabbee’s future:

The notice of an application to register the Widjabal Wia-bal ILUA includes (under State agency) the clause “in relation to Bungabbee State Forest before that land is transferred to Widjabal Wia-bal Gurrumbil Aboriginal Corporation”. This is indeed happening, it appears it will be transferred to the Corporation as freehold though what they intend to do with it is unknown. Another loss for the Forestry Corporation. 

Northern River’s Times 12 January 2023

Our deteriorating forests:

The NRC summary report on the deterioration of our forests had a run in the Guardian, emphasising the benefits the state’s forests provide are degrading and will continue to degrade, could become net carbon emitters in coming decades and undermining attempts to achieve net zero emissions without “major intervention”, leading to more calls to stop landclearing and commercial logging of native forests.

The report, published in December, urges the government to avoid “business-as-usual management approaches and reactive policy decision making”, saying this would lead to “sub-optimal outcomes at best, or ecosystem and industry collapse under worst case scenarios”.

It states that streamflow in NSW forests, particularly on the south coast, had been declining for 30 years and ongoing reductions would have “major implications for future water security in NSW”.

Andrew Macintosh, an environmental law and policy professor at the Australian National University … “If the government wanted to improve the condition of forests, the best thing you could do is stop remnant clearing and large-scale commercial harvesting of native forests,” he said.

Jacqui Scruby, an independent running for the seat of Pittwater, said it “doesn’t make sense to be setting emissions reduction targets and then subsidising native forest logging”.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/jan/05/nsw-forests-could-become-net-carbon-emitters-in-coming-decades-report-finds

Regional plans become the issue of 2023:

The Federal Government is to fast track regional plans early this year to ‘help protect, restore, and manage the environment’ and ‘enable better and faster decision-making under Australia’s national environment law’. In northern NSW these include: the Northern Rivers to support the relocation of the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation and reconstruction operations for flood affected areas, the Central Coast as an area experiencing urban development growth and pressure on biodiversity and the Hunter-Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone to support the delivery of the required transmission network infrastructure to support new renewable energy generation and storage. Once these plans are in place it is assumed they will apply to all developments, not just for the reasons given, so we will have our work cut out to make them adequate.

“Having the necessary approvals in place from the get-go will provide certainty to landholders on the biodiversity value of their land and result in more homes being built faster, in the right places, without sacrificing essential conservation considerations,” Mr Roberts said.

“The Regional Plans identified for joint-development will also enable work to fast-track the recovery of our flood-affected communities in the Northern Rivers, and allow NSW to continue its trajectory as a leader in Australia’s transition to renewable energy, helping to expedite transmission and energy storage projects, such as the Hunter-Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone, and rare earth mining in far south west NSW to source the minerals needed for energy transition infrastructure.”

https://minister.dcceew.gov.au/plibersek/media-releases/regional-plans-transform-environmental-protection

Offsetting grandpa’s scrub upsetting:

Grandpa’s Scrub, last remaining stand of original critically endangered White Booyong Lowland Rainforest in the Coffs Creek basin is currently destined to be destroyed for the Coffs Harbour bypass, sparking local protests and controversy over being able to “offset” such destruction by protecting rainforests elsewhere.

[Sue Higginson] “Once something is critically endangered it means it is literally on the brink of extinction, that it cannot withstand any more loss or destruction and it needs a recovery program.

“Secondly, any offsetting must be like for like, meaning you can only destroy the same biodiversity that you are protecting on the offset site.

“I understand that the rainforest the Government has purchased is totally different to the White Booyong Lowland Rainforest proposed to be destroyed.”

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/biodiversity-offsets-failings-exposed-during-fight-to-save-coffs-rainforest

… so is industrial logging:

News of the Area has letters from Mark Graham detailing records of Koalas in the Kalang Headwaters to counter a claim by a farmer that there are none there, and Warren Tindall about overlogging driving Koalas and the Greater Glider to extinction.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-30-december-2022

Spending our taxes:

Forestry Corporation of NSW is recruiting a team of planners, coordinators, engineers, ecologists and cultural heritage experts to implement the $60 million NSW Government-funded Forest Infrastructure Repair Program.

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/forestry-corp-needs-planners-coordinators-engineers-ecologists-and-cultural-experts/

AUSTRALIA

Carbon scheme creditable:

The Chubb review of Australia’s controversial carbon credit system has dismissed claims the scheme lacks integrity and is not delivering real cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, while recommending significant changes to how it is managed, leaving Andrew Macintosh and colleagues who had criticised the system “disappointed and confused”.

But the report released on Monday rejected detailed allegations by a team of academics led by Prof Andrew Macintosh, an environment law professor at the Australian National University and former head of the emissions reduction assurance committee, that failures in the system mean more than 70% of carbon credits approved might not represent new or real cuts in emissions.

In a press conference with Bowen on Monday, Chubb said the scheme was “not as broken as has been suggested”. He said it was a “human-designed process, implemented by human beings, and it will be a bit frayed at the edges”, but the system was “basically sound” with safeguards in place.

Macintosh said the team of academics that alleged problems with the scheme were “disappointed and confused” by the review as the panel recommended sweeping governance changes while also arguing the carbon credit system was “apparently working fine”. “It’s illogical,” he said.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/09/chubb-review-recommends-new-integrity-body-for-australian-carbon-credits-scheme

The report sparked an angry reaction from Professor Andrew Macintosh, the whistleblower academic whose work triggered the review, who argues hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money has been spent on worthless carbon credits via offset projects that do not deliver any actual carbon sequestration.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/federal/well-designed-chubb-review-backs-controversial-carbon-credit-scheme-20230109-p5cb76.html

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-09/australian-carbon-credit-units-review-report/101836478

These changes include putting an end to the much-criticised “avoided deforestation” methodology which had allowed landholders to claim credits by promising not to cut down trees that they might not have intended to cut down in the first place.

That’s good. It was a silly idea.

It also called for landfill gas project credits to become stricter over time and for tougher oversight of the regeneration of forests by humans to ensure it achieves the permanently storing carbon.

The Climate Council said the review did not address the biggest issue, which was allowing big emitters to continue polluting as usual rather than making real progress in avoiding and reducing emissions by purchasing ACCUs.

It noted that instead of carbon offsets being used only as a last resort for the small share of emissions that cannot be avoided through process, technology and other operational changes, paying for ACCUs has become the first and only thing many businesses are doing about their harmful emissions.

https://stockhead.com.au/news/ex-science-chief-chubb-calls-carbon-credits-scheme-essentially-sound-but-is-it-really/

… privatising conservation:

Cosmos has an explainer about carbon credits and the touted Green Wallstreet biodiversity trading scheme.

Presently, there are dozens of ways entities can generate carbon credits for purchase, but three quarters of projects currently generating credits are in either avoided deforestation, human-induced regeneration of native forest and landfill gas.

In August, the government announced a biodiversity certificates scheme that would recognise “landholders who restore or manage local habitat”, granting credits that can be on-sold to others wishing to contribute to nature restoration.

However this is a voluntary scheme – at least at the moment – so unlike the safeguard mechanism, which requires credits to offset excess emissions, a destroyer of vegetation isn’t forced to buy a biodiversity credit. The jury is still out on how such a scheme would work for nature and endangered species protection.

https://cosmosmagazine.com/earth/carbon-credits-safeguard-mechanism/

Northern savannah woodlands the latest frontier:

Cotton growers are moving from the drought ravished south to the northern savannah woodlands where they are clearing massive tracts for new farms, sometimes illegally as the Northern Territory Government turns a blind eye.

Deep in the Northern Territory outback, stations — some double the land size of London — are being bought for millions and converted at a rapid rate to make way for a lucrative industry: cotton.

Paul Burke, the chief executive of the NT Farmers Association, has been spearheading the expansion of the industry in the north.

He says it’s a silver bullet crop that could rocket to a $200 million economy within the decade, helping small family farmers diversify from the cattle status quo, which has driven the Territory up until now.

But environmental groups say this alleged unlawful activity speaks of a culture of cowboy antics in a jurisdiction with limited environmental oversight and “a piecemeal set of laws”.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-11/land-cleared-for-cotton-farming-northern-territory/101651092

Federal senators and environmental groups are calling for an urgent inquiry into land clearing in the Northern Territory, with senator Sarah Hanson-Young writing to Tanya Plibersek asking for an inquiry into this unauthorised land clearing, backed by senator David Pocock.

At a press conference in Darwin on Wednesday, NT Environment Minister Lauren Moss praised the government's environment regulations as "world class" and said less than 1 per cent of the Territory had been cleared, listing pests, fire and weeds as far greater threats to the ecosystem.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-12/nt-government-land-clearing-cotton-inquiry/101847612

30x30:

Western Australia is committed to protecting 30% of its lands by 2030, but their head of national parks management says it would be difficult for the state to meet this goal, despite already having about 23.3 per cent of the state registered in the national reserve system – what is NSW going to do with only 9% protected?

"There is opportunity for us to be exploring how we work with private landholders, pastoral lessees, other Aboriginal lands, to put in place management frameworks that would meet that international obligation that Australia is signing up to.

"It doesn't all have to be in national parks and reserves."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-12/western-australia-with-no-goal-to-conserve-30pc-of-land-by-2030/101844446

SPECIES

The value of Koalas:

A market where koala credits, along with other species, are traded is central to the federal Labor government's plan for halting Australia's extinction crisis, though businesses are claiming that for market forces to work it needs to be profitable therefore requiring regulation to force companies to buy the credits and/or lots of Government money.

"At the moment, the price for the koala credit is about $400," explained Megan Evans, an environmental policy researcher at the University of New South Wales.

A credit is the compensation a developer would need to pay in New South Wales for killing a koala's habitat — known as a "biodiversity offset".

And you could have bought one of those credits for $250 in 2020, making a 60 per cent return in a few years.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-10/labor-environmental-biodiversity-credits-investment-critics/101804974

Death of a 140 cuts:

The federal Environment Department is assessing 140 proposals with the potential to have a detrimental impact on koalas, on which Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek will be the final decision maker, in a test of the government’s pledge to halt the decimation of native species.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/plibersek-faces-140-decisions-pitting-koalas-against-development-20221227-p5c90d.html?utm

Koala refuges:

Dr Leigh is promoting the higher, cooler and wetter forests of the Blue Mountains world heritage area as a potential climatic refuge for Koalas, despite being devastated by the 2019-20 bushfires.

In 2018, the group reported that Blue Mountains koala populations were the most genetically diverse recorded.

Then in 2022, Dr Leigh and her team came across a new colony of koalas in the Blue Mountains that were free of chlamydia.

She describes the region as a climate refuge for koalas, somewhere that is unaffected by changes in the climate, like rising temperatures, extreme drought and heat waves.

"A climate refuge is an area that's got enough variation in it, or something different about it, that it can buck that trend.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-30/saving-the-koalas-blue-mountains-extinction/101775152

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

Insane weather:

As floodwaters continued down the Murray, focus shifted to record floods in the Kimberley region, with the Fitzroy River peaking at a record height of 15.8 metres, almost 2m above the previous record in what has become a vast inland sea, at Fitzroy Crossing. Europe is experiencing an insane record heatwave as winter turns to summer. Meanwhile researchers find 68% of the world’s glaciers could be gone this century, increasing sea-levels and depriving millions of a reliable water supply.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-07/kimberley-flood-crisis-continues-fitzroy-crossing-isolated/101834840

Europe is experiencing a record-shattering warm spell, with meteorologists calling the current heat wave “totally insane” and “the most extreme event ever seen in European climatology.” On New Year’s Day, at least seven nations experienced their warmest January weather on record, with some cities in Spain and France sweating as temperatures rose to over 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2023/01/05/warm-winter-effects-europe-us/

Researchers found 49% of glaciers would disappear under the most optimistic scenario of 1.5C of warming. However, if global heating continued under the current scenario of 2.7C of warming, losses would be more significant, with 68% of glaciers disappearing, according to the paper, published in Science. There would be almost no glaciers left in central Europe, western Canada and the US by the end of the next century if this happened.

This will significantly contribute to sea level rise, threaten the supply of water of up to 2 billion people, and increase the risk of natural hazards such as flooding. The study looked at all glacial land ice except for Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/05/half-planets-glaciers-gone-2100-even-under-paris-15c-accord-data-finds

Flash droughts to follow flash floods?:

A study concludes the earth’s water cycle is clearly changing, the air is getting hotter and drier, which means droughts and risky fire conditions are developing faster and more frequently. For Australia, warning of a switch to an El Niño halfway through this year which may see a return to heatwaves and bushfires, flash droughts, and the start of another multi-year drought.

In 2022, La Niña combined with warm waters in the northern Indian Ocean to bring widespread flooding in a band stretching from Iran to New Zealand, and almost everywhere in between.

The most devastating floods occurred in Pakistan, where about 8 million people were driven out of their homes by massive flooding along the Indus River. Australia also experienced several severe flood events throughout the year – mostly in the east, but also in Western Australia’s Kimberly region at the very end of the year and into 2023.

As is typical for La Niña, the rain was much less plentiful on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. A multi-year drought in the western United States and central South America saw lakes fall to historic lows.

The monsoon regions from India to Northern Australia are getting wetter. Parts of the Americas and Africa are getting drier, including the western United States, which experienced its 23rd year of drought in 2022.

In 2022, intense heatwaves in Europe and China led to so-called “flash droughts”. These occur when warm, dry air causes the rapid evaporation of water from soils and inland water systems.

https://theconversation.com/new-report-shows-alarming-changes-in-the-entire-global-water-cycle-197535?utm

TURNING IT AROUND

XR UK to stop being extreme:

Extinction Rebellion’s founding branch in the U.K. has announced that it would “prioritize attendance over arrest and relationships over roadblocks” this year by halting disruptive protest tactics at least through spring, in light of evidence of public disapproval, though other groups intend to continue.

But last year’s wave of climate protests, held at famous art galleries, popular sports events and in the middle of major transportation hubs, have appeared to strike a nerve for many people, with even some of the climate movement’s most prominent figures calling the demonstrations counterproductive. 

Recent polls conducted in the U.K., the U.S. and Germany, where many of last year’s disruptive protests occurred, suggest that the majority of the people in those countries disapprove of the climate activists’ tactics, even if they agree with their cause. One poll found that just 21 percent of U.K. residents approve of disruptive climate protests, with 64 percent disapproving. Another found 14 percent of German residents approve, with 83 percent disapproving. Similarly, a U.S. poll showed an approval rating of 13 percent from its respondents, with 46 percent saying the disruptive tactics “decrease their support for efforts to address climate change.”

… “We’ve listened to the public,” van de Geer told the morning talk show’s hosts. “They say over and over again, ‘We support what you stand for but we don’t like how you do it.’”

The protests have also triggered a wave of new anti-protest laws in several Western countries, levying stiffer penalties against demonstrators for trespassing, disrupting traffic and business operations, or for generally being a public nuisance. It’s a global trend that has concerned many civil rights experts.

https://us2.campaign-archive.com/?e=6624c72df8&u=7c733794100bcc7e083a163f0&id=e16fe7fd64

… but not in Australia:

But in Australia XR said it had no intention of toning down its tactics, with activists from around the country organising a series of actions to disrupt the Santos sponsored bicycle race Tour Down Under.

[Jane Morton] “The only thing you can do that will give people an idea that it really is that serious is to do something that is really quite unusual – and be willing to, say, go to jail, because then it does get people thinking: ‘is it more serious than what we’re being taught?’ And it is.”

Some prominent researchers believe the radical flank effect can be negative. Professor Michael Mann, one of the world’s leading climate scientists and advocates and director of the Penn Centre for Science, Sustainability and the Media said radical action can cost the movement support.

Morton remains unmoved by Mann’s argument. She says the world is in crisis, and by softening the message scientists like Mann risk misleading the public about the scope of threat.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/extinction-rebellion-s-next-protest-target-revealed-after-uk-members-quit-20230109-p5cb7u.html

Doctors for Environment Australia have weighed in against allowing Santos’ sponsorship of the Tour Down Under.

Despite this, the council ratepayers of Adelaide gave $125,000 to this year's Santos Tour Down Under.

While Adelaide Council and the state government support fossil fuel events, others are dropping Santos like a hot potato. The Australian Open ended its sponsorship agreement last year, as did the Darwin Festival and a kids science road show.

So why is South Australia still allowing a fossil fuel company to leverage a key sporting event to promote its brand?

https://www.juneesoutherncross.com.au/story/8044953/when-will-we-ban-fossil-fuel-advertising/

Then two women from XR were arrested in Adelaide's CBD after gluing themselves to a pile of bicycles in a street for half an hour.

South Australian Tourism Minister Zoe Bettison … "I think people are free to share their concerns; the disruptions is what is outraging me," she said.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-12/protest-against-santos-sponsoring-tour-down-under/101850098


Forest Media 23 December 2022

It’s been an interesting year. I think the groundswell to stop logging public native forests has gathered an unstoppable momentum, though overcoming the ALP inertia remains a challenge. As forests and their inhabitants deteriorate under the heating climate, their protection can’t come soon enough. While burning forests for electricity struggles on, we achieved a major victory when the Feds ruled out burning native forest wood waste as counting toward the Renewable Energy Target, hopefully the looming threat of Verdant Earth restarting Redbank with wood has been seen off. We are holding the line, but the threats are increasing.

This will be my last forest media for a couple of weeks.

Have an enjoyable Christmas, you need to be refreshed to do what you can to make forests a bigger State Election issue by March. If we all pile-on we can end this now.

Dailan

New South Wales

Locals from the Bulga Plateau have vowed to resist attempts by the State owned logging corporation to continue the carnage in Bulga State Forest north -west of Taree, erecting a bamboo tripod to block the access road on Monday and a tree-platform supported by ropes attached to other trees that were intended to be cut down on Wednesday. The tripod stopped logging for a few hours, with the protector arrested. The tree sit by Santa was more effective stopping logging for 2 days. Locals are calling on people to come down, learn skills and support from January 3 onwards, ready for attempts to resume logging on Jan 9. The Forestry Corporation said they respect people’s right to protest, just not near them. The Shooters and Fishers want more draconian punishments while Justin Field supports the protest.

Emma Dorge, who suspended herself from a pole over the side of a Port Botany freight bridge and blocked access to incoming and outgoing trains for three hours, was handed a one year conditional release order for obstructing the rail line and was fined $110 for refusing to comply with police direction and $220 for remaining on enclosed land without lawful excuse. 

The Natural Resources Commission five webinars presenting findings from the NSW Forest Monitoring and Improvement Program, covering forest health, biodiversity, carbon, forest catchments and future forest scenarios are now available on the Commission’s website by following the link – forest ecosystems are collapsing but it has nothing to do with logging??

The NSW and federal governments will begin consultation on its regional assessment plans (traffic light system) with businesses, green groups, communities, First Nations and technical experts on an initial four regions: the Northern Rivers, Central Coast, Hunter Valley renewable energy zone and the Far Western NSW mineral sands deposits near the South Australian border. This will be the first test of the new regional assessments and its yet to be seen what areas will be included in the no-go areas, possibly just national parks.

The Widjabul Wia-bal people have been granted non-exclusive native title rights to an area of approximately 1,559kms, which stretches across the Lismore, Ballina, Byron, Kyogle, Tweed and Richmond Valley local government areas, giving them limited rights to undertake cultural activities on publicly owned land, though not on private land. Against the wishes of the Gomeroi people, the National Native Title Tribunal has ruled in favour of a $3 billion gas development in northern NSW that will allow Santos to drill more than 850 coal seam gas wells in the native Pilliga Forest over the next 25 years, in the process releasing almost 130 million tonnes of Greenhouse gasses.

Despite this and all that coal, NSW expects to reach its goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030, so is upping the ante with a new goal of a 70 per cent reduction by 2035.

Australia

The federal government’s decision to restore the exclusion of electricity generated from burning native forest wood waste from eligibility under the Renewable Energy Target, meaning any electricity it generates cannot be used to create tradeable Large-scale Generation Certificates (see last week’s forest media), has gained world-wide coverage and become a precedent others want to emulate.

The ABC has a lengthy article about the 20th Anniversary of the successful direct action campaign by a “motley crew” of around 100 active “Enviro-commandos” from the Otway Ranges Environment Network resulted in legislation to create the Great Otway National Park and end native forest logging on public land in the Otway Ranges. The Greens will push to enshrine the right to protest in federal law which would override existing state laws.

Species

Flying foxes desperate for food due to logging and the 2019-20 bushfires removing nectar trees, are moving into towns on the New England Tablelands in search of food, driving locals batty.

News of the Area has a repeat article (Forest Media 9 December) about the campaign to protect the Great Koala National Park, again mentioning the e-petition that is on the NSW Legislative Assembly website: https://www.koalapark.org.au/petition. Jeff Angel argues for the Koala Green Belt around Sydney to allow the migration of koalas to areas still recovering from bushfires and to colonise suitable undamaged forest, as the Government pursues fast tracking habitat clearance in its Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan. The first sod has been turned at the $23.6 million Gunnedah Koala Sanctuary, a taxpayer funded Koala theme park.

Hatchlings of the Endangered Manning River Turtle that lives only in the middle and upper reaches of the Manning River catchment, have been spotted for the first time in 4 years.

Bogong moths are making a tentative comeback after their numbers crashed by 99.5% due to the years of drought that resulted in the 2019-20 wildfires, each spring billions of Bogong moths used to migrate from their breeding grounds in southern Queensland, north-western New South Wales and Victoria to caves in the Snowy Mountains where they were a key pillar of the ecosystem, particularly for Mountain Pygmy Possums.

The Deteriorating Problem

At this period of celebration, the good news is that it a supercomputer predicts we are only going to lose 27%, or maybe 34%, of the world’s vertebrate species this century, in part due to co-extinction as the loss of one species has cascading impacts on others that rely on it for food, pollination and other necessities. A pretty impressive achievement for one human’s lifetime, but it could be worse (and it may be), though it doesn’t need to be this bad if we act with the urgency required.

Turning it Around

The 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity, or COP15, reached a final agreement including protecting 30% of the planet for nature by the end of the decade, reforming $500bn of environmentally damaging subsidies, and taking urgent action on extinctions. The (draft) Kunming-Montreal Global biodiversity framework has 23 targets, including:

Ensure that by 2030 at least 30 per cent of areas of degraded terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine ecosystems are under effective restoration, in order to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, ecological integrity and connectivity.

Ensure and enable that by 2030 at least 30 per cent of terrestrial, inland water, and of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are effectively conserved and managed through ecologically representative, well-connected and equitably governed systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, recognizing indigenous and traditional territories, where applicable, and integrated into wider landscapes, seascapes and the ocean, while ensuring that any sustainable use, where appropriate in such areas, is fully consistent with conservation outcomes, recognizing and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, including over their traditional territories.

At one stage representatives from developing countries, including the 54 members of the African group, seven South and Latin American countries, and other large countries, including India and Indonesia, walked out of COP 15, over concerns that talks about how those efforts should be funded are lagging behind those on how much land and water should be set aside. In the end a number of countries, notably the Democratic Republic of Congo, did not support the outcome. Though neither did USA. There was a commitment for US$30 billion per year to flow from wealthy to poorer countries by 2030, but this was not legally binding and scant in detail. The Greens criticised the Australian Government for failing to offer any new money for conservation measures at COP 15, particularly given evidence that funding in Australia needs to be dramatically increased to save more species.

There are concerns that the growing efforts by State, federal and international governments to commodify nature by monetising individual components under the moniker of “nature positive”, which attempts to put “a price on nature”, is a threat in itself as it attempts to incorporate nature into the economic trading system that is destroying it.

The Greens and Senator Pocock have called for an end to native forest logging in accordance with the COP 15 agreement, though the CFMEU are claiming they have an assurance from the Prime Minister that logging of native forests will continue.

An article in Eos argues for the need to identify and protect forest refugia, the oases that evade wildfires by quirks of topography, moisture, or the unpredictable wind and weather conditions during a fire, given their importance for repopulating burnt forests, though as megafires become more intense even long-term refugia are threatened

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Bulga goes off:

Locals from the Bulga Plateau have vowed to resist attempts by the State owned logging corporation to continue the carnage in Bulga State Forest north -west of Taree, erecting a bamboo tripod to block the access road on Monday and a tree-platform supported by ropes
attached to other trees that were to be cut down on Wednesday had logging continued. The tripod stopped logging for a few hours, with the protector arrested. The tree sit by Santa was more effective stopping logging for 2 days. Locals are calling on people to come down, learn skills and support from January 3 onwards, ready for attempts to resume logging on Jan 9.

“This logging is totally unsustainable” said long-time local forest campaigner, Susie Russell.

“Logging has been systematically eating away at this special place for decades. The community of NSW, the real owner of these forests, is the poorer. We lose the diversity of plants and animals that should be living here and that haven’t recovered from the 2019/20 fires.

“We lose the huge volume of stored carbon in the trees and the soil at a time we need to stop emissions. We lose the integrity of the upper catchment, which as we face wild weather and extreme rainfall is key to slowing floods. (The area is at the very top of the Hastings catchment).

https://www.echo.net.au/2022/12/bulga-plateau-locals-blockade-forest/

The Forestry Corporation said they respect people’s right to protest, just not near them. The Shooters and Fishers want more draconian punishments while Justin Field supports the protest.

[tripod] Operations were halted for several hours until Police Rescue arrived to remove a man from the platform at the top of the tripod and dismantle the structure.

The man was arrested and later charged.

North East Forest Alliance spokesperson Susie Russell, who lives on the Bulga Plateau, said the community was protesting to put urgent pressure on the Forestry Corporation of NSW and the state government to end native forest logging.

"The community feels angry and quite distressed," she said.

A Forestry Corporation spokesperson said it respected the community's right to protest but urged community members to "do this outside of active harvesting operations, which are closed worksites".

Inquiry chairperson and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MLC Mark Banasiak said a greater investment in hardwood timber plantations was a priority before the state could consider a transition away from native forestry.

"With the support of the timber industry, I've moved a bill … to try and stop some of these more violent and dangerous protests that are happening." 

Independent MLC Justin Field, a committee member in the inquiry, said he supported protesters and understood their frustration.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-22/bulga-state-forest-logging-protest-nsw-timber-inquiry-response/101794120

The fine is fine:

Emma Dorge, who suspended herself from a pole over the side of a Port Botany freight bridge and blocked access to incoming and outgoing trains for three hours, was handed a one year conditional release order for obstructing the rail line and was fined $110 for refusing to comply with police direction and $220 for remaining on enclosed land without lawful excuse. 

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-22/emma-dorge-no-jail-time-for-blockade-australia-protester/101802332

NRC propaganda online:

The Natural Resources Commission five webinars presenting findings from the NSW Forest Monitoring and Improvement Program, covering forest health, biodiversity, carbon, forest catchments and future forest scenarios are now available on the Commission’s website by following the link – forest ecosystems are collapsing but it has nothing to do with logging??

https://www.nrc.nsw.gov.au/fmip-dialogue

Making an example of north-east NSW:

The NSW and federal governments will begin consultation on its regional plans (traffic light system) with businesses, green groups, communities, First Nations and technical experts on an initial four regions: the Northern Rivers, Central Coast, Hunter Valley renewable energy zone and the Far Western NSW mineral sands deposits near the South Australian border. This will be the first test of the new regional assessments and its yet to be seen what areas will be included in the no-go areas, possibly just national parks.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/federal/plibersek-presses-go-on-no-go-green-zones-20221221-p5c7zo.html

Widjabul Wia-bal people granted native title:

The Widjabul Wia-bal people have been granted non-exclusive native title rights to an area of approximately 1,559kms, which stretches across the Lismore, Ballina, Byron, Kyogle, Tweed and Richmond Valley local government areas, giving them limited rights to undertake cultural activities on publicly owned land, though not on private land.

These activities include:

  • The right to access, move about and traverse.
  • The right to camp and erect temporary shelters but not to permanently camp or occupy.
  • The right to hunt and fish for non-commercial purposes.
  • The right to access and use natural water resources for non-commercial purposes.
  • The right to gather, share and exchange natural resources for non-commercial purposes.
  • The right to conduct and participate in ceremonial, ritual and spiritual activities.
  • The right to maintain and protect places of importance under traditional laws and customs.
  • The right to transmit traditional knowledge to members of the native title claim group
  • The right to hold meetings.

https://www.echo.net.au/2022/12/change-gonna-come-widjabul-wia-bal-finally-granted-native-title/

National Native Title Tribunal over-rides objections from native title holders:

Against the wishes of the Gomeroi people, the National Native Title Tribunal has ruled in favour of a $3 billion gas development in northern NSW that will allow Santos to drill more than 850 coal seam gas wells in the native Pilliga Forest over the next 25 years, in the process releasing almost 130 million tonnes of Greenhouse gasses.

But on Tuesday, the tribunal – which manages native title applications and is not comprised of Aboriginal Australians – determined the group had failed to prove the gas project would have “grave and irreversible consequences for the Gomeroi people’s culture, lands and waters and would contribute to climate change”.

Tribunal president and judge John Dowsett said in his decision that Santos had negotiated in good faith and the benefits the Narrabri-Pilliga gas project would provide to the region and wider country significantly outweighed the Gomeroi people’s concerns.

Gomeroi man Raymond Weatherall … “We’re trying to uphold our cultural integrity. The proposed infrastructure [for the wells] seeks to destroy our cultural heritage and spiritual connection to our Country,” he said on Tuesday.

The gas field is expected to contribute almost 130 million tonnes to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the project, according to the Climate Council.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/shameful-day-for-australia-santos-given-green-light-to-drill-850-gas-wells-in-native-forest-20221012-p5bpai.html

NSW goes for 70% emissions cut by 2035:

NSW expects to reach its goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030, so is upping the ante with a new goal of a 70 per cent reduction by 2035.

[Matt Kean] “Many communities across the country have spent the last few years choking on the dust of drought or on the smoke of bushfires. Now, many of those same communities have seen their homes and businesses inundated with one-in-a-thousand-year floods, three times in the space of nine months,” he said.

“As any of those families who have lost their homes to fire or flood, or their livelihoods to drought will tell you this fight against climate change is one that we cannot afford to lose.

“Our action on climate change will determine the prosperity of our children and define the way we are remembered by our grandchildren.”

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/nsw/nsw-to-turbocharge-transition-to-net-zero-greenhouse-gas-emissions-20221222-p5c89b.html

AUSTRALIA

We’re the envy of the world (at least in the biomass resistance):

The federal government’s decision to restore the exclusion of electricity generated from burning native forest wood waste from eligibility under the Renewable Energy Target, meaning any electricity it generates cannot be used to create tradeable Large-scale Generation Certificates (see last week’s forest media), has gained world-wide coverage and become a precedent others want to emulate.

On December 15, Australia became the first major economy worldwide to reverse itself on its renewable classification for woody biomass burned to make energy. Under the nation’s new policy, wood harvested from native forests and burned to produce energy cannot be classified as a renewable energy source.

The impact of this regulatory change is perhaps most significant for the setback it may pose to the biomass industry globally, hindering the multibillion-dollar wood pellet industry from getting started Down Under at a time when pellet production is rising in the U.S. Southeast and British Columbia in order to supply growing demand to the EU, UK and Asia.

“Two big power stations in Queensland were on the verge of converting from coal to biomass,” Young told Mongabay in an interview from Montreal, where she was attending the United Nations COP15 biodiversity conference. “There are [coal] plants in Victoria and New South Wales that were looking to convert. They were talking with Drax [the world’s largest consumer of wood pellets for energy based in the United Kingdom] about how to make it happen. All this was about to start.”

But without the renewable designation, biomass development in Australia is all but dead in the water.

The government decision is a small but significant blow to the wood pellet industry’s plans for nonstop global expansion. In 2011, industry advocates noted that although Australia’s biomass industry was “slow to develop,” it had potential. “Wood waste” was deemed one of the country’s “most underutilized resources” and would likely remain so without government subsidies — which never materialized.

Forest advocates in Europe, who hope for the kind of success their counterparts in Australia have had, continue to press their case in Brussels so long as EU negotiations over biomass regulations are still ongoing.

https://news.mongabay.com/2022/12/australia-rejects-forest-biomass-in-first-blow-to-wood-pellet-industry/

https://environmentalpaper.org/2022/12/australia-excludes-native-forest-biomass-as-a-renewable-energy/

Celebrating OREN’s end to logging in Otways:

The ABC has a lengthy article about the 20th Anniversary of the successful direct action campaign by a “motley crew” of around 100 active “Enviro-commandos” from the Otway Ranges Environment Network resulted in legislation to create the Great Otway National Park and end native forest logging on public land in the Otway Ranges.

As Roger sees it, there were three key pillars to the campaign — community support, an ability and willingness to engage with those in power, and a strategy of non-violent direct action.

From the late 1990s, protesters came and went, spending days, weeks and sometimes months occupying coupes during the Otways logging season, which usually ran from November to April.

Non-violent direct action was seen as a strategic part of a broader anti-logging campaign, something the government couldn’t ignore — “the loaded gun on the table”, as one activist put it.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-19/otway-ranges-logging-conservation-battle-for-the-forest/101739484

Making protest lawful:

The Greens will push to enshrine the right to protest in federal law which would override existing state laws.

[David Shoebridge] "The right to non-violent protest is essential in any free society but we see politicians across the country increasingly using their positions of power to crack down on protests that threaten the fossil fuel and logging industries."

"Young protesters standing up for the right to a liveable planet are being hit with criminal penalties while the owners of corporations that pollute water, destroy land and damage sacred sites face no sanction," he said.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/aap/article-11556805/Push-national-protest-protection-laws.html

SPECIES

Tableland towns going batty:

Flying foxes desperate for food due to logging and the 2019-20 bushfires removing nectar trees, are moving into towns on the New England Tablelands in search of food, driving locals batty.

Listed as vulnerable by the NSW government in 2001, the grey-headed flying fox usually frequents rainforests and woodlands, where its foraging results in pollination and seed dispersal for native trees. But loss of habitat due to land clearing and bushfires has caused camps to appear in new areas such as Tenterfield.

A project in 2019 which mapped the flying fox’s range showed a significant migration into central NSW since its range was previously recorded in 2008. In that time, camps have settled near residential areas in Inverell, Tamworth and Armidale.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/dec/23/i-dont-know-where-else-to-turn-the-grey-headed-flying-foxes-driving-rural-towns-batty

Great Koala Park:

News of the Area has a repeat article (Forest Media 9 December) about the campaign to protect the Great Koala National Park, again mentioning the e-petition that is on the NSW Legislative Assembly website: https://www.koalapark.org.au/petition.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-23-december-2022

… Green Belt:

Jeff Angel argues for the Koala Green Belt around Sydney to allow the migration of koalas to areas still recovering from bushfires and to colonise suitable undamaged forest, as the Government pursues fast tracking habitat clearance in its Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan.

The Sydney Basin – stretching from Newcastle to the Blue Mountains down to Nowra – is bedevilled by threats from urban sprawl, mining and continued logging of native forest. Governments release koala protection plans, but still the trees – vital as food and shelter – are chainsawed and bushland bulldozed. In recent years NSW has experienced the “koala wars” as the National Party attacked environment protection laws, seeking to ensure the supremacy of development certain to whittle away the homes of koalas and the many other species which share our remnant natural areas. Can we ever stop death to our wildlife by a thousand cuts?

The debate about koala corridors has been fraught, with developers and planning bureaucrats trying to minimise their width and downplay their importance. The NSW Chief Scientist has been called in and recommended the preservation of six corridors in the Macarthur region with an average 390 to 425 metres wide. Development interests played games with “average” so that some parts were quite narrow, seriously devaluing the utility of the few they would allow.

https://thefifthestate.com.au/columns/spinifex/koala-colony-challenges-sydney/

… and Sanctuary

The first sod has been turned at the $23.6 million Gunnedah Koala Sanctuary, a taxpayer funded Koala theme park.

https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2022/12/21/first-sod-turned-at-gunnedahs-koala-sanctuary/

Turtles hatching:

Hatchlings of the Endangered Manning River Turtle that lives only in the middle and upper reaches of the Manning River catchment, have been spotted for the first time in 4 years.

Mr Gollan, a HLLS senior land services officer, said a team of ecologists recorded the first sighting of Manning River turtle hatchlings in recent weeks.

"Foxes and pigs are a key threat to freshwater turtle nests, and to adults when they leave the water to lay their eggs," he said. 

"With favourable conditions following bushfires, feral pigs have experienced a massive spike in a number of priority reaches of turtle habitats." 

Efforts were also underway to have the Manning River turtle listed as endangered federally, as well as its current NSW endangered listing.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-22/endangered-manning-river-turtle-hatchlings-spotted-nsw-survey/101777512

Bogong rebounding:

Bogong moths are making a tentative comeback after their numbers crashed by 99.5% due to the years of drought that resulted in the 2019-20 wildfires, each spring billions of Bogong moths used to migrate from their breeding grounds in southern Queensland, north-western New South Wales and Victoria to caves in the Snowy Mountains where they were a key pillar of the ecosystem, particularly for Mountain Pygmy Possums.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-17/bogong-moth-population-returning-from-brink-of-extinction/101782014

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

The Deteriorating Problem

At this period of celebration, the good news is that it a supercomputer predicts we are only going to lose 27%, or maybe 34%, of the world’s vertebrate species this century, in part due co-extinction as the loss of one species has cascading impacts on others that rely on it for food, pollination and other necessities. A pretty impressive achievement for one human’s lifetime, but it could be worse (and it may be), though it doesn’t need to be this bad if we act with the urgency required.

The simulation conducted on one of Europe's most powerful supercomputers also found that one extinction caused a cascade of extinctions that have been coined "co-extinctions".

The tool found that under the worst climate change prediction, 34 per cent more species would become extinct than would be predicted when not considering co-extinctions.

The modelling found the areas of the world with the most biodiversity now — such as South America, Africa and Australia — would suffer the most from the effects of climate change and land use changes.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-17/computer-modelling-shows-cascading-animal-coextinctions/101777762

Our new research shows 10% of land animals could disappear from particular geographic areas by 2050, and almost 30% by 2100. This is more than double previous predictions. It means children born today who live to their 70s will witness literally thousands of animals disappear in their lifetime, from lizards and frogs to iconic mammals such as elephants and koalas.

But if we manage to dramatically reduce carbon emissions globally, we could save thousands of species from local extinction this century alone.

Every species depends on others in some way. So when a species dies out, the repercussions can ripple through an ecosystem.

Research suggests co-extinction was a main driver of past extinctions, including the five previous mass extinction events going back many hundreds of millions of years.

For example, if we manage to achieve a lower carbon-emissions pathway that limits global warming to less than 3 by the end of this century, we could limit biodiversity loss to “only” 13%. This would translate into saving thousands of species from disappearing.

https://theconversation.com/children-born-today-will-see-literally-thousands-of-animals-disappear-in-their-lifetime-as-global-food-webs-collapse-196286?utm

TURNING IT AROUND

COP 15

The 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity, or COP15, reached a final agreement included protecting 30% of the planet for nature by the end of the decade, reforming $500bn of environmentally damaging subsidies, and taking urgent action on extinctions.

Nevertheless, the feeling among scientists is optimistic. They welcome a historic agreement, which at times felt nigh-on impossible to achieve. It has created, for the first time, biodiversity targets on par with the momentous 2015 Paris climate agreement, which set a crucial goal to to limit global warming to 1.5–2 °C above pre-industrial levels.

https://us17.campaign-archive.com/?e=9b93cf58d2&u=2c6057c528fdc6f73fa196d9d&id=3baa4cf847

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/19/cop15-deal-includes-target-to-protect-30-of-nature-on-earth-by-2030-aoe

The (draft) Kunming-Montreal Global biodiversity framework has 23 targets, including:

Ensure that by 2030 at least 30 per cent of areas of degraded terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine ecosystems are under effective restoration, in order to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, ecological integrity and connectivity.

Ensure and enable that by 2030 at least 30 per cent of terrestrial, inland water, and of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are effectively conserved and managed through ecologically representative, well-connected and equitably governed systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, recognizing indigenous and traditional territories, where applicable, and integrated into wider landscapes, seascapes and the ocean, while ensuring that any sustainable use, where appropriate in such areas, is fully consistent with conservation outcomes, recognizing and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, including over their traditional territories.

https://www.cbd.int/doc/c/e6d3/cd1d/daf663719a03902a9b116c34/cop-15-l-25-en.pdf

But time is of the essence. If we let our planet sink into the depths of the sixth mass extinction, generations to come will not see the end of it. It will take tens of millions of years to recover.

Governments have consistently failed to meet targets set for nature in previous global meetings. So we must now develop mechanisms to hold governments accountable and to collectively undertake the serious work ahead, to ensure we protect and recover our biodiversity.

https://theconversation.com/the-historic-cop15-outcome-is-an-imperfect-game-changer-for-saving-nature-heres-why-australia-did-us-proud-196731?utm

Countries attending the COP 15 summit in Montreal have adopted a 2030 deadline to protect 30% of the world’s lands, oceans, coasts, and inland waters, cut subsidies that harm nature by US$500 billion, reduce the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance to near zero, and cut food waste in half, in what some participants and observers have been calling a “Paris moment” for nature.

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) pledges $200 billion in domestic and international biodiversity funding from public and private sources, including at least $20 billion per year by 2025 and $30 billion per year by 2030 in “international financial flows from developed to developing countries,” the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) secretariat said in an overnight release.

https://www.theenergymix.com/2022/12/19/global-biodiversity-deal-takes-shape-as-cop-15-enters-final-days/?utm_source=The+Energy+Mix&utm_campaign=7a9aee9def-TEM_RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dc146fb5ca-7a9aee9def-510012746

… walkout:

At one stage representatives from developing countries, including the 54 members of the African group, seven South and Latin American countries, and other large countries, including India and Indonesia, have walked out the global biodiversity and nature summit, COP 15, over concerns that talks about how those efforts should be funded are lagging behind those on how much land and water should be set aside. In the end a number of countries, notably the Democratic Republic of Congo, did not support the outcome. Though neither did USA.

https://www.theenergymix.com/2022/12/15/60-developing-countries-walk-out-of-cop-15-over-funding-gaps/?utm_source=The+Energy+Mix&utm_campaign=0a5010be57-TEM_RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dc146fb5ca-0a5010be57-510012746

There was a commitment for US$30 billion per year to flow from wealthy to poorer countries by 2030, but this was not legally binding and scant in detail.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/conservation/the-global-pact-to-save-biodiversity-is-historic-but-here-s-what-it-leaves-out-20221220-p5c7ne.html

The Greens criticised the Australian Government for failing to offer any new money for conservation measures at COP 15, particularly given evidence that funding in Australia needs to be dramatically increased to save more species.

Plibersek told the ABC’s AM program on Monday that the government increased funding for the environment in the October budget and “we are determined not only to increase government funding but to make it easier for others to invest in repairing nature as well”.

She said work to restore and protect nature was becoming as “important for businesses as reducing their carbon pollution”, and pointed to a recent report by the consulting firm PwC, which estimated a nature market could be worth $137bn by 2050.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/19/greens-lambast-labor-for-failing-to-offer-extra-funding-for-global-nature-deal-at-cop15

Cashing in on biodiversity:

There are concerns that the growing efforts by State, federal and international governments to commodify nature by monetising individual components under the moniker of “nature positive”, which attempts to put “a price on nature”, is a threat in itself as it attempts to incorporate nature into the economic trading system that is destroying it.

Now, as the nations are meeting in Montreal for the Cop15 talks on biological diversity, 119 scientists and other experts have published an open letter warning against what they call “a neoliberal agenda hidden behind cheerful and meaningless keywords”.

In a context in which we don’t even know how many unique species exist on the planet (estimates range from 5.3 million to 1 trillion, with only 1.6 million of them identified and named), the author Adrienne Buller describes as an extraordinary fantasy the notion that “the biosphere can be readily segmented and ‘unbundled’ into discrete units which can subsequently be individually valued, speculated upon, and exchanged, abstracted entirely from the specifics of time and place.”

It’s a point also made in the open letter, which insists:

The monetary values being produced do not represent the value of nature’s ecological functions, not even a proxy. Yet misleading figures are not better than nothing but worse than nothing, as they can lead to wrong policy decisions with irreversible consequences. The monetary valuation of nature’s ecological functions can also give a dangerous and misleading illusion of substitutability between critical ecosystemic functions, where one assumes incorrectly that as long as the total monetary value remains stable, nature is in good shape.”

Think of Tanya Plibersek’s pledge to create in Australia a “Green Wall Street” based on the trading of “nature credits”. To many people, entrusting fragile and irreplaceable ecosystems to international commerce seems bizarre.

As George Monbiot once put it, by integrating the environment into the world market, “you are effectively pushing the natural world even further into the system that is eating it alive.”

That means recognising that genuine environmental solutions depend on the decommodification of nature, not its opposite.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/dec/16/the-call-to-put-a-price-on-nature-can-be-appealing-but-it-misunderstands-whats-at-stake

The Greens and Senator Pocock have called for an end to native forest logging in accordance with the agreement, though the CFMEU are claiming they have an assurance from the Prime Minister that logging of native forests will continue.

[Hanson-Young] “The spotlight will now be on Australia to protect koala habitat. That means the protection of our native forests, that’s going to be front and centre.”

Pocock said the government’s reform agenda would take time but it should act now to end native forest logging, including the development of plans to help workers transition to new industries.

“Environmental laws should be updated now to remove any exemption to their application to Regional Forest Agreements,” he said.

Michael O’Connor, national secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, said he expected the government to support native forest logging into the future.

“We have an assurance from the prime minister that he supports the industry and timber workers’ jobs, and we know the PM is a person who keeps his word,” O’Connor said.

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/labor-facing-test-of-green-credentials-in-fight-over-native-logging-20221220-p5c7n8.html

Prioritising protecting refugia:

An article in Eos argues for the need to identify and protect forest refugia, the oases that evade wildfires by quirks of topography, moisture, or the unpredictable wind and weather conditions during a fire, given their importance for repopulating burnt forests, though as megafires become more intense even long-term refugia are threatened.

https://eos.org/features/last-tree-standing


Forest Media 16 December 2022

New South Wales

An unrepentant Violet Coco says why she had no choice but to block one lane of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to focus attention on the climate crisis, and appeals for donations to her legal fund. She successfully appealed and was released on bail – the favourable publicity surrounding her case has demonstrated the benefits of “extreme” actions. Meanwhile NSW Labor leader supports draconian punishments. In the Legislative Council (upper house), Byron-based Nationals MLC and failed local candidate, Ben Franklin, spoke extensively in favour of the bill on March 31. National’s Ballina candidate Joshua Booyens doesn’t think it’s a significant issue. Others are awaiting prosecution, amidst fears of what the consequences will be. An organiser of the planning meeting in Colo spent 4 weeks in prison after being refused bail. Meanwhile other states are also increasing penalties for protesting, and throwing the book at those that do.

The EPA’s prosecution of the Forestry Corporation for felling 4 hollow-bearing trees in Mogo SF in March 2020, in contravention of the “site-specific operating conditions” issued following the widespread fires, which included the protection of all hollow-bearing trees, has been delayed due to technical issues (the pdf names were too long).

The Forestry Corporation’s 2021-22 Sustainability Report shows that total wood harvested jumped from 272,499 cubic metres in 2020-21 to 477,460 cubic metres in 2021-22, an increase of 175 per cent, leading to NCC complaining it shows a complete disregard for native wildlife, with Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders saying it’s just a return to business as usual after the fires. The NSW Government released its pathetic response to the Inquiry into the long-term sustainability and future of the timber and forest products industry, “noting” (ignoring) those recommendations that were halfway reasonable, while emphasing how important logging and loggers are.

The NRC have released their summary report ‘Insights for NSW forest outcomes and management’ which identifies that our forests are degrading and in a precarious state in danger of collapse - though of course they don’t acknowledge logging’s contribution and wouldn’t dream of suggesting it ends. The Forestry Corporation of New South Wales has withdrawn its proposal to buy Hume Forests’ plantations after facing objections from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on the grounds it would likely substantially lessen competition in the supply of softwood logs.

On Friday, the state government will launch its “natural capital” statement of intent, which includes plans to develop land stewardship as a new type of investment to better conserve the environment. One of the first steps in implementing the plan will be for the government to ensure natural capital is embedded in planning and development decisions, including how to account for the value of nature on the state’s balance sheet.

Another story on the Barrington to Hawkesbury Climate Corridors Alliance proposal for a moratorium on land clearing and logging across 810,000ha between Barrington Tops and the Hawkesbury River.

Efforts to reopen the Aboriginal men’s site atop Wollumbin (Mt Warning) for access continue, with Tweed Mayor Chris Cherry mooting group hikes led by Indigenous guides or a phase out period.

The two remaining lower-house members of the NSW Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party have resigned to contest the state election as independents, creating confusion on the far right.

Australia

Yea, the Albanese Government has acted on over 2900 submissions to restore the exclusion of electricity generated from burning native forest wood waste from eligibility under the Renewable Energy Target, meaning any electricity it generates cannot be used to create tradeable Large-scale Generation Certificates. - a severe blow, maybe a death blow, for the Redbank Power Station - It still leaves sawmill “wastes” as allowed.

There are further assessments of what the proposed Federal biodiversity system will mean, basically we will have to wait and see, though biodiversity credits have no credibility, leading Adam Morton to observe “It is tempting to argue conservation would be better served by a simple combination of substantial funding and sharp regulation”. How explicit the national standards are is yet to be seen, and how they will be applied to Regional Forest Agreements – we have a long wait while habitat continues to be destroyed.

Time to sell Squirrel Gliders as their spot price has dropped from $450 to $425, with Southern Myotis performing worse dropping from over $1,500 to $895. Koalas are risky with highly variable prices, though opportunities exist for astute investors with the spot price tripling from June to August to $600, steady performers are Brush-tailed Phascogale, Rufous Bettong and coastal Emus. While the Forestry Corporation destroys Rusty Plum around Coffs with abandon, they may want to reconsider as their spot price is currently $1,351 – they could make a motza. The Federal Government’s entry into the market and increased listings will create more opportunities for high returns. These schemes facilitate a net loss of habitat, and are rife with corruption, but as logging and clearing proceed spot prices can only increase, and new opportunities will be created as more species are listed.

Zylstra has another paper decrying our reliance on erroneous concepts of fuel-reduction burning to reduce wildfire risk, emphasising the impacts of such a flawed strategy on wildlife while promoting his alternative approach.

As part of the Palaszczuk Government’s election commitment to transfer 20,000 hectares of state forest to Queensland’s protected areas, they have announced a number of state forests will be conserved earlier (including the controversial Ferny Forest), with $262.5 million announced to expand and create new national parks.

Western Australia’s draft Forest Management Plan has come under attack from bushwalking group HikeWest for failing to include sufficient of the northern Jarrah forests in reserves, with only 15% included in reserves protected from bauxite mining.

Species

The Mountain Mist Frog was once found across two-thirds of the wet-tropics, but after not being seen for 25 years is now recognised as extinct, likely due to chytrid fungus and rising temperatures. Saving our Species provide 12 examples of their efforts to breed, translocate and survey for threatened species, though they don’t provide assessments of the effectiveness of their wild releases.

Victorian authorities have euthanised more than a quarter (28) of koalas health-checked at a national park in the state’s southwest, after they were found to have health issues and be unviable, which is attributed to “overpopulation” at the site. This follows a similar operation in May that euthanised 30 koalas. The Stress Lab reviewed the effectiveness of an off-the-shelf stress test, and found it worked for Koalas.

Alarm is growing over perilously low dissolved-oxygen in floodwaters across large sections of the Murray River where fish are “probably just about all dead”, and worse to come. Communities are installing aerators to increase oxygen levels - though it’s just a band-aid solution. And Murray-river turtles are being washed out to sea.

The Deteriorating Problem

Accounting for changes in carbon storage in the forest area, as well as CO2 emissions from the burning of harvested wood, makes burning forests for electricity even more polluting. The governments of Ontario and Canada are investing more than $11.3 million to expand CHAR Technologies’ facility in Thorold to produce “renewable” natural gas (RNG) and biocarbon (a coal substitute) – creating the largest facility of its kind in Canada, and the only RNG facility in the country to exclusively use woody biomass

Drought-stricken Oregon saw a historic die-off of fir trees in 2022 that left hillsides once lush with green conifers dotted with patches of red, dead trees, totalling about 1.1 million acres of forest, the most damage recorded in a single season since surveys began 75 years ago. 

Turning it Around

The City of Sydney has developed a plan to expand canopy cover and make urban areas cooler and calmer. In Finland they greened up pre-schools by planting grass and shrubs, and putting in gardens, which increased T-cells and other important immune markers in the kids blood within 28 days – another example of the benefits of nature.

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Why its time to stand up:

An unrepentant Violet Coco says why she had no choice but to block one lane of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to focus attention on the climate crisis, and appeals for donations to her legal fund. She successfully appealed and was released on bail – the favourable publicity surrounding her case has demonstrated the benefits of “extreme” actions. Meanwhile NSW Labor leader supports draconian punishments.

In 2021, I spoke personally with esteemed climate scientist and academic, Professor Will Steffen, who told me this: “Massive floods, fires and heatwaves are sending us a clear message. On our present trajectory, we risk heading into a collapse of our globalised civilisation and a precipitous drop in human population — put simply, hell on earth. But we can avoid this disastrous future if we change the way we think, live our lives and interact with the rest of the living world.”

You can read the original version of this statement and donate to Violet’s legal fund here.
https://chuffed.org/project/95028-get-violet-out-of-prison

https://johnmenadue.com/last-week-a-nsw-court-jailed-me-for-15-months-for-a-peaceful-climate-protest-hear-my-story/

https://www.echo.net.au/2022/12/climate-activist-violet-coco-released-on-bail/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/14/climate-activist-deanna-violet-coco-reveals-why-she-was-prepared-to-risk-jail-time

https://cityhubsydney.com.au/2022/12/climate-activist-violet-coco-freed-as-campaign-to-repeal-anti-protest-laws-grows/

… Labor supports draconian punishments:

In his December 5 response to the sentencing of the environmental protester Deanna ‘Violet’ Coco to fifteen months in jail and a refusal of bail pending her appeal, Minns again showed whose side he was on. He was really a Liberal. He agreed with Premier Perrotet who found the young woman’s jail sentence ‘pleasing.’

To justify his defence of draconian laws, he exaggerates. ‘You’re talking about a situation where mass protests are shutting down half the city…They were shutting down the city in a comprehensive, staged and strategic way.’ Mass protests? Half a city shut down?

https://johnmenadue.com/nsw-labor-leader-chris-minns-his-punitive-policies-his-absence-of-courage/

… as do Nationals:

In the Legislative Council (upper house), Byron-based Nationals MLC and failed local candidate, Ben Franklin, spoke extensively in favour of the bill on March 31. National’s Ballina candidate Joshua Booyens doesn’t think it’s a significant issue.

https://www.echo.net.au/2022/12/your-right-to-protest-where-do-your-local-politicians-stand/

… authoritarian fossil fuel regime:

Others are awaiting prosecution, amidst fears of what the consequences will be. An organiser of the planning meeting in Colo spent 4 weeks in prison after being refused bail. Meanwhile other states are also increasing penalties for protesting, and throwing the book at those that do.

The arrests followed the establishment by NSW police of Strike Force Guard, which in June raided a property in Colo to “prevent, investigate and disrupt unauthorised protests”. It led to the arrests of seven people, including 27-year-old Tim Neville.

Neville was accused of being a leader of the group, and spent nearly four weeks in prison after being refused bail.

On Wednesday a small group of people sitting in the public gallery in the Queensland parliament suddenly unfurled banners with slogans such as “end fossil fuels now” and chanted repeatedly “stop coal, stop gas” for a period of about three minutes.

Nine people have since been charged, and are accused of disturbing the legislature.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/dec/10/violet-coco-is-not-alone-the-climate-activists-facing-jail

Justice delayed:

The EPA’s prosecution of the Forestry Corporation for felling 4 hollow-bearing trees in Mogo SF in March 2020, in contravention of the “site-specific operating conditions” issued following the widespread fires, which included the protection of all hollow-bearing trees, has been delayed due to technical issues (the pdf names were too long).

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/thesouthcoastnews/forestry-nsw-allegedly-felled-crucial-hollowbearing-trees-after-black-summer-fires-in-mogo-court/news-story/904be17f23309abc52c1f03e8152e5b5?btr=20d403f9c7654183ff2a069d9c0fed83

Destruction as normal:

The Forestry Corporation’s 2021-22 Sustainability Report shows that total wood harvested jumped from 272,499 cubic metres in 2020-21 to 477,460 cubic metres in 2021-22, an increase of 175 per cent, leading to NCC complaining it shows a complete disregard for native wildlife, with Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders saying it’s just a return to business as usual after the fires.

https://www.oberonreview.com.au/story/8016539/nsw-native-forest-logging-up-175-per-cent/

https://www.southernriverinanews.com.au/national/nsw-native-forest-logging-up-175-per-cent/

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-16-december-2022

Business as normal:

The NSW Government released its pathetic response to the Inquiry into the long-term sustainability and future of the timber and forest products industry, “noting” (ignoring) those recommendations that were halfway reasonable, while emphasing how important logging and loggers are.

The NSW Government has supported all industries … For forestry workers this support has included over $210 million spent across a range of tailored support measures specifically targeting forestry-related industries.

The complete cessation of harvesting from public native forests is not supported by the NSW Government given the severe economic consequences for regional industries and employment, as well as the potential carbon and environmental impacts associated with importing timber from jurisdictions with lesser environmental protections.

NSW Local Land Services will publish information on harvest activities in each PNF Code region on an annual basis, commencing in 2023.

Supported: That the NSW Government does not consider the establishment of the Great Koala National Park until an independent, comprehensive study is conducted to assesses the full impact of the proposal, including its environmental, economic and social impacts across all affected industries

https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/inquiries/2762/Government%20response%20-%20Report%2054%20-%20Timber%20and%20forest%20products%20industry%20-%20received%2015%20December%202022.pdf

NSW forests collapsing:

The NRC have released their summary report ‘Insights for NSW forest outcomes and management’ which identifies that our forests are degrading and in a precarious state in danger of collapse - though of course they don’t acknowledge logging’s contribution and wouldn’t dream of suggesting it ends.

NSW forests whether they be national parks, state forests, Aboriginal land, private land or Crown land are under sustained threats, putting at risk many of the services and values they provide….

NSW forests are dynamic systems that provide essential environmental, social, economic and cultural services for the people of NSW across a range of tenures. These services are degrading, and without major intervention they will continue to degrade. The unprecedented bushfires of 2019-2020 will not remain an outlier. The research community had predicted the likelihood of such an event and the scientific consensus is that similar scale events will become increasingly frequent in the future.

FMIP research indicates future climate and disturbance regime scenarios will have adverse impacts on NSW forests, affecting forest carbon, soil organic carbon, soil alkalinity, streamflow quantity, surface water quality and forest productivity. Many forest dependent flora and fauna species are predicted to lose significant proportions of their habitat. As a result, one FMIP study found the potential occupancy of 70 percent of assessed fauna species will decline by 2070 under future climate change predictions.

Critically, there is a risk that higher frequency and intensity of disturbances will trigger ongoing cycles of decline in key areas such as forest regeneration and soil organic carbon by reducing the capacity for, or likelihood of, full recovery after each event. In this case, forests will become a net carbon emitter in the coming decades, undermining key Government commitments to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Other Government commitments for biodiversity and sustainable production outcomes will also be under pressure.

NSW regions like the Australian Alps and South Coast, that have significant areas dedicated to the reserve system, are anticipated to be at highest risk from projected changes in climate and fire regimes. Other forest ecosystems such as temperate and sub-tropical rainforests are also under increasing risk.

https://www.nrc.nsw.gov.au/Insights%20report%20-%20Nov%202022.pdf?downloadable=1

The NRC made six recommendations to Government: To prepare overarching cross-tenure strategy for NSW forests towards 2050; Establish dedicated funding for the strategy, research, and rapid response capability; Accelerate Aboriginal self-determination and co-management of NSW forests; Incorporate the latest climate science and forest data into the upcoming review of the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval; Update the NSW Forestry Industry Roadmap; and Continue long-term independent research and monitoring.

The Commission’s 11 -page Report can be downloaded at this PS News link.

https://psnews.com.au/2022/12/13/nrc-report-finds-nsw-forests-threatened/?state=aps

Forestry Corporation uncompetitive:

The Forestry Corporation of New South Wales has withdrawn its proposal to buy Hume Forests’ plantations after facing objections from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on the grounds it would likely substantially lessen competition in the supply of softwood logs.

The asset was expected to fetch a price of close to $200m, judging from analyst estimates.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/dataroom/forestry-corp-shelves-hume-forests-acquisition-plan/news-story/4faecb3f9bacc9407d19d4a594542b82?btr=d4ab2258dd97886aa4b8c1cd7a2f6de7

More biodiversity trading:

On Friday, the state government will launch its “natural capital” statement of intent, which includes plans to develop land stewardship as a new type of investment to better conserve the environment. One of the first steps in implementing the plan will be for the government to ensure natural capital is embedded in planning and development decisions, including how to account for the value of nature on the state’s balance sheet.

But some environmentalists have raised concerns about this approach. WWF’s acting head of healthy land and seascapes Tim Cronin says the creation of markets to protect the environment was welcomed, but it needed to be done carefully.

Cronin says, for example, the focus of the forestry industry is on timber and the monetary value that can be made. But the industry fails to recognise the other ecosystem values involved, including waterways, carbon, and flood prevention benefits the trees offer. “If we are to better internalise the economic systems and decision-making, it will completely change the economics of logging,” he said.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/conservation/when-being-a-land-custodian-pays-putting-a-price-on-conservation-20221212-p5c5od.html

Hunter climate corridors:

Another story on the Barrington to Hawkesbury Climate Corridors Alliance proposal for a moratorium on land clearing and logging across 810,000ha between Barrington Tops and the Hawkesbury River.

The Barrington Tops to Hawkesbury Climate Corridors report is available from Hunter Community Environment Centre, hcec.org.au

https://coastcommunitynews.com.au/central-coast/news/2022/12/call-for-moratorium-on-land-clearing-and-logging/

Wollumbin access:

Efforts to reopen the Aboriginal men’s site atop Wollumbin (Mt Warning) for access continue, with Tweed Mayor Chris Cherry mooting group hikes led by Indigenous guides or a phase out period.

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/queensland/talks-revive-hopes-for-future-of-mount-warning-wollumbin-trail/news-story/ffc2e9846d288b97cf980057013e9966?btr=5f223f1fa00612be699c1b06f2ee2872

Shooting themselves in the foot:

The two remaining lower-house members of the NSW Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party have resigned to contest the state election as independents, creating confusion on the far right.

https://www.theland.com.au/story/8016698/shooters-hit-with-high-profile-resignations/

AUSTRALIA

Stopping burning native forests for electricity:

Yea, the Albanese Government has acted on over 2900 submissions to restore the exclusion of electricity generated from burning native forest wood waste from eligibility under the Renewable Energy Target, meaning any electricity it generates cannot be used to create tradeable Large-scale Generation Certificates. - a severe blow, maybe a death blow, for the Redbank Power Station - It still leaves sawmill “wastes” as allowed.

The climate change and energy minister, Chris Bowen, said the change was in step with “strong and longstanding community views” raised in a consultation process that received more than 2,900 submissions. He said the government had put in place “transitional arrangements” for one Western Australian facility that had registered to use timber as an energy source.

“We have listened to the community and acted to address their concerns,” he said.

The Australian Forest Products Association said the government had “bowed to pressure from anti-forestry groups”. “Australia should not close the door to a dispatchable renewable energy source that is widely used around the world at a time when we need more renewable energy sources,” the association’s chief executive, Ross Hampton, said.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/16/electricity-generated-by-burning-native-australian-timber-no-longer-classified-as-renewable-energy

https://reneweconomy.com.au/greens-hail-blow-to-ludicrous-practice-of-burning-native-forests-for-energy/

https://www.nationaltribune.com.au/disappointing-decision-on-sustainable-native-forest-biomass-in-ret-ignores-science/

More on Federal biodiversity system:

There are further assessments of what the proposed Federal biodiversity system will mean, basically we will have to wait and see, though biodiversity credits have no credibility, leading Adam Morton to observe “It is tempting to argue conservation would be better served by a simple combination of substantial funding and sharp regulation”. How explicit the national standards are is yet to be seen, and how they will be applied to Regional Forest Agreements – we have a long wait while habitat continues to be destroyed.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/11/labor-proposal-to-fix-australias-broken-environmental-protection-system-could-revolutionise-sector

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/federal/new-environmental-protection-agency-must-be-more-than-tokenistic-20221210-p5c58t.html

And while the government’s reforms have been broadly welcomed by the business sector, it can expect opposition to its plan to extend standards to regional forestry agreements.

These agreements are currently exempt from the EPBC Act. In 2009, the Rudd Labor government dismissed a recommendation to review this exemption.

The Albanese government, very cautiously, says it will “begin a process” of applying the new national standards to regional forest agreements, in consultation with stakeholders.

https://theconversation.com/complete-elation-greeted-pliberseks-big-plans-to-protect-nature-but-hurdles-litter-the-path-196287?utm

Sell Squirrel Glider, buy Rufous Bettong, be wary of Koala fluctuations, but lookout for bargains as new species are listed:

Time to sell Squirrel Gliders as their spot price has dropped from $450 to $425, with Southern Myotis performing worse dropping from over $1,500 to $895. Koalas are risky with highly variable prices, though opportunities exist for astute investors with the spot price tripling from June to August to $600, steady performers are Brush-tailed Phascogale, Rufous Bettong and coastal Emus. While the Forestry Corporation destroys Rusty Plum around Coffs with abandon, they may want to reconsider as their spot price is currently $1,351 – they could make a motza. The Federal Government’s entry into the market and increased listings will create more opportunities for high returns. These schemes facilitate a net loss of habitat, and are rife with corruption, but as logging and clearing proceed spot prices can only increase, and new opportunities will be created as more species are listed.

These are real market values, reflecting performance and trading activity in a way that’s visually similar to any financial exchange. But these spot prices and trade volumes do not apply to the animals themselves, rather to the habitats and ecosystems that they occupy. They’re listed on the Biodiversity Credits Market Sales Dashboard, run by the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment.

In Australia, the environmental markets that have been established for water, carbon and biodiversity have all proved counterproductive. And media investigations into the NSW biodiversity scheme have revealed extensive corruption. The Australia Institute found that land clearing in NSW has increased because of Australia’s carbon market. The water market is a “case study in everything that can go wrong when our policy response to protecting a natural resource is to commodify it”, says Maryanne Slattery, principal of the water consultancy specialists, Slattery & Johnson.

Under Labor, it seems the biggest risk to Australia’s environment is that it will keep its promise – of leaving the protection of our most fragile ecosystems to the private sector.

https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/environment/2022/12/10/why-biodiversity-environment-market-doesnt-work#mtr

https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/biodiversity-offsets-scheme/offset-obligations-and-credit-trading/biodiversity-credits-market-sales-dashboard

Burning wildlife:

Zylstra has another paper decrying our reliance on erroneous concepts of fuel-reduction burning to reduce wildfire risk, emphasising the impacts of such a flawed strategy on wildlife while promoting his alternative approach.

In 2018, a prescribed burn by local authorities was conducted in the Warrungup Spring reserve. Despite burning slowly as planned, it killed 17 of the 22 [endangered western ringtail] possums Dixon was monitoring.

As depicted in the image below, the supposedly low-intensity fire would have heated the air above it to more than 500℃. This would burn the respiratory tracts of possums inside the hollow in just a few minutes.

Bad fire science is killing our threatened species, but alternatives are available. These approaches reinforce, rather than disrupt, natural ecological controls on forest fire. They include traditional Indigenous fire knowledge, and modern techniques to minimise the extent of dense regrowth in the landscape.

By cooperating with nature to minimise fire risk, we can protect species that have persisted through aeons.

https://theconversation.com/bad-fire-science-can-kill-our-threatened-species-its-time-to-cooperate-with-nature-196363?utm

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/aec.13264

Protecting State forests:

As part of the Palaszczuk Government’s election commitment to transfer 20,000 hectares of state forest to Queensland’s protected areas, they have announced a number of state forests will be conserved earlier (including the controversial Ferny Forest), with $262.5 million announced to expand and create new national parks.

https://arr.news/2022/12/14/state-forests-to-be-protected-scanlon/

Jarrah mining:

Western Australia’s draft Forest Management Plan has come under attack from bushwalking group HikeWest for failing to include sufficient of the northern Jarrah forests in reserves, with only 15% included in reserves protected from bauxite mining.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/western-australia/last-chance-new-wa-plan-will-profoundly-impact-our-jarrah-forests-20221208-p5c4xc.html

SPECIES

Misty eyed:

The Mountain Mist Frog was once found across two-thirds of the wet-tropics, but after not being seen for 25 years is now recognised as extinct, likely due to chytrid fungus and rising temperatures.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/dec/10/australias-mountain-mist-frog-declared-extinct-as-red-list-reveals-biodiversity-crisis

Saving our Species:

Saving our Species provide 12 examples of their efforts to breed, translocate and survey for threatened species, though they don’t provide assessments of the effectiveness of their wild releases.

https://inspiringnsw.org.au/2022/12/14/12-wins-for-conservation-in-2022/

 Killing Koalas to save them:

Victorian authorities have euthanised more than a quarter (28) of koalas health-checked at a national park in the state’s southwest, after they were found to have health issues and be unviable, which is attributed to “overpopulation” at the site. This follows a similar operation in May that euthanised 30 koalas.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/sad-reason-aussie-state-euthanised-28-koalas-in-forest-victoria-delwp-budj-bim-015147607.html

… stress testing Koalas:

The Stress Lab reviewed the effectiveness of an off-the-shelf stress test, and found it worked for Koalas.

Data from NSW in 2020 showed over 15% of rescued koalas were either euthanised or died in care over a 29 year period. Meanwhile, a 2016 study found over 60% of koalas were euthanised or died in care in southeast Queensland between 2009 and 2014. Only a small proportion are released back to the wild.

https://theconversation.com/testing-the-stress-levels-of-rescued-koalas-allows-us-to-tweak-their-care-so-more-survive-in-the-wild-196224

Suffocating fish:

Alarm is growing over perilously low dissolved-oxygen in floodwaters across large sections of the Murray River where fish are “probably just about all dead”, and worse to come. Communities are installing aerators to increase oxygen levels - though it’s just a band-aid solution.

“It’s really alarming,” Wright said. “I have seen low oxygen but not this sort of a trend, and even a few weeks ago I would have said the fish were in serious, dire straits.”

Wright has sampled and tested the water quality of rivers for 35 years. He said 0.5mg/L is “like us as humans trying to hold our breath for a few hours”.

“These levels are so low,” he said. “The insect life living in rivers that the fish eat would be killed from this. So the fish, the invertebrates, we’re talking about a breakdown of the food chain.”

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/dec/14/the-silent-killer-of-flooding-murray-river-fish-in-dire-straits-as-water-quality-drops

And Murray-river turtles are being washed out to sea.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-13/floodwaters-push-murray-river-turtles-onto-sa-beach/101753086

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

Counting biomass losses:

Accounting for changes in carbon storage in the forest area, as well as CO2 emissions from the burning of harvested wood, makes burning forests for electricity even more polluting.

The problem is that the methodology currently used by REDII for judging greenhouse gas balances is far too narrow to provide an accurate answer and, as such, often gives the wrong answer, encouraging the harvesting of forest wood instead of the protection of forests (which would better serve the EU’s climate goals).

But if we plug in a carbon storage loss of 0.62 tonnes of CO2 m-³, we find that wood harvesting for energy will actually serve to raise emissions 13% over a fossil fuel equivalent. If we plug in the mean level of carbon storage lost in Germany (of 1.15 tonnes of CO2 m-³) into the equations, we find that firewood and wood chips, when sourced from primary woody biomass, actually more than double the emissions associated with burning them as a substitute for fossil energy (see details in Hennenberg et al. 2022 and Fehrenbach et al. 2022).

https://www.euractiv.com/section/biomass/opinion/why-burning-primary-woody-biomass-is-worse-than-fossil-fuels-for-climate/

A new use of forests:

The governments of Ontario and Canada are investing more than $11.3 million to expand CHAR Technologies’ facility in Thorold to produce “renewable” natural gas (RNG) and biocarbon (a coal substitute) – creating the largest facility of its kind in Canada, and the only RNG facility in the country to exclusively use woody biomass

“This new facility will produce clean alternative fuels and increase sustainability in the forest sector through new and emerging uses of renewable forest biomass,” said Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “Our investment in CHAR Technologies is an investment in Ontario, which will boost productivity, create jobs and support a thriving forest economy that communities throughout the province depend on.”

https://canadianinquirer.net/2022/12/14/ontario-and-canada-investing-in-clean-energy-production-using-forest-biomass/

The great die-off:

Drought-stricken Oregon saw a historic die-off of fir trees in 2022 that left hillsides once lush with green conifers dotted with patches of red, dead trees, totalling about 1.1 million acres of forest, the most damage recorded in a single season since surveys began 75 years ago. 

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/firmageddon-researchers-find-11-million-acres-dead-trees-oregon-rcna59671

TURNING IT AROUND

Expanding urban forests as rural forests decline:

The City of Sydney has developed a plan to expand canopy cover and make urban areas cooler and calmer.

“We know how important urban forests are to the liveability of our city. Trees cool our homes, streets and parks, build resilience and improve mental and physical wellbeing,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“We’ve planted more than 16,000 street trees since 2004 because we see trees and other urban greenery as essential infrastructure – as important as roads and broadband internet.

“We’re in the middle of a climate crisis and we’re already experiencing its impacts. More shade in more corners of the city will help us to combat the urban heat island effect and better place Sydney to mitigate some of the worst impacts of extreme heatwaves. Effective and extensive canopy cover can reduce temperatures on the ground by up to 10 degrees.”

https://www.miragenews.com/growing-sydneys-sprawling-urban-forest-914310/

Getting down and dirty:

In Finland they greened up pre-schools by planting grass and shrubs, and putting in gardens, which increased T-cells and other important immune markers in the kids blood within 28 days – another example of the benefits of nature.

Compared to other city kids who play in standard urban daycares with yards of pavement, tile, and gravel, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds at these greened-up daycare centers in Finland showed increased T-cells and other important immune markers in their blood within 28 days.

"We also found that the intestinal microbiota of children who received greenery was similar to the intestinal microbiota of children visiting the forest every day," explained environmental scientist Marja Roslund from the University of Helsinki in 2020, when the research was published.

Research shows getting outside is also good for a child's eyesight, and being in nature as a kid is linked to better mental health. Some recent studies have even shown green spaces are linked to structural changes in the brains of children.

Bonding with nature as a kid is also good for the future of our planet's ecosystems. Studies show kids who spend time outdoors are more likely to want to become environmentalists as adults, and in a rapidly changing world, that's more important than ever.

The study was published in Science Advances.

https://www.sciencealert.com/daycares-in-finland-built-a-forest-and-it-changed-kids-immune-systems


Forest Media 9 December 2022

New South Wales

Environment activist Violet (Deanna) CoCo was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment in the Downing Centre Magistrates Court in Sydney for peacefully blocking one lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for approximately 25 minutes with three other Fireproof Australia campaigners, to let people know that we’re in a climate emergency that requires urgent action. Premier Perrottet welcomed the sentence, stating “If protesters want to put our way of life at risk, then they should have the book thrown at them and that’s pleasing to see”, with NSW Labor leader Chris Minns echoing his support. In response, activists and concerned citizens of Lismore and Northern Rivers will rally at 10 am on Saturday 10 December in Peace Park in Lismore on International Human Rights Day.

News of the Area has a story about the grassroots campaign for a Great Koala National Park, including about the e-petition that is on the NSW Legislative Assembly website: https://www.koalapark.org.au/petition. The December Nimbin Goodtimes has an article by Sue Higginson about the killing of the Koala-killing Bill II, urging people to use the State election to vote for forests. They also have an article about the legal challenge to logging in Cherry Tree SF.

An alliance of local and national environment groups have called for a moratorium on land clearing across 810,000 hectares between Barrington Tops and Hawkesbury River, documented in the Barrington to Hawkesbury Climate Corridors Alliance report, which combines habitat suitability modelling and NSW government climate corridor mapping to identify 22 wildlife corridors essential for the survival of threatened species in face of climate change.

Australia

There were a variety of articles with background on the Samuel’s review and what the Commonwealth needs to do for threatened species, leading up to Thursday’s announcement. The decision was announced on Thursday, for forests it basically involves applying National Environmental Standards (which are yet to be developed to existing RFAs), with no contemporary review of “evergreen” RFAs, and reliance on conservation advices (many of which ignore logging) to guide protection for threatened species. Some think that having to deal with threatened species in RFA’s will make a big difference, though the Australian Forest Products Association welcomed Pliberseck’s commitment to RFAs and “the Federal Government’s rejection of the bulk of Samuel’s recommendations around RFAs”. It is basically pursing the previous government’s agenda of doing more regional agreements, with red areas (mostly MNES) for protection, orange areas requiring assessments, and green areas for development. There are many environmental platitudes, though the devil is in the details which we are yet to see. These are some highlights of their PR:

  • The Government will work with stakeholders and relevant jurisdictions towards applying National Environmental Standards to Regional Forest Agreements to support their ongoing operation together with stronger environmental protection. The timing and form of this requirement will be subject to further consultation with stakeholders. Consultation will consider future management and funding opportunities under voluntary environmental markets.
  • National Environmental Standards to improve environmental protections and guide decision-making by setting clear, demonstrable outcomes for regulated activities under the new Act. The standard for Matters of National Environmental Significance will be developed first, requiring projects and plans to: (a) avoid unacceptable and unsustainable impacts on matters of national environmental significance, (b) deliver net positive outcomes for Matters of National Environmental Significance.
  • establishing an independent Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure compliance and enforcement
  • Regional Planning Initiative designed to pre-identify areas for protection, restoration and sustainable development.
  • a new Data Division will improve the availability, access and quality of environmental information
  • reform offset arrangements to ensure they deliver gains for the environment and reduce delays for project developers, where a proponent is unable to find or secure ‘like for like’ offsets, the proponent will be able to make a conservation payment. They will establish a nature repair market to make it easier for businesses and individuals to invest in nature.
  • streamline existing processes under the EPBC Act, including by removing prescriptive processes and underutilised assessment pathways, improving flexibility, adaptability and assurance of strategic assessments and improving wildlife trade permitting practices.
  • No right to limited merits review of decisions, as they may prevent projects from proceeding in a timely manner, as matters are held up by courts, which can lead to unreasonable and unfair costs for proponents. Members of the public will continue to be able to bring legal claims against decisions of the EPA or the minister for errors of law.
  • First Nations participation in improved management of Australia’s land, fresh waters and sea, including new cultural heritage protection laws, new National Environmental Standard for First Nations Engagement and Participation in Decision-Making, and more control over Commonwealth National Parks
  • embedding climate considerations in all roles and functions of government, including information on climate-exposed habitats, species and places.

A Biodiversity Council, a scientist-led thinktank based at the University of Melbourne, is being established along the lines of the Climate Council to raise awareness of the biodiversity crisis, with the aim of being a “strong and trusted voice for biodiversity” backed by science, including First People’s knowledge. It was launched by the environment minister, Tanya Plibersek.

The Australian Forest Products Association has praised Prime Minister Albanese for his strong support for the logging industry, commitments to removing regulatory barriers in the Emissions Reduction Fund so they can claim carbon credits, removing the water rule which limits plantations to regions where they will not affect water supply, and the gift of $300 million allocated to them in budget. They are just like the Coalition.

An urgent injunction has been upheld against logging by the Tasmanian Government, and its logging agency, Forestry Tasmania, at Mt Tongatabu through the Tasmanian Supreme Court.

A new report says “Queensland outpaces all other Australian jurisdictions combined in annual bulldozing of forests primarily for beef, and it’s the primary reason why eastern Australia is listed as a global deforestation front,” with about a quarter of the deforestation occurring in ecosystems deemed endangered due to past clearing, and likely habitat of 388 plants and animals, including endangered koalas.

A heatwave across much of northern Australia reached emergency levels this week, as communities across northern Australia struggled through a week of sweltering conditions, with Mt Isa recording 43oC, Birdsville 45.6C, Marble Bar had four consecutive days above 45C, and the west Kimberly and Pilbara regions are expected to reach 47C to 48C on Sunday and Monday.  The heatwave stirred up violent storms in south-east Queensland, with Sexton residents - northwest of Gympie - reporting hailstones as wide as 10cm. Meanwhile there was a cold snap in the south, with snow-showers in Victoria. La Niña is weakening, allowing for hotter conditions, and it may be a bad season for cyclones. As the world heats the atmosphere can hold more water, leading to more extreme floods, and with extreme rainfalls already increased by 13–24%, another rise of 0.4oC already locked in, and far more to come, flash floods are going to get a lot worse.

The Teals are not primarily Liberal defectors, a new Australian National University study found that of those who voted teal, 31% had voted Labor in 2019, 24% for the Greens and just 18% for the Coalition (23% voted other.)

Species

It may come as a shock, but the Greater Glider has leapfrogged from not being listed as threatened in NSW to Endangered due to climate change, bushfires and native logging severely reducing its population and habitat,

A YouGov study of 1000+ metro and regional NSW residents for the Sydney Basin Koala Network found that less than a third of residents (31%) aware that koalas live in neighbouring bushland in close proximity to busy residential areas in the Sydney Basin, but over four-in-five (84%) NSW citizens say that koala habitats should be protected from development (including housing, mining, logging, and more). The Sydney Basin Koala Network is seeking to raise awareness of Koalas in the Illawarra, complaining that most people are unaware that Koalas live on the Illawarra escarpment and its neighbouring catchments because “There’s been no surveys, no studies of koalas there, there’s been nothing”. The Total Environment Centre is calling for protections limiting major development including enforcing a new 400m wide koala green belt around Sydney.

A contentious wind farm proposed for Tasmania's north-western tip has been given the green light from the state's environment watchdog, but under the condition it doesn't operate for five months of the year because it is a migration area for the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot, though the proponents are hopefully of getting this restriction reduced.

Three parties have been charged with more than 250 animal cruelty offences after hundreds of koalas were found either dead, dehydrated or starving at a private property in Cape Bridgewater in 2020, with the first to be tried fined $20,000 - just like our forestry, the contractor said if he saw a koala in a tree he would spare it, and cut it down later once the Koala had left. Australian Ethical is threatening to sell its $11 million worth of Lendlease shares because migration corridors are insufficient to protect one of the few chlamydia-free koala populations in Australia in Lendlease’s proposed housing development at Mount Gilead near Campbelltown on Sydney’s outskirts.

The extreme floods are a boon for waterbirds and red gums, but many animals, such as kangaroos and wombats, are being flooded out and their grasses killed, de-oxygenated "blackwater" has killed large numbers of native fish, including iconic species such as the Murray Cod, and the sediments washed out to sea are suffocating seagrasses and killing Dugongs, and possibly turtles. The problem is that the effects of the series of extreme events from droughts and fires to floods will have compounding impacts imperilling many species.

The University of Sydney and Invertebrates Australia are asking for citizen scientists to participate in a project to find out where all the Christmas beetles have gone, as populations have apparently crashed.

The Deteriorating Problem

European forests are increasingly suffering from the effects of global heating as stressed trees succumb to droughts and insect attack, with a recent study measuring tree rings found European beech, Germany's most important native forest tree species, is suffering from increasing drought stress during summer, particularly on drier sites and sandy soils.

Turning it Around

A study found that while extreme protest tactics can raise awareness they decreased popular support for a given cause because they reduced feelings of identification with the movement.

The Cop15 biodiversity summit will be held in Montreal from December 7-19 to work on a new framework agreement, theoretically to end biodiversity decline by halting extinctions, protecting 30% of the earth’s land and seas for conservation by 2030, and making sure business accounts for the impacts it has on nature by making nature-related financial disclosures. In an article in Nature, Sandra Diaz describes scientists efforts to have COP 15 take meaningful action on biodiversity, expressing dismay at how explicit targets in the initial draft were wound back or “bracketed” for debate, commenting “Now, to avert failure, we exhort the governments gathering in Montreal to be brave, long-sighted and open-hearted, and to produce a visionary, ambitious biodiversity framework, grounded in knowledge. … If not now, when?” An international alliance is calling for the protection of primary forests, with over a hundred groups signing on, including NEFA.

In the build-up to COP 15, more than 650 scientists wrote to world leaders urging them to stop burning trees to make energy because it destroys valuable habitats for wildlife, is more polluting than coal, is not ‘carbon neutral’, and undermines international climate and nature targets, arguing “The best thing for the climate and biodiversity is to leave forests standing – and biomass energy does the opposite,”

Enviva is the largest maker of wood pellets burned for energy in the world, claiming it only uses wood waste, “tops, limbs, thinnings, and/or low-value smaller trees”, though a whistleblower in North Carolina says that increased European demand is leading to clearfelling with100% whole trees in our pellets” and that limbs and debris were “left laying on the ground; they don’t want that stuff.” As the European Union seeks to soon finalize its revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED), forest advocates urge last minute changes to significantly cut the use of woody biomass for energy and make deep reductions in EU subsidies to the wood pellet industry, if RED is approved as drafted, bioenergy use is projected to double between 2015 and 2050.

In Canada eight environmental groups have filed a complaint with Canada’s Competition Bureau alleging the industry’s Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) forestry certification standard has made “false and misleading” claims in an effort to greenwash the country’s lumber and wood products. 

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Suppressing dissent:

Environment activist Violet (Deanna) CoCo was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment in the Downing Centre Magistrates Court in Sydney for peacefully blocking one lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for approximately 25 minutes with three other Fireproof Australia campaigners, to let people know that we’re in a climate emergency that requires urgent action.

https://www.echo.net.au/2022/12/protests-against-violet-cocos-15-months-imprisonment/

Premier Perrottet welcomed the sentence, stating “If protesters want to put our way of life at risk, then they should have the book thrown at them and that’s pleasing to see”, with NSW Labor leader Chris Minns echoing his support.

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/state/nsw/2022/12/05/deanna-coco-bridge-jail/

This was political blather slathered upon self-evident nonsense. The clear threat to our way of life, as everyone in this incinerated and inundated state knows, is climate change, not traffic snarls on the Harbour Bridge.

Protest action that does not inconvenience people is not protest action. Protest is the grit in our democratic process. It is inconvenient by design and necessity. Perrottet celebrating the incarceration of a peaceful young woman who had been advocating for the greater good was unworthy of a leader whose public presence is normally marked by more grace.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/perrottet-s-joy-at-a-young-woman-s-jail-time-was-ugly-20221207-p5c4kq.html

Here, another overpaid moron perpetuates the uniquely pig-ignorant political brainworm that dictates the worst "suffering" that can happen in 2022 is to have some cars blocked by a greenie for a bit. 

The Saturday Paper piece by Mike Seccombe, ‘The end of direct action’, considers the death of democratic tolerance for civil disobedience in Australia. What has happened to Coco is the end product of several years of legislating against action like hers.

Australia once held what is regularly cited among environmentalists as the world’s first eco-blockade: the defence of Terania Creek’s rainforest in northern NSW against planned logging.

… If even non-violence is treated with such shock and awe, if even non-violence is being rendered so utterly impossible, it is time to think beyond it.

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/climate-activists-must-box-clever-in-the-face-of-dumb-anti-protest-laws,17048

In response, activists and concerned citizens of Lismore and Northern Rivers will rally at 10 am on Saturday 10 December in Peace Park in Lismore on International Human Rights Day.

https://www.echo.net.au/2022/12/rally-for-the-right-to-protest-on-dec-10/

Great Koalas:

News of the Area has a story about the grassroots campaign for a Great Koala National Park (GKNP), including about the e-petition that is on the NSW Legislative Assembly website: https://www.koalapark.org.au/petition.

[Paula Flack] “The GKNP will generate enormous economic activity in the region, with far more jobs being created than exist currently in native forest logging, so it makes no sense to not create it.”

She said the campaign is not about locking up forests but about protecting them to be enjoyed sustainably for public recreation into the future.

Information about support, merchandise, videos and more is at koalapark.org.au.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/the-campaign-to-create-a-great-koala-national-park-ramps-up

Killing Koala killing:

The December Nimbin Goodtimes has an article by Sue Higginson about the killing of the Koala-killing Bill II, urging people to use the State election to vote for forests. They also have an article about the legal challenge to logging in Cherry Tree SF.

Nimbin Goodtimes December 2022

Hunter corridors:

An alliance of local and national environment groups have called for a moratorium on land clearing across 810,000 hectares between Barrington Tops and Hawkesbury River, documented in the Barrington to Hawkesbury Climate Corridors Alliance report, which combines habitat suitability modelling and NSW government climate corridor mapping to identify 22 wildlife corridors essential for the survival of threatened species in face of climate change.

https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/8003445/barrington-hawkesbury-corridor-the-last-line-of-defence-against-climate-change/

AUSTRALIA

Federal environment announcement:

There were a variety of articles with background on the Samuel’s review and what the Commonwealth needs to do for threatened species, leading up to Thursday’s announcement.

https://www.inverelltimes.com.au/story/8010216/australias-flawed-laws-for-nature/

https://www.begadistrictnews.com.au/story/8010803/nature-positive-plan-balancing-act-in-environmental-law-overhaul/

The decision was announced on Thursday, for forests it basically involves applying National Environmental Standards (which are yet to be developed to existing RFAs), with no contemporary review of “evergreen” RFAs, and reliance on conservation advices (many of which ignore logging) to guide protection for threatened species. Some think that having to deal with threatened species in RFA’s will make a big difference, though the Australian Forest Products Association welcomed Pliberseck’s commitment to RFAs and “the Federal Government’s rejection of the bulk of Samuel’s recommendations around RFAs”. It is basically pursing the previous government’s agenda of doing more regional agreements, with red areas (mostly MNES) for protection, orange areas requiring assessments, and green areas for development. There are many environmental platitudes, though the devil is in the details which we are yet to see. These are some highlights of their PR:

  • The Government will work with stakeholders and relevant jurisdictions towards applying National Environmental Standards to Regional Forest Agreements to support their ongoing operation together with stronger environmental protection. The timing and form of this requirement will be subject to further consultation with stakeholders. Consultation will consider future management and funding opportunities under voluntary environmental markets.
  • National Environmental Standards to improve environmental protections and guide decision-making by setting clear, demonstrable outcomes for regulated activities under the new Act. The standard for Matters of National Environmental Significance will be developed first, requiring projects and plans to: (a) avoid unacceptable and unsustainable impacts on matters of national environmental significance, (b) deliver net positive outcomes for Matters of National Environmental Significance.
  • establishing an independent Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure compliance and enforcement
  • Regional Planning Initiative designed to pre-identify areas for protection, restoration and sustainable development.
  • a new Data Division will improve the availability, access and quality of environmental information
  • reform offset arrangements to ensure they deliver gains for the environment and reduce delays for project developers, where a proponent is unable to find or secure ‘like for like’ offsets, the proponent will be able to make a conservation payment. They will establish a nature repair market to make it easier for businesses and individuals to invest in nature.
  • streamline existing processes under the EPBC Act, including by removing prescriptive processes and underutilised assessment pathways, improving flexibility, adaptability and assurance of strategic assessments and improving wildlife trade permitting practices.
  • No right to limited merits review of decisions, as they may prevent projects from proceeding in a timely manner, as matters are held up by courts, which can lead to unreasonable and unfair costs for proponents. Members of the public will continue to be able to bring legal claims against decisions of the EPA or the minister for errors of law.
  • First Nations participation in improved management of Australia’s land, fresh waters and sea, including new cultural heritage protection laws, new National Environmental Standard for First Nations Engagement and Participation in Decision-Making, more control over Commonwealth National Parks
  • embedding climate considerations in all roles and functions of government, including information on climate-exposed habitats, species and places.

https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/epbc/epbc-act-reform

Under the changes, the government flagged loggers could be forced to comply with new national standards, which would likely make native forestry logging impossible in many parts of the country.

But exactly how and when that would happen remains unclear, with the government saying it will work with states and other stakeholders "towards" making those changes, and noting the "form" of the change is yet to be determined.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-08/australia-environment-laws-federal-epa/101744044

The Federal Government’s commitment to retain Australia’s Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) is an endorsement of Australia’s sustainable forest practices and will be welcomed by forest industry workers around the country, Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Chief Executive Officer Ross Hampton said.

Ross Hampton said forest industries welcomed the Federal Government’s rejection of the bulk of Samuel’s recommendations around RFAs, which would have significantly undermined the continued operation of the hardwood timber industry and the national supply of many essential products.

“We are pleased that Minister Plibersek has reiterated the position of the former Coalition Government in recommitting to the continued operation of RFAs.

https://www.nationaltribune.com.au/federal-government-s-recommitment-to-regional-forest-agreements-welcomed/

Environmental groups cautiously welcomed sweeping reforms to federal environment laws that would create a new national Environmental Protection Agency which has greater oversight over development proposals and emissions.

But many criticised Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek for failing to include a so-called climate trigger law that could halt developments due to their potential climate impact.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/conservation/nature-is-being-destroyed-things-have-to-change-plibersek-flags-environmental-law-overhaul-20221208-p5c4mr.html

https://minister.dcceew.gov.au/plibersek/media-releases/stakeholder-support-labors-nature-positive-plan-better-environment-better-business

https://www.acf.org.au/encouraging-start-to-nature-law-reform

Critically, national standards will be applied to Australia’s failing Regional Forest Agreements which allow state logging operators to destroy endangered species habitat without Commonwealth scrutiny. These gaps have forced species including Leadbeater’s possum, greater gliders, swift parrots towards extinction.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/game-changer-plan-to-save-australia-koalas-extinction-013959027.html

[Greens environment spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young] “There is nothing in this package to save our iconic koala. There is nothing in this package to protect our native forests.

“There is no climate trigger, indeed there is very little to address the impact of the climate crisis on the environment at all. The Minister also retains far too much power to influence environmental approvals with no truly independent cop-on-the-beat.”

https://reneweconomy.com.au/net-zero-extinctions-new-epa-to-play-tough-cop-on-emissions-but-not-all-of-them/

As biodiversity conservation experts, we find the plan to be promising. … But some uncertainty remains, and there is also a lot of important detail still to be worked through.

But this defence has failed, time and again. In just one example, the extinction threat facing the iconic koala has become worse, not better, since it was “protected” under the EPBC Act.

Crucially, these standards will apply to “regional forest agreements”. These agreements are controversial because they effectively exempt forest logging from scrutiny under the EPBC Act. However, the timeline for imposing the standards on regional forest agreements is uncertain, and currently “subject to further consultation with stakeholders”.

https://theconversation.com/our-laws-fail-nature-the-governments-plan-to-overhaul-them-looks-good-but-crucial-detail-is-yet-to-come-196126

Biodiversity Council:

A Biodiversity Council, a scientist-led thinktank based at the University of Melbourne, is being established along the lines of the Climate Council to raise awareness of the biodiversity crisis, with the aim of being a “strong and trusted voice for biodiversity” backed by science, including First People’s knowledge. It was launched by the environment minister, Tanya Plibersek.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/dec/07/australia-biodiversity-council-threatened-species-animals-plants-launch-tanya-plibersek?CMP=share_btn_link

Loggers love Albo:

The Australian Forest Products Association has praised Prime Minister Albanese for his strong support for the logging industry, commitments to removing regulatory barriers in the Emissions Reduction Fund so they can claim carbon credits and removing the water rule which limits plantations to regions where they will not affect water supply, and the gift of $300 million allocated to them in budget. They are just like the Coalition.

Speaking at the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Members Dinner in Canberra recently, Mr Albanese congratulated AFPA and the National Farmers Federation (NFF) for leading a joint agriculture and forestry delegation to the climate talks just concluded in Egypt.

He was adamant that Australia’s signing of the Forest and Climate Leaders Partnership (FCLP) at COP27, initiated by the UK, was completely consistent with supporting climate smart forestry such as is practiced in Australia:

The chair of AFPA, Diana Gibbs, thanked Mr Albanese and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator, Murray Watt, for their support of forestry and its role in delivering climate goals, timber for our homes, regional jobs and sovereign capability.

“I was very pleased to have the opportunity to thank them both for the more than $300 million in election commitments which have been delivered in the budget,” she said.

https://www.gippslandtimes.com.au/news/2022/12/08/albo-backs-sustainable-forestry/

Tasmanian logging halted:

An urgent injunction has been upheld against logging by the Tasmanian Government, and its logging agency, Forestry Tasmania, at Mt Tongatabu through the Tasmanian Supreme Court.

Tom Allen for the Wilderness Society (Tasmania) … “It is because of the weak and failing logging regulations in this state that more local communities will have logging suddenly sprung on them and face the prospect of their precious local forest being destroyed. This prospect is unacceptable when it comes to the public’s community rights and it’s unacceptable in the context of the worsening climate and biodiversity crises. The lack of Commonwealth Government oversight is allowing this scandalously poor self-regulation to happen.

https://tasmaniantimes.com/2022/12/mt-tongatabu-logging-injunction-upheld/

Clearly obscene:

A new report says “Queensland outpaces all other Australian jurisdictions combined in annual bulldozing of forests primarily for beef, and it’s the primary reason why eastern Australia is listed as a global deforestation front,” with about a quarter of the deforestation occurring in ecosystems deemed endangered due to past clearing, and likely habitat of 388 plants and animals, including endangered koalas.

The Wilderness Society’s Hannah Schuch called for supermarkets and fast food chains to commit to sourcing beef from producers who don’t contribute to deforestation.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/aussies-are-horrified-qld-beef-farms-drive-deforestation-20221206-p5c48a.html

Extreme temperatures across northern Australia.

A heatwave across much of northern Australia reached emergency levels this week, as communities across northern Australia struggled through a week of sweltering conditions, with Mt Isa recording 43oC, Birdsville 45.6C, Marble Bar had four consecutive days above 45C, and the west Kimberly and Pilbara regions are expected to reach 47C to 48C on Sunday and Monday.  The heatwave stirred up violent storms in south-east Queensland, with Sexton residents - northwest of Gympie - reporting hailstones as wide as 10cm. Meanwhile there was a cold snap in the south, with snow-showers in Victoria.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-06/nt-heatwave-emergency-northern-australia/101739196

https://www.9news.com.au/national/weather-news-australia-forecast-extreme-temperatures-warming-up-north-snow-south/cbcee81e-0f4b-405d-8917-9fe2d552343f

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11518635/Nasty-storms-giant-hail-smash-state.html

Human-caused climate change is also bringing more frequent and intense heatwaves to the continent and pretty much the whole world. We have increased the odds of having extreme heat events in Australia through humanity’s ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions. This means we must be prepared for more heat regardless of what’s going on with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation or other climate influences.

https://www.miragenews.com/extreme-heat-in-midst-of-big-wet-for-northern-911341/

… and extreme rainfalls set to increase:

As the world heats the atmosphere can hold more water, leading to more extreme floods, and with extreme rainfalls already increased by 13–24%, another rise of 0.4oC already locked in, and far more to come, flash floods are going to get a lot worse.

It is estimated that for every degree of warming there is a seven per cent increase of water in the atmosphere.

‘Unfortunately extreme rain and flooding will continue to get worse for decades to come as we have at least another 0.4 degrees of global warming locked in that is likely to be reached by 2030 – in the next ten years.

Daily rainfall associated with thunderstorms has increased 13–24 per cent between 1979–2016, particularly in northern Australia (Dowdy 2020).

‘The most intense precipitation events observed today are likely to almost double in occurrence for each degree of further global warming,’ explained Brendan.

The full webinar is available on the Farmers for Climate Action website: https://farmersforclimateaction.org.au/portfolio/how-climate-change-is-driving-more-frequent-and-intense-floods.

https://www.echo.net.au/2022/12/why-a-warming-climate-creates-more-devastating-rain-impacts/

When you mix red and green you get teal:

The Teals are not primarily Liberal defectors, a new Australian National University study found that of those who voted teal, 31% had voted Labor in 2019, 24% for the Greens and just 18% for the Coalition (23% voted other.)

https://media.streem.com.au/restricted/bo0J5rBsBYW?keywords%5B%5D=Parliament%E2%80%99s&keywords%5B%5D=coal&keywords%5B%5D=NSW&keywords%5B%5D=Energy%20Minister%20Matt%20Kean&keywords%5B%5D=MP&keywords%5B%5D=NSW%20Parliament&keywords%5B%5D=Parliament

SPECIES

Greater Glider Endangered in NSW:

It may come as a shock, but the Greater Glider has leapfrogged from not being listed as threatened in NSW to Endangered due to climate change, bushfires and native logging severely reducing its population and habitat,

WWF Australia conservation scientist Stuart Blanch said … This trend would continue until stronger action was taken to stop deforestation and native logging – two of the biggest drivers in habitat destruction. He added there also needed to be greater incentives for farmers to protect forests, providing an economic alternative to logging.

David Lindenmayer said scientists have known this was the most likely outcome for the mammal for the past ten years, but inadequate plans to end native forestry and poor environmental laws have led to its demise.

NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders said … “Importantly, in every tree harvesting operation, strict conditions are applied that were developed by expert scientific panels to protect the habitat of species such as the Greater Glider.”

Saunders did not comment on whether an end to native forest logging would be considered for NSW. Victoria and Western Australia have already set end dates.

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/greater-glider-now-endangered-in-nsw-but-what-is-driving-its-demise-20221202-p5c36m.html

https://www.miragenews.com/endangered-listing-of-southern-greater-gliders-907664/

The sensitivity of Southern Greater Gliders to timber harvesting has been well documented. Although some habitat across the species’ range is found in conservation reserves (Smith and Smith 2018; Wagner et al. 2020), prime habitat coincides largely with areas suitable for timber harvesting (Braithwaite 1984). There is a progressive decline in numbers of hollow bearing trees in some production forests, as harvesting rotations become shorter and dead stags collapse, and hollow bearing trees are not being replaced due to lack of recruitment (Ross 1999; Ball et al. 1999; Lindenmayer et al. 2011; Lindenmayer et al. 2012). Recovery of subpopulations following timber harvesting is slow. Populations in southeast NSW had not recovered eight years after timber harvesting in sites retaining 62%, 52% and 21% of the original tree basal area (Kavanagh and Webb 1998). In the regrowth Mountain Ash forests (Central Highlands) of Victoria, Southern Greater Gliders were absent post-timber harvesting until the regenerating forests were >38 years old (Macfarlane 1988). Timber harvesting continues to put pressure on remaining Southern Greater Glider habitat. However, Forestry regulations in NSW contain a range of mitigation measures intended to address the risks including the establishment of wildlife habitat clumps, tree retention clumps, hollow tree, future hollow tree protection and large areas set aside as protection area (EPA 2018). ‘Loss of hollow-bearing trees’ is listed as a Key Threatening Process under the Act.

https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/-/media/OEH/Corporate-Site/Documents/Animals-and-plants/Scientific-Committee/Determinations/2022/final-determination-petauroides-volans-endangered.pdf?la=en&hash=5114D04E3B812FAA599E1CFA64717FE7B6CDB6B9

Koala ignorance:

A YouGov study of 1000+ metro and regional NSW residents for the Sydney Basin Koala Network found that less than a third of residents (31%) aware that koalas live in neighbouring bushland in close proximity to busy residential areas in the Sydney Basin, but over four-in-five (84%) NSW citizens say that koala habitats should be protected from development (including housing, mining, logging, and more).

  • Over four-in-five (84%) NSW citizens say that koala habitats should be protected from development (including housing, mining, logging, and more). Just one-in-ten (10%) support the use of koala habitat
  • Asked about their views on the amount of native forest conserved for koala habitats, two-thirds (64%) say that it is ‘too little’ – this is especially pronounced for respondents outside the Sydney Basin region (70%, compared with 62% for Sydney Basin respondents).
  • Three-in-five (62%) say that property developers, logging and mining companies are given “too much” power over land use in natural forest.

https://www.ecovoice.com.au/new-voice-to-fight-for-koala-protection-sydney-basin-koala-network/

The Sydney Basin Koala Network is seeking to raise awareness of Koalas in the Illawarra, complaining that most people are unaware that Koalas live on the Illawarra escarpment and its neighbouring catchments because “There’s been no surveys, no studies of koalas there, there’s been nothing”.

https://www.theillawarraflame.com.au/science--nature/koalas-on-our-coast-need-your-help

The Total Environment Centre is calling for protections limiting major development including enforcing a new 400m koala green belt around Sydney.

https://www.denipt.com.au/national/sydney-needs-koala-belt-in-planning-future-2/

The cost of Koala killing:

Three parties have been charged with more than 250 animal cruelty offences after hundreds of koalas were found either dead, dehydrated or starving at a private property in Cape Bridgewater in 2020, with the first to be tried fined $20,000 - just like our forestry, the contractor said if he saw a koala in a tree he would spare it, and cut it down later once the Koala had left.

"To the end, regrettably, some 227 koalas were located alive, 40-odd were euthanised because of poor body condition and dehydration, and 21 were deceased," he said.

"[The director, Ken Hutchinson] would have been cognisant to what was going on around them and that the the reduction of the habitat would have led to the recognition it was insufficient for the population to survive adequately."

"If it were not for intervention in February 2020 the population of koalas would have starved to death within two months," Ms Locke said.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-08/contractor-fined-20k-over-cape-bridgewater-koala-deaths/101750076

Australian Ethical is threatening to sell its $11 million worth of Lendlease shares because migration corridors are insufficient to protect one of the few chlamydia-free koala populations in Australia in Lendlease’s proposed housing development at Mount Gilead near Campbelltown on Sydney’s outskirts.

https://www.skynews.com.au/opinion/ross-greenwood/koalas-are-at-the-subject-of-a-potential-11-million-share-sale/video/6e48fc1a105adcea7344049f76cbc1ac

A new threat to Orange-bellied Parrot:

A contentious wind farm proposed for Tasmania's north-western tip has been given the green light from the state's environment watchdog, but under the condition it doesn't operate for five months of the year because it is a migration area for the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot, though the proponents are hopefully of getting this restriction reduced.

[The Proponent] "The wind turbines aren't so lucrative that we could get away with only running them for half the time so that, in its current form, would be problematic for us and we'll need to consider our options going forward."

He conceded it could impact the viability of the project, but wasn't yet sure how much.

"The condition can be removed by the board subject to the provision of suitable evidence so it could be possible to provide such evidence," he said.

[BirdLife Tasmania] "You cannot have a wind farm with 120-plus turbines in the middle of wetlands that are important for migratory shore birds, resident shore birds, orange-bellied parrots, eagles.

"You're going to kill birds. There's no doubt that this wind farm will kill birds." 

[Christine Milne] "There's absolutely no doubt this company will appeal the decision of the Tasmanian EPA, and there is no doubt the EPA will go to water. There's also no doubt the federal government will go to water."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-08/orange-bellied-parrot-robbins-island-wind-farm-condition/101749762

Compounding extremes:

The extreme floods are a boon for waterbirds and red gums, but many animals, such as kangaroos and wombats, are being flooded out and their grasses killed, de-oxygenated "blackwater" has killed large numbers of native fish, including iconic species such as the Murray cod, and the sediments washed out to sea are suffocating seagrasses and killing Dugongs and possibly turtles. The problem is that the effects of the series of extreme events from droughts and fires to floods will have compounding impacts imperilling many species.

We expect blackwater events in floods, but if you keep having drought, flood, drought, flood, then ultimately your ecosystems get degraded if there's not enough time in between those events to repair," Professor Bergstrom says.

"If you keep having rapid or multiple events, it's basically chipping away at the backbones of your ecosystem."

Professor Bergstrom says this leads to weaknesses in the system and, ultimately, tipping points.

"And you may not notice them … people may not see the process of collapse because there's just a little bit here and a little bit there and then all of a sudden, bang, how did that happen."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-03/floods-impact-on-nature-some-animals-thrive-others-starve/101705264

Christmas loss:

The University of Sydney and Invertebrates Australia are asking for citizen scientists to participate in a project to find out where all the Christmas beetles have gone, as populations have apparently crashed.

citizen science project run by the University of Sydney and Invertebrates Australia aims to find out population trends and what's behind the anecdotal decline.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-08/christmas-beetle-mystery-citizen-science/101744318

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

European forests in decline:

European forests are increasingly suffering from the effects of global heating as stressed trees succumb to droughts and insect attack, with a recent study measuring tree rings finding European beech, Germany's most important native forest tree species, is suffering from increasing drought stress during summer, particularly on drier sites and sandy soils. 

https://phys.org/news/2022-12-climate-forests-northern-germany-team.html

TURNING IT AROUND

Extreme alienation:

A study found that while extreme protest tactics can raise awareness they decreased popular support for a given cause because they reduced feelings of identification with the movement.

Social movements are critical agents of change that vary greatly in both tactics and popular support. Prior work shows that extreme protest tactics – actions that are highly counter-normative, disruptive, or harmful to others, including inflammatory rhetoric, blocking traffic, and damaging property – are effective for gaining publicity. However, we find across three experiments that extreme protest tactics decreased popular support for a given cause because they reduced feelings of identification with the movement. Though this effect obtained in tests of popular responses to extreme tactics used by animal rights, Black Lives Matter, and anti-Trump protests (Studies 1-3), we found that self-identified political activists were willing to use extreme tactics because they believed them to be effective for recruiting popular support (Studies 4a & 4b). The activist’s dilemma – wherein tactics that raise awareness also tend to reduce popular support – highlights a key challenge faced by social movements struggling to affect progressive change.

To raise awareness and “get the message out,” it is strategic to engage in extreme behaviors that will attract widespread attention and media coverage. However, such behaviors typically reduce movement credibility to the broader public, undermining efforts to recruit and mobilize popular support by alienating potential supporters.

In addition, though we have emphasized that the same tactics that draw attention can often undermine support for a cause, some scholars have emphasized “agenda-setting” effects of social movements, arguing that the most viable path to social change is longer-term, by placing an issue in the consciousness of politicians and the public

Thus, while on face our findings appear to paint a dim picture of a social movement’s strategic options, we believe instead they highlight the high stakes associated with the planning of protest actions. History shows social movements can successfully affect social change. Future movements are most likely to follow in their footsteps when they strategically consider the perspective of the general public and how to win its favor.

https://pacscenter.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SSRN-id2911177.pdf

All eyes on COP 15:

The Cop15 biodiversity summit will be held in Montreal from December 7-19 to work on a new framework agreement, theoretically to end biodiversity decline by halting extinctions, protecting 30% of the earth’s land and seas for conservation by 2030, and making sure business accounts for the impacts it has on nature by making nature-related financial disclosures.

The Greens environment spokesperson, Sarah Hanson-Young, … said Australia would have “no credibility” on protecting biodiversity if native forest logging and clearing of critical habitat for the koala continued.

“The minister is set to announce the government’s response to the Samuel review in the midst of the Cop,” she said.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/dec/05/australia-urged-to-take-leadership-role-at-cop15-biodiversity-summit

Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O'Shanassy …says it simply won't be possible to fix the nature crisis without a Paris-style pact to mobilise global ambition and hold nations to account.

"One million species across the world are threatened with extinction, 75 per cent of land environments and 66 per cent of marine environments have been significantly affected by humans,'' she says.

"And this is the statistic that freaks me out ... 96 per cent of the mass of all mammals on Earth are humans and the animals we grow to eat. Every other mammal is the other four per cent."

https://www.juneesoutherncross.com.au/story/8006811/australia-urged-to-lead-at-nature-summit/

The GBF consists of 21 individual targets and 10 milestones to achieve by the end of this decade. Broadly, these targets aim to reduce threats to biodiversity, enact a more sustainable relationship with the environment and get the world’s governments, private sector and, in general, people, to coexist with nature better.

One target – protecting 30 percent of the world’s land and sea areas – is expected to be a hotly contested topic. Even Australia, which has committed to this target, has a poor record in terms of land protection. A 2022 report from Australian Conservation Foundation investigators found over 200,000 hectares of land occupied by threatened species had been cleared for approval in the last decade. Most of those approvals took place in the last five years.

Australia is also considered fourth in the world for animal extinctions by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and eighth for all species.

https://cosmosmagazine.com/earth/australia-to-attend-cop15-aimed-at-reversing-extinction-crisis/

In an article in Nature Sandra Diaz describes scientists efforts to have COP 15 take meaningful action on biodiversity, expressing dismay at how explicit targets in the initial draft were wound back or “bracketed” for debate, commenting “Now, to avert failure, we exhort the governments gathering in Montreal to be brave, long-sighted and open-hearted, and to produce a visionary, ambitious biodiversity framework, grounded in knowledge. … If not now, when?”

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-04154-w

Nature is on the brink. Of 20 decadal targets to preserve nature that were set in Aichi, Japan, in 2010, not a single one had been fully met by 2020.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-04329-5?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=33796e1f17-briefing-dy-20221207&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-33796e1f17-46198454

https://theconversation.com/avoiding-climate-breakdown-depends-on-protecting-earths-biodiversity-can-the-cop15-summit-deliver-195902?utm

… protect primary forests:

An international alliance is calling for the protection of primary forests, with over a hundred groups signing on, including NEFA.

A new international alliance is calling on world leaders to include explicit protection for primary forests as part of the Global Biodiversity Framework being negotiated at the UN’s biodiversity meetings (COP15) in Montreal this week.

Primary forests protect by far the most terrestrial species (over two-thirds of all terrestrial species) and the largest terrestrial carbon stocks and also provide many other ecosystem services. Their protection is therefore essential to mitigate multiple overlapping crises from climate change to extinctions to freshwater access to pandemics. Only about 27 percent of the world’s forests are primary forests, and they are being destroyed at very high rates – at least 4.5 million hectares a year over the last thirty years (139 million hectares since 1990), though official statistics greatly underestimate the full extent of the loss. 

https://www.oneearth.org/new-alliance-calls-for-a-global-agreement-to-protect-primary-forests/

… stop burning forests for electricity:

In the build-up to COP 15, more than 650 scientists wrote to world leaders urging them to stop burning trees to make energy because it destroys valuable habitats for wildlife, is more polluting than coal, is not ‘carbon neutral’, and undermines international climate and nature targets, arguing “The best thing for the climate and biodiversity is to leave forests standing – and biomass energy does the opposite,”

Prof Alexandre Antonelli, a lead author of the letter and director of science at Kew Gardens, said: “Ensuring energy security is a major societal challenge, but the answer is not to burn our precious forests. Calling this ‘green energy’ is misleading and risks accelerating the global biodiversity crisis.”

By 2030, bioenergy is expected to account for a third of “low-carbon” energy, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.

Prof William Moomaw … “Clearcutting for forest bioenergy is degrading the south-east US coastal forests, a global biodiversity hotspot, the Baltic states in Europe, boreal forests in Canada, and illegally cutting protected forest ecosystems in the Carpathians of eastern Europe. These are all home to irreplaceable rare plant species, mammals, and migratory and residential birds.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/05/stop-burning-trees-scientists-world-leaders-cop15-age-of-extinction-aoe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEjlAymvr1c

Clearfelling for electricity half a world away:

Enviva is the largest maker of wood pellets burned for energy in the world, claiming it only uses wood waste, “tops, limbs, thinnings, and/or low-value smaller trees”, though a whistleblower in North Carolina says that increased European demand is leading to clearfelling with100% whole trees in our pellets” and that limbs and debris were “left laying on the ground; they don’t want that stuff.”

[Whistleblower] “We take giant, whole trees. We don’t care where they come from. The notion of sustainably managed forests is nonsense. We can’t get wood into the mills fast enough.”

“The company says that we use mostly waste like branches, treetops and debris to make pellets,” the whistleblower told me. “What a joke. We use 100% whole trees in our pellets. We hardly use any waste. Pellet density is critical. You get that from whole trees, not junk.”

Driving to work, he told me, he would sometimes follow behind trucks loaded with whole trees, “some longer than my house,” heading to his Enviva plant. On harvest sites, he also noticed that limbs and debris — from which Enviva claims its pellets are mostly sourced — were “left laying on the ground; they don’t want that stuff.”

Just before the recent United Nations COP27 climate summit in Egypt, the World Resources Institute (WRI) released a groundbreaking study that underlined the crucial role intact forests play in combating the climate crisis — a role that goes beyond how they absorb carbon as they grow, or release carbon when cleared or burned.

https://news.mongabay.com/2022/12/envivas-biomass-lies-whistleblower-account/?mc_cid=48b60d4ad2&mc_eid=c0875d445f

… ramping up demand:

As the European Union seeks to soon finalize its revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED), forest advocates urge last minute changes to significantly cut the use of woody biomass for energy and make deep reductions in EU subsidies to the wood pellet industry, if RED is approved as drafted, bioenergy use is projected to double between 2015 and 2050.

In the EU today, 60% of energy classified as renewable comes from burning woody biomass instead of coal. EU policy, which designates biomass as carbon neutral, enables countries to not count biomass emissions at the smokestack, resulting in dubious carbon accounting. A host of studies have found that burning biomass is more carbon intensive than coal per unit of energy.

“The simplest solution is for the EU to stop treating biomass from energy crops and wood harvests as carbon neutral,” Searchinger wrote, adding that “The European Parliament adopted an amendment [in September] to freeze the quantity of woody biomass that counts as ‘low carbon’ at each EU country’s 2020 level of use.”

If that rule within the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) survives the current trilogue — negotiations between the European Parliament, Council and Commission — “it could limit the damage” to standing forests, Searchinger said.

https://news.mongabay.com/2022/12/as-eu-finalizes-renewable-energy-plan-forest-advocates-condemn-biomass/?mc_cid=48b60d4ad2&mc_eid=c0875d445f

Unfortunately, although other parts of the plan should reduce emissions, the broad rules assigning climate benefits to bioenergy will undermine carbon storage and biodiversity both in Europe and globally, by expanding Europe’s outsourcing of agricultural production to other countries. By treating biomass as ‘carbon neutral’, the rules create incentives to harvest wood and to divert cropland to energy crops, regardless of the consequences for land-based carbon storage.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-04133-1

Canadian forestry certification misleading:

In Canada eight environmental groups have filed a complaint with Canada’s Competition Bureau alleging the industry’s Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) forestry certification standard has made “false and misleading” claims in an effort to greenwash the country’s lumber and wood products. 

https://www.squamishchief.com/highlights/canadas-largest-sustainable-forestry-program-accused-of-greenwashing-6192946


Forest Media 2 December 2022

New South Wales

News of the Area reports Sue Higginson complaining about the $9 million dollars we paid last year for the unprofitable and irresponsible destruction of our public native forests. The South East Region Conservation Alliance put out a press release complaining that Allied Natural Wood Enterprises (ANWE), owner of the Eden woodchip mill has just reported a staggering profit of over $60 million for 2021/22, while the Forestry Corporation lost $9 million.

In a press release, a coalition of 10 forest conservation groups in the Coffs Harbour region attacked the Forestry Corporation’s sham consultation process, making it clear that they in no way want to condone the continued industrial logging of public native forests and the massive financial losses that taxpayers continue to incur.

Australia

There is a website extolling the virtues of Tasmania’s 100ha Grove of Giants (see Forest Media 4 November 2022) and requesting people sign an Open Letter Calling for the Protection of the Huon Valley’s Grove of Giants.

The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council has released its bushfire seasonal outlook for summer 2022, suggesting above-normal fire potential in central western and southern WA, central Australia, southern Queensland and inland NSW due to increased fuel loads due to significant rainfall, with the east coastal forests in NSW and Victoria with below normal fire potential due to due to increased fuel moisture.

New Forests has launched the Australia New Zealand Landscapes and Forestry Fund (ANZLAFF) targeting A$600m (€392m) to invest across forest, land and agriculture markets in Australia and New Zealand, aimed at buying agricultural land with the potential to put it into forestry, while using carbon sequestration and emissions reduction opportunities.

The recent Victorian court decision to require surveys and increased habitat retention for Greater Glider and Yellow-bellied Glider is accused by The Australian of causing a looming pallet shortage in the new year, described as a “pallet-gate” crisis, though some manufacturers are seeking certified timber pallets – there is a surfeit of pine.

A new national Biosecurity Collaboration Agreement will establish a National Forest Pest Surveillance Program to improve the early detection of exotic forest pests and the likelihood of their eradication.

Dr Tony Bartlette argues against David Lindenmayer’s recommendation of keeping forests fire-free for 50 years to restore their natural resilience to fire, instead arguing for more fuel-reduction burns.

While counting in the Victorian elections are continuing, it is clear that the Andrews government has overwhelming control in the lower house (with 4 Greens), while of the 40 seats in the upper house, Labor and Liberal are likely to have 15 each, with 3 Greens. 3 Legalise Cannabis and 1 Animal Justice holding the balance of power.

Species

Federal planning for threatened species is a shambles, with 372 (89%) recovery plans (for 575 species) expiring next year, making it likely that many will be abandoned as late last year the then Environment Minister was faced with close to 200 plans overdue so scrapped recovery plan requirements for 176 species and habitats. We wait for the response to the Samuel Review next week.

The mountain frogs (Philoria kundagungan and Philoria richmondensis), which live in the wet forest ranges around the NSW/Queensland border, are being eliminated from lower altitudes as the world warms, possibly losing half their habitat with just 1.5oC warming and over 90% with 3o warming, and then there are the increasing pigs rooting through their homes. More species targeted for captivity as their habitat disappears.

A Tasmanian farmer is complaining because Sustainable Timber Tasmania started logging “high-density habitat” for the critically endangered swift parrot adjacent to his property, despite assuring him they were "unlikely" to log.

As the Southern Emu Wren is being considered for uplisting from vulnerable to endangered nationally, a proposal for a rocket launching site over critical habitat on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula has raised concerns it could contribute to its extinction.

Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital is expanding, purchasing the Raptor Rehabilitation Centre located at Fitzroy Falls, a facility for recovery and, where possible, release of injured raptors.

There is no shortage of Koala news. A study in south-east Queensland supports that, although primary forests should remain a priority for conservation, secondary forests have a great potential for koala conservation, with the reservation that mitigating anthropogenic threats and promoting resilience might need further consideration. New research shows Koala retrovirus, a mysterious AIDS-like virus that appears to weaken Koala's immune system, is far more prevalent in NSW and Queensland koalas compared to southern populations, leading to suggestions koala relocations in the north are limited to avoid introducing new virus subtypes into healthy populations. Danielle Clode has an interview in Forbes about Koala habitat, saying they need 200-400 of the particular species they prefer and asking why are the forests, and koala habitat, still disappearing?

Sue Higginson responded to baiting by Australian Rural and Regional News, in response to Brad Law’s “outlandish” claims that logging has no impact, and burning little impact, on Koalas, citing other experts, saying “the only voices suggesting that all is well for our Koalas, or that destroying their habitat is ok, are coming from the extractive logging industry and supporters”. The Greens have called on the New South Wales government to abandon any plans they have for koala translocations into the Royal National Park south of Sydney and other locations around the state.

Friends of the Koala said 42 koalas have been killed or injured since July, with a number of young taken into care, leading to them urging drivers to slow down and watch out. The ABC has an interview with Australian Koala Foundation's Deborah Tabart about a site in Gwydir Shire in NSW unveiled as the first location of what's called the "Koala Kiss Project", a project to restore habitat linkages. Employing their own ranger and opening a Save the Koala shop in Warialda.

World Animal Protection have called for an end to the profitable activity of koala cuddling in zoos and theme parks due to animal cruelty concerns and changing public attitudes. The NSW government will provide $5.624 million to cover cost blowouts for Gunnedah’s Koala theme park, bringing the total NSW Government investment to $12.1m, as the airport is expanded to cope with the expected influx of foreign visitors. Residents have celebrated Sydney Water's decision not to proceed with a planned housing subdivision at Woronora Heights on a wildlife corridor where koalas have been sighted.

NRMA Insurance released its Wildlife Road Safety Report revealing there were more than 900 animal collisions that caused injuries, ranging from minor through to fatal crashes, on New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory roads between 2015-2020, with 116 accidents reported in 2020 due to animal collisions including 30 serious injury crashes.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics found saltmarsh ecosystems are protecting more than 88,000 homes from storm surges and sequestered about 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2021 – a benefit that will come under increasing threat as seas rise.

The Deteriorating Problem

A UN delegation has once again recommended the Great Barrier Reef be added to the World Heritage 'in danger' list, and urged "ambitious, rapid and sustained" action on climate change to protect the site, in light of increasing coral bleaching due to global heating, a 26% increase in acidity retarding recovery, sediment runoff and gill-netting. Last year the Environment Minister Ms Ley convinced UNESCO's World Heritage Committee to over-rule the IUCN's scientific advice. The new minister, Tanya Plibersek, also wants to avoid having the reef “singled out” in this way.

Humanity is using nature 1.8 times faster than our planet’s biocapacity can regenerate, that’s equivalent to using the resources of 1.8 Earths, though if everyone lived like Australian residents we would need 4.5 Earths, not as high as Qatar at 9 Earths, but far higher than Yemen who only require 0.3 Earths.

A study of oxygen isotopes in tree rings has built a 700-year record of droughts in southwest China, finding before global warming started in the mid-nineteenth century, droughts were very similar to each other, but over the past 50 years there have been bigger and more-frequent droughts.

The Conversation has an article on the increasing fire risk as the planet heats (reported on last week), with fire risk linked to vapour pressure deficit (VPD), and the number of days per year above critical flammability thresholds increasing to at least 15-30 extra days per year depending on the emission scenario, with the Amazon increasing by 90-150 days.

In Canadian British Columbia, over a year ago the Government mapped 2.6 million hectares of old-growth forests identified as "rare, at-risk, and irreplaceable." and asked 204 First Nations to decide whether they supported the deferral of logging in those areas for an initial two-year period, with only 75 First Nations so-far agreeing, oldgrowth continues to be clearfelled. The B.C. Ministry of Forests continues to approve clearfelling of oldgrowth that is critical habitat for an imperilled Columbia North caribou.

Turning it Around

California has one of the world’s largest carbon offset programs, with tens of millions of dollars flowing through offset projects, though satellite tracking of carbon levels and logging activity in California forests found that carbon isn’t increasing in the state’s 37 offset project sites any more than in other areas, and timber companies aren’t logging less than they did before, resulting in a lack of real climate benefit over the 10 years of the program so far.

An article in Nature considers incoming policies will cause the European Union to harvest more wood, shift one-fifth of cropland to bioenergy and outsource deforestation. The fundamental problem is that by treating biomass as ‘carbon neutral’, the rules create incentives to harvest wood and to divert cropland to energy crops, regardless of the consequences for land-based carbon storage.

A study in subtropical forest found both species and genetic diversity promote forest productivity “by increasing the ability of trees to maximize the use of resources while reducing damage caused by herbivores and competition from soil fungi,"

Research on the regrowth of Panamanian rainforests have found that seed dispersal by birds and mammals are key to restoring diversity, arguing that reestablishing the animal-plant interactions that underpin ecosystem function should be accounted for in restoration projects.

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Compounding losses:

News of the Area reports Sue Higginson complaining about the $9 million dollars we paid last year for the unprofitable and irresponsible destruction of our public native forests.

“Frontier Economics has also shown us that the transition to 100 percent plantations could cost as little as $30 million per year over ten years.

Ms Higginson said, “Forestry Corporation can justify it however they like, but where else is a public asset able to be sold off and still cost the public $9 million?

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/forestry-corporation-report-reveals-native-forest-logging-cost-9-million

The South East Region Conservation Alliance put out a press release complaining that Allied Natural Wood Enterprises (ANWE), owner of the Eden woodchip mill has just reported a staggering profit of over $60 million for 2021/22, while the Forestry Corporation lost $9 million.

“To make such a massive profit from the destruction of forests still struggling to recover from bushfires exacerbated by decades of woodchipping is hard to take,” Ms Swift said.

The Eden chipmill continues to be the driver of all native forest logging on the South Coast, with some operations in the Eden Region yielding 100% woodchips.

The profit has been boosted by tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in
subsidies, especially after the bushfires.

In a press release, a coalition of 10 forest conservation groups in the Coffs Harbour region attacked the Forestry Corporation’s sham consultation process, making it clear that they in no way want to condone the continued industrial logging of public native forests and the massive financial losses that taxpayers continue to incur.

“FCNSW can attempt to run as many sham online “consultation” or “engagement” processes as it wants, but nothing can change the facts. The facts are that this corporation has no social licence and absolutely fails to serve the public interest, that our Koalas are being rapidly sent to extinction by their logging of preferred habitats, that our water security is being lost because of their logging of our native forests, that our carbon reserves are being destroyed and our chances of limiting future temperature increases to 1.5C are being lost. We refuse to continue to foot the bill for this unnecessary destruction of our life support systems” said Cath Eaglesham of the Bellingen Environment Centre.

AUSTRALIA

Saving the giants:

There is a website extolling the virtues of Tasmania’s 100ha Grove of Giants (see Forest Media 4 November 2022) and requesting people sign an Open Letter Calling for the Protection of the Huon Valley’s Grove of Giants.

https://www.thetreeprojects.com/groveofgiants?

Less fire risk in coastal forests:

The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council has released its bushfire seasonal outlook for summer 2022, suggesting above-normal fire potential in central western and southern WA, central Australia, southern Queensland and inland NSW due to increased fuel loads due to significant rainfall, with the east coastal forests in NSW and Victoria with below normal fire potential due to due to increased fuel moisture.

https://www.thebharatexpressnews.com/miscellaneous-risks-peak-fire-body-posts-summer-forest-fire-outlook-the-new-newspaper/

https://www.afac.com.au/auxiliary/publications/newsletter/article/seasonal-bushfire-outlook-summer-2022-australia-s-national-picture-of-fire-potential

Forestry investment:

New Forests has launched the Australia New Zealand Landscapes and Forestry Fund (ANZLAFF) targeting A$600m (€392m) to invest across forest, land and agriculture markets in Australia and New Zealand, aimed at buying agricultural land with the potential to put it into forestry, while using carbon sequestration and emissions reduction opportunities.

https://realassets.ipe.com/news/new-forests-seeks-to-raise-a600m-for-australia-and-new-zealand-fund/10063762.article

Gliders pallet-gate:

The recent Victorian court decision to require surveys and increased habitat retention for Greater Glider and Yellow-bellied Glider is accused by The Australian of causing a looming pallet shortage in the new year, described as a “pallet-gate” crisis, though some manufacturers are seeking certified timber pallets – there is a surfeit of pine.

A spokeswoman for Brambles … “For 2023, plans are in place to mitigate any supply issues that might affect new pallet procurement. We have reliable access to certified timber from a range of sources both locally and from overseas and, over the past year, have brought on board several new pallet manufacturers to supply to CHEP.”

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/retail/a-court-decision-to-stop-logging-in-gippsland-has-forced-leading-pallets-maker-dormit-to-slash-production-by-40-per-cent/news-story/41935359387fc7f9c5c61d659ebd0be4?btr=20edb60f933aaf8cc65b8d1173bcdd55

Forest pests:

A new national Biosecurity Collaboration Agreement will establish a National Forest Pest Surveillance Program to improve the early detection of exotic forest pests and the likelihood of their eradication.

https://www.miragenews.com/national-surveillance-partnership-to-protect-905703/

Fiery debate:

Dr Tony Bartlette argues against David Lindenmayer’s recommendation of keeping forests fire-free for 50 years to restore their natural resilience to fire, instead arguing for more fuel-reduction burns.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7987358/effective-fire-management-critical-to-health-and-survival-of-australian-forests/?src=rss

Balance of power:

While counting in the Victorian elections are continuing, it is clear that the Andrews government has overwhelming control in the lower house (with 4 Greens), while of the 40 seats in the upper house, Labor and Liberal are likely to have 15 each, with 3 Greens. 3 Legalise Cannabis and 1 Animal Justice holding the balance of power.

The ABC’s summary page for the upper house, based on using its upper house calculator, has Labor on 15 of the 40 seats, the Coalition 15, the Greens three, Legalise Cannabis three and one each for Animal Justice, the Shooters, Labour DLP and One Nation. This calculator assumes all votes are above the line; about 10% were below the line.

https://theconversation.com/labor-greens-and-legalise-cannabis-likely-to-have-combined-majority-in-victorian-upper-house-195439?utm

SPECIES

Time is running out for threatened species:

Federal planning for threatened species is a shambles, with 372 (89%) recovery plans (for 575 species) expiring next year, making it likely that many will be abandoned as late last year the then Environment Minister was faced with close to 200 plans overdue so scrapped recovery plan requirements for 176 species and habitats. We wait for the response to the Samuel Review next week.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/27/tangled-mess-of-inaction-hundreds-of-threatened-species-recovery-plans-expiring-in-next-six-months

Frogs running out of mountains:

The mountain frogs (Philoria kundagungan and Philoria richmondensis), which live in the wet forest ranges around the NSW/Queensland border, are being eliminated from lower altitudes as the world warms, possibly losing half their habitat with just 1.5oC warming and over 90% with 3o warming, and then there are the increasing pigs rooting through their homes.

‘Under the worst-case scenario of three degrees of warming, up to 91 per cent of their ecological niche will be lost within a relatively short time,’ says lead author and Southern Cross University PhD researcher Liam Bolitho.

‘Even under current projections of warming by 1.5 degrees celsius, we expect that these frogs will not survive in half of their current mountain habitats.

Wildfires in 2019/2020 impacted large areas of mountain frog habitat that had previously not been affected by fires.

‘We have little doubt that these events are linked to climate change. Post-fire monitoring has revealed ongoing declines and localised extinctions as well as the emergence of an additional threat – feral pigs. Pigs can completely destroy the habitat of these frogs within a very short period,’ Dr Newell said.

https://www.echo.net.au/2022/12/climate-change-a-threat-to-local-gondwana-rainforest-mountain-frogs/

More species targeted for captivity as their habitat disappears.

Southern Cross University senior lecturer and project lead, David Newell, said six of the seven species of mountain frogs lived solely in the cool, upland mountain rainforests within the Gondwana World Heritage-listed national parks around the New South Wales/Queensland border.

Southern Cross University has been working with WWF Australia and a number of government agencies to breed the frogs in captivity to help bolster remaining populations.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-01/mount-ballow-mountain-frog-faces-extinction-world-heritage/101716344

Pulling a swifty:

A Tasmanian farmer is complaining because Sustainable Timber Tasmania started logging “high-density habitat” for the critically endangered swift parrot adjacent to his property, despite assuring him they were "unlikely" to log.

Forestry Watch used this metric to find that two of the coupe's sections were high-density habitat and one was medium. 

One section had 10 trees per hectare greater than 1 metre in diameter at breast height, and a further 10 per hectare with recorded nesting hollows.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-30/tasmanian-farmer-wages-battle-over-logging-plan/101716526

Blasting the Southern Emu Wren into extinction:

As the Southern Emu Wren is being considered for uplisting from vulnerable to endangered nationally, a proposal for a rocket launching site over critical habitat on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula has raised concerns it could contribute to its extinction.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/nov/26/rocket-launches-pose-extinction-level-threat-to-sas-tiny-southern-emu-wren-conservationists-warn

Growing rehabilitation business:

Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital is expanding, purchasing the Raptor Rehabilitation Centre located at Fitzroy Falls, a facility for recovery and, where possible, release of injured raptors.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-28/raptor-rehabilitation-centre-injured-birds-of-prey/101683638

Tracking Koalas:

A study in south-east Queensland supports that, although primary forests should remain a priority for conservation, secondary forests have a great potential for koala conservation, with the reservation that mitigating anthropogenic threats and promoting resilience might need further consideration.

Overall koala occurrence was negatively associated with secondary eucalyptus forests compared to primary forests, while there was no effect of total forest area present at any scale. However, we found interactive effects between secondary forest and (1) distance from the closest major road at the smallest landscape scale (250 m radii) and (2) water area at the larger landscape scales (500 m, 1500 m radii). This suggests that occurrence of koalas in secondary forests are predicted to increase when the distance to major roads, and the water area, increase. While protecting primary eucalyptus forests should always be a prioritisation for the conservation of koalas, our results emphasize the important role that secondary eucalyptus forests can play in conservation, as long as these are carefully considered in the landscape context to maximise restoration investments.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10531-022-02493-8

… Koala worries:

New research shows Koala retrovirus, a mysterious AIDS-like virus that appears to weaken Koala's immune system, is far more prevalent in NSW and Queensland koalas compared to southern populations, leading to suggestions koala relocations in the north are limited to avoid introducing new virus subtypes into healthy populations.

https://www.southernriverinanews.com.au/national/koala-virus-worse-for-northern-populations/

… clearing Koalas:

Danielle Clode has an interview in Forbes about Koala habitat, saying they need 200-400 of the particular species they prefer and asking why are the forests, and koala habitat, still disappearing?

Koalas need a lot of eucalypt trees to survive – around 200-400 of the particular species they prefer. A koala may need one hectare (about the size of an average sports field) if they live in lush forests or up to 300 hectares (the size of New York’s Central Park) if they live in dry inland forest. Koalas are fussy eaters because eucalypts contain a lot of toxins, which differs by species, individual tree, environmental conditions, and even different leaves on the same tree at different times.

And the few remaining forests are still under threat. There are a lot of exemptions for native forest protection, including for mining, forestry and agriculture. Forestry often promotes tree species that are too toxic for koalas to eat. Australia is one of the few developed nations listed as a global deforestation hotspot – mainly through continued land clearance in New South Wales and Queensland – the two states where koalas (unsurprisingly) are endangered.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2022/11/30/how-we-can-preserve-koala-habitats/?sh=724aface6227

… Koala wars:

Sue Higginson responded to baiting by Australian Rural and Regional News, in response to Brad Law’s “outlandish” claims that logging has no impact, and burning little impact, on Koalas, citing other experts, saying “the only voices suggesting that all is well for our Koalas, or that destroying their habitat is ok, are coming from the extractive logging industry and supporters”.

https://arr.news/2022/11/28/nsw-koalas-and-industrial-logging-of-the-public-forest-estate-sue-higginson/

… moving Koalas:

The Greens have called on the New South Wales government to abandon any plans they have for koala translocations into the Royal National Park south of Sydney and other locations around the state.

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage said its translocation program was in the early stages.

"Translocating koalas to improve health, abundance and genetic diversity is one conservation tool among a suite of tools that the NSW Koala Strategy includes," a spokesperson said.  

"The translocation program is in the early stages of a state-wide suitability assessment, with translocation sites yet to be selected."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-02/koala-translocation-policy-questioned/101726936

… Koala casualties:

Friends of the Koala said 42 koalas have been killed or injured since July, with a number of young taken into care, leading to them urging drivers to slow down and watch out.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-02/lismore-vet-warns-drivers-take-care-koala-kindergarten-deaths/101727792

… kissing Koalas:

The ABC has an interview with Australian Koala Foundation's Deborah Tabart about a site in Gwydir Shire in NSW unveiled as the first location of what's called the "Koala Kiss Project", a project to restore habitat linkages. Employing their own ranger and opening a Save the Koala shop in Warialda.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-28/new-plan-to-better-protect-koala-habitat/101706828

… cuddling Koalas:

World Animal Protection have called for an end to the profitable activity of koala cuddling in zoos and theme parks due to animal cruelty concerns and changing public attitudes. 

https://7news.com.au/video/news/animal-activists-call-for-ban-on-koala-cuddles-bc-6316272554112

… Koala money:

The NSW government will provide $5.624 million to cover cost blowouts for Gunnedah’s Koala theme park, bringing the total NSW Government investment to $12.1m, as the airport is expanded to cope with the expected influx of foreign visitors.

https://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/8003875/koala-sanctuary-taking-shape-after-cash-lifeline/

The NSW Nationals in the state government’s Resources for Region Round 9 has delivered for Gunnedah’s proposed Koala sanctuary with $5.624 million locked in to ensure work can begin on Stage 2 of the project.

Nationals Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said this funding is on top of the NSW Government’s $6.48 million investment from the Regional Communities Development Fund in 2018, bringing the total NSW Government investment to $12.1m.

https://www.nationaltribune.com.au/nats-deliver-for-gunnedah-koala-sanctuary/

… housing Koalas:

Residents have celebrated Sydney Water's decision not to proceed with a planned housing subdivision at Woronora Heights on a wildlife corridor where koalas have been sighted.

https://www.theleader.com.au/story/7974573/down-comes-the-da-sign/

Road toll:

NRMA Insurance released its Wildlife Road Safety Report revealing there were more than 900 animal collisions that caused injuries, ranging from minor through to fatal crashes, on New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory roads between 2015-2020, with 116 accidents reported in 2020 due to animal collisions including 30 serious injury crashes.

NRMA Spokesperson Peter Khoury said:

“It’s estimated that 10 million animals die on Australian roads every year[ii] and what people might not know is that approximately 3% of crashes in regional areas are the result of impact collisions with wildlife.”

Beyond vehicle damage, NRMA data analysis suggests societal costs of road trauma as a result of animal collisions are approximately $7 billion per year.

2015-2020 Centre for Road Safety Wildlife Collision Data: Reports and publications - Statistics - NSW Centre for Road Safety

https://www.iag.com.au/newsroom/community/wildlife-road-safety-report-reveals-dangers-animal-collisions

Benefiting from saltmarsh:

The Australian Bureau of Statistics found saltmarsh ecosystems are protecting more than 88,000 homes from storm surges and sequestered about 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2021 – a benefit that will come under increasing threat as seas rise.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-01/abs-finds-saltmarshes-sequestered-10m-tonnes-of-carbon-in-2021/101718984

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

A UN delegation has once again recommended the Great Barrier Reef be added to the World Heritage 'in danger' list, and urged "ambitious, rapid and sustained" action on climate change to protect the site, in light of increasing coral bleaching due to global heating, a 26% increase in acidity retarding recovery, sediment runoff and gill-netting. Last year the Environment Minister Ms Ley convinced UNESCO's World Heritage Committee to over-rule the IUCN's scientific advice. The new minister, Tanya Plibersek, also wants to avoid having the reef “singled out” in this way.

Given the report was written before those changes occurred, and the government is relatively new, Richard Leck from WWF-Australia said the In Danger listing should be deferred until 2024.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-29/united-nations-queensland-great-barrier-reef-danger-report/101705908

If you dive the reef for the first time this year, you might wonder if there really is a problem. After all, there are still fish and coral. When I first dove on the reef more than 35 years ago, it was in much better condition. What you see now may seem okay – but it’s a pale shadow of what it could or should be. It’s death by a thousand cuts.

We’re never going to restore the reef to its pre-European conditions. But unless we take real action, future generations will wonder how and why we failed them so badly. We don’t need to wait for the World Heritage Committee to make in-danger listing to know the reef is in real trouble.

https://theconversation.com/we-all-know-the-great-barrier-reef-is-in-danger-the-un-has-just-confirmed-it-again-195551?utm

Consuming multiple earths:

Humanity is using nature 1.8 times faster than our planet’s biocapacity can regenerate, that’s equivalent to using the resources of 1.8 Earths, though if everyone lived like Australian residents we would need 4.5 Earths, not as high as Qatar at 9 Earths, but far higher than Yemen who only require 0.3 Earths.

https://www.overshootday.org/how-many-earths-or-countries-do-we-need/

Amplifying droughts:

A study of oxygen isotopes in tree rings has built a 700-year record of droughts in southwest China, finding before global warming started in the mid-nineteenth century, droughts were very similar to each other, but over the past 50 years there have been bigger and more-frequent droughts.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-04150-0?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=1cd7202bd3-briefing-dy-20221129&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-1cd7202bd3-46198454

More on increasing fire risk:

The Conversation has an article on the increasing fire risk as the planet heats (reported on last week), with fire risk linked to vapour pressure deficit (VPD), and the number of days per year above critical flammability thresholds increasing to at least 15-30 extra days per year depending on the emission scenario, with the Amazon increasing by 90-150 days.

Importantly, warmer air can hold more water, which means VPD increases. We refer to the air being “thirsty” when the gap between full and empty air becomes bigger, meaning there’s a greater demand (thirst) for the water to come out of living and dead plant material, drying it out.

For example, in boreal forests (predominantly northern European and American coniferous forests), this threshold is 0.7-1.4 kilopascals (a unit of pressure). In subtropical and tropical forests such as the Amazon, the threshold rises dramatically to 1.5-4.0 kilopascals. This means the air must be a lot thirstier to spark fire in the tropical forests of Borneo and Sumatra than in the spruce, pine and larch of Canada.

We can also expect increasing harms to human health from wildfire smoke. It is estimated that around the world, more than 330,000 people die each year from smoke inhalation. This number could increase notably by the turn of the century, particularly in the most populated areas of South Asia and East Africa.

https://theconversation.com/many-forests-will-become-highly-flammable-for-at-least-30-extra-days-per-year-unless-we-cut-emissions-research-finds-195546?utm

Canada’s disappearing oldgrowth:

In Canadian British Columbia, over a year ago the Government mapped 2.6 million hectares of old-growth forests identified as "rare, at-risk, and irreplaceable." and asked 204 First Nations to decide whether they supported the deferral of logging in those areas for an initial two-year period, with only 75 First Nations so-far agreeing, oldgrowth continues to be clearfelled.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/old-growth-logging-still-happening-in-bc-1.6666047

The B.C. Ministry of Forests continues to approve clearfelling of oldgrowth that is critical habitat for an imperilled Columbia North caribou.

https://thenarwhal.ca/bc-logging-endangered-caribou-habitat/

TURNING IT AROUND

Carbon offsets make no difference:

California has one of the world’s largest carbon offset programs, with tens of millions of dollars flowing through offset projects, though satellite tracking of carbon levels and logging activity in California forests found that carbon isn’t increasing in the state’s 37 offset project sites any more than in other areas, and timber companies aren’t logging less than they did before, resulting in a lack of real climate benefit over the 10 years of the program so far.

Our study used satellite data to track carbon levels, tree harvesting rates and tree species in forest offset projects compared with other similar forests in California.

From this broad view, we identified three problems indicating a lack of climate benefit:

  1. Carbon isn’t being added to these projects faster than before the projects began or faster than in non-offset areas.
  2. Many of the projects are owned and operated by large timber companies, which manage to meet requirements for offset credits by keeping carbon above the minimum baseline level. However, these lands have been heavily harvested and continue to be harvested.
  3. In some regions, projects are being put on lands with lower-value tree species that aren’t at risk from logging. For example, at one large timber company in the redwood forests of northwestern California, the offset project is only 4% redwood, compared with 25% redwood on the rest of the company’s property. Instead, the offset project’s area is overgrown with tanoak, which is not marketable timber and doesn’t need to be protected from logging.

Without improvements to the current system, we may be underestimating our net emissions, contributing to the profits of large emitters and landowners and distracting from the real solutions of transitioning to a clean-energy economy.

https://theconversation.com/satellites-detect-no-real-climate-benefit-from-10-years-of-forest-carbon-offsets-in-california-193943

Accounting for biomass carbon emissions:

An article in Nature considers incoming policies will cause the European Union to harvest more wood, shift one-fifth of cropland to bioenergy and outsource deforestation. The fundamental problem is that by treating biomass as ‘carbon neutral’, the rules create incentives to harvest wood and to divert cropland to energy crops, regardless of the consequences for land-based carbon storage.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-04133-1?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=8d07d8f0e4-briefing-dy-20221128&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-8d07d8f0e4-46198454

Diversity benefits restoration:

A study in subtropical forest found both species and genetic diversity promote forest productivity “by increasing the ability of trees to maximize the use of resources while reducing damage caused by herbivores and competition from soil fungi,"

The team's investigations showed that trees grown in forests with multiple tree species were more productive than those grown in single-species (or monoculture) forests. Forests with four different tree species had less diversity in soil fungi than monoculture forests, reducing the need for the trees to compete with fungi for resources. There was also less pressure from herbivores than in monoculture forests.

Xiaojuan Liu, associate professor at the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing. "Our results suggest that scientists leading reforestation projects should include multiple species of trees and genetically diverse individual trees within each species to ensure healthier forests."

https://phys.org/news/2022-11-forests-benefit-tree-species-variety.html

Wildlife aid restoration:

Research on the regrowth of Panamanian rainforests have found that seed dispersal by birds and mammals are key to restoring diversity, arguing that re-establishing the animal-plant interactions that underpin ecosystem function should be accounted for in restoration projects.

https://phys.org/news/2022-11-animals-key-world-forests-long-term.html

https://newatlas.com/environment/animals-seeds-forest-regeneration/


Forest Media 25 November 2022

New South Wales

Justice Sandra Duggan in the Land and Environment Court has directed the Court will hear two challenges by Wudjebal/Wahlubal Elder David Mundine to the logging approvals over 800 hectares of critical habitat in the Cherry Tree State Forest, forcing the Forestry Corporation to give undertakings to the Court in lieu of an injunction to cease all logging operations in Cherry Tree SF until the case is heard. The case is challenging the validity of the harvesting plan in relation to implementing ESFM. The judgement makes it clear that the Harvest and Haul Plans are statutory instruments and therefore open to legal challenge (though this has to be within 3 months of the plan being made). It only gives leave for one expert witness to be called, to address whether the Plan is able to achieve the principles of ecologically sustainable forest management as defined in section 69L(2) of the Forestry Act 2012 (NSW), the argument being it is not a valid plan unless it does.

Mid-north Coast conservation groups are boycotting Forestry Corporation’s consultation process on forest management, on the grounds that it is inadequate, flawed and not a genuine process, and is chiefly aimed at ticking the box to meet their Australian Forestry Standard Certification requirements.

The Monthly has a good article about the loss of majestic River Red Gum trees on an industrial scale, including in protected areas, as old dead trees and live old-growth redgums are increasingly being felled for an illegal firewood trade.

Construction has begun on a 67-kilometre Great Southern Walk, a five-day, four-night journey from Sydney's Kamay Botany Bay National Park, along the coastline of Royal National Park, then down to Bulli Tops in the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area. New camping and accommodation facilities, will allow people to stay in cabins or "glamping" sites at the end of each day's hike.

The Climate 200 group have supported Joeline Hackman for the state seat of Manly against Environment minister James Griffin as their first endorsed target of for the March state election. Climate 200 are considering up to 7-10 seats, though because of optional preferential voting and spending caps, and the NSW Government being more progressive, a replication of the federal results will be hard. Sue Arnold writes that Dominic Perrottet's claim to "have the strongest record on environment anywhere in the country" doesn't stack up against his dismal failure to protect koala habitat in NSW. Bega ALP MP Michael Holland did a long interview with ABC SE Regional Breakfast about forestry, leaving forest campaigners dismayed by his support for forestry, and his apparent lack of awareness about export woodchipping and exporting of pine logs.

The push from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council to clear bushland to build 450 homes, a community cultural centre, recreation facilities and neighbourhood shop on a 71 ha site at Lizard Rock in Belrose, progressed under new planning rules championed by Planning Minister Anthony Roberts, is raising the ire of local residents, local Liberal members and Council, making it an election issue in Liberal heartland, while also leading to claims of “prejudice and discrimination”.

Closing the walking track up to the significant men’s site atop Mount Wollumbin at the behest of the Aboriginal Wollumbin Consultative Group (with male and female representatives) is being attacked by a group of Aboriginal women as contravening their customary law right, women’s rights, human rights and cultural responsibilities.

The 18 winning and highly commended entries, out of 6,000 across eight categories in the 2022 POEM FOREST competition (from Kindergarten to Year 12) have been announced, with a tree planted for every entry received in the POEM FOREST within the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan.

Australia

A study by the Australian Academy of Science, requested by the independent Chubb review, examined strengths and limitations of four methods used to generate Australian carbon credit units by reducing or avoiding emissions, finding that that they have flaws that potentially undermine investor and community confidence in credits.

In Queensland, more than 6,800 square kilometres of land was cleared in 2018/19, according to the latest state government data, with a report prepared for ACF identifying about 4,212sq km likely to be threatened species habitat, identified as matters of national environmental significance (MNES) habitat, was cleared for pasture without Federal government approval. Its also happening in the urban interface as core Koala habitat is approved for clearing with offsets. In response the Federal Government said its response to the Samuel Review will be delivered by the end of the year, and a key component of the response will be outlining the next steps to deliver a national EPA, a tough cop on the beat, resourced and empowered to enforce Australia's national environmental laws.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that the ABC breached accuracy rules in stories about Victoria’s native forest industry by misrepresenting that the Office of the Conservation Regulator (OCR) in Victoria had found logging breaches by VicForests had put Melbourne’s drinking water at risk, during three radio broadcasts

The Andrews government recently set aside Special Protection Zones (SPZs) in native forests across the state for protection of the endangered greater glider, though the Victorian Forest Alliance found 17 areas were logged within the past 24 months before being protected, leading them to question “Why is the government protecting recently logged areas, and still destroying prime greater glider habitat?”.

The Governments Major Event Review of the 2019-20 Victorian bushfires examined the impacts, identifying a number of improvements which could be made to land and fire management practices, including expanding active and adaptive management, increasing collaboration with Traditional Owners and expanding the range of forest industries – more burning and logging is just what the forests need.

This election the issue of native forest logging has never been more prominent in Victoria, with the Greens advocating an immediate end to logging of public native forests, Labor sticking by their 2030 phase out, and Liberals wanting logging for ever more. The Reason Party and 2 Teal independents also want logging ended.

Species

A NSW parliamentary inquiry into biodiversity offsets has slammed the scheme as doing more harm than good, allows too much flexibility for threatened species to be “traded away for cash” and should be reformed to ensure offsetting is “genuinely used as a last resort only”, making 19 recommendations including establishing clear thresholds for when offsets should not be permitted for the most threatened ecosystems and species, with NCC calling for an immediate moratorium.

A world-wide review identifies that animals bred in captivity can experience significant physical, health and behavioural changes that may disadvantage their survival chances once released into the wild. Some of the findings are: “the erosion of and divergence from wild behaviours can occur quickly in captivity”, such as vocalisations (ie Regent Honeyeater), migratory movements (ie Monarch Butterflies), social interactions, cognitive abilities (ie Northern Quoll), and anti-predator behaviour (ie Northern Quoll); “There is abundant evidence of morphological change in captivity relative to wild conspecifics with respect to body and organ size, shape and skeletomuscular structure”, such as wing structure and size (ie Orange-bellied Parrot, Zebra Finch), and skull changes (weaker bite strength, smaller brains); and positive and negative changes in “the health of animals as well as underlying aspects of their physiology”, such as elevated stress, higher prevalence of certain diseases, loss of immunity to natural diseases (ie Orange-bellied Parrot) and parasites, oral health, gut microbiomes, wild food preferences, and physical strength.

A Superb Lyrebird in Sydney’s Taronga Zoo recently became famous for imitating alarm sirens and evacuation calls, while David Attenborough recently featured one that could imitate a camera click, what they have in common is that being raised in captivity they have lost the song culture they learn from their peers. A similar problem occurred with captive reared Regent Honeyeaters, where males lost their call appeal to females. 50 Taronga zoo-bred Regent Honeyeaters have been released in the Lower Hunter Valley, this time after being schooled in calling by captive wild-caught males. 39 will be monitored for up to 10 weeks.

In North Queensland paralysis ticks are killing mother Spectacled Flying Foxes resulting in pups being taken into care in significant numbers, a consequence of loss of canopy nectar resources forcing feeding closer to the ground in Tobacco Bush where the ticks are. Many of the species found only in the cooler upland rainforests of Queensland’s Wet Tropics are being eliminated from lower altitudes, as rising temperatures and heatwaves increasingly restrict them to the mountain tops, with four species of ringtail possums (Lemuroid Ringtail, Green Ringtail, Herbert River Ringtail and Daintree River Ringtail) now identified at risk of being wiped out from their mountain refuges in less than three decades as climate heating progresses, and extreme heatwaves become more frequent.

The Australian Rural and Regional News presents synopsises of an array of their articles on Koalas, relying heavily on DPI Forestry’s Brad Law’s claims that logging has no impacts on Koalas and Vic Jurskis’s claims that the bushfires had no impacts on Koalas (based on NRC statements) and that rather than declining, Koala’s are irruptive due to the increase in regrowth forests. I find this reasoned attack on Koala concerns (along with an array of other issues), under the guise of balanced journalism, based upon Government propaganda and the extreme views of Jurskis, which most journalists ignore, an interesting approach. Another of ARRN’s campaigns has been to try to discredit Zylstra’s burning studies, after engaging for a while, Zylstra has now had enough stating “Reasoned discussion would engage with those arguments, not simply repeat itself as if I had said nothing”.

Sixteen Victorian advocacy groups formed the Koala Leaders Unite alliance to urge the next Victorian government to immediately improve protection for koalas, with a list of 10 key commitments, topped by "immediately cease all native forest logging". Total Environment Centre is supporting the new Sydney Basin Koala Network, with funding from WIRES, which will focus “on bringing the "critical" issue of the Sydney basin's koala protection to the forefront of the political agenda at the state and federal level”. Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary is offering koala lovers the opportunity to purchase a ‘Koala Crusader’ annual pass, for which you receive various ‘goodies’ including a pledge certificate, plush Koala, baseball cap, lapel pin, sticker and writing pen, as well as a 10% discount. ABC has a one hour podcast on Koalas, apparently focused on the Blue Mountains.

The Conversation has an article questioning the benefits of feeding wildlife, particularly after disasters, such as the bushfires, and is asking for people who have fed wildlife to respond to a survey.

Given that 97% of animals are invertebrates, and they play crucial roles in ecosystems, entomologists consider they should be a key component of rewilding, Researchers took invertebrates, mostly mites, ticks, ants, beetles and springtails in leaf litter, from paired national parks, and reintroduced them to six revegetated sites isolated by farmland, finding beetles were most likely to survive and thrive in their new habitat,

Fish deaths in the lower Murray-Darling system are rapidly increasing as rotting vegetation depletes oxygen levels, with the blackwater event expected to last 2-3 months and worsen as waters warm, with some farmers claiming water set aside for the environment has worsened the situation - without recognising that their conversion of floodplain vegetation is the primary cause.

The Deteriorating Problem

The World Meteorological Organization’s provisional State of the Global Climate in 2022 report identifies the past eight years are on track to be the eight warmest on record, fuelled by ever-rising greenhouse gas concentrations and accumulated heat. Extreme heatwaves, drought and devastating flooding have affected millions and cost billions this year, glaciers are undergoing a “record-shattering melt”, the rate of sea level rise has doubled in the past 30 years (rising by nearly 10 mm since January 2020), annual increase in methane concentration was the highest on record, and the lower 1.5°C of the Paris Agreement is barely within reach.

We are world leaders, as the latest BOM/CSIRO State of Climate report shows we have already almost reached 1.5oC warming. 2019 remains Australia’s warmest year on record, and we experienced the consequences. Going up are average temperatures by 1.47 ± 0.24 °C, very hot days, ocean temperatures by >1°C, sea levels, ocean acidification, extreme fire weather, rainfall across the north, and extreme rainfall events. Going down are autumn/winter rainfall in south-west (15-19%) and south-east (10%), streamflows (except far north-west), numbers of cyclones, and snow.  Its no surprise the world is warming, seas rising, ice melting, fires worsening, floods worsening and ecosystems collapsing.

The Washington Post has an in-depth article on the death of the Amazon, with rainfall decreasing in dry seasons, river flows declining, burning increasing, and ecosystems transitioning to drier states, some scientists are concerned that a series of tipping points have been triggered which herald the demise of the greatest rainforest on earth. The article focusses on water shortage effects on people, once use to plenty.

Unprecedented fire activity and severity has been occurring around the world, which researchers have linked to exceedance of thresholds in atmospheric water demand (vapour pressure deficit), being a reliable predictor of dead fuel moisture content and increased tree mortality, finding that climate change is projected to lead to widespread increases in risk, with at least 30 additional days above critical thresholds for fire activity in forest biomes on every continent by 2100 under rising emissions scenarios, with the Amazon hardest hit.

Turning it Around

Weeks of the world’s nations, and fossil fuel companies, negotiating at COP 27 have left many profoundly disappointed as we continue “on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.” The best that can be said is that we didn’t go backwards, and that there was an in-principle agreement to create a new funding facility by which rich nations would pay poor ones for damage caused by climate catastrophes (yet to be funded). The principal concerns were that there was no commitment to phase out or reduce oil and gas, with a “surprise last-minute addition” by Egypt that “‘low-emission’ energy should be part of the world’s response to rising seas and searing heat waves”, meaning accelerated development of gas.

For the first time ever at a climate summit, the final text of this month’s COP27 included a “forests” section and a reference to “nature-based solutions,” being welcomed by some as providing a financial incentive for forest protection, though creating concerns from others that it could encourage dubious carbon accounting and offsetting. Representatives of the world’s three forest giants – Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo – have signed a cooperation agreement in Jakarta calling for more funding to help protect half of the world’s rainforests. The Conversation has a discussion emphasising how essential it is to remove atmospheric carbon, dismissing planting trees because of fire risk and instead promoting air scrubbing (“direct air capture and storage”) and burning biomass (“bioenergy, carbon capture and storage”).

ANU’s Disaster Solutions are developing potential solutions “to stop bushfires, storms and floods in their tracks”; nature-based solutions for flood risk, floating houses to rise with floodwaters, quicker automated fire detection and suppression, using shockwave generators to disrupt hailstone formation, and cloud seeding to reduce hailstone size (ripe for conspiracies).

COP15, a United Nations conference that will set the 2030 targets to ensure nature is in a better place than it is now, starts in Montréal, Canada, on December 7, Tanya Pliberseck will attend, but with Federal oversight of biodiversity a shambles the task ahead for us is immense.

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Legal challenge to logging in Cherry Tree SF proceeding:

Justice Sandra Duggan in the Land and Environment Court has directed the Court will hear two challenges by Wudjebal/Wahlubal Elder David Mundine to the logging approvals over 800 hectares of critical habitat in the Cherry Tree State Forest, forcing the Forestry Corporation to give undertakings to the Court in lieu of an injunction to cease all logging operations in Cherry Tree SF until the case is heard. The case is challenging the validity of the harvesting plan in relation to implementing ESFM.

In a media release Al Oshlack from the Indigenous Justice Advocacy Network reports:

Mr Mundine, a lead Native Tile Applicant for the Western Bundjalung is claiming he has been denied procedural fairness by Forestry failing to consult with Traditional Owners as required under the Native Title agreement.

The Court has ordered that Mr Mundine can adduce expert evidence for the case that the Harvest Plan for Cherry Tree will not deliver Ecological Sustainable Forest Management as required under section 67L of the Forestry Act.

The precedent case is set down for 5 days commencing the 5th of April, 2023 and is already causing controversy as it will impact on all logging approvals in the State.

https://www.echo.net.au/2022/11/nsw-forestry-challenged-over-failed-forestry-practices-in-precedent-setting-case/

The judgement makes it clear that the Harvest and Haul Plans are statutory instruments and therefore open to legal challenge (though this has to be within 3 months of the plan being made). It only gives leave for one expert witness to be called, to address whether the Plan is able to achieve the principles of ecologically sustainable forest management as defined in section 69L(2) of the Forestry Act 2012 (NSW), the argument being it is not a valid plan unless it does.

https://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/decision/184ac6d34695a611236ffea0

Boycotting sham consultation:

Mid-north Coast conservation groups are boycotting Forestry Corporation’s consultation process on forest management, on the grounds that it is inadequate, flawed and not a genuine process, and is chiefly aimed at ticking the box to meet their Australian Forestry Standard Certification requirements.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-25-november-2022

Vanishing red gums:

The Monthly has a good article about the loss of majestic River Red Gum trees on an industrial scale, including in protected areas, as old dead trees and live old-growth redgums are increasingly being felled for an illegal firewood trade.

Greg Chant, a conservation regulator with the Victorian government, told me that when the illegal timber market first became an issue, thieves focused on trees that had already died. Skeleton trees. Those trees still provided habitat and had cultural meaning, so it’s a loss, but there was worse to come. “Now only the big old ones are left,” Chant said. “Soon there’ll be nothing left.”

The rangers tell me that 80 per cent of the thefts are commercial, which means that the timber is stolen by fly-by-night big collectors to be sold for firewood. ...

… He describes turning up to an area that had been hit during the night and seeing sugar gliders coming out of a tree that once stood 30 metres high, koalas sitting among the ruins and sea eagle nests on the ground. ...

… People are usually arrested, pay their fines, and then head back out to the forest for another load of wood.

… Wells tells me that at least 200 habitat trees a year disappear, alongside thousands of other, younger trees. Hume considers the loss of habitat trees as the worst aspect of the entire illegal timber industry. “These trees are where the totemic species live,” he says. …

https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2022/december/sophie-cunningham/firewood-harvesting-threatens-forests#mtr

Great Southern Walk:

Construction has begun on a 67-kilometre Great Southern Walk, a five-day, four-night journey from Sydney's Kamay Botany Bay National Park, along the coastline of Royal National Park, then down to Bulli Tops in the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area. New camping and accommodation facilities, will allow people to stay in cabins or "glamping" sites at the end of each day's hike.

https://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/7987914/construction-begins-on-spectacular-new-overnight-illawarra-coastal-walk/

Getting their ducks in a row:

The Climate 200 group have supported Joeline Hackman for the state seat of Manly against Environment minister James Griffin as their first endorsed target of for the March state election. Climate 200 are considering up to 7-10 seats, though because of optional preferential voting and spending caps, and the NSW Government being more progressive, a replication of the federal results will be hard.

Despite her website already adopting a teal colour scheme, development-focused independent Vaucluse candidate Karen Freyer is also still only in talks with Climate 200.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/nsw/teals-set-sights-on-nsw-cabinet-minister-20221117-p5bz2v.html

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/nsw/front-for-the-labor-party-hazzard-gets-fired-up-over-teal-threat-20221120-p5bzr7.html

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/nov/21/simon-holmes-a-court-considering-support-for-up-to-10-teals-to-shake-up-nsw-election

Sue Arnold writes that Dominic Perrottet's claim to "have the strongest record on environment anywhere in the country" doesn't stack up against his dismal failure to protect koala habitat in NSW.

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/perrottets-big-lie-nsws-strong-record-on-environment,17001

ALP a worry:

Bega ALP MP Michael Holland did a long interview with ABC SE Regional Breakfast about forestry, leaving forest campaigners dismayed by his support for forestry, and his apparent lack of awareness about export woodchipping and exporting of pine logs.

https://www.abc.net.au/southeastnsw/programs/breakfast/breakfast/14105090

starting at approx 1.18.44 and ending 1.21.35.

Clearing Aboriginal land for housing creates political furore:

The push from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council to clear bushland to build 450 homes, a community cultural centre, recreation facilities and neighbourhood shop on a 71 ha site at Lizard Rock in Belrose, progressed under new planning rules championed by Planning Minister Anthony Roberts, is raising the ire of local residents, local Liberal members and Council, making it an election issue in Liberal heartland, while also leading to claims of “prejudice and discrimination”.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/own-goal-plan-to-clear-bushland-for-new-homes-divides-government-mps-20221124-p5c0tw.html

A warning on Aboriginal women’s rights:

Closing the walking track up to the significant men’s site atop Mount Wollumbin at the behest of the Aboriginal Wollumbin Consultative Group (with male and female representatives) is being attacked by a group of Aboriginal women as contravening their customary law right, women’s rights, human rights and cultural responsibilities.

“A group of men appears to be extinguishing the ancestral women’s lore by claiming everything in Mount Warning National Park is exclusively male and Bundjalung,” Ms Wheildon said.

Elder Elizabeth Davis Boyd, whose totemic tribal name is “Eelemarni”, hit out at the government’s plans – saying she would not even be allowed to visit her own mother’s memorial in the park if they are enacted.

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/mt-warning-indigenous-womens-sacred-sites-being-extinguished-by-male-site-claims/news-story/deac3e11dc6d0e3bb5fb65b0285a3709?btr=f65a36718161ed97b4899b78d398f1cc

A poem as lovely as a tree:

The 18 winning and highly commended entries, out of 6,000 across eight categories in the 2022 POEM FOREST competition (from Kindergarten to Year 12) have been announced, with a tree planted for every entry received in the POEM FOREST within the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan.

https://www.artshub.com.au/news/news/a-poem-for-a-tree-poem-forest-2594354/

AUSTRALIA

Sham carbon credits:

A study by the Australian Academy of Science, requested by the independent Chubb review, examined strengths and limitations of four methods used to generate Australian carbon credit units by reducing or avoiding emissions, finding that that they have flaws that potentially undermine investor and community confidence in credits.

Andrew Macintosh, an Australian National University professor and former head of the government’s emissions reduction assurance committee who warned much of the carbon market was a waste of taxpayer funds, said the report findings “support our position that the carbon market has significant integrity problems that are in need of urgent attention”.

“In simple terms, proponents will get credits for growing trees that would have grown anyway,” Macintosh said.

The report also recommended such projects be limited to “areas with higher rainfall and showing clearer signals of human activity”, findings in line with his group’s views.

Similarly, landfill operators were claiming credits for cutting methane emissions that were often already earning large-scale generation credits for electricity production.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/nov/22/flaws-in-australias-carbon-credits-schemes-undermine-transparency-new-report-finds

 https://eltelegraph.com/english/flaws-in-australias-carbon-credits-schemes-undermine-transparency-new-report-finds/

https://www.science.org.au/files/userfiles/support/reports-and-plans/2022/review-of-four-accu-methods-october-2022.pdf

Clearing on:

In Queensland, more than 6,800 square kilometres of land was cleared in 2018/19, according to the latest state government data, with a report prepared for ACF identifying about 4,212sq km likely to be threatened species habitat, identified as matters of national environmental significance (MNES) habitat, was cleared for pasture without Federal government approval.

https://www.portstephensexaminer.com.au/story/7990501/habitat-destruction-lacks-oversight-in-qld/

Its also happening in the urban interface as core Koala habitat is approved for clearing with offsets.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/felling-of-logan-forest-declared-critical-habitat-stumps-objectors-20221121-p5c03n.html

What they found was shocking. In just a year, over 400,000 hectares of habitat for threatened species and ecological communities was cleared in Queensland—without approval or assessment from the federal regulator, the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. Under Australia’s national environment law—the EPBC Act—that land clearing should have been referred to the regulator for approval. Instead no approvals were sought or granted, and habitat destruction continued unabated.

https://www.acf.org.au/the-unregulated-destruction-of-threatened-species-habitat-happening-in-queensland

In response the Federal Government said its response to the Samuel Review will be delivered by the end of the year, and a key component of the response will be outlining the next steps to deliver a national EPA, a tough cop on the beat, resourced and empowered to enforce Australia's national environmental laws.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2022-11-22/environment-laws-need-overhaul-epa-say-farmers-conservationists/101682554

ABC misleading:

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that the ABC breached accuracy rules in stories about Victoria’s native forest industry by misrepresenting that the Office of the Conservation Regulator (OCR) in Victoria had found logging breaches by VicForests had put Melbourne’s drinking water at risk, during three radio broadcasts.

https://www.gippslandtimes.com.au/news/2022/11/24/media-watchdog-critical-of-abc-stories-on-native-forest-industry/

Logging protected areas:

The Andrews government recently set aside Special Protection Zones (SPZs) in native forests across the state for protection of the endangered greater glider, though the Victorian Forest Alliance found 17 areas were logged within the past 24 months before being protected, leading them to question “Why is the government protecting recently logged areas, and still destroying prime greater glider habitat?”.

https://www.nationaltribune.com.au/state-government-s-new-greater-glider-protection-areas-save-forests-recently-logged/

More logging and burning solution to Victorian fires:

The Governments Major Event Review of the 2019-20 Victorian bushfires examined the impacts, identifying a number of improvements which could be made to land and fire management practices, including expanding active and adaptive management, increasing collaboration with Traditional Owners and expanding the range of forest industries – more burning and logging is just what the forests need.

Forestry Australia member Dr Tony Bartlett ASFM (Australian Fire Service Medal), who was part of the review’s panel, said the report showed that old growth and fire sensitive forests would be lost if the if the extent and frequency of severe bushfires were not reduced.

“We also need to support the expansion of a range of forest industries to drive jobs and economic benefits to rural and regional communities, which serves the added benefit of having knowledgeable and trained crews on the ground when fires do occur.”

https://www.miragenews.com/major-event-review-of-2019-20-victorian-902427/

Voting for Victorian forests:

This election the issue of native forest logging has never been more prominent in Victoria, with the Greens advocating an immediate end to logging of public native forests, Labor sticking by their 2030 phase out, and Liberals wanting logging for ever more. The Reason Party and 2 Teal independents also want logging ended.

This year, the issue of native forest logging has never been more prominent. Victoria’s Supreme Court recently found state-owned logging agency, VicForests, failed to follow the law and protect endangered possum species. There have also been media reports about the agency logging protected forests and the carbon emissions that logging produces.

The community outcry has Labor rattled. The party has been leafleting inner-city suburbs like Northcote about an end to native logging (though the official closure date of 2030 only features on the back).

The political fallout over native forest logging is a “running sore” for Labor, Strangio says. “All the controversies surrounding continued logging and the behaviour of VicForests might cost them in places like Richmond and Northcote.”

In contrast, the Liberals’ policy is to extend logging indefinitely. The Greens want it to cease immediately.

https://www.theage.com.au/environment/climate-change/victorians-care-about-the-environment-here-s-how-the-parties-stack-up-20221117-p5bz70.html

The poll, prepared for the Victorian National Parks Association, found 36% of Victorians say their vote would be influenced by policy announcements regarding saving threatened species and stopping extinction.

The Victorian government’s own surveys have highlighted the enormous number of people who value nature. And research this year for the Australian Conservation Foundation found 95% of Australians agree it’s important to protect nature for future generations.

Despite the weight of public concern, Victoria is failing its wildlife. Last year the Victorian Auditor General’s Office handed down a damning report on biodiversity protection. It concluded that about a third of Victoria’s land-based plants, animals and ecological communities face extinction, their continued decline will likely have dire consequences for the state, and funding to protect them is grossly inadequate.

The Liberal-Nationals have pledged to immediately reverse both of the Andrews government’s 2019 decisions to end old-growth forest logging and to phase-out native forest logging by 2030. This would take us backwards in terms of biodiversity protection.

Labor and the Coalition have both been silent on reforms to land clearing in the lead up to this election.

https://theconversation.com/if-you-care-about-nature-in-victoria-this-is-your-essential-state-election-guide-194805?utm

SPECIES

Offsetting biodiversity:

A NSW parliamentary inquiry into biodiversity offsets has slammed the scheme as doing more harm than good, allows too much flexibility for threatened species to be “traded away for cash” and should be reformed to ensure offsetting is “genuinely used as a last resort only”, making 19 recommendations including establishing clear thresholds for when offsets should not be permitted for the most threatened ecosystems and species, with NCC calling for an immediate moratorium.

“No one came to us saying it was working well,” [chair of the inquiry, Greens MP Sue Higginson] said. “It is likely that the scheme has enabled biodiversity loss [rather] than achieved its objective of no net loss.”

Environmental Defenders Office head of policy and law reform Rachel Walmsley said the scheme did more harm than good.

“Our laws must recognise that some things are too precious and vulnerable to ever be offset. Since those laws came into force, land clearing rates have skyrocket and remain dangerously high. Plants and animals continue to be added to the list of threatened species every year.”

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/conservation/fundamentally-broken-biodiversity-offset-scheme-needs-overhaul-government-report-finds-20221124-p5c0z8.html

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/nov/24/nsw-environmental-offsets-scheme-risks-trading-away-threatened-species-for-cash-inquiry-finds

"The scheme's design allows too much flexibility to trade off threatened species in exchange for cash, without guarantee that genuinely equivalent offsets will ever be found," Greens MP and committee chair Sue Higginson said.

Allegations of insider trading and collusion with the scheme were not surprising considering the limited transparency regarding actual ecological outcomes, she said.

[Nature Conservation Council chief executive Jacqui Mumford] called on the government to impose an immediate moratorium on all new offset trades and rule out allowing offsets to enable the destruction of high value conservation habitat. 

https://www.denipt.com.au/national/damning-review-of-nsw-biodiversity-scheme-2/

Captive modifications:

A world-wide review identifies that animals bred in captivity can experience significant physical, health and behavioural changes that may disadvantage their survival chances once released into the wild. Some of the findings are: “the erosion of and divergence from wild behaviours can occur quickly in captivity”, such as vocalisations (ie Regent Honeyeater), migratory movements (ie Monarch Butterflies), social interactions, cognitive abilities (ie Northern Quoll), and anti-predator behaviour (ie Northern Quoll); “There is abundant evidence of morphological change in captivity relative to wild conspecifics with respect to body and organ size, shape and skeletomuscular structure”, such as wing structure and size (ie Orange-bellied Parrot, Zebra Finch), and skull changes (weaker bite strength, smaller brains); and positive and negative changes in “the health of animals as well as underlying aspects of their physiology”, such as elevated stress, higher prevalence of certain diseases, loss of immunity to natural diseases (ie Orange-bellied Parrot) and parasites, oral health, gut microbiomes, wild food preferences, and physical strength.

  1. There is evidence across a range of taxa that animal phenotypes can change as a result of captivity.
  2. These effects vary from obvious deviations from (often poorly defined) wild phenotypes, to subtle changes that may go undetected.
  3. Captive-breeding programs should attempt to identify the multiple ways that captivity can affect animal phenotypes, because the phenotypic quality of animals bred for release is as important to conservation success as their quantity.
  4. Failure to detect, prevent or correct phenotypic changes arising from captive life can result in mortality of individuals and failure of expensive conservation programs.
  5. Adaptive management approaches that explicitly consider the links between different elements of captive-breeding programs and fitness in the wild post-release are essential to mitigating the phenotypic costs of captivity.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/brv.12913?af=R

“If we could avoid having to do a breeding program in the first place, we would,” Pitcher said. “The most successful and cost-effective method is to do early intervention so that a species never gets to the point where [it needs] reintroducing.”

Dr Marissa Parrott, a reproductive biologist at Zoos Victoria said captive breeding was now an essential tool.

“The IUCN [International Union for Conservation of Nature] recommends more than 2,000 species globally will need captive-breeding programs to not become extinct,” she said.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/nov/21/animals-bred-in-captivity-develop-physical-changes-that-may-hinder-survival-in-the-wild-research-finds

A Superb Lyrebird in Sydney’s Taronga Zoo recently became famous for imitating alarm sirens and evacuation calls, while David Attenborough recently featured one that could imitate a camera click, what they have in common is that being raised in captivity they have lost the song culture they learn from their peers.

https://theconversation.com/that-siren-imitating-lyrebird-at-taronga-zoo-he-lost-his-song-culture-and-absorbed-some-of-ours-192929?utm

A similar problem occurred with captive reared Regent Honeyeaters, where males lost their call appeal to females. 50 Taronga zoo-bred Regent Honeyeaters have been released in the Lower Hunter Valley, this time after being schooled in calling by captive wild-caught males. 39 will be monitored for up to 10 weeks.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/aap/article-11448503/Release-rare-honeyeaters-NSW.html

Taronga Zoo has revolutionised the way it raises the critically endangered birds, based on research that shows zoo-bred males sing differently from their wild counterparts, potentially slashing their chances to survive and breed.

“We tutor our birds in their wild song,” Taronga’s manager of conservation programs Andrew Elphinstone said. “We’re trying to develop a really strong New South Wales-style song culture in the birds we’re releasing.

Taronga has bred 600 regent honeyeaters since their conservation program began in 2000, but their honeyeaters were singing an altered mash-up of trills, clicks and mimicked calls of other inhabitants of the zoo such as friarbirds.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/conservation/save-the-song-save-the-species-rescuing-the-sound-of-the-aussie-bush-20221119-p5bzld.html

Paralysing Flying foxes:

In North Queensland paralysis ticks are killing mother Spectacled Flying Foxes resulting in pups being taken into care in significant numbers, a consequence of loss of canopy nectar resources forcing feeding closer to the ground in Tobacco Bush where the ticks are. 

"You have to consider these flying foxes are normally feeding up high," she said.

"If there's plenty of food up there, they won't come down low to feed on this weed species that brings them into contact with the ticks, which are normally in that first metre above ground."

Ongoing wet weather down the east coast of Australia has led to fears of a spike in tick numbers this summer, with some vets reporting shortages of vital tick anti-toxin serum

McLean said in addition to ticks, the species are prone to heat stress events, which can lead to mass die-offs

https://www.9news.com.au/national/paralysis-ticks-australia-putting-flying-foxes-under-threat/b5578ff8-0c48-4471-b77b-d6beb4aa8b98

https://tolgabathospital.org/tick-paralysis/

Ringtails running out of room:

Many of the species found only in the cooler upland rainforests of Queensland’s Wet Tropics are being eliminated from lower altitudes, as rising temperatures and heatwaves increasingly restrict them to the mountain tops, with four species of ringtail possums (Lemuroid Ringtail, Green Ringtail, Herbert River Ringtail and Daintree River Ringtail) now identified at risk of being wiped out from their mountain refuges in less than three decades as climate heating progresses, and extreme heatwaves become more frequent.

Populations at lower elevations have been declining to basically “local extinction” as possums that evolved in cool rainforests are forced into higher altitudes, James Cook University Professor Stephen Williams says.

“Somewhere between 2010 and 2014 … things just started to get too bad, and the combination of increasing temperatures and increasing frequency and intensity of heatwaves have just caused this exponential decline,” Prof Williams said.

In heatwave years, analysis suggests there is likely both an increase in the death rate and a decline in reproduction rates.

The impact of climate change isn’t confined to possums, and most of the unique birds that live in the rainforest have declined by between 30 to 50 per cent of their total population, and as well as pushed up to higher elevations.

https://www.aap.com.au/news/extinction-threat-for-wet-tropic-possums/

Reasoned attack on Koalas not reasonable:

The Australian Rural and Regional News presents synopsises of an array of their articles on Koalas, relying heavily on DPI Forestry’s Brad Law’s claims that logging has no impacts on Koalas and Vic Jurskis’s claims that the bushfires had no impacts on Koalas (based on NRC statements) and that rather than declining, Koala’s are irruptive due to the increase in regrowth forests. I find this reasoned attack on Koala concerns (along with an array of other issues), under the guise of balanced journalism, based upon Government propaganda and the extreme views of Jurskis, which most journalists ignore, an interesting approach.

https://arr.news/politics/open-for-debate-koalas/?utm_source=mailpoet&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=australian-rural-and-regional-news-this-week_3

Another of ARRN’s campaigns has been to try to discredit Zylstra’s burning studies, after engaging for a while, Zylstra has now had enough stating “Reasoned discussion would engage with those arguments, not simply repeat itself as if I had said nothing”.

We reported that according to Departmental records, bushfires were seven times more likely in areas of forest that still had the dense understorey that had been germinated by prescribed burns than they were in other areas where the understorey had self-thinned because it had been left alone.

The confusing thing is that when fires occur in NSW, pressure is placed on National Parks to burn more, but rates of burning decrease elsewhere. As a result, the rate of burning in NSW overall has fallen, while the rate in National Parks such as the Blue Mtns has risen dramatically – as shown by Mr Rutherford’s data. The biggest fire that ignited in that World Heritage Area (Gospers Mtn) started in a 100,000ha patch burned 5 years earlier. Analysis by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC after the event found that the bushfire was more severe in that 5-year-old area than it was in the long-unburned, self-thinned forest. This is hard reality, and we either adjust to it or fade into irrelevance.

https://arr.news/2022/11/21/philip-zylstras-response-4-self-thinning-forest-understoreys-and-wildfire-debate/

More about Koalas:

Sixteen Victorian advocacy groups formed the Koala Leaders Unite alliance to urge the next Victorian government to immediately improve protection for koalas, with a list of 10 key commitments, topped by "immediately cease all native forest logging".

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-22/victorian-state-election-2022-koala-conservationists-alliance/101678620

Total Environment Centre is supporting the new Sydney Basin Koala Network, with funding from WIRES, which will focus “on bringing the "critical" issue of the Sydney basin's koala protection to the forefront of the political agenda at the state and federal level”.

https://www.oberonreview.com.au/story/7993884/wildlife-advocacy-group-joins-koala-wars/

Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary is offering koala lovers the opportunity to purchase a ‘Koala Crusader’ annual pass, for which you receive various ‘goodies’ including a pledge certificate, plush Koala, baseball cap, lapel pin, sticker and writing pen, as well as a 10% discount.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/koala-sanctuary-calls-for-local-koala-crusaders

ABC has a one hour podcast on Koalas, apparently focused on the Blue Mountains.

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/saving-the-koala/14105618

To feed or not to feed:

The Conversation has an article questioning the benefits of feeding wildlife, particularly after disasters, such as the bushfires, and is asking for people who have fed wildlife to respond to a survey.

Here, the scientific consensus suggests feeding is a net negative. While it can help individual animals survive and thrive, it has wider flow-on effects.

It can increase disease by drawing unusual numbers of animals close together.

It can also disturb the natural balance of predator-prey systems, altering ecosystems and drawing invasive species. If you always put seed out, for instance, you may draw beautiful native birds to your backyard – but you may also draw mynah birds, feral pigeons and predators.

This is where you could help. If you were involved in giving food, water or shelter to wildlife during or after the Black Summer fires, we’d love to hear about your experience through our anonymous survey.

https://theconversation.com/its-natural-to-want-to-feed-wildlife-after-disasters-but-it-may-not-help-193863?utm

Spineless rewilding:

Given that 97% of animals are invertebrates, and they play crucial roles in ecosystems, entomologists consider they should be a key component of rewilding, Researchers took invertebrates, mostly mites, ticks, ants, beetles and springtails in leaf litter, from paired national parks, and reintroduced them to six revegetated sites isolated by farmland, finding beetles were most likely to survive and thrive in their new habitat,

Meanwhile, invertebrates are often overlooked. But our new research shows rewilding with invertebrates – insects, worms, spiders and the like – can go a long way in bringing our degraded landscapes back to life.

But invertebrate species are declining at shocking rates around the world, especially as climate change worsens. They also need our help to re-colonise new areas.

Understanding why some groups are more likely to survive leaf litter transplants than others is a vital step in the development of invertebrate rewilding. Nonetheless, our results show the relatively simple act of moving leaf litter can lead to comparatively large increases in species richness in a short time.

https://theconversation.com/they-might-not-have-a-spine-but-invertebrates-are-the-backbone-of-our-ecosystems-lets-help-them-out-193447?utm_

From droughts to floods, the fish continue to die:

Fish deaths in the lower Murray-Darling system are rapidly increasing as rotting vegetation depletes oxygen levels, with the blackwater event expected to last 2-3 months and worsen as waters warm, with some farmers claiming water set aside for the environment has worsened the situation - without recognising that their conversion of floodplain vegetation is the primary cause.

Jarod Lyon from Victoria's Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning said oxygen levels in the water would likely drop further.

"The further you move into summer, the faster that microbial bacterial action occurs and that speeds up the rate at which the oxygen was taken out of the water," he said. 

"I think, as a fish ecologist and someone who's worked in the river restoration game for a long time, I know myself and my colleagues are really, really worried about this situation, really upset."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-21/native-fish-suffocating-murray-darling-basin-floodwaters/101665668

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

Profound consequences:

The World Meteorological Organization’s provisional State of the Global Climate in 2022 report identifies the past eight years are on track to be the eight warmest on record, fuelled by ever-rising greenhouse gas concentrations and accumulated heat. Extreme heatwaves, drought and devastating flooding have affected millions and cost billions this year, glaciers are undergoing a “record-shattering melt”, the rate of sea level rise has doubled in the past 30 years (rising by nearly 10 mm since January 2020), annual increase in methane concentration was the highest on record, and the lower 1.5°C of the Paris Agreement is barely within reach.

https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/eight-warmest-years-record-witness-upsurge-climate-change-impacts

https://johnmenadue.com/wmo-climate-report-shows-8-hottest-years-on-record-with-global-targets-nearly-out-of-reach/

https://johnmenadue.com/environment-1-5-is-still-alive-just-but-the-icu-is-yet-to-be-built/

We are world leaders, as the latest BOM/CSIRO State of Climate report shows we have already almost reached 1.5oC warming. 2019 remains Australia’s warmest year on record, and we experienced the consequences. Going up are average temperatures by 1.47 ± 0.24 °C, very hot days, ocean temperatures by >1°C, sea levels, ocean acidification, extreme fire weather, rainfall across the north, and extreme rainfall events. Going down are autumn/winter rainfall in south-west (15-19%) and south-east (10%), streamflows (except far north-west), numbers of cyclones, and snow.  Its no surprise the world is warming, seas rising, ice melting, fires worsening, floods worsening and ecosystems collapsing.

https://www.csiro.au/en/research/environmental-impacts/climate-change/state-of-the-climate

Australia must take this report seriously and start to prepare for a world of increased droughts, bushfires, heatwaves, acid oceans, rising sea levels and flash floods.

Given these pressures, it is vital Australia looks for the most cost effective and evidence-based solutions, rather than the current haphazard politicised approach.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/danger-signs-time-to-be-alarmed-about-the-state-of-the-climate-20221123-p5c0qu.html

While the urgency for action has never been more pressing, we still hold the future in our hands - the choices we make today will decide our future for generations to come. Every 0.1℃ of warming we can avoid will make a big difference.

https://theconversation.com/state-of-the-climate-what-australians-need-to-know-about-major-new-report-195136?utm_

Tipping over:

The Washington Post has an in-depth article on the death of the Amazon, with rainfall decreasing in dry seasons, river flows declining, burning increasing, and ecosystems transitioning to drier states, some scientists are concerned that a series of tipping points have been triggered which herald the demise of the greatest rainforest on earth. The article focusses on water shortage effects on people, once use to plenty.

More than three-quarters of the rainforest, research indicates, is showing signs of lost resilience. In fire-scorched areas of the Rio Negro floodplains, one research group noted a “drastic ecosystem shift” that has reduced jungle to savanna. In the southeastern Amazon, which has been assaulted by rapacious cattle ranching, trees are dying off and being pushed aside by species better acclimated to drier climes. In the southwestern Amazon, fast-growing bamboo is overtaking lands ravaged by fire and drought. And in the devastated transitional forests of Mato Grosso state, researchers believe a local tipping point is imminent.

The stakes are highest in the forest itself, where millions of people are for the first time reckoning with a hotter, smokier and drier Amazon. Strange sights are being reported: Wells that have gone dry. Streams that have vanished. The arrival of the maned wolf, a species native to South American savannas. Even a scourge familiar elsewhere in Brazil but not here: thirst.

“We stand exactly in a moment of destiny: The tipping point is here,” Brazilian climatologist Carlos Nobre and American ecologist Thomas Lovejoy wrote in Science Advances in 2019. “It is now.”

Some say the biome that rises from the fires will be a degraded, open-canopy forest. Others say it will remain closed, but deformed. But perhaps the most likely outcome is far more drastic — the destroyed forest giving way to an expansive grassland.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/interactive/2022/amazon-brazil-tipping-point/

World on Fire:

Unprecedented fire activity and severity has been occurring around the world, which researchers have linked to exceedance of thresholds in atmospheric water demand (vapour pressure deficit), being a reliable predictor of dead fuel moisture content and increased tree mortality, finding that climate change is projected to lead to widespread increases in risk, with at least 30 additional days above critical thresholds for fire activity in forest biomes on every continent by 2100 under rising emissions scenarios, with the Amazon hardest hit.

Levels of fire activity and severity that are unprecedented in the instrumental record have recently been observed in forested regions around the world. Using a large sample of daily fire events and hourly climate data, here we show that fire activity in all global forest biomes responds strongly and predictably to exceedance of thresholds in atmospheric water demand, as measured by maximum daily vapour pressure deficit. The climatology of vapour pressure deficit can therefore be reliably used to predict forest fire risk under projected future climates. We find that climate change is projected to lead to widespread increases in risk, with at least 30 additional days above critical thresholds for fire activity in forest biomes on every continent by 2100 under rising emissions scenarios. Escalating forest fire risk threatens catastrophic carbon losses in the Amazon and major population health impacts from wildfire smoke in south Asia and east Africa.

There is already evidence that recent increases in fire may have tipped the Amazon from a net carbon sink to a net carbon source54. Increasing wildfire at the scale described here could interact with other sources of dieback such as drought and deforestation to further undermine the role that the Amazon plays within the carbon cycle and regional climate, as a contributor to human welfare and as a unique feature of the biosphere. Likewise boreal forests, another biome for which we project increases in fire activity, have also been identified as tipping elements53. Our findings highlight the risks posed by conditions of increasing atmospheric moisture demand to forest-based efforts to enhance terrestrial carbon storage such as reforestation, offsetting and improved forest management55.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-34966-3

TURNING IT AROUND

Pedal to the metal:

Weeks of the world’s nations, and fossil fuel companies, negotiating at COP 27 have left many profoundly disappointed as we continue “on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.” The best that can be said is that we didn’t go backwards, and that there was an in-principle agreement to create a new funding facility by which rich nations would pay poor ones for damage caused by climate catastrophes (yet to be funded). The principal concerns were that there was no commitment to phase out or reduce oil and gas, with a “surprise last-minute addition” by Egypt that “‘low-emission’ energy should be part of the world’s response to rising seas and searing heat waves”, meaning accelerated development of gas.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/success-came-at-the-end-of-cop-but-that-depends-on-what-you-wanted-from-it-20221119-p5bzkw.html

In the end, exhausted delegates signed off on an inadequate agreement, but largely avoided the backsliding that looked possible over fraught days of negotiations.

The establishment of a fund for loss and damage is clearly an important outcome of COP27, even with details yet to be fleshed out.

https://theconversation.com/cop27-one-big-breakthrough-but-ultimately-an-inadequate-response-to-the-climate-crisis-194056?utm

https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2022/11/what-you-need-to-know-about-cop27/

https://www.theenergymix.com/2022/11/21/cop-27-backs-gas-as-low-emission-energy-in-final-declaration/?utm_source=The+Energy+Mix&utm_campaign=bf7eaec1d4-TEM_RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dc146fb5ca-bf7eaec1d4-510012746

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2348073-what-are-climate-summits-actually-for-and-how-can-we-make-them-work/?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=bcc3fadf2e-briefing-dy-20221123&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-bcc3fadf2e-46198454

Language calling for a phase out of fossil fuels was jettisoned from the final text, while new wording was added calling for accelerated development of “low-emission” energy systems, which many fear will be used to justify further natural gas development.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-03807-0

… nature-based solutions on the agenda:

For the first time ever at a climate summit, the final text of this month’s COP27 included a “forests” section and a reference to “nature-based solutions,” being welcomed by some as providing a financial incentive for forest protection, though creating concerns from others that it could encourage dubious carbon accounting and offsetting.

The REDD+ framework was originally designed to evaluate, quantify, and support avoided emissions via the preservation, rather than the exploitation, of carbon-storing ecosystems including forests. The COP27 text could allow developing nations to sell vetted sovereign carbon credits, making it more profitable to keep ecosystems intact rather than disrupting them for timber, minerals or agriculture.

Ultimately, the nod to REDD+ made it into the final COP27 text, as did a significant footnote stipulating that not only countries, but also private companies, could buy sovereign carbon credits.

Carbon markets are ultimately a form of offsetting, say some critics, which can allow bad actors to pay their way to net zero, never reducing their own high emissions, while buying credits for reductions elsewhere. The voluntary carbon markets that already exist are contributing to “net-zero greenwashing” by countries and companies due to a lack “standards, regulations and rigor,” a report commissioned by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said this month.

https://news.mongabay.com/2022/11/cop27-boosts-carbon-trading-and-non-market-conservation-but-can-they-save-forests/

Representatives of the world’s three forest giants – Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo – have signed a cooperation agreement in Jakarta calling for more funding to help protect half of the world’s rainforests.

https://news.mongabay.com/2022/11/where-is-the-money-brazil-indonesia-and-congo-join-forces-in-push-for-rainforest-protection-cash/?mc_cid=76b29cf192&mc_eid=c0875d445f

The Conversation has a discussion emphasising how essential it is to remove atmospheric carbon, dismissing planting trees because of fire risk and instead promoting air scrubbing (“direct air capture and storage”) and burning biomass (“bioenergy, carbon capture and storage”).

Proponents argue carbon removal is required at a massive scale to avoid dangerous warming. But the practice is fraught. Successfully stripping carbon from the atmosphere at the scale our planet requires is a deeply uncertain prospect.

The IPCC said in a report this year that large-scale deployment of carbon dioxide removal was “unavoidable” if the world is to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Consider trees. While forests store a lot of carbon, if they burn then the carbon goes straight back into the atmosphere. What’s more, there’s not enough land for forests to deliver negative emissions on the scales we require to limit global warming.

As a result, some experts and civil society groups are calling for more complex methods of carbon removal. Two widely discussed examples include “direct air capture and storage” (use fans to force air through carbon-capturing filers) and “bioenergy, carbon capture and storage” (grow forests, burn them for electricity, capture and store the carbon).

https://theconversation.com/stripping-carbon-from-the-atmosphere-might-be-needed-to-avoid-dangerous-warming-but-it-remains-a-deeply-uncertain-prospect-195097?utm

ANU’s Disaster Solutions are developing potential solutions “to stop bushfires, storms and floods in their tracks”; nature-based solutions for flood risk, floating houses to rise with floodwaters, quicker automated fire detection and suppression, using shockwave generators to disrupt hailstone formation, and cloud seeding to reduce hailstone size (ripe for conspiracies).

https://theconversation.com/climate-fuelled-disasters-warning-people-is-good-but-stopping-the-disaster-is-best-here-are-4-possible-ways-to-do-it-194916

COP 27 failed, now its on to COP 15:

COP15, a United Nations conference that will set the 2030 targets to ensure nature is in a better place than it is now, starts in Montréal, Canada, on December 7, Tanya Pliberseck will attend, but with Federal oversight of biodiversity a shambles the task ahead for us is immense.

Australia is currently at the top of the world leader board when it comes to mammal extinctions. It's not a gold medal we wear proudly.

Australia is one of 17 megadiverse countries, which means our species are unique and found nowhere else on Earth. Once they are gone, they are gone. The damage is irreversible.

Species that define Australia, like the koala and the gang-gang cockatoo, are at threat of extinction because we keep knocking down the trees they need to breed in and feed in.

If we don't take immediate action to manage these pressures, it will mean more extinctions and a continued decline of the environmental capital on which all Australians depend.

https://www.macleayargus.com.au/story/7991564/the-other-cop-you-need-to-know-about/

https://reneweconomy.com.au/nature-crisis-and-extinctions-why-australia-needs-to-stand-up-at-the-other-cop/


Forest Media 18 November 2022

New South Wales

On Monday morning the Government’s private native forestry bill, aimed at removing protection for core Koala habitat, gained attention, with Climate 200 regarding it as an election gift, the ALP opposing it, and speculation that Liberals Felicity Wilson and Leslie Williams, and Nationals Geoff Provest, could cross the floor or abstain. By Monday afternoon Fred Nile had declared he wouldn’t support the bill, killing its chances of getting through the upper house, Liberals Felicity Wilson and Leslie Williams, and Nationals Geoff Provest, firmed up their commitments to vote it down, and to cap it off millionaire Geoff Cousins threatened to run an advertising campaign targeting the premier. It was the living dead, the Premier had to bury it for the second time, to rise again in the next government. Catherine Cusack accused the Liberals "screwing up" on the issue of protecting koalas and that the Nationals deserved to be "removed from power" because of it.

Sue Arnold argues NSW Premier Perrottet has shown complete ignorance towards the plight of endangered koalas, and has diminished his chances of re-election next year by reigniting the Koala wars. Dailan Pugh thanks Geoff Provest for following Catherine Cusack’s lead and threatening to cross the floor over the same draconian legislation, though warns that it is likely to rise from the dead for the third time if Perrottet is re-elected.

On the same day Koalla-killing Bill II was withdrawn, in an apparently politically co-ordinated move Kyogle Council voted to scrap the dual approval process for native forestry on private land, leaving approvals entirely in the hands of Local Land Services (LLS). It transpired that while Council requires consent, none of the 133 current PNF operations have ever applied. In an ABC north-coast radio interview Andrew Hurford said they have been working on these legislative changes for at least 6 years, and promised them for 2 years, maintaining logging is good for Koalas. He claimed he wasn’t aware of the necessity to get council approval until recently, while the industry pretended that in Kyogle “200 applications are awaiting approval”.  

On Tuesday, in Olney State Forest, west of Morisset, a person used a suspended tree sit over the access road to block forestry from entering.

The Forestry Corporation only lost $9 million last financial year through logging public native forests, as well as getting massive subsidies for roads, transport, bushfire recovery and community service obligations, leading some to question why we still do it. The South East Timber Association have commissioned their own economic report to counter the ANU/Frontier Economics report that found stopping logging in south-east NSW would produce a net economic benefit to the state of approximately $60 million, while also reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by almost 1 million tonnes per year over the period 2022-2041, compared to logging, instead claiming it would cost -$252.43 million. Echo Voice focusses on the Frontiers Economics report on transitioning out of NSW’s public native forests, concluding “now is the time”.

The Sydney Review of Books has a lengthy article on Kate Holden’s The Winter Road, that traces a history of relationships to the Australian soil to explore how in 2014, Ian Turnbull, an 80-year old farmer with several properties to his name, came to murder Glen Turner, an environmental officer trying to protect the brigalow.

Country mayors and MPs are calling for the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme to be dumped, claiming it strangles development and jobs in regional NSW, making some developments cost prohibitive. Hornsby Shire Council recently voted to lobby the NSW Government for “standards to ensure native wildlife found on development sites are given the best possible chance of survival”, though on a similar motion, The Hills Shire Council quashed an attempt to introduce enforceable and consistent standards for the handling and management of wildlife on development sites.

One of the largest ever flood responses in NSW’s history was under way on Tuesday morning, with 17 flood warnings in place and eight major warnings affecting 25 locations. Spring 2022 is on track to be the wettest on record for south-east Australia. With catchments sodden, flooding is happening rapidly. As Forbes was cut in half, deputy mayor, Chris Roylance, said it “will be the biggest we’ve ever seen”. Condobolin was entirely isolated as it suffered its biggest recorded flood. As the atmosphere warms it can hold more water, supercharging atmospheric rivers, requiring a rethink of floods. With the floods come the mosquitos, big ones, small ones, benign ones, and plagues of disease ridden biting ones, attacking livestock, with water persisting long after the rains so will they.

Australia

When the Victorian Government made its announcement that logging would be phased out by 2030, they announced that “90,000 hectares of Victoria’s remaining rare and precious old growth forest...will be protected immediately”, what they didn’t say was that they would allow Vicforests to review the mapped oldgrowth to decide whether it qualified, and mostly they decided it didn’t, as exemplified by a coupe aptly called Duped which had mapped oldgrowth that they were logging at the time and continued to log. Now the Flora and Fauna Research Collective (FFRC) has a legal case currently before the Victorian Supreme Court claiming enough is enough.

A study of Victoria’s Central Highlands by right-leaning Blueprint Institute finds preserving trees generates more in tourism, water supply benefits, and carbon credits than cutting them down, protecting them now would generate $487 million in benefits, with a net profit of $59 million between 2022/23 and 2030.

Victorian federal teal independent for Kooyong MP Monique Ryan, supported by Zoe Daniel, moved for an end to the RFA exemption for logging from EPBC Act, particularly to address climate change. They have been joined by NSW Teals Mackellar MP Sophie Scamps and Warringah MP Zali Steggall.

Mining company Magnetic South cleared 218 hectares of land at Dingo in central Queensland, 130 kilometres west of Rockhampton, without requiring approval for either the clearing or their mine, adjoining land that protects the only significant population of the bridled nailtail wallaby.

Species

As well as coronaviruses, flying foxes are hosts to a variety of diseases which can spread directly or indirectly to humans, such as rabies, Nipah and Hendra, which can have limited impacts on the bats due to their supercharged immune systems. Researchers have found that it is winter nectar shortages that force flying foxes into urban areas and closer contacts with people, thereby increasing the risk of disease spill-overs, notably increasing the risk of Hendra virus, their solution being more plantings of nectar feed trees in rural areas (away from horses) – I think the best first step is to stop cutting down mature nectar feed trees, as the older trees flower more prolifically and regularly.

The Conversation has an article about the plight of urban wildlife in deluges, pointing out that prolonged rain may confine microbats to their roosts, and sometimes starve, while in deluges Brush Turkey mounds can become saturated and their eggs drown, meanwhile exotic cockroaches can revel in the humidity inside your house. 

The Green’s Forestry Amendment (Koala Habitats) Bill 2022, which was introduced on 9 November, makes “it a requirement of an integrated forestry operations approval that forestry operations are not carried out in koala habitats”, continues to garner attention, though won’t be voted on until after the election.

A reminder that Satin Bowerbirds like the blue-rings from milk and cream bottle tops and can get them stuck around their necks, it helps to snip them – some years ago some school kids ran a campaign and got Norco to stop using blue, though corporate memories are short.

ABC have an article about the insect relationships of Tasmanian orchids and sundews, with some orchids mimicking the scent and visual appearance of wasps to fool them into trying to mate, and sundews having the dilemma of avoiding eating their pollinators.

Researchers have concluded that the 2015 die-off of nearly 10 percent of mangrove forest along northern Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria was a result of extreme low tides associated with a 18.6 year moon wobble cycle, amplified by El Niño, that creates regular, sustained periods of unusually high or low tides n certain places.

The Deteriorating Problem

This year, the world is projected to emit 40.6 billion tonnes of CO₂ from all human activities, leaving 380 billion tonnes of CO₂ as the remaining carbon budget for a 50% chance the planet will limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5℃, at current rates there is a 50% chance the planet will reach the 1.5℃ global average temperature rise in just nine years. Ocean and forest sinks continue to take up around half of our emissions. While discounted by claimed reforestation, deforestation remains a significant driver.

A bevy of scientists express profound concern for the future of many species of insects that are declining rapidly across many parts of the biosphere primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation, chemical and organic pollution, invasive species and other human-mediated changes to the environment, which are now being amplified by climate change, notably extreme events, threatening an insect apocalypse.

As another example of mismatching resulting from species responding at different rates to climate heating, in north America, deciduous trees are leafing-out earlier while understorey wildflowers are not flowering earlier, resulting in more shade and less sunlight for photosynthesis which could lead to wildflower declines.

A new report has shown at least 27% of undisturbed rainforests in the Congo Basin present in 2020 will disappear by 2050 if the rate of deforestation and forest degradation continues at current rates.

The Boreal forest which encircles the arctic and stretches across Canada, Scandinavia, Russia and Alaska has in recent times been weakened by forest fires, the melting of permafrost, an insect infestation, warming temperatures and drifting trees, as the tipping point approaches. Across Europe’s northern forests clearcutting of older, natural forest appears to be widespread but oldgrowth hasn’t been mapped, a Swedish study found that almost a quarter of the few remaining forests of this type were lost between 2003 and 2019, and are expected to be cut-out in the 2070s. As Alaska warms twice as fast as the rest of the U.S., once frozen land is now thawed out and up for grabs as boreal forests are carved up, sold off and cleared for agriculture in an Alaskan land rush. 

Turning it Around

The big issue of COP 27 is whether the big polluting countries who have caused climate heating should be compensating the poorer developing countries who are bearing the disastrous consequences. Australia, as the highest per capita polluter, and one of the top 20 polluters, is responsible for $200 million worth of damage to other countries. Developed countries have pledged just over $250 million for a global fund for “loss and damage” to help developing countries adapt to climate change, though the recent commitments fall drastically short of the $200 billion in annual funding for “climate reparations” that the U.N. says is needed this decade alone to adequately address the issue. Meanwhile rich countries and companies’ efforts to address the problems with carbon credits and offsets, rather than real emissions reductions, are plagued with poor management and regulation, while delaying meaningful action. Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen thinks the world is unlikely to come to an agreement over contentious calls for wealthy nations to pay loss and damage compensation for climate impacts on developing countries.

An analysis blamed the slow progress at COP27 in part on continuing misinformation by right-wing media, singling out Fox News as the principal organisation misleading millions of Americans. Others consider the 600 fossil fuel delegates at the meeting as a significant problem.

The U.S. Center at the COP27 climate talks hosted a panel Monday focused on ending global deforestation by 2030, with some panelists expressing concern that high carbon mature and oldgrowth forests continue to be logged, some stressed and overheated forests could soon emit more carbon than they store, and some argued we need to move beyond failed market-based carbon offsets and start actual protection. In welcome news, Brazil's new president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced he would seek an end to the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest by 2030. Fashion accounts for about 10 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, leading to an announcement by 33 brands, printers and producers, timed to coincide with COP27, they will purchase over half a million tonnes of non-forest alternative fibres for clothing and packaging to help reduce global emissions.

As talks at COP27 enter the final stretch, government ministers and negotiators from nearly 200 countries are scrambling to build consensus on an array of issues critical to tackling the climate emergency based on a 20-page first draft released on Thursday that has left some profoundly disappointed as we continue “on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.” Principal concerns are the failure of wealthy nations to agree to pay loss and damage compensation for climate impacts on developing countries, or mention taking action on oil and gas due to over 600 fossil fuel industry delegates.

Some think the debate over whether humans can physically survive climate change is misguided, we should be looking ahead with more interest to next month’s COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the treaty aimed at saving the planet’s wild species, because we are sustained by a disintegrating intricate living system.

In New Zealand the conflict between graziers and carbon farmers grows as more pasture is bought-up by overseas investors and converted to trees, with graziers now pooling their resources buy farms approved for carbon forests.

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Koala Killing Bill Killed:

On Monday morning the Government’s private native forestry bill, aimed at removing protection for core Koala habitat, gained attention, with Climate 200 regarding it as an election gift, the ALP opposing it, and speculation that Liberals Felicity Wilson and Leslie Williams, and Nationals Geoff Provest, could cross the floor or abstain.

Climate 200 founder Simon Holmes a Court described revisiting the koala wars as a “gift” for the teal movement in NSW, which would seize on the NSW government’s position in northern Sydney seats.

“Dominic Perrottet has handed the movement a gift through deciding to flood a UNESCO site with many significant Aboriginal sites, reopening the koala wars and putting Angus Taylor’s gas man in the Premier’s office.”

However, several senior government sources said other at-risk Liberals, including North Shore MP Felicity Wilson and Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams, are considering crossing the floor or abstaining. Nationals MP for Tweed Geoff Provest could also abstain.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/nsw/perrottet-faces-bitter-internal-split-over-new-koala-wars-outbreak-20221113-p5bxuf.html

By Monday afternoon Fred Nile had declared he wouldn’t support the bill, killing its chances of getting through the upper house, Liberals Felicity Wilson and Leslie Williams, and Nationals Geoff Provest, firmed up their commitments to vote it down, and to cap it off millionaire Geoff Cousins threatened to run an advertising campaign targeting the premier. It was the living dead, the Premier had to bury it for the second time, to rise again in the next government. Catherine Cusack accused the Liberals "screwing up" on the issue of protecting koalas and that the Nationals deserved to be "removed from power" because of it.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/nsw-government-faces-defeat-in-koala-wars-as-mp-fred-nile-refuses-to-back-bill-20221114-p5by3c.htmlhttps://www.perthnow.com.au/politics/nsw-koala-wars-bill-quickly-ditched-c-8858998https://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/7981782/nsw-koala-wars-bill-quickly-ditched/https://www.irrigator.com.au/story/7981782/nsw-koala-wars-bill-quickly-ditched/?cs=12https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/nsw-government-pulls-forestry-bill-after-it-threatened-to-reignite-koala-wars-rift/vi-AA146Ofv?category=foryouhttps://www.newsofthearea.com.au/nationals-retreat-in-koala-warshttps://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-18-november-2022 

The legislation was dumped after significant internal agitation from within the Coalition, including from Nationals MP Geoff Provest and Liberals Shayne Mallard and Felicity Wilson, who were threatening to cross the floor.

“We need to be hyper cautious of any policy that could put koalas at future risk of extinction,” Wilson told Guardian Australia an hour before the bill was pulled.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Provest wrote: “We have worked so hard in the Tweed, doubling protected areas and building our first ever koala hospital. If the government insists on putting this legislation to parliament, it will not get my vote.”

The Greens said almost 2,000 emails calling for the legislation to be scrapped had been sent to government MPs – including the treasurer, Matt Kean, Griffen, Provest and Wilson – in less than 24 hours.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/nov/14/koala-wars-nsw-government-scraps-contentious-native-forestry-bill-to-head-off-revolt

But Mr Provest disputed that.

"I haven't been advised once that there has been a problem with the dual consent," the Tweed MP said.

"So I don't know why we are touching something where there's not been a problem before."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-14/nsw-government-abandons-forestry-koala-laws/101653090

Reverend Fred Nile publicly announced his opposition to the government’s private native forestry bill on Monday evening, meaning the reform would be dead on arrival if it successfully navigated the Legislative Assembly.

Moderate MPs were incensed the Nationals brought on the bill the final sitting week of the year, saying it could prove political kryptonite for them as they try to fend off a challenge from teal ­independents.

But after Reverend Nile declared his intention to vote against the reform, multiple MPs confirmed that the bill had been culled, sparing the party a potentially toxic debate.

Another Liberal MP said the bill was the No 1 election priority for Nationals leader Paul Toole, but there appeared little rationale for the push, saying it did not seem to be a major vote winner for the junior Coalition partner, and risked already under-pressure coastal seats.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/nsw-coalition-mps-fear-revived-koala-wars-bill-will-boost-independents-election-prospects/news-story/78f191aa53a0b36dbef294d7ac911616?btr=81bb38154dacc864b80706288df04ddd

Former upper house MP Catherine Cusack, who stepped down from Parliament earlier this year, said the Coalition was "screwing up" on the issue of protecting koalas and that the Nationals deserved to be "removed from power" because of it.

"I find the entire lazy exploitative relationship between Liberals and Nationals is not to be trusted," she said. "They keep screwing up on this issue, angering koala advocates. The Liberals' pattern of allowing Nationals to accelerate destruction of habitat in exchange for peace and discipline in the Coalition is, in my opinion, going to prove costly.

https://www.crikey.com.au/2022/11/15/catherine-cusack-ex-mp-koala-wars-coalition-pay/

Sue Arnold argues NSW Premier Perrottet has shown complete ignorance towards the plight of endangered koalas, and has diminished his chances of re-election next year by reigniting the Koala wars.

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/perrottets-koala-death-wish,16973

Dailan Pugh thanks Geoff Provest for following Catherine Cusack’s lead and threatening to cross the floor over the same draconian legislation, though warns that it is likely to rise from the dead for the third time if Perrottet is re-elected.

‘Mr Provest told the Government he was not prepared to support the bill. The Government withdrew the bill,’ a spoklespeson for Mr Provest told The Echo. 

‘This is the second time that these same proposed legislative changes have been defeated by a member of the Government, last time it was Catherine Cusack crossing the floor to defeat the Local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill,’ said North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson Dailan Pugh.

‘The PNF bill was not just an attack on koalas in an attempt to allow logging everywhere, it is also an attempt to remove community’s rights to be informed and have a say in what happens in their areas,’ explained Mr Pugh.

https://www.echo.net.au/2022/11/tweed-mp-saves-koalas-from-logging-for-now/

The Perrottet Government seeks to distract the community with the pretence of doubling koala numbers and tree plantings, as they seek to systematically remove protections for occupied koala habitat and community rights to protect them.

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/dominic-perrottet-is-the-new-koalakiller,16969#disqus_thread

… Kyogle council’s machinations:

On the same day Koalla-killing Bill II was withdrawn, in an apparently politically co-ordinated move Kyogle Council voted to scrap the dual approval process for native forestry on private land, leaving approvals entirely in the hands of Local Land Services (LLS). It transpired that while Council requires consent, none of the 133 current PNF operations have ever applied. In an ABC north-coast radio interview Andrew Hurford said they have been working on these legislative changes for at least 6 years, and promised them for 2 years, maintaining logging is good for Koalas. He claimed he wasn’t aware of the necessity to get council approval until recently, while the industry pretended that in Kyogle “200 applications are awaiting approval”.

The meeting heard there were 133 private native forestry (PNF) plans in place across the Kyogle Shire which have been approved by the LLS but have not been put forward to the council.

A staff report said the council would struggle to approve any PNF plans, because it could not approve proposals that would have an adverse effect on the environment.

Timber NSW chairman Andrew Hurford thinks the debate has become too political.

"You can get an approval to clear your land from LLS and councils are not involved in that discussion — but you try to manage your land for sustainable forestry and suddenly councils have say."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-15/kyogle-council-private-native-forestry-dual-approval-koala-wars/101655804

On Friday, the NSW Farmers said landholders seeking to harvest timber on their properties need to go through a duplicated approvals process at a state and local government level, reducing supply of hardwoods, delaying rebuilding efforts, and driving construction costs higher when people can least afford it.

The state's peak body of shires and councils, Local Government NSW said councils were being sidelined,

https://www.flownews24.com.au/post/nsw-native-forestry-bill-mauled-by-political-drop-bears

A last minute decision to ditch key farm forestry legislation has placed state government investment into the sector at risk, says the timber industry.

"We're frustrated. The bill was a big deal. Government has promised us for six years that it would unwind the Green tape; remove the need for duplicate approval."

The fact that local government is ill-prepared to handle PNF approval has been highlighted in the Kyogle Council area where more than 200 applications are awaiting approval.

Mr Dobbins said the 65pc of councils state wide who require a DA (25pc on the north coast) could continue to demand landholders carry out a koala survey at a cost of between $20,000 and $40,000 for 100ha.

https://www.theland.com.au/story/7982214/forestry-bill-withdrawal-blocks-modernisation-of-native-timber-resource-says-industry/

NSW Farmers CEO Pete Arkle … “That’s why it’s so crazy that some of these councils – particularly those dominated by environmental politics – are desperate to cling to control of timber approvals.

“Cutting some of this senseless red tape is one common-sense way the government can improve timber supply, and in turn ease the burden on local councils whose staff already have their hands full with development applications and road repairs.”

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/nsw-farmers-say-sidelining-councils-should-be-welcomed-by-them/

Olney ignites:

On Tuesday, in Olney State Forest, west of Morisset, a person used a suspended tree sit over the access road to block forestry from entering.

“There has been strong community opposition to the logging of Olney forest. We are now taking direct action to physically block this destruction. Action like this is an effective means to fight for this forest, for our lives, and for the planet.” Said Brad Long spokesperson for Forest Defence NSW.

“Native forest logging is in direct conflict with the interests of our communities and with a liveable planet. Logging projects like this turn public native forest into private wealth. Collectively, we can resist this destruction with direct action.”

The person taking action this morning said, “Direct action is the most effective thing I can do to give my own and future generations a fighting chance, We will continue to put our bodies on the line to end native forest logging.”

Forest Defence media release.

FOOTAGE: https://gmail.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=00a0d314cc7612e6410b236da&id=3c96eb5084&e=47ee9b0076

Another $9 million down the drain:

The Forestry Corporation only lost $9 million last financial year through logging public native forests, as well as getting massive subsidies for roads, transport, bushfire recovery and community service obligations, leading some to question why we still do it.

Greens MP and spokesperson for the Environment Sue Higginson says the hardwood division conducts logging operations in public native forests and is directly driving the climate and extinction crises.

‘The people of NSW have lost another $9 million dollars to the unprofitable and irresponsible destruction of our public native forests,’ said Ms Higginson.

https://www.echo.net.au/2022/11/costs-of-native-forest-logging-to-nsw-residents-revealed/

Is it more profitable than it appears?:

The South East Timber Association have commissioned their own economic report to counter the ANU/Frontier Economics report that found stopping logging in south-east NSW would produce a net economic benefit to the state of approximately $60 million, while also reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by almost 1 million tonnes per year over the period 2022-2041, compared to logging, instead claiming it would cost -$252.43 million.

South East Timber Association (SETA) secretary, Peter Rutherford said “this week, a review of the ANU cost-benefit analysis, commissioned by SETA, confirmed the ANU/Macintosh report had a number of serious flaws.

Mr Rutherford stated “the flaws identified in the report totally undermine the alleged economic benefits of closing the native forest industry in southern NSW. Rather than a net present value (NPV) of $61.96 million over 30 years, closure of the industry would result in a negative NPV of -$252.43 million.”

Mr Rutherford went on to say, “coincidently, last week, WWF Australia have released a Frontier Economics report, advocating for the closure of the whole of the NSW native forest industry.”

“SETA has simple advice to any politician or decision maker, who think they should use the report. Don’t!”

https://arr.news/2022/11/15/anu-southern-forest-timber-report-deeply-flawed-south-east-timber-association/

Its not worth it:

Echo Voice focuses on the Frontiers Economics report on transitioning out of NSW’s public native forests, concluding “now is the time”.

https://www.ecovoice.com.au/new-report-now-is-the-time-to-transition-out-of-nsw-native-forest-logging/

Murder most foul:

The Sydney Review of Books has a lengthy article on Kate Holden’s The Winter Road, that traces a history of relationships to the Australian soil to explore how in 2014, Ian Turnbull, an 80-year old farmer with several properties to his name, came to murder Glen Turner, an environmental officer trying to protect the brigalow.

https://sydneyreviewofbooks.com/review/winter-road-holden/

Biodiversity offsets upsetting:

Country mayors and MPs are calling for the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme to be dumped, claiming it strangles development and jobs in regional NSW, making some developments cost prohibitive.

In one case Bourke Shire Council created $48,000 commercial blocks to help businesses tackle unemployment.
The project was shelved when the Biodiversity Offset was set at a whopping $480,000 per block.

Moree Environmental Scientist Peter Taylor  … “An investor wanted to buy 17 acres of grassy scrub on the edge of town for $400,000 was told it would mean he had to pay between $4 and $6 million in biodiversity offsets. So the college and all the jobs it would have provided did not go ahead.”

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/regional-nsw-call-on-environment-minister-to-dump-biodiversity-tax/news-story/f7da93cca502384875178ce62d191218?btr=4bbd05a8d42df230894b39879be680df

Looking after wildlife affected by development:

Hornsby Shire Council recently voted to lobby the NSW Government for “standards to ensure native wildlife found on development sites are given the best possible chance of survival”, though on a similar motion, The Hills Shire Council quashed an attempt to introduce enforceable and consistent standards for the handling and management of wildlife on development sites.

“Our native animals do not deserve to be buried alive, or mulched up, or crushed to death, or just moved and left to die slowly because Codes of Practice are not being applied and because a Fauna Management Plan is not a requirement,” Ms Emmett told the Councillors.

She said wildlife rescuers and vets were witnessing the “complete disregard for our native wildlife on so many development sites”.

https://hillstohawkesbury.com.au/hills-council-votes-against-protecting-wildlife-on-development-sites/

Relentless flooding:

One of the largest ever flood responses in NSW’s history was under way on Tuesday morning, with 17 flood warnings in place and eight major warnings affecting 25 locations. Spring 2022 is on track to be the wettest on record for south-east Australia. With catchments sodden, flooding is happening rapidly. As Forbes was cut in half, deputy mayor, Chris Roylance, said it “will be the biggest we’ve ever seen”. Condobolin was entirely isolated as it suffered its biggest recorded flood. As the atmosphere warms it can hold more water, supercharging atmospheric rivers, requiring a rethink of floods.

About 100 Australian defence force personnel have been deployed to help in rescue operations with 12 New Zealand volunteers arriving, along with 14 aircraft supporting and rescuing residents and another four helping with logistics and transport.

The SES commissioner, Carlene York, described the response “as one of the biggest operations … across NSW in its history”.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/nov/15/forbes-flooding-hundreds-of-homes-under-threat-as-nsw-floods-crisis-worsens

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzS5hLydVw4

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-11/spring-tracking-to-become-the-wettest-on-record/101641378

Flooding in Condobolin has surpassed the record-setting flood of 1952 - and may yet rise further in coming days.

https://www.9news.com.au/national/weather-australia-2022-wild-weather-extremes-in-pictures-bushfires-floods-snow-storms/84f1601e-2854-4dc2-a3a9-ddf04a8b6452

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-18/condobolin-is-expecting-its-worst-flood-on-record/101670726

We will also have to redraw flood maps more often, as climate change brings more extreme weather. As climate change progresses, the atmosphere can hold more water. This supercharges atmospheric rivers – huge torrents of water carried above our heads.

Many of this year’s floods, by contrast, have come from heavy rain falling on lower catchment areas, with repeated soaking priming the area for near-instant floods. That’s partly why cities like Forbes have been taken by surprise, with the worst floods in decades.

https://theconversation.com/as-new-south-wales-reels-many-are-asking-why-its-flooding-in-places-where-its-never-flooded-before-190912?utm

With the floods come the mosquitos, big ones, small ones, benign ones, and plagues of disease ridden biting ones, attacking livestock, with water persisting long after the rains so will they.

https://theconversation.com/mozzies-are-everywhere-right-now-including-giant-ones-and-those-that-make-us-sick-heres-what-you-need-to-know-194517?utm

https://www.news.com.au/technology/science/animals/horror-video-shows-mosquitoes-swarming-home-in-floodravaged-nsw/news-story/59856f045d392b79eebcab7c09425be2

AUSTRALIA

Defining oldgrowth out of existence:

When the Victorian Government made its announcement that logging would be phased out by 2030, they announced that “90,000 hectares of Victoria’s remaining rare and precious old growth forest...will be protected immediately”, what they didn’t say was that they would allow Vicforests to review the mapped oldgrowth to decide whether it qualified, and mostly they decided it didn’t, as exemplified by a coupe aptly called Duped which had mapped oldgrowth that they were logging at the time and continued to log. Now the Flora and Fauna Research Collective (FFRC) has a legal case currently before the Victorian Supreme Court claiming enough is enough.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-13/our-vanishing-old-growth-forests/101641964

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-13/old-growth-forests-still-being-logged-despite-bans/101648702

Victorian forests worth more standing:

A study of Victoria’s Central Highlands by right-leaning Blueprint Institute finds preserving trees generates more in tourism, water supply benefits, and carbon credits than cutting them down, protecting them now would generate $487 million in benefits, with a net profit of $59 million between 2022/23 and 2030.

The Labor government has said it is spending $200 million to keep the industry alive until 2030, but Mr Cross says subsidies, which were not counted in Blueprint’s figures, were really about protecting 500 to 600 jobs, “which are overwhelmingly CFMEU members”.

“The thing that has really baffled us from analysing the central highlands as a case study is that for a long period of time it’s been a completely loss-making, government subsidised industry that can’t compete against plantation forests.”

Blueprint estimates that halting native wet forest logging in one of the world’s most “biodiverse environments” would generate $487 million in benefits, offset by $428 million in costs to create a net present value of $59 million between 2022/23 and 2030.

“The native logging industry is propped up by government to protect an ever-decreasing number of jobs and placate misguided pressure from vested interests,” the report’s authors state.

“Economic protectionism is damaging and regressive at the best of times. This is amplified exponentially when it results in severe environmental degradation.

https://www.afr.com/policy/energy-and-climate/logging-native-forests-in-victoria-costs-more-money-than-it-makes-20221114-p5by4s

Teals want RFA’s repealed:

Victorian federal teal independent for Kooyong MP Monique Ryan, supported by Zoe Daniel, moved for an end to the RFA exemption for logging from EPBC Act, particularly to address climate change.

https://twitter.com/Mon4Kooyong/status/1589888923521912832

https://vimeo.com/770586122

They have been joined by NSW Teals Mackellar MP Sophie Scamps and Warringah MP Zali Steggall.

“The carve-out of state logging from the EPBC Act over the last couple of decades is the reason why, 20 years on, the common glider is no longer common, but is now endangered,” Scamps said.

She said climate change and environment protection, including native forestry, are the top two issues in Mackellar, on Sydney’s northern beaches, and her community is demanding change.

“Having the government negotiating with the forestry industry on logging is akin to it negotiating with the tobacco industry on health.”

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/teals-demand-government-scrap-carve-out-for-native-forest-logging-20221116-p5byoa.html

Queensland’s broken laws:

Mining company Magnetic South cleared 218 hectares of land at Dingo in central Queensland, 130 kilometres west of Rockhampton, without requiring approval for either the clearing or their mine, adjoining land that protects the only significant population of the bridled nailtail wallaby.

"The firebreak and regrowth clearing is for our cattle operation on those properties and not at all within the boundaries of the national park," Mr Xu said.

Mr Dudley said the fact the company was able to clear the land without a permit was "difficult to conceive".

Environmental Defenders Office managing lawyer Andrew Kwan said at a state level, the Department of Environment and Science (DES) had not been requiring a complete EIS assessment for new coal projects producing under 2 million-tonnes-per-year.

This particular mine, Gemini, it's almost progressed to production without an environmental impact statement and without even a referral to the Commonwealth," he said.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-15/magnetic-south-mine-clears-land-near-national-park/101598670

SPECIES

Clearing and logging force bats into farms and urban areas, creating annoyance and disease risks:

As well as coronaviruses, flying foxes are hosts to a variety of diseases which can spread directly or indirectly to humans, such as rabies, Nipah and Hendra, which can have limited impacts on the bats due to their supercharged immune systems. Researchers have found that it is winter nectar shortages that force flying foxes into urban areas and closer contacts with people, thereby increasing the risk of disease spill-overs, notably increasing the risk of Hendra virus, their solution being more plantings of nectar feed trees in rural areas (away from horses) – I think the best first step is to stop cutting down mature nectar feed trees, as the older trees flower more prolifically and regularly.

We found one surprisingly simple answer in our new research on flying foxes in Australia: protect and restore native bat habitat to boost natural protection.

When we destroy native forests, we force nectar-eating flying foxes into survival mode. They shift from primarily nomadic animals following eucalypt flowering and forming large roosts to less mobile animals living in a large number of small roosts near agricultural land where they may come in contact with horses.

Now we know how habitat destruction and spillover are linked, we can act. Protecting the eucalyptus species flying foxes rely on will reduce the risk of the virus spreading to horses and then humans. The data we gathered also makes it possible to predict times of heightened Hendra virus risk – up to two years in advance.

Our models confirmed strong El Niño events caused nectar shortages for flying foxes, splintering their large nomadic populations into many small populations in urban and agricultural areas.

Importantly, the models showed a strong link between food shortages and clusters of Hendra virus spillovers from these new roosts in the following year.

This means by tracking drought conditions and food shortages for flying foxes, we can get crucial early warning of riskier times for Hendra virus – up to two years in advance.

We found Hendra virus never jumped from flying foxes to horses when there was abundant winter nectar.

Protecting and restoring bat habitat and replanting key tree species well away from horse paddocks will boost bat health – and keep us safer.

https://theconversation.com/to-stop-new-viruses-jumping-across-to-humans-we-must-protect-and-restore-bat-habitat-heres-why-194634

Dr Alison Peel … “It’s fair to say that our models show that when there is a [flying fox] food shortage then no winter flowering in the following year, there’s about a 90 per cent probability of there being a cluster of Hendra virus spillovers (three or more),” she said.

“On the other hand, if there’s a food shortage, then abundant winter flowering, then there is about a 90 per cent probability of there being no cluster.”

That impact was lessened even in droughts if the bats had a large natural environment in which to source food.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/queensland/land-clearing-climate-change-directly-linked-to-hendra-virus-outbreaks-20221116-p5byqd.html

We propose that the loss of winter flowering habitat and consequent decline in the abundance of winter nectar contributes to the persistence of bats in agricultural and urban areas … The consequences of more bats in areas with human settlements include not only increased risk of viral spillover from bats to horses to humans, but also increased conflict with humans.

Our data suggest that increasingly rare winter flowering pulses reduce the risk of spillover. Bats reverted to nomadism and left agricultural and urban areas during pulses of winter flowering in remnant native forest, and spillovers did not occur during these flowering pulses  (Fig. 2C). We propose these pulses of flowering may mitigate zoonotic risk by drawing large numbers of bats (Supplementary Information 1132) away from feeding in agricultural areas and  therefore decreasing contact between bats and horses. … the loss of native forest that supports large aggregations of nomadic bats appears to be fundamental to the cascade of events that lead to spillover. An extensive program of ecological protection and restoration of winter-flowering forests (ecological countermeasures) could be a sustainable, long-term strategy to reduce spillover and protect the health of livestock and humans.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-022-05506-2.epdf?sharing_token=rVmyvBo0HDWJvt07c_l3WdRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0O0APBuJCMC9RaE6J74ksnCOj-e3mMX7Z2Wo7ezG1Hzp1OvsCyacdtyUwgPKN8veHdLXyCTvUC7AlPddFLki-Ev1KshqJvKrsNbzQdN89dYvJTZow12UnpdpMcCRywZoEssTWz9mZISipkHZTJf_0kfz3GAhd2r5doOMQH34BxDx_4C4ICuKCvNaJHRYFF0CPnBkWGPxop6yR4IgD12MAp8ccYmnzZp-UFpQHp5cO0ITtvgv3Epu6lM4fJComGPNIV4M7hgyIexqWIv6N9ytc1V5YhzZh1y5WLLHwhVTP6YEHSZt3OqFeDRY8M3vgmq0bGA2LeLSgg7SNCFipYMTmXG&tracking_referrer=www.smh.com.au

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-03682-9?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=5c684b63d0-briefing-dy-20221117&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-5c684b63d0-46198454

Spare a thought for our urban poor:

The Conversation has an article about the plight of urban wildlife in deluges, pointing out that prolonged rain may confine microbats to their roosts, and sometimes starve, while in deluges Brush Turkey mounds can become saturated and their eggs drown, meanwhile exotic cockroaches can revel in the humidity inside your house. 

https://theconversation.com/theyre-doing-their-best-how-these-3-neighbourhood-pests-deal-with-rainy-days-193026?utm

Koala Bill:

The Green’s Forestry Amendment (Koala Habitats) Bill 2022, which was introduced on 9 November, makes “it a requirement of an integrated forestry operations approval that forestry operations are not carried out in koala habitats”, continues to garner attention, though won’t be voted on until after the election.

NSW Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment Sue Higginson said “This bill is a signal to the Government that this is an essential step to saving koalas from extinction and is as simple as an amendment to the Forestry Act. We could save money, protect jobs and stimulate the economy while also taking immediate action to slow the extinction crisis in NSW,

https://arr.news/2022/11/15/greens-to-introduce-bill-to-prohibit-forestry-operations-in-koala-habitat-saying-its-time-higginson-2/

Strangling bowerbirds:

A reminder that Satin Bowerbirds like the blue-rings from milk and cream bottle tops and can get them stuck around their necks, it helps to snip them – some years ago some school kids ran a campaign and got Norco to stop using blue, though corporate memories are short.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/coffs-coast-news-of-the-area-18-november-2022

Fooling insects:

ABC have an article about the insect relationships of Tasmanian orchids and sundews, with some orchids mimicking the scent and visual appearance of wasps to fool them into trying to mate, and sundews having the dilemma of avoiding eating their pollinators.

Male wasps buzzing around the forest, looking for an eligible female among the leaf litter, often use her scent to discover her.

Unfortunately for the male, the bird orchids have evolved to produce just that scent. Not only that, but they also have a series of raised dark bumps on their petals that look like a female wasp.

Botanist Laura Skates explains that Australia is a "hot spot" for carnivorous plants, with about 250 flesh-eating plants calling the continent home out of an estimated 800 species worldwide.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-13/orchids-and-carnivorous-plants-bloom-in-tasmanian-forests/101636732

Wobbling moon killing mangroves:

Researchers have concluded that the 2015 die-off of nearly 10 percent of mangrove forest along northern Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria was a result of extreme low tides associated with a 18.6 year moon wobble cycle, amplified by El Niño, that creates regular, sustained periods of unusually high or low tides n certain places.

They also want to study how sea-level rise driven by climate change will alter this natural ecological pattern. A moderate rise might mitigate some of the tidal drop, helping to preserve mangrove forests, but an extreme rise could drown the trees at the cycle’s highest tidal point. “We might be able to anticipate when—or if—we’ll start to see some big problems in terms of mangroves coping,” Saintilan says.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-the-moon-devastated-a-mangrove-forest/

THE DETERIORATING PROBLEM

Budget deficit:

This year, the world is projected to emit 40.6 billion tonnes of CO₂ from all human activities, leaving 380 billion tonnes of CO₂ as the remaining carbon budget for a 50% chance the planet will limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5℃, at current rates there is a 50% chance the planet will reach the 1.5℃ global average temperature rise in just nine years. Ocean and forest sinks continue to take up around half of our emissions. While discounted by claimed reforestation, deforestation remains a significant driver.

Another major source of global CO₂ emissions is land-use change – the net balance between deforestation and reforestation. We project 3.9 billion tonnes of CO₂ will be released overall this year (though we should note that data uncertainties are higher for land-use change emissions than for fossil CO₂ emissions).

While land-use change emissions remain high, we’ve seen a slight decline over the past two decades largely due to increased reforestation. Rates of deforestation worldwide, however, are still high.

Together, fossil fuel and land-use change are responsible for 40.6 billion tonnes of CO₂.

Ocean and land act as CO₂ sinks. The ocean absorbs CO₂ as it dissolves in seawater. On land, plants absorb CO₂ and build it into their trunks, branches, leaves and soils.

This makes ocean and land sinks a crucial part of regulating the global climate. Our data shows that on average, land and ocean sinks remove about half of all CO₂ emissions from human activities, acting like a 50% discount on climate change.

Despite this help from nature, the concentration of atmospheric CO₂ continues to climb. In 2022 it’ll reach a projected average of 417.2 parts per million. This is 51% above pre-industrial levels and higher than any time in the past 800,000 years.

https://theconversation.com/global-carbon-emissions-at-record-levels-with-no-signs-of-shrinking-new-data-shows-humanity-has-a-monumental-task-ahead-193108?utm

Insect apocalypse:

A bevy of scientists express profound concern for the future of many species of insects that are declining rapidly across many parts of the biosphere primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation, chemical and organic pollution, invasive species and other human-mediated changes to the environment, which are now being amplified by climate change, notably extreme events, threatening an insect apocalypse.

In a new scientific review, a team of 70 scientists from 19 countries warned that if no steps are taken to shield insects from the consequences of climate change, it will "drastically reduce our ability to build a sustainable future based on healthy, functional ecosystems."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/11/221107110028.htm

A growing body of empirical literature is showing that many populations of insects are declining rapidly across many parts of the biosphere, although patterns vary geographically and among different taxa or functional groups … These
declines are considered to be of profound concern, with terms like an emerging insect apocalypse being increasingly used by the media and even some scientists to describe this phenomenon (Goulson, 2019; Jarvis, 2018).
Observed trends in the demographics of many taxaincluding important functional groups like pollinators, nutrient cyclers, and natural enemies, as well as in the abundance of crop, forest, and urban pestsis currently considered serious enough to merit profound concern …

Given that climate change continues unabated and climatic extremes in particular pose an immediate, short-term threat to insects, with long-term consequences for ecosystems, it is essential to also consider the importance of managing and restoring habitats that make them as climate-proof as possible and enable insects to find refuges in which they can ride out extreme climatic events. At larger scales, corridors should be maintained that enable insects to disperse over time to more climatically suitable habitats. Most importantly, there are means of safeguarding insect populations for posterity, and we need to take the initiative to implement them.

https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecm.1553

Out of sync, out of luck:

As another example of mismatching resulting from species responding at different rates to climate heating, in north America, deciduous trees are leafing-out earlier while understorey wildflowers are not flowering earlier, resulting in more shade and less sunlight for photosynthesis which could lead to wildflower declines.

A new study found that deciduous trees and shrubs are advancing their leaf out timing with warming temperatures faster than native wildflowers are across eastern North America. This mismatch may lead to declines in native wildflowers as they receive less sunlight for photosynthesis in the spring.

The authors provide suggestions for land managers and wildflower enthusiasts, who may consider steps such as thinning overhead tree and shrub canopy, removing non-native species, and planting rare wildflowers further north to conserve native wildflower populations.

https://phys.org/news/2022-11-warmer-temperatures-linked-mismatch-forest.html

Congo loss accelerating;

A new report has shown at least 27% of undisturbed rainforests in the Congo Basin present in 2020 will disappear by 2050 if the rate of deforestation and forest degradation continues at current rates.

There was an estimated 200 million hectares of evergreen and semi-deciduous forests in Central Africa, including Angola and Uganda, in January 2020 – with 184.7 million hectares showing no signs of disturbance, according to a report on the state of Congo Basin forests produced by the Observatory for Central Africa Forests (OFAC). Unfortunately, the rate of loss of intact forests has since then accelerated, with no fewer than 18 million hectares of forests disappearing so far.

https://forestsnews.cifor.org/79903/over-a-quarter-of-congo-basin-forests-at-risk-of-vanishing-by-2050?fnl=

Boreal decline:

The Boreal forest which encircles the arctic and stretches across Canada, Scandinavia, Russia and Alaska has in recent times been weakened by forest fires, the melting of permafrost, an insect infestation, warming temperatures and drifting trees, as the tipping point approaches.

As per AFP experts have categorically warned that “the forest is encroaching on the tundra, and the prairies are slowly taking the place of the trees.”

With the rising temperatures “drunken trees” have become a common phenomenon; trees are tilted sideways due to the melting permafrost. Eventually, the soil will completely erode and the fauna will tumble down.

Scientists as per AFP say that for now there’s still hope for the ecosystem's continued resilience, even as they ponder whether the forest’s “tipping point”, a threshold after which emissions will be inevitable and changes to the ecosystem irreversible is approaching.

https://www.wionews.com/world/global-warming-slowly-devastating-boreal-forest-aka-earths-second-lung-534061

… Europe’s disappearing oldgrowth:

Across Europe’s northern forests clearcutting of older, natural forest appears to be widespread but oldgrowth hasn’t been mapped, a Swedish study found that almost a quarter of the few remaining forests of this type were lost between 2003 and 2019, and are expected to be cut-out in the 2070s.

We cannot afford to lose more of the world’s old growth forests to humanitys’ insatiable appetite for resources. Old growth forests play a key role in biodiversity conservation and planetary stability in the face of rapid climate change”, says Pep Canadell, Director for the Global Carbon Project CSIRO in Australia.

Clearcutting of older, natural forest appears to be widespread across most northern countries, but there has been little monitoring of the distribution and extent of this practice, mainly because there are no official maps of the location and extent of the forests and that natural boreal forest is difficult to distinguish in satellite images.

https://www.eurasiareview.com/13112022-study-uncovers-widespread-and-ongoing-clearcutting-of-swedish-old-forests/

… Alaskan land rush:

As Alaska warms twice as fast as the rest of the U.S., once frozen land is now thawed out and up for grabs as boreal forests are carved up, sold off and cleared for agriculture in an Alaskan land rush. 

"I see climate change in Alaska as an opportunity to bring in more crops, to develop more land," said Erik Johnson, who oversees the Nenana-Totchaket Agricultural Project for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/alaska-farmland-climate-change-boreal-forest/

TURNING IT AROUND

COP 27

The big issue of COP 27 is whether the big polluting countries who have caused climate heating should be compensating the poorer developing countries who are bearing the disastrous consequences. Australia, as the highest per capita polluter, and one of the top 20 polluters, is responsible for $200 million worth of damage to other countries.

This is the human side of a contentious issue that will likely dominate climate negotiations in Egypt this month. It’s about big bucks, justice, blame and taking responsibility. Extreme weather is worsening as the world warms, with a study calculating that human-caused climate change increased Pakistan’s flood-causing rain by up to 50%.

While Pakistan was flooding, six energy companies — ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell,BP, Saudi Aramco and Total Energies — made $97.49 billion in profits from July to September.

https://apnews.com/article/floods-science-africa-asia-climate-and-environment-66e55322884b19ca48577f7541418188?user_email=ec59ebfeadcb191b8e11b399784d37182624649333eadb2f4a1ab023190d88bd&utm

Developed countries have pledged just over $250 million for a global fund for “loss and damage” to help developing countries adapt to climate change, though the recent commitments fall drastically short of the $200 billion in annual funding for “climate reparations” that the U.N. says is needed this decade alone to adequately address the issue. Meanwhile rich countries and companies efforts to address the problems with carbon credits and offsets, rather than real emissions reductions, are plagued with poor management and regulation, while delaying meaningful action.

But carbon markets, along with other voluntary market-based solutions that rely on incentives, not regulation, to reduce emission, have long been a source of controversy in the climate community. It’s not surprising, then, that the U.S. announcement this week was met by fierce backlash from environmental advocates who say carbon markets rarely deliver the climate benefits they promise, suffer from poor management and regulation and delay meaningful efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promising to address the issue in the future. Rather, advocates say, that money should be spent on proven climate solutions, such as building new renewable energy sources.

Take California, for example, which runs one of the world’s largest carbon markets. Instead of reducing their own emissions, companies participating in the state’s carbon market—including major conglomerates like Microsoft—have poured billions of dollars into projects that planted trees. But even though an estimated 153,000 acres of forests that were part of the state’s carbon market burned in wildfires last summer, the companies can still claim those forests for credits in the program.

“The absence of standards, regulations and rigor in voluntary carbon market credits is deeply concerning,” Gutteres said in a speech Tuesday. “Shadow markets for carbon credits cannot undermine genuine emission reduction efforts, including in the short term. Targets must be reached through real emissions cuts.”

https://us2.campaign-archive.com/?e=6624c72df8&u=7c733794100bcc7e083a163f0&id=cef6774d19

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen thinks the world is unlikely to come to an agreement over contentious calls for wealthy nations to pay loss and damage compensation for climate impacts on developing countries.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/deal-on-loss-and-damage-unlikely-at-cop-says-chris-bowen-20221113-p5bxvc.html

… the fox in the hen house:

An analysis blamed the slow progress at COP27 in part on continuing misinformation by right-wing media, singling out Fox News as the principal organisation misleading millions of Americans. Others consider the 600 fossil fuel delegates at the meeting as a significant problem.

Specifically, 59 percent of Fox News consumers believe that a significant number of scientists disagree on the cause of climate change, compared to just 35 percent of the broader U.S. sample. Additionally, 56 percent of Fox viewers think renewable energy is more expensive than energy from fossil fuels, compared to 34 percent of the bigger sample. And 60 percent of respondents who watch Fox say that renewables are unreliable energy sources, compared to 32 percent of the American sample as a whole.

Regular Fox viewers were also far more likely to believe that natural gas is needed to reduce climate-warming emissions, with 57 percent of those respondents agreeing with that premise, compared to 38 percent of overall U.S. respondents.

[King] “The final thing I wanted to mention is a renewed energy and investment in fossil fuel greenwashing, being pushed very heavily by the fossil fuel lobby, which we’ve seen here at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh,” she said, noting the record number of fossil fuel lobbyists and other representatives at the climate conference. “In particular, the African gas lobby has been very vocal in making the suggestion that net zero transitions are a form of neocolonialism or Western imperialism, and that maintaining the use of fossil fuels is essential to human rights.”

There are the recent reports out by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, as well as from the University of Exeter, showing that fossil fuel companies are spending millions of dollars to run as many as 850 ads a day and getting tens of millions of views “that aim to confuse the public about what are viable climate solutions going forward,” she said.

https://us2.campaign-archive.com/?e=6624c72df8&u=7c733794100bcc7e083a163f0&id=f24d0305e5

The U.S. Center at the COP27 climate talks hosted a panel Monday focused on ending global deforestation by 2030, with some panelists expressing concern that high carbon mature and oldgrowth forests continue to be logged, some stressed and overheated forests could soon emit more carbon than they store, and some argued we need to move beyond failed market-based carbon offsets and start actual protection.

In 2021, just the tropics lost about 43,000 square miles of forest cover, an area the size of Tennessee, said panelist Craig Hanson, executive vice president for programs at the World Resources Institute. Additionally, in the U.S. wildfires burned across an Indiana-size swath of land, about 35,000 square miles, including some forests being used as carbon offsets by major U.S. corporations. Wildfires in Siberia that year burned up another 72,000 square miles, an area a bit larger than Oklahoma. Altogether, wildfires emitted 6,450 megatons of carbon dioxide in 2021, about equal to total European Union CO2 emissions from fossil fuels that year.

If world leaders want to take their forest pledges seriously, Su said, it’s time to move beyond market-based mechanisms, and beyond using forests as carbon offsets.

“That is a scheme that has never worked to achieve deep decarbonisation,” she said. “The best thing that we can do is ditch these market mechanisms, to stop talking about commodification of forests, and start actual protection. What we’re asking for from a domestic standpoint is, President Biden, if you want to live up to your global pledge, start at home.”

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/15112022/cop27-deforestation-united-states-logging/

… saving the Amazon:

In welcome news, Brazil's new president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced he would seek an end to the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest by 2030.

Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has told cheering crowds at the UN climate conference in Egypt that he would crack down on illegal deforestation in the Amazon, reinitiate ties with countries that finance forest protection efforts and push to host an upcoming world climate summit in the rainforest.

https://www.trtworld.com/life/brazil-s-lula-pledges-to-defeat-all-crimes-in-amazon-forest-62613

Data released by a Brazilian research institute showed that about 13,000 square kilometers of the Amazon was lost from August 2020 to July 2021.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221117_15/

… making forests unfashionable:

Fashion accounts for about 10 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, leading to an announcement by 33 brands, printers and producers, timed to coincide with COP27, will purchase over half a million tonnes of non-forest alternative fibres for clothing and packaging to help reduce global emissions.

Retailers agreed to purchase 550,000 tonnes of alternative fibres – made from waste textiles and agricultural residues instead of forest fibres. Every tonne of clothing produced using these alternative fibres will save between four and 15 tonnes of carbon per tonne of product, NGO Canopy, which convened the group, said.

Over 3.2 billion trees are cut down each year to produce fibre for packaging and clothing. Moving to low-carbon alternatives could help the industry to avoid almost a giga-tonne of CO2 emissions between now and 2030, Canopy said.

https://insideretail.asia/2022/11/15/retailers-accelerate-shift-to-forest-friendly-fibres-at-cop27/

… pedal to the metal on the highway to climate hell:

As talks at COP27 enter the final stretch, government ministers and negotiators from nearly 200 countries are scrambling to build consensus on an array of issues critical to tackling the climate emergency based on a 20-page first draft released on Thursday that has left some profoundly disappointed as we continue “on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.” Principal concerns are the failure of wealthy nations to agree to pay loss and damage compensation for climate impacts on developing countries, or mention taking action on oil and gas due to over 600 fossil fuel industry delegates.

The U.N. climate agency on Thursday published a 20-page first draft of a hoped-for final agreement. It is highly likely to be reworked in the coming days as climate envoys in Egypt’s Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh strive to reach an overarching deal before Friday’s deadline.

“As climate impacts and injustice accelerate, lives, livelihoods, cultures and even whole countries are lost, the latest draft cover note from the COP27 Presidency pushes the pedal to the metal on the highway to climate hell,” Yeb Saño, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said in a statement.

Berman said via Twitter that the document fails to mention oil and gas, does not mention fossil fuel expansion and warned that while “phase down unabated coal” is in, the term “unabated” was “a loophole big enough to drive a drill rig through.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/11/17/cop27-draft-deal-critcized-for-paving-the-way-to-climate-hell.html

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2022/nov/17/first-draft-of-cop27-text-what-it-says-and-what-it-means

COP 15 more important than COP 27:

Some think the debate over whether humans can physically survive climate change is misguided, we should be looking ahead with more interest to next month’s COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the treaty aimed at saving the planet’s wild species, because we are sustained by a disintegrating intricate living system.

 Under likely warming scenarios, virtually all the globe’s coral reefs (which feed and otherwise benefit a billion people) will be gone. Parts of the Amazon will flip into degraded grasslands, putting one in ten of the planet’s species at risk and draining the biggest tropical carbon sink. Billions of migratory birds will lose boreal forest breeding habitat. Already, bizarre biological tragedies are unfolding; hot Queensland beaches are yielding all-female hatches of green sea turtles …

The biodiversity crisis is arguably a good deal further along than the climate crisis—and fully linked to it. And still, some of us are asking whether our world, some decades hence, equipped with sea walls, cooling centers, and windmills, may still function as a terrarium for humans. This is a morally vapid question. It ignores the fact that the planet is an intricate living system of which humans are a part.

https://news.mongabay.com/2022/11/whether-humans-can-survive-climate-change-is-the-wrong-question-commentary/?mc_cid=fb0fb2ad4d&mc_eid=c0875d445f

Black sheep:

In New Zealand the conflict between graziers and carbon farmers grows as more pasture is bought-up by overseas investors and converted to trees, with graziers now pooling their resources buy farms approved for carbon forests.

With more than 175,000ha of whole farms sold for afforestation since 2017, the country could expect a decline of around 1 million stock units of sheep and beef, the report said.

But a group of farmers is raising $45 million to keep a large central North Island station out of foreign hands and save it from potentially being planted as a carbon forest.

Leader of Forever Farming NZ, Mike Barham, said if the bid was successful the 5000ha Mangaohane Station in the central North Island would continue as a livestock station.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/130412293/12000-hectares-approved-for-sale-to-overseas-investors-for-forestry

https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/countrylife/audio/2018867641/farmers-crowd-source-to-save-taihape-station-from-forestry


Forest Media 11 November 2022

New South Wales

The Sydney Moring Herald has a lengthy article about the Koala conference, focussing on a trip to Ellis State Forest with Mark Graham as the introduction in which the destruction is writ large, while also focusing on Koala’s decline, the Great Koala National Park, and the Frontier Economic’s report about the costs and benefits of stopping logging of public forests.

The infamous “Koala Wars” of 2020 have been resurrected, as the Liberals follow thru on their promise to the Nationals to stop core Koala habitat on private lands being protected from logging. The Perrottet Government introduced the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Private Native Forestry) Bill 2022 that proposes to allow existing logging prohibitions in LEP zones and State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) to stand, though no new LEP or SEPP will be allowed to impose any new prohibitions on carrying out forestry operations. Council LEP’s that currently require consent for logging will no longer apply. PNF plans will be extended from 15 years to 30 years. The bill may be debated as early as next week so a concerted effort is required to stop it. There has already been a strong reaction. Independent MP Alex Greenwich is campaigning on it, and the independent candidate for Vaucluse, Karen Freyer, said “Stopping logging in native forests is one of my top campaign issues.” The ABC reports Catherine Cusack says it is “a broken promise”, and Sean O’Shannessy gets a run for NEFA. Labor have condemned the bill, a North Shore Liberal MP, Felicity Wilson, said we shouldn’t be logging native forests, and even the Environment Minister declined to support it. We are reminded that Leslie Williams, Member for Port Macquarie, left the Nationals for the Liberals over this issue, and Sue Higginson says that many Liberals are uncomfortable with this bill.

Local Government NSW has slammed the State Government’s latest attempts to strip councils of the ability to regulate private logging, as it “undermines the crucial role councils play in the regulation of private forestry operations”. The NSW Local Government conference carried a motion ‘That, Local Government NSW advocates for the ending of logging in NSW Native Forests’.

The Greens, Sue Higginson, introduced a bill to amend forestry laws to stop logging of koala habitat on State forests. Its unlikely to be debated this term. NBN covered Sue’s bill and combined it with WWF’s proposal to transition out of logging public forests. Voices for the Earth considers the writing is on the wall, due to a strong mood for change within the community, to see an end to the logging of public native forests.

Sydney philanthropists Andrew and Jane Clifford bought a 4,000 ha property in the Hunter Valley next to Ghin-Doo-Ee national park that is to be managed for conservation by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. A Hunter developer is touting a 860-hectare property, Mount Malumla, next to Barrington Tops National Park that was purchased as an environmental offset, part of 20,000 hectares of biodiversity land, mainly next to national parks and in environmental corridors, that the company owns, saying the property has 10 koalas and may now be sold to the NSW government under its $193 million koala strategy.

The NSW Government is touting completion of its $30 million program to plant one million new trees by 2022 across Greater Sydney, though they have come under attack from Labor for permitting developers to cut down established trees and clear urban bushland.

Seat-by-seat polling by Climate 200 suggests the NSW Coalition is in danger of losing several electorates to teal independents at the March election, with the primary vote of ­Environment Minister James Griffin perilously low at 31 per cent, leaving him in considerable risk of losing his seat of Manly on Sydney’s northern beaches.

Australia

VicForests has called on timber contractors to halt harvesting in many areas, primarily because of the need to comply with last Friday’s Supreme Court ruling that more thorough pre-logging surveys are needed to identify the distribution of Greater Glider and Yellow-bellied Glider, they are also complaining that the judge’s preference to retain 3ha around a possum sighting and retain 60 per cent of the trees in the rest of the coupe would make logging of many areas unviable.

Species

The Weekly Times has an article about Friends of the Koala identifying habitat loss as the principal threat, including logging, leading to lost Koalas and disease, emphasizing both their rescue efforts and replanting of corridors and habitat.

The Queensland Government has released its environment report for the $2.1 billion Coomera Connector, a major highway bisecting a Koala colony, which the Coomera Conservation Group considers will mark a "final cut" for koalas living in Gold Coast urban areas, with 68 ha of Koala habitat to be cleared and about 35 koalas out of the 58 identified who may need to be relocated, and two properties (totaling 800ha) purchased as “offsets”.

An 11-year-old boy's campaign to save the habitat of the vulnerable glossy black cockatoo at Sunrise Beach, near Noosa, to make way for a Uniting Church aged care and residential village, has had 65,000 people sign his online petition and was featured on the 7.30 report.

A study found of the 1,889 species of world palms with enough data to investigate, more than half (56%) may be threatened with extinction, primarily because of habitat destruction from agricultural and urban expansion.

The Deteriorating Problem

Over the past 2 decades the intensity of rapid rain bursts in Sydney has increased by 40%, increasing the risk of flash flooding, and overwhelming of stormwater systems.

Why is it that 45 years since climate change became widely known that there has there been so little action in response, some attribute it to the “fossil fuel hegemony”, a coalition of corporate and political actors with interests aligned around carbon-dependent economic growth, that maintain “endless economic growth fuelled by fossil energy is so fundamental and commonsensical it cannot be questioned”.

In the next couple of weeks the human population on earth will reach 8 billion, an exponential increase from 2 billion in 1928 (considered by some to be the earth’s carrying capacity at advanced living standards), a problem that Julian Cribb describes as “the unmentionable – but inescapable – elephant in the room of the human future”.

Turning it Around

A U.N. report says promises by companies, banks and cities to achieve net-zero emissions often amount to little more than greenwashing, their recommendations including that “Non‑state actors cannot claim to be net zero while continuing to build or invest in new fossil fuel supply” and “Non-state actors cannot buy cheap credits that often lack integrity instead of immediately cutting their own emissions across their value chain”. The Environmental Defenders Office filed a complaint to Australia’s consumer watchdog and corporate regulator late last month alleging Shell Australia has misled the public about its plans to achieve net-zero by 2050 on its website and social media, one of many examples, with the Federal Government one of the worst offenders

Australia’s carbon credit system for projects meant to regenerate Australia’s outback forests to store carbon dioxide have been awarded millions of carbon credits, despite new research finding that in many of them forest cover has dramatically declined, resulting in increased emissions..

Dailan Pugh

NEW SOUTH WALES

Time to stop logging:

The Sydney Moring Herald has a lengthy article about the Koala conference, focussing on a trip to Ellis State Forest with Mark Graham as the introduction in which the destruction is writ large, while also focusing on Koala’s decline, the Great Koala National Park, and the Frontier Economic’s report about the costs and benefits of stopping logging of public forests.

This coupe has been logged just days before. But for a handful of giant trees marked with fluorescent pink spray paint to identify them as potential habitat trees to be protected, everything is gone.

The ground is undulating drying soil compacted by the treads of mechanised logging harvesters and skidders. It resembles a construction site before a concrete slab is poured, but for the occasional mounds of leaf litter and forest trash.

There was a time when regulations dictated that trees marked for preservation be protected by five-metre buffer zones, not just to protect the big trees but to maintain an understory around them. That regulation was scrapped in 2018 and Graham shows us the scars where machinery has ripped through the bark at the base of the preserved trees.

The report estimates the phase-out would cost the government about $302 million over 10 years for a support package that would include worker redundancies and retraining, buy-backs of wood supply contracts, and support for diversifying regional economies.

But it would save the government hundreds of millions in payments it makes to sustain the state-owned forestry company, Forestry Corp NSW, the report says. It lists as examples an estimated $180 million in “regular structural adjustment and event-related payments” since 2010, as well as so-called Community Service Obligation payments that the industry must pay to use state-owned resources, estimated at around $160 million over the past decade.

It also notes a recent one-off payment from the government to Forestry Corp of $105 million in the form of “stimulus, equity and dividend relief”.

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/fierce-forest-wars-reignite-in-nsw-20221102-p5bv59.html

Logging core Koala habitat:

The infamous “Koala Wars” of 2020 have been resurrected, as the Liberals follow thru on their promise to the Nationals to stop core Koala habitat on private lands being protected from logging. The Perrottet Government introduced the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Private Native Forestry) Bill 2022 that proposes to allow existing logging prohibitions in LEP zones and State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) to stand, though no new LEP or SEPP will be allowed to impose any new prohibitions on carrying out forestry operations. Council LEP’s that currently require consent for logging will no longer apply. PNF plans will be extended from 15 years to 30 years. The bill may be debated as early as next week so a concerted effort is required to stop it. There has already been a strong reaction.

Independent upper house MP Justin Field says the bill reduces regulation on about 689,300 hectares of forestry, concentrated in northern NSW, and undermines claims by moderate Liberals the government is taking the protection of koalas seriously.

"It's crazy for Premier (Dominic) Perrottet and the so-called moderate Liberals to capitulate again to the Nationals on koala protections so close to an election," he said.

https://www.singletonargus.com.au/story/7975739/nsw-govt-logging-bill-crazy-politics-mp/?cs=7

https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/7975739/nsw-govt-logging-bill-crazy-politics-mp/?cs=9397

https://www.cessnockadvertiser.com.au/story/7975739/nsw-govt-logging-bill-crazy-politics-mp/

https://www.thewire.org.au/story/nsw-government-proposes-logging-deregulation/

Independent MP Alex Greenwich is campaigning on it, and the independent candidate for Vaucluse, Karen Freyer, said “Stopping logging in native forests is one of my top campaign issues.”

But the independent MP Alex Greenwich warned that there would be campaigns on the issue in the lead up to the election.

“I have been speaking to independent candidates … and the impact of deforestation and the need to transition to a more plantation-based model will be a major issue,” he said.

The independent candidate for Vaucluse, Karen Freyer, said it was “another example of the Nationals dictating Liberal party policy”.

“I’d also be very concerned if I was a moderate Liberal, questioning if the Liberals are taking protection of koalas seriously,” she told Guardian Australia.

“Stopping logging in native forests is one of my top campaign issues.”

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/nov/09/nsw-government-accused-of-reopening-koala-wars-with-new-forestry-bill

The ABC reports Catherine Cusack says it is “a broken promise”, and Sean O’Shannessy gets a run for NEFA.

[Catherine Cusack] "I consider it dishonourable, a broken promise by them not to do this," she said.

"This is similar to legislation that was introduced in 2020, which I crossed the floor to refer to an inquiry.

"At that time the government completely scrapped the legislation and told us that it would not go down this track and it would not return to parliament with legislation like that again.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-10/koala-wars-again-nsw-government-tweaks-farm-forestry-rules/101638578

Labor have condemned the bill, a North Shore Liberal MP, Felicity Wilson, said we shouldn’t be logging native forests, and even the Environment Minister declined to support it.

On Thursday, Labor told Guardian Australia it would not support the changes, citing ecological concerns and a lack of community consultation.

Asked three times during question time about the bill – and once explicitly if he supported it – Griffin would not answer and instead spruiked the government’s environmental record.

The North Shore Liberal MP, Felicity Wilson, used a private member’s statement on Thursday evening to raise “deep concerns” about the future native forests and wildlife, including koalas.

She said the state should “transition the native forestry industry towards sustainable plantations”.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/nov/10/koala-wars-nsw-environment-minister-refuses-to-publicly-support-government-forestry-bill

We are reminded that Leslie Williams, Member for Port Macquarie, left the Nationals for the Liberals over this issue, and that many Liberals are uncomfortable with this bill.

Leslie Williams, Member for Port Macquarie, was forced to leave The Nationals and apply for Liberal Party membership after she decided that the threats from John Barilaro to “blow up” the coalition was a bridge too far.

[Sue Higginson] “The minister has blundered into the trap of assuming that The Nationals will be blindly followed on natural resource policy with the Liberals tripping along in their wake. To his detriment, there are many Liberals members who are genuinely concerned about the ongoing destruction of the environment and koala habitat.

“This legislation is set to be debated next week and the coalition government should be prepared for an internally driven hurricane of dissension as moderate liberals revolt against the shortsighted and destructive ideas of the NSW Nationals.

“Premier Dominic Perrottet should read the writing on the wall and recognise that his Government is walking on a precipice on the verge of the 2023 election, that people want the environment and koalas protected and that refuelling the koala wars may well be a deadly move for koalas and his Government”.

https://arr.news/2022/11/11/the-nsw-government-has-lost-control-on-private-native-forestry-higginson/

… Local Government not happy:

Local Government NSW has slammed the State Government’s latest attempts to strip councils of the ability to regulate private logging, as it “undermines the crucial role councils play in the regulation of private forestry operations”.

LGNSW President Darriea Turley … “It will have devastating impacts on important native habitats, particularly for koalas and many of the state’s other threatened species.

“In addition, it removes the ability of councils to consider the broader impacts of forestry operations on their communities, such as noise, traffic, amenity and infrastructure impacts.

“This also includes the impact private logging has on a road network that is on the verge of collapse after devastating floods this year.

“Councils need to know where forestry is being approved in relation to other planning approvals to ensure impacts on the community are minimised.

https://www.miragenews.com/state-government-weakening-environment-891841/

… and wants logging stopped:

The NSW Local Government conference carried a motion ‘That, Local Government NSW advocates for the ending of logging in NSW Native Forests’.

This motion was moved by the Mayor of Shoalhaven, Amanda Finley, who reserved her right of reply, after an industry supporter suggested that if we ceased native forest logging, we would be depending on the rainforest timbers of the Pacific and Asia, Dominic King, Bellingen Council, and Greg Clancy, Clarence, both spoke in favour of the motion which was carried.

How about ending logging of Koala habitat:

The Greens, Sue Higginson, introduced a bill to amend forestry laws to stop logging of koala habitat on State forests. Its unlikely to be debated this term.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2022/nov/08/australia-politics-news-live-updates-albanese-dutton-labor-cop27-floods-emergency-warnings-energy-coalition-ir-bill-covid-weather?filterKeyEvents=false&page=with:block-636988348f08e60db1d417df

https://www.triplem.com.au/story/greens-introduce-bill-to-prohibit-logging-in-koala-habitats-208289

NBN covered Sue’s bill and combined it with WWF’s proposal to transition out of logging public forests.

https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2022/11/07/nsw-government-faces-increasing-pressure-to-end-native-logging/

The writing is on the wall:

Voices for the Earth considers the writing is on the wall, due to a strong mood for change within the community, to see an end to the logging of public native forests.

Eurobodalla Shire was the first to request an end to logging in state forests, with a just transition to 100% sustainable plantation forestry, followed earlier this month by the Bellingen Shire Council. Both councils identified logging as being incompatible with the district’s nature-based tourism industry, and the urgent need to combat climate change and protect rapidly declining biodiversity.

Shortly thereafter, the Clarence Valley Council’s Biodiversity Advisory Committee put forward a similar motion for Council’s consideration, adding that logging is incompatible with efforts to improve water quality across the valley, particularly in the region’s drinking water catchment. 

https://clarencevalleynews.com.au/voices-for-the-earth-43/

Private conservation:

Sydney philanthropists Andrew and Jane Clifford bought a 4,000 ha property in the Hunter Valley next to Ghin-Doo-Ee national park that is to be managed for conservation by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/nov/10/philanthropists-acquire-nearly-4000-hectares-of-nsw-koala-habitat-for-conservation

… selling offsets:

A Hunter developer is touting a 860-hectare property, Mount Malumla, next to Barrington Tops National Park that was purchased as an environmental offset, part of 20,000 hectares of biodiversity land, mainly next to national parks and in environmental corridors, that the company owns, saying the property has 10 koalas and may now be sold to the NSW government under its $193 million koala strategy.

The site could be sold to the NSW government under its $193 million koala strategy, which aims to protect 22,000 hectares of koala habitat.

Biodiversity Land's portfolio has so far provided environmental offsets for projects including Bengalla mine, Integra Coal, PWC T4 terminal, Huntlee and various other residential land developments in the Hunter.

https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/7966617/how-a-developer-protected-koala-habitat-in-the-hunter/

Million planted while mature trees cut down:

The NSW Government is touting completion of its $30 million program to plant one million new trees by 2022 across Greater Sydney, though they have come under attack from Labor for permitting developers to cut down established trees and clear urban bushland.

Labor’s environment spokeswoman Penny Sharpe … “After 12 years, the government’s approach has been to allow the chopping down of established trees and clearing of urban bushland rather than finding ways to genuinely try to maintain what is already there,” .

Sydney researchers have warned mor