Weekly Forest News

2 October 2020


The Nationals demand logging of unburnt forests:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/barilaro-ignored-pleas-to-protect-koalas-after-bushfires-insisted-logging-continue-20200925-p55zdi.html

Deputy Premier John Barilaro ignored pleas from the environmental watchdog to curb logging in a core koala habitat hit hard by last season's fires, instead demanding the state firm meet its contracts.

Documents reveal the Environment Protection Authority sought a voluntary halt to logging in the Lower Bucca and other state forests from March onwards. After initially supporting such a move, Forestry Corp rejected the request after intervention by Mr Barilaro, the papers show.

Lower Bucca, near Coffs Harbour, "has a high proportion of high-value koala habitat; it contains a koala hub, and is an important koala refugium in bushfire recovery", EPA document written as advice to Environment Minister Matt Kean in early April shows.

"The Coastal IFOA does not contemplate the degree of impacts on the environment caused by the fires," the document labelled "sensitive" said.

"Amending the Coastal IFOA to provide the EPA power to stop logging unburnt forests would require a 28-day public consultation period and concurrence with the Deputy Premier," it added.

Forestry Corp initially agreed to a plan to avoid logging unburnt state forests and to replan logging in burnt ones.

However, the loss-making firm later changed tack, saying "the unburnt forests are needed to deliver on their wood supply agreements (to access blackbutt timber for [construction company] Boral)", the advice said. Forestry Corp also rejected a plea for extra "site-specific conditions" to protect koalas.

The EPA report stated Forestry Corp logging continued "because their Minister [John Barilaro] asked them to deliver on contractual obligations".

Brandy Hill Koalas gaining momentum:

https://www.portstephensexaminer.com.au/story/6947280/leys-decision-looms-as-battle-to-save-koala-habitat-heats-up/

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has visited the controversial Brandy Hill quarry site as the battle to save 52 hectares of core koala habitat intensifies with celebrities, politicians and community groups lending their support to the ever growing 'Save Port Stephens Koalas' campaign.

With less than two weeks to go before Ms Ley is expected to hand down her decision on the proposed expansion of the Brandy Hill rock quarry by Hanson, opponents to the quarry have rolled out the big guns. Public support has come from the likes of Olivia Newton-John, Magda Szubanski, Jimmy Barnes, The Greens and the Nature Conservation Council - and the list is growing by the day.

https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/6948752/sussan-ley-visits-brandy-hill-koala-battleground/?cs=7573

No piddly quarries for Queensland:

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/queensland/qld-approves-mine-that-will-create-1000-jobs-but-destroy-koala-habitat-20200929-p5606f.html

Construction on a billion-dollar coal mine in central Queensland is set to begin after mining leases were handed over by the Palaszczuk government on Tuesday.

The Olive Downs project has been given approval by state and federal governments to clear 5500 hectares of koala and glider habitat.

The federal government signed off on the mine in May, on the condition the mining company contributed $1 million "to improving long-term conservation of koalas and greater gliders in the Bowen Basin".

Other environmental conditions placed on the mine included a 34,000-hectare offset property to relocate wildlife and "a comprehensive monitoring and management program" to ensure the project did not affect groundwater-dependent ecosystems.

https://www.goondiwindiargus.com.au/story/6947261/qld-govt-approves-1b-coking-coalmine/?cs=9676

What is the Koala SEPP all about:

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/koala-controversy-what-does-the-new-28397/

It’s not every day that SEPPs make headline news, let alone threaten the stability of the NSW Government. So it was with interest that we followed the political controversy that unfolded this month surrounding the recent State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019 (the Koala SEPP).

Absent in the media was any real discussion of how the Koala SEPP actually operates. We thought it timely to provide this little explainer.

https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/business-law/koalafications-what-new-environmental-laws-mean-survival-species

Like the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) 44, the new SEPP doesn’t prevent the clearing of any koala habitat, says Associate Professor Amelia Thorpe in Law at UNSW Sydney.

“It just requires approval, and even then, there are lots of exceptions,” she says.

With the new SEPP, approval is required for developments determined by councils, but approval is not required for major projects (state significant development and state significant infrastructure), activities assessed under Part 5 of the EPA Act (activities by public authorities) and land clearing requiring approvals under other legislation. 

“It also excludes development on land less than one hectare,” says A/Prof. Thorpe.

Koala Plans of Management are still voluntary and since the old SEPP commenced in 1995 only five have been made by councils.

In its media statement, the National Party says: “We must protect property rights, traditional farming practices, private native forestry and the ability for landholders to conduct minor developmental changes without being mired in layers of green tape.”

A/Prof. Thorpe says this is based on an understanding of property rights that has never been correct.

“Property rights have always been constrained by the rights of other property owners – no-one ever has absolute control over their land because what we do affects the land around us,” she says.

... and while they have gutted the SEPP to the National's satisfaction we don't yet know the details (sounds like landclearing and forestry will be exempt):

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/oct/02/peace-deal-brokered-after-koala-planning-laws-threatened-to-fracture-nsw-coalition

The New South Wales premier says the Liberal and National parties have reached a peace deal over planning laws to protect koala habitat after the issue almost split the Coalition government a month ago.

On Friday, the Liberal premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said the parties had reached an agreement over the policy ahead of a cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

The full details of the new policy won’t be released until after next week’s cabinet meeting ...

Toole on Friday spruiked changes to the policy that would mean core farmland would be exempt from the new policy.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/nsw-liberals-reach-agreement-with-nationals-over-koala-policy-saga

Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said it was a "huge win" for agriculture, farms and the environment.

He said the deal will ensure agriculture and farming will continue to be regulated by existing land management codes and private native forestry will still be regulated under the existing code arrangements.

Scotty from marketing knows what's best:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8792555/Scott-Morrison-reveals-favourite-Australian-animal-weird-reason-finds-funny.html

The prime minister has revealed his favourite animal, and the curious reason behind it.

'I am a big fan of koalas, I've got to say, I love koalas,' he told Adelaide radio 5AA on Thursday.

'And I like it when they get the 'irrits' a bit, too. I find that quite funny.'

First round to Bob Brown in renewed RFA legal battle:

https://www.tenterfieldstar.com.au/story/6952889/tas-loggers-agree-to-delay-for-parrots/?cs=9676

Critically endangered Tasmanian parrots will be able to breed in peace over the coming months after loggers agreed to postpone activities in native habitat.

Former Greens leader Bob Brown had flagged plans for an urgent injunction on logging activities in old growth forests to protect the swift parrot.

State-owned logging group Sustainable Timber Tasmania was due to undertake logging activities in parrot habitat, but Mr Brown's lawyer Ron Merkel QC told the Federal Court that it could disrupt the bird's breeding season from September to January.

STT has agreed to hold off on logging until the case can be heard by the full court, which is not expected to meet again until February.

An STT spokesperson said the decision to postpone logging in 19 coupes was made solely to avoid costly and time-consuming injunction arguments.

The foundation is arguing Tasmania's regional forest agreement is invalid because it doesn't include a legally enforceable requirement for the state to protect threatened species.

https://www.miragenews.com/commitment-to-tasmania-s-sustainable-forestry-industry/

Guy Barnett, Minister for Resources

The Tasmanian Government has full confidence in our comprehensive Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) and is fully prepared to fight its legality in court in order to protect Tasmanian businesses, jobs and communities.

I am advised that Sustainable Timber Tasmania are taking the proactive step, following consultation with industry, to suspend operations in a limited number of coupes.

This will allow the case against the legality of the RFA by the Bob Brown Foundation to be brought forward and resolved sooner, to provide certainty for Tasmanian workers.

Western Australian nannas aggravate loggers:

https://thewest.com.au/news/augusta-margaret-river-times/grannies-protest-shameful-ng-b881680713z
Forest industry workers have panned Tuesday’s mass protest by anti-logging grandmother activists as an illegal publicity stunt.After seven elderly Margaret River women staged a similar protest at McCorkhill Forest last month, a group of about 40 self-described “grannies” blocked roads and Forest Products Association operations at Helms Forest this week.Ms Haslam said family-owned logging contractors were forced to stop for three hours because of illegal road closures for the sake of “a shameful publicity stunt”.
The women set up a small camp site, knitting, reading, sketching, making tea, and writing letters to Premier Mark McGowan. They also demanded an in-person meeting with Forestry Minister Dave Kelly and Environment Minister Stephen Dawson.

Meanwhile Victoria is transitioning to plantations:

https://www.miragenews.com/new-nursery-to-grow-more-timber-and-gippsland-jobs/

Victoria’s forestry transition will be supported with the creation of a new state-owned nursery in East Gippsland, which will also help local forests and economies recover from the devastating 2019-20 Victorian bushfires.

Establishment of the $10 million Victorian Forest Nursery will increase the eucalypt seedling supply chain and create up to 30 new jobs, most of which will be ongoing.

The Program is part of the Government’s $110 million investment in plantation timber. It supports the Victorian Forestry Plan and the timeline it sets to transition from harvesting native forests to a plantation-based sector.

Currently five-out-of-six trees harvested in Victoria are from plantations and the state has the largest area dedicated to timber plantations in Australia.

... and replanting disappearing alpine forests:

The Victorian Government is undertaking the largest forest restoration effort in the state’s history with a $7.7 million operation that airlifted tonnes of eucalypt seeds into areas of forest devastated by last summer’s fires.

Funding from Bushfire Recovery Victoria’s $110 million State Recovery Plan is helping recover thousands of hectares of burnt Mountain and Alpine Ash forest and enabling seed to be collected from healthy bushland to ensure the re-seeding work can be ongoing.

Between May and July more than 4.5 tonnes of eucalypt seed, 3 tonnes of which came from VicForests’ contingency reserves, was spread by helicopter across nearly 11,500 hectares of fire ravaged country, an area the equivalent of about 5,650 MCGs.

We each get 8 more trees a year:

https://theconversation.com/every-year-in-australia-nature-grows-8-new-trees-for-you-but-that-alone-wont-fix-climate-change-146922?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%202%202020%20-%201747316920&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%202%202020%20-%201747316920+CID_404101341324bbc27510bc5d0a61b7a1&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Every%20year%20in%20Australia%20nature%20grows%208%20new%20trees%20for%20you%20%20but%20that%20alone%20wont%20fix%20climate%20change

we mapped changes in Australia’s tree cover in detail, using 30 years of satellite images. We published the results in a recent paper and made the data available for everyone in our new TreeChange web interactive.

On average, we’ve been gaining eight “standard trees” per year for every Australian.

In total, we found there is currently the equivalent of 1,000 standard trees for every Australian. But this doesn’t mean all our forests are doing well.

So we defined a “standard”: imagine a gum tree with a trunk 30 centimetres in diameter, standing about 15 metres tall.... Cut it down and let it dry out, and it will weigh about half a ton.

We found the total forest biomass across Australia holds the equivalent of about 24 billion standard trees.

By this definition, we gained a staggering 28 million hectares of forest over the last 30 years, plus another 24 million hectares of woodland.

... most of the trees were already there. They just grew larger and denser, and crossed the threshold of our definition of a forest, so were counted in.

By international standards our emissions are massive, equivalent to the carbon stored in 24 standard trees per person per year.

And additional carbon is stored on the forest floor in, for example, logs and branches, as well as under the surface as organic matter. This is worth, perhaps, several more trees of carbon. But it is not clear how safe those carbon deposits are from fire and drought.

While we found the total area and biomass of forests and woodlands has been rising, quality can be more important than quantity when it comes to our ecosystems.

Though its not all good:

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/09/study-finds-a-mexico-sized-swath-of-intact-land-lost-to-human-pressure/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=f7ea6ce42a-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-f7ea6ce42a-77229786&mc_cid=f7ea6ce42a&mc_eid=c0875d445f

A new study published in One Earth found that more than half of the world is under moderate or intense pressure due to humanity, and that between 2000 and 2013, about 1.9 million square kilometers (734,000 square miles) of intact land — about the size of Mexico — has been modified to the point of devastation.

Williams told Mongabay in an email. “A lot of biodiversity requires intact land for survival, and people rely on the services that intact ecosystems provide. Climate change mitigation efforts are also undermined by these losses because intact lands make crucial contributions to the terrestrial carbon sink, so it really is cause for concern.”

“Once those intact places have been degraded by human industry, they can never be returned, and that has huge consequences for biodiversity and climate agendas as well as the sustainable development goals.” On the other hand, the study showed that 42% of the terrestrial Earth was relatively “free of direct anthropogenic disturbance,” and that 25% of land could still be considered “wilderness” with very little human disturbance. The most intact biomes included tundras, boreal and taiga forests, deserts and xeric shrublands ...

Is a fairer and greener Australia possible:

https://theconversation.com/friday-essay-its-possible-how-we-can-create-a-fairer-greener-australia-beyond-covid-145698?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%202%202020%20-%201747316920&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%202%202020%20-%201747316920+CID_404101341324bbc27510bc5d0a61b7a1&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Friday%20essay%20its%20possible%20%20how%20we%20can%20create%20a%20fairer%20greener%20Australia%20beyond%20COVID

It’s only months since we were overwhelmed with the bushfire disaster. ...The koalas screaming in agony were heard around the world. This was our global future burning before our eyes.

... But we should understand the virus as an ecological disaster, just like the climate emergency. They are not causally related. Rather, they are expressions of the same profound overburdening of the planet by anthropogenic excess.

The climate emergency has not abated with the pandemic. Extreme weather is everywhere on the planet. Syria is gripped by its worst drought in 900 years. Locusts are swarming over East Africa. We are warned the climatic sweet spot of the Holocene that has made complex societies possible for the last 6,000 years is coming to an end, to be replaced by unbearable heat in some of the world’s most populous places.

Not only the year of COVID, 2020 will be the year, according to the World Food Programme, of the greatest food shortages since 1945. And the global economic collapse, if we are not both brave and careful, will morph into a depression longer and deeper than that of the 1930s.

We need national reconstruction again: to transition to renewable energy, to restore fairness and security to our economy, to rebuild our rural and regional sectors that are beset by poverty, environmental stress and long-time marginalisation.

Climate change imperils our food security as it does our natural environment and wildlife. If we are to reconstruct Australia as a sustainable economy and society, then perhaps 60% of that effort needs to be in the bush.

We need to imagine the future we want:

https://theconversation.com/you-wake-up-with-lab-engineered-coffee-how-our-imaginations-can-help-decide-earths-future-145167?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%202%202020%20-%201747316920&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%202%202020%20-%201747316920+CID_404101341324bbc27510bc5d0a61b7a1&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=You%20wake%20up%20with%20lab-engineered%20coffee%20how%20our%20imaginations%20can%20help%20decide%20Earths%20future

As we argue in our recent paper, our imaginations allow us to engage with emotions that motivate action, such as hope, fear and grief. Can we imagine a future with no koalas or orange-bellied parrots or wollemi pines? Or of bushfires that destroy the natural wonders of our childhoods?

Storytelling can help in this task. In the following vignettes, we’ve imagined three possible futures for Australia.

Though reality is becoming a nightmare, in America jumping worms are destroying forests:

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/invasive-jumping-worms-damage-soil-threaten-forests

What could be more 2020 than an ongoing invasion of jumping worms?

These earthworms are wriggling their way across the United States, voraciously devouring protective forest leaf litter and leaving behind bare, denuded soil. They displace other earthworms, centipedes, salamanders and ground-nesting birds, and disrupt forest food chains. They can invade more than five hectares in a single year, changing soil chemistry and microbial communities as they go, new research shows. And they don’t even need mates to reproduce.

Jumping worms are often sold as compost worms or fishing bait. And that, says soil ecologist Nick Henshue of the University at Buffalo in New York, is partially how they’re spreading

... while ghost forests are spreading:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200928125113.htm

A new study found the spread of ghost forests across a coastal region of North Carolina may have implications for global warming. Ghost forests are areas where rising seas have killed off freshwater-dependent trees, leaving dead or dying white snags standing in marsh.

They found that on unmanaged, or natural, land such as publicly owned wildlife areas, ghost forests spread across 15 percent of the area between 2001 and 2014.

"Two severe droughts within the study period produced larger-than-typical wildfires and facilitated salinization of normally freshwater ecosystems," said study co-author Paul Taillie, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida and former graduate student at N.C. State. "Thus the combination of rising sea level and future drought would be expected to cause a large net loss in biomass."

... and zombie fires refuse to die:

https://au.news.yahoo.com/siberia-forests-climate-change-stokes-040818404.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS91cmw_c2E9dCZyY3Q9aiZxPSZlc3JjPXMmc291cmNlPW5ld3NzZWFyY2gmY2Q9JnZlZD0wYWhVS0V3aThrLURwcjVQc0FoWGd6VGdHSFhjM0RDMDRVQkRGOUFFSUx6QUEmdXJsPWh0dHBzJTNBJTJGJTJGYXUubmV3cy55YWhvby5jb20lMkZzaWJlcmlhLWZvcmVzdHMtY2xpbWF0ZS1jaGFuZ2Utc3Rva2VzLTA0MDgxODQwNC5odG1sJnVzZz1BT3ZWYXczUzZRNEluMldsbHZfV3VhMzgyemtf&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAD0P1IHr7HmoIrF5sksoD-fKCOrPpbCTJ8ArPEnmlPwO4_fckxu4tWTkQLzngNc2kAJ-O2cihyfoUCV3ihIbuccoqSk10UvE2uHh4z37547vzrBoS42eesMhtqTRP4Je_9tnwAHNjXUtKtwp0ri7rv8h5SNdUwC9t8LeYcMiBlR5

"These are underground fires -- zombie fires," said Kuksin, the 40-year-old head of Greenpeace's wildfire unit in Russia.

Lying dormant one metre (three feet) beneath the earth's surface, the fire has survived biting Siberian winters because of low groundwater levels -- a result of regular droughts

After winter -- when summer temperatures soar -- the fires can return from the dead, igniting dry grass on the surface and spreading over large areas. 

He said it was a vicious circle where fires made worse by climate change release gases that in turn exacerbate climate change.

"We are fighting both against the result of climate change and the very thing that causes it," he said. 

The Nature website has recently reported an alarming increase in the frequency of peatland fires in the Arctic zones, both in North America and Russia.

While I may outlive the Great Barrier Reef, the good news is that the Amazon may outlive me, but not by much:

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/fire-and-drought-could-trigger-amazon-collapse/

LONDON, 30 September, 2020 – Within one human lifetime, Amazon collapse could have turned the rainforest into open savannah.

The combined devastation of human-induced global warming, rapidly increasing degradation or destruction of the forest, natural climate cycles and catastrophic wildfires could be enough to bring the world’s biggest, richest and most vital forest to a tipping point: towards a new kind of habitat.

“The risk that our generation will preside over the irreversible collapse of Amazonian and Andean biodiversity is huge, literally existential,” warns Mark Bush of the Florida Institute of Technology, in the latest Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

His warning may sound apocalyptic. In fact, he is only saying out loud what has been implicit in research and reporting from the region for years.

Drought and fire present a kind of double jeopardy to any forest. Drought and fire could, researchers have repeatedly warned, turn the Amazon from an absorber of carbon to a source of greenhouse gases, to make global heating even worse.

“The immense biodiversity of the rainforest is at risk from fire,” said Professor Bush. “Warming alone could induce the tipping point by mid-century, but if the present policies that turn a blind eye to forest destruction aren’t stopped, we could reach the tipping point much sooner.”

He warned: “Beyond the loss of wildlife, the cascading effects of losing Amazonian rainforest would alter rainfall across the hemisphere. This is not a remote problem, but one of global importance and critical significance to food security that should concern us all.” – Climate News Network

https://theconversation.com/historic-amazon-rainforest-fires-threaten-climate-and-raise-risk-of-new-diseases-146720

The fires in the Amazon region in 2019 were unprecedented in their destruction. Thousands of fires had burned more than 7,600 square kilometres by October that year. In 2020, things are no better and, in all likelihood, may be worse.

According to the Global Fire Emissions Database project run by NASA, fires in the Amazon in 2020 surpassed those of 2019. In fact, 2020’s fires have been the worst since at least 2012, when the satellite was first operated. The number of fires burning the Brazilian Amazon increased 28 per cent in July 2020 over the previous year, and the fires in the first week of September are double those in 2019, according to INPE, Brazil’s national research space agency.

As the rainforest bleeds biomass through deforestation, it loses its ability to capture carbon from the atmosphere and releases carbon through combustion. If the annual fires burning the Amazon are not curtailed, one of the world’s largest carbon sinks will progressively devolve into a carbon faucet, releasing more carbon dioxide than it sequesters.

Many researchers predict that deforestation is propelling the Amazon towards a tipping point, beyond which it will gradually transform into a semi-arid savanna. If the deforestation of the rainforest continues past a threshold of 20-25 per cent total deforestation, multiple positive feedback loops will spark the desertification of the Amazon Basin.

The present pandemic may well have had an environmental genesis. Maintaining the Amazon’s current high level of biodiversity is vital, both for the health of the global ecosystem and because, otherwise, the Amazon could become a future hotspot of emerging diseases. When we protect the global ecosystem, we also protect ourselves from emerging zoonotic diseases.

... the edge effect makes it worse:

https://www.inverse.com/science/deforestation-side-effect

Forests thick with trees stash away CO2, lightening the load of the greenhouse gas. But the effect is dramatically reduced at the edges of the rainforest. There, clear-cutting projects of industries like lumber and palm oil weaken the forest's integrity.

From 2001 to 2015, the Amazon forest lost 947 million tons of carbon storage along its edges, a new study finds. That's one-third the quantity of carbon lost due to all deforestation in the same time period.

"Forest fragmentation, a resulting feature of the deforestation process, promotes indirect carbon losses induced by edge effect."

... One study, conducted in Malaysian Borneo, found that reduced carbon storage at the edge of the forest extends more than 300 feet into the forest.

There is still hope:

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/world-economic-forum-innovations-conserve-preserve-trillion-trees/

  • At Davos 2020, the World Economic Forum launched 1t.org, the platform to serve a global movement to conserve, restore and grow 1 trillion trees by 2030.
  • In July 2020, 1t.org's Trillion Trees Challenge went live on UpLink, and led to the selection of the first cohort of Trillion Trees champions and innovators.
  • Innovations from 5 continents tackle a range of roadblocks, including mass mobilisation, reaching scale, greening cities, building a forest economy, and Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies for trees.

Forests are critical to the health of the planet. Conserving existing forests, restoring forest ecosystems and reforesting suitable lands is essential if we are to transition to a sustainable pathway for our economies and societies at the required speed and scale.

World leaders step up, but Australia is missing in action:

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/09/world-leaders-pledge-to-protect-30-of-the-planet-by-2030/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=f7ea6ce42a-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-f7ea6ce42a-77229786&mc_cid=f7ea6ce42a&mc_eid=c0875d445f

In the midst of a planetary biodiversity crisis, 71 world leaders have endorsed the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.

Jacinda Ardern, Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, and Justin Trudeau, are among those who endorsedthe pledge, stating the world is in a “state of planetary emergency: the interdependent crises of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation and climate change” and that this emergency requires “urgent and immediate global action.”

News of the leaders’ participation, announced Sept. 28, comes ahead of the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity this week. It builds upon mounting support for a science-based target: to protect 30% of the planet by 2030, which is included in the most recent draft of the U.N.’s Convention on Biological Diversity as one of its 20 post-2020 strategies. Borris Johnson, for instance, promised to increase UK protected areas to 30% by 2030.

The pledge addresses sustainable food systems and supply chains, eliminating unregulated fishing, reducing air pollution, integrating a “One-Health” approach, and “shifting land use and agricultural policies away from environmentally harmful practices for land and marine ecosystems.”

25 September 2020


Open warfare erupts between EPA and Forestry Corporation:

https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-23/barilaro-logging-proposal-in-koala-habitat-gets-rebuke-from-epa/12692102?fbclid=IwAR2fr1e02ZWZayR9THNMz37UiwryNvPnljFOFI_7VvWare1Ym9W1hqDHd5c
Agreements to change logging rules in New South Wales to better protect animals that survived last summer's bushfires have been torn up by Deputy Premier John Barilaro's department and government-owned loggers, sparking yet another inter-government stoush over koala habitat.

Key points:

  • The proposed changes sparked a fiery response from the NSW Environmental Protection Agency
  • The documents, which are now public, also detail allegations the Forestry Corporation of NSW made false reports about its logging operations to avoid new protections
  • The revelations, which sparked an internal war in the NSW Government last week, are the latest controversy over koala habitats

An explosive letter sent earlier this month to the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from the heads of the Department of Regional NSW ­ Mr Barilaro's department ­ and Forestry Corporation of NSW states there has now been "substantial recovery post-fire in many coastal state forests".

It declares logging in NSW can return to "standard" this month in forests not covered by new site-specific logging rules.

The letter comes despite an agreement struck between the loggers and the EPA earlier this year to only log areas according to those new rules.

The letter sparked a fiery response from EPA boss Tracey Mackey, which was published yesterday on the EPA's website.

She said the move did not appear to be lawful, and the EPA was now considering action to stop Forestry Corporation.

The EPA's independent report said recovery took between 10 and 120 years, depending on the species.

For koalas, forests needed about 45 years to recover, it said.

In April, a brief to Environment Minister Matt Kean detailed how Forestry Corporation agreed to an EPA request to voluntarily not log in unburned forests while new rules were agreed to, but then reneged.

The brief says the move was motivated by Mr Barilaro who "asked them to deliver on contractual obligations".

The documents also contain a brief by the EPA detailing alleged false reports by Forestry Corporation.

The EPA said Forestry Corporation falsely declared hundreds of logging operations were already active when they weren't.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/09/time-to-choose-protection-or-extinction-for-koalas/

While the National Party demands that no effective legislation is brought in to protect koalas and their habitat there is a significant risk that both State and Commonwealth legal obligations will be contravened if post fire logging continues under existing agreements.

North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is calling for urgent surveys to identify and protect areas where koalas and other vulnerable species have survived the fires given the EPA’s advice that logging of fire refugia could cause catastrophic population declines in species such as the koala, greater glider and yellow-bellied glider.

The expert advice obtained by the EPA from Dr Andrew Smith warns that the combined impacts of logging and burning will be devastating on wildlife and contravene State and Commonwealth legal obligations unless there is immediate protection of fire refugia and a reduction in logging intensity, according to NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.

‘While the National Party are demanding that the impacts of the fires on wildlife and timber resources be ignored to continue logging public forests as usual, it is a welcome change to see the EPA standing up for wildlife against their bully-boy tactics,’ Mr Pugh said.

Independent NSW MLC Justin Field has also slammed the posturing of Deputy Premier John Barilaro and his National Party colleagues over the Koala SEPP following the release of correspondence from Nationals MPs to key government ministers that showed only a handful of letters and emails were received about the issue, with the most significant number of correspondence on behalf of logging interests.

The documents make clear that the few representations that were made were overwhelming from logging and timber industry interests and property developers.

‘It is not just koalas, there has been a massive loss of timber resources from these fires. Timber commitments need to be immediately reduced to take the pressure off surviving wildlife for the remaining three years of the Wood Supply Agreements.

‘While the government uses inflated and vague job claims to justify logging, the industry itself identifies that there are just 566 direct jobs in north-east NSW dependent on the unsustainable logging of public native forests.

‘To put this into perspective, over the ten years 2006–16 the NSW timber industry shed 7,396 jobs due to over-logging and restructuring. If we want to save our wildlife, we need to complete the restructure of the industry into plantations as soon as possible,’ Mr Pugh said.

Myrtle continues on:

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/09/nannas-support-koalas-and-nefa-in-casino/

The Knitting Nannas are holding regular public knit-ins in Casino in support of NEFA, to raise awareness about Forestry operations logging in koala habitat in particular in Myrtle Forest, near Casino which was severely impacted by last summers’ fires.

‘We posted 21 letters to John Barrelaro signed by locals urging protection of koalas and cessation of logging burnt native forests. 

‘As Minister responsible for forestry however, his position is now totally untenable.’

Forestry use scat-dogs to resurrect Koalas in Kiwarrak, while refusing to use them elsewhere:

https://www.winghamchronicle.com.au/story/6929852/wwf-report-of-likely-100-per-cent-loss-of-koalas-in-kiwarrak-misleading/

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/koalas-alive-and-well-in-kiwarrak-after-hillville-fire/

The Forestry Corporation has rejected reports suggesting that there has been a 100% decline in koalas in the Kiwarrak area due to the Hillville fire. Source: Timberbiz

“Kiwarrak State Forest was impacted by the Hillville fire in November 2019. As soon as the immediate fire threat passed, we took a range of steps to support impacted wildlife including adding water points and undertaking koala surveys with sniffer dogs,” Mr Slade said.

Between late November and early December, Forestry Corporation spent five days carrying out searches with koala detection dogs, finding six koalas and collecting multiple pellets, indicating more koalas were present. Further koala sightings and pellet records have also been detected in surveys over the past three months.

“The survey results show that koalas are still living in fire affected areas. The results also show that it helps to use multiple survey methods to detect koalas, which can be very hard to spot in the tree tops,” Mr Slade said.

The Koala crisis continues:

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/6933141/port-macquarie-mp-leslie-williams-quits-the-nats/?utm_email=908390c4ba&utm_source=Port+News&utm_campaign=7af1b0364b-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_09_20_07_15&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0248e1f13e-7af1b0364b-66170441

PORT Macquarie MP Leslie Williams has walked away from The National Party.

Her resignation was made effectively immediately on September 20.

"Last week, I advised the Deputy Premier that I would not be supporting his actions or those of my Nationals colleagues in effectively putting the entire party on the crossbench," Mrs Williams said.

"The NSW Liberals and Nationals have delivered unprecedented investment across the Port Macquarie electorate and to put this in jeopardy and hold the Premier and the Government to ransom during this COVID-19 pandemic was unnecessary, unhelpful and frankly politically reckless and unreasonable.

"The events of the past week have represented a further example of a course of conduct and dealing that has once again effectively been condoned and failed to be addressed.

https://www.afr.com/politics/nsw-liberals-welcome-nationals-defector-over-koala-spat-20200921-p55xpp

The laws at the centre of the spat have been in place since March and leave developers facing more hurdles when it comes to building in areas marked as koala habitats.

Ms Williams said the laws were "absolutely not a hill worth dying on".

If the Nationals had repealed the laws, she said she would have faced voter backlash in her electorate, which was devastated by the summer bushfires.

"I think you'll struggle to find anyone in my electorate that doesn't believe that we shouldn't be doing everything we can to protect koala habitat," she said.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/tough-nutted-nats-up-a-gum-tree-on-koalas-20200915-p55vye.html

Contrary to what Joyce suggests, the Premier has distanced herself from her deputy. Joyce cannot see the white-hot fury in the majority of the population who wish to save koalas not extinguish them. Lindsay Somerville, Lindfield

His claim to represent country people in a war with city people is, of course, humbug. Just as Barilaro represents big land-holders and developers, Joyce speaks for big agribusiness, not the small land holders who form the basis of Australian horticulture. This deception has worked well for Joyce and the Nationals in the past. It is time that it ended. Norman Carter, Roseville Chase

Barilaro has a tin ear. He chose the wrong issue at the wrong time. His delivery was nothing more than crude blackmail. Taxpayers have a right to be affronted, whether politically engaged or not. Little wonder Barnaby’s on the backbench.Russell Murphy, Bayview

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/22/former-head-of-nsw-young-nationals-quits-party-after-despicable-koala-policy-saga

The former head of the New South Wales Young Nationals and chair of its women’s council has resigned from the party joining a growing list of high-profile members to quit in the wake of the koala policy saga.

Jess Price-Purnell, an almost decade-long member of the Nationals, has left, describing the threat by John Barilaro to blow up the Coalition government over the koala policy saga “despicable”.

The former head of the New South Wales Young Nationals and chair of its women’s council has resigned from the party joining a growing list of high-profile members to quit in the wake of the koala policy saga.

Jess Price-Purnell, an almost decade-long member of the Nationals, has left, describing the threat by John Barilaro to blow up the Coalition government over the koala policy saga “despicable”.

In the opinion piece published last Saturday, she said claims by the party’s leadership that the new koala policy would cost jobs was “almost laughable”

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/09/nefa-do-the-nationals-really-want-to-kill-koalas/

A spokesperson for the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) says that the group believe that the National Party has been intentionally misleading the community over their attacks on the Koala SEPP as decisions had already been made months before to abandon the maps and exclude logging and landclearing, making it perplexing as to what truly motivated their actions.

NEFA’s Dailan Pugh said with 61% of the north coast’s “likely” koala habitat remaining on private lands, and probably less than 6,000 koalas left, we cannot save the koala from extinction without protecting its core habitat on private lands. ‘It is extremely concerning that the National’s attacks on Koala protections have been based on misinformation.

Mr Pugh said that given that the Nationals knew the map would no longer be used they have been deliberately misleading the community by making this mapping the focus of their attacks on the SEPP.

Mr Pugh said that before their threat to bring down the Government, the National Party seem to have succeeded is excluding land-clearing and logging from the ambit of the Koala SEPP. ‘So that only leaves development as the real target of heir revolt.

‘Now that the map of likely Koala habitat has been thrown out and core Koala habitat mapped by Council’s will no longer apply to logging operations and land clearing, if the Koala is to be saved it is essential that the NSW Government step up and undertake urgent and accurate mapping of core Koala habitat itself for application across NSW.’

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/trying-to-calm-the-farm-coalition-in-talks-to-prevent-koala-war-ii-20200923-p55yjj.html

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes is working to prevent a showdown in cabinet over the contested koala policy, with the acting Nationals leader initiating new discussions ahead of the debate.

Mr Stokes had his first meeting with acting deputy premier Paul Toole on Wednesday to discuss the policy since the Deputy Premier John Barilaro went on mental health leave for a month.

Ms Williams' defection means the Nationals have lost four seats since Mr Barilaro has been leader; Lismore, Murray, Barwon and now Port Macquarie.

Former Nationals leader and deputy premier Troy Grant also last week resigned from the party, while former Water Minister and deputy leader Niall Blair has not renewed his membership.

Koala being considered for national listing as Endangered:

On Save the Koala Day, the much-loved marsupial has moved a step closer to an endangered listing on the east coast, after a nomination by conservation groups who welcomed the increased attention on the plight of the species.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has added the combined koala populations of Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT to the priority list for assessment by her independent Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC).

She has given the committee a deadline of October 2021 to work through the science and make a recommendation on whether east coast koalas should be uplisted from vulnerable to endangered.

The priority assessment list was published this afternoon and can be viewed here

Humane Society International (HSI), the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia (WWF-Australia), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare jointly nominated the koala to be listed as endangered in March.

As an indication of their rapid decline, if east coast koalas are listed as endangered they will have gone from being not listed, to listed as vulnerable, to listed as endangered in the space of a decade.

The conservation groups also welcome the priority treatment for many other bushfire impacted species such as the greater glider, yellow-bellied glider, long-nosed bandicoot, long-nosed potoroo, and eight Kangaroo Island bird species.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/25/sliding-towards-extinction-koala-may-be-given-endangered-listing-as-numbers-plummet

The iconic species, which is currently listed as vulnerable under national environment laws, is among 28 animals that could have their threat status upgraded, the federal environment minister, Sussan Ley, said on Friday.

The greater glider, which had 30% of its habitat range affected by the bushfire crisis, is also being assessed to determine whether it should move from vulnerable to endangered, while several frog and fish species, including the Pugh’s frog and the Blue Mountains perch, are being considered for critically endangered listings.

The 28 species included on the finalised priority assessment list for formal assessment in the 2020 period include two reptiles, four frogs, seven fish, six mammals and 12 birds, bringing the total number of species currently being assessed to 108.

Koala reserves in waiting burnt:

Almost three-quarters of key habitat the Berejiklian government was planning to set aside for koala protection was burned in last summer's fires.

The government announced in May 2018, it would begin to address the decline of koala numbers including preserving extra habitat, according to a Planning Department paper dated June 23 this year.

However, last season's devastating bushfires burnt more than 5 million hectares in the state. Of the state forests transferred to national park tenure, 72 per cent "were impacted", as were about 58 per cent proposed flora reserve, the documents show.

Mr Stokes said the introduction of the Koala SEPP "was based on years of scientific research into our declining koala population. Without doing something we risked our national icon becoming extinct".

“The fact is you can’t save the koala and remove koala habitat at the same time," Mr Stokes said. "The core of this policy is to protect our koalas for all Australians, and for generations to come.”

Koalas get a new home:

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/fewer-than-200-wild-koalas-survive-near-this-nsw-town-the-locals-hope-to-change-that

The 69-year-old former mining industry executive has a passion for saving koalas and this week he will achieve a long-cherished goal with the opening of the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary (PSK) on Saturday 26 September. 

Built at a total cost of $10 million, it will be a mixture of tourism and conservation. 

The nine metre high koala skywalk and accomodation complex offers domestic, and eventually international visitors, a chance to see and stay near the animals, while a vetinary clinic will treat koalas that are sick and injured, rescued from the local area.

In a submission to the NSW Government on the area's koala population, the society wrote: "scientists have recently estimated the koala population has declined from 800 to less than 100 to 200 today".

“We've got everything we could possibly need to treat the koalas and get them back to health, it’s fantastic.”

“We’re also moving into a targeted koala breeding program," Mr Land said. "The goal is to release healthy [koalas] back into selected sites in the wild, bred from the koalas here under permanent care.”

It is expected it will attract 40,000 tourists annually by its third year of operation and income from visitors who stay overnight in the glamping tents and motel-style rooms will help pay for the estimated $450,000 cost of koala care each year.

... you win some, you lose some:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-25/nsw-environment-minister-backs-down-brandy-hill-quarr-koala/12705640
Just moments after opening a new koala sanctuary, the NSW Environment Minister has backed away from his own Government's approval of a controversial quarry that would see the destruction of 52 hectares of koala habitat in the state's Hunter region.

The State Government this year approved the expansion of the Brandy Hill Quarry in Port Stephens, with the project now before Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley for rubber stamping.

But in an apparent backflip, NSW environment minister Matt Kean has ramped up the pressure on Ms Ley to knock back the development.

"My message to the Federal Environment Minister is, 'You should be looking very closely at this Brandy Hill decision because a lot is turning on the decision you will make'," he said.

Broadwater action had some coverage, the news is that the Tarkeeth plantations are now native forests:

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/09/where-is-the-sense-in-burning-forests-for-power/

The Biomass Action Group (BAG) and Bellingen community members joined together last Friday to challenge Cape Byron Power (CBP) and its claim of ‘never burning native forest residues’.

They say CBP was created in part by a former business development manager from UK energy generator Drax Power. Two projects in Condong and Broadwater burn sugar cane waste, although this is not the only feedstock.

The Biomass Action Group say that trucks laden with molasses, hoppers filled with native forest salvage logs, burnt pine logs, and woodchips have created huge mountains of wood behind locked gates – this is all burnt in the furnaces of Broadwater mill to generate electricity.

‘Tarkeeth is a recovering native forest sixty years old sitting on steep slopes of fragile soils between the Bellinger and the Kalang Rivers, where the fresh water meets the salt water.

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/coffscoast/programs/breakfast/breakfast/12657512

You can hear Tim Cadman from 2:06:10

Road impact of concern to council:

https://www.oberonreview.com.au/story/6936666/council-seeks-road-routes-to-determine-timber-haulage-toll/?cs=1495

OBERON Council is looking ahead so it can plan for the toll to be taken on district roads by hauled timber.

At council's most recent ordinary meeting, councillor Clive McCarthy moved a motion, which was carried, for council to write to the Forests NSW state manager seeking the intended route to haul the pine plantation timber which is bound by Abercrombie, Mozart and Murrays Lane that has no council road frontage.

Cr McCarthy said contact with the local manager had been fruitless and council needs the information for its long-term planning.

"Impact on local roads from logging is huge, so we need a response so we can plan these haulage routes."

Cr Andrew McKibbin added that council needs to know if Forests NSW is going to contribute to the upgrade of roads to cater for large haulage trucks.

A lot is going on in Victoria:

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/weekend-australian-magazine/why-the-fight-to-save-the-rare-leadbeaters-possum-threatens-to-fell-the-native-timber-industry/news-story/7a5ca07ae040daf46f616769dc9e1247

In a landmark ruling, the court decided VicForests had been logging unlawfully in 26 areas of habitat ­critical to the two mammals, and planned to log unlawfully in 41 more. Four more groups have filed legal action against the agency and at least 92 logging zones covering about 3575ha are now under injunction. Already struggling to fulfil wood pulp contracts after years of logging, plus losing forest to bushfires and now court cases, ­VicForests’ preferred native timber supply is fast drying up, and with it Victoria’s native timber industry. It’s an industry already on its last legs since the Andrews Government announced it would be phased out from 2024, ending in 2030. But many doubt it will last that long.

Smelling blood in the water, the Bob Brown Foundation has lodged its own Federal Court case against Tasmanian state-owned logging agency Sustainable Timber Tasmania, challenging the validity of the legal framework forestry operates under. It hopes a win will achieve an immediate ban on native timber logging and open doors for ­similar action in other states.

But what no court or government can control, and what insiders say the industry is most worried about, is the waning social licence for native forest products, something the country’s most powerful retailers are all too aware of. In July, four weeks after the Federal Court judgment, hardware giant Bunnings announced it was dumping VicForests timber from its shelves.

WOTCH will have its day in Victoria’s Supreme Court next month when it will allege that ­VicForests breached the precautionary principle again by logging in unburnt areas remaining from last summer’s devastating bushfires without waiting for surveys to be done on the impacts of those fires on threatened species.

In response to the “forest wars” of the 1980s and 1990s, former prime minister Paul Keating introduced Regional Forestry Agreements (RFAs) between the Commonwealth and four state governments – NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia – that grant forestry an exemption from the EPBC Act. But it’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card. VicForests must comply with the Victorian Code of Practice for Timber Production and if the code is breached, the exemption is lost. The Federal Court found that VicForests’ practices did not comply with the code and therefore contravened the EPBC Act in all 66 coupes.

Justice Debra Mortimer’s 451-page judgment was indeed scathing. She found the evidence of VicForests’ expert witnesses to be neither strong nor independent. She said VicForests relied on desktop modelling to predict where threatened species might be, rather than going out and looking. She also had little confidence in its “new” forestry methods, which she found were not designed for conservation but driven by commercial motivations. ... “VicForests regard species such as the greater glider as an inconvenience – an interruption to its timber harvesting programs” was Justice Mortimer’s blunt assessment.

“If the ­[Federal Court] judgment stands there’s no reason it wouldn’t apply in all states,” says Ross Hampton, CEO of timber body Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA).

[In 2011] Rees’s group lost the case and was ordered to pay VicForests’ costs of $1.25 million (which remains unpaid). She says during that period she was subjected to violence and intimidation. “They burgled my house, ran me off the road with my two babies in the back of the car, then ran over my dog. I was abused, had rape threats, death threats, my mail was constantly stolen.” But in the years since, Rees says the breeze has noticeably shifted. “Healesville used to be a timber town, now it’s a tourism town.” Today she’s more likely to be ­congratulated than castigated, she says.

The Victorian Government has put forward a $120 million transition package to plantation-only timber by 2030 and Federal Government figures show that the state already harvests more than seven times more plantation logs than native forest logs.

In March the ­Herald Sun reported that the Andrews Government gave Opal Australian Paper $200 million in a “secret deal” to secure the mill’s future.

VicForests receives generous taxpayer subsidies, but losses on its logging operations have ­trebled over the past three years. It lost $15 million on those operations last year. A 2016 PwC audit found that VicForests is “not competitive or ­financially viable”, and that for every dollar of investment it returns 14 cents, ­providing “minimal economic and employment return on investment”.

The Weekend Australian Magazine understands that to prevent further legal challenges, the Victorian Government is looking at options to remove the precautionary principle and third-party rights to sue.

Hollowing out forests:

https://science.anu.edu.au/news-events/news/fire-and-logging-reduce-homes-threatened-mammals

Fire and logging are substantially reducing the number of hollow-bearing trees that threatened and critically endangered Australian mammals can use as homes, a new study from The Australian National University (ANU) warns. 

The findings come as the number of Australian mammals which live and nest in tree hollows is also declining. 

It found a direct relationship between the number of hollow-bearing trees in an area and the number of possums and gliders living there. The study also found the number of critically endangered Leadbeater's possums has declined in areas where the surrounding landscape has been logged. 

"We found evidence for a decline in the occurrence of all species of tree-dwelling marsupials," Professor Lindenmayer said.

[Luckily Forestry Corp put 100 back]

https://zslpublications.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/acv.12634

We found evidence that: (1) The number of hollow‐bearing trees (which are critical den sites for arboreal marsupials) has declined substantially in the past two decades. (2) There was a decline in all species of arboreal marsupials. (3) The presence of all species of arboreal marsupials was positively linked to the number of large old hollow‐bearing trees at a site. (4) The extent of logging disturbance in the landscape surrounding a site had a positive impact on the sugar glider Petaurus breviceps but a negative effect on Leadbeater’s possum. This suggests that ongoing logging will have further negative impacts on Leadbeater’s possum. (5) The presence of the greater glider and sugar glider declined with increasing amounts of fire in the landscape.

And in WA the loggers and beekeepers have teamed up against National Parks:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-23/bee-honey-forest-industries-wa-beekeepers-australian-food/12693910

Beekeepers and the logging industry rarely see eye-to-eye on how native forest assets should be managed, but in a shock move the two sectors have teamed up to improve native forest access for honey producers.

But this week, the Forest Industry Federation of WA (FIFWA) and the Bee Industry Council of WA (BICWA) presented a joint policy statement to the State Government entitled Bees and Trees together in Business, aimed at strengthening ties between the sectors.

The statement said both industries share concerns about the conversion of state forest to national park.

"A lot of these sites have been taken away from us over the years with regard to water catchment areas and national parks, and we just want to get some continuity to try get some of those back," he said.

The joint policy position has come as a surprise to some honey producers, such as Michael Cernotta, who runs a commercial beekeeping business on his property near Pemberton, about 320 kilometres south of Perth.

"Historically and particularly recently the logging industry has been logging out a number of highly valuable bee sites," he said.

"I'll be very blunt about it: the timber industry wants the big old trees, and those are the exact trees that the beekeepers need to produce honey from.

"What we need are forests that are 80, 90, 100 years old to sustain our bees, just because trees go back in the ground…they're actually no use to a beekeeper for a minimum of 40 years."

We need to look below:

https://www.miragenews.com/wildfires-logging-affect-fungi-pine-forests-depend-on-for-survival-studies-show/

Disturbances can hit Alberta’s lodgepole pine forests hard—including life under the soil, new University of Alberta research shows.

Fungal communities that nourish pine tree roots are being altered by both human-made and natural disturbances, which can stress forests and make it tougher for pine seedlings to regenerate ...

One of the studies, published in New Phytologist, showed that ectomycorrhizal fungi—a type that lodgepole pine trees rely on to survive—decline after disturbances like wildfire, clear-cut logging and salvage logging. At the same time, other types of fungi can increase and potentially alter the forest’s nutrient cycle.

“Drought, wildfire and logging can overwhelm the environment with increased stress, and if it passes a certain threshold, it’s possible the forest ecosystem will never go back to how it was before; that resiliency is compromised.”

Pine seedlings growing in soils affected by clear-cut and salvage logging were weaker and smaller than those grown in soils affected by natural disturbances, according to the second study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

“The seedlings don’t adapt as well to man-made disturbances, possibly because of soil compaction due to harvesting,” he suggested.

As the human virus attacks the earth's lungs:

https://nationalpost.com/pmn/environment-pmn/surge-in-forest-loss-seen-if-brazil-indigenous-reserves-opened-to-mining

BRASILIA, Sept 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A Brazilian government proposal to open indigenous land in Brazil to mining concessions could lead to the loss of forests over an area larger than England, researchers said Friday.

Such a loss would reduce by $5 billion a year the global benefits the forest provides in terms of things such as forest products, rainfall generation and storage of climate-changing emissions, they estimated.

A bill introduced in Brazil’s Congress in February proposes opening indigenous land in the Amazon and elsewhere to mining, hydroelectric plants, oil and gas projects and livestock farming.

Such development could be carried out over the objections of indigenous communities living on the land, according to the bill, supported by large numbers of members of Congress aligned with agribusiness and extractive industries.

As California is ravished by fires, some are trying to stop trees being burnt:

https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/legal-petition-seeks-close-california-forest-carbon-loophole-2020-09-24/

SAN FRANCISCO— Conservation and environmental justice groups filed a legal petition today that demands the California Public Utilities Commission stop letting carbon-polluting biomass projects take advantage of programs meant to benefit clean energy.

Today’s petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, Central California Environmental Justice Network, Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, California Chaparral Institute and John Muir Project calls on the commission to require that woody biomass energy projects demonstrate they are carbon neutral or better before they get special ratepayer subsidies.

“Woody biomass energy is a false solution that worsens climate change and air quality and harms wildlife,” said Lauren Packard, the Center attorney who authored the petition. “The idea that incinerating trees is good for the environment and public health is utterly absurd. Woody biomass energy is also extremely expensive, and through these ratepayer subsidies, the costs get passed on to consumers.”

https://www.euractiv.com/section/biomass/news/eu-climate-plan-blows-hot-and-cold-on-forestry-biomass/

While recognising the positive role of forests in mitigating global warming, the European Commission has riled the agroforestry and biomass industries by stating its intention of limiting growth in the sector.

Will the EU impose a cap on the number of trees that can be felled in Europe each year? Judging by the Commission’s 2030 climate plan, presented last week, this is now looking like a distinct possibility.

The capacity of forests to act as a “carbon sink” – absorbing more CO2 than they emit – is decreasing and needs to be reversed, the Commission said in its new climate plan for 2030.

Critics say burning wood immediately releases CO2 which took years or even decades to accumulate during the tree’s growth phase. This, they argue, creates a “carbon debt” for future generations until new trees can grow back and suck an equivalent amount of CO2.

And since time is running out to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 2°C, they argue urgent action must be taken now to prevent a further increase in biomass burning for energy generation.

“Any unsustainable intensification of forest harvesting for bioenergy purposes should be avoided,” the EU executive warned, saying “the use of whole trees and food and feed crops for energy production – produced in the EU or imported – should be minimised” in order to limit the impact on climate and biodiversity.

In Germany, the government is currently debating a “tree premium” of €125 per hectare as a way to reward forest owners for reducing carbon emissions. The premiums would be linked to the EU carbon market, meaning that if CO2 prices rise, the tree premium would also increase.

https://www.neweurope.eu/article/europe-is-perversely-causing-the-destruction-of-u-s-forests-in-the-name-of-fighting-climate-change/

... though many may believe that solar and wind power are the main sources of the EU’s renewable energy, it is actually biomass, which represents nearly 60 percent of the total.

To add insult to injury, in the absence of sufficient supplies of wood from its own forests, the EU is heavily reliant on importing wood pellets from forests far away. ...

The Southern U.S. is now the world’s largest producer and exporter of wood pellets. Under the guise of “renewable energy,” the voracious European demand for wood pellets has put forests and communities in this region at increased risk. Nearly 800 scientists warned members of the European Parliament that burning trees releases more carbon than coal or gas per unit of energy generated (making climate change worse), and they also pointed out that logging degrades critical ecological services that standing forests provide, such as natural flood control. Standing forests act like sponges, slowing the rate of water flow into streams and rivers, helping to prevent flooding. When a forest is cleared, the volume of water and soil erosion entering streams and rivers is accelerated during periods of heavy rain, causing rivers and streams to overflow.

Collectively defeating the insidious side of EU renewable energy is essential to avoid utter climate chaos. The sooner governments around the world can unite to move away from all dirty fuels—including coal, fracked gas and biomass—and lean toward actually protecting nature, the better.

More evidence that smoking is bad for you - is it the additives?:

https://theconversation.com/our-toxic-legacy-bushfires-release-decades-of-pollutants-absorbed-by-forests-145542

We know forests absorb carbon dioxide, but, like a sponge, they also soak up years of pollutants from human activity. When bushfires strike, these pollutants are re-released into the air with smoke and ash.

Our new research examined air samples from four major bushfires near Sydney between 1984 and 2004. We found traces of potentially toxic metals sourced from the city’s air — lead, cadmium and manganese — among the fine particles of soil and burnt vegetation in bushfire smoke.

These trace metals were associated with leaded petrol — which hasn’t been used since 2002 — and industrial emissions, which include past metal processing, fossil fuel burning, refineries, transport and power generation.

This means bushfires, such as the those that devastated Australia last summer, can remobilise pollutants we’ve long phased out.

While our study shows that potentially toxic metals were more elevated in the atmosphere during bushfires, the concentrations were not likely to be a health risk. The main risk is from the total concentration of fine particles in the air, rather than what they are made of.

A fire tally:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/9/383372/World/International/Huge-wildfires-ravage-forests-worldwide.aspx

Between January and August, forest fires ravaged 121,318 square kilometres (46,841 square miles) in Brazil, of which 34,373 in the Amazon region and 18,646 in the Pantanal wetlands.

Fires have affected 11 Argentinian provinces out of 23, destroying some 120,000 hectares (296,526 acres).

After an outcry, after the fumes reached some of Siberia's most populous cities, President Vladimir Putin sent in the army to put out the fires as more than 3.2 million hectares burned.

In Indonesia, vast fires in 2019 ravaged the forests on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, destroying 1.6 million hectares, generating toxic fumes and massive emanations of greenhouse gases.

http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/environment/climate-fueled-wildfires-are-decimating-the-planet-s-forests/article/578392

Landscape-changing wildfires have become a concern worldwide as global warming creates fires that burn more ferociously and more frequently. Scientists are now asking just how much more devastation our forests and woodlands can take, and still survive?

However, climate change has made these regions more arid, allowing wildfires to become more ferocious, intense, and more frequent. Scientists now worry that the hottest blazes could end up obliterating large swaths of forests forever, reports NBC News.

And here's the big point of concern. If these massive tree-torching fires happen too frequently, like every year in the U.S. west, they will wipe out saplings before they can reach maturity. If the fires burn too hot, they will turn large areas of forest and grasslands into a moonscape barren of the seeds needed for new growth. Climate change could fuel conditions for both scenarios. According to the American Geophysical Union, researchers reported last year that California has seen a rise of 1.4 degrees Celsius in average summertime temperatures since the 1970s. This rise in temperature coincides with a five-fold increase in acreage burned annually.

“In some hotter and drier areas, the climate has shifted to the point where it’s no longer suitable for tree regeneration,” said Kimberley Davis, an ecologist at the University of Montana. “In those areas, once there is a fire, trees won’t grow back.”

In the southeastern Australian Alps, frequent wildfires since 2003 have caused the forest systems there to collapse, said David Bowman, a fire scientist at the University of Tasmania. As we’re doing the research project, another fire happened: Then the system crashed,” Bowman said. “It went from a forested state to a non-forested state. No forest, no trees – Kaput.”

... and Fir forests are feeling the heat:

https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/2020/09/22/national/socialAffairs/climate-change-Korean-fir-tree-global-warming/20200922185100387.html

The Korean fir forest on Jeju Island's Mount Halla is the largest in the world.

But Korean firs are dying, tangible evidence of global warming.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200924141605.htm

In recent years -- and 2020 is no exception -- parts of the Pacific Northwest that are typically too wet to burn are experiencing more frequent, severe and larger wildfires due to changes in climate. New research from Portland State University found that while the increased wildfire activity is causing widespread changes in the structure and composition of these mid-to-high elevation forests, the new landscapes are also likely more resilient to projected upward trends in future fire activity and climate conditions.

Busby said that historically, wet and cool climate limited fire events in these humid forest environments to an interval of 50 to 200-plus years. But climate change has led to warmer winters, reduced mountain snowpack and longer, drier summers and fire seasons. The time between repeated wildfire events in this study was less than 12 years.

True firs were the dominant conifer tree species across the study areas, but post-fire tree regeneration was generally very poor due to a lack of live mature trees remaining after the fires to reseed the forest.

The burned areas, however, did support the establishment of pines at a low density, which are functionally better adapted to fire.

The dead should R.I.P:

https://www.miragenews.com/halt-post-disturbance-logging-in-forests/

Storms, fires, bark beetles: Many forests around the world are increasingly affected by these and other natural disturbances. It is common practice to eliminate the consequences of these disturbances – in other words, to harvest damaged trees as quickly as possible. Spruce trees attacked by bark beetles are removed from the forest, as are dryed beeches or trees thrown to the ground by storms.

“However, this practice is an additional disturbance that has a negative impact on biodiversity,” says Dr. Simon Thorn ...

... an international research team led by Simon Thorn has analyzed data global dataset on natural forest disturbances. In the journal Nature Communications, the scientists conclude that if around 75 percent of a naturally disturbed forest area is not cleared, 90 percent of its original species richness will be preserved. If only half of a disturbed forest is left untouched, around a quarter of the species will be lost. “These numbers can serve as a simple rule of thumb for leaving natural disturbances in forests unlogged,” says Thorn.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-18612-4

We find that 75 ± 7% (mean ± SD) of a naturally disturbed area of a forest needs to be left unlogged to maintain 90% richness of its unique species, whereas retaining 50% of a naturally disturbed forest unlogged maintains 73 ± 12% of its unique species richness. These values do not change with the time elapsed since disturbance but vary considerably among taxonomic groups.

We can expect that the next year will be a land of flooding rains and cyclones rather than droughts and bushfires:

https://theconversation.com/our-new-model-shows-australia-can-expect-11-tropical-cyclones-this-season-146318?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20September%2023%202020%20-%201739116834&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20September%2023%202020%20-%201739116834+CID_aaceea4e7aeed65c719121ec10beb646&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Our%20new%20model%20shows%20Australia%20can%20expect%2011%20tropical%20cyclones%20this%20season

And the Bureau of Meteorology’s weather and climate model indicates there’s a 95% chance a La Niña will be established by October this year.

above normal activity is expected for the Eastern region (eastern Australia) with four cyclones expected. Probable range between three and six cyclones; with a 55% chance of four or more cyclones

While we continue to rampage thru forests, do we need to plant trees to save us?

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/planting-1-trillion-trees-save-the-planet-sustainability

  • According to climate scientists, if we don't make significant progress in combating carbon emissions, global temperatures could rise above the critical 1.5°C threshold, permanently damaging the natural systems that sustain us.
  • The planting of trees could become a vital part of this puzzle, as they help absorb the carbon we produce.
  • The Trillion Tree challenge plans to regenerate the planet through the planting of 1 trillion trees, capturing an estimated 200 gigatonnes of carbon over the coming decades.

By far the most cost-effective of all the big solutions is to protect and restore forests. Forests extract and store CO2 from the atmosphere and produce the oxygen we breathe. But these complex ecosystems have been systematically destroyed. We have already lost nearly half the world’s trees, most within the last 100 years. And most of the remaining trees—about 3 trillion—are still under threat, even though they are a critical tool in the fight against climate change.

At this moment in time, massive fires have yet again erupted around the world, from California to the Congo Basin to the Amazon. Far too many of these fires are intentionally set because agricultural profits have been prioritized over the health of our planet. A call to stop deforestation is more important than ever before.

Planting 1 trillion trees won’t be easy, but each one of us can make a difference in this fight. We can plant trees in backyards and neighborhoods, or donate to one of the many responsible programs that have long been restoring and protecting forests and woodlands in almost every country around the world.

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/australia-will-plant-25-million-trees-by-2025/

An astonishing 25 million trees will be planted across Australia over the next five years to aid bushfire recovery. 

Global pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, EverGreening Alliance and Greening Australia have united for the project, which officially launched this week. The initiative, expected to become one of Australia’s largest-ever restoration projects, will cover 20,000 hectares of land and generate habitats for dozens of threatened and endangered animals.

The trees are also expected to lift 4.25 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the environment over a quarter century.

https://e360.yale.edu/features/natural-debate-do-forests-grow-better-with-our-help-or-without

Planting is widely seen as a vital “nature-based solution” to climate change — a way of moderating climate change in the next three decades as the world works to achieve a zero-carbon economy. But there is pushback.

Nobody condemns trees. But some critics argue that an aggressive drive to achieve planting targets will provide environmental cover for land grabs to blanket hundreds of millions of acres with monoculture plantations of a handful of fast-growing and often non-native commercial species such as acacia, eucalyptus, and pine. Others ask: Why plant at all, when we can often simply leave the land for nearby forests to seed and recolonize? Nature knows what to grow, and does it best.

Cook-Patton’s new study, published in Nature and co-authored by researchers from 17 academic and environmental organizations ...

But overall, besides being better for biodiversity, the study showed, natural regeneration can capture more carbon more quickly and more securely than plantations.

Cook-Patton agrees that as climate change gathers pace in the coming decades, rates of carbon accumulation will change. But while some forests will grow more slowly or even die, others will probably grow faster due to the fertilization effect of more carbon dioxide in the air, an existing phenomenon sometimes called global greening.

The study identified up to 1.67 billion acres that could be set aside to allow trees to regrow.

Combining the mapping and carbon accumulation data, Cook-Patton estimates that natural forest regrowth could capture in biomass and soils 73 billion tons of carbon between now and 2050. That is equal to around seven years of current industrial emissions, making it “the single largest natural climate solution.”

The great thing about natural restoration of forests is that it often requires nothing more than human inaction.

Another study published this year found that such recovery was widespread and rapid even in an epicenter of deforestation such as the Amazon.

Wang noted that if Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, wanted to fulfill a promise made by his predecessor Dilma Rousseff at the 2015 Paris climate summit to restore 30 million acres of forest by 2030, then he need not plant at all. He could just allow regrowth to proceed in the Amazon without further clearing.

Much the same has been happening in Europe, where forest cover is now up to 43 percent, often from naturally recolonizing farmland rather than planting ... Across Russia, an area of former farmland about twice the size of Spain has been recolonized by forests.

With nature on the march, a major concern is whether a push for planting might grab land for plantations that natural forests might otherwise recolonize. The result would be less wildlife, less amenity for humans, and often less carbon stored.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/23/leaving-forests-to-regrow-naturally-could-be-better-option-than-replanting

Conventional thinking has been that replanting was the best way to restore the carbon balance, but a study published in the journal Nature shows that leaving forests to regrow naturally is cheaper and also allows native trees and wildlife to flourish.

“We know there is no single, one-size-fits-all solution for addressing climate change,” said Nancy Harris, of the World Resources Institute, co-author of the study. “Our goal was to show where forests can capture carbon fastest on their own, a mitigation strategy that complements keeping forests standing. If we let them, forests can do some of our climate mitigation work for us.”

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/09/plant-trees-or-let-forests-regrow-new-studies-probe-two-ways-fight-climate-change

Forests are having their moment. Because trees can vacuum carbon from the atmosphere and lock it away in wood and soil, governments and businesses are embracing efforts to fight climate change using trees.

Scientists agree that new trees and forests can, in theory, cool the planet. But many have warned that the enthusiasm and money flowing to forest-based climate solutions threaten to outpace the science.

In many places, grazing cattle or growing crops is simply more profitable than allowing trees to come back, notes Pedro Brancalion, a forest expert at the University of São Paulo in Piracicaba, Brazil. Policies that promote reforestation and better markets for both carbon and forest products are needed, he says, to give trees a boost. Right now, “Nobody will abandon cattle ranching or agriculture for growing carbon.”

Planting trees might make sense in some places, Cook-Patton says. But she cautions that adding trees in fire-prone areas could increase fire risk. And although tree planting often gets the hype, cheaper natural regeneration usually results in a more diverse mix of species and provides more carbon bang for the buck. “For any given site,” she says, “we should always ask ourselves first: ‘Can the forest regenerate naturally, or can we do something to help?’”

... is doing nothing and eating Lentils a large part of the answer?

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/lentils-can-feed-the-world-and-save-wildlife-too/

The answer is starkly simple: if humans got their protein from lentils, beans and nuts rather than beef, pork and chicken, they could return colossal tracts of grazing land back to the wilderness. Nearly 40% of the planet’s land surface is now committed to agriculture. And almost 83% of this proportion is used to graze animals, or grow food for animals. If it was returned to natural habitat, then humankind might be able to prevent the extinction of perhaps a million species now under imminent threat.

“The greatest potential for forest regrowth, and the climate benefits it entails, exists in high and upper-middle income countries, places where scaling back on land-hungry meat and dairy would have relatively minor impacts on food security,” said Matthew Hayek of New York University.

He and colleagues report in the journal Nature Sustainability that vegetation regrowth on once-grazed land could gulp down between nine and 16 years of human carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion, and buy time for a worldwide switch to renewable energy.

Germany recognising forest's value:

https://www.euractiv.com/section/biomass/news/berlin-and-brussels-mull-forest-protection-as-climate-change-takes-its-toll/

“Forests under climate stress” is the motto of the German Forest Days, being held for the third time. Indeed, German forests have been under ‘stress’ at least since the drought summer of 2018.

The area of damaged forest in Germany now totals 285,000 hectares,...

In Germany, the CO2 emissions saved by forests account for between six and 14% of total greenhouse gas emissions. In 2014, Germany’s environment agency still estimated storage capacity of 53 million tonnes of CO2, while the agriculture ministry upped the figure to 127 million tonnes.

However, rising temperatures are bringing hazards such as forest fires or bark beetles, while the storage capacity of forests also decreases. In the hot summer of 2018, the drought caused vegetation to absorb as much as 18% less carbon dioxide, ...

Yesterday, representatives of the Association of Forest Owners (AGDW) protested in front of the Bundestag and demanded that the CO2 performance of trees be financially recognised.

Such a “tree premium” has been under discussion for some time, and according to information from daily newspaper TAZ, the government is currently working on a concept which would, as of next year, award a premium of €125 per hectare of forest given that each hectare captures an average of five tonnes of CO2 per year.

For example, it is still unclear what happens when the trees are felled and wood is burned. “Does the premium have to be paid back?” she asked.

In parallel, German MEP Delara Burkha is working on an initiative report for a European supply chain law that would ban the clearing of tropical rainforests for European consumer goods.

Valuing Conservation:

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/valuing-nature-conservation?cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck&hlkid=3b2bbd552b8440bba99a85c3e4774f8f&hctky=2147350&hdpid=e02d5703-db80-44a0-a57f-ea6f32ad5b20#

The scale of these pressures has led scientists to conclude that we may have a limited window of opportunity to protect and stabilize nature.⁵ To reduce the erosion of natural capital, scientists and policy makers have called for the permanent conservation of at least 30 percent of the planet’s surface by 2030, nearly doubling nature conservation on land and in national waters.⁶

In each scenario, we assessed the impact of expanded conservation on climate change, jobs, GDP, zoonotic disease risk, and biodiversity and calculated the additional operating costs of conservation that may be required.

Applying this methodology suggests that doubling nature conservation on land and in national waters by 2030 could have a measurable impact and could make a compelling case for investment. Benefits could include:

—Reduction in atmospheric CO2 by 0.9 gigatons to 2.6 gigatons annually⁹ through avoided deforestation and natural forest regrowth. This range is equal to 4 to 12 percent of the annual CO2 emissions reductions needed by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5°C.10 Progress could, in turn, have a measurable impact on natural-capital stocks. For example, ocean warming threatens much of the world’s coral, placing today’s $36 billion reef-tourism industry at risk.11, 12 Ocean warming is expected to reduce the global fish catch by about 8 percent by 2050.13
—Creation of approximately 400,000 to 650,000 jobs in conservation-management fields such as wildlife management and area infrastructure. Through adjacent nature-dependent markets, natural capital could also support local economic growth, generating or safeguarding on the order of $300 billion to $500 billion in GDP and 30 million jobs in ecotourism and sustainable fishing alone.14
—Lowering the risk of new zoonotic diseases emerging by slowing ecosystem fragmentation. Depending on the scenario, the average risk of a zoonotic-disease transmission event in prioritized areas could be up to 80 percent higher than in remaining areas of unprotected nature. Slowing ecosystem fragmentation in these prioritized areas could be particularly beneficial in the fight against pandemics.

... and second place goes to Australia:

https://www.insurancenews.com.au/daily/australias-biodiversity-more-fragile-than-peers-swiss-re

Australia has the second most fragile biodiversity among G20 economies, Swiss Re says, underscoring the risk of ecosystem collapse that major economies are exposed to.

The Swiss Re Institute’s new Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (BES) Index shows that both developing and advanced economies are susceptible to changes in these natural systems.

BES includes water security, regulation of air quality, food provision and other services based around natural ecosystems that are vital to maintaining the health and stability of communities and economies.

Just over half of global GDP, equal to $US41.7 trillion ($59.1 trillion), is dependent on high-functioning biodiversity and ecosystem services.

“BES underpin all economic activity in our societies globally and should be part of strategy discussions across financial services,” Mr Mumenthaler says.

Australia ranked 8th of all countries, with a 34% fragile ecosystem share. South Africa came 6th with a 40% share and topped the G20 list. Japan scored just 4% and New Zealand 2%.

Water scarcity is a driver for Australia’s high ranking, alongside coastal protection and pollination, and the nation “should prepare for ecologically driven disturbances – and look for opportunities in ecosystem services improvements and restoration,” Swiss Re says.

Biodiversity measures the number, variety, and variability of living organisms. Ecosystem services (ES) are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems and can be classified as provisional (fibre, food, freshwater), regulative (disease management, climate regulation, freshwater purification), supportive (nutrient cycling, pollination, soil formation) and cultural (recreational, aesthetic, educational, spiritual/religious).

The most notable direct drivers of loss of BES are habitat and land use change, including fragmentation of forests; invasive species; overexploitation of natural resources; pollution – particularly from excessive fertilizer use; and climate change.

There is a podcast about the battles over America's forests:

https://www.opb.org/article/2020/09/22/timber-wars-episode-2-the-ancient-forest/

“Timber Wars” tells the behind-the-scenes story of how a small group of activists and scientists turned the fight over ancient trees and a bird that no one had heard about into one of the biggest environmental conflicts of the 20th century.

18 September 2020


Logging burnt forests

https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/environment/2020/09/12/logging-after-the-black-summer-bushfires/159983280010408?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Saturday%20Briefing%20318&utm_content=The%20Saturday%20Briefing%20318%20CID_2d3504189baf0d04a08e64582695de76&utm_source=EDM&utm_term=Logging%20Black%20Summer%20forests&fbclid=IwAR2xjc_dXZ638tznSx1Xo-AOB-zimnxtLz6o8e8WwoRjBzSathGb2ZXmdCA#mtr

On January 20 this year, while swaths of eastern Australia were still ablaze, the New South Wales government held an urgent workshop about logging in the state’s forests, which had been decimated by the summer’s catastrophic bushfires.

As long as post-fire logging was “managed with appropriate conditions and care”, Bradstock saw no issue with logging restarting. And it did: less than two months after the workshop.

Lindenmayer says this went against the unequivocal advice he gave the NSW government: the environmental risks of any form of post-fire logging could not be sufficiently mitigated by any set of measures.

“I told them it was nonsensical,” Lindenmayer tells The Saturday Paper. “You shouldn’t be doing it.”

The Saturday Paper can confirm the EPA is now investigating alleged logging breaches in 14 separate state forests across NSW.

In July, the agency hit the FCNSW with a 40-day stop-work order after an investigation alleged 26 hollow-bearing trees in compartment 58A [South Brooman SF] were either felled or damaged by loggers.

The EPA investigation – which is ongoing – was triggered after another local conservationist, a member of the Brooman State Forest Conservation Group, reported they had found more than 40 hollow-bearing trees felled in 58A.

Melanie and Paul, whose nearby home was destroyed by bushfires on New Year’s Eve, have come to compartment 58A today to follow up a tip about another potential breach – this one in relation to the cutting down of a “giant tree” ...

Lying on its side, amid piles of logging slash, the tree seems to have been chopped down for no apparent reason. If it was felled by loggers, they have left it behind. In its crown is a large hollow. ... Later, in another area of the compartment, Paul and Melanie find two more giant trees lying on their side.

According to Stephen Cocks, the owner of a logging business on the NSW south coast, widespread breaches are almost inevitable.

Cocks claims FCNSW is now trying to get the new post-fire environmental regulations “rolled back” for Mogo State Forest, so logging can continue.

The Fallout from the Koala Wars

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/11/the-nsw-deputy-premier-threatened-to-blow-up-the-coalition-was-it-really-all-about-koalas?utm_term=883afc284368903157a2f6e870bcd03d&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayAUS&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTAU_email

Barilaro has claimed the changes his government introduced six months ago “attack the property rights of landholders [and] do absolutely nothing to support koalas”.

In reality, they won’t mean much to the everyday business of the Nationals’ traditional farming constituency. The state’s native vegetation code, which has allowed an upswing in land-clearing in recent years, is unaffected. Regular jobs such as building fences or removing trees or vegetation from around homes can be carried out as before.

The changes apply to developments on properties larger than a hectare and that require an application to be lodged with a local council. It means it could affect proposals to change land use, for example turning an agricultural area into a residential subdivision. Some Nationals MPs own properties in affected areas.

These sorts of proposals require a koala plan of management to be included. This isn’t new – it was already the case under the previous Sepp – but the description of koala habitat has been updated.

https://theconversation.com/the-nsw-koala-wars-showed-one-thing-the-nationals-appear-ill-equipped-to-help-rural-australia-146000?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201728516705&utm_content=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201728516705+CID_5227387193311e0745b4f43a673585d8&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=The%20NSW%20koala%20wars%20showed%20one%20thing%20the%20Nationals%20appear%20ill-equipped%20to%20help%20rural%20Australia

This morning, NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro capitulated on a threat to tear apart the state government over new koala protections. For now, the government remains intact. However the Nats’ campaign to loosen environmental protections that affect farmers will continue to destabilise the Coalition in the longer term.

The dramatic events of the past 24 hours have cast doubt on whether such a blustering, short-sighted political party has what it takes to lead rural Australia.

Development pressures on the NSW north coast have likely fuelled this latest stoush. There, a move to different, more lucrative crops such as blueberries and the demand by “sea-changers” for residential real estate is promptingagricultural land to be sub-divided and sold. The new koala rules might slow this down.

Koala protections are far from being the biggest threats to rural prosperity. Escalating tensions with China have led to recent bans on barley and beef. The rural community has been hit hard by the extreme drought, and there is growing discontent with the mismanagement of water in the Murray Darling Basin.

What’s more, recent expansion of gas exploration and development in the state’s northwest has left locals worried about water contamination and over-extraction.

This week’s display suggests the party only deals in wedge politics and blunt solutions – and with that approach, we all stand to lose.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/to-understand-barilaro-s-koala-implosion-you-need-to-understand-where-power-truly-lies-in-regional-nsw-20200910-p55uhw.html

[Rob Oakeshott] Let’s compare the pair. This week, 20 former chief Australian veterinary officers and biosecurity experts, including Nobel prize winner Professor Peter Doherty, wrote to the Prime Minister.

Like the warning letters written by former Australian fire chiefs prior to the worst bushfires in living memory, they have entered the public arena out of frustration that politicians are failing us.

They talk of environmental collapses happening in Australia right now. One of those, just one, is the koala.

On exactly the same day, less than 20 members of the NSW National Party undertook an exercise in performative politics by threatening to abstain from their own government's agenda while maintaining ministerial privileges as an expression of their frustration that koala policies in NSW had gone too far.

Many National Party MPs across the airwaves were talking as if this was a big issue causing major anxiety in regional towns. But living in a regional town, I can confirm it wasn’t, and isn’t.

It has the tired old feel of political payback to key donors and vested interests, rather than any true policy response addressing community amenity or social design.

To understand this is to understand the absurd koala implosion of last week. Because this is a fight for developer interests, not a fight about farming.

This koala plan, a State Environmental Planning Policy, or SEPP, is only triggered at the point of development consent. It is only a factor when developers want to develop.

This fight is not about the brown boots of farming. It’s a fight about the white shoes of development.

So why the backflip now? From the sidelines, it looks like someone of influence has got to them. It is hard to see it any other way.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-12/nationals-dummy-spit-koalas-ongoing-struggle-relevance/12653466

But to the rest of the country, the spectre of a politician threatening to withdraw support from a government dealing with the worst economic and health crisis in a century, apparently over the right of farmers to clear habitat for koalas — who have, by the by, not had a very good year — was gobsmacking.

To be clear, the laws are really only seen to be a problem if you are planning significant clearing which, for example, would see rural land transformed into new subdivisions on the outskirts of cities and towns — which of course is exactly where a lot of the loss of habitat is occurring.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/12/after-the-koala-debacle-will-the-nationals-ditch-barilaro-watch-this-space

After this week’s chaotic events, in which the NSW Nationals brought the Coalition to the brink of destruction over koala protections, there are questions about how John Barilaro, the leader, can work with the Liberals in the future.

The views of the Liberals are no secret. “Untenable” was how most described Barilaro remaining as deputy premier, a position that automatically goes to the Nationals leader.

Meanwhile, the Liberals will be reconsidering how much latitude they give the Nationals on other environmental issues in future. Water policy, land-clearing, brumbies, national parks and bushfire management are all contested policies between the Coalition partners. To date the Liberals were prepared to let the Nationals wag the dog in many of these areas.

https://7news.com.au/politics/feds-pulled-into-nsw-coalition-koala-chaos-c-1308307

Federal Nationals leader Michael McCormack has criticised NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s handling of a policy dispute which threatened to split the state coalition government.

Mr McCormack said the ugly dispute should never have become public.

Meanwhile NSW Police Minister David Elliott had harsh words for Barilaro, saying his position is “untenable”.

“I think what we’ve seen from John Barilaro is one of the greatest acts of political bastardry in quite some time.”

https://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/breaking-news/nsw-liberal-mp-andrew-constance-says-hell-find-it-hard-to-work-with-john-barilaro/news-story/05eff613934494f257f5b0118a8c6092?btr=249d89911350933f1f450f2517e0da87

Further fractures in the relationship between the Nationals leader and Transport Minister Andrew Constance have also resurfaced, after text messages were sent out to voters in his electorate of Bega.

“The reason I am angry is on Friday, the Nats whacked out a text message … attacking this issue, when they had reached an agreement that morning to be good Coalition partners,” he said.

https://thewest.com.au/news/nsw/andrew-constance-fires-up-about-nationals-text-on-koala-policy-ng-09aa57bcd0de72adbc43fcfbe59981d7?utm_source=csp&utm_medium=portal&utm_campaign=Streem&token=GR7DDkAV%2FnkUiQ0DPlH%2BDKjnKH3ssXnZJYXkrH5PhcsW%2BDFSu2%2BAi9RYM7djTMQI2EyRKVuUnxt41ozZGFy6qg%3D%3D

Transport Minister Andrew Constance, Police Minister David Elliott, and Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres all declined to endorse Mr Barilaro’s leadership yesterday, openly criticising his threats to implode the government over koala protection rules.

However the Deputy Premier is staring down the Liberals’ criticism, telling them to “put up or shut up”.

https://www.dailyexaminer.com.au/news/greens-councillor-claims-clarence-mp-out-of-touch-/4098396/?cspt=1600052602|e49ee9a484364d331475510a9c85550e

Councillor Greg Clancy said Clarence Valley Council had made detailed submissions on the draft SEPP because the consensus among councillors was that the laws were not strong enough to reverse the path of extinction for koalas in our area.

"We called for a broadening of the definition of the types of areas that should come under protection because the government's maps did not fully address the scientific evidence around core koala habitat in our region", Mr Clancy said.

"We are in total disbelief that the Member for Clarence falsely presented our community's concerns about koalas.

[Tamara Smith] "Clarence Valley Council not only supported the new SEPP but they proposed broadening the number of tree species that are considered core koala habitat.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/09/smith-and-clancy-gulaptis-out-of-touch/

https://www.mudgeeguardian.com.au/story/6925419/they-didnt-back-down-they-stood-up/?

But let's get one thing straight. The current SEPP is little more than virtue signalling by inner city, latte sipping left greenie elites for whom country people have become a convenient scapegoat for all things environmental.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/labor-moves-no-confidence-vote-against-john-barilaro-as-koala-policy-fallout-dominates-nsw-parliament

John Barilaro is still causing headaches for the Berejikilian government with questions about his leadership and the fragile state of the Liberal-National coalition dominating question time in the NSW Parliament.

But NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay sought to capitalise on the political rift by moving a motion of no confidence against the deputy premier, saying he had threatened the stability of government in the midst of an unprecedented health and economic crisis.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-15/nsw-nationals-stand-by-john-barilaro-as-leader/12665056?

The NSW Nationals on Tuesday backed Mr Barilaro at the first Coalition party room meeting since his threat to move to the crossbench.

The koala policy will be debated during a Cabinet meeting in the next month.

Some National backbenchers are still considering moving to the crossbench if their demands to change the policy aren't met.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/16/property-developer-complained-to-john-barilaro-about-nsw-koala-protection-policy

The only complaint John Barilaro has raised with the New South Walesplanning minister about the state’s new koala protection laws is from a Newcastle property developer with multiple residential developments on the edges of towns including Maitland, Lismore and Armidale.

Jeff McCloy, one of the Hunter region’s most prominent developers ...

“The new koala SEPP can have a significant negative effect on farmers, natural resource industries and the developers of residential, commercial and industrial land by increasing the cost to manage, operate and/or develop landholdings. This is because the new SEPP redefines and lowers the threshold for identifying core koala habitat,” McCloy wrote on 8 September.

https://www.crikey.com.au/2020/09/16/jeff-mccloy-icac-koalas/

https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6191110988001

Planning Minister Rob Stokes told Nine Newspapers, Australian businessman Jeff McCloy's complaint was the only correspondence passed to his office by the Deputy Premier.

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-coalition-koalas-and-coal,14319

In recent days, Deputy Premier and NSW National Party Leader John Barilaro, hardly a doyen for the environment at the best of times, is clearly determined to destroy what’s left of an already devastated koala population.

Rather than highlighting the obvious disunity within the NSW Liberal Party, which most in the mainstream media seem happy to overlook, this has paradoxically provided a welcome public relations reprieve for NSW Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian. For it is Gladys who has long been dubbed the “koala killer” on social media — a well-earned moniker as we will see. Luckily for Gladys, Barilaro’s latest hissy fit has propelled the koala issue into prominence, making him appear the villain in this scenario.

Nonetheless, propelled by just one complainant, from a significant National Party donor, developer and former Newcastle Mayor, Jeff McCloy, John Barilaro took it to the limit, rambling on about farmers’ rights and threatening his one and only bargaining tool — splitting the Coalition.

In further support of her koala killer status, Berejiklian has also:

  • cut the budget for the National Parks and Wildlife Service;
  • continued unprecedented massive clear-felling of native forests, to almost 13 times the annual average in the ten years prior;
  • planned to privatise state forests;
  • planned to burn forests for biomass;
  • renewed Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs), which do not allow legal recourse; and
  • overseen 11 regions assessed as “high biodiversity risk” due to high levels of clearing and insufficient conservation area provisions, seemingly in contravention of the regulations.

https://7news.com.au/politics/nsw-liberals-yet-to-publicly-back-barilaro-c-1322232

John Barilaro’s “politically reckless” behaviour has driven the NSW coalition to the brink, a senior Liberal minister says, a day after the embattled Nationals Leader survived a no confidence motion in parliament.

But Transport Minister Andrew Constance said Mr Barilaro’s actions had driven the coalition to the worst state it has ever been in.

While the entire coalition voted against a no confidence motion moved against Mr Barilaro on Wednesday, Mr Constance said his “politically reckless” performance in question time had left many Liberal MPs “shaking their heads”.

Neither the premier nor any Liberal ministers remained in the chamber to defend the deputy premier, who also left the chamber for the debate, and Mr Barilaro earlier appeared to accuse Liberal colleagues of leaking an email to the media.

There is no end in sight to Mr Barilaro’s week from hell, with three government ministers being ordered by the parliament to produce all correspondence received from NSW Nationals MPs over the koala protection laws.

“The community deserves to know who Nationals MPs are actually lobbying for. At the moment it looks like it’s for property developers,” Mr Field said in a statement on Thursday.

https://www.parkeschampionpost.com.au/story/6928778/matters-of-state-what-is-the-cause-for-sepparation/

[Phil Donato] My colleague Mark Banasiak MLC raised the concerns of farmers and landholders regarding the SEPP at Budget Estimates in Parliament earlier this year, and questioned Mr Barilaro regarding the Nats' involvement in this policy which came into effect in March 2020, but the Deputy Premier fobbed it off.

We have now learned that Nationals' cabinet members approved this policy, and in doing so have avoided any parliamentary scrutiny.

Farmers have traditionally been the Nationals' voter base, and when affected farmers learned that the NSW Nationals consciously supported this policy, they shared their frustration with the National Party for abandoning farmers and their interests.

The Nats are in fear of their political demise. ...So when they've already been against the ropes and now fear further erosion to their traditional voter base, the only thing John Barilaro knew to do was to use smoke and mirrors, pretending as though the Liberals had pulled the wool over the Nats' eyes, introducing the SEPP without their knowing. The truth is the Nats knew all about the SEPP, they approved it and now they're now going into damage control.

... it was revealed that Stokes had already capitulated to the Nationals by agreeing to exempt logging and land clearing from the SEPP

Sydney Morning Herald 14_9_2020

Deputy Premier John Barilaro was offered a slew of concessions by Planning Minister Rob Stokes over NSW's contested planning policy aimed at preserving koala habitat but opted to go public rather than negotiate.

In a letter sent to the Nationals leader on August 21, Mr Stokes thanked Mr Barilaro for his "ongoing, constructive engagement as we seek to finalise" a new state environmental planning policy for koalas.

Even so, Mr Stokes offered to make seven "further significant changes", including offering pathways for farmers to avoid having to conduct koala surveys if the proposed developments had low or no impact on habitat, and extending the time landowners had to challenge any core koala habitat designation placed on their land.

The Nationals, meanwhile, have begun sending emails from NSW Nationals Chairman Andrew Fraser aimed in part at minimising political damage from last Friday's backdown.

"Regardless of what you may have read, seen or heard in the last 24 hours, the Nationals have now negotiated with our Coalition partners to take the matter to the NSW Cabinet," the email sent out late on Friday night reads.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/15/koalas-still-under-threat-in-nsw-despite-berejiklians-ultimatum-to-nationals?

In comparison with the Nationals, who want to repeal new legislation aimed at protecting koala habitat, the Liberals now seem like the animals’ saviours.

But environmentalists say the Berejiklian government’s commitment to protecting the endangered species is patchy and that even with the new rules there are serious risks to the koala’s survival.

The NSW independent planning commission has approved an extension to a rock quarry in the town of Port Stephens that would destroy 52 hectares of koala habitat.

In the months after the bushfire crisis, NSW Forestry Corporation resumed logging of unburnt forest that is habitat for several of the state’s most imperilled species.

This has included logging of unburnt koala habitat in a number of forests, including the Lower Bucca, Nambucca and Comboyne state forests, despite dismay from state MPs and local communities.

Barilaro is the minister for forestry. The ministerial diaries, published as part of the state’s disclosure regime, show he met with a dozen or more timber companies after the bushfires to discuss a recovery plan for the industry.

.... and despite the Government abandoning the maps of 'likely' Koala habitat months ago

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/koala-clarity-gurmesh-singh-explains-his-partys-position-on-koala-habitat-58969

[Member for Coffs Harbour, Gurmesh Singh] His perspective is that detailed investigation of biodiversity maps appears to show areas in Coffs Harbour CBD that are labelled core koala habitat.

Mr. Singh said that the SEPP maps showgrounds, stadiums, roundabouts and urban areas as core koala habitat.

Therefore, he maintains, there appears to be mistakes in the maps used to classify land as core koala habitat.

Mr. Singh said that the National Party is not opposed to actual core koala habitat being identified and mapped but the identification must be accurate.

“It is important to protect koalas and we stand right behind that.”

..... and in a dramatic end to the week, Barilaro takes time out

https://aboutregional.com.au/john-barilaro-temporarily-steps-down-for-mental-health-break/

Member for Eden-Monaro and NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro will take the next four weeks away from politics to take care of his mental health.

“He is just taking four weeks to look after his mental health,” the spokesperson said. “This year has been a really tough year and he’s just going to take some time off to regroup.”

Making hollow gestures

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-12/nest-boxes-monitored-for-wildlife-recovery-after-bushfire/12645576

Hundreds of nest boxes are being installed in burnt forests to house vulnerable animals left homeless after last season's devastating bushfires on the Mid North Coast destroyed many thousands of natural hollows in tree trunks.

Forestry Corporation is installing 100 nest boxes after wildlife rescue group FAWNA funded 600 of the wooden shelters across the MidCoast, Port Macquarie-Hastings and Kempsey council areas.

We pay dearly to replace industry's burnt resources

https://aboutregional.com.au/post-bushfire-plantation-recovery-fast-tracked/

Replanting of the state’s softwood timber plantations that were destroyed in the Black Summer bushfires will be fast-tracked as part of a $46 million injection into the NSW forestry industry.

Around 35,000 hectares of state-owned plantations, and 10,000 hectares of private plantations, were lost in the South West Slopes region during the past summer’s bushfires. Significant damage was also caused to plantations around Bombala and the Northern Rivers region.

The NSW Government is planning to accelerate its winter planting program to an unprecedented 12,500 hectares of forest to be replanted, by hand, every year for the next eight years.

.... at least they are good for burning

The Coffs Coast Advocate17 Sept 2020

Cape Byron Power has responded to concerns about local forest resources being used at their plants.

The NSW Forestry Corporation has confirmed that resources from the Tarkeeth State Forest are being sold to a bioenergy plant but says its only the residue left from harvesting operations.

[CBP Anthony Lount] "We have never and will never, source fuel directly from native or state forests, and we stand by this."

"At times CPB has accepted fuel loads in response to community concern regarding wastage being left behind following logging operations to prevent infield burning of the materials left over after harvest of the plantation timber."

"We have been working hard with local community groups to ensure our operations meet community expectations and continue to do so."

https://www.miragenews.com/forest-industries-welcome-federal-investment-in-low-emissions-technologies/

The Australian Forests Products Association (AFPA) has welcomed the Morrison Government announcement today of a $1.9 billion investment in new low emissions technologies...

“Bioenergy and the bioeconomy are key technology streams that need to be both developed and supported both by this new investment package and in the forthcoming Bioenergy and Technology Investment Roadmaps. Bioenergy can deliver baseload power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, unlike many alternative renewables. Investing in it supports regional jobs as it is well suited to existing regional wood and paper product manufacturing sites nationally.”

The 18 by 2030 initiative details how Australia’s forest industries can remove an additional 18 million tonnes of C02equivalent per year from 2030 with the right policy settings – see www.18by2030.com.au.

A forest history

"Logging Australia's native forests" episode from  "Rear Vision" , presented by Annabelle Quince and Keri Phillips -

Available now through the ABC listen App - http://bit.ly/ABCradioApp

The Feds wouldn't ignore expert advice for ideology, would they?

 The Morrison government started preparing controversial legislation to amend Australia’s environmental laws before it had received a report from a formal review into whether the act was working.

Labor’s environment spokeswoman, Terri Butler, said the government had been “caught out” rehashing Abbott’s failed 2014 environment laws before even receiving Samuel’s interim advice.

“They have ignored their own independent review, broken their promise on national environment standards, cherry-picked the report, gagged debate in the parliament, and then rammed through a rehashed Tony Abbott bill, which is bad for the environment and bad for business,” she said.

Crossbench senators have indicated they will not support the proposed changes, in part because they include nothing to improve the protection of Australia’s ailing wildlife and natural heritage.

Lest we forget the great burning

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/of-one-thing-we-can-be-certain-the-fires-will-return-greg-mullins-global-warning-20200820-p55nmm.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_feed

[Greg Mullins] Many Australians could sense how things were changing when subtropical rainforest, by its nature a fire retardant, started burning last spring,...

This followed fires in the subtropical rainforest near Mackay in 2018 and the World Heritage Gondwana rainforest in Tasmania 2016, where 14,000 hectares were lost, including ancient, slow-growing native pine.

Climatologists have long warned that Australia, the second driest continent on the planet after Antarctica, with huge areas of flammable forest and grassland, is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, putting it at a far higher risk of bushfires. To make matters more challenging, we’re sparsely populated, and it can be logistically difficult to move firefighting equipment across large distances, notes Mullins.

One of the worrying trends over the past couple of decades has been that fires can now burn as intensely at night as during the day, because of higher temperatures after dark. “This seriously impacts traditional fire tactics, which rely on milder conditions at night to conduct backburns and create ‘control lines’,” he explains.

Extreme fire behaviour, the type that creates its own weather systems, is also becoming more common. Between 1978 and 2001, Mullins tells me, there were only two confirmed instances of fire-caused storms; in 2019-20, there were as many as 45. “Fire-caused storms can drastically change the behaviour of a bushfire and can be deadly. We’re talking cyclonic wind bursts, squalls and lightning causing fires 30 kilometres away. Most of the large fires last summer were started by lightning, such as what happened at Gospers Mountain. The long-term drying trend has made fuels more prone to ignition by lightning.”

What is the place of Indigenous fire management, I ask. “Indigenous fire practices come from a deep connection to country and some of the techniques aren’t transferable,” he says. “What works in savannah in northern Queensland won’t necessarily work in subtropical rainforests in northern NSW or eucalypt forests in Victoria; in other areas closer to the cities the knowledge has died out. It’s highly nuanced and can’t be done at scale across the landscape. But it does provide hope for healing the country, more research needs to be done, and there are lessons.”

America's West Coast still burning as they wait for god's cool change

https://www.adn.com/nation-world/2020/09/15/easing-fires-not-as-simple-as-climate-change-vs-forest-work/

The governors of California, Oregon and Washington have all said global warming is priming forests for wildfires as they become hotter and drier. But during a visit Monday to California, Trump pointed to how states manage forests and said, “It will start getting cooler, just you watch.”

As crews battled wildfires that have killed at least 36 people, destroyed neighborhoods and enveloped the West Coast in smoke, Trump contended that the states are to blame for failing to rake leaves and clear dead timber from forest floors. However, many of the California blazes have roared through coastal chaparral and grasslands, not forest, and some of the largest are burning on federal land.

In Oregon, it was the forests that burned at unprecedented levels this past week. Almost the same number of “megafires” — defined as having scorched 100,000 acres or more — were burning last week as have occurred during the entire last century.

At least 10 people have been killed in Oregon. Officials more than 20 people are still missing, and the number of fatalities is likely to rise as authorities search. In California, 24 people have died, and one person was killed in Washington state.

https://www.adn.com/nation-world/2020/09/17/lightning-storm-easterly-wind-how-the-wildfires-got-so-bad/

Thousands of bolts ignited hundreds of fires in California and at least one in Oregon, setting the stage for some of the most destructive wildfires the West Coast states have seen in modern times.

One month later, firefighters are still battling them, and at least 34 people have died in California, Oregon and Washington.

“What really was jaw dropping for people was the fact that this really changed the paradigm that people have in terms of their sense of security,” said Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Jim Gersbach. “These burned so close to populated areas, driven by this wind — basically unstoppable.”

Firefighters from across the nation and Canada have descended on the region to help fight the blazes: There are more than 17,000 in California fighting over two dozen major fires, and more than 6,000 facing about a dozen blazes in Oregon.

About 5,300 square miles have burned this year in California — more than ever before, Cal Fire said. In Oregon, the figure is about 1,560 square miles, nearly double the 10-year average.

About 1,600 homes were destroyed in Oregon, the state Office of Emergency Management said, and 4,200 structures burned in California.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/09/austrian-minister-trump-live-forests-200917171546792.html

The Austrian government has spoken up to correct US President Donald Trump's claim that people in its country live in "forest cities".

Trump recently cited Austria and other European countries as models of good forest management that US states like California, which has seen devastating wildfires lately, should learn from.

Calling in to Fox News on Tuesday, Trump said: "You look at countries, Austria, you look at so many countries. They live in the forest, they're considered forest cities. So many of them. And they don't have fires like this. And they have more explosive trees."

World not meeting biodiversity targets

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8734935/Unprecedented-declines-wildlife-natural-habitats-set-continue-report-warns.html?

The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 report, published by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), reveals the world has failed to meet a series of key targets set a decade ago to save the world's biodiversity.  

In 2010, a total of 20 'Aichi Targets' were developed and hailed as the blueprint for saving life on Earth.

The targets included cutting rates of habitat loss, managing fish stocks sustainably and preventing harmful pollution, among others. 

None of the targets will be fully met by this year's deadline, and only six will be partially achieved, the report warns.

[Professor Jane Memmott] 'We are dependent on the natural world for our food, wellbeing and prosperity and the current rate of loss of species is seriously worrying.'

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/world/the-times/survival-of-forests-offers-glimmer-of-hope-amid-habitat-destruction/news-story/306a41fd7a757030a6f94d20bd11aa31

More evidence of drier forests being converted to grasslands, this time by logging

https://www.castanet.net/news/BC/310928/Interior-BC-s-Douglas-fir-forests-struggling-to-regrow-after-logging

An investigation by B.C.’s forests watchdog has found that many dry interior Douglas fir forests, including in the Thompson-Okanagan, are not growing back properly after being harvested.

"There were a number of reasons for the poor regeneration success, including an over-reliance on clearcutting. In this ecosystem, uneven age forests are common and partial cutting systems should be more widely used to mimic natural disturbances and provide the shade and protection regenerating trees require.”

The study found that climate change is also introducing new challenges to forest-health in the province. With the increased prevalence of drought and fire, many of the sites examined are likely to shift to grassland, making long-term timber production unfeasible.

11 September 2020


Koalas surface in Myrtle

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/09/koala-scats-indicate-refugia-in-myrtle-state-forest/

Forest protectors spent a cool night at the entrance of Myrtle State forest to stop any machinery for logging coming into the forest. They celebrated ‘Threatened Species Day' on Monday after the discovery of koala scats a few days earlier.

A spokesperson for the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) Dailan Pugh, said that in light of the increasing evidence of the devastating impacts of the bushfires on koalas, NEFA is renewing its calls for a thorough independent survey to identify the full extent of Koala refugia in Myrtle State Forest after finding a significant koala fire refuge last Thursday.

‘In a brief audit of seven hectares of burnt forest in Myrtle State Forest on 3 September NEFA identified 1,118 Koala scats under 18 trees, with 516 scats under one tree, in an area where the Forestry Corporation have never identified Koalas.

‘Despite the Government’s refusal to look before they log, NEFA have proven that Koala fire refugia exist in Myrtle State Forest, and are likely to be more widespread, making it clear that a full survey needs to be undertaken if the Government has any intent of honouring their promise to save Koalas,’ said Mr Pugh.

Forests are not rubbish tips

https://www.nambuccaguardian.com.au/story/6912665/forest-values-versus-land-fill-residents-speak-out/

Plans to future proof the shire's waste problems by expanding the Nambucca landfill into 23 adjacent hectares of Nambucca State Forest have met with resistance from a newly formed local conservation group, Forest Ecology Alliance (FEA).

The group say that citizen scientists as well as expert ecologists who have been surveying the area (which is classified as High Quality Koala Habitat under NSW Govt. mapping), have found evidence of a number of koalas as well as a variety threatened plants.

Koala fire losses quantified

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-06/wwf-koala-loss-report-finds-71pc-decline-after-fires/12624938

A report released today shows a 71 per cent decline in koala populations across six locations in northern NSW, burned in last season's bushfires.

Specialist koala ecologist Stephen Phillips undertook the study, which he said was the first study to quantify the impact of the bushfires on koala populations

"We've now got the tools [so] we can find these populations and we really have to wrap them in cotton wool," he said.

"If we don't and we just proceed with our normal activities, whether it's logging or development in peri-urban areas, and we're having direct impacts on the relic koala populations, then we could simply be exacerbating the problems for these remaining populations."

  • Wardell: 70 per cent decline
  • Busby's Flat at Royal Camp State Forest: 72 per cent decline
  • Busby's Flat at Braemar State Forest: 47 per cent decline
  • Lake Innes State Conservation Area: 34 per cent decline
  • Hillville Road at Kiwarrak: 100 per cent decline
  • Hillville Road at Khappinghat Nature Reserve: 87 per cent decline

"Given the events of last spring and summer, and given the events leading up to that, the drought, we're in no doubt now that koalas in NSW are an endangered species," he said.

"And they really need to be listed as that.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6911743/fire-ravages-northern-nsw-koala-population/?src=rss

"That's why it's so important that national environment laws are strengthened to protect koalas and all threatened species," WWF Australia chief Dermot O'Gorman said in a statement.

"The Australian bushfires showed the world a future nobody wants ... koala numbers may not recover before another blaze sweeps through the east coast, causing localised extinctions."

Authorities were encouraged to halt logging and other disturbances to unburnt forest canopies in northern NSW until after further koala population assessments.

Dr Stephen Phillips, a koala ecologist at report researchers Biolink, said the success of koala population recovery depended on the severity of population loss, management and conservation efforts, and sufficient recovery time.

"We need to wrap them in cotton wool," Dr Phillips said in a statement.

https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6188140542001

Daily Telegraph 6 September 2020

[Phillips] "We've got to identify where the remaining koala populations are located in each fire affected area, the size of each population, and focus our conservation efforts on those populations which remain viable," he said.

"The capacity of koala populations to recover will depend on the severity of the fire in their area, the original populations size, management actions taken to assist populations to rebuild, and whether there is sufficient recovery time before the next fire event".

Wildlife plight

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/09/three-billion-animals-lost-in-19-20-bushfires/

Animal Liberation Regional Campaigns Coordinator Lisa Ryan said that we know that evidenced reports have now confirmed Australia lost around three billion non-human animals directly and indirectly from the fires; many were already classified as vulnerable, threatened or endangered. ‘More recent surveys have confirmed up to 70 per cent of NSW koalas died in six study areas on NSW’s north coast area.

Ms Ryan says that koalas in the Northern Rivers area suffered enormously and in some key koala populations, up to 80 per cent perished. ‘Rescuers had to fight a mountain of bureaucratic resistance to access these areas to locate and save surviving koalas who were in urgent need to veterinary care, hydration, food and safe shelter,’ says Ms Ryan. ‘Ironically, the loggers wishing to remove remaining trees including koala food trees, have faced no such obstacles in unburned and burned forests.

Visit the  Coalition of Australians Against 1090 Poison site to stay updated on the fight to ban 1080 poison and the humane and long term and effective alternatives.

Nationals go to war with Liberals over Koala SEPP, they ,may have lost the battle, but will they win the war in peace talks

https://www.byronnews.com.au/news/its-greyhounds-on-steroids-war-breaks-out-over-koa/4093509/?cspt=1599437635|38e0429e99776a87d680235e14e5ec16

https://www.harveyreporter.com.au/news/nsw/liberal-mp-catherine-cusack-calls-on-john-barilaro-to-resign-over-koala-debacle-ng-134d01cf37f2fbf3105444502f22bd51?utm_source=csp&utm_medium=portal&utm_campaign=Streem&token=dLew5Ue9LZFLTQtcf3QlN8WvJPOS5LwRhnbxCG9r6qDmigKkt9OUKO4xz45J5ZXRtLqTWVwPxw8OjZzmChQX%2FA%3D%3D

A bitter clash has erupted in the state government with a Liberal MP calling on deputy premier John Barilaro to resign after demanding changes to the new koala protection laws.

The Sunday Telegraph can reveal the Premier has agreed for the controversial new koala protection laws to be brought back to Cabinet to resolve what she refers to as “green versus brown” issues after a series of crisis talks with Nationals failed to reach a resolution.

The move followed a delegation of angry National MPs led by Mr Barilaro meeting with the Premier on the last sitting day to raise their issues with the Koala Habitat Protection State Environmental Planning Policy.

Mr Barilaro also compared the issue to the greyhound ­racing ban that ruined Mike Baird’s career as premier, saying the koala policy was “greyhounds on steroids”.

It also comes as North Coast MLC Catherine Cusack accused the Deputy Premier of “hurling a grenade into Cabinet” over a planning policy that had already become law.

She said Nationals leader Mr Barilaro did not oppose the policy when it was on public exhibition. “This ludicrous ­demand to repeal a properly made SEPP that has been years in the making and gone through proper process — that he himself agreed to — is wrongheaded on every level,” Ms Cusack said.

“It seals the fate of the koalas we are pledged to protect and it steps outside of Cabinet, putting a gun to the Premier when she is fighting a pandemic.

“His judgment is so impaired this simply cannot continue. He needs to make way for someone who can.”

A senior Liberal source said it was more the “saltwater Nats” in coastal seats that had a problem with the policy ­rather than the “freshwater Nats” in rural areas.

Mr Barilaro, who said the Nationals had been “blowing up” during the consultation period, accused Ms Cusack of “being used (by an) inner-city green clique”.

“This is not about foresters, this is not about developers, this is about farmers wanting to continue doing what they’re doing without more green tape,” he said “The SEPP is bigger than greyhounds. All it does is strip farmers of their property rights.”

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/bitter-divisions-exposed-as-nationals-mps-demand-urgent-changes-to-planning-policy-20200907-p55t8o.html

Bitter division in the Coalition over planning policy related to koalas is threatening to split the government, with Deputy Premier John Barilaro asking the Premier to call an emergency cabinet meeting over the issue.

Mr Barilaro wrote to his National MPs asking them to sign a letter urging Gladys Berejiklian to hold the cabinet meeting on September 14 as three Nationals MPs threaten to move to the crossbench.

While the Nationals are leading the opposition to the policy, some Liberals, such as Wollondilly MP Nathaniel Smith, are also concerned about the impact it could have on their electorates.

Several government sources said Emergency Services Minister David Elliott has also expressed concerns, although the minister said he had not yet declared his position.

The concerned MPs want Planning Minister Rob Stokes to agree to a raft of changes, including the definition of core koala habitat, before NSW Parliament resumes next Tuesday.

Mr Gulaptis said he would move to the crossbench if changes were not made. Nationals MP Gurmesh Singh, who represents Coffs Harbour, is also considering sitting on the crossbench, as is upper house Nationals MP Sam Farraway.

The NSW Nationals' chairman and former long-serving MP Andrew Fraser also weighed into the debate on Monday, issuing a statement "demanding commonsense on planning policy".

"The people of regional NSW are sick and tired of being used as the biodiversity offset for western Sydney development," Mr Fraser said.

https://www.miragenews.com/a-better-way-to-protect-koalas/

NSW Farmers is calling on the NSW Premier to partner with farmers to take steps to protect koalas on farms instead of imposing a poorly-targeted State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) based on inaccurate mapping.

Mr Jackson said the new Koala SEPP is a step backwards, not a step forward, threatening to return NSW to land management approaches which independent environmental experts have said don’t work for farmers, don’t work for regional communities and don’t work for the environment.

“We are calling on Minister Stokes to now listen to the genuine concerns of regional communities and exempt rural land from this SEPP. The time has come for Premier Berejiklian to intervene and back a way forward that encourages and rewards farmers, rather than penalises them, for the essential role they are playing in delivering both production and environmental outcomes on NSW farms.”

Daily Telegraph 9 September 2020

The party will hold an emergency zoom meeting tomorrow to determine whether National MPs will boycott joint party room next Tuesday or move to the cross bench. They will also cement plans for party MPs, including key government ministers, to vote against the Liberals in an attempted repeal bill.

Mayor of Eurobodalla Shire on the state's south coast, Liz Innes, last night launched a fresh attack on city politicians trying to control development in the regions with costly "koala checks".

The amendments call for clearer, more specific definitions of core koala habitat and propose local councils conduct on-ground surveys.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-09/nsw-government-koalas-fight-escalates-under-barilaro-threats/12646696

A Liberal backbencher has accused the NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals Leader John Barilaro of "bullying'' the Premier over the koala protection policy.

Catherine Cusack has spoken out against Mr Barilaro, in an escalating conflict between the Coalition partners.

Four Nationals MPs are threatening to plunge the NSW Government into minority if the koala protection policy isn't changed — and they have the support of their leader.

They're concerned it will limit land use on farms and the ability to rezone areas for development.

Ms Cusack accused Mr Barilaro of treating NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian with "extreme contempt".

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/we-will-look-at-the-whether-the-coalition-continues-crunch-day-in-koala-war-20200909-p55u0r.html

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell, the most senior Nationals minister in the upper house, would not rule out moving to the crossbench and giving up her portfolio if the issue remained unresolved.

Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor took the same stance, saying: "If the party room votes that all members will move to the crossbench, then I stand united with the party."

The damaging division in the Coalition relates to a policy designed to protect koala habitat, but the Nationals say it would severely limit the way property owners could manage their land.

At least two lower house Nationals MPs, Chris Gulaptis and Gurmesh Singh, have since threatened to sit on the crossbench if Planning Minister Rob Stokes does not make changes to the policy.

Upper house Nationals MPs Sam Farraway and Wes Fang also plan to move to the crossbench.

Ms Mitchell stressed the Nationals were united in their anger over the policy and said her next steps would be guided by the decisions of the party room, which will meet at 8am on Thursday.

He said he did not want to preempt the meeting, but his party room was expected to agree to boycott the Coalition joint party room meeting next week and introduce a repeal bill to parliament.

"We would expect the Liberals to support a repeal bill and, if they don't, then that's when we look at whether the Coalition continues," Mr Barilaro said.

A senior Liberal minister said: "It is extraordinary that Barilaro would be prepared to blow up the Coalition over koalas."

Daily Telegraph, Editorial. 10 September 2020
 
Many a true word is spoken in jest. Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her team need to take on board Barilaro's message and concerns about the koala laws.
The NSW National are doing exactly the right thing on behalf of their constituents. They are standing firm against charges imposed on those voters by city-based legislators.
https://www.9news.com.au/national/nsw-nationals-to-move-to-crossbench-over-koala-habitat-stoush/85fcb217-e0ec-4c81-a1b3-163cde0fa425
The NSW Nationals have held a final-minute emergency party room meeting after Premier Gladys Berejiklian issued an ultimatum to either stand with her or sit on the crossbench amid a stoush over state koala protection policy.
Ms Berejiklian this afternoon released a statement saying that National MPs cannot support her government and also sit on the crossbench - they must do one or the other.

"It is a long established convention that members of Cabinet must support Government legislation. It is not possible to be the Deputy Premier or a Minister of the Crown and sit on the crossbench.
 
Ms Berejiklian says if Nationals MPs do not come to a resolution by 9am tomorrow, she will go directly to Government House to swear in a new ministry.
 
Daily Telegraph, 11 September 2020
[Balilaro] He denied National Party MPs would sit on the crossbench, saying this had been "misinterpreted" and he was "not here to bring down the government."
Nationals MPs were locked in crisis talks last night, unclear how they would respond to the Premier's threat to swear in a new ministry at Government House today.
Ministers were privately praising the premier, calling her an "iron maiden", "strong" and cheering her for "not negoriating with terrorists".
They planned to keep the keys to their ministerial cars and $320,000 salaries but hold the government to ransom on every piece of legislation.
[Balilaro] "It is this city-centric approach that believes that regional rural NSW is the biodiversity offset so that you can cover your guilt for all the concrete, all the roads, all the buildings and all the asphalt that's been laid.
"We're sick to death of it."
[Rob Stokes] John Barilaro said a lot of things about the koala policy on Thursday, and most of them are untrue. My colleague in the NSW government said farmers can’t build a feed shed or a driveway on their property without a koala study. This is not the case. You can erect farm sheds, pour driveways, clear fence lines and engage in any routine agricultural practice that has occurred for generations without the need for development consent or a koala study.

Barilaro also said noxious weeds are listed as core koala habitat. Again, this is incorrect. There are no noxious weeds on the tree species list.
It encourages councils to engage with landholders and farmers to prepare a plan to identify and manage koala habitat at a local level, with the full knowledge and involvement of local landowners. How can Barilaro argue the policy is against the interests of regional people when it empowers regional councils to make local decisions for regional communities?

The fact is you can’t save the koala and remove koala habitat at the same time.

The koala policy is based on science, reason and democracy. The political debate about the koala policy should be based on the same ideals.

We are in the midst of a global pandemic, and we have clear, strong laws to protect koalas. So why on earth is Mr Barilaro trying to weaken koala laws – why now, why ever?
 
An extraordinary dummy spit from the Nationals over controversial environmental protection laws threatens to destroy the foundation of the NSW government and could even shake the federal Parliament.
[Federal Nationals MP Dr David Gillespie] “Everyone likes koalas, but the SEPP won’t do anything but tangle up farmers without compensation, limit development of agriculture, stymie residential development, and make private forestry pretty much impossible.”
Koala protection laws that prompted the Nationals' threat to bring down the NSW Coalition will affect only a small portion of farmers proposing significant developments, leaving legal experts and farm leaders questioning the motivation for the move.
In fact, the new State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) is limited in its application and only significantly impacts development applications made to local councils.
"Of course it's very difficult to talk generally as most agriculture and horticulture businesses are different. But I would be more concerned about this koala SEPP if I was a developer rather than a farmer," said Mr Blair, now a professor of food sustainability at Charles Sturt University.
[Rachel Walmsley, EDO] "The new SEPP is a minor strengthening of the existing instrument. It doesn’t actually prohibit the clearing of koala habitat, in fact no areas are off limits under NSW laws.
EPP regulations kick in when habitat trees are present in sufficient numbers to cause private land to be classed as core habitat. But assessments are required only when a development application is triggered under the local government’s regulations – such as a house over two storeys.

"The koala is a widely distributed species and it needs different trees in different areas," said Australian National University ecologist Kara Youngentob, who contributed to the new scientific classification. "By recognising their diverse requirements, we can better protect them in the different places they live."

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/11/the-nsw-nationals-threat-to-blow-up-the-coalition-over-koalas-is-as-bizarre-as-it-is-misguided?

The New South Wales National party’s decision to make koalas casualties of a political feud to threaten the successful coalition with the state Liberal party is as bizarre as it is misguided.

For the Nationals to threaten the Coalition over a plan to protect koalas, a national symbol and an animal that is increasingly endangered after some of the largest bushfires the state has ever seen, is both strange and inconsistent with the own party’s values, which claim to protect our “local way of life for future generations”. It appears completely out of step with the concerns of NSW voters – and particularly the values of their own constituents.

This is not the time to water down protections for koalas.

In actual fact the state environmental planning policies koala instruments won’t impinge on farmers’ use of their own land for agriculture. What it does do is increase protections surrounding the development of that land – primarily in case it is sold off for larger scale housing and industrial developments.

A dispute over policies to protect koalas has split the governing coalition in the Australian state of New South Wales in a political drama dubbed the “koala war”.

The row revolves around a new policy that restricts construction in the habitats of the marsupial, an Australian emblem.

Corey Bradshaw, professor of global ecology at Flinders University, said New South Wales - Australia’s most populous state - had some of the country’s weakest anti-clearing laws.

“Koalas live in and eat trees - you don’t need a university degree to predict what will happen when you continue to destroy their already highly degraded habitats,” Bradshaw told Reuters.

This was the inevitable result of the dismissive, condescending and deteriorating relationship between NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her deputy, John Barilaro. It was an avertable crisis, a failure of leadership from a premier who saw it coming, looked the other way and publicly derided her deputy’s concerns.

At press conferences, she shrugs off the dreaded questions. No clearer was that this week than when his concerns over koala planning policies, emblazoned on the front page of major news­papers, were raised.

“That’s just Barra,” she shot back, which, roughly translated, amounted to: “I couldn’t care less what he thinks.”

Amid the crisis meetings, the emergency Zoom calls, the frantic text-message flurries, there was even talk of blocking supply if matters deteriorated to an irrevocable point. It is telling that in the midst of a pandemic, at a time when the state’s budget is haemorrhaging cash, some MPs would consider such an irresponsible act of inverted vanity.

In the end, the Nationals backed down from their existential threat with the promise of a compromise deal. And while Berejiklian may have appeared muscular by issuing an ultimatum, and averting a disaster, this is not a win either side can claim.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has stared down John Barilaro's threats to blow up the State's Coalition, but massive splits in her Government have been revealed during a wild week on Macquarie Street.
Deputy Premier Mr Barilaro has today given the Premier a commitment that the Nationals would stay in the Coalition and support Government legislation.

Earlier this morning Ms Berejiklian and Mr Barilaro were locked in a crisis meeting to discuss the future of the State's Coalition.

During that meeting, Mr Barilaro asked the Premier to convene a special meeting on koalas on September 21.

However, the ABC understands she refused.

https://www.2gb.com/podcast/nsw-nationals-in-feud-with-coalition-over-protection-of-koalas/

Michael is joined by Andrew Fraser, NSW Nationals Chairman, regarding their feud with the Coalition over the proposed habitat protection of koalas.

https://www.afr.com/politics/barilaro-backflips-over-koala-demand-20200911-p55unf

NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro has backed down on his threats to move to the crossbench over a blow-up involving laws protecting koalas.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/09/whats-the-fuss-about-koalas-and-the-national-party/

The NSW National Party has decided to stay in the well paid pond of the NSW government following a tantrum over the Koala Habitat Protection State Environment Planning Policy (SEPP) that began on Wednesday.

The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is calling on people who want core koala habitat to be identified and protected from logging to contact the Liberal Party and encourage them to resist National Party bullying.

... and there is an expemption for bushfire rebuilding

Thousands of people rebuilding their homes following the state’s worst ever bushfire season will now be able to cut down trees without checking for koalas.

The state government has made changes to planning laws which forced people rebuilding in areas impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires to undergo a koala survey.

The bureaucratic process — which can cost up to $6000 and take more than three weeks to complete — has been highlighted by some councils as one of the major impediments to individuals rebuilding on their land.

This, combined with the fact that some south coast locals report not seeing a koala for two decades or more, have added to complaints about the laws.

The amendment will enable an Asset Protection Zone to be created around the damaged or destroyed home and any clearing and development within this area will not need to consider the koala state environment protection policy, saving applicants time and money in the development application process.

Giving Koalas a licking

https://www.c-store.com.au/help-save-the-koalas-one-paddle-pop-at-a-time/

There’s a tasty new way to help out a koala this spring, with Paddle Pop pledging to help out the cuddly creatures through its latest release.

Paddle Pop has just released a Koala Choc Caramel ice cream, launched to coincide with National Threatened Species Day. The brand also announced it had struck a two year partnership with native wildlife rescue organisation WIRES to help protect koala populations across Australia by supporting a number of conservation projects through rehabilitation facilities, water projects and a health hub at the University of Sydney.

Some can't run away

https://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/6911436/new-study-finds-plantation-forestry-operations-could-push-shrub-to-extinction/

More needs to be done to save the endangered Acacia meiantha, with only three distinct populations in Mullion Creek, Carcalgong and Clarence.

The report found out of the 42,000 shrubs known, 96 per cent can be found in the Mullions Range State Forest sub-population.

"In the Mullions Range State Forest, the shrub is threatened by plantation forestry operations and wilding pine invasion.

Tasmanian conflict intractable because of politics

https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/national/native-forest-clash-over-styx-valley-are-we-heading-into-another-forestry-war/news-story/15e0f7922740277bb22f12ab5cbef6d3?btr=f9def3801699f170c4163c00694ba208

Try as I might to come to every story without preconceptions, I realise I am unprepared for the depth of this coupe’s beauty, the richness of its plant life and the sheer living energy of it all. Some part of me was expecting the green groups to be ­exaggerating its high conservation value. They are not.

For days afterwards, I grapple with how to approach this story in a way that is true to my experience, true to the science and stays above the fray, but I can’t stop thinking ‘who in their right mind would kill this’?

“Time is up,” says Bob Brown, leaping across the slippery bank to address the crowd. “Time is up for simply accepting this is part of a legitimate operation. This is a criminal operation in terms of the nature of this planet and the rights of our children and fellow creatures.

“Whether you look at the economic or the environmental — or just the spiritual — component of who we are, these forests are a lot more important to us as forest than going to a woodchip operation …

“We have all our wood needs met from plantations. We don’t need to cut a single tree from native forests again in any place in Australia.

“This campaign is not just on to stop this piece of logging on the mountainside in the Styx Valley but to stop all native forest logging in Australia, as New Zealand did 20 years ago …

Sanger says she senses a groundswell of community concern emerging over native forest logging’s climate change and extinction impacts. She also sees old wedge politics at play.

“The [catastrophic previous two Australian summers of] bushfire are a real sign of climate change and I think a lot of people are waking up to the idea that it is on our doorstep,” she says.

“A lot of people are demanding change, but our governments are too tied up with fossil fuel industries and big business to take it seriously.”

Sanger’s concern is in line with Mercury’s Big Issues survey responses, with 79 per cent of responders saying they are worried about ­climate change and want governments to do more to combat it. As a scientist, Sanger feels the imperative to act now.

60 Minutes reporter and Mercury columnist Charles Wooley also addresses the gathering. He is disappointed with the turnout. “I wanted to see many more of you up here,” he says, citing a 10,000 protester head count as an appropriate base number.

“I don’t want to be putting my head up and getting it kicked in for a handful of people. I want numbers. I want ratings.”

... John Lawrence number-crunched SST/Forestry Tasmania’s performance over the 20 years to 2017, drawing on its annual reports and a 2008 Tasmanian auditor general report in his calculations.

Over those two decades, operating by dint of a Regional Forest Agreement covering the period, Lawrence estimates the ­operating loss at a staggering $454 million. With a $751 million writedown on forestry estates over the same period, cash and non-cash losses amount to about $1.3 billion.

[Saul Eslake, former ANZ chief economist] “The only way to understand ongoing native forest logging is through a political, not economic, lens,” he says.

Giant slayers

Eualypytus regnans, known more commonly as Mountain Ash or Swamp Gum, can grow to 100 metres tall and live for more than 500 years. For a long time this species held the record as the tallest flowering tree. But last year, a 100.8 m tall Yellow Meranti (Shorea faguetiana) in Borneo, claimed the title— surpassing our tallest Eucalypt, named Centrioun, by a mere 30 centimetres.

Our giant trees and old growth forests provide a myriad of ecological services such as water supply, climate abatement and habitat for threatened species. A 2017 study from the Central Highlands forests in Victoria has shown they’re worth A$310 million for water supply, A$260 million for tourism and A$49 million for carbon storage.

This significantly dwarfs the A$12 millioncomparison for native forest timber production in the region.

Last month, three giant trees measuring more than 5 m in diameter were added to the register. But these newly discovered trees are located in coupe TN034G, which is scheduled to be logged this year.

Logging is a very poor economic use for our forests. Native forest logging in Tasmania has struggled to make a profit due to declining demand for non-Forest Stewardship Council certified timber, which Sustainable Timber Tasmania recently failed. In fact, Sustainable Timber Tasmania sustained an eye watering cash loss of A$454 million over 20 years from 1997 to 2017.

Few Australians are aware of our own impressive trees. We could easily boost tourism to regional communities in Tasmania if the money was invested into tall tree infrastructure.

Forester slams foresters

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/07/prominent-scientist-slams-forestry-association-for-dismissing-logging-links-to-bushfire-risk

A veteran Australian forestry scientist has launched a blistering attack on his professional association after it used the retraction of a scientific paper to dismiss links between logging and increased bushfire risks.

In an open letter to the Institute of Foresters Australia seen by Guardian Australia, Dr John Dargavel said the institute’s reaction “damages our standing” and “demeans all foresters in the public eye”.

Earlier this week the institute said it was seeking an apology “over the standard of the [University of Tasmania’s] review process” after the research, produced by three university scientists, was withdrawn.

Dargavel wrote that “some of the institute’s public commentary debases our standing as an independent professional association”.

Its attack on the university “is negative and repeats the carping, anti-academic tenor of several of the [institute’s] media statements of recent years”.

Responding to the letter, the institute said: “While we thoroughly respect the right of members to express their view, we stand by our comments.”

Replacement oldgrowth

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/old-growth-loss-fuels-call-to-save-next-generation-of-native-forests-20200902-p55rlp.html

Victoria’s old-growth forests have been so extensively disturbed by bushfires that scientists are urging the state government to protect the "next generation" of younger forests, and even individual trees, to conserve these dwindling ecosystems.

About 80 per cent of Victoria’s old-growth forests and woodlands have been disturbed by fire and – to far lesser extent – logging in the past 25 years, including during last summer’s catastrophic bushfires, according to a new study from prominent Australian ecologist Professor David Lindenmayer.

“We know the amount of fire in the landscape is now way higher than it has ever been and we know the number of times the system is being burnt is more than it should be,” says Professor Lindenmayer.

In the central highlands of Victoria, bushfires and logging mean intact old-growth forest dominated by mountain ash now constitute less than 1.16 per cent of the ecosystem. Alpine ash forests constitute only 0.47 per cent, the study found.

"We have to think about where we get the next old-growth forest from, which means we have to conserve the next cohorts of older forest.”

The researchers also urged the state government to consider protecting individual large, old trees, saying they provide valuable habitat for endangered species such as the Leadbeater’s possum.

By another name

https://www.eaglevalleynews.com/columns/column-urgent-call-for-protection-of-forests-as-devastation-increases/

Despite the change of government in Victoria, there have been no changes to forestry policies that have provided corporations with unfettered access to the rapidly declining timber supply.

To address the negative impacts such as damaged water supplies, floods, loss of wildlife habitat, loss of recreational opportunities, loss of jobs, and loss of endangered species that are increasing exponentially, community activists are organizing a virtual five-day long summit culminating in a day of protest on Friday, Sept. 18.

Landslides have crashed down into homes and communities due to the combination of heavy rain and melting snow on steep hillsides that have been clear-cut logged. The local population of endangered mountain caribou is hanging by a thread, as so much of their habitat has been logged and predator wolves move higher up the mountainside on logging roads and snowmobile trails.

Wild populations are crashing

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/09/global-wildlife-being-decimated-by-human-actions-wwf-report-warns/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=4dee30bfe2-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-4dee30bfe2-77229786&mc_cid=4dee30bfe2&mc_eid=c0875d445f

  • Between 1970 and 2016, wild populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish shrank by 68% on average, according to a new report by WWF and the Zoological Society of London.
  • The most catastrophic declines were documented from Latin America and the Caribbean, where populations of monitored species contracted by more than 90% during that 46-year period.
  • Among the 3,741 populations of freshwater species they tracked, the researchers found overall declines of more than 80%, underlining the threat from excessive extraction of freshwater, pollution and the destructive impacts of damming waterways.
  • The assessment aims to grab the attention of world leaders who will gather virtually for the U.N. General Assembly that kicks off Sept. 15.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/conservation/a-wake-up-call-world-wildlife-populations-in-heavy-decline-20200910-p55u93.html?

Global wildlife populations have fallen by two-thirds in 50 years, while some Australian animal populations have been almost entirely wiped out.

In Australia, climate change, habitat destruction and feral species have taken a heavy toll on native animals. Australia has the highest rate of vertebrate mammals extinction in the world.

The spread of cane toads to the Northern Territory has reduced the size of some freshwater crocodile populations by almost 80 per cent, goannas by up to 97 per cent and the northern quoll by 75 per cent, the report finds.

"We're facing an extinction crisis and tragically Australia has played a role in this loss," said Dermot O’Gorman, the head of the World Wide Fund for Nature in Australia.

"A recent review found Australia's main environment law is ineffective and our current environmental trajectory is unsustainable."

Time to speak up for the EPBC Act

https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/recipe-for-extinction-why-australias-rush-to-change-environment-laws-is-sparking-widespread-concern/ar-BB18K00E?

Anger over proposed changes to national environmental laws is escalating, with legal, health and conservation groups urging that they not pass the Senate, with some warning it would increase the extinction rate.

The government rammed its legislationto change Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act through the lower house on Thursday night, prompting outrage from Labor, the Greens and crossbench.

WWF-Australia says the bill in its current reform is a “recipe for extinction” and lacks standards that would ensure strong protections for nature, as well as a commitment to an independent regulator to enforce the law.

“Shifting approval powers to the states without an independent regulator to ensure enforcement would be the most damaging environmental decision to occur within Australia in recent decades.”

The government’s bill would amend Australia’s environmental laws, clearing the way for the transfer of development approval powers to state and territory governments.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, and the environment minister, Sussan Ley, have argued the changes are necessary to aid Australia’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Climate and Health Alliance, which is a coalition of Australian health organisations, has called on the Senate to block the amendments.

“Australia’s natural environment is declining on every possible measure. We lead the world in animal extinctions,” says the alliance’s executive director, Fiona Armstrong. “There is no economy without a healthy environment.

“The government is trying to rush through amendments to our environmental protection laws that would weaken them in favour of expanding gas and fossil fuel projects that harm the environment and threaten human health.”

The Law Council of Australia has called for the bill to be put before a parliamentary committee for inquiry and not rushed through the Senate.

The government and One Nation have blocked several attempts by the Greens to have a parliamentary committee examine the bill.

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/lifestyle/pets-and-wildlife/how-to-honour-the-3-billion-animals-affected-by-fire/news-story/9169759004d4b48b431b79d689186d71?btr=781e1b8d4a5f21cbe3cc339951f95e4f

The Places You Love Alliance – an environmental supergroup of more than 60 member organisations – wants Australians to focus on the more than three billion animals impacted by the 2019-2020 bushfires ahead of a “once-in-a-decade opportunity” to shape the nation’s future conservation laws.

Led by the WWF Australia, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Wilderness Society, BirdLife Australia and Humane Society International, the group said proposed new national laws needed consistent national standards and an independent oversight body, following the original arms-length process set by the Australian Government.

An interim report, Australia’s 2019-2020 Bushfires: The Wildlife Toll, estimated habitat for more than 143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 180 million birds, and 51 million frogs were lost in the fires.

Commissioned by WWF Australia and conducted by 10 researchers - including from the University of Sydney, the University of Newcastle, Charles Sturt University, Birdlife Australia - the report said the estimated wildlife loss equated to the number of animals that may have been present during the fires.

“Even if resident animals were not killed outright by fires and managed to escape, they will likely have experienced higher subsequent risk of death as a result of injuries or later stress and deprivation as a result of crowding into remaining unburnt habitats,” the report said.

But she said the greatest impact Australians could have was vocally calling for stronger protections in our national environment and biosecurity laws.

“It really is time for Australians to lean in,” she said.

The Australian Government last month (August 27) introduced changes to the landmark Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which underpins assessments for major project developments, to allow states more control over assessments.

But ahead of the release of the final review in October, the Australian Government has ruled out an oversight body and said legally binding national standards would be introduced later.

https://www.sconeadvocate.com.au/story/6912393/aust-laws-failing-our-wildlife-beachley/?

The thought Australians may no longer see koalas in the wild is something former pro surfer Layne Beachley finds incomprehensible.

But it's something she warns could happen if federal environmental protection laws are not strengthened.

Beachley on Monday appears in a video with Australian singer Cody Simpson, Olympian Stephanie Rice, Socceroo great Harry Kewell and model Victoria Lee calling on Australians to take action and urge the government to strengthen the laws.

In the 20-plus years the laws have been in place, WWF-Australia estimates that more than 7.7 million hectares of threatened species habitat have been destroyed.

More than 515 wildlife species are on the brink of extinction, with 29 mammals going extinct in Australia since European settlement, WWF-Australia data suggests.

https://catholicleader.com.au/news/saving-the-koala-from-extinction-requires-a-slow-and-steady-approach-environmental-advocate-says

Ms Ley’s tabling of new legislation that pre-empt’s Prof Samuel’s final report comes as Catholics are joining other Christians around the world to celebrate the 2020 Season of Creation marking the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home). “Every year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost forever,” the Pope said in the encyclical.

“The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity.

“Because of us , thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, not convey their message to us.

“We have no such right.”

https://www.examiner.com.au/story/6911851/day-to-commemorate-threatened-species-as-law-changes-near/?

Iconic Aussie destinations, including the spectacular Great Barrier Reef and the crystal-clear waters off WA’s Ningaloo Coast, are under threat according to some of the country’s leading conservation groups.

The 13 environmental organisations said they have “grave concern” about a federal government plan to “weaken legal protection” of Australia’s World Heritage sites such as the lush Gondwana Rainforests that spread from Newcastle to Brisbane.

In an open letter to UNESCO, the organisations described their ‘alarm’ after learning of an NSW government plan to flood part of the Blue Mountains National Park for a dam expansion.

They also cited the Tasmanian government’s “inappropriate private tourism” projects in wilderness areas.

https://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/biglaw/29385-crucial-environmental-bill-shouldn-t-be-rushed?

The Law Council of Australia has warned that the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Streamlining Environmental Approvals) Bill 2020 (the bill) must not be rushed through the Senate and has called for its referral to a parliamentary inquiry.

“Australia is a signatory to some 33 key treaties and protocols regarding the environment. The Commonwealth [government] must remain at the helm in ensuring that Australia’s obligations under those treaties and protocols are met,” Law Council president Pauline Wright said. “Bilateral agreements should not operate without robust and comprehensive Commonwealth oversight which is necessary to ensure that Australia’s obligations under international treaties are met and public confidence and trust [are] maintained

Liberals may be frustrated by senate

Scott Morrison’s plan to speed the approval of major projects as part of the COVID-19 recovery faces delay, with key crossbenchers set to block legislation aimed at reducing green tape.

Senate crossbenchers Rex Patrick, Jacqui Lambie and Stirling Griff say they will not give the Morrison government the numbers needed to pass changes to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act when federal parliament ­resumes in October.

The senators will instead demand an inquiry into the bill, which passed the House of Representatives last week, in a move that would delay any chance of it becoming law until at least December and perhaps next year.

Not speaking truth to power

https://theconversation.com/research-reveals-shocking-detail-on-how-australias-environmental-scientists-are-being-silenced-140026

Ecologists and conservation experts in government, industry and universities are routinely constrained in communicating scientific evidence on threatened species, mining, logging and other threats to the environment, our new research has found.

Information suppression was most common on the issue of threatened species. Around half of industry and government respondents, and 28% of university respondents, said their commentary on the topic was constrained.

Government respondents also reported being constrained in commenting on logging and climate change.

Of those respondents who had communicated information publicly, 42% had been harassed or criticised for doing so. Of those, 83% believed the harassers were motivated by political or economic interests.

and just plain lying

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/regional/mp-not-backing-down-over-false-arson-bushfire-claims/news-story/362f4892696dc64ebe816497e9afdcd6?btr=6d5bbfa5b1a850483421bb3992e36bd9

DAWSON MP George Christensen has refused to back down on comments he made about last summer’s devastating bushfires, even after it was flagged as “false information”.

The NSW Bushfire Inquiry published its findings on the disaster, noting that “climate change … clearly played a role” but did not explain everything that happened.

It found that burning debris started three, power lines started two, equipment and a shredded tyre started another two, one was undetermined and the rest were caused by lightning strikes.

Trees more profitable than sheep

https://www.farminguk.com/news/nsa-challenges-short-sighted-study-on-replacing-sheep-with-forests_56466.html 

Farmers have hit back at claims from new research that suggest traditional farming methods should be halted, with trees planted where sheep now graze.

The suggestions come from a new report by the University of Sheffield that claims British sheep farmers would profit from allowing their grasslands to regenerate into forest.

The study says most sheep farms in the UK are unprofitable without subsidies, but farmers could make a profit if they use their land for tree planting.

It found that farmers would no longer need to rely on subsidies if they allowed native trees to return to their land and sold credits for the carbon dioxide (CO2) the forest absorbs.

Extremes getting more extreme

https://insurancenews.com.au/daily/australians-to-suffer-more-extreme-weather-events-iag?

Climate change will result in more frequent and intense extreme weather events across Australia, resulting in greater property, personal and economic damage, warns IAG’s latest Severe Weather in a Changing Climate report.

Bushfire risk will increase nationally, the report predicts, while tropical cyclones will move further inland and be more destructive and the east coast of Australia will be particularly vulnerable to severe flash and river flooding.

IAG’s report says bushfire risk will increase across almost all locations nationally and Australia will experience longer fire seasons and this will reduce the amount of time able to be spent on mitigation such as hazard burns.

Australia will experience fewer tropical cyclones but those that do hit will move further inland and be more destructive. Cyclones will also move south towards regions that typically haven’t experienced these types of events, such as south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales.

Large-sized hail risks will particularly increase in an area from the Hunter River through to the southern NSW Highlands, as well as in parts of Victoria.

Now California is feeling the heat

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/world/us-news/2020/09/11/wildfires-us-oregon/

Dozens of extreme wind-driven wildfires have burned through forests and towns in US West Coast states, destroying hundreds of homes and killing at least nine people.

The blazes have torn through at least five communities in Oregon’s Cascade mountain range, as well as areas of coastal rainforest that normally spared from wildfires. In eastern Washington state, a fire destroyed most of the farming town of Malden.

Firefighters said unusually hot, dry winds out of the east supercharged blazes, spreading flames from community to community, and then from house to house.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said up to 40,000 people had evacuated across the state where 365,000 hectares had burned, dwarfing Oregon’s average 202,000 hectare full-year total.

“We have never seen this amount of uncontained fire across the state,” Ms Brown said.

“We are feeling the acute impacts of climate change.”

Wildfires have burned more than 1.2 million hectares in California in 2020, marking a record for any year. Six of the top 20 largest wildfires in state history have occurred this year.

Amazon, degradation outpacing clearing

https://phys.org/news/2020-09-amazon-forest-degradation-outpacing-fulldeforestation.html

New research published in the journal Science by a team of Brazilian and US researchers ... Their work reveals that 337,427 km² of forest were degraded across the Brazilian Amazon between 1992 and 2014, an area larger than neighboring Ecuador. During this same period, degradation actually outpaced deforestation, which contributed to a loss of a further 308,311 km² of forest.

What these maps reveal is that while overall rates of degradation across the Brazilian Amazon have declined since the 1990s—in line with decreases in deforestation and associated habitat fragmentation—rates of selective logging and forest fires have almost doubled. In particular, in the past 15 years logging has expanded west into a new frontier that up until recently was considered too remote to be at risk.

Restoring degraded forests is central to several ambitious international efforts to curb climate change and biodiversity loss, such as the UN scheme to pay developing countries to keep their forests intact. If allowed to recover, degraded forests, particularly those in the tropics, have the potential to sequester and store large amounts of CO₂ from the atmosphere—even more so than their intact counterparts.

Humans are overpopulating

https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/new-study-warns-of-irreversible-societal-collapse-if-we-continue-to-destroy-our-forests/

In a new study, two theoretical physicists argue that human activities are track to trigger the “irreversible collapse” of human civilization within the next two to four decades.

Based on current rates of deforestation and other resource use, the study warns that there is 90 percent chance of catastrophe.

If we continue destroying the world’s forests at the same current rate, we will lose crucial planetary life-support systems including carbon storage, oxygen production, soil conservation, water cycle regulation, food system support, and animal habitats.

“Calculations show that, maintaining the actual rate of population growth and resource consumption, in particular forest consumption, we have a few decades left before an irreversible collapse of our civilization,” the study concludes.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-63657-6.pdf

In this paper we afford a quantitative analysis of the sustainability of current world population growth in relation to the parallel deforestation process adopting a statistical point of view ... Based on the current resource consumption rates and best estimate of technological rate growth our study shows that we have very low probability, less than 10% in most optimistic estimate, to survive without facing a catastrophic collapse.

... Calculations show that, maintaining the actual rate of population growth and resource consumption, in particular forest consumption, we have a few decades left before an irreversible collapse of our civilisation (see Fig. 5). Making the situation even worse, we stress once again that it is unrealistic to think that the decline of the population in a situation of strong environmental degradation would be a non-chaotic and well-ordered decline. This consideration leads to an even shorter remaining time. ... In fact, giving a very broad meaning to the concept of cultural civilisation as a civilisation not strongly ruled by economy, we suggest that only civilisations capable of a switch from an economical society to a sort of “cultural” society in a timely manner, may survive.

....with a ray of hope

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/09/the-best-news-of-2020-humanity-may-never-hit-the-10-billion-mark/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=4dee30bfe2-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-4dee30bfe2-77229786&mc_cid=4dee30bfe2&mc_eid=c0875d445f

The new findings, published in the medical journal The Lancet, differ from other population forecasts, most importantly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNPD) and the Wittgenstein Centre, by predicting that the global population will peak sooner than expected and fall quicker than anticipated (though still, by 2100, the Earth would house more humans than the 7.8 billion of us here today).

This was good news. No, no, this was freaking great news. Because if this research — which made some clever shifts in how it analyzed the data and predicted the future — could be believed, it could mean that Planet Earth, in all its ecological glory, might just survive our current devastating onslaught and begin to recover in the coming centuries. Assuming we, of course, actually deal with climate change. A big assumption.

However, no one else seemed to see it that way. Coverage of the paper’s findings looked more like Munch’s “The Scream.”

4 September 2020


Save Bunyabba Koalas continue

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/08/koala-group-rallies-at-forestry-office-casino/

Days after camping at Myrtle State Forest to block machinery, the Save Banyabba Koalas group have taken their fight to the Casino office of Forestry Corporation of NSW.

‘We’re here at the local Forestry office to call on them to abandon plans to log the habitat of the Banyabba koala population which lost 83% of its habitat in the fires,’ said Naomi Shine from Save Banyabba Koalas.

Shocked by Koala logging

https://www.marieclaire.com.au/koala-habitats-logged

Now conservationists and wildlife experts have expressed concern that Australian state governments are continuing to log unburned forests that house these vulnerable koala populations. 

In July, a state parliamentary inquiry found that koalas will be extinct in NSW before 2050 unless there is urgent government action. The year-long inquiry found habitat loss remains the biggest threat to the species' survival and that continuous logging and habitat clearing has been ongoing, despite the toll it's taking.

Speaking to Vice, James Tremain, from the Nature Conservation Council of NSW said, “It’s a scandal that the government isn’t doing what’s required to prevent the extinction of one of our most iconic species. They’re schizophrenic on the issue. They say they have a koala strategy and an ambition to increase the population of koalas, but they’ve introduced laws that have made it much easier to destroy koala habitat.”

Wildlife rescuer and arborist Kailas Wild recently teamed up with Nature NSW to show koalas in the middle of a logging operation in the Lower Bucca State Forest on the north coast of NSW, showing the devastating impacts the operations are having on already suffering habitats. 

National Party shocked by Koala protection

Daily Telegraph, 1 September 2020

A six month behind-closed-doors fight between the Liberal and National arms of Ms Berejiklian's cabinet is erupting into a full-blown brawl with Nationals leader John Barilaro also investigating parliamentary options to bring a bill to counteract new koala-saving regulations from Liberal Planning Minister Rob Stokes.

The Koala Habitat Protection State Environment Planning Policy (known as a SEPP) has increased the number of species that trigger koala checks ... and expands the responsibility of landholders to conduct time-consuming and costly koala assessments on private land.

"This is such a significant issue for my electorate I have to draw a line in the sand; I won't stand by and see regional communities and livelihoods decimated over something that won't save koalas anyway", Nationals MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said "My position is I would not be part of the government if this goes ahead - I would still be a member of the Nationals and I would sit on the cross bench."

Mr Stokes said he was seeking to strike a balance between conserving koala populations and the rights of landholders, and that he was willing to make amendments based feedback when it supported by science.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-02/nationals-mp-threatens-crossbench-move-over-koala-protections/12619956

A North Coast MP has threatened to head to the crossbench if the New South Wales Government forces farmers to search for koalas on their properties.

"Urban expansion, car kills, chlamydia [that kills koalas] — it's not necessarily the timber industry, nor is it because of the farmers that have cleared the land."

Deputy Premier John Barilaro acknowledged there had been six months behind closed doors negotiations with Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Planning Minister Rob Stokes over the controversial koala policy.

"I'm prepared to bring in a repeal bill to the Parliament if we don't resolve this. I don't want to lose someone like Chris Gulaptis," Mr Barilaro said.

Northern Star 3 September 2020

The Nature Conservation Council claims a stand by Member for Clarence and the National Party will guarantee the demise of the koala in our state.

(Gulaptis] "I love koalas just like everybody else, but I can't support a policy that targets rural industries and decimates regional communities without protecting koalas"

"The new SEPP is ill-founded and essentially determines every part of NSW is koala habitat. It essentially sterilises all private land in regional NSW as koala habitat with the onus on the landowner to undertake an ecological study to prove otherwise".

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/03/nationals-mps-threaten-to-quit-nsw-government-unless-koala-protection-watered-down

Coffs Harbour Nationals MP Gurmesh Singh on Thursday made the same threat, telling Triple M Coffs Coast Radio a compromise was crucial on the number of SEPP-protected tree species.

But the Nature Conservation Council on Thursday said in a statement the SEPP needed to be strengthened, not diluted, after last season’s unprecedented bushfires in NSW.

Koalas kept alive on a drip feed

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-02/bushfire-donations-pay-for-rollout-of-koala-drinkers/12613004

One million dollars donated to the wildlife rescue group WIRES after the bushfire crisis will pay for the rollout of koala drinkers across New South Wales.

Eight hundred of the devices, which are essentially bubblers for koalas suspended in trees, are being manufactured in Gunnedah and are expected to be installed before the start of summer.

Researchers at the University of Sydney found koalas were more likely to go in search of water during periods of drought or extreme heat than was first thought.

Dr Mella said her research revealed more about how much water koalas drink.

"They would lick the tree trunk and the branches and the leaves while it rains, so that they can stay in the tree and still get the water they need," she said.

While experts urge protection of the habitat of the imperiled Port Macquarie Koalas

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/experts-urge-federal-government-to-block-project-that-would-destroy-koala-habitat-in-nsw

Koala experts have written to the federal environment minister to recommend she block a project they say will destroy 52 hectares of prime habitat in NSW.

University of Newcastle researchers Dr Ryan Witt and Associate Professor John Clulow were commissioned by a local action group to assess the impact of the Brandy Hill Quarry expansion in Port Macquarie on the local koala population.

The pair concluded in their report that the expansion, already approved at the state level, would sever a koala corridor, disrupt breeding processes and destroy prime koala habitat critical to the species' survival.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6907953/federal-govt-urged-to-protect-nsw-koalas/

Forestry's incorrect mapping of plantations used to discredit impacts on fires

https://www.miragenews.com/greens-bushfire-claims-up-in-smoke/

Guy Barnett, Minister for Resources

In an embarrassing revelation for the Greens, the UTAS study claiming sustainable forest management increased the intensity of bushfires has been shown to be fundamentally flawed and subsequently retracted.

The contemporary scientific consensus indicates that native forest harvesting does not exacerbate bushfires.

https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/6901680/retracted-utas-bushfire-study-fans-the-flames-of-forestry-debate/

A "hot topic" has come to a head after a Tasmanian academic study was retracted last week, fanning the flames of a long-standing forestry debate.

The UTAS study linked Tasmanian logging practices with an increased risk of bushfires, prompting a fierce round of political back-and-forth.

But contributing author and researcher Dr Jennifer Sanger says the retraction has had a "negligible" effect on the science, and was the fault of incorrect public information provided by the state government.

"We had to withdraw our paper because what we called plantation wasn't plantation," she said, referring to classifications the researchers had gathered from the government's public resource, LISTmap.

Resources Minister Guy Barnett said on Sunday the retraction was "embarrassing" for the Greens, and questioned whether the party would now support the state's "scientifically backed sustainable forest management practices".

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/03/pro-forestry-enthusiasts-seize-on-error-in-study-to-falsely-claim-logging-doesnt-raise-bushfire-risk

Pro-forestry politicians and industry groups have seized upon the retraction of a scientific paper on logging in Tasmania to claim there’s no evidence industry practices raise the risk of dangerous fires.

Industry groups and Tasmania’s resources minister, Guy Barnett, used the retraction to assert there was a scientific consensus showing logging did not make forests more flammable. Experts told Guardian Australia that this was wrong, and scientific evidence exists confirming logging could increase the risk of dangerous fires.

Prof David Lindenmayer, a forest ecologist at Australian National University who has researched the effects of logging on bushfire, also said the “scientific consensus is actually the other way to what the industry is saying”.

“Of course the industry wants to deny it,” he added.

Lindenmayer told Guardian Australia: “The industry is deluded if it says there’s no relationship [between logging and the severity of bushfires]. Of course the industry would make that call and create doubt in people’s minds, but the empirical work is very strong.”

And export of whole logs leaves locals wanting

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-02/softwood-resource-exported-to-china-amid-log-supply-insecurity/12617994

A South Australian regional timber processor has warned thousands of tonnes of softwood resource are bypassing mills and heading to China, despite long-term shortages facing some businesses.

"There are a million-plus tonnes of resource going offshore every year — that's a massive amount of timber," Mr Telford said.

"We could 100 per cent use the logs going out of the Port of Portland —both pulp and sawlogs could be utilised," he said.

"There is no reason for sawlog to be leaving this country anymore. There are plenty of people in this country who would be more than happy to bid for those logs.

"The reality of the situation is that prior to the wave of export that began around 2012, these companies were able to enter into contractual arrangements with forest growers for raw material supplies sufficient to both meet market requirements and the long-term sustainability of the businesses."

He said this was no longer the case as significant volumes of forest produce were being exported at the expense of domestic processors.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation promotes why we need forests

https://theprint.in/environment/five-hidden-benefits-of-forests-everyone-should-know/491173/

Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people,” said former US president, Franklin Roosevelt.

So the FAO is using Twitter to remind the world of these five hidden benefits of forests.

  1. Forests nurture the soil - As well as stabilizing soils and preventing erosion – which quickly occurs where trees are felled forests are home to soil microbes, which together with insects, birds and mammals, play a crucial role in enriching and maintaining soil quality.
  2. Forests absorb carbon - Forests act as ‘carbon sinks’, trapping and storing CO2. NASA estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion tonnes of CO2 every year, while a study in 2017 estimated that forests would absorb a third of the atmospheric carbon needed to keep global warming below 2C by 2030.
  3. Forests provide food for millions - More than 86 million people depend on forests for their livelihoods. Globally, 1 billion people rely on wild foods including meat, insects, plants, mushrooms and fish. As well as providing edible plants and protecting water sources, forests also provide shelter for animals kept by forest dwellers.
  4. Forests are natural aqueducts - Forests provide “relatively pure water”, not just for indigenous peoples, but also for some of the world’s largest cities, according to the FAO. One-third of the world’s metropolises get all or part of their drinking water from forest-protected areas, including Bogotá, Jakarta, Karachi, Madrid, Mumbai and Singapore.
  5. Forests host 80% of Earth’s biodiversity - Forests are home to 80% of the world’s animals, plants, fungi and bacteria. They include almost two-thirds of all plants, three-quarters of all birds, 80% of amphibians and 68% of mammals.

.... and forests are good for crops

https://www.miragenews.com/multiple-benefits-of-conserving-native-forest/

Research published in Journal of Applied Ecology shows how the presence of Chaco Serrano forest remnants in the vicinity of soybean fields has led to an increase in the diversity of insects that control pests. This translates into lower herbivory and higher yield in soybean plants.

Both the number of species and the abundance of these natural enemies in the crop increased in soybean plants located near the forest and in fields surrounded by larger areas of forest, which shows that both the quantity and the distance to the forest fragments are important for these insects. Likewise, near the forest and in fields surrounded by more forest, the damage produced to soybean leaves by pests (area consumed by chewing insects such as caterpillars) was lower, while soybean production (seed weight per plant) increased. These benefits for the crop were directly related to different groups of natural enemies, showing that the influence of forests on neighbouring crops occurs through the movement of these insects between environments.

With an increasing risk of pandemics if we continue the destruction

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/30/rampant-destruction-of-forests-will-unleash-more-pandemics

A UN summit on biodiversity, scheduled to be held in New York next month, will be told by conservationists and biologists there is now clear evidence of a strong link between environmental destruction and the increased emergence of deadly new diseases such as Covid-19.

Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of farming and the building of mines in remote regions – as well as the exploitation of wild animals as sources of food, traditional medicines and exotic pets – are creating a “perfect storm” for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people, delegates will be told.

Almost a third of all emerging diseases have originated through the process of land use change, it is claimed. As a result, five or six new epidemics a year could soon affect Earth’s population.

In a paper published in Science last month, Pimm, Dobson and other scientists and economists propose setting up a programme to monitor wildlife, reduce spillovers, end the wildlife meat trade and reduce deforestation. Such a scheme could cost more than $20bn a year, a price tag that is dwarfed by the cost of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has wiped trillions of dollars from national economies round the world.

https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/pandemic-perfect-storm-warning-destruction-22600958

And the fires are out of control

https://meaww.com/forest-fires-2020-up-13-globally-course-worse-2019-numbers-study-much-more-intense-wildfires

As countries focus on fighting the coronavirus pandemic, another crisis is unfolding around the world. This one is taking place in forests, where the latest fire seasons have been raging with unprecedented ferocity, from the Amazon to the Arctic. The number of fire outbreaks across the globe was up by 13% in April this year compared to last year, which was already a record year for fires, according to researchers. They warn that fires in 2020 are on course to be worse than in 2019.

Persistent hotter and drier weather due to climate change, and other human factors such as land conversion for agriculture and poor forest management are the main drivers behind the increase, say experts from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). According to them, climate change and wildfires mutually reinforce each other, and the fires burning today in many parts of the world are bigger, more intense, and last longer than they used to. If current trends continue, there will be devastating long-term consequences on people, wildlife, and the climate, they warn. A greater number of more intense fires, for example, will release millions of extra tonnes of carbon, decimate biodiversity, destroy vital ecosystems, impact economies and people, threaten property and livelihoods, and cause severe long-term health problems for millions around the world.

According to the research team, fires are a critical global issue that needs urgent global solutions. To have any chance of restricting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C in line with the Paris Agreement, more needs to be done to cut carbon emissions from forest fires ...

... as the world cooks

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/arctic-heating-races-ahead-of-worst-case-estimates/

LONDON, 2 September, 2020 – An international team of scientists brings bad news about Arctic heating: the polar ocean is warming not only faster than anybody predicted, it is getting hotter at a rate faster than even the worst case climate scenario predictions have so far foreseen.

They found that, on average, the Arctic has been warming at the rate of 1°C per decade for the last four decades. Around Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, temperatures rose even faster, at 1.5°C every 10 years.

Researchers have also confirmed that the average planetary temperature  continues to rise inexorably, that the Arctic Ocean could be free of ice in  summer as early as 2035, and that the climate scientists’ “worst case” scenarios are no longer to be regarded as a warning of what could happen: the evidence is that what is happening now already matches the climate forecaster’s worst case. The latest finding implicitly and explicitly supports this flurry of ominous observation.

... and forests are burnt

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/are-forests-the-new-coal-global-alarm-sounds-as-biomass-burning-surges/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=3e60a31bfc-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-3e60a31bfc-77229786&mc_cid=3e60a31bfc&mc_eid=c0875d445f

  • As climate change rapidly escalates with worsening impacts, and with standing forests vital to achieving global warming solutions, the forest biomass industry is booming. While the industry does utilize wood scraps, it also frequently cuts standing forests to supply wood pellets to be burned in converted coal power plants.
  • Though current science has shown that burning the world’s forests to make electricity is disastrous for biodiversity, generates more emissions than coal, and isn’t carbon neutral, a UN policy established in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol erroneously counts energy produced from forest biomass as carbon neutral.
  • As a result, nations pay power companies huge subsidies to burn wood pellets, propelling industry growth. While the industry does utilize tree residue, forests are being cut in the US, Canada, Russia, Eastern Europe and Vietnam to supply pellets to the UK, EU and other nations who can claim the energy creates zero emissions.
  • So far, the UN has turned a blind eye to closing the climate destabilizing carbon accounting loophole. The Netherlands, which now gets 61% of its renewable energy from biomass, is being urged to wean itself off biomass for energy and heat. If the Dutch do so, advocates hope it could portend closure of Europe’s carbon loophole.

Further reading

Protecting the future:

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200318-the-worlds-largest-nature-reserve

Repairing the economy:

https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2020/nature-global-stimulus/120911

https://www.weforum.org/reports/new-nature-economy-report-ii-the-future-of-nature-and-business

28 August 2020


EPA stop logging again

https://www.prime7.com.au/news/28919-fight-for-koalas

Echo 26 August 2020

Logging of the Myrtle State Forest south of Casino was scheduled to start on Monday, 24 August. Around two dozen protesters had set up a camp on Sunday ready to p[rotect the vulnerable koala area.

However, the forest was given a short reprieve on Monday when the environment protection agency (EPA) responded to the North East Forest Alliance's (NEFA) audit report of the area NSW Forestry Corporation were about to start logging.

[Mr. Pugh] They were supposed to identify ten per cent of the logging area to be put aside in perpetuity. We found the allocations were grossly deficient. The areas they had picked were the worst bits of forest that had been badly affected by the fires, and had a lot of dead trees in them'.

Mr O'Shannessy said that while the protesters had left the state forest they were ready to go back down if necessary.

'If Gladys doesn't want to become known as the koala killer, then she needs to bring John Barilaro to heel and stop him rampaging through our forests and destroying them.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/08/myrtle-state-forest-gets-short-logging-reprieve-after-nefa-audit/

[Also Daily Examiner - Daily Catchup 26 August 2020, Chronicle August 25, Whitsunday Times 25 August ]

Growing support for Sandy Creek Koala Park

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/08/creating-koala-parks-key-to-preservation-of-species/

It is often through the on the ground actions of a variety of groups that the damage and destruction that is being done through frontline action such as the Gumbaynggirr custodians and environmentalists who worked to halt logging in the Nambucca State Forest in June. Or the work of environmentalists like those with the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) who are checking the activities of NSW Forestry Corporation and delivering reports on their failure to meet the legislative requirements in setting aside forest areas for native species in areas like Myrtle State Forest (this area is not included in the suggested park).

[Tamara Smith] ‘I completely support North East Forest Alliance’s proposal for a 7,000 ha Sandy Creek Koala Park on the Richmond River lowlands and recognise their tireless research, activism and advocacy on behalf of threatened species for well over three decades.’

Ben Franklin and Kevin Hogan (Nationals) and Janelle Saffin (Labor) didn’t respond to questions submitted by Echonetdaily.

Federal minister for Richmond Justine Elliot has highlighted the importance of protecting koalas telling Echonetdaily that, ‘This idea [Sandy Creek Koala Park] has great merit and I encourage the NSW state government to look favourably at it. It’s vitally important that we protect our precious koalas and their habitat.’

In their efforts to double Koala populations, Government Saves two Koalas while logging the shit out of homes of hundreds

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-23/guula-ngurra-koala-country-national-park-opens/12587296

The new Guula Ngurra National Park is about 25 kilometres north-west of Bowral and 3,358 hectares in size.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the park played an important role in supporting koala habitat in the area "There have been two sightings in two particular areas within this area where koalas are living, but clearly it is not enough," she said.

[Matt Kean] "This is just the beginning — we have a lot more to do."

[what an understatement, just 2 Koalas, really!]

https://www.murrayvalleystandard.com.au/story/6891545/new-national-park-opens-to-protect-koalas-for-future-generations/

Important koala habitat will be protected for future generations with the creation of Guula Ngurra National Park.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the creation of the Southern Highlands park, gazetted on August 23, would secure the future of koalas in the wild.

[doubling the park's population is easy, though will it save Koalas?]

https://happymag.tv/koalas-lost-82-of-their-homes-in-the-bushfires-and-logging-hasnt-stopped/

The bushfires have resulted in a loss of up to 82% of Koala habitats, with over two million hectares destroyed.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped NSW from banning logging and deforestation in their habitats. James Tremain, from the Nature Conversation Council of NSW told Vice News that the Forestry Corporation hasn’t stopped logging their already rare habitats and that “it’s a scandal that the government isn’t doing what’s required to prevent the extinction of one of our most iconic species.”

However, if the Forestry Corporation is so intent on fulfilling this promise then NSW forests will be completely stripped bare and it will take decades to ever recover from such ruin.

Tremain also told Vice News that “unfortunately for koalas, they tend to like the same kinds of trees that loggers like—so they’re in direct competition” and that “the main extinction pressure that’s placed on koalas is habitat loss, primarily from logging for timber production or land clearing for agriculture. And although there is a desire for the government to do the right thing, there are powerful industry interests to prevent it from doing what has to be done.”

.... and accelerates landclearing

https://www.ausleisure.com.au/news/the-environmental-defenders-office-identifies-nsw-law-failures-to-protect-koalas

Marking the third anniversary of the commencement of the NSW native vegetation laws, a new report from Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) identifies 10 areas of regulatory failure and confirms the law has facilitated a skyrocketing return to broadscale land clearing in NSW – threatening the koala with extinction due to permitted destruction of habitat.

On 25 August 2017, a new legal framework for regulating land clearing and impacts on biodiversity commenced in NSW. The framework featured a strong emphasis on deregulation, particularly for land clearing in rural areas. Previous laws that prevented broadscale land clearing unless it was shown to maintain or improve environmental outcomes were repealed in favour of expanded self-assessable codes and a more flexible biodiversity offsets scheme.

Walmsley advises “under this law, the balance has tipped significantly against ecologically sustainable development, with a return to broadscale land clearing in NSW.

“After a three-year experiment in deregulation, it is time to restore the balance to NSW native vegetation laws to ensure healthy, productive and resilient landscapes for generations to come.”

To access the report go to https://www.edo.org.au/publication/report-nsw-native-vegetation-law/

Though in late news

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/84m-to-support-wildlife-protection-plan-for-cumberland-plain-20200826-p55pcq.html

The Berejiklian government will spend $84 million to protect wildlife on the Cumberland Plain, including installing 120 kilometres of fencing and planting 100,000 trees.

The plan, unveiled on Wednesday, was a "once-in-a-generation commitment" to support koalas and other biodiversity in the fast-expanding housing zone in Sydney's south-west, Planning Minister Rob Stokes said.

"Rather than assessing the biodiversity impact of individual development applications on an ad-hoc basis, we've identified upfront the key areas that need to be protected," Mr Stokes said. "Too often the environment has been an afterthought in urban planning."

The plan also includes the creation of a new koala reserve to protect the marsupial population in the Georges River region. South-west Sydney is home to some of the healthiest koala colonies in NSW.

Mr Kean said he would instruct staff to proceed with plans to turn the koala reserve into a new national park "as soon as possible". The first stage will require the purchase of about 700 hectares from private landholders, tapping about $40-50 million of the available funds.

The Deputy Chief Scientist found the proposed habitat corridor linking the Nepean and Georges colonies would need to be widened through revegetation to as much as 425 metres.

Labor's environment spokeswoman Kate Washington said the local community and Labor had supported the creation of a 4000-hectare Georges River national park.

"This is half the size it needs to be, so this announcement shows just how desperate the government is for a headline without taking the necessary steps to deserve that headline," she said.

https://www.aap.com.au/new-koala-reserve-to-protect-sydney-colony/

[Kean] “The Georges River Koala Reserve will protect up to 1885 hectares of existing koala habitat and enhance the connectivity of fragmented patches of important habitat, including protecting the important north-south koala corridor so this iconic species can move about safely,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

NSW will spend $84 million in the first five years planting 100,000 trees in the reserve to restore koala habitat and to install 120 kilometres of koala fencing.

The draft Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan will be on public exhibition until September 25.

Koalas are back out west

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/koalas-sighted-once-again-in-the-pilliga-forest/12588396

In very good news, koalas have been sighted once again in the Pilliga Forest of north-west NSW.

Once a stronghold for the koala, and home to one of the largest populations in NSW, the Pilliga koalas were pronounced 'extinct' only two months ago by the NSW Parliamentary koala inquiry.

Over the past decade or so, thousands of koalas had died from long periods of heat stress and drought.

But now, individuals have been sighted or heard in the east, south and west of the Pilliga.

[podcast]

And we have a new coastal hospital

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-25/special-koala-hospital-approved-for-nsw-north-coast/12593198

A New South Wales conservation group has been given the green light to operate the first specialised koala hospital in the Northern Rivers.

The Friends of the Koala group has been granted a licence by the NSW Veterinarian Practitioners Board to operate the specialist hospital.

Friends of the Koala acting president Susannah Keogh said the hospital had been outfitted with the latest equipment, including X-rays, ultrasounds and blood machines.

Conservation groups in the Tweed Shire fear the recent Duranbah bushfire, on the edge of the Cudgen Nature Reserve, may have killed or injured some of the region's vulnerable koala population.

Head of Team Koala Jenny Hayes said there were between 50 and 250 koalas left in the Tweed area.

"It's devastating that the bushfire burned in well-known koala habitat," says Ms Hayes.

Impacts of burning on macropods, some more dodgy conclusions from limited studies

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/planned-fires-can-spare-threatened-species-if-kept-small-research-20200820-p55npe.html

Planned bushfires can reduce weeds with only limited impacts on threatened marsupial species provided they are kept small enough to leave places for the animals to find refuge from predators, new research has found.

Scientists from the Southern Cross University used remote cameras to track the response to prescribed burns in parts of the Gondwana World Heritage Area in northern NSW. Of particular interest was how the endangered black-striped wallaby and the vulnerable-listed long-nosed potoroo and red-legged pademelon would respond.

One scientist not involved in the study also cautioned against extending the findings from prescribed burns to wildfires. Similarly, while remote cameras can provide useful data, the results were too short term to reveal longer term trends and don't provide insights into the abundance of the studied species.

Another researcher, Phil Zylstra, an adjunct associate professor at Curtin University, noted the paper contained qualified conclusions.

"After burning at a very small scale, they said that their burn may not have caused damage to the threatened species," Professor Zylstra said. "Then, without waiting to see whether lantana would now increase as expected due to their burn, they said that more burning should really be looked into."

Mr McHugh said lantana was "a tangent" to the research.

"The historic absence of disturbance such as fire (frequency) may allow lantana to persist and invade," he said. "Even if frequent fire doesn't completely eliminate lantana, it may suppress it enough to allow grasses and pioneer native species to develop and persist."

David Lindenmayer summarises research on burning and logging (focus on Central Highlands) in part of this online presentation

https://www.facebook.com/WarburtonEnvironment/videos/905311406917377/

Locating homes to protect others homes

https://theconversation.com/the-nsw-bushfire-inquiry-found-property-loss-is-inevitable-we-must-stop-building-homes-in-such-fire-prone-areas-145028?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20August%2027%202020%20-%201714016554&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20August%2027%202020%20-%201714016554+CID_04b83ce205a186eba0a651eedfd0d677&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=The%20NSW%20bushfire%20inquiry%20found%20property%20loss%20is%20inevitable%20We%20must%20stop%20building%20homes%20in%20such%20fire-prone%20areas

But clearing and burning vegetation will hurt our native flora and fauna, which is still recovering from the fires. Rather than clearing land to reduce the bushfire risk, we must accept we live on a fire-prone continent and improve our urban planning.

Importantly, with fires set to become more frequent and severe under climate change, we must stop choosing to live in bushland and other high-risk areas.

Building homes in high bushfire risk areas requires a combination of land clearing to reduce flammable material such as dry vegetation, and ensuring your home has a fire-resilient design.

But we should not continue to develop into these high risk areas, as the associated land clearing is too significant to our ecosystems and may still result in houses being lost.

Rather than trying to modify the environment by clearing trees, we must plan better to avoid high risk bushfire areas.

While each community should decide how it develops, land rezoning and planning rules should not allow continued expansion into high bushfire risk areas.

Tentative recovery 

https://theconversation.com/need-a-mood-lift-weve-tracked-4-ways-australias-environment-has-repaired-itself-in-2020-144949?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20August%2027%202020%20-%201714016554&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20August%2027%202020%20-%201714016554+CID_04b83ce205a186eba0a651eedfd0d677&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Need%20a%20mood%20lift%20Weve%20tracked%204%20ways%20Australias%20environment%20has%20repaired%20itself%20in%202020

In the central and northern NSW regions which burnt earlier in the fire season and received plentiful rains, recovery was relatively swift – more than 63% of lost leaf area had returned by June 2020.

But in the areas burnt in early 2020, recovery has been slow. The burnt forests in the far south of NSW and East Gippsland did not receive good rains until very recently. Also, much of areas burnt in early 2020 are found in the mountains of the NSW-Victoria border region, where cool autumn and winter temperatures have paused plant growth until spring.

Leaf area recovery is not a good measure of biodiversity. Much of the increase will have been due to rapid leaf flush from fire tolerant trees and undergrowth, including weeds. Some damage to ecosystems and sensitive species will take many years to recover, while some species may well be lost forever.

In the long term, climate change remains the greatest risk to our agriculture and ecosystems. Ever-increasing summer temperatures kill people, livestock and wildlife, dry out soil and vegetation, and increase fire risk. In 2020, high temperatures also caused the third mass coral bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef in five years. 

Bushfire inquiry ignores wildlife and support more burning and clearing

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/nsw-accepts-all-76-recommendations-of-inquiry-into-summer-bushfires-and-admits-link-to-climate-change

Landowners across NSW will be obliged to conduct more hazard-reduction burns on their properties and take an active role in bushfire preparation after the NSW government accepted all 76 recommendations of an independent bushfire inquiry.

Landowners in fire-prone areas of NSW will be required to do their own hazard-reduction burns, and the NSW RFS will be permitted to intervene if they fail to do so.

The report also recommends more hazard-reduction burns in closer proximity to endangered communities and the performance of hazard-reduction burns and water bombing at night.

Indigenous cultural burning techniques will also be examined in greater detail.

Ms Berejiklian admitted climate change had played a major role in the summer's fires, with authorities seeing things "they have never seen before in decades of firefighting".

"There were unprecedented conditions coupled with the drought, the fuel loads in some areas, but moreover that the climate is changing and we have to accept and expect that part of the ferocity we saw was a combination of those things," she said.

https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6184601743001

The report into the New South Wales’ bushfires has been handed down with the state government accepting all 76 recommendations, and while some are practical, many “are just pathetic” says Sky News host Chris Kenny.

“There are recommendations for protocols and training for firefighters on wildlife rescue, I mean please a Koala rescue push stemming from Twitter and the nightly news,” he said. However, there was "little focus on climate change, which is a relief," he said.

“But crucially there's a strong focus on fuel reduction”. Mr Kenny said he has his "quibbles with a few things" in the report, but it ultimately is useful and very practical in focusing on fuel reduction and some of the planning issues.

Governments and Loggers remain in denial

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/23/native-forests-why-a-court-ruling-is-another-blow-to-logging-in-victoria-and-tasmania

Forestry agencies owned by the Victorian and Tasmanian governments have both conceded something they have been avoiding saying: that their logging of native forests isn’t considered up to scratch.

In the space of three days earlier this month, VicForests and Sustainable Timber Tasmania – the former Forestry Tasmania – revealed they had not achieved Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, considered the international gold standard for forest management.

In new orders handed down on Friday, Justice Debra Mortimer banned logging in 67 coupes. Observers said it created a situation where VicForests could be risking further legal action if it attempted to log other coupes in the region, and could set a precedent for other areas covered by regional forest agreements between the federal and state governments.

[Amelia Young] “That message is: get real. It’s 2020. Why are you still logging old-growth and threatened species habitat?” she said.

“The auditors are alive to it, the courts are alive to it, the marketplace is alive to it. The Australian public don’t want to see old-growth forests logged and threatened species sent to extinction.”

[Tasmania] The points of failure were significant. The auditors found it had logged old-growth areas that could have been habitat and nesting trees for the critically endangered swift parrot despite having received expert advice that they should be protected. Scientists have found the parrot could be extinct within 11 years. The auditors found the agency considered the expert advice, but decided not to follow it.

One of the coupes that was logged despite a recommendation it should be protected is listed in the report as BB025A. When Guardian Australia visited this area in the Huon Valley, south of Hobart, in May 2019 it had been clear-felled and the stumps burned.

Suzette Weeding, who is responsible for land management at Sustainable Timber Tasmania, told the ABC the agency remained committed to achieving FSC certification. Its plan included running trials in which large individual large trees critical to the swift parrot would be left standing as the area around it was logged.

https://tasmps.greens.org.au/parliament/native-forest-logging

[This documents the Greens attempts to get a motion up to stop logging, details why the FSC auditors refused to accredit logging of Swift Parrot homes and oldgrowth, process failures and more]

Western Australia simmers

https://www.busseltonmail.com.au/story/6892644/hundreds-turn-out-to-rally/?cs=12

Hundreds of people turned out to the town centre of Margaret River for the Forest Rally on Saturday.

The rally was organised by Margaret River Environment Centre, WA Forest Alliance and South West Forest Defenders to highlight how every day in the South West Region, an area of native forest the size of 10 football fields is to be logged or cleared.

"At the moment we have a handful of people doing a lot," he said.

"We need a lot of people doing a little."

Under the cover of COVID the Federal Government hands environmental laws to States

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/morrison-government-resurrects-abbott-s-one-stop-shop-environment-laws-20200827-p55ptw.html

The controversial "one-stop shop" environment approval system the Abbott government tried and failed to create is being resurrected under a Morrison government bill introduced to Parliament on Thursday.

The Streamlining Environmental Approvals Bill brought by Environment Minister Sussan Ley would create a "one-touch regime" for assessments of major projects, which would hand state governments responsibility for approval and management of major project development impacts on threatened species, habitat and biodiversity as well as World Heritage areas.

Labor, the Greens and several crossbench MPs and Senators havevoiced objection to the bill, but the government is expected to have the numbers for it to pass.

Ms Ley said she is rushing to change the EPBC Act to help business and she would increase environmental protections as she did so. She said more changes would follow to reflect Mr Samuel's final report - which is still deep in consultation with experts.

The Environment Minister said in June she would create national standards to regulate environmental impacts when she announced plans to change the laws, but the bill before Parliament does not contain them.

She said the changes to the EPBC would "reduce regulatory burden, accelerate job-creating projects, promote economic activity and create certainty around environmental protections".

https://www.miragenews.com/environment-bill-a-disaster-for-koalas-bilbies/

As Australia’s wildlife faces an extinction crisis, proposed amendments to the national environment law contain nothing designed to improve environmental protection or save national treasures like the koala and bilby, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.

https://www.catholicoutlook.org/catholic-environmentalist-says-australia-has-failed-as-gods-caretakers-of-earth-following-interim-report/

Professor Graeme Samuel recently released an interim report for his review of Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, saying the act was “ineffective” and “is not fit to address current or future environmental challenges”.

“Australia’s natural environment and iconic places are in an overall state of decline and are under increasing threat,” he said in the interim report.

“The current environmental trajectory is unsustainable.

Ms Remond said Australia needed “a great set of laws that would stop extinctions from happening and to look after God’s Creation here”

Power kills people

The report, titled Lethal Power, was put together by a group of scientists, researchers, and medical professionals, including former Australian of the year Professor Fiona Stanley, coal pollution expert Dr Aidan Farrow, and economist and former leader of the federal Liberal Party, Dr John Hewson.

It finds that pollution from Australia’s 22 remaining black and brown coal power stations is responsible for 800 premature deaths, 14,000 asthma symptoms among children, and 850 cases of low birth weight in newborns each year.

“The evidence is in; Air pollution from burning coal kills,” said Hewson in a statement on Wednesday, accompanying the report’s release.

[Hewson needs to realise that burning wood does too]

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/jakarta-air-pollution-coal-power-plant-covid-lockdown-crea-study/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=5c2cbe37d1-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-5c2cbe37d1-77229786&mc_cid=5c2cbe37d1&mc_eid=c0875d445f

To further narrow down the sources of transboundary air pollution in Jakarta, the researchers focused on pollutants emitted from coal-fired power plants. They found that these pollutants were blowing into the city from plants up to 100 kilometers (60 miles) away.

“What we found is that health impacts of coal-fired power plants’ pollution on the Greater Jakarta population, operating within 100 km of the city, are responsible for an estimated 2,500 premature deaths in Greater Jakarta [annually], mainly from PM2.5,” Suarez said.

The researchers used the same methodology as that in a Harvard study on the burden of disease from coal plants in Southeast Asia.

The negative health impacts include new cases of asthma, asthma-related emergency hospital visits, premature births, increased prevalence of disabilities related to stroke, respiratory diseases and diabetes, as well as increased periods of sick leave.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the impact of air pollution even more pronounced. A study by Harvard researchers shows that people in U.S. counties with long-term exposure to high PM2.5 levels are 8% more likely than residents of less polluted areas to die from COVID-19, which causes respiratory complications.

A study of 324 Chinese cities also linked high PM2.5 and NO2 levels to an up to 22% increase in COVID-19 cases. Another study found that while city lockdowns across China resulted in lower air pollution levels, PM2.5 concentrations were still more than four times higher than what the World Health Organization considers safe. The authors of that study linked the persistently high PM2.5 figures to the burning of coal for heating.

Asia poised for worst combination of fire and COVID

https://forestsnews.cifor.org/67004/a-perfect-storm-fire-haze-and-a-global-health-crisis?fnl=en

Southeast Asian nations are preparing for the possibility of an environmental emergency, exacerbated by the health crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Poised on the brink of the regional wildfire season — which usually peaks in August and September — researchers, officials and civil society groups are concerned that the impact of the pandemic could boost the incidence and severity of uncontrolled fires, if mobility limitations and stretched resources get in the way of prevention and firefighting efforts.

They are also worried that haze could exacerbate coronavirus impacts across the region.

And in America's drier country fire is converting forest to grassland

https://phys.org/news/2020-08-forests-wildfire-recover-grasslands.html

A new University of Colorado Boulder-led study offers an unprecedented glimpse, suggesting that when forests burn across the Southern Rocky Mountains, many will not grow back and will instead convert to grasslands and shrublands.

"We project that post-fire recovery will be less likely in the future, with large percentages of the Southern Rocky Mountains becoming unsuitable for two important tree species—ponderosa pine and Douglas fir,"

And compared to regions that burned in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the more recent burn areas failed to bounce back.

"This study and others clearly show that the resilience of our forests to fire has declined significantly under warmer, drier conditions," said coauthor Tom Veblen, professor of geography at CU Boulder.

"The big takeaway here is that we can expect to have an increase in fire continue for the foreseeable future, and, at the same time, we are going to see much of our land convert from forest to non-," said Veblen.

The tropics are coming

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/hotter-oceans-make-the-tropics-expand-polewards/

LONDON, 27 August, 2020 – The tropics are on the march and US and German scientists think they know why: hotter oceans have taken control.

Across the globe, things don’t look good for places like California, which has already suffered some of its worst droughts and fires on record, and  Australia, where drought and fire if possible have been even worse.

Researchers have observed tropical fish moving into cooler waters; they have warned that some tropical plant species may soon find temperatures too high for germination; they have mapped tropical cyclones hitting further north and southwith time, and doing more damage; and they have seen evidence that tropical diseases could soon advance even into temperate Europe.

The connection was clear: excess heat that had been building up in the subtropical oceans ever since global warming began had driven both tropical edges and ocean gyres towards the poles.

That is, the shift in the tropics wasn’t just one of those slow pulses of expansion and retraction, of cyclic change, that happen in a complex world. And more precisely, the tropics were expanding more clearly in those places where the gyres moved poleward.

Pines are that cool, but rainforests are way cool

https://www.miragenews.com/local-cooling-provided-by-broad-leaved-trees-in-europe/

... broad-leaved trees reduce land surface temperatures during hot extremes more effectively than needle-leaved trees. This finding is based on a statistical analysis of high temporal and spatial resolution satellite remote sensing observations over Europe. Depending on region, the land surface temperatures of broad-leaved forests are between 0.5-1.8°C lower than the temperature of coniferous forests.

[Jonas Schwaab] “This means that broad-leaved trees reflect more sunlight and hence less energy at the earths’ surface is converted into heat”. Several studies have shown that broad-leaved trees evaporate more water during growing season than needle-leaved trees, which leads to further cooling. ...differences between individual tree species could also be substantial”

The recently published results are relevant for climate adaptation measures. For example, it could be useful to increase the fraction of broad-leaved trees in forests or in cities to achieve a local cooling effect during hot extremes.

Fungals monopolies saving forests

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/hidden-webs-fungi-protect-some-forests-drought-leave-others-vulnerable

The future of the world’s flora may depend as much, if not more, on what’s below the ground as what’s above. Beneath 90% of all plants lies an invisible support system—subterranean fungal partners that form a network of filaments connecting plants and bringing nutrients and water to their roots. In return, the plants provide a steady supply of carbon to the fungi. Now, researchers are learning that these hidden partners can shape how ecosystems respond to climate change.

The right fungal partners can help plants survive warmer and drier conditions, according to a study reported earlier this month at the online annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America. But other studies at the meeting showed climate change can also disrupt these so-called mycorrhizal fungi, possibly speeding the demise of their host plants. “The picture is becoming clearer that we really cannot ignore the responses of mycorrhizal fungi to climate change,” says Matthias Rillig, an ecologist at the Free University of Berlin.

These fungal associates come in two forms. Arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM), common in tropical and some temperate forests as well as fields and meadows, invade root cells and extend thin hairs called hyphae into the soil. Ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi, in contrast,... settle on the outside of roots, and their networks of hyphae give rise to the mushrooms that pop up on moist forest floors.

Monitoring conducted by B4WARMED has already shown that the warmer, drier climate of recent years is taking a toll on the boreal forest. What role any change in the EM fungi is playing is not yet clear, but “the alteration of mycorrhizal fungal communities in response to climate change is deeply concerning,” Fernandez says.

 The B4WARMED results “show that there may be some major shifts in both above- and belowground communities in the future,” says Sarah Sapsford, an ecologist at the University of Canterbury. “What we see now we may not see again.”

“We found that ectomycorrhizal fungi played a critical role in drought tolerance,” Gehring reported ...

... The dominant mycorrhizae can help lock a forest into a stable state. Tree measurements taken at 5-year intervals at each plot showed an AM tree was at least 10 times more likely to take root in an AM forest than in an EM forest and twice as likely to survive. Meanwhile, EM trees were more likely to thrive in EM forests.

The fungi may enforce this monopoly by altering the soil in ways that favor specific species—for example by controlling nitrogen levels. A more established fungal network could also help young trees endure heavy shade that interferes with photosynthesis, or older trees withstand drought or diseases. ...

Trees worth more alive than dead

GRUNDY COUNTY, Tenn.—For much of human history, the way to make money from a tree was to chop it down. Now, with companies rushing to offset their carbon emissions, there is value in leaving them standing.

The good news for trees is that the going rate for intact forests has become competitive with what mills pay for logs in corners of Alaska and Appalachia, the Adirondacks and up toward Acadia. That is spurring landowners to make century long conservation deals with fossil-fuel companies, which help the latter comply with regulatory demands to reduce their carbon emissions.

For now, California is the only U.S. state with a so-called cap-and-trade system that aims to reduce greenhouse gasses by making it more expensive over time for firms operating in the state to pollute. Preserving trees is rewarded with carbon-offset credits, a climate-change currency that companies can purchase and apply toward a tiny portion of their tab.

Though the genocide continues

https://www.dailypioneer.com/2020/columnists/importance-of-forests.html

Felling a tree is murder. Felling an entire forest is genocide. People have argued that India has sufficient land under forests and there is no harm in felling some of them to make way for development, particularly when forests can be regrown elsewhere. They are grievously wrong. First, plants are feeling, communicating, mutually caring and benevolent living beings that need to be treated with respect and not cut down to suit human convenience. Second, planted forests can never be the same as the ones existing over the ages.

... Bose held that plants were fully cognisant of changes in their environment and responded visibly to stimuli, including slight fluctuations in light caused by passing clouds. Also, the transmission of nervous impulses determined functions like growth, respiration and motor activity. He also observed spontaneous pulsatory movements in plants like heart beat in animals...

Wohlleben further points out that trees “communicate by means of olfactory, visual and electrical signals.” Trees are social beings. Those belonging to the same species communicate with one another through an intricate network of fungal threads connected to their root systems by means of which they exchange carbon and other nutrients among themselves. This, Wohlleben says, “leads to the conclusion that forests are superorganisms with interconnections, much like ant colonies.”

Besides what forests do for individual trees they comprise, they contribute in critical ways to human survival. They induce rainfall. They capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and transform it into biomass through photosynthesis and accumulate it in the form of biomass, deadwood and litter and in forest soils. Deforestation and harvesting fires, besides respiration and oxidation, release carbon from forests and increase atmospheric pollution. Further, deforestation destroys the habitats of wild animals, which not only enhances the rate of extinction of species — which stands roughly at an alarming 3,000 of them every year globally — but increases human-animal conflicts.

The argument that all the losses listed above can be compensated for by the planting of new forests does not hold.

David Attenborough has had enough

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8662633/Sir-David-Attenborough-says-need-rewild-world-vegetarian.html

Sir David Attenborough has said we need to 'rewild the world' by planting more forests and switch to a vegetarian diet in order to save the Earth.

Speaking ahead of his new Netflixdocumentary film A Life On Our Planet, the 94-year-old naturalist warned it 'cannot support millions of meat eaters'.

Calling on his decades of experience chronicling the natural world, he called for action to be taken immediately to save the global 'pristine' ecosystem that is 'heading for disaster'.

'If we had a mostly plant-based diet we could increase the yield of the land. We have an urgent need for free land. Forests are fundamental to recovery - bio-centres of diversity.

'The wilder and more diverse the more effective. We must grow palm and soya on deforested lands. Nature is our biggest ally.'

'If we act now, we can put it right. This pristine of ecosystems is heading for disaster. Our imprint is global.

'There's little left for the world. We have completely destroyed it. That is my witness statement, the story of global decline during a lifetime. If we continue on our current course the damage will be eclipsed by the damage that comes next. 

'Scientists predict by 2030 the rainforest turns into a dry savanna, altering the global water cycle. The Arctic becomes ice-free, global warming increases, frozen soils release methane and accelerate climate change dramatically.

'By 2080 global food production enters crisis, soils overused, weather more unpredictable. The planet becomes four degrees warmer, large parts of the world uninhabitable.

'A sixth mass extinction is well underway. Our garden of Eden will be lost. I wish I wasn't involved in this struggle. I wish I wasn't there.

'We must rewild the world. Rewilding the world is easier than you think. A century from now our planet could be a wild place again.

 

21 August 2020


NEFA proposes Sandy Creek Koala Park

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/08/nefa-proposes-7000-hectare-sandy-creek-koala-park/

The North East Forest Alliance is proposing that 7,000 ha of public land south-west of Casino, on the Richmond River lowlands, become the Sandy Creek Koala Park. The primary aim would be to restore koalas, but this would also help to protect another 39 threatened species, nectar yields, tree hollows, carbon storage and stream flows.

‘Given the prognosis that koalas are likely to become extinct in the wild by 2050 if we continue “business as usual”, and the devastating impact of the 2019 fires on the Banyabba Koala population, protecting known significant habitat to allow koala populations to recover is more important than ever,’ said Mr Pugh.

‘Protecting this forest offsets the CO2 emissions of a medium sized town such as Kyogle or Maclean.

‘Similarly protection will recover the 14,000 megalitres per annum of streamflows into the Richmond River lost by past logging, which now has a minimum value of $7 million per annum.’

Mr Pugh argues that the proposed park would provide a major economic boost to Casino and the region, noting that for every 10,000 visitors attracted, that would generate $1.3 million per year in regional spending, and 10.6 jobs.

The complete 212 page proposal for the Sandy Creek Koala Park can be viewed here.

Red Rebels focus attention on Myrtle

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/08/are-the-forests-koalas-and-wildlife-worth-saving-red-rebels-say-yes/

Logging koala habitat that was severely burnt out during the recent and devastating Black Summer fires appears to be in opposition to the NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean’s statement that, ‘Koalas are the most iconic example of our mismanagement of the environment, and we’ve got to say “enough is enough”.’

Bearing witness to both the devastation of the fires and to the future devastation that the planned logging will have on both the forest and the koala population Northern Rivers Red Rebels (NRRR) joined with other Australians last Sunday to mark their concern.

‘We were there to bear witness,’ said Cindy Lou Vallet of the NRRR .

‘We go in and are part of the forest; sending love and peace into the forest. We were there to make a statement about the [forest’s] importance and how needed these trees are. This forest has been logged and then ravaged by fire. There is so little left. We go in and walk in slow motion and express our feelings in the hope that some decisions will be changed.’

Marie Reilly from Extinction Rebellion highlighted how fragile the ecosystem in this area is as a consequence of the drought that was then followed by the unprecedented Black Summer fires.

‘With drought, bushfires and decades of logging – the Banyabba koala population is barely hanging in there. This forest desperately needs regeneration and care, not logging,’ she told The Echo.

‘It is reprehensible that the EPA approved this logging without first assessing the fire impacts on the Banyabba ARKS or the koalas within the logging areas,’ said Mr Pugh.

They are shutting down the south

14 August 2020, Media Release

Logging ceased  in bushfire affected operations in the Southern Region of NSW yesterday following suspension of logging operations in Mogo Compartment 173/161 on Thursday 13 August. 

This follows the 23 July 2020 EPA Orders Stop Work on Forestry Operations in South Brooman State Forest.  Both logging operations were subject to bushfire affected operations and site specific conditions to retain all hollow bearing trees.

And the courts are (hopefully) shutting down logging:

Nicola Rivers & Elizabeth McKinnon, Enviro Justice Aust report:

The Federal Court just delivered final orders for our historic win for Friends of Leadbeater's Possum that protects the forests subject to the case from logging!

Justice Mortimer’s orders today grant final injunctions to protect the 66 areas of forest home to the threatened Greater Glider and critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum subject to the case. 

The judge also made formal declarations of unlawful logging by VicForests in those 66 areas and ordered VicForests pay Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum’s costs of running the case.  

This is huge and sets a national precedent!

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/aug/21/bob-brown-launches-legal-challenge-to-native-forest-logging-in-tasmania

The former Greens leader Bob Brown has launched a legal challenge to native forest logging in Tasmania, claiming it is inconsistent with federal environment law.

The case by the Bob Brown Foundation, lodged in the federal court on Thursday, challenges what has been seen as an effective exemption from environment laws granted to state-sanctioned logging under regional forest agreements between Canberra and the states.

It argues the Tasmanian regional forest agreement is not valid as it lacks a legally enforceable requirement that the state must protect threatened species.

The foundation says if the case were successful it would consider similar action against federal-state forest agreements in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia. It said the current rules “essentially allows the state government to make up the rules as it suits, and gives no guaranteed protection for our wildlife and environment”.

The Australian Forest Products Association described the legal action as a “callous attack” on forestry workers by an “extremist activist group”.

The federal court on Friday make its final orders in the VicForests case, which was brought by the Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum, a community conservation group. It issued an injunction to prevent logging in 66 central highlands forestry areas, known as coupes, and ordered the agency to pay its opponent’s costs.

Danya Jacobs, a senior lawyer with Environmental Justice Australia, which represented Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum, said the order meant VicForests should put a stop to logging in any areas where the possum and the endangered greater glider were found and to protect surrounding habitat.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/bob-brown-foundation-launches-legal-action-against-native-forest-logging-in-tasmania

The challenge, lodged with the federal court on Thursday night, argues the Tasmanian regional forest agreement does not comply with a federal act.

The Bob Brown Foundation said the agreement doesn't ensure the protection of endangered species and lacks proper enforcement mechanisms.

Koala day of action

newsofhearea.com.au

Local participants were unanimous in expressing in expressing their dismay at declining koala populations and urged the state government to urgently address the issue.

Bellingen organiser, Kevin Evans said "Koalas are the emblem of our forests and you can't have a successful economy without a healthy habitat".

http://www.pittwateronlinenews.com/Call-for-Pittwater-Support-to-Save-Koalas.php

Environmentalists are calling on the Pittwater community to join today’s state-wide actions to save koalas from extinction in NSW - a fate experienced by our local population.

To put pressure on the NSW government to protect that habitat from development and logging, one of the actions staged by koala activists and environmental organisations will be a COVID-safe rally outside NSW MP Rob Stokes’ office at 11am today.

Koala survival is a poignant issue for many in Pittwater, where long-time residents can remember the marsupials living in their gardens. 

However, a 1970 survey discovered the population had declined to 123 animals and only about six were recorded in 1989. The last known sighting was in Avalon in 2006. 

Ecologists say their demise was due to increasing development fragmenting their habitat and forcing them to face dangers on the ground - such as cars and dogs – while they moved between trees.

https://www.begadistrictnews.com.au/story/6881455/day-of-action-for-koalas/

Wildlife carers at Potoroo Palace including founder Alexandra Seddon took part in the Save our Koalas day of action on Sunday, August 16.

"The inquiry found that the biggest threat to the koala's survival in NSW was the loss and fragmentation of habitat.

"The time has come for the government to draw and line in the sand and say enough is enough. We know that to save the koala we have to protect their habitat so that's what we're going to do.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/08/a-sunday-to-save-koalas-in-new-south-wales/

From banners and signs to dressing up as our much-loved tree-dwelling marsupials, yesterday was a day to stand up for koalas.

Local residents, koala activists and environmental organisations, including the Bob Brown Foundation, Bellingen Environment Centre, Total Environment Centre, Extinction Rebellion and Save Sydney’s Koalas, staged a statewide Day of Action yesterday to save our koalas.

‘This Sunday hundreds of people across NSW hosted COVID-safe pop-up and virtual protests to demand action from the Premier as well as her Planning Minister Rob Stokes and Environment Minister Matt Kean.

‘The Premier has said she wants to save the Koala. Well, the world is watching Premier, and the only way to save them is to protect their habitat from further destruction now.’

Port Macquarie pulls Koala Plan of Management, while others move forward

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/6884132/planning-to-help-protect-coastal-koalas-hits-another-hurdle/

Significant legislative changes had a knock-on effect when it came to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's draft Coastal Koala Plan of Management.

Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann said there were difficulties regarding the hierarchy of legislation and also the change to the koala SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policy).

Therefore, the council will not proceed to the finalisation of the draft Coastal Koala Plan of Management in its current form.

The council will review its adopted Koala Recovery Strategy, and in due course, consider a recommended work plan which will include the development of a koala plan of management.

https://www.macarthuradvertiser.com.au/story/6890154/campbelltowns-koala-management-plan-approved/

Four years after Campbelltown Council submitted its Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management to the state government, the plan has finally been approved.

The council will now work to align the final version of the plan with the government's Koala State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), which was released in March.

Campbelltown mayor George Brticevic said it was great news to finally have the plan approved.

"This plan of management provides clear planning guidance for residents living in areas of koala habitat while ensuring its preservation is a priority in the planning process," he said.
https://www.miragenews.com/koala-plan-of-management-approved/

First Victoria, now Tassie, what are the green ratbags in FSC up to?

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/northtas/programs/drive/sustainable-timber-tasmania-fsc-certification/12567014

A 2019 Sustainable Timber Tasmania application for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification has been rejected.

The audit report has identified issues with the management and protection of the critically endangered Swift Parrot and old growth forests.

[podcast]

Mercury, August 18, 2020

GOVERNMENT-owned forestry company Sustainable Timber Tasmania has again fallen short of meeting the standards for Forest Stewardship Certification.

The Greens have called for a complete end to native forest logging in Tasmania after the result.

The FSC audit report said STT fell short in the management of swift parrot habitat, the retention of habitat trees associated with harvested areas and assessing the impact of fire and other disturbances on old growth.

[Greens leader Cassy O’Connor] “What we know from the auditors, is that there is no way, Sustainable Timber Tasmania will ever get FSC so long as it keeps logging old growth forests which provide critical habitat,” she said.

“This is on Forests Minister Guy Barnett, who has overseen the government’s forestry GBE’s absolute incapacity to get Forest Stewardship Certification, the acceleration of logging during the COVID months, and the continual driving of Tasmania’s marvellous, native species towards extinction.”

https://tasmps.greens.org.au/media-release/fsc-failure-confirms-liberals-must

Late on Friday, under the cover of a Budget update, so-called ‘Sustainable’ Timber Tasmania finally released the FSC audit report – which they received six months ago, in early February. 

The audit report is damning of the government’s forestry GBE.

In State Parliament this week, the Greens will again move to end native forest logging in Tasmania. 

Protection is the only way, in a climate and biodiversity emergency, to manage Tasmania’s biodiverse, carbon-rich forests.

https://tasmaniantimes.com/2020/08/responses-to-stt-audit-report/

[Podcast and transcript of interview with Greens]

Reptiles hit hard by wildfires

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/15/land-of-the-lizards-victorias-east-gippsland-was-a-refuge-for-threatened-reptiles-the-fires-changed-that?utm_term=5bbd739802c410ca257ee1d41eb5d8fa&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayAUS&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTAU_email

As the Guardian revealed last month, an interim report from 10 scientists estimated that almost 3bn animals were in the path of Australia’s bushfires. More than 2bn of those were squamates – also known as lizards and snakes.

But what does it mean to lose millions – perhaps billions – of reptiles from Australia’s landscape?

[David Chapple] “They occur across every single different type of environment and habitat. They’re a part of every food web of every ecosystem.”

[Prof Rick Shine] “These reptiles are incredibly important in a wide range of Australian ecosystems. Taking them out through threats like bushfires will have a strong impact on our ecosystem function and a huge impact on biodiversity.”

The research found Australia had 1,020 species of lizard and snake, of which 96% exist nowhere else in the world.

About 7% of Australia’s species are considered threatened and among those the research found one in five existed entirely outside protected areas such as national parks.

“These creatures are pretty resilient, but the difficulty comes when we add multiple threatening processes,” Shine says. “It reaches a point where the sum total of challenges becomes too much.”

[Clemann] “If we are genuine about wanting to stop the obvious decline and extinction trajectory of some of these species, then we first need to stop doing harm,” he says.

“If we want them to have the resilience to cope with climate change and disease and fires, then we need to ease all the other pressures that are within our power.”

Smoking is bad for your health

https://horizon-magazine.eu/article/four-times-more-toxic-how-wildfire-smoke-ages-over-time.html

Prof. Nenes is principal investigator of the PyroTRACH project, which is attempting to find out how emissions from wildfires – along with other types of biomass burning, such as domestic wood fires – change in the atmosphere and the impact this has on human health and climate.

One of the key findings the team has made since the five-year project began in 2017 is that particles released from burning vegetation in forest fires become more toxic over time.

Smoke from forest fires can linger in the atmosphere for a couple of weeks as it spreads. While in the air the smoke particles chemically react with trace radicals – molecules with unpaired electrons – to undergo a process known as oxidation. This converts the compounds in the smoke particles into highly reactive compounds. When they are breathed in, these reactive compounds – known as free radicals – can damage cells and tissues in the body.

‘We know that breathing in smoke when you are close to a fire is not good, but we have seen that over time it gets worse – up to four times more toxic a day down the road,’ said Prof. Nenes, referring to some of their experiment results. These results showed smoke samples taken from the air more than five hours after they were released from a fire were twice as toxic than when they were first released and as they aged further in the laboratory the toxicity increased to four times the original levels.

But reactive compounds from wildfire smoke are thought to have a number of short and long-term health effects. 

‘They can make people more prone to infections, can lead to breathing difficulties and leave some people more prone to heart attacks,’ said Prof. Nenes. ‘At the same time the smoke particles also contain carcinogens – polyaromatic hydrocarbons – which also oxidise and become more carcinogenic, increasing the risk of cancers.’

... some of the soot released by fires – known as brown carbon – plays a considerable role in absorbing heat from the sun, and makes global warming worse.

As is Biomass Burning

https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/renewable-energy-industry-runs-roughshod-over-forests,14217

Burning remaining forests for bioenergy is environmental vandalism, says Al Oshlack, founder of the Indigenous Justice Advocacy Network (IJAN). He is a veteran of many successful legal challenges against governments. 

What we’re seeing is a repeat of what happened in Tasmania and the south coast of NSW: massive wood-chipping operations now on an industrial scale. What’s happening is not just logging but mass clear-felling, taking the destruction of our remaining forests to a whole new level.   

The IJAN is chasing forests operations all over the place. To the best of my own knowledge, ten or eleven forest coupes in northern NSW are being clear-felled to be burned as biomass energy. 

Renewable energy focused on burning forests is creating an environmental nightmare in NSW. Logging and clear-felling forests for electricity is a deadly combination with dire consequences. This industry is the last straw in as a scorched earth policy being driven by the Commonwealth and NSW governments.

This is an astounding scenario. Coastal forests being cleared, wildlife struggling trying to survive are deprived of any future, bushfire mortality ignored and no rights for the public to take legal action.

Although the spokesperson for DPIE did not provide the names of the owners of the two licenced facilities, the plants are at Condong and Broadwater owned by Cape Byron Power Pty Ltd. Former sugar mills, once owned by the NSW Sugar Milling Cooperative, they are now co-regeneration plants owned or capitalised by foreign investment.

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/hobart/programs/breakfast/biomass-energy-peg-putt/12564678

Peg Putt does the sums on burning forests for energy

Wood as a power source is more rapidly replaceable than coal. But are the decades it takes to grow a tree enough to replace what we use? Is wood an efficient power generator? And does old or new growth stores more carbon? The answers may surprise you.

[podcast]

... pressure mounts on Drax

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/protests-against-trains-that-fuels-a-power-station

PROTESTS took place along a railway line between Liverpool and a Yorkshire power station today against the burning of wood to generate electricity.

Twelve campaign groups have formed an AxeDrax group. They include Extinction Rebellion, Liverpool-based Save Rimrose Valley, which is working to defend parkland in the city, and Biofuelwatch.

Today’s protests along the railway from Liverpool’s Peel Dock to Drax included demonstrations at stations and banner drops from bridges.

https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/business/extinction-rebellion-set-hold-protests-against-drax-power-station-2939223

"Campaigners will also call on MPs to transfer around £1 billion in UK renewable subsidies from biomass burning power stations like Drax to genuine renewables."

The spokesperson continued: "Drax is already the UK’s single largest emitter of carbon dioxide, burning more wood than any other power station in the world whilst continuing to burn coal. Drax power station has now been given the go ahead to build the country’s largest ever gas power plant and is asking for substantial new subsidies, in addition to the £2.36 million a day it already receives for burning biomass."

https://www.southernenvironment.org/news-and-press/press-releases/yougov-poll-just-23-of-britons-believe-burning-wood-for-electricity-should-be-classified-as-renewable-energy

LONDON – A new online YouGov poll has found fewer than one in four Britons (23%) think electricity generated by burning wood from forests should be classified as ‘renewable energy,’. Additionally, 55% also disagreed with the Government’s continued subsidies for this dirty source of energy as part of the UK’s renewable energy strategy. Currently, the government gives more than £2 million per day in subsidies to power stations that burn biomass.

Instead, 82% of respondents agree that the UK should aim to preserve recent improvements in air quality by switching to energy sources with no associated air pollution emissions. While the public overwhelmingly backs support for wind (80%) and solar energy (82%), only 3% say the Government should help companies that burn wood sourced from forests overseas, the poll found. Nearly all UK biomass is imported.

... The data shows support for the protection of these natural forests and the wildlife that depends on them, with 85% worried about the impact on wildlife if trees in forests are being cut down to generate electricity.

... Last month, the same coalition of environmental advocacy groups launched Cut Carbon Not Forests, a campaign to remove subsidies from companies that burn trees for electricity and shift the savings to genuinely clean and renewable energy solutions.

... opposition to (non-nuclear) power plant in Springfield

https://www.masslive.com/news/2020/08/springfield-city-councilors-raise-concerns-that-house-climate-bill-helps-biomass-plant.html

SPRINGFIELD — City councilors opposed to plans for a biomass plant on Page Boulevard have urged the state Legislature to eliminate a clause in a climate bill they claim is favorable to the project.

A House version of the bill (H.4993) would grant state subsidies to biomass projects by classifying them as “non-emitting sources,” Lederman said.

“Commercial biomass incinerators are not renewable energy, period, full stop,” Lederman said in a press release on Thursday.

... and its a big issue in Arizona

https://www.wmicentral.com/news/latest_news/corporation-commission-primary-leaves-fate-of-biomass-mandate-up-in-the-air/article_a14ea100-f617-5439-b309-08228fa07906.html

More importantly for northern Arizona, the general election outcome could determine whether the commission will revisit issuing a biomass mandate considered essential to reviving stalled forest restoration efforts to reduce the odds of town-destroying wildfires.

The key issue for northern Arizona remains the refusal of the current commission to support a “biomass mandate,” which would require APS and others to generate perhaps 90 megwatts of energy annually by burning biomass – mostly small trees and slash from forest thinning projects.

The 4-Forests Restoration Project launched by the Forest Service a decade ago has been stalled mostly for lack of a market for biomass, which makes up about half of the material removed. The 90-megawatt mandate would have provided a market for biomass that would have supported clearing 50,000 acres annually.

Studies suggest that burning biomass is cheaper than burning coal, but more expensive than solar or natural gas.

... and the Netherlands may pull the plug

https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/the-dutch-have-decided-burning-biomass-is-not-sustainable/

The Netherlands should phase out the use of biomass for generating electricity as soon as possible, the advisory board of the Dutch government said in a report presented earlier this month.

In the chemical industry, the building sector and agriculture, biological materials are crucial for the transition to a circular economy, the council writes. But sustainably produced biomass is too scarce to keep using it for the production of heat or electricity, for which other low-carbon and renewable alternatives exist, the report states.

Accordingly, the billions worth of subsidies that were intended for biomass combustion plants should be phased out as well, the advisors say, calling however for measures to preserve “investment security” when designing a phase-out plan.

In anticipation of the government’s new policy, Swedish energy company Vattenfall has already decided to postpone construction of a planned biomass plant in Diemen.

The report from the government advisory group has somewhat pacified a heated public debate around the sustainability of biomass which had gone into overdrive in the Netherlands over the past months.

Back in May, Eric Wiebes, the Dutch minister of economic affairs and climate policy, said that biomass was essential to achieve the country’s targets on renewable energy and carbon emissions reduction.

The Dutch debate may well herald developments at EU level, where the sustainability of biomass for energy purposes is coming under review.

As part of the biodiversity strategy presented on 20 May, the European Commission said it was constantly “assessing the EU and global biomass supply and demand and related sustainability” in order to “better understand and monitor the potential climate and biodiversity risks”.

That process will culminate by end 2020, when “the Commission will publish the results of this work on the use of forest biomass for energy production,” the EU executive said in its biodiversity strategy.

http://biomassmagazine.com/articles/17224/dutch-agency-advises-the-netherlands-to-phase-out-bioenergy

In its report, SER recommends that biomass be used for the highest value applications possible and comply with clear sustainability requirements. As part of that recommendation, SER is calling on the government to support the use of biomass in high-quality applications but phase out the lower value uses of biomass, including power and heating. High value applications described in the report include using biomass for the production of chemicals and materials, including bioplastics or biobased concrete.

During a transition to these high-value uses for biomass, the report recommends biomass could be used for energy production, but only temporarily and where no sustainable alternative is available. The report offers heavy road transport, shipping and aviation as areas where biomass would temporarily be used for energy purposes.

The GAIN report filed with the USDA, however, provides counterpoints to many of SER’s biomass claims. For example, while SER claims there is a limited supply of biomass, the GAIN report cites data from the IPCC, EIA, USDA, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Department of Energy that shows the U.S. can likely supply 1 billion metric tons or more of biomass annually.

And of course the world is getting hotter

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/annual-planetary-temperature-continues-to-rise/

LONDON, 17 August, 2020 – Despite global promises to act on climate change, the Earth continues to warm. The annual planetary temperature confirms that the last 10 years were on average 0.2°C warmer than the first 10 years of this century. And each decade since 1980 has been warmer than the decade that preceded it.

The year 2019 was also one of the three warmest years since formal temperature records began in the 19th century. The only warmer years – in some datasets but not all – were 2016 and 2015. And all the years since 2013 have been warmer than all other years in the last 170.

The link with fossil fuel combustion remains unequivocal: carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere increased by 2.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2019 alone. These now stand at 409 ppm.

The study, in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, is a sobering chronicle of the impact of climate change in the decade 2010-2019...

July 2019 was the hottest month on record. ... The Arctic as a whole was warmer than in any year except 2016. Australia achieved a new nationally average daily temperature high of 41.9°C on 18 December, breaking the previous 2013 record by 1.6°C.

For the first time on record in inland Alaska, when measured at 26 sites, the active layer of permafrost failed to freeze completely. In September, sea ice around the Arctic reached a minimum that tied for the second lowest in the 41 years of satellite records.

Drought conditions led to catastrophic wildfires in Australia, in Indonesia, Siberia and in the southern Amazon forests of Bolivia, Brazil and Peru.

Some forests are loosing their ability to absorb carbon

https://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/26921/20200818/forest-seasonal-carbon-flux-location.htm

Trees soak up around 30 percent of the carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. That being said, they are Earth's greatest allies in fighting climate change and global warming.

For several decades, cold-climate forests in the Northern hemisphere have become even more effective in absorbing carbon as carbon dioxide levels and temperatures continue to rise.

The researchers published their study in PNAS on Monday, August 17. The study reveals that Siberian forests are absorbing less carbon dioxide, increasing their contribution to the annual global carbon flux, compared to other forests in the same latitude.

Their study is the first to quantify how the seasonal cycle of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is affected by the carbon emitted from a specific region during the annual carbon flux. Technically, Earth inhales carbon during spring and summer when trees and plants grow and photosynthesize. The planet exhales carbon dioxide during winter when vegetation is not present.

Researchers noted that changes in the annual seasonal carbon flux have increased over the past decades. The intensity of flux in the Northern hemisphere has gone up 30 to 50 percent since the 1960s, which suggests that a widespread ecological changed happened.

"Siberia has been greening, strengthening its carbon sink and driving increases in seasonal CO2 exchange, but Arctic-boreal North America is showing much more browning under worsening stresses like fires, pests, and droughts," Rogers said.

He added that carbon budgets and models should include forests in Alaska and Canada as they are not usually included in models, and soon they might turn from a carbon sink into becoming a source.

... because forests are dying

https://www.bloombergquint.com/global-economics/mountain-pine-beetle-infestations-are-killing-forests-could-worsen-emissions

A plague of tiny mountain pine beetles, no bigger than a grain of rice, has already destroyed 15 years of log supplies in British Columbia, enough trees to build 9 million single-family homes, and are chewing through forests in Alberta and the Pacific Northwest. Now an outbreak of spruce beetles is threatening to devour even more trees in North America just as similar pests are decimating supplies in parts of Europe, creating a glut of dead and dying logs.

The bugs are thriving as climate change warms winters that would normally keep them at bay, destroying a swath of the world's timber supplies.

... scientists like Carroll say increased climate variability and warmer temperatures are going to boost the number of outbreaks of beetles and other insects in the decades to come. The bugs are able to thrive as forests become stressed ...

Signs of hope ... rewilding Europe

https://au.news.yahoo.com/rewilding-europe-letting-nature-no-034613667.html

The Grand Barry nature reserve in France's southeastern corner is undertaking one of Europe's largest experiments in rewilding.

At a time when reforestation projects -- planting new trees -- are growing in popularity, rewilding aims to let nature do the work by simply leaving ecosystems alone to recover, free from human influence.

Kun says that the goal of rewilding is to create "ecosystems that can work without human intervention".  

This means no tree-planting, no forestry clearance, and no or very little species reintroduction. Just standing back, and letting nature do its thing.

... and replanting rivers in India

Read more at:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/77604187.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/after-ganga-forestry-interventions-to-help-rejuvenate-13-other-major-rivers/articleshow/77604187.cms

NEW DELHI: On the lines of the ongoing programme for river Ganga, the centre has decided to use "forestry interventions" as one of the tools to rejuvenate 13 other major rivers across the country.

Idea behind this move is to grow forests along both sides of these rivers to increase groundwater recharge and reduce erosion. Forests have capacity to hold water and discharge it slowly into rivers - an important component of ensuring uninterrupted flow of water in the rivers and improving the overall hydrological cycle.

 

14 August 2020


Great Koala National Park passes another milestone

Coffs Coast Advocate 11 August

After weeks of negotiations, NSW's Lower House has voted to support a motion to investigate the establishment of the Great Koala National Park (GKNP) in the Coffs Harbour hinterland.

This motion moved by Greens MP Jamie Parker also included the 41 other recommendations made in the recent inquiry into the state's koala population.

The University of Newcastle is currently conducting an economic study into the GKNP to determine the potential for job creation, as well as the impact on job losses in the forestry industry.

Targeting unburnt Koala habitat

https://www.ladbible.com/news/latest-koala-habitats-that-survived-summers-bushfires-are-now-being-logged-20200813

About six months ago, the world was watching in horror as large swathes of Australia were being burnt to a crisp in some of the worst bushfires in decades.

Billions of animals were wiped out over summer and many were heartbroken to see images of koalas in tiny casts being treated for terrifying burns.

Now that the threat of fire has eased, koalas are now facing a new threat: logging.

Kai says state-owned logging agency Forestry Corporation has been logging unburnt koala habitat for months in northern New South Wales and it's unclear what impact this is having on the surviving koala population.

"I went to Lower Bucca State Forest because I knew this was happening and I believe if people see this, they'll do what they can to help keep koalas safe," he said.

Kai has told Vice News: "The fact that there's just been no pause or stocktake from the NSW Government to be like 'let's just see whether this is going to cause impact' is worrying.

https://www.indiatimes.com/trending/environment/koala-habitats-cut-down-australia-bushfire-520237.html

Now there’s a new concern that has cropped up among Climate scientists and conservationists. After the fires that ravaged acres of land, Australian state governments are continuing to log unburned forests that are home to vulnerable koala populations.

In June this year, Stuart Blanch, manager of land clearing and restoration at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Australia, requested the government to protect the animal's habitat saying,“WWF calls on the NSW Premier to rewrite weak land clearing laws to protect koala habitat, greatly increase funding for farmers who actively conserve trees where koalas live, and a transition out of logging koala forests and into plantations.”

Central Coast looking for Koalas

https://coastcommunitynews.com.au/central-coast/news/2020/08/counting-koalas/

Coast Environmental Alliance (CEA) founder, Jake Cassar, has welcomed news that Central Coast Council will progress its Koala Survey program with field surveys scheduled to be completed during the koala breeding season this spring.

The surveys will occur between September and November, when koalas are vocal and able to be detected through passive recording devices.

“There have been over 70 registered sightings of koalas in our area over the past 20 years, and the sightings have been surprisingly widespread.

“The Central Coast can play a pivotal role in the overall survival of this iconic and extremely vulnerable native animal, but our elected leaders need to act now and put a stop to development in or around koala habitat before it’s too late,” he said.

Port Macquarie breeding Koalas

https://www.camdencourier.com.au/story/6868046/program-planning-advances-with-firm-focus-to-rebuild-koala-numbers/

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is making good progress as it sets the foundations for a wild koala breeding program after an international outpouring of generosity.

A GoFundMe campaign launched in response to bushfire devastation raised $7.9 million to fast-track the introduction of the wild koala breeding program and buy and distribute wildlife drinking stations.

Some 140 wildlife drinking stations are in place across NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

The aim is to create a world's best practice wild koala breeding program which other organisations can use as a blueprint.

The koala hospital redevelopment project is in the preconstruction phase.

The redevelopment will be funded through a $5 million grant from the state government and a $1.25 million contribution from the koala hospital.

... while their habitat is cleared

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/aug/07/sussan-ley-urged-to-save-port-stephens-koala-habitat-set-to-be-destroyed-by-quarry

Residents of the New South Wales town of Port Stephens are calling on the federal environment minister, Sussan Ley, to save 52 hectares of koala habitat set to be destroyed by the expansion of a quarry.

The project is on a list of developments the NSW government wants fast-tracked in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and would more than double the quarry’s annual production from 700,000 tonnes a year to 1.5m tonnes to supply the Sydney construction market.

In its decision to approve the quarry expansion, the NSW IPC said the project would have a significant impact on the species but it had accepted the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s assessment that those effects could be managed or mitigated through conditions.

The IPC said the department should reevaluate the policy framework under which the environmental effects of projects on koalas were assessed.

[Parslow Redman] “I’m a mother of three young children and I can’t bear the thought of our kids growing up in a state where we no longer have a koala population,” she said.

“We’ve been talking about koala decline for how many decades? We need to actually start being proactive.”

Koalas can eat eucalypts

https://www.miragenews.com/koala-survival-post-bushfires-given-major-boost-2/

The partnership with Minderoo Foundation will assist researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) examine how koalas recover after fire and how fire impacts their habitat, including if their dietary needs can be met.

“We will examine how fire affects the nutritional quality of koala habitats and eucalypt trees after a fire. Our research is critical for the development of strategies that minimise bushfire impacts on wildlife.

“With koalas facing the very real threats of localised extinctions and widespread habitat loss, as well as reeling from the unprecedented fires we’ve suffered this season in Australia, this is an investment in the long-term survival of one of this nation’s and the world’s most iconic animals.

“We’ve already discovered koalas can digest new, epicormic growth from some of the trees that they usually eat,” ANU co-researcher Dr Karen Ford said.

In addition to examining koalas’ diets, the ANU researchers will track the fate of koalas from fire-affected areas and those that were not taken into care in nearby burnt and unburnt areas. In addition, they will investigate a potential rapid method to provide useful koala heath information from their droppings.

https://www.9news.com.au/national/australia-bush-fires-koala-sanctuary-two-thumbs-money-cooma-air-crash-anu/5244ee42-42c9-4076-aec9-104eac82195a

"The trees grow all these leaves out of their trunk and they're probably quite different nutritionally than the leaves that are normally growing on the trees and we don't really know whether koalas can eat those trees, whether they're as nutritious, whether they're more toxic," Dr Ford said.

"We are seeing that they are finding the trees that have unburnt canopy, and we have seen them eating some of the epicormic growth, so that's the new growth, the new shoots," he said.

"To try and take every animal out, maybe that's not required."

https://science.anu.edu.au/news-events/news/these-koalas-escaped-disaster-now-they-are-getting-second-chance

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/koalas-bushfire-recovery-diet-a-cause-for-hope-20200806-p55j2h.html

But after severe bushfires in the NSW Southern Tablelands, Australian National University research school of biology fellow Karen Ford said she had been surprised to see koalas in burnt forests that appeared to be healthier than many she'd observed before the fires.

"It was a combination of them already being in poor condition from the drought before the fires and the fires taking all their food. And clearly some of them didn't make it in that time. But the ones that did have really picked up."

A big reason for the koalas' good health is now thought to be their diet which, due to the severity of the fires, is currently reliant on green shoots, known as epicormic growth.

Dr Ford and Dr Youngentob offered the 30 koalas recovering at ANU's sanctuary both mature leaves and epicormic growth, and found they preferred the green shoots from certain trees.

"We gave them leaves from eight different tree species and they chose to eat the epicormic growth from half the species from which they normally eat the mature leaves. They also ate epicormic growth from trees where they don't eat the mature leaves," Dr Youngentob said.

The push for Sydney's Koalas grows

https://www.macarthuradvertiser.com.au/story/6876359/council-writing-to-environment-minister-to-seek-support-for-koala-protections/

Campbelltown Council will write to state environment minister Matt Kean requesting immediate support to protect local koala populations.

Councillor Karen Hunt raised the motion at last night's meeting, garnering support from her fellow councillors.

She said she was inspired to raise the motion after reading of Mr Kean's intentions to double the koala population by 2050.

Cr Hunt asked the council to write to Mr Kean requesting "the NSW state government provide immediate support for the preservation and protection of the Campbelltown and south-west koala colonies and habitats by commencing construction of viable, safe and effective crossing points across Appin Road together with the requisite flexi-fencing along Appin Road".

Counting Koalas

https://www.theweek.in/news/sci-tech/2020/08/07/researchers-develop-ai-backed-koala-spotting-system.html

Aussie researchers have published an improved and innovative method for estimating the number of koalas in an area by using drones and an artificial intelligent algorithm.

The study, published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, explains the statistical method that uses the number of koalas automatically detected in infrared images of bushland as a starting point.

VicForests blaming everyone but themselves

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/vicforests-ends-bid-for-sustainability-tick-20200813-p55lhy.html

Victoria’s state logging agency has abandoned its latest attempt to gain sustainability certification from the Forest Stewardship Council Australia, saying it was concerned it would not be fairly assessed because three of the council’s directors are involved in forest activism.

In an online statement, VicForests said it had decided to postpone its attempt to gain certification by the end of 2020, citing concerns over an ongoing Federal Court case and some directors of the council, the local branch of an international sustainability initiative.

“Three directors of FSC Australia ... are leading public activism and advocacy, calling for the complete cessation of native forestry and actively seeking to discredit VicForests," the statement said.

The Federal Court decision prompted hardware giant Bunnings to end its timber supply contract with Victoria's logging agency. Another major customer, Officeworks, has said that by the end of the year all timber for its paper products will come from either FSC-accredited sources or recycled products.

A spokesman for FSC Australia rejected VicForests' concerns over governance.

“As VicForests well knows, all assessments are carried out by independent auditors,” it said. “The FSC itself plays no role in the outcome of the assessment. If they meet the standard, they get the certification.”

FSC under attach from both sides

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/fsc-deforestation-djarum-robert-hartono-pulp-auriga/

  • An environmental NGO that flagged deforestation by two pulpwood companies linked to a Forest Stewardship Council member says the FSC has dragged its feet on carrying out a proper investigation.
  • The companies and the FSC member, a paper mill, are all controlled directly or indirectly by Robert Budi Hartono, Indonesia’s richest person.
  • The complaint was filed last December, but the investigation only began in February this year, and has been put on hold since June because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FSC says.
  • The NGO has questioned the FSC’s delayed response, its non-standard investigation process, and its apparent failure to link the pulpwood companies to the certified paper mill earlier.

Debate continues in the West

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-13/forestry-industry-slams-bid-to-end-native-logging-in-wa/12551382

The peak body for Western Australia's forestry industry has slammed a bid by the state Greens to ban native logging in Western Australia, saying the move is "absurd" and "ill thought-out".

South West Greens MP Diane Evers is expected to introduce a bill into State Parliament today to end native logging in Western Australia and wind up the State-Government run Forest Products Commission.

https://thewest.com.au/news/augusta-margaret-river-times/anti-logging-protesters-rally-ng-b881635405z

Residents concerned over the logging of native forests are urged to attend a rally in Margaret River next weekend.

Memorial Park will host the gathering on Saturday, August 22, at noon.

The rally is endorsed by the Margaret River Regional Environment Centre and the WA Forest Alliance, with some members recently active in protests at the Helms forest coupe east of Margaret River.

Last week, Forest Industries Federation WA executive director Melissa Haslam denied the logging of old-growth forest and said most of Helms was dieback-infested.

Liberals pulling a swift in Tasmania

https://www.miragenews.com/taking-positive-action-to-protect-tasmania-s-swift-parrot/

Guy Barnett, Minister for Resources

The critically endangered Swift Parrot will be better protected with almost 10,000 hectares of potential nesting habitat to be excluded from wood production.

It follows extensive research and consultation between Sustainable Timber Tasmania and the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment, with a Swift Parrot Public Authority Management Agreement (PAMA) to be implemented for the Southern Forests.

https://tasmps.greens.org.au/media-release/liberals-pulling-swiftie-threatened

Minister Jaensch and Barnett’s spinners went into overdrive on a Friday afternoon, with the announcement they will exclude some swift parrot habitat from logging. Yet no real information was provided by the government, and the only named area mentioned by the Ministers is already under a logging moratorium. 

In Budget Estimates last year, we asked the Government to release the maps that designate which forests were to be excluded from harvesting under the proposed Public Authority Management Agreement. The Liberals refused to provide the maps then, and today are still hiding the location of the 10,000 hectares they are claiming will be excluded from logging. 

Like the proposal for the Great Koala National Park on the mainland, Tasmania should be protecting the entire south and eastern forest estate for the swift parrot.

Burning underway

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/gumbaynggirr-land-and-sea-rangers-first-cultural-burn-of-the-season-57175

LOCAL Gumbaynggirr Land and Sea Rangers have commenced the first cultural burn for the season across Aboriginal owned lands in the Coffs Harbour City Council and Bellingen Shire Council Local Government Areas.

The rangers are trained in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous practices including Advanced Forest Fire Fighting as well as Indigenous fire practice training with elders and knowledge holders.

“Cultural burning is critical, not only as part of a continuous cultural practice, but plays an integral role in community protection and reducing the threat of wildfire,” Mr Brennan said.

“The time restrictions mean there can be 15 years between burns which is too infrequent. It creates too much fuel,” Mr Brennan said.

Ancient Tree Ferns

https://theconversation.com/tree-ferns-are-older-than-dinosaurs-and-thats-not-even-the-most-interesting-thing-about-them-138435

Tree ferns are generally slow growing, at rates of just 25-50 millimetres height increase per year. This means the tall individuals you might spot in a mature forest may be several centuries old.

As a plant group, tree ferns are ancient, dating back hundreds of millions of yearsand pre-dating dinosaurs.

Seeds, such as those of the native (or myrtle) beech, Nothofagus cunninghamii, may germinate in the crowns of tree ferns, and its roots can grow down the tree fern trunks and into the soil.

Decades, or even centuries later, it’s sometimes still possible to see the old tree fern stem embedded inside.

Trump removing protection for old tress (>53cm)

http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2020/08/13/eastside-forest-scam-the-removal-of-the-21-inch-rule/

The Forest Service has begun a 30 day comment period on its proposal to eliminate the 21-inch rule or what is known as the Eastside screens. The plan would remove a prohibition against cutting trees larger than 21 inches in the drier forests east of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington.

The 21-inch rule was implemented in 1994 to protect larger trees larger from logging, partially in response to the realization that big trees have a disproportional ecological influence.

In response to the loss of large trees created by excessive logging, Congress convened a scientific panel to review the issue. However, unlike many such scientific panels that rely exclusively on forestry schools and/or the Forest Service for advice, Congress asked the Wildlife Society, the American Fisheries Society, the Society for Conservation Biology, and the American Ornithologists’ Union to produce the Eastside Forests Scientific Society Panel report.  The panel came out with 13 suggestions, including a prohibition on cutting larger trees older than 150. The Forest Service adopted this policy recommendation.

But times have changed. With the advent of the Trump Administration, there is intense pressure to increase the cut of timber.

Although it is seldom admitted, one of the chief reasons for removing the 21-inch rule is to increase the economic viability of logging projects.

Another forest carbon source

https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2020/08/12/global-warming-makes-tropical-soils-leak-co2-study.html

Tropical forest soil warmed in experiments to levels consistent with end-of-century temperature projections released 55 percent more CO2 than control plots, exposing a previously underestimated source of greenhouse gas emissions, researchers reported Wednesday.

"Even a small increase in respiration from tropical forest soils could have a large effect on atmospheric CO2 concentrations, with consequences for global climate."

The quantity of carbon cycling each year through soils worldwide is up to 10 times greater than human-generated greenhouse gas emissions.

Just a one-percent imbalance -- with more carbon going out than in -- "would equal about ten percent of global anthropogenic (manmade) carbon emissions," noted Eric Davidson, a researcher at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

Extrapolating from the new findings, the study estimates that if all the world's tropical soils warmed by 4C for a two-year period some time before 2100, it would release 65 billion tons of carbon -- equivalent to about 240 billion tons of CO2 -- into the atmosphere.  

"That is more than six times the current annual emissions from human-related sources," Nottingham said.

Up to now, tree cover and the ocean have together consistently absorbed about half of the excess carbon emissions from human activity, but there are signs that some forests may be experiencing CO2 fatigue.

Stored CO2 is also released when trees are cut down. 

Last year, a football pitch of primary, old-growth trees was destroyed every six seconds, about 38,000 square kilometers (14,500 square miles) in all, according to Global Forest Watch.

Climate Chaos - Business as Usual

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-08/whrc-ce073020.php

The RCP 8.5 C02 emissions pathway, long considered a "worst case scenario" by the international science community, is the most appropriate for conducting assessments of climate change impacts by 2050, according to a new article published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ... Long dismissed as alarmist or misleading, the paper argues that is actually the closest approximation of both historical emissions and anticipated outcomes of current global climate policies, tracking within 1% of actual emissions.

"Not only are the emissions consistent with RCP 8.5 in close agreement with historical total cumulative CO2 emissions (within 1%), but RCP8.5 is also the best match out to mid-century under current and stated policies with still highly plausible levels of CO2 emissions in 2100," the authors wrote. "...Not using RCP8.5 to describe the previous 15 years assumes a level of mitigation that did not occur ...

Four scenarios known as Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) were developed in 2005 for the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report (AR5). ... RCP 8.5 assumes the greatest fossil fuel use, and a resulting additional 8.5 watts per square meter of radiative forcing by 2100.

The article also notes that RCP 8.5 would not be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that "we note that the usefulness of RCP 8.5 is not changed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Assuming pandemic restrictions remain in place until the end of 2020 would entail a reduction in emissions of -4.7 Gt CO2. This represents less than 1% of total cumulative CO2 emissions since 2005 for all RCPs and observations."

Cutting down rainfall in Brazil

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/deforestation-in-the-amazon-is-drying-up-the-rest-of-brazil-report/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=dfd5f4bd39-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-dfd5f4bd39-77229786&mc_cid=dfd5f4bd39&mc_eid=c0875d445f

Over the past two years, drought has severely affected much of Brazil.

Scientist Antônio Donato Nobre, author of the report “The Future Climate of Amazonia,” is emphatic: “South America is drying up as a result of the combined effects of deforestation and climate change.”

Agribusiness has been suffering losses as a result of drought, but it also contributes to the changes in the water regime. Deforesting the Amazon to establish cattle ranches, plantations and logging reduces precipitation in Brazil and other Latin American countries. With deforestation increasing, agribusiness and power generation may collapse in Brazil.

The Amazon Forest works as a cooling system. On a single day, a robust tree with its 20-meter (66-foot) canopy pumps around 1,100 liters (290 gallons) of water into the atmosphere. These masses of air carrying vapor from the forest’s transpiration are called “flying rivers.” They take humidity from the Amazon Basin to Brazil’s center-west, southeast and south regions as well as to neighboring countries. With fewer trees in the forest, there is less humidity in the air. And that leads to drought.

Restoring forests a way forward

https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2020/08/13/exploring-financing-opportunities-for-forest-landscape-restoration/

For centuries, world’s forests have been cleared and removed for agricultural or other land uses, often resulting in degraded lands found in almost every country today. As global population increases and climate change threatens ecosystems worldwide, there is an urgent need for more sustainable management of land to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

As a process of restoring degraded lands and retrieving their economic and environmental productivity, forest landscape restoration is a promising way to achieve desalination of the soils and reduced wind and water erosion.  It also helps filtering drinking water and raising the level of groundwater in restored areas and the storage of carbon dioxide in the newly accumulated biomass. 

So far, countries in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia pledged to restore close to 3 million hectares of degraded land under the Bonn Challenge, a global effort to restore 350 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, which also count under the ECCA30, a regional initiative to restore 30 million hectares by 2030 in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

A helping hand for recovery

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/08/200813142321.htm

The rainforests of Southeast Asia are among the fastest declining tropical ecosystems worldwide. Researchers from 13 institutions studied an area of tropical forest in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo that had suffered heavy logging in the 1980s but was subsequently protected from further deforestation or conversion to agricultural land.

This long-term study paid special attention to the forest's capacity to rebuild biomass. The researchers found that areas left to regenerate naturally recovered by as much as 2.9 tonnes of aboveground carbon per hectare per year. "This quantitatively confirms that if degraded forests get effective protection, they can recover well naturally," says Christopher Philipson, Senior Scientist at ETH Zurich's Chair of Ecosystem Management.

More importantly, the research team found that areas of forest that underwent active restoration recovered 50% faster, from 2.9 to 4.4 tonnes of aboveground carbon per hectare per year.

https://meaww.com/restoring-forests-expedites-ability-capture-carbon-humans-added-atmosphere-50

According to study author Professor Mark Cutler, School of Social Sciences, University of Dundee, UK, the findings emphasize that the protection of existing forests, even those that have been degraded or previously exploited, is paramount for retaining aboveground carbon density, as well as for maintaining biodiversity and other critical ecosystem services. “The protection of existing forests, even those that have been degraded or previously exploited, is paramount from the point of view of retaining aboveground carbon density, as well as maintaining biodiversity and other critical ecosystem services. The implementation of even relatively low-cost active restoration measures can lead to a significant increase in aboveground carbon density in forests that have been previously disturbed,” Cutler told MEA WorldWide (MEAWW).

Thus, the impacts of active restoration to forests enhance their potential contribution to mitigating climate change. Full ACD recovery in a naturally regenerating logged forest would take around 60 years, while recovery for an actively restored forest takes just 40 years,” the findings state.

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6505/838

7 August 2020


Forest action continues on Gumbaynggir country

The Gumbaynggir Conservattion Group media release 3 August

Logging has been stopped at Bagawa State Forest this morning. This is the fourth time logging has been halted on the NSW Mid North Coast over the past six weeks by the Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group (GCG). 

One individual is in a treeattached to two machines, effectively stopping logging in the active Bagawa State Forest operation site, 40km North-West of Coffs Harbour.

Bagawa SF is recovering from the devastating December 2019 Liberation Trail Fire that burnt over 150,000 hectares of land. A GCG spokesperson shares,

“Five million hectares of NSW forests burnt last summer and three billion animals were lost with them. We need every last patch of native forest left to refuge dislocated species, regulate our climate and grow into our future forests.”

Sandy Greenwood, a Gumbaynggirr custodian and spokesperson shares, 

“The hypocrisy of Forestry Corporation using a Gumbaynggirr word "Bagawa" (a family clan name) to name a forest and then log it to the ground speaks volumes to their complete disregard for cultural heritage. They use our language to name our country, then deliberately desecrate it for low-use timber. It is incredibly disrespectful to Gumbaynggirr Custodians and Native Title holders. My Elders are very upset.”

Since the establishment of The Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group in May, they have halted logging by direct action in Nambucca SF, Wild Cattle Creek SF, Lower Bucca SF and now Bagawa.

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/gumbaynggirr-force-halt-logging-nsw-mid-north-coast

“The hypocrisy of Forestry Corporation using a Gumbaynggirr word ‘Bagawa’ [a family clan name] to name a forest, and then log it to the ground, speaks volumes of their complete disregard for cultural heritage.”

On July 18, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) imposed a 40-day stop work order and fine on the Forestry Corporation after an investigation into operations at Wild Cattle Creek State Forest exposed the illegal felling of two giant, old growth trees.

North East Forest Alliance spokesperson Dailan Pugh said there were a further 12 breaches of the logging rules, including more felled giant trees and reckless damage to four giant hollow-bearing trees and six koala feed trees.

“These massive awe-inspiring trees are the height of 10 storey buildings and 300-500 years old,” Pugh said. “They provide the large hollows that many of our iconic animals depend upon for dens and nests. These forests have also been identified as being outstanding Koala habitat.”

Five days later, the EPA issued another stop-work notice and fine to the Forestry Corporation at South Brooman State Forest near Batemans Bay. EPA investigations revealed 26 hollow bearing trees had either been felled or severely damaged.

The Bagawa State Forest is still recovering from the devastating Liberation Trail fire of last December, in which more than 150,000 hectares was burnt. Despite the EPA having issued a new rule to prohibit intensive harvesting in burnt areas, it gave Bagawa an exemption because of “a critical shortage of timber supply”. This exemption overrules the new law that was introduced to protect struggling species impacted by the fires.

On August 3, logging was forced to stop when a forest defender climbed high into a tree while attached to a harvester and a loader. The forest defender said: “This is a recovering forest. It’s recovering from fires and ongoing historical logging from Forestry Corp. It’s already home to koalas, yellow-bellied gliders and glossy black cockatoos. Just imagine what it could become if Forestry Corporation left this recovering forest alone.”

The Northern Star, Ballina Advocate, Tweed Daily News, Coffs Coast Advocate, Byron Shire News, Daily Examiner have all run the paywalled story 'Activists shut down logging in State Forest' , which I assume relates to  Bagawa State Forest. The Coffs Coast Advocate has a follow-up story 'Forestry Corp counters claim of habitat destruction'. The Daily Examiner 'Protester's bold call on naming State Forests'.

https://www.bellingencourier.com.au/story/6863319/letter-barking-up-the-wrong-tree-on-timber-value/

... as we know, some within Bellingen represent an activist group at the pointy edge of stop all timber harvesting, traditional farming, and in fact most extractive industries that supply us, including themselves, with everything they expect as the norm or their god given right.

Back to Wild Cattle Creek, where the crime was committed via the illegal extraction of two brush box trees. Displayed were the stumps of these two trees claimed to be 300-year-old growth.

So they were nothing near 300-year-old growth, but were illegally cut, resulting in the contractors each being fined $2200 with Dominic claiming a slap on the wrist as each tree would be worth 10 times that figure - $22,000.

The combined cubic metre volume of these two logs claimed to be seven cubes. Milled, dried and dressed into premium flooring, the traditional use for brush box, at $6 a lineal metre, would retail at $8400 - a little short of $44,000 as claimed.

https://www.bellingencourier.com.au/story/6865184/letter-lock-timber-industry-out-of-public-forests/

The industry was warned many years ago that to sustain the production of timber products they had to plant all the trees used for this purpose. They have failed miserably and are still demanding that the public subsidies the industry.

We know that the NSW hardwood Industry is a major financial loss to the public. I urge the Government to remove the industry from the public forest and stop the environmental vandalism we see perpetrated towards the habitat of the animals.

Leif Nielsen Lemke, Bellingen

Meanwhile on the South Coast

http://newbushtelegraph.org.au/?p=1004

The mega-fires of last summer which destroyed so much forest in NSW have presented the people of this state with a golden opportunity. There is no better time than now to transition to 100 per cent plantation forestry in NSW. Here’s why.

Locals found an overwhelming amount of evidence to confirm systematic ongoing non-compliance and disregard for the rule requiring hollow-bearing trees to be left alone. In one forest, 97 instances of hollows in the debris on the forest floor were discovered and documented.

Meanwhile, north coast conservationists, also suspicious, found evidence of contractors felling giant trees, something which has been prohibited since long before the fires. The EPA issued a Stop Work Order (SWO) to halt the work in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest pending further investigations and possible prosecution.

Encouraged by what seemed to be an emboldened EPA and a sympathetic state Environment Minister Matt Keen, south coast conservationists began the push for the EPA to issue another SWO. The EPA carried out investigations in South Brooman, confirming widespread non-compliance and miraculously issued another SWO.

In Mogo State Forest where logging is also occurring, tree hollows can be found laying all over the forest floor. Evidence enough for a third SWO to be easily issued, and possible prosecution.

And they are at it in Western Australia again

https://www.busseltonmail.com.au/story/6861366/protesters-take-action-to-stop-logging-in-helms-forest-near-nannup/

Logging has been brought to a standstill by forest defenders in Helms and McCorkhill Forests near Nannup on August 3, 2020.

One protester has locked them self onto a logging machine and another has taken to a platform 20 metres above the ground.

"I am locking on out of sense of desperation. We are facing combined climate and ecological crises and it's essential that we immediately protect native forests," Clarion said.

"Native forests are critical allies in our efforts to avert climate chaos and prevent wildlife extinctions, but we're still chopping them down, and largely for firewood, charcoal and woodchips. It's insane and it has to stop.

Bid to stop importation of illegal timber from Australia

https://www.theage.com.au/environment/sustainability/the-fight-over-australian-logging-goes-global-20200804-p55ijb.html

An Australian environment group has appealed to regulators in the United States and the European Union to crack down on the importation of wood products they say may have been illegally harvested by Victoria’s government logging agency VicForests.

The Wilderness Society has filed complaints with regulators in Europe and the US, saying that there is a serious risk products made from timber harvested by VicForests break local laws against the importation of illegally harvested timber.

According to the Wilderness Society when a similar complaint was filed against another supplier in the Netherlands, the timber trader Boogaerdt Hout was warned that future breaches of EU regulations would result in fines of 20,000 euro ($32,000) per cubic metre of timber illegally placed on the market.

In its complaint to authorities in Germany, Denmark and the US, the Wilderness Society claims that VicForests has repeatedly harvested in areas where it holds no right to do so, has breached legally mandated logging prescriptions, has illegally built roads and that the state regulator has failed to act as a sufficient deterrent or enforce the law.

Baiting turns dingoes into monsters

https://www.newser.com/story/294544/dingo-poisoning-has-unintended-effect.html

Dingoes are getting bigger—but only in areas where long-term poison campaigns against them have been in place. It seems the bait traps have the unintended consequence of making the surviving animals larger, reports Science Daily. "The most likely theory is that dingoes who survive baiting campaigns have less competition for food," says the University of Sydney's Mathew Crowther, co-author of the study in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Another factor is that smaller dingoes are more likely to succumb to the poison, which leaves the bigger dingoes to thrive. 

They found that the skulls in the poison regions have grown roughly 4mm over the last 80 years, which translates to an increase in body mass of between 6% and 9%. Females had the bigger boost.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2020-08-06/inhumane-1080-baits-cause-dingos-to-get-bigger/12526930

The Invasive Species Council has defended the use of 1080 despite concern about the suffering it causes, saying it is protecting native species from foxes and cats.

"The report finds it highly likely that 1080-poisoned animals suffer pain and distress before they become unconscious," Mr Cox said.

Jennifer Pirret took on the West Australian Government and won after losing two maremma dogs, a rottweiler, a border collie and five goats to 1080.

https://www.beefcentral.com/news/baiting-link-to-dingo-size-increase-unsw/

https://vetpracticemag.com.au/dingoes-have-grown-and-pesticides-might-be-to-blame/

National Parks are good for pandemics

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/good-for-the-soul-visits-to-nsw-national-parks-soar-amid-covid-19-20200805-p55iu8.html

The state's national parks are reporting a surge in visits as people seek out nature to dispel the blues brought on by the constraints of coronavirus on normal life.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service reports overnight stays at campgrounds across the state were up by more than a third in July compared to the same month last year.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said the uptick in visits was proof nature was "good for the soul".

"While we go through this pandemic, it so important to have areas, close to where people live, where people can exercise and enjoy nature," Mr Kean said.

Clearing is good for pandemics too

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200806/Human-encroachment-into-forest-land-caused-bat-CoV-spillover-and-COVID-19-emergence.aspx

A new study published on the preprint server medRxiv* in August 2020 discusses the root causes underlying the emergence of such infectious diseases following their crossover of the line separating animal viruses from human.

Nonetheless, it is quite clear that a growing number of contacts between animals in the wild and humans are driving the entry of animal viruses into the human community. The researchers in the current study point out that this is the effect of several linked factors that decrease the distance and increase the rates of contact between humans and wild animals, as well as between humans themselves.

The entry of humans into areas formerly inhabited by wild animals, the pursuit of hunting, the clearing of forests to create pastureland for livestock to graze or for animal farming, may all encourage animal viruses to enter the human community. And in addition, the loss of old forest and breaking up of a single forest into smaller, nonviable fragments causes niche animal communities to die out while favoring the survival of generalist species.

“These results demonstrate that China exhibits stronger signs of human encroachment, livestock density, and forest disturbance of SARSr‐CoV hosting horseshoe bat distributions than other regions. Regions close to forest fragments exhibit lower forest and cropland cover.”

In other words, China is one of the significant hotspots bringing all these factors together - fragmentation, livestock density, and human settlement, some others being in eastern Nepal, Bangladesh, North-east India, and Kerala. The researchers use this knowledge to identify spots of future potential virus spillover. This could occur if one or more of these factors cross the boundary between minor change and a hotspot state.

The researchers call attention to the need to counteract these dangerous tendencies seen in the threatening or potential hotspots, such as by maintaining or rebuilding forests, removing livestock pastures and farms much further away from forest borders and reducing the density of human activity in these buffer zones.

https://www.eco-business.com/news/save-wildlife-save-forests-and-avoid-pandemics/

If the world wants to avoid pandemics like Covid-19 in future, it has a lot to learn. This coronavirus outbreak is likely to cost the world somewhere between $8 trillion and $15 trillion.

It might have been 500 times cheaper, say US scientists, simply to have done what conservationists have sought for years: control trade in wildlife and stop destroying tropical forests.

And this has happened, they argue in the journal Science, most often directly after people have handled live primates, bats and other mammals, or butchered them for meat, or indirectly after such viruses have infected farm animals such as chickens or pigs.

And human exploitation of the world’s last remaining wildernesses – the tropical forests – and pursuit of exotic creatures for trophies, medicines or food can be linked to the emergence of most of them.

He and 17 other experts argue that at a cost of somewhere between $22 billion and $30 billion a year, the transmission of unknown and unexpected diseases could be significantly reduced: chiefly by controlling logging and conversion of rainforest into ranch land, and limiting the trade in wild meat and exotic animals.

https://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2020/08/to-prevent-future-pandemics-invest-in-forests/

https://www.ehn.org/wildlife-habitat-loss-and-coronavirus-2646885121.html

"The global expansion of agricultural and urban land that is forecast for the coming decades—much of which is expected to occur in low-and middle-income countries with existing vulnerabilities to natural hazards—has the potential to create growing hazardous interfaces for zoonotic pathogen exposure," the authors wrote in the study published today in Nature.

"The way humans change landscapes across the world, from natural forest to farmland for example, has consistent impacts on many wild animal species, causing some to decline while some others persist or increase," said Rory Gibb, lead author and PhD candidate at the UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, in a statement.

"The animals that remain in more human-dominated environments are those that are more likely to carry infectious diseases that can make people sick," Gibb added.

They found the proportion of animals that host pathogens harmful to humans is anywhere from 18 percent to 72 percent higher in agricultural or urban areas. And the total abundance of such animals is anywhere from 21 percent to 144 percent higher in human-disturbed areas compared to non-disturbed habitats.

Northern Forests Climate Pests

https://phys.org/news/2020-08-climate-pest-threat-europe-forests.html

And the threat posed by insects and pathogens appears to be growing. Climate change is allowing some native pests to breed more frequently, while international trade is spreading exotic insects and pathogens more widely.

On average, six new species of tree pests are being introduced to Europe every year, up from two a year in the 1950s, says Dr. Jactel. They arrive in potted plants and wooden products or packaging.

The emerald ash borer, for example, spread from Asia to the United States where it killed more than 150 million trees and may have cost more than $10 billion in the last decade. It is now knocking at Europe's door.

Many threats to Europe's forests, however, are closer to home. A warming climate in many regions is helping some native pests to become more common.

This is largely because warming temperatures have allowed the beetles to breed more frequently.

"Some 20 years ago, we'd have one breeding cycle per summer, but nowadays we have up to four breeding cycles of bark beetle in the Czech Republic and southern Germany," said Dr. Yagüe.

Warmer, longer and drier summers also mean trees are more vulnerable to attack because the conditions leave them less able to cope with pests, she says.

 

31 July 2020


Trouble at Lower Bucca

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/07/a-local-has-locked-onto-a-logging-harvester-in-lower-bucca-state-forest/

A member of the public has taken the day off work to lock onto a NSW Forestry Corporation harvester in the Lower Bucca State Forest this morning to stop logging and desecration of sacred sites. He says this is to protect one of the few remaining unburnt areas in this region. 

This follows on from the Forestry Corporation recently being issued with several ‘stop work’ orders following illegal logging. The EPA (environment protection agency) issued a 40 day stop work order on 18 July following investigations into operations at Wild Cattle Creek that exposed the illegal felling of two giant, old growth trees.

‘We are the Gumbaynggirr people, sovereign custodians of Gumbaynggirr Country, land and waters and we demand an end to logging in these irreplaceable and incredibly ancient publicly-owned forests. Logging must be stopped immediately and they must be conserved for all beings to enjoy,’ said Gumbaynggirr custodian and spokesperson, Sandy Greenwood.

‘This is the beginning of the end for those that log our native forests. The Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group promises that this will continue if the ongoing desecration of sacred sites and ecocide of our native habitats continue.’

[also had a run in Daily Telegraph 30/7/20]

Keeping the pressure on Wild Cattle Creek

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/07/call-for-minister-kean-to-keep-his-word-and-protect-koala-habitat/

North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is calling for the ‘Environment Minister Matt Kean to stump up by protecting important koala habitat from further logging and ensuring that the EPA prosecute the Forestry Corporation for flagrantly breaking the new logging rules by cutting down giant trees and recklessly endangering the survival of other giant hollow-bearing trees and koala feed trees.’

Following the EPA stop work order NEFA experts did a brief audit at at Wild Cattle Creek State Forest on the afternoon of 28 July, 2020. They found a further 12 breaches of the logging rules, comprising two more felled giant trees, and reckless damage to four giant hollow-bearing trees and six koala feed trees.

‘The felled giant trees were around 1.5 metres diameter, and the giant hollow bearing trees damaged by logging machinery driving over their roots and bashing their trunks were 1.5 to 2 metres diameter,’ Mr Pugh explains.

‘These massive awe-inspiring trees are the height of 10 storey buildings and 300–500 years old. They provide the large hollows that many of our iconic animals depend upon for dens and nests. They predate European settlement of Australia, yet the Forestry Corporation are recklessly felling and damaging them. This has to be stopped,’ said Mr Pugh.

‘Premier enough is enough. Time to stump up Minister Kean,’ Mr Pugh said.

GKNP promoted

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/great-koala-national-park-will-bring-economic-opportunities-to-the-mid-north-coast-through-iconic-tourist-experiences-56506

If you like the thought of strolling around informative displays, watching videos and checking out koala merchandise, why not head over to the Great Koala National Park Information and Visitors Centre.

Kevin Evans, representative of the Great Koala National Park Steering Committee, told News Of The Area, “We now have the opportunity to compete with Tasmania in providing iconic tourism experiences such as horse riding trails and bike tracks, and multi-day bushwalking hikes.”

“The GKNP will eventually happen and it will be the jewel in the crown for nature based tourism on the mid north coast,” he said.

“However, for this to occur it will take local political support and State government leadership.”

A new front opens up

Gloucester Advocate 30 July

Bulga Forest ... [Bernadette Evans] "We were overjoyed to find evidence that at least three koalas had survived the fires ...

Clearly some of these areas of forest were and continue to be a refuge for surviving koalas.

We intend to go back and continue looking to find which animals survived the fires.

Meanwhile we understand that Forestry Corporation is planning to log the area. This seems inconsistent with the government's stated policy that areas of unburnt forest among the burnt areas would not be logged.

https://www.manningrivertimes.com.au/story/6853355/community-walk-finds-koalas-survive-in-bushfire-ravaged-bulga-forest/

In Tasmania the bikies are objecting

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-31/derby-mountain-bike-logging-concerns/12502316

Mountain biking as breathed new life into the small town of Derby in Tasmania's north east, but locals are worried the eco-tourism boom could be threatened by logging operations near the trails.

This is not a new issue for the town, in 2016 Blue Derby Wild opposed clear felling of native forest in the Mutual Valley near Derby and opposition remains strong with several coupes earmarked for logging in the next three years.

The Derby mountain bike trail network, constructed in 2015, has brought world wide attention to Tasmania's north east, and is estimated to inject around $30 million annually into the state's economy.

3 billion and counting, as the logging continues

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/28/almost-3-billion-animals-affected-by-australian-megafires-report-shows-aoe

Nearly 3 billion animals were killed or displaced by Australia’s devastating bushfire season of 2019 and 2020, according to scientists who have revealed for the first time the scale of the impact on the country’s native wildlife.

The Guardian has learned that an estimated 143 million mammals, 180 million birds, 51 million frogs and a staggering 2.5 billion reptiles were affected by the fires that burned across the continent. Not all the animals would have been killed by the flames or heat, but scientists say the prospects of survival for those that had withstood the initial impact was “probably not that great” due to the starvation, dehydration and predation by feral animals – mostly cats – that followed.

Chris Dickman, a professor in ecology at the University of Sydney and fellow of the Australian Academy of Science who oversaw the project, said its central finding was a shock even to the researchers. “Three thousand million native vertebrates is just huge. It’s a number so big that you can’t comprehend it,” he said. “It’s almost half the human population of the planet.”

“We really need to start thinking about how we can rein in this demonic genie that’s out of the bottle,” he said, referring to climate change. “We need to be looking at how quickly can we decarbonise, how quickly can we stop our manic land-clearing.”

A peer-reviewed study by three ecology professors in June concluded that the fires had caused “the most dramatic loss of habitat for threatened species and devastation of ecological communities in postcolonial history”. This month a separate paper drawing on the work of more than 20 leading Australian scientists found that 49 native species not currently listed as threatened could now be at risk, while government data suggested 471 plant and 191 invertebrate species needed urgent attention.

https://www.wwf.org.au/news/news/2020/3-billion-animals-impacted-by-australia-bushfire-crisis#gs.c21t94

Those figures are revealed in an interim report entitled Australia’s 2019-2020 Bushfires: The Wildlife Toll, commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature and believed to be world first research.

The recommendations in the interim report call for addressing knowledge gaps on wildlife densities and responses to fire, improving habitat connectivity to help mobile species escape fire, identifying and protecting unburnt habitat crucial to threatened species, improving fire prevention and management, and establishing rapid response teams to help species impacted by fire.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/07/3-billion-animals-killed-displaced-australia-fires-200728095756845.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/3-billion-animals-australian-wildfires_n_5f20a67ac5b66859f1f357f4?ri18n=true

Who should pay for climate chaos, aside from 3 billion animals with their lives

https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/climate-experts-want-fossil-fuel-industry-to-pay-for-bushfire-crisis/news-story/892dfaee7f16b223455f3dff9b2b1eb6

Australia’s fossil fuel industry should pay for the devastating impact of bushfires, according to a group of former firefighters and bushfire survivors.

Climate experts, former firefighters, doctors and bushfire survivors are urging the Federal Government to introduce a levy on the fossil fuel industry for a climate disaster fund to help pay for the impact of “climate fuelled” bushfire costs.

“If an industry produces a product, which is later found to be hazardous, it's bound by law to help clean it up,” Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) member and former Fire & Rescue NSW commissioner Greg Mullins told NCA NewsWire.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-30/fossil-fuel-industry-levy-should-pay-for-bushfire-impact-report/12503114

It comes as part of 165 recommendations by the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA), a group of more than 150 experts and affected community members, in a bid to improve bushfire readiness, response and recovery.

[Mullins] "We had the hottest, driest year ever — a year that would not have happened without the impact of climate change.

"It drove the worst bushfires in Australia's history — they were bigger, hotter, faster and more destructive [than] what we've ever experienced before.

The ELCA, which includes former emergency services commissioners from all over Australia, has accused the Federal Government of underestimating and ignoring "the rapidly escalating threat of climate change".

"Consequently, our land management, fire and emergency services are under-resourced, disaster recovery is under-resourced and communities are underprepared for the worsening bushfire threat," the report said.

"Communities and ecosystems were already being pushed beyond their ability to adapt."

It is calling for greater funding for firefighting and land management to ensure faster identification and dousing of new fires.

The group is also advocating for an Indigenous-led National Cultural Fire Strategy, and greater action to address the health effects of bushfires.

Smoke from the recent bushfires resulted in more than 400 deaths and another 4,000 people being treated in hospital, the ELCA said.

NSW bushfire inquiry findings are nigh, but Royal Commission extended

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-31/nsw-firefighter-blasts-bushfire-leadership-response/12511972

  • Around 2,000 submissions were made to the inquiry, 900 of which are public
  • The inquiry has handed its report to the NSW Government
  • It says it is considering the recommendations and will release a response shortly

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/federal/bushfire-royal-commission-extended-into-october-20200723-p55ew9.html

The bushfire royal commission has been extended by two months, taking its reporting deadline to October 28.

In recent months, the inquiry has heard the fire season in parts of eastern Australia has extended by almost four months since the 1950s, with climate change a prominent driver.

Planning experts have warned laws aren't fit to manage the growing threat to property while firefighter representatives have told the commission volunteers are exiting their ranks in NSW and Victoria. Former fire chiefs have said Australia is fighting a climate war as well as battling more natural disasters, demanding a military-style, co-ordinated national response.

Burning forests

https://www.camdencourier.com.au/story/6848365/fire-training-to-facilitate-increased-traditional-burning-in-state-forests/

Representatives from the Bunya, Coffs and Biripi Local Aboriginal Land Councils completed basic fire training with Forestry Corporation of NSW in Wauchope this week, paving the way for increased traditional burning in State forests.

Forestry Corporation's Aboriginal Partnerships Team Leader, John Shipp said the training would enable more local Aboriginal communities to carry out hazard reduction burning using traditional low-intensity practices in State forests, in partnership with Forestry Corporation.

"We work closely with Local Aboriginal Land Councils and Elders' groups to facilitate traditional burning in State forests and ensure it fulfils both traditional and contemporary obligations to care for country.

Kean is very keen, but the Nationals aren't keen on Kean

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/matt-kean-aims-to-double-koala-population-by-2050-20200725-p55fdc.html

Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean has set a goal of doubling the number of koalas by 2050 in a bid to defy projections the marsupial could become extinct in the wild in NSW by mid-century.

"I don’t want to see the koala extinct by 2050, I want to see their population doubled by 2050," Mr Kean told The Sun-Herald , adding he would aim for "at least another 20,000 koalas" by then.

“Koalas are the most iconic example of our mismanagement of the environment and we’ve got to say 'enough is enough'."

Mr Kean will ask the Chief Scientist to assemble an expert panel to develop the 30-year plan. It would likely involve a combination of expanding or adding new national parks, removing feral predators, fighting the chlamydia disease, and "actively managing our fortress populations", Mr Kean said.

"National parks are not the only answer," Associate Professor Crowther added. "You can do a lot on private land."

Expectations have been building that the government will secure more national parks in Sydney's south, home to some of NSW's healthiest koala populations. Campbelltown and Wollondilly areas are among the targets.

https://www.2gb.com/podcast/aim-to-double-nsws-koala-population-by-2050/

https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2020-07-29/farmers-concerned-national-park-plan-to-double-koala-habitat/12498866

NSW Farmers Association is opposed to the expansion of national parks because it will increase the number of feral pests which will make farming very difficult.

Mr Kean said he understood farmers' concerns and was also worried about the risks pest animals posed to koalas.

"Feral dogs are a huge threat to koalas so we'll be investing a lot, spending thousands of hours in the air shooting pests," he said.

Ms Petrie believes the State Government should reduce urban sprawl instead of increase the area of national parks.

Ms Petrie said the best way to protect the koala populations was to pay farmers.

"If governments put a value on how many koalas you have on your property, farmers would be putting their hand up," she said.

Ms Petrie said landholders would be more willing to protect koala habitats if it was valued in the same way as land clearing.

"Farmers are told they have to pay $20,000 a hectare for clearing, but they're only offered $30 a hectare to protect habitat," she said.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jul/25/nsw-minister-urges-morrison-government-not-to-smash-through-conservation-law-changes?utm_term=236a1abd5899055876927b9a5f73caeb&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayAUS&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTAU_email

The New South Wales environment minister has called on the Morrison government not to “smash through” changes to national conservation laws and to drop its opposition to an independent environment protection authority.

In a significant intervention from a Liberal government minister, Matt Kean questioned his federal counterpart’s rush to introduce draft laws to change the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act while a major review was still under way, saying it was more important to get the detail right.

Kean told Guardian Australia it was also premature for the federal environment minister, Sussan Ley, to have ruled out an independent “cop on the beat” that could give the community confidence environment laws would be enforced.

“Why are we rushing this? It’s a huge document, it’s a good document. Why are we smashing this through at the moment?” Kean told the Guardian.

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/kean-on-a-green-streak-goes-in-search-of-the-political-centre-20200724-p55f38.html

Even as politics becomes more polarised almost everywhere, it's sometimes a little unclear which side Matt Kean, NSW's Energy and Environment Minister, is on.

Among his environment goals was a plan to create 200,000 hectares of new national parks within this term. The tally already stands at 157,000 hectares – the bulk of it with the purchase of the giant Narriearra cattle station in far-west NSW – with another 50,000-plus hectares possible over the next six months.

Kean also heads the largest faction in the Liberals, the Moderates, working closely with Rob Stokes, the head of the planning cluster of ministries, who also shares many of the same concerns about climate change and renewable energy.

"He was a warrior and a factional fighter from the start," a senior figure within the Liberal Party says. "[Kean's] completely outspoken, and most important, is fearless."

"The reason I joined the Liberal party was because I was trying to stop the overdevelopment of my area. It was environmental issues that inspired me to get involved in the political process.”

Lindenmayer says there hasn't been as active an environment minister in NSW since Labor's Bob Debus, 20 years ago. Kean "seems to be really committed and really engaged with the science".

Chris Gambian, head of the NSW Nature Conservation Council, describes Kean as a "breath of fresh air", but notes that the bar had been set very low by some of his predecessors.

"His starting point is not hating us and not wanting to kill us," Gambian says half-jokingly. "But he has shown that conservation doesn't belong to the left side of politics."

[Kean] "The view I’ve taken is [the environment] is worth fighting for," he says. "What could be more important for a political party to be fighting for than the type of future we’re going to leave our children?"

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/dust-up-looms-as-nsw-nationals-seek-to-cut-environmental-oversight-20200728-p55g97.html

The NSW Nationals are seeking greater control of major agricultural policies, setting up a likely collision course with Liberal MPs within the Berejiklian government.

Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall plans to push for the removal of so-called concurrence rights which give Liberal Environment Minister Matt Kean final say on policies such as native-vegetation controls.

The rollback of other environment checks, such as for water-sharing plans, dams and marine parks may follow if vegetation concurrence is changed, environmentalists say.

"The National Party can't be trusted on the environment," Mr Field said, citing the rapid surge in deforestation, devastating fish kills and rivers running dry.

"Controversial water-sharing plans, new dam infrastructure, a new land-clearing code for the north west and the gutting of marine protections up and down the coast - it's unsurprising the Nationals want to remove environment considerations from this equation," he said.

David Morris, chief executive of the Environmental Defenders Office, said any attempt to remove the requirement for Mr Kean's concurrence on land-clearing or water policies "would be a regressive step".

The Victorians and CFMEU are keen to legitimise illegal logging

https://www.miragenews.com/review-to-protect-victoria-s-forests-jobs-and-timber-industry/

The Victorian Government has commissioned a broad-ranging review to safeguard the Victorian Forestry Plan – and the regional jobs and environmental protections it will deliver.

The 30-year plan sets out a long-term and sustainable future for Victoria’s forestry industry. As part of the plan announced last year, VicForests will extend existing timber supply agreements until 2024, after which native timber supply will be stepped down before ending in 2030. Logging of old-growth forests is now banned.

The plan includes immediate exemptions from logging for 96,000 hectares of forest across Victoria to protect the future of the Greater Glider alongside the Leadbeater’s Possum and more than 35 other threatened species.

The Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014 ... As a result, the Government has initiated a review of the Code to:

  • minimise the risk to short-term supply obligations arising from third-party litigation

https://www.miragenews.com/cfmeu-backs-victorian-forestry-code-review/

The union that represents timber workers’ welcomed today’s announcement by the Victorian Government that it is reviewing the code to practice for hardwood timber production in State forests.

The CFMEU believes that the industry and the jobs and communities it supports should be backed by both the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments and that the code review represents a significant step in the right direction.

The union also claimed that the holding of the review should cause a rethink by Bunnings of their unfair and harsh decision to victimise Victorian timber workers by ceasing the stocking of timber harvested from local, sustainably managed forests.

Its all about jobs, unless you are restructuring and mechanising

https://www.naroomanewsonline.com.au/story/6852795/letter--the-editor/

The major parties promote logging of natural native forests in NSW (as opposed to plantations) to keep jobs in forestry.

In 2019, the Australian Bureau of Statistics published employment projections for 17 industries for the five years to May 2023. For the rest of NSW, the projections show that, combined, Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing's negative growth is greater than all the other 17 industries at minus 56,000 employment growth.

Dr Bronte Somerset (Educ.), Secretary, South East Region Conservation Alliance Inc.

[Note ABARE 2018 identify that from 2006 until 2016 the NSW timber industry shed 7,400 jobs through restructuring and mechanisation without any politicians or unions complaining]

A critique of the EPBC Act maneuvers

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/morrison-government-ignores-environmental-review-recommendations,14146

Never has Australia’s wildlife and environment faced a more serious risk. Following the release of the Interim Review Report of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) chaired by Professor Graeme Samuel, a shocking indictment of failures inherent in the EPBC Act, Prime Minister Scott Morrison made clear his priorities.

Australia’s wildlife and environment are no longer to be regarded as our life support systems by governments. Instead, Morrison is focused on removing the role of the Commonwealth in environmental regulation, passing the responsibilities to state governments.  

The priorities for tranche two are plants and invertebrates, according to the spokesperson. However, five of the 19 first tranche-funded projects are focused on invertebrates.

Neither the Wollemi pine, Monga waratah and Gippsland bottlebrush get a mention along with koalas. Nor do a raft of species which recorded the highest impact scores caused by the catastrophic fires as detailed by Ley’s expert panel.

In any event, the current round of grants and its priorities give a damning picture of a federal government which has cherry-picked applicants unlikely to address the urgent need to protect ecosystems and dependent wildlife.

Make no mistake, by ignoring the substantive recommendations focused on the environment in the Interim Review Report and the lengthy delay in providing any relevant grants, the Morrison Government has demonstrated a shocking disregard and contempt for the environment. If the Federal Government devolves responsibility to the states, the only beneficiaries will be zoos and sanctuaries.

Our northern savanna woodlands are collapsing

https://theconversation.com/the-mystery-of-the-top-ends-vanishing-wildlife-and-the-unexpected-culprits-143268?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20July%2029%202020%20-%201689816303&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20July%2029%202020%20-%201689816303+CID_8a5908df5148073fe109ac2f65f94f41&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=The%20mystery%20of%20the%20Top%20Ends%20vanishing%20wildlife%20and%20the%20unexpected%20culprits

In 2010, Kakadu National Park conducted a pivotal study on Top End mammals. It found that between 1996 and 2009, the number of native mammal species at survey sites had halved, and the number of individual animals dropped by more than two-thirds. Similar trends have since been observed elsewhere across the Top End.

We found most parts of the Top End have very few native mammals left. The isolated areas where mammals are persisting have retained good-quality habitat, with a greater variety of plant species and dense shrubs and grasses.

This habitat provides more shelter and food for native mammals, and has fewer cats and dingoes, which hunt more efficiently in open areas. In contrast, sites with degraded habitat have much less food and shelter available, and native mammals are more exposed to predators.

Across northern Australia, habitat quality is primarily driven by two factors: bushfires and introduced livestock, either farmed or feral.

Our surveys revealed that areas with more feral livestock have fewer native mammals.

Even at relatively low densities, feral livestock are detrimental to small mammals. Through overgrazing and trampling, they degrade habitat and reduce the availability of food and shelter for native mammals.

Frequent, intense fires also play a big role. Australia’s tropical savannas are among the most fire-prone on Earth, but fires that are too frequent, too hot and too extensive remove critical food and shelter.

Yet, even if land managers can manage fires to protect biodiversity, for example by reducing the occurrence of large, intense fires, the presence of feral livestock will continue to impede native mammal recovery.

Our study suggests an effective way to halt and reverse Top End mammal losses is to protect and restore habitat. For example, by improving fire management and controlling feral livestock through culling.

The Northern Hemisphere forests are suffering:

Rising temperatures and droughts have made trees in Germany more vulnerable to attacks by bark beetles and other insects. That's led to a nearly sixfold jump in trees destroyed by pests over the past two years.

Around 32 million cubic meters (1,130 million cubic feet) of wood damaged by insects had to be removed from Germany's forests in 2019, the Federal Statistical Office reported Monday.

That total is three times higher than the 11 million cubic meters that was destroyed in 2018, and an almost sixfold increase on the 6 million cubic meters felled due to pests in 2017.

Experts have warned that climate change and the proliferation of insects like the bark beetle are having a catastrophic impact on native forests.

"This combination did not exist before," Michael Müller, forest protection expert at the Technical University of Dresden, said.

"We are currently experiencing the most serious forest damage … since the beginning of regulated sustainable forest care and management, so more than 200 years ago."

Big old trees store lots of carbon

https://theconversation.com/gabons-large-trees-store-huge-amounts-of-carbon-what-must-be-done-to-protect-them-141540

Large trees are the living, breathing giants that tower over tropical forests, providing habitat and food for countless animals, insects and other plants. Could these giants also be the key to slowing climate change?

Globally, tropical forests remove a staggering 15% of carbon dioxide emissions that humans produce. ... Gabon has 87% forest cover and is the second most forested country in the world.

Most of this carbon is stored in the largest trees – those with diameters bigger than 70cm at 1.3 meters from the ground. Just the largest 5% of trees stored 50% of the forest carbon.

... we found that human activities, not environmental factors, overwhelmingly affect carbon stocks.

Importantly, forests in national parks stored roughly 25% more carbon than forests outside of parks. Thus, protecting mostly undisturbed forests can effectively conserve carbon and biodiversity.

Intact forests can pay returns. Norway recently committed to paying Gabon $150 million for stewardship of its forests. Conservation of forests requires sacrifice by the Gabonese people. Yet, this payment demonstrates that Gabon’s large trees are a national asset that can contribute to its development as well as an international resource requiring collective action to conserve.

https://phys.org/news/2020-07-young-trees-forests-important-climate.html

But the implications of climate change are quite different. All else being equal, warming tends to increase the likelihood of death among trees, from drought, wildfire or insect outbreaks. This will lower the average age of trees as we move into the future. But, in this case, that younger age does not have a loan-like effect on CO₂. Those young patches of may take up CO₂ more strongly than the older patches they replace, but this is more than countered by the increased rate of death. The capacity of the forest to store carbon has been reduced. Rather than the forest loaning CO₂ to the atmosphere, it's been forced to make a donation.

So increased tree growth from CO₂ and increased death from warming are in competition. In the tropics at least, increased growth is still outstripping increased mortality, meaning that these forests continue to take up huge amounts of carbon. But the gap is narrowing. If that uptake continues to slow, it would mean more of our CO₂ emissions stay in the atmosphere, accelerating climate change.

But it's important to separate the question of uptake from that of storage. The world's big, old forests store an enormous amount of carbon, keeping it out of the , and will continue to do so, even if their net CO₂ uptake decreases. So long as they are not cut down or burned to ashes, that is.

A full treatise on what to do about destroying forests and ourselves:

https://theecologist.org/2020/jul/30/towards-great-forest-transition-part-1

Industrial expansion has resulted in the loss of some 420 million hectares of forest overall since 1990, and the decrease of old-growth primary forest worldwide by over 80 million hectares.
The Covid-19 pandemic did not come out of the blue. It was a symptom of the fundamental structures of industrial civilization, and it is an early warning signal for how this civilization is rapidly eroding the very conditions of its own existence.

Over the last decade, environmental scientists have warned that human activities are increasingly at risk of the breaching planetary boundaries that define the environmental limits in which humanity can safely operate.

Deforestation is one of the most intractable and yet most potent drivers of environmental crisis. It is also among the four out of nine planetary boundaries that civilisation was already at high risk of crossing five years ago according to research published in the journal Science.

A new report from the United Nations Environment Programme points out that the Covid-19 pandemic is essentially a dry-run for what could be an even worse pandemic.

Despite this, most governments, policymakers and business leaders do not understand the scale of the crisis or its true nature. They are clamouring for a return to business-as-usual to simply get economies moving again – with little reflection on how this would only reinforce the behaviours that got us into this intractable mess in the first place.

Amidst such pressures, it is no surprise to see that deforestation driven by logging activity has accelerated in Brazil, Colombia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal and Madagascar during the Covid-19 pandemic – partly due to reduced environmental monitoring by authorities and harsh economic consequences amidst lockdown regimes.

Yet Covid-19 is not simply a dry-run for the next pandemic – it is also, as executive director of the UN Global Compact Lise Kingo has said, a ‘fire drill’ for climate catastrophe. Deforestation is among the top drivers of global heating, contributing nearly a tenth of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions due to tree cover loss from tropical forests. This is so large that if tropical deforestation were a country, it would rank a third in global CO2 emissions behind China and the United States.

The Covid-19 pandemic thus offers us a moment of awakening. We have arrived at an inflection point for the human species. The world needs new global approaches to tackle deforestation to not only avert the next pandemic, but to avert climate catastrophe, along with other forms of biodiversity collapse and ecological crisis.

In 2013, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessed that deforestation was responsible for up to 10 percent of human-induced carbon dioxide emissions. But when taking into account forest degradation – negative impacts on a forest’s structure or function which do not decrease its area size – as well CO2 emissions tropical peatlands, this figure rises to 15 percent.

Satellite data for the period 2003-14 shows that tropical forests have now ceased to act as carbon ‘sinks’, because they emit more carbon than they capture due to deforestation and degradation.

In May, a shocking new study published in Nature Scientific Reports ... modelled human-forest interactions over the last few decades, along with its potential impact on the viability of human civilisation. Their findings were alarming: “Calculations show that, maintaining the actual rate of population growth and resource consumption, in particular forest consumption, we have a few decades left before an irreversible collapse of our civilisation."

Tracking the current rate of resource consumption against the rate of deforestation, the authors found that “statistically the probability to survive without facing a catastrophic collapse, is very low.” At the current rate of deforestation, they projected that all the world’s forests would disappear within approximately 100-200 years.

As forests provide critical services to the life-support systems necessary for human survival on the planet – including carbon storage, oxygen production, soil conservation, water cycle regulation, support for natural and human food systems, and homes for countless species – “it is highly unlikely to imagine the survival of many species, including ours, on Earth without them.”

On that scenario, human civilisation would begin to collapse long before the terminal point for planetary-scale forest destruction, potentially well within the next two to four decades.

Ending deforestation will require not just looking at legislation to compel ‘Others’ out there to change course while we relentlessly accelerate our own path of endless growth. It will means, therefore, scaling back our complicity in the fundamental drivers of the endless growth machine.

https://theecologist.org/2020/jul/30/towards-great-forest-transition-part-2

In other words, to avert collapse we need a paradigm shift. The good news is that we may be able to avert the worst-case scenario identified in this paper.

Just as rates of deforestation appear to be declining – not fast enough and still in extremely tepid fashion – so too are projected rates of population growth. As a new set of forecasts published by The Lancet suggests, world population may begin to start shrinking after mid-century due to declining fertility rates, rather than continuing to grow as earlier major projections have foretold.

For life to thrive, it must enable the conditions for life to thrive. If we are intent on destroying the lungs of the earth, then we not only put countless species at risk, we are putting ourselves on the line. If we wish to avoid the next pandemic, climate catastrophe, the biodiversity crisis, if not civilisational collapse, we must do everything we can to save our forests.

Costa Rica's success story

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/27/americas/reforestation-costa-rica-c2e-spc/index.html

"In the 1970s and 1980s Costa Rica had one of the highest deforestation rates in Latin America, but it managed to turn that around in a relatively short period of time."

Costa Rica is the first tropical country to have stopped -- and subsequently reversed -- deforestation. Can the rest of the world follow its lead?
Costa Rica's success is underscored by economics. It paired its ban on deforestation with the introduction of PES, which pays farmers to protect watersheds, conserve biodiversity or capture carbon dioxide.
"We have learned that the pocket is the quickest way to get to the heart," says Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Costa Rica's minister for environment and energy, adding that people are more likely to take care of nature if it provides an income.
The government scheme, which is financed predominantly by a tax on fossil fuels, has paid out a total of $500 million to landowners over the last 20 years, according to FONAFIFO. It has saved more than 1 million hectares of forest, which amounts to a fifth of the country's total area, and planted over 7 million trees.
This respect is reinforced by the country's booming ecotourism sector says Patricia Madrigal-Cordero, former vice-minister for the environment.
"People come to see the mountains, the nature, the forests, and when they are stunned by a monkey or a sloth in the tree, communities realize what they have here, and they realize they should care for it," she tells CNN.
It is this combination of political will, environmental passion and tourism that has enabled the country to become a pioneer in reforestation.
Rodríguez, the country's environment minister, says that while Costa Rica's basic strategy could be applied anywhere, "principles and values" need to be in place too.These include good governance, strong democracy, a respect for human rights and a solid education system, he says.

Stop subsidies, stop forest burnin

  • An outdated Kyoto Climate Agreement policy, grandfathered into the 2015 Paris Agreement, counts electrical energy produced by burning biomass — wood pellets — as carbon neutral. However, new science demonstrates that burning forests for energy is dirtier than coal and not carbon neutral in the short-term.
  • But with the carbon accounting loophole still on the books, European Union nations and other countries are rushing to convert coal plants to burn wood pellets, and to count giant biomass energy facilities as carbon neutral — valid on paper even as they add new carbon emissions to the atmosphere. The forest industry argues otherwise.
  • It too is capitalizing on the loophole, building large new wood pellet factories and logging operations in places like the U.S. Southeast — cutting down forests, pelletizing trees, and exporting biomass. A case in point are the two giant plants now being built by the Enviva Corporation in Lucedale, Mississippi and Epes, Alabama.
  • Enviva and other firms can only make biomass profitable by relying on government subsidies. In the end, forests are lost, carbon neutrality takes decades to achieve, and while communities may see a short-term boost in jobs, they suffer air pollution and the risk of sudden economic collapse if and when the carbon loophole is closed.

Every year, the two factories will grind the equivalent of a hundred square miles of forest into 2.7 million metric tons of combustible wood pellets, to be burned at former coal plants in Europe and Asia — with all the resulting carbon released into the atmosphere.

The EU endorsed this policy even though recent science has shown unequivocally that wood pellets release more CO2 even than coal.

In January 2018, more than 800 scientists from around the world petitioned the European Union Parliament to strip the “carbon neutrality” designation from the wood pellet industry. They wrote: “Burning wood is inefficient and therefore emits far more carbon than burning fossil fuels for each kilowatt hour of electricity produced.” In addition, “Time matters. Placing an additional carbon load in the atmosphere for decades [while trees regrow] means permanent damages due to more rapid melting of glaciers and thawing of permafrost, and more packing of heat and acidity into the world’s oceans… The adverse implications not just for carbon but for global forests and biodiversity are also large.

In 2018, Anderson and his law-firm partner and boss, Keri Powell, released a report showing how the biomass industry had long evaded the US Clean Air Act (CAA), largely through creative interpretation of the CAA’s distinction between “major” and “minor” pollution sources.

In Mississippi, Enviva’s Lucedale plant will get $4 million in direct government grants and $13 million in waived taxes, which the Mississippi Center for Public Policy estimates will cost $188,000 per job over the next ten years.

Importantly, those subsidies don’t only arise on this side of the Atlantic. Drax, in the north of England, a giant coal-to-wood pellet converted plant which provides 10% of British electrical demand. The pellets are paid for with about $1.2 billion per year in UK subsidies — subsidies which, in turn, absolutely depend on the notion that biomass is green, carbon-neutral fuel.

... as Rita Frost of the Dogwood Alliance bluntly puts it: take away the subsidies and “all this could just go away.”

Self medication is growing, and even being prescribed

Forests are natural dust filters, commit CO2 and produce oxygen. What does it mean in facts and figures? An extract of the Bayerische Staatsforsten, shows the forest's performance:

  • One hectare of deciduous forest produces 15 tons of oxygen per year, coniferous forests even 30 tons per hectare and year.
  • One hectare of forest filters up to fifty tons of soot and dust from the atmosphere every year. Compared to city air, the values are said to be more than 90% better.
  • Forests are gigantic carbon dioxide stores. The exact amount of storage depends on the tree species and the local environment. Forests with an average age of 55 years bind 10.6 tons CO2 per hectare and year.
  • Trees give so-called terpenes and essential oils, which not only give the forest its typical spicy smell and are beneficial for the bronchial tubes. This is due to the ability of essential oils to fight bacteria, germs and even viruses.

Following the German Forest Protection Association large, contiguous forest areas near cities have a beneficial effect on the climate. The temperature differences between forest and city of 4° to 8°C cause a permanent exchange of air.

... The outstanding role of green nature is also underlined by the fact that the human eye can detect the color green in extremely high resolution. This alone is a clear indication of why people are always dependent on a green environment," said Prof. Dr. Joachim Heinrich, head of global environmental medicine at the Ludwig Maximilian University Munich.

... the so-called forest interior climate is pleasantly cool with higher humidity, less wind and subdued light intensity. This alone can have a positive effect on headaches or respiratory diseases.

When asked when the forest starts to unfold its positive effects, Bernjus replies: "Of course, just the sight of the forest has something soothing about it. Its effect begins with immersion in the forest - every minute in the forest does us good. Those who take two hours of time for the forest at the weekend create a good stress management depot for the working week. Because: the recreational effect in the forest lasts for a while."

... Japanese doctors even issue prescriptions for "forest baths".

Also the Shetlands announced in late 2018 that doctors may prescribe activities in nature such as sea walks, dog walks and the like on prescription. In parallel, the Shetland National Health Service has drafted a Monthly calendar with suitable small recommendations for outdoor activities.

The forest commissioner of the German government, Cajus Caesar, loudly demanded ZDF News the health insurance companies to use the healing forest more for health care.

[PS This paper seeks to quantify the health $value of recreation https://qorf.org.au/researchers-put-a-value-on-national-parks-impact-on-mental-health/

For Australia, the team estimated the annual health services value of Australia’s national parks was around $145 billion ($US100 billion) a year.]

There are trees donors. If you hug a tree, you will feel inflow of forces.

And there are trees vampires. Approaching this tree, I usually ask to pick up all the accumulated negativity, fatigue, illness (even not yet manifested on the physical plane).

In order to recharge your energy from tree, listen to your feelings. If you feel like You have lifted the mood, there is a lightness of the soul, You chose a tree which is ready to share with You their energy. Another way to understand the tree ready to come to the aid of man is to expose your palm at a distance of 7-10 at a distance from the tree trunk. If you feel cold, it is not necessary to try to charge, but if warm, it means that the tree is full of vitality. Don’t forget to thank the tree at the end of “cuddling”.

Trees vampires absorb the negativity, disease, bad thoughts and channel them into the ground. The earth is a neutralizer of negative energy.

One of the strongest trees of the vampires is aspen. Remember in fairy tales, legends of witches, vampires heart hammered a stake. thus, people protect themselves from the negativity that carried the vampires and the dead (the walking witches). Good spirits helps aspen cross, you can even carry in your pocket aspen cross tied with red thread. More than 10 minutes standing in an embrace with a wasp is not recommended, as it will take not only negative, but also to a good reach. People will eventually feel the weakness and dizziness.

18 July 2020 


Nabucca's world reputation continues to grow

https://www.dw.com/en/living-planet-protesting-for-old-growth-forest-in-australia/av-54198249

Precious old-growth forest that was spared in Australia's recent bushfires is now under threat from the logging industry. The indigenous community says the area holds incalculable cultural and environmental importance — and they've teamed up with local conservationists to try and save it.

Koala population protection

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/calls-to-reverse-absurd-rule-on-endangered-species-boost-koala-aid-20200711-p55b3y.html

Labor and environmental groups are calling for changes to how the extinction threat to koalas and other species is set, and for beefed-up protections near Sydney to preserve the state's healthiest koala colonies.

Since then, the NSW Scientific Committee has been barred from granting local populations of a species a higher rating than the statewide one. For koalas that means hard-hit colonies near Port Stephens or Port Macquarie aren't rated more highly than the lowest "vulnerable" status, even though they were hard hit by the bushfires.

"The Liberal-National government's ridiculous rules are standing in the way of our scientists exposing the dire situation facing endangered animals," Ms Washington said. "Not only is the public being misled, but endangered koalas are missing out on extra funding and support."

She called on Environment Minister Matt Kean to "get rid of this absurd green tape", adding that, rather than simplifying the system, it was "destroying it".

The department spokesperson said the government had "committed to create a koala reserve along the Georges River in Sydney’s south-west to help ensure the survival of this iconic species".

A new national park on the Georges River is also the top priority of the Total Environment Centre's Protecting Sydney's Macarthur Koala Colony report, which highlights the threats to the region's marsupials.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-11/family-fighting-for-appin-koala-protection-despite-eviction/12442520

Sue Gay and her daughter, Kate Banister, live on a sprawling property in Appin, about an hour's drive south-west of Sydney.

Ms Banister is a wildlife carer who said she had seen the impact urban expansion was having on the local koala population.

"Last koala season we had probably 20 come into our care that had been hit by cars, attacked by dogs or lost their habitat so close to the main road," she said.

But after three decades the pair have been handed an eviction notice from the New South Wales Government, which plans to repurpose the land for urban development.

Despite losing her home, Ms Gay said she was committed to protecting the home of the local koalas.

She is taking property developer Lendlease to the Land and Environment Court over its Figtree Hill housing development up the road from her house.

The inquiry revealed, in its current form, the estate would further fragment koala habitat and could cause a localised extinction.

https://www.macarthuradvertiser.com.au/story/6835113/call-to-urgently-establish-koala-national-park/?cs=1437

The NSW Labor party is urging the government to not delay implementing a slew of recommendations to protect the state's koala populations.

A recent NSW Upper House koala inquiry report suggested koalas were at risk of going extinct in the wild by 2050 unless urgent intervention was taken to safeguard their existence.

In a recent visit to Campbelltown, Labor leader Jodi McKay said the recommendations, which include the establishment of a Georges River Koala National Park in Macarthur (home to Australia's only disease-free koala colony), needed to be taken seriously and implemented urgently.

"There is a real risk koalas will become extinct in NSW because of the Berejiklian Government's inaction," she said.

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/can-the-koala-survive-in-berejiklians-nsw,14096

In many respects, NSW is the perfect example of how successful government policies of extinction can be. More appropriately described by biologist Dr Kara Youngentobas as“death by a thousand cuts”, localised extinctions have been and are happening all over the State of NSW, both long before and since the catastrophic drought and bushfires.

The first step in extinction policies is to ensure there are no reliable, current population estimates and that none will be undertaken.

The second step of extinction policies is to throw funding into newly created strategies which are designed to ensure the primary threats are not addressed but the public will believe the Government is actually doing something.

Extinction policy step three is to say what you believe people want to hear. Have photos taken cuddling a koala. Gaslight.

The fourth and final extinction policy is straightforward: divide and conquer. Jobs versus environment; animals versus humans. Promote chaos, approve logging, massive urbanisation, high immigration numbers, infrastructure and major developments in koala habitat.

Can the koala survive in NSW? On present indications, it will be a bloody miracle.

Using eucalypts to defeat virus

https://www.miragenews.com/local-eucalypts-could-help-koalas-fight-retrovirus/

USC researchers hope a natural antiviral medicine found in the leaves of eucalyptus trees in South East Queensland could be a game-changer in treating a serious virus infecting Australia’s koala population.

While antibiotics are available to treat chlamydial infections in koalas, there are currently no treatment options available to manage the koala retrovirus (KoRV), a disease that is particularly prevalent in the south east of the state.

In a collaborative project, funded by Gympie Regional Council, researchers tested leaves from 16 eucalypt species from the Gympie area for natural antiviral activity and found some have the potential to inhibit retroviruses.

And Koalas to fight STDs

https://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/44083/20200715/koalas-stds-actually-prove-beneficial-humans.htm

Koalas infected with chlamydia may be able to help us produce a vaccine from this widespread STD (or sexually transmitted disease). Chlamydia is a bacterium that is acting like a virus, and it has infected many vertebrates, including frogs, parakeets, fish, and yes, even koalas and humans.

Such a shared susceptibility to chlamydia led researchers to consider saving and studying koalas to develop a cure for people.

The vaccine being developed by Dr. Timms and his team may provide insights on the development of a human vaccine. Chlamydia is the most common STD in humans, having 131 million new infections every year. It can stay in the reproductive tract for years, and infections can cause ectopic pregnancy, inflammatory disease in the pelvis, and infertility. Chlamydia may affect male fertility as well, damaging sperm and causing congenital disabilities.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/13/science/chlamydia-koalas-vaccines.html

Fast-tracking Extinction

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/11/tasmanias-precious-swift-parrot-habitats-marked-for-logging-despite-expert-warnings?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0d1YXJkaWFuVG9kYXlBVVMtMjAwNzEx&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTAU_email&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayAUS

A Tasmanian old growth forest area has been earmarked for logging despite the state-owned forestry agency receiving scientific advice that it is vital habitat for the survival of a critically endangered species.

Its inclusion in a “wood production plan” has angered scientists and conservationists, who say there is clear evidence it contains large, hollow-bearing trees used for nesting by the swift parrot, a nationally protected migratory species that breeds in Tasmania and that peer-reviewed science has suggested could be extinct by 2031.

It follows a neighbouring area in the Huon Valley, south of Hobart, with similarly large trees being clear-felled last year despite an ecologist hired to advise government authorities that it should also not be logged.

Dr Jennifer Sanger, a forest ecologist and member of the volunteer campaign group Forestry Watch, said the entire area was particularly significant for swift parrots and should not be logged.

Webb last year told a Senate inquiry into Australia’s faunal extinction crisis that senior state department officials had repeatedly expected him to alter his scientific opinion, mostly on whether it was safe to log swift parrot habitat, when he worked on threatened species for the Tasmanian government between 2003 and 2015.

Chris Timewell, from BirdLife Australia, said the parrot was being hit by bushfires and ongoing logging in its feeding and breeding habitat in both New South Wales and Tasmania, and unless decisive action was taken to stop the destruction, it faced extinction within 15 to 20 years.

Guardian Australia reporting has uncovered widespread problems with the EPBC Act, including poor monitoring of endangered species, major delays in the listing of threatened species and ecosystems, failure to develop, update and implement recovery plans for species and habitats threatened with extinction, failure to protect important habitat, and threatened species funding being used for projects that do not benefit threatened species. The laws also do not address the effects of climate change.

Legal action threatened in Victoria 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/15/logging-victorias-burnt-forest-would-hurt-30-threatened-species-study-says

VicForests has proposed opening 59 new coupes in the state’s north-east and East Gippsland regions for so-called salvage logging of burnt native forests.

Conservationists have opposed the plan and in a submission to public consultation on the proposal, The Wilderness Society (TWS) says its analysis found each of the 59 coupes contained habitat for threatened species, with 39 containing habitat for critically endangered species.

The environment group is also urging companies that purchase VicForests timber to reject any logs from the new coupes, warning timber millers may be “subject to legal exposure” if harvesting of timber breached environmental laws.

Under Australia’s Illegal Logging Prohibition Act, companies are not permitted to process timber that has been illegally logged

Pining for the good times

They also lost an estimated 25,000 hectares of native bush and 50,000 hectares of pine plantations that encircle towns like Tumbarumba and Tumut.

The loss of forest, especially pine plantations, means a cloud of economic uncertainty hangs over the region.

The loss of plantation pine has immense implications.

"That's about 40 per cent of our available logs going forward, so it's a substantial impact to us in the future," mill manager Marcus Fenske said.

Faced with a shortage of local logs, the timber industry wants the Federal Government to provide freight subsidies to make it viable to haul sawlogs hundreds of kilometres from other regions to the district's timber mills.

The company is racing to salvage as much of the fire-killed blackened timber while they can.

"They talk about it being between nine months and a year that we've got for the log that has been burnt, getting it off the stump and into the mill," Mr Fenske said.

However, charcoal from the burnt logs is causing problems with the machinery.

At the paper mill, ash residue is also making it difficult to create white paper from blackened timber.

"In the native forest industry, it might be 60 to 80 years before we see some of these forests back to the way they were."

Where once here was one now there are three

https://theconversation.com/a-rare-discovery-we-found-the-sugar-glider-is-actually-three-species-but-one-is-disappearing-fast-142807

However, our new study shows the sugar glider is actually three genetically and physically distinct species: Petaurus breviceps and two new species, Krefft’s glider (Petaurus notatus) and the savanna glider (Petaurus ariel).

The sugar glider, with a less-defined dorsal stripe, is apparently restricted to forests east of the Great Dividing Range, extending from southeast Queensland to around the border of New South Wales and Victoria.

And sadly, the bushfires have incinerated a large proportion of the sugar glider’s updated range. Given they are tree hollow users and require a diverse habitat with a variety of foods, the bushfires have most likely had a devastating effect on this much-loved species.

Flow-on effects of Bushfires

https://theconversation.com/before-and-after-see-how-bushfire-and-rain-turned-the-macquarie-perchs-home-to-sludge-139919?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201674316140&utm_content=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201674316140+CID_47115318da874ed18dbe920212e99046&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Before%20and%20after%20see%20how%20bushfire%20and%20rain%20turned%20the%20Macquarie%20perchs%20home%20to%20sludge

The unprecedented intensity and scale of Australia’s recent bushfires left a trail of destruction across Australia. Millions of hectares burned and more than a billion animals were affected or died. When the rains finally arrived, the situation for many fish species went from dangerous to catastrophic.

A slurry of ash and mud washed into waterways, turning freshwater systems brown and sludgy. Oxygen levels plummeted and water quality deteriorated rapidly.

Hundreds of thousands of fish suffocated. It was akin to filling your fish tank with mud and expecting your goldfish to survive.

One habitat - Mannus Creek near the NSW Snowy Mountains - is particularly special because it was relatively pristine before the fires. In fact, this creek contained the last population of the threatened Macquarie perch in the NSW Murray catchment. A study in 2017 found a Macquarie perch population that was restricted to a 9km section of the creek but was doing quite well.

Some of us visited the creek three weeks after the fires. The intensity, ferocity and speed of the fires meant nothing was spared. The former forest floor was literally a trail of death and destruction – dead and charred kangaroos, wallabies, deer, possums and birds were everywhere.

We rescued ten fish. Days later, rain washed ash and silt into the channel. Within hours, the once-pristine creek became flowing mud with the consistency of cake mix.

Funding, equipment and human resources are desperately needed to help our rivers recover. But we know that without an effective on-ground intervention, recovery could take decades.

This article documents the impacts of the wildfires on the 119 federal priority species, includes brief summaries of species, likely impacts, recommendations, and maps of species distribution overlaid with fires.

https://theconversation.com/where-are-they-now-the-stories-of-the-119-species-still-in-danger-after-the-bushfires-and-how-to-help-131025?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20July%2015%202020%20-%201678016175&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20July%2015%202020%20-%201678016175+CID_fc003bb7b6fa9279522a26cae5840cb8&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Where%20are%20they%20now%20The%20stories%20of%20the%20119%20species%20still%20in%20danger%20after%20the%20bushfires%20and%20how%20to%20help

[Examples - most still require surveys and protection of unburnt habitat, not sure what convervation is?]

Rufous scrub-bird ...

What percentage of its habitat burned?: 50%
Immediate actions needed for convervation: Field surveys in places most severely burnt, like the Dorrigo Plateau, to estimate the extent of population loss in areas that experienced fires of varying severity. Then ensure all unburnt forests are protected, and everything is in place to stop the spread of future fires.

But their heritage does not protect them from fire. Surveys have found that their forest habitat stays silent for many years after their habitat is burnt. Regrowth after fire may eventually suit the birds well, as they seem to occur in younger forests with a thick understorey, but it takes a long time for their food and shelter to become suitable.

Hastings River mouse [by Brad Law!]

What percentage of its habitat burned?: 70%
Immediate actions needed for convervation: Field surveys and continued annual monitoring to estimate the extent of population loss in areas that experienced fires of varying severity.

Due to their small size, the mouse is likely to have only limited potential to recolonise after fire, though they probably persist in small, unburnt refuges, or where the fire was less severe.

Koala

What percentage of its habitat burned?: c. 10-15%
Immediate actions needed for convervation:
There is a pressing need for long-term studies, repeat studies, addressing multiple threats, private land conservation, historical perspectives.

Koalas are vulnerable to even low intensity fires, including prescribed burns. And studies on the effect of previous fires have shown fire during drought can cause extinction of local populations. The most important finding is that, in the months following fire, koalas can thrive in burnt areas, provided there are surviving individuals to recolonise from.

Pugh's frog

What percentage of its habitat burned?: > 90 % of its range was impacted by fire
Immediate actions needed for convervation: Field surveys of known populations must be conducted in early spring when frogs can be detected, to provide information on the status of the adults and whether reproduction occurs in the season after the fire. And long-term monitoring sites can provide pre-fire information for three populations to enable comparisons of population impacts.

Because the frog lives in the forest leaf litter, it’s likely to be greatly impacted by forest fires. Thirteen populations are known, and all were within the fire zone

Temperate species can't handle the heat

https://theconversation.com/which-species-will-win-and-lose-in-a-warmer-climate-it-depends-where-they-evolved-141659?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201674316140&utm_content=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201674316140+CID_47115318da874ed18dbe920212e99046&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Which%20species%20will%20win%20and%20lose%20in%20a%20warmer%20climate%20It%20depends%20where%20they%20evolved

As the global climate shifts, it’s important to know which species have adaptations to survive. Our research published today in PNAS found it largely depends on where they evolved.

We did this by studying rainbowfishes from Australia.

We used wild rainbowfishes separated in two groups. One group was kept at a contemporary average summer temperature (21℃). In the other, the temperature was slowly increased until it reached a summer temperature projected for 2070 under a high emission scenario (33℃).

Subtropical species showed greater capacity to adapt to future climates, with temperate species being the most vulnerable. Desert species, which are predicted to be exposed to more extreme heatwaves and longer droughts in the future, are also vulnerable.

And neither can tropical seedlings

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/heat-may-leave-tropical-trees-unable-to-germinate/

LONDON, 14 July, 2020 – There could soon be real trouble for tropical trees and other plants. As global average temperatures rise, in response to ever more profligate use of fossil fuels, it may for some species become too hot to successfully germinate.

They report that the closer to the equator, the more the risk that by 2070 temperatures could rise high enough to exceed the ceiling below which germination is possible.

More than half of all the tropical seedlings tested – 79 out of 142 – would experience temperatures higher than the optimum for breeding. And 41 out of 190 would meet temperatures that would be higher than the maximum at which seeds would germinate.

“These plants are more at risk because they are near their upper limits. So even a small increase in temperature from climate change could push them over the edge,” said Alexander Sentinella, of the University of New South Wales, who led the study.

“The figures are quite shocking because by 2070 more than 20% of tropical plant species, we predict, will face temperatures above their upper limit, which means they won’t germinate, and so can’t survive.”

Why REDD has failed

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/07/u-n-s-grand-plan-to-save-forests-hasnt-worked-but-some-still-believe-it-can/

The world’s tropical forests are in serious trouble, with deforestation worsening and the sixth mass extinction accelerating faster than scientists previously thought. This grim news comes more than a decade after the international community agreed on a strategy for curbing the destruction of tropical forests as part of global effort to tackle the climate crisis.

Known as REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), the strategy sounds simple: Rich, industrialized countries would pay developing countries for preserving forests and preventing the emissions of carbon dioxide that come with destroying trees.

“No, REDD has not achieved its goals!” said Frances Seymour, a leading international authority on tropical forests and a distinguished senior fellow at the World Resources Institute (WRI), on a recent Skype video call. “Because the goal is to reduce and eventually reverse tropical deforestation, and it’s clear we’re losing.”

“The reason it hasn’t achieved its goals is we haven’t actually tried it.”

[Arild Angelsen] “Deforestation happens because it’s profitable for someone. There’s good money in chopping down trees, mainly to convert the land to agriculture. And the idea that REDD should change that equation by making a living tree more valuable than a dead tree — it will cost a lot of money if you really want to do that.”

We already knew we have little more than a decade to limit the warming of planet below 1.5° Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels, the target of the Paris Agreement. Now, new research finds that human activity, including the destruction of forests and other habitats, is driving millions of species to extinction even faster than scientists had thought. The research points to roughly the same critical window, 10 to 15 years, for preventing the loss of entire ecosystems and, eventually, the planet’s collapse.

The idea of awarding carbon credits in exchange for financing REDD+ projects caused unease for a couple of reasons. First, there were doubts about whether the carbon sequestered in forested areas could be accurately measured and the conservation of those areas effectively monitored. There were also fears that forest conservation credits would be cheap, especially when compared to credits for technical solutions, such as building renewable energy capacity, and cheap REDD+ credits would allow companies in the developed world to basically pay a little fee to continue polluting.

[Juan Chang] “You go to these workshops and international events, and everybody’s walking really quickly, looking very busy. And then you go to the forest, and nothing changes. People have lost connection with the reality. We think that REDD+ is a world in itself, that REDD+ is about going to meetings and having complicated philosophical discussions. At the end of the day, it’s about the forest and the people.”

This is one of the central criticisms of REDD+: that the emissions reductions a country receives payments for might not be permanent.

And why burning forests has succeeded

https://newmatilda.com/2020/07/13/biomass-and-the-renewable-sustainable-con-greens-fiddle-while-global-forests-burn/

Burning ‘biomass’ to create electricity and reduce your carbon footprint is a fancy way of saying you’re chopping down forests to tackle climate change. Geoff Russell weighs in on an industry that continues to expand under a cover provided by faux environmentalists.

There is a massive global expansion in people burning forests for electricity. The reasons for this inevitability are simple. You can burn wood on windless nights. And it’s really cheap.

Apart from being cheap… a kilogram of wood holds about 10 times more energy than a kilogram of Li-ion battery. Do the math. You’d need 11.7 fully charged Tesla 85 kWh batteries to provide 1 MWh of electricity. This will cost you about $176,000. Alternatively you can burn half a tonne of wood pellets to drive a generator (assuming common efficiencies) at a cost of perhaps $100. And don’t forget, you still have to pay to charge your batteries.

The reaction to ‘burning biomass’ tends to be somewhat different from the reaction to ‘burning forests’. Our minds love to play these games. The first sounds benign and the second a little ominous. Similarly, ‘sustainability’ is a friendly sounding buzzword long enough for climate vandalism to hide behind; and it is. Call it what you will, the reality is massive machines are destroying wildlife and their habitat while making our climate problem worse. I’ll detail the accounting tricks used to justify attack on forests below.

The EU’s RED entirely ignores the carbon dioxide emissions from burning wood on the assumptions that trees will regrow. Which is like borrowing big chunks of carbon and heaving them skyward against a promise of future growth in biomass.

The RED treatment of wood is a fairly transparent scam engineered for the benefit of assorted forestry and energy companies.

So much for electricity, what about heating? Australians don’t think much about heating. Temperature control, for most of us, is all about cooling… which means air-conditioning. But globally the picture is different. Heat accounts for about half of all energy consumption globally. That’s a mind-bending fact.

And what about China? She’s also burning forests in a big way… 102 TWh worth in 2019 (according to the same BP dataset used to produce the graph). Her use of biomass for electricity has almost doubled during the past five years.

... to produce 6 TWh of electricity requires about 330,000 hectares of forest.

Planting an idea

http://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/199473/qa-is-planting-trees-answer-climate/

Large-scale tree planting is an increasingly popular component of global efforts to meet climate targets. However, forests are complex ecosystems, and poorly planned planting efforts can actually increase the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and increase global warming.

[Ecologist Dr Bonnie Waring] As an extremely rough approximation, an English oak of about 30cm in diameter will contain about 500kg (0.5 tonnes) of carbon in its wood and leaves. By comparison, a passenger on a flight from London to New York is responsible for emitting about 0.2 tonnes of carbon.

Undertaking a massive effort to promote forest regeneration or plant trees on non-croplands across the globe could sequester up to 100 gigatonnes of carbon, an amount equal to ten years of man-made carbon emissions at current rates. Yet it would take these new forests about a century to capture this quantity of carbon.

Our first priority should be to conserve existing forests, whether they are old-growth or young, re-growing forests. This is because cutting down forests will release more CO2than new trees can absorb. ...By contrast, if all existing forest were cut down and burned, that carbon would pour into both the oceans and the atmosphere, raising atmospheric CO2 by nearly 300 ppm! For reference, atmospheric CO2 concentrations are about 400 ppm today, and were about 280 ppm prior to the start of the Industrial Revolution.

However, if the forest is not used for production, then the focus should be on restoring the natural structure and function of the ecosystem – monocultures of fast-growing non-native species usually don’t have the largest carbon stores at maturity. Finally, trees should only be planted in areas that naturally support forest – planting on grasslands, peatlands, or in tundra ecosystems can have unintended consequences that enhance warming.

In the United States, for example, it is estimated that urban trees capture about 20 million tonnes of CO2 each year. Perhaps even more importantly, garden forests provide critical ecosystem services, such as cooling the local environment and providing habitat for urban biodiversity.

To find out more, read our briefing: What role can forests play in tackling climate change?

Arctic Feels the heat

https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/siberia-burning-climate-change-russia-1.5645428

This week, a European Union climate monitoring project reported temperatures in June were up to 10 degrees higher than usual in some parts of Russia's Arctic, with an overall rise of five degrees.

The heat and dry tundra conditions have also triggered vast forest fires. Currently, 1.77 million hectares of land are burning with expectations that the total fire area could eventually surpass the 17 million hectares that burned in 2019.

"It's a vicious cycle. More fires produce more climate change and more climate change fuels more fire."

Valueing Forests

https://massivesci.com/articles/natural-capital-environment-conservation-bushfires-camp-fire-gretchen-daily/

The recent bushfires that ravaged Australia have claimed the lives of an estimated one billion animals, with the sight of dead koalas and kangaroos shocking people around the globe. Can, or should, we put a price tag on the loss of animal life? While seemingly callous, some scientists think that it’s the best way to restore natural environments and prevent further loss of biodiversity.

As the risks and costs of liquidating nature were brought to light, Daily says, Costa Rica designed and implemented the first-ever payment system to incentivize landowners to keep forests standing. “That was transformational, and now it’s being modeled by other countries around the world.”

One of these tools is the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs (InVest), a free, open-source software platform, used by over 185 countries to date. InVest helps users quantify the risks and costs of loss of nature as well as map future returns on natural investments, helping people from farmers to government officials.

“I wish that were enough,” Daily says of the ethical and aesthetic arguments for protecting nature. “Yes, capturing the values of nature in dollar terms will always give us a lower bound value [than it’s worth], but it’s better than zero ... so this is a pragmatic approach that will cultivate an ever greater appreciation for human dependence on nature and it’s many different dimensions.”

First, forests are important for providing water. “When all that forest is gone, the erosion of the ash and soil beneath it is devastating to water supply [and to] hydropower production — a really important and relatively clean source of energy,” Daily explains. Secondly, she adds, the fires release vast quantities of carbon into the atmosphere, causing air pollution that affects human health in the short term and the climate in the long run. Furthermore, the fires decimate the recreation sector of the local economy as well as other livelihoods such as timber, fishing, and grazing in the region where these forests are. “Everybody is affected.”

Heal the healers

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/the-healing-powers-of-nature/ar-BB16zLRQ?li=BBnba9O

Most of us dismiss touching a tree as a way to reconnect with and heal ourselves, this despite our deep history as naturephiles and mounting evidence that nature is an effective tool to combat cancer, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, ADHD, and stress.

“It's in our DNA,” says Brooke Moran, professor of recreation and outdoor education, Western Colorado University. “There are studies from all over the world that show the outdoors equals health.” Studies vary about how much time it takes to reap the benefits, but with only 15 minutes spent in nature, Moran says there’s a reduction in cortisol – the body’s main stress hormone.

“The longer you stay out, of course, the better the benefits. Being in nature allows us to focus our senses. We're not looking at screens or hearing all the man-made noises in the world."

Moran points to studies that show the ways nature can positively impact our health, including improving short-term memory by 20 percent, increasing levels of Vitamin D,improving sleep quality, decreasing anxiety and depression,lowering blood sugar in diabetics, reducing inflammation, and even increasing creativity.

“I see nature as healing because of the conductive support the earth provides the human body,” says Laura Koniver, MD, author of The Earth Prescription.

“The earth pulses out an electromagnetic frequency – known as the Schumann Resonance – and the human body is fully conductive. Every single cell in our entire body becomes immediately grounded whenever we physically touch the earth directly. Twenty years of medical studies on grounding show that when we are connected to the earth's energy, our bodies naturally go into a healing state. Everything from our brain waves to our muscle tension to our heartbeat responds in a healing way to grounding.”

“We can learn that forests are an amazing resource,” says Dr. Qing Li, author Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness. “They give us everything we rely on in order to exist. They produce oxygen, cleanse the air we breathe, and purify our water. They stop flooding rivers and streams and the erosion of mountains and hills. They provide us with food, clothing, and shelter, and with the materials we need for furniture and tools. In addition to this, forests have always helped us to heal our wounds and to cure our diseases.”

“This is not exercise, or hiking, or jogging,” he says. “It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our sense of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.”

“It is a total effect of the five senses,” he says. “However, the sense of smell is the key elements of forest bathing because of the effect of phytoncides [a substance released by plants and trees, generally meaning the aroma of the forest]. As we walk slowly through the forest, seeing, listening, smelling, tasting, and touching, we bring our rhythms into step with nature,” says Dr. Li.

https://www.vogue.co.uk/beauty/article/what-is-forest-bathing

 

10 July 2020


Nambucca has garnered world attention - though the forests have aged quickly

https://www.dw.com/en/australia-aboriginal-protesters-defend-ancient-forest-against-logging/a-53979484

It's raining, the ground underfoot has turned to mud and the air is thick with mosquitoes. But activists at the entrance to Nambucca State Forest in New South Wales aren't deterred. Sheltering under tarpaulins strung between tall blackbutt eucalyptus trees, many of them have been camping out here for weeks.

"We are protesting because if we don't act now, our deeply significant cultural heritage will be desecrated," Greenwood told DW. "Our beautiful old-growth trees will be logged, rare flora will become extinct and our koalas and endangered species will literally have nowhere else to go."

The coastal old-growth rainforest is home to a multitude of species, including owls, koalas, bent-wing bats and an endearing, flop-eared possum called the yellow-bellied glider. It is also an important stopover for migrating birds.

On June 26, the case brought was dropped, as the Forestry Corporation moved its logging machinery to Wild Cattle Creek, another old-growth rainforest, 80 kilometers north of Nambucca, also on Aboriginal land.   

Lawyers for the Aboriginal people stated that the company's move out of Nambucca to log elsewhere disrupted their case. It's not possible to get an injunction against something that currently isn't happening, they said.

Forest protests are hotting up in the south east

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/protesters-organise-protect-native-forests-logging

A “Forest Embassy” protest by Brooman State Forest Conservation Group on June 29 in the Shoalhaven area was organised to stop the logging of native forest that had survived the Black Summer fires and to highlight illegal logging of trees with hollows. It was supported by the Coastwatchers Association, the Milton branch of the National Parks Association and Friends of the Forest (Mogo).

A recent community inspection of Compartment 58A in South Brooman State Forest showed that NSW native forestry industry contractors had not complied with NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) post fire logging requirements. The area next to the unburnt areas being logged is critical refuge to surviving endangered wildlife that sheltered from the fires along the creek area and is clearly marked out in green on recently issued logging maps.

Locals were shocked to find numerous protected trees with wildlife hollows cut down, particularly red mahogany trees. Following the community inspection, up to 20 illegal logging reports were filed with the EPA on June 21. The next day, the EPA advised it would investigate. As the wood taken from these trees with hollows have been illegally harvested, it is clear that logging in native forests must immediately stop. The EPA is also investigating logging on 24 to 26 degree slopes, despite the EPA prohibiting logging on slopes over 20 degrees.

Whats good for Victoria is good for NSW (except COVID19)

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/green-groups-call-on-bunnings-to-extend-victorian-timber-ban-to-nsw-20200705-p5595n.html

Environmental groups have called on Bunnings to extend to NSW its recent halt to sourcing native timber from Victoria's state forests, fearing supply will simply shift to the state's fire-hit forests.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW, which represents 150 environmental groups, has written to Bunnings, saying they fear NSW's state forests could end up filling any supply shortfall.

"We are worried that your decision to move away from VicForests could simply lead to significantly more harm done in NSW, where more than five million hectares burned in the 2019-2020 bushfires," the NCC's letter said. It noted a recent parliamentary inquiry also found koalas were on track to be extinct in NSW "well before 2050".

"Despite this, NSW Forestry Corporation is continuing to log koala habitat right now under recently weakened environmental laws that have led to communities' uprising up across the state," the letter said. "Put simply, the logs that end up in Bunnings stores are killing koalas."

The company, which sources native timber from Tasmania, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia, said it would respond in due to course to the NCC's letter.

60,800 ha a year may  be cleared, and the Government has blocked Tweed's Koala POM for 5 years, but they 'saved' 89 ha

https://www.miragenews.com/cudgen-nature-reserve-expanded-to-protect-more-koala-habitat/

The NSW Government has acquired an additional 89 hectares of land to expand Cudgen Nature Reserve and aid the recovery of the Tweed koala population.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said the addition would help to provide long-term habitat protection for native plants and animals on the Tweed Coast, including the endangered Tweed and Brunswick Rivers koala colony.

“Securing land for koala habitat conservation is one of my priorities as Environment Minister as well as a core pillar of the NSW Koala Strategy, which aims to secure the future of koalas in the wild,” Mr Kean said.

https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/conservation/nsw-governments-latest-bid-to-save-koala-population/news-story/98995dfc927899c0664860717976dc73

In 2018 the Environment Minister’s office released a statement labelling claims by the World Wildlife Fund and Nature Conservation Council (NCC) that the state’s koala population would soon become extinct as “scaremongering”.

“The NSW Government‘s Koala Strategy — the biggest commitment by any state government to secure koalas in the wild — will provide more natural habitat for koalas, tackle diseases, improve research and fix roadkill hot spots,” the statement read.

Societal breakdown leading to increasing incest

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ericatennenhouse/2020/07/03/forest-loss-could-be-causing-koalas-to-inbreed/#19907fb72169

Koalas stay close to their mothers for their first few years of life. By around age three, males typically set out to find their own territory—a move that pays off when it comes time to find a mate. Being physically distant from close relatives means there’s little chance of inbreeding.

But moving away from home is getting harder. Throughout eastern Australia, koala habitats are being chopped into pieces as swaths of forest get turned into suburbs and farmland. To leave their fragments, koalas are now forced to descend from the safety of their eucalyptus trees and travel on the ground through long deforested stretches.

Rather than venture out and risk being hit by cars or attacked by wild dogs, more and more male koalas are staying put. But according to a study published in May in the journal Molecular Ecology, remaining at home also has its costs—it could lead to high levels of inbreeding.

On analyzing the genetic samples, the researchers discovered that some of the koalas were producing offspring with their close relatives—cousins, brothers and sisters, and possibly parents.

Ideally, he adds, management would take the form of habitat protections that enable male koalas to disperse, rather than artificially boosting their gene pools by trapping and relocating animals. “I think it’s always preferable if you can allow the animals to do what comes naturally to them.”

Italian #KoalaKiller upsets Barilaro

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8485909/YouTuber-FriendlyJordies-hits-racist-impression-NSW-Premier-Gladys-Berejikilian.html

'It's a me, Barilaro. Do you like-a these koalas? We approved the Cabinet's development and logging proposals in koala habitats, starving them,' Shanks said, voicing the character in a stereotypical Italian accent. 

'We fast forwarded their extinction clock and didn't make any effort in an attempt to save their populations. All with the help of my good-a friend.' 

A cartoon of Gladys Berejiklian as Luigi then appeared titled 'Player 2 #KoalaKiller'.

In the skit, cartoon versions of Mr Barilaro (left) and Ms Berejiklian (right) dressed as Mario and Luigi, respectively, jump on koalas to kill them and earn in-game points

Shanks concluded the video by encouraging his 420,000 subscribers to use the #KoalaKiller hashtag to describe Ms Berejiklian while using the #KoalaSaver tag to praise Labor Leader Jodi McKay to continue 'triggering' Mr Barilaro.

Having stopped logging of public native forests years ago, New Zealand found they can easily achieve net zero just by replanting grazing lands with plantations (though the graziers are fighting)

https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/300046434/new-zealand-could-meet-its-zero-carbon-target-at-virtually-no-economic-cost-but-is-the-social-cost-too-high

This was the finding of a draft Government analysis, which examined the economic cost of reducing emissions across all sectors of the economy.

Using a technique called a marginal abatement cost curves (MACC) analysis – commonly used overseas to find the economic costs of reducing climate pollution – Ministry for the Environment (MfE) officials found converting sheep and beef farmland to pine forest was significantly cheaper than nearly any other option.

It is no surprise that forestry conversions are good for lowering net emissions. Replacing animals, which produce greenhouse gases, with trees, which store them, is a double benefit.

But the analysis shows the scale of the opportunity dwarfs any other sector of the economy, and suggests that if only economic factors were taken into account, current policies would drive mass forestry conversions nationwide, temporarily eliminating New Zealand’s contribution to climate change but fundamentally altering the landscape.

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/rural/2020/07/forestry-sector-insists-it-s-not-the-big-bad-wolf-coming-after-farmers-land.html

Fears for a repeat burning of the Amazon grow, fed by record clearing

https://www.ibtimes.sg/amazon-may-witness-repeat-2019-forest-fires-satellite-images-show-just-beginning-47918

Brazil's Amazon rainforest is on fire since June as satellite images show thousands of fires as the dry season approaches. Experts warn that the region could witness a repeat of last year's devastating blazes.

National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Brazil's space research agency identified 2,248 forest fires in the Amazons last month, they saw a 20 percent spike from the 1,880 fires seen in June 2019. Data points out that it was the worst fires witnessed in more than a decade.

Almost 40 billion tonnes of CO2 per year escapes to the atmosphere, globally. The Amazon fires not only decreases the absorption capacity of CO2 but also releases millions of tonnes of the global warming gas into the atmosphere, which it had to absorb.

Forests won't save us from climate chaos, unless we first save them

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/drought-hit-forests-may-worsen-climate-change/

LONDON, 7 July, 2020 − There could be big problems with national and international plans to plant forests to deal with climate change. One of them is uncertainty about how climate change is going to deal with the forests.

In six new studies of what might be called the plantation carbon conundrum, independent groups of researchers warn that:

German scientists report in the journal Basic and Applied Ecology that a warmer world has already delivered dramatic consequences for the forests of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The past five years have been the warmest in the region since records began, and 2018’s summer was the most extreme – 3.3°C above the long-term average. For spruce and other species that was the limit, and by 2019 even beech trees had died.

But there’s little guarantee that what works now will go on working, according to Arizona scientists writing in the journal Global Change Biology. So far, forests have helped contain climate change. But they found that North America’s most prolific tree, the Douglas fir, will absorb less carbon in future and do less to slow climate change.

“More warming for trees could mean more stress, more tree death and less capacity to slow global warming,” said Margaret Evans, of the University of Arizona.

“Up until now, forests have stabilised the climate, but as they become more drought-stressed, they could become a destabilising carbon source.” − Climate News Network

https://e360.yale.edu/features/will-climate-change-upend-projections-of-future-forest-growth

In a eucalyptus forest just west of Sydney, Australia, six open towers made of 25-meter-tall white pipes poke above the treetops. In 2012, carbon dioxide gas started flowing from the tubes, raising levels inside the rings to nearly 40 percent above the global average CO2 concentration of around 405 parts per million. For four years, trees soaked in the carbon bath, building some of it into leaves, roots, and wood, and respiring the rest. When ecologist Mingkai Jiang of Western Sydney University and colleagues measured the results of all this activity, they were shocked. Despite gorging on plant food in the form of CO2, the trees hadn’t managed to grow any larger, the researchers reported in April in Nature.

Almost halfway around the world, wires snake through the leaf-strewn soil of Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Electricity coursed through the wires for two years, raising the soil temperature by 4 degrees Celsius, mimicking the possible future. The findings were, again, sobering: The warmed soil belched out 55 percent more carbon than a control plot that wasn’t warmed, suggesting that tropical soils could become a potent source of carbon dioxide in a warmer future.

Forests today absorb more than a quarter of humans’ CO2 emissions, and more than a trillion tons of carbon reside in trees and forest soil — more than twice the carbon emitted by humans since the Industrial Revolution began.

Their results seem to be converging on bad news: Higher CO2 concentrations do not necessarily accelerate forest growth, warming soils seem to emit substantially more CO2 than previously believed, and climate-driven scourges threaten to kill trees faster than they can grow, turning forests globally into sources, not sinks, of carbon. Most worryingly, higher temperatures themselves could cause physiological changes in plants that reduce their ability to photosynthesize and grow.

The bottom line is that the changing climate is already hammering forests around the world, and future impacts could become severe enough to negate forests’ ability to sequester carbon altogether.

In free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiments that flooded young forests in the Southeastern United States with high concentrations of CO2, trees accelerated their growth, at least until they hit another growth limit, such as soil nutrients.

Last summer, the lead author of a much-celebrated paper called tree planting “the best climate solution available today,” though the authors later clarified that it can’t substitute for emissions reductions.

Now much of the optimism seems to be fading, as a growing set of studies document alarming increases in tree death from causes including deforestation, fires, droughts, and insect outbreaks. In the last two years, two papers based on long-term field data found that tree death was catching up with increased growth throughout the Americas. And a recent study of 300,000 trees, led by researchers at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom and the Royal Museum for Central Africa, estimated that intact African forests’ capacity to remove carbon will decrease by 14 percent by 2030.

The authors of the May paper, who analyzed previous studies and tree demography data sets, reported that trees in intact forests around the world are dying twice as fast as in the past, reducing both how much carbon such forests can absorb and how long that carbon stays locked away.

“If we completely ignore the risks to forests from these climate-driven disturbances,” says William Anderegg, a biologist at the University of Utah who led the study, “they could more than cancel out the carbon sequestration effects of a given policy.”

Regardless of how much carbon forests will suck up in the future, keeping forests standing and growing remains critical to climate stabilization, says Ellis of The Nature Conservancy, which has strongly promoted natural climate solutions to store carbon in forests, farmland and other ecosystems.

Adani is moving in on India's forests

https://www.newsclick.in/Adani-Coal-Mine-Chhattisgarh-Hasdeo-Forest-Adivasi-Communities-FRA

As a resource-rich state, Chhattisgarh in central India is the site of frequent conflict between people and mining corporations. In the Hasdeo Aranya forests, the indigenous Gond people face the obliteration of their way of life as the Adani Group pushes for a barrage of new coal mines. The large open-cut excavations pose obvious threats to forests, streams and ancestral lands. More subtle is the erosion of culture and religion by this corporate agenda, with local people complaining that Hinduism is being foisted on communities with their own unique religious beliefs.

Why does this forest need saving? It is one of the largest contiguous tracts of dense forest in central India, covering 170,000 hectares and part of an elephant corridor that stretches across central India. It is a traditional home of Adivasi communities – India’s indigenous peoples. It is also the catchment area for the Hasdeo River – a major tributary of the Mahanadi, a significant river in central-eastern India. However, the forest also lies over an estimated five billion tonnes of coal.

It's not just politics getting more extreme

https://theconversation.com/extreme-heat-and-rain-thousands-of-weather-stations-show-theres-now-more-of-both-for-longer-141869?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20July%207%202020%20-%201670816103&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20July%207%202020%20-%201670816103+CID_414774bf1efe8a7f41f3871bf155dd74&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Extreme%20heat%20and%20rain%20thousands%20of%20weather%20stations%20show%20theres%20now%20more%20of%20both%20for%20longer

A major global update based on data from more than 36,000 weather stations around the world confirms that, as the planet continues to warm, extreme weather events such as heatwaves and heavy rainfall are now more frequent, more intense, and longer.

For Australia, the team found a country-wide increase in warm temperature extremes and heatwaves and a decrease in cold temperature extremes such as the coldest nights. Broadly speaking, rainfall extremes have increased in the west and decreased in the east, but trends vary by season.

Unusually warm days are becoming more common throughout Australia. When we compare 1981-2010 with 1951-80, the increase is substantial: more than 20 days per year in the far north of Australia, and at least 10 days per year in most areas apart from the south coast. The increase occurs in all seasons but is largest in spring.

In Australia, extreme rainfall has become more frequent in many parts of northern and western Australia, especially the northwest, which has become wetter since the 1960s. In eastern and southern Australia the picture is more mixed, with little change in the number of days with 10mm or more of rain, even in those regions where total rainfall has declined.

1.5oC is nigh

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/09/global-temperatures-likely-to-hit-at-least-1c-warming-for-next-five-years?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0d1YXJkaWFuVG9kYXlBVVMtMjAwNzA5&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTAU_email&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayAUS

There is a one-in-five chance annual global temperatures will be at least 1.5C warmer than in pre-industrial times in the next five years, experts have said.

And there is a 20% likelihood that annual temperatures will exceed 1.5C above pre-industrial levels in at least one year, with the chances increasing over time, according to the analysis published by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

Under the global Paris agreement countries have committed to keep temperature rises “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to curb them to 1.5C to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

While experts say a single year exceeding 1.5C does not mean the targets have been breached, it shows how close to that level the world already is.

4 July 2020


Upper House's Comprehensive Koala Plan Released

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/06/koala-report-a-gamechanger-for-habitat-protection/

A report from the NSW Upper House Inquiry into the State’s Koala Populations and their Habitat, released today after a year-long Inquiry, must be a gamechanger for the government to protect more koala habitat if they don’t want to see the koala become extinct before 2050, says Committee Chair and Greens MP Cate Faehrmann.

The report found that habitat loss and fragmentation was the biggest threat to koalas, yet at every turn we were handed evidence that showed our current laws are inadequate and facilitating the clearing of core koala habitat.

‘The strategies and policies currently in place to protect the koala aren’t working, like the NSW Koala Strategy which fails in ensuring enough koala habitat is protected for the different koala populations across the state.

‘There must be a significant increase in koala habitat protected from logging, mining, land clearing and urban development. The government needs to incentivise farmers so they’re paid more to protect trees on their land instead of clearing them and overhaul the failed biodiversity offsetting scheme which allows core koala habitat to be cleared.

‘There are two proposed new national parks put forward by the committee for the government to investigate to protect some koala populations from immediate threats. They are the Georges River National Park in Sydney’s South West and the Great Koala National Park on the mid-north coast.

‘It was heartening to have members from all sides of politics working together on a shared mission to come up with recommendations that would go to the government in order to save the koala in NSW. Bar a couple of findings that were particularly critical of the government’s koala strategy, I see this as a consensus report for the government to urgently act upon,’ said Ms Faehrmann.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/30/koalas-will-be-driven-to-extinction-by-2050-in-nsw-major-inquiry-finds

The report, tabled on Tuesday by a multi-party committee, finds habitat loss remains the biggest threat to the species’ survival in NSW and yet logging and clearing of habitat has continued.

The committee said this habitat loss had been compounded by the 2019-20 bushfires, with an estimated 24% of koala habitat on public land affected. In some areas, as much as 81% of habitat had been burnt.

The report said climate change was exacerbating the severity of threats to the species such as drought and fire.

The committee made 42 recommendations, including that the government urgently prioritise the protection of koala habitat corridors, improved monitoring methods, increased funding for community conservation groups, banned opening old-growth forest to logging and gave more incentives for farmers who protect land rather than clear it.

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/nsw-koalas-on-course-to-be-extinct-in-the-wild-by-2050-inquiry-finds-20200630-p557j2.html

The inquiry's report, released on Tuesday, found previous estimates of 36,000 of the marsupials in the state were most likely outdated not least because they omitted the effects of the 2019-20 bushfires.

The committee, made up of MPs from the Greens, Animal Justice, Labor and Liberal parties, said the loss or fragmentation of forests that host the animals were driving the much-loved species' decline.

"[To their] detriment, koalas like many of the same things that humans do, such as fertile soils, moderate temperatures and forests," the report noted.

Mr Kean said koalas were "an iconic Australian animal recognised the world over, and a national treasure which we will do everything we can to protect for future generations".

The minister said he was "looking forward to reviewing the report", including "seeing what further can be done" beyond the $44 million already committed by the government to protecting the marsupial.

Labor's environment spokeswoman Kate Washington said. "No one wants to explain to our grandchildren that we were warned but did nothing to save wild koalas in NSW."

Labor would fully support the recommendations, including the review of codes for the clearing of trees on private land, and providing funds to help landholders protect koala habitat, she said.

https://rojakdaily.com/news/article/9908/experts-koalas-in-new-south-wales-could-become-extinct-by-2050

https://www.eurasiareview.com/02072020-killing-koalas-the-promise-of-extinction-down-under-oped/

Other recommendations will irk industry, including the recommendation that the NSW government visit the destructive impacts of logging “in all public native (non-plantation) forests in the context of enabling koala habitat to be identified and protected”.  The logging and deforestation lobbies will be particularly worried about recommendation 41, which suggests the creation of the Great Koala National Park, an idea first put forth by the National Parks Association of NSW in 2015.  That association can hardly be accused of lacking money sense: establishing such a park, they suggest, “could become a globally significant tourist attraction.”  (This would hardly help in arresting pervasive environmental fragmentation.) 175,000 hectares of public state forests would be added to the existing protected complement, creating a total of 315,000 hectares reserve.

This is of little comfort to such opponents of the scheme as the Australian Workers’ Union of NSW, an organisation not exactly known for its green tendencies.  The committee report duly notes the union’s view that the park would result in a “catastrophic destruction of regional economies and jobs”.  Assistant Secretary Paul Noack even went so far as to dismiss the effectiveness of such a venture. Forget parks, he suggested; focus on creating “koala protection areas”.

Noack need not be too bothered.  Inquiries of this sort always risk succumbing to reductive strategies and severe trimming. Then comes the matter of vacuous symbolism.  The koala draws the attention of the camera and the publicity minded bureaucrat, only to vanish from the policy discussion.  As the Australia Koala Foundation’s chief executive Deborah Tabart has remarked, “the koala has many powerful enemies”.    

In September 2011, an Australian Senate inquiry named The Koala – saving our national iconcovered similar ground the NSW parliamentary report does.

Such tentative observations did little to discourage the devastating land clearing that continues its remorseless march in Queensland and NSW.  Regional forest arrangements made over the last two decades have also been found to be woefully inadequate in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and Victoria.

Such views, in the aftermath of the latest round of lethal bushfires, must come across as a bit hair-splitting.  The vulnerability of the species has reached apocalyptic levels and human complacency, along with the usual crippling disregard shown through a lack of enforceable protections, might well prove to be the enemy of this animal.

https://phys.org/news/2020-07-koala-extinction-agonizingly-simple-im.html

Habitat destruction and fragmentation for agriculture, urban development, mining and forestry has been the number one koala killer since European occupation of Australia. This is compounded by the unabated impacts of climate change, which leads to more extreme droughts, heatwaves and bushfires.

One tool to achieve this is laid out in recommendation 41: to investigate establishing the Great Koala National Park. Spearheaded by the National Parks Association of NSW, this national park would see 175,000 hectares of publicly owned state forests added to existing protected areas.

It would be a great day if such a park was established and replicated throughout the NSW and Queensland hinterlands. Research shows that in those regions, the future climate will remain suitable for koalas, and urbanization, agriculture and mining are not currently present in these parks.

One of the shortcomings of the federal listing for the koala is in its Referral Guidelines, which recommends "proponents consider these guidelines when proposing actions within the modeled distribution of the koala". In other words, informing the government about clearing koala habitat is only voluntary. And that's not good enough.

The failure of the 2012 inquiry and the EPBC Act to protect koalas should serve as a wake-up call to the NSW government. It must start implementing the recommendations of the current inquiry without delay to ensure Australia's internationally celebrated species doesn't die out.

Koala conservation must take priority over land clearing, regardless of the demand for that land. That principle might seem simple, but so far it's proved agonizingly difficult.

https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2020/07/we-know-how-to-save-nsws-koalas-from-extinction-but-the-government-must-commit/

https://intpolicydigest.org/2020/07/02/killing-koalas-the-promise-of-extinction-down-under/

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/koalas-extinction-australia-new-south-wales-a4484416.html

Its not just the NSW Government threatening Koalas, coal is a threat in many ways

https://coastcommunitynews.com.au/central-coast/news/2020/06/wyong-coal-deny-impact-on-koalas/

It’s coal versus koalas, as community group Coast Environmental Alliance (CEA) hits back at Wyong Coal, operators of Wallarah 2 Coal Project, over suggestions that the group was “misrepresenting the environmental implications of the project, such as the impact on koalas”.

Yet, Jake Cassar says “There’s been no misinformation from our group.

“This mine will indeed clear potential koala habitat, it’s listed in the company’s own environmental reports.

“Hopefully someone in the government has enough common sense and foresight to find a way to stop this going ahead before it’s too late for our community and our precious koalas.

And the National Party solution of increasing land clearing is having effect

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/02/land-clearing-new-south-wales-rises-60-per-cent-since-laws-relaxed

Land-clearing in New South Wales has risen nearly 60% since the state relaxed its native vegetation laws in 2017, new government data shows.

The report shows 60,800 hectares of woody vegetation was cleared in 2018, up from 58,000 hectares the previous year and an average of 38,800 hectares between 2009 and 2017.

Of this clearing, 73% was unexplained, meaning it wasn’t referred to the state government for an environmental assessment, either because an approval was not required or the clearing may have been conducted unlawfully.

The 2018 data signals a jump of 57% on the long-term average for the state and follows the government’s introduction of more lenient land-clearing laws in August 2017.

About half (29,400ha) of the 2018 woody vegetation clearing was for agriculture, 23,300ha for forestry and 8,100ha for infrastructure projects.

Stuart Blanch, a conservation scientist at WWF Australia, said the rise in unexplained clearing was also identified in the NSW government’s previous land clearing report a year ago.

“They’ve got what they wanted,” he said. “They wrote such weak laws it’s caused a land clearing tsunami.

“I don’t think the Nationals want to know about it. Because if they did monitor and attribute it and found out there was a lot of illegal clearing they would have to prosecute it.”

A scathing report by the Australian National Audit Office noted that agricultural clearing was rarely being referred to the federal department for an assessment under national environmental law.

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/pm/data-shows-land-clearing-surge-in-nsw-since-law-change/12418002

'Alarming' rates of deforestation on the North Coast

Northern Star-2 Jul 2020
THE North Coast has witnessed a spike in 'unexplained' land clearing according to new data from the Energy, Environment and Science division of the NSW
More than a million hectares of threatened species’ habitat was cleared for agriculture in New South Wales and Queensland without referral to the federal environment department for assessment, according to new analysis by WWF Australia.
Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, anyone undertaking activities likely to have a significant impact on nationally listed threatened species and habitats is required to seek federal approval.
“You’ve got massive amounts of destruction, vast areas of habitat that have been mapped by the commonwealth that have been destroyed without even an attempt to seek authority,” Taylor said
“The act itself is being ignored on a vast scale by agricultural developers and the department is doing nothing about that. They’re not enforcing the act.”

Nambucca unrest spreads to Wild Cattle Creek

https://www.bellingencourier.com.au/story/6812576/reprieve-for-the-trees/

It has been an intense five weeks for those working with the 'Protect Nambucca State Forest' campaign but last Wednesday there was a moment of reprieve with the departure of Forestry Corp machinery.

The group have been on site to stop the desecration of precious koala habitat as well as sites that hold significant cultural value for the Gumbaynggirr people, who say they had not given consent for logging to occur.

Gumbaynggirr spokesperson Sandy Greenwood said it was a chance to celebrate the tireless efforts of Gumbaynggirr custodians and the local community.

Meanwhile up on the plateau actions are currently taking place to prevent logging at Wild Cattle Creek near Cascade, where two activists locked onto machines yesterday (Monday).

As with the Nambucca action, Gumbaynggirr custodians and community members are calling for an immediate end to logging in native forests.

Custodians say no prior consent was given for the operation and have issued a 'trespass notice' to Forestry Corp.

"These forests narrowly avoided being impacted by the massive Liberation Trail fire in November that burnt through the majority of the Nymboida River catchment," a spokesperson said."These forests are a critically important unburnt refuge that is now being massively impacted by large logging machines causing extensive soil disturbance and destruction of ground vegetation. This will make these forests much more fireprone."

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/07/reprieve-from-logging-for-nambucca-state-forest/

Logging machinery was removed from the Nambucca State Forest last week by the NSW Forestry Corporation in response to five weeks of strong community opposition.

The group are claiming this as their first victory, and the result of multiple community actions that removed the social license of the logging operations and delayed their work. The forest holds significant cultural value for the Gumbaynggirr people, who had given no prior consent for logging to occur.

‘We have sent a strong message to the NSW Forestry Corp that their relentless destruction of sacred country will be met with fierce resistance. Our ancestors fought hard to protect country and it has been their presence and protection that has given us an enormous strength to continue this fight,’ continued Ms Greenwood.

And the Government's climate solution is to encourage short-rotation pulp crops

https://www.bellingencourier.com.au/story/6815569/govt-cuts-red-tape-for-forestry-industry/?cs=9397

Private forestry operators will gain access to the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund, under a federal government proposal to reduce carbon emissions, boost regional jobs and support investment in the sector.

The government will simplify access to carbon funding for new forestry projects in five regional forestry hubs, including communities hard hit by last summer's bushfires, Energy and Emissions Reduction minister Angus Taylor says.

Major paper manufacturer Visy has described the decision as a "triple win" for the economy, the environment and the community.

"This important rule change is welcome news to Visy, Australia's Forestry Industry and the 55,000 jobs it supports because it means new plantations, new investment and most importantly new jobs in regional forestry areas," a spokesman said in a statement.

"The plan calls for establishing an initial footprint of new plantations of more than 20 million trees requiring an investment of over $200 million with scope for further investment beyond that."

Bunnings is to stop selling illegal Victorian timber!!

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/01/bunnings-stops-selling-timber-logged-vicforests-court-ruling

Bunnings will stop selling timber logged by VicForests after a court found the state government-owned forestry agency breached conservation laws.

“Bunnings has a zero-tolerance approach to illegally logged timber that dates back two decades and our commitment is to only source timber products from legal and well managed forest operations,” Bunnings’ director of merchandise, Phil Bishop, said on Wednesday.

Bishop said in light of the recent federal court finding that VicForests breached the code of practice in its regional forestry agreement for the central highlands, Bunnings could no longer stock products that used its timber.

“We will be discontinuing all sourcing of timber from VicForests and will no longer be accepting raw material input into our supply chain from VicForests as of 30 June,” Bishop said.

“Ultimately, we believe that customers and team members have the right to expect that the timber they purchase is sourced from responsible and lawful forestry operations.”

Federal legislation canned

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/27/australia-needs-a-clear-plan-to-address-inadequate-environmental-policy-not-buck-passing-and-hand-wringing?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0d1YXJkaWFuVG9kYXlBVVMtMjAwNjI4&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTAU_email&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayAUS

Next week, Prof Graeme Samuel, the former chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, will deliver interim findings of his review of the effectiveness of Australia’s national environment laws, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

The review will be delivered in the context of a devastating critique by the auditor general of the effectiveness of the federal environment department in administering the laws and with a backdrop of the environmental devastation caused by years of drought and a horrific summer of bushfires.

The report found, “The department’s regulatory approach is not proportionate to environmental risk. The administration of referrals and assessments is not effective or efficient. Conditions of approval are not assessed with rigour, are non-compliant with procedural guidance and contain clerical or administrative errors. The department is not well positioned to measure its contribution to the objectives of the EPBC Act.”

And the environment almost always comes second, with the auditor general finding that since the commencement of the act in 2000, 5,088 projects have been approved with only 21 knocked back.

https://theconversation.com/let-there-be-no-doubt-blame-for-our-failing-environment-laws-lies-squarely-at-the-feet-of-government-141482?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2029%202020%20-%201663716024&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2029%202020%20-%201663716024+CID_ee6587f145363ccbf0a663d03a1cb4b4&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Let%20there%20be%20no%20doubt%20blame%20for%20our%20failing%20environment%20laws%20lies%20squarely%20at%20the%20feet%20of%20government

Late last week, the federal Auditor-General Grant Hehir tabled a damning report on federal authorities’ handling of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. Incredibly, he found Australia’s premier environmental law is administered neither efficiently or effectively.

Also last month we learned state-owned Victorian logging company VicForests unlawfully logged 26 forest coupes, home to the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum. The acts were contrary both to its own code of practice, and the agreement exempting VicForests from federal laws.

As relentless as Hehir’s criticisms of the department are, let there be no doubt that blame lies squarely at the feet of government.

While the government is focused on efficiency, the lack of effectiveness worries me most – especially findings concerning so-called “environmental offsets”. These are measures designed to compensate for unavoidable losses, such as creating a nature reserve near a site to be cleared.

In the early years of the law, offsets were rare. By 2015 they featured in almost 90% of decisions, dropping to about 75% last year. In effect, we now rely on offsets to protect the environment.

Hehir cites one example where the department accepted offsets for damage to koala habitat in 2015 that did not meet its offset standards. After negotiations with the developer and involvement from the Minister’s office, the department accepted the offsets. Worse, the developer secured a futher non-complying offset for a second development in 2018, arguing for consistency with the previous decision.

https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/referrals-assessments-and-approvals-controlled-actions-under-the-epbc-act

Despite being subject to multiple reviews, audits and parliamentary inquiries since the commencement of the Act, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s administration of referrals, assessments and approvals of controlled actions under the EPBC Act is not effective.

Governance arrangements to support the administration of referrals, assessments and approvals of controlled actions are not sound. The department has not established a risk-based approach to its regulation, implemented effective oversight arrangements, or established appropriate performance measures.

Referrals and assessments are not administered effectively or efficiently. Regulation is not supported by appropriate systems and processes, including an appropriate quality assurance framework. The department has not implemented arrangements to measure or improve its efficiency.

The department is unable to demonstrate that conditions of approval are appropriate. The implementation of conditions is not assessed with rigour. The absence of effective monitoring, reporting and evaluation arrangements limit the department’s ability to measure its contribution to the objectives of the EPBC Act.

https://www.australiantimes.co.uk/lifestyle/let-there-be-no-doubt-blame-for-our-failing-environment-laws-lies-squarely-at-the-feet-of-government/

As relentless as Hehir’s criticisms of the department are, let there be no doubt that blame lies squarely at the feet of government. As a society, we must decide what values we want to protect, count the financial cost, then make sure governments deliver on that protection.

The bushfires smoulder on

https://tatimes.com.au/bushfire-management-fell-short-swg/

The Softwoods Working Group is joining a growing chorus of voices telling the Bushfire Royal Commission that fuel loads in public and private forests last summer were at an “unacceptable” level and had been allowed to build up, “making fire prevention almost impossible.”

SWG Chair Peter Crowe ... For example, it appears that the NP&WS has done very little to prevent fuel load build up in Parks and Reserves (which often border or surround commercial forests) and private forests in NSW have no legal requirement to have any minimum fire protection protocols in place.”

The SWG is made up of representatives from the major forest growers (NSW Forestry Corporation, and private growers, including Hume Forests), timber processors (AKD Softwoods, Hyne Timber, Visy Industries), Local Governments (Snowy Valleys Council, Greater Hume Council, Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council, and Albury City) and other regional and state bodies.

“It has been well documented that the softwood plantation-based industry of the South West Slopes region was severely affected by the Dunns Road and Green Valley fires which burnt around 40% of the total plantation resource,” he said.

Deforestation disease still garners attention

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/07/planet-watch-deforestation-leads-to-more-disease/

A recent WWF report states that ‘the frequency and number of new zoonotic diseases, originating in animals and transmitted to people, has risen drastically over the last century… Every year, around three to four new zoonotic diseases are emerging.’ Since 1990, up to 70 per cent of new diseases in humans have originated in wildlife. The report concludes that that the most important drivers for zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 include ‘the destruction of nature, the intensification of agriculture and livestock production, as well as the trading and consumption of high-risk wildlife species’.

This habitat fragmentation is a key driver of disease. It is at the edges of disturbed, once-intact natural areas where increased levels of ‘unnatural’ interaction between wildlife, livestock and humans occurs. Land clearing for agriculture and urbanization has brought 70 per cent of forests within one kilometre of a forest edge. This increases fragmentation and the risk of zootonic diseases emerging.

In Australia, Hendra virus is an example of a zoonotic virus which first crossed over to horses, then humans, from native flying foxes in 1994 in southeast QLD and Northern NSW. There have been 62 confirmed or suspected incidences of Hendra virus in horses recorded on the east coast between 1994 and 2019

Currently, Australia is considered to be the only deforestation hotspot in the developed world, with deforestation rates in Queensland equivalent to those seen in the Amazon basin, the Congo, and Borneo. There is a real possibility that new diseases arising from viruses or other pathogens will cross the species barrier if we don’t protect our primary forests and natural ecosystems from logging and urbanisation.

African forests are increasingly teetering on the brink

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/03/dry-tropical-forests-may-be-more-at-risk-than-wet-rainforests-study-says

But a new study suggests the opposite may be true, and forests with an already drier climate show greater loss of biodiversity, and a reduced ability to support a wide variety of wildlife and plant species, when subjected to warmer temperatures. Wetter forests, with year-round rainfall, show less change in biodiversity.

The researchers examined both wet and dry tropical forests in West Africa. Dry forests appear to be already on the verge of a tipping point, whereby further years of hot and dry conditions could cause a rapid transformation. Wetter forests may be better able to withstand prolonged hotter and drier spells because of the greater reserves of moisture in their tree trunks and soils, but scientists do not know how long they may stay resilient.

“Drier forests are becoming more homogeneous, in their function and composition, and that may mean forests are going to be less able to carry out their functions and they will not have so many species,” he told the Guardian. “This is going to effect the services they provide for people, especially as these communities are among the poorest people in the world. It has an escalating effect.”

The study joins an increasing body of research suggesting that the world’s forests, which play a vital role in regulating the earth’s climate, as well as fostering a huge variety of wildlife and plant populations, are under increasing threat. Other recent studies have found that many of the world’s forests are becoming so degraded by human activities, and damaged by worsening climate change, that they could cease acting as carbon sinks.

Biomass is casting a dark shadow across Europe

https://www.europeanscientist.com/en/environment/abrupt-increase-in-harvest-forest-area-in-europe-threats-climate-goals/

Satellite images have revealed a dramatic increase in the harvested forest area in Europe after 2015, according to a new study by the European Commission published on 1 July in the journal Nature (1). This could threaten the EU’s ambitious goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2050 and highlights potential problems with current forest management strategies.

Between 2016 and 2018, the harvested forest area across Europe was almost 50 per cent higher and the estimated annual levels of harvested biomass were almost 70 per cent higher compared to the preceding five years.

While the study itself cannot prove the causal links, several possible drivers have been proposed. The recent surge in harvesting in Europe is likely due – at least, in part – to increased demand for wood burned as fuel or for timber-based products.

Less forest cover means less CO2 captured from the atmosphere and stored in trees, which will reduce the ability of European forests to act as a carbon sink. Moreover, if some of the harvested trees are burned or allowed to rot, they will release more stored carbon back into the atmosphere.

In other words, the dramatic shift in harvested forest area might mean even more emissions reductions are necessary – forests currently offset around 10 per cent of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions.

https://mb.com.ph/2020/07/02/forest-harvesting-in-europe-threatens-climate-goals-study/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/01/europe-losing-forest-to-harvesting-at-alarming-rate-data-suggests

Many of the EU’s forests – which account for about 38% of its land surface area – are managed for timber production, and thus harvested regularly. But the loss of biomass increased by 69% in the period from 2016 to 2018, compared with the period from 2011 to 2015, according to satellite data. The area of forest harvested increased by 49% in the same comparison, published in the journal Nature Research.

“The forests continue to remain a carbon sink, but less than before,” said Ceccherini. “Even if part of the harvested biomass carbon is used in long-lasting wood products, possibly replacing more energy-intensive materials such as steel or cement, most of it will return to the atmosphere as CO2 in a short period of time, [from] months to a few years. Until the carbon stock in harvested areas returns to previous levels, which takes several decades, depending on the type of forest, an increase in harvest is therefore equivalent to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere.”

Despite sickening, Forests are Healthy

https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/the-healing-benefits-of-forest-therapy-20200624-p555u4.html

Yet the benefits of such activity are stacking up. University of Illinois studies found that residents living in large housing developments surrounded by trees felt emotionally and physically healthier than those with no trees nearby. They also felt safer and reported 52 per cent fewer crimes.

In 2004, researchers in Japan found that being in the forest had beneficial effects on blood pressure, heart rate and the immune system. They also found that people who just looked at a forest view for 20 minutes had a 13 per cent drop in concentration of the stress hormone cortisol.

It’s not surprising then that the Japanese-inspired practice of shinrin-yoku – literally, “forest bath” – is becoming a worldwide wellness phenomenon.

 

26 June 2020


Great that they have abandoned plans to open up oldgrowth for logging

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/great-result-old-growth-forests-get-reprieve-from-forestry-20200625-p5565f.html

The Berejiklian government has suspended plans to remap old-growth coastal state forests after last summer's bushfires burnt large swathes of woodlands including almost half the remnant primary forests of the north-east.

"This is a great result," Environment Minister Matt Kean told the Herald during a visit to the Blue Mountains. "It's a common-sense approach, especially following in the wake of the bushfires, that we protect and preserve our old-growth forests."

"With a significant volume of North Coast wood supply contracts expiring in 2023, now is the time for the government to be planning a fair transition out of native forest logging to ensure the long-term sustainability of the timber industry in NSW and to improve the recovery of the state’s native forests," Independent MP Justin Field said.

"There has still not been any statewide assessment of the impact of the fires on state forests, including biodiversity and wood supply impact assessments, but Forestry Corporation has been allowed to recommence logging at near pre-fire rates in 65 state forests areas," he said.

Dailan Pugh, a spokesman for the North East Forest Alliance said the 2019-20 fires had burnt almost two-thirds of the 1.7 million hectares of remaining old-growth forests in north-east NSW.

"Across the forests there has been a significant loss of the large old-growth trees and the essential hollows they provide for a plethora of our native wildlife," Mr Pugh said.

Given the importance of large hollow-bearing trees, Mr Pugh's group is calling on the government to stop immediately all logging of trees of more than 80 centimetres in diameter.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/25/nsw-scraps-plan-that-could-open-protected-forests-to-logging

Conservationists have called the decision a win for the state’s environment and threatened wildlife after years of habitat loss and the devastating 2019-20 bushfires.

“This is a terrific result for our forests and wildlife,” the Nature Conservation Council chief executive, Chris Gambian, said.

“We have been saying for months that logging in public native forests must be suspended in the wake of the bushfires, at least until a full ecological assessment has been conducted.”

He said that with several north coast wood supply contracts set to expire in 2023, now was the time for the government to plan a fair transition out of native forest logging that would ensure long-term sustainability for the industry and aid the recovery of forests.

“There has still not been any statewide assessment of the impact of the fires on state forests, including biodiversity and wood supply impact assessments, but Forestry Corporation has been allowed to recommence logging at near pre-fire rates in 65 state forests areas,” Field said.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/06/calls-for-moratorium-on-logging-after-bushfire-devastation/

The devastation on people, forests, and animals of the recent bushfires season cannot be overstated. The question is why can’t the NSW state government see this and take the right action on preserving the future forests for the people of NSW?

According to Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment Cate Faehrmann the NSW government must go further and declare a moratorium on native forests logging while post-fire threatened species assessments are still underway

The Nambucca crew are still causing Forestry angst, and forced their tactical retreat

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/gumbaynggirr-demands-logging-ends-native-forest

Activists, including some holding koalas, protested outside New South Wales Parliament House on June 17 demanding an immediate halt to the logging of NSW native forests.

The Forestry Corporation of NSW started logging in the unburnt southern section of Nambucca State Forest in April. It is also logging burnt koala habitat in the Bungawalbin, Doubleduke and Myrtle State Forests on the Richmond River lowlands, in addition to the Styx River and Lower Bucca State Forests. There are plans to log most of the Kalang Headwaters State Forest this year.

The action was organised to amplify a petition, signed by 25,000 people, calling on NSW Forestry to end logging in the Nambucca forests.

On the same day, Greenwood lodged her case against the Forestry Corporation NSW in the Land and Environment Court. She is the first Indigenous woman to bring a case against it, and the first time in a decade that it has been taken to court.

'This isn't the end' forest protesters will fight on

Tweed Daily News (press release)
Forest campaigners are celebrating a moment of reprieve after machinery was escorted out of StateForests at Nambucca. The Protect Nambucca State Forest 

Anti-logging activist arrested after locking onto machinery

Coffs Coast Advocate
... been protesting against the Forestry Corporation logging operation for over a month now, saying the forest is a sacred cultural site as well key koala habitat.

Anti-logging protester to face court on trespass charge

Coffs Coast Advocate
Gumbaynggirr people and environmental activists are protesting against the logging of Nambucca State Forest. A Forestry Corporation spokesperson confirmed.

And the pressure is growing

A local environment group, No Electricity from Forests (NEFF), is concerned recent logging by the NSW Forestry Corporation may have damaged endangered subtropical rainforest in the Camden Haven River catchment of Comboyne State Forest west of Kendall.

The group has lodged a complaint with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) about the matter which is now under investigation.

"Even though the endangered Stuttering Frog was recorded from a protected watercourse within the rainforest, the logging on the surrounding steep slopes may well lead to increased siltation of that stream and thus detrimentally affect the frog."

PS when Forestry moved out of Nambucca they moved to unburnt forest in Wild Cattle Creek SF, I understand this had some media though I couldn't locate it. Mark Grahame has also put out a media release today saying he was assaulted there yesterday by loggers while the FC filmed.

Forest protests are hotting up in Tasmania

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-20/why-forest-conflict-in-tasmania-could-be-about-to-get-worse/12374480

But now, it seems, the conflict is back on, with tree-sits in the Tarkine, locking onto machinery at Ta Ann's Smithton mill, glueing themselves to the offices of the state-owned forestry agency Sustainable Timber Tasmania resulting in about 25 activists arrested in the past six months.

Now, two decisions in Victoria are being closely watched for whether they'll spell more conflict for the island state.

"We aren't definitely covering all the forests that are being logged, we're just showing a small snippet of what's going wrong in Tasmania's forests," said Jenny Weber, the campaign manager for the Bob Brown Foundation.

The more protests are held, and the more protesters that are arrested, the more heightened the political landscape around forestry has become, with the vitriol reaching fever pitch in May with the discovery of metal objects in logs delivered to two sawmills.

The Bob Brown Foundation said it was escalating forest protests and calls for an end to native forest logging in response to an increasing climate emergency, made more apparent by the recent bushfires across much of Australia's east coast.

"That's why protests are ramping up — because enough is enough," Ms Weber said.

"It would be alarming if the Tasmanian forest industry saw a Victorian native forest transition and exit out of old growth logging as an excuse to ramp up logging in Tasmania," she said.

In Tasmania, environment groups are looking closely at whether the principles of the Leadbeater's possum decision could apply, given logging has been carried out habitat of endangered species, including the swift parrot.

Guy Barnett believes the Federal Court decision is likely to be specific to Victoria, but the Tasmanian Government is considering the judgement.

Bob Brown Foundation activists occupy Esperance forests

The Mercury
TWENTY environmental activists are occupying a forest in southern Tasmania, protesting logging in native forests. 

https://tasmps.greens.org.au/media-release/latest-greenhouse-accounts-show

The latest State and Territory Greenhouse Gas Inventories 2018 confirms Tasmania’s native forest estate is foundational to this island’s positive emissions profile.

Our globally significant, carbon sink forests are doing the heavy lifting on climate.

The latest greenhouse accounts also confirm the huge carbon positive impact of getting loggers out of more than half a million hectares under the Tasmanian Forest Agreement in 2012-13.

It’s clear that with our relatively small population and large, remaining tracts of old forests, the single biggest contribution Tasmania can make to a safe climate is to protect native forests and reforest degraded lands.

Victorians protest about mining exploration in proposed forest park

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/protesters-demand-miners-stop-looking-for-gold-in-wombat-state-forest-20200623-p55598.html

Snap protests against gold exploration have taken place in the Wombat State Forest in an area the Victorian government’s environmental assessment body says should become a national park.

A year ago the independent Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) recommended that the forest, one of the few remaining in central-west Victoria and home to almost 100 threatened or rare species, become the Wombat-Lerderderg National Park.

Where is the Koala's Recovery Plan?

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/koala-recovery-plan-five-years-overdue-as-populations-are-smashed-20200619-p554eq.html

A recovery plan to help bring koala populations back to health is five years overdue, despite warnings from experts that new research shows the species faces fresh challenges to cling on to its remnant habitat.

When the status of koalas was changed to vulnerable in 2012, the federal government took the advice of the Threatened Species Commission and committed to create a recovery plan.

Australian National University ecologist Kara Youngentob said a recovery plan should "absolutely be a priority", as forestry operations in some areas were damaging koala habitat and contributed to monocultures in forests.

After disturbance from logging and fire, just one species of tree was growing back to dominate the forest and creating "food deserts" for koalas, said Dr Youngentob.

"Their populations are like little lights and they will continue to blink out across their habitat range until it's totally dark," she said.

"The current protections in place aren’t enough to ensure populations don’t continue to decline. There have been localised extinctions and they may continue."

https://www.news18.com/news/buzz/australian-government-to-devise-recovery-plan-for-koalas-after-thousands-died-in-bushfire-crisis-2681487.html

https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/australian-govt-urged-to-save-koalas-from-extinction/1873404

More evidence about the impacts of the fires

https://www.nambuccaguardian.com.au/story/6801363/creature-numbers-dwindle-after-nsw-fires/

Unable to escape the clutches of devastating summer bushfires, some native creatures such as brush-trail possums and bandicoots are feared to have been wiped out across parts of northwest NSW, a wildlife survey has found.

Species of skink are among the ground-dwelling animals which have suffered losses of some 90 per cent, the World Wide Fund for Nature Australia revealed on Monday.

Other species typically found in the region have not been detected at all.

The study examined two sites in the Torrington State Conservation Area in February and five sites within the Gibraltar Range National Park in March by Eco Logical Australia.

Ecologists found the number of ground-dwelling species detected was less than 10 per cent of what would normally be expected.

Deakin University ecology and conservation expert Dr Euan Ritchie said the WWF's study confirmed his "grave" fears that wildlife populations may have been decimated in areas where fire had been severe and widespread.

"One hopes any areas of unburnt or less severely burnt habitat may be serving as refuges for animals that survived the fires and can assist them to recolonise burnt areas as the vegetation and habitat recovers," Dr Ritchie told AAP on Monday.

"Some habitats will recover with time, but important structures such as tree hollows and logs are typically already rare in the landscape and can take decades to over a century to form, so species highly dependent on these may be in dire trouble.

And droughts and fires are going to get a lot worse

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/the-wetter-world-ahead-will-suffer-worse-droughts/

LONDON, 26 June, 2020 – Australian scientists have bad news for drought-stricken and fire-ravaged fellow-citizens: still worse droughts are in store.

Even though the world will grow wetter as greenhouse gas emissions rise and planetary average temperatures soar, the droughts will endure for longer and become more intense.

And this will be true not just for a country with a government that seems anxious not to acknowledge the role of climate change in a procession of disasters. It will be true for California and much of the US West. It will be true for the Mediterranean and parts of Africa, and for any areas that lie within the drylands zone.

It could be true even for the tropical rainforests. Wherever average rainfall seems to be in decline, droughts will become more devastating. And that includes Central America and the Amazon.

The Auditor General has slammed the Commonwealth's application of the EPBC Act

https://www.miragenews.com/heads-should-roll-after-scathing-report-into-environment-laws/

Heads should roll over the ineptitude and failure of duty identified by the Auditor-General in a scathing report into Australia’s environment laws released this afternoon, the Greens say.

Greens Spokesperson for the Environment Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said:

“The Auditor-General’s assessment of the government’s management of the environment and our wildlife is scathing.

“The report shows the Environment Minister and the Federal Department have failed to protect the environment and are, simply put, incompetent.

Victorian groups are applying corporate pressure

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/25/environment-groups-urge-nippon-paper-to-scrap-victorian-timber-from-supply-chain

More than 40 environment groups have called on Japan’s Nippon Paper Group to remove timber logged in Victoria’s native forests from its supply chain in the aftermath of bushfires and a landmark judgment that found a government forestry agency repeatedly breached conservation regulations.

It comes as a legal injunction halted VicForests’s operations in a further 14 coupes in the state’s central highlands and amid growing pressure for a statutory review of Australia’s national environment laws toreconsider the industry-wide exemption for logging.

The groups alleged the presence of Victorian native timber in Nippon Paper Group’s supply chain was a breach of the company’s policy to ensure its timber was harvested “in compliance with relevant laws”.

“Nippon Paper Group needs to stop supporting illegal practices and driving species extinction in Victoria by severing ties with repeat offenders, VicForests,” Pete Cooper, a marketing campaigner for The Wilderness Society, said.

Planting trees to offset emissions is problematic

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/06/forests-are-a-solution-to-global-warming-theyre-also-vulnerable-to-it/

Investing in forests to fight climate change seems like a sure bet. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, pump out oxygen, and live for decades. What could go wrong?

The answer, according to a newly published paper in Science, is: a lot. Fires, rising temperatures, disease, pests and humans all pose threats to forests, and as climate change escalates, so too do these threats. While forest-based solutions need to play an important role in addressing climate change, the risks to forests from climate change must also be considered.

An estimated 44% of forests are threatened with what is known as a stand replacing disturbance such as a high-intensity fire, hurricane, or disease outbreak that would kill most or all of the mature trees in the stand. The combined effects of multiple disturbances such as both drought and disease or drought and fire also hasten forest destruction.

“Climate change is going to supercharge the risks that forests face,” Anderegg said. “We’re going to see more fires, more droughts and more pests and pathogens in a warming climate.”

https://www.miragenews.com/climate-extremes-will-cause-forest-changes/

“At such temperatures, our Central European vegetation reaches its limits,” says the JMU professor. Together with other researchers from Germany and Switzerland, the plant ecologist was able to confirm with physiological measurements: When it is too hot, the tree simply loses too much water via its surface. As a result, the negative tension in the wood’s conducting tissue becomes too steep, which ultimately leads to hydraulic failure interrupting the water transport.

Already during the course of the summer, severe drought-related stress symptoms were observed in most ecologically and economically important tree species, including widespread leaf discoloration and premature lead shedding.

Spruce and beech trees most affected

Moreover, unexpectedly strong drought-legacy effects were detected in 2019: many broad-leaved trees did not unfold their leaves – they had died. Others that survived the 2018 event where not able to withstand the following drought in 2019, or became increasingly susceptible to infestation with bark beetles or fungi.

https://phys.org/news/2020-06-forests-solution-climate.html

But a new study led by a Colorado State University biology researcher finds that the carbon-capture potential of afforestation may be overestimated. The study, published online June 22 in Nature Sustainability, contends that ratios of soil organic carbon underneath afforested areas vary greatly across different ecosystems and climates, and these variations depend on factors like tree species, land-use history and soil type.

This method can be even more problematic, Chen said, for estimating afforestation carbon sequestration potential because land-use changes are often associated with soil disturbances.

The researchers found that in carbon-poor soils, afforestation did increase soil organic carbon density. But in soils already rich in carbon, they found that carbon density decreased.

The results have implications for forest managers and policymakers. For example, a site that's already above a certain threshold of soil organic carbon underground may be best left alone for natural forest regeneration rather than planted with trees, Chen said.

"Our results strongly suggest that estimated afforestation carbon sink potentials that do not account for background soil carbon stocks or the potentially negative effects of afforestation is overly optimistic," the authors wrote.

https://www.brusselstimes.com/all-news/118204/planting-trees-could-be-counterproductive-new-study-shows/

Campaigns to plant large numbers of trees could have counterproductive effects, according to a study published Monday by researchers from UCLouvain, the University of Concepción in Chile, Stanford University and the University of Santa Barbara.

This study examined the impact of reforestation subsidies in Chile and calculated their effects on net changes in carbon and biodiversity. It was found that while tree plantations contributed to an increase in forest area, they led to a decrease in natural forest area.

“Chile’s natural forests are denser in carbon and richer in biodiversity than plantations, so subsidies have failed to increase carbon storage capacity and have accelerated biodiversity loss,” the study found.

https://phys.org/news/2020-06-tropical-forest-loss-large-scale-acquisitions.html

An international group of researchers led by the University of Delaware's Kyle Davis has recently published a study in Nature Geoscience to see which types of large-scale land investments may be associated with increases in tropical deforestation. They found that investment types focusing on establishing new tree plantations—where an area is cleared of existing trees and planted with a single tree species that is harvested for timber—as well as plantations for producing palm oil and wood fiber, consistently had higher rates of forest loss than surrounding non-investment areas.

The study's findings show that large-scale land acquisitions can lead to elevated deforestation of tropical forests and highlight the role of local policies in the sustainable management of these ecosystems.

https://www.miragenews.com/incentives-for-tree-planting-need-protections-for-existing-forests/

The analysis reveals how efforts such as the global Trillion Trees campaign and a related initiative under consideration by the U.S. Congress could lead to more biodiversity loss and little, if any, climate change upside. The researchers emphasize, however, that these efforts could have significant benefits if they include strong subsidy restrictions, such as prohibitions against replacing native forests with tree plantations.

There is no question that forests have an outsized role to play in efforts to slow global biodiversity loss and combat climate change by sequestering carbon. So it makes sense that planting trees has gained traction as a solution in recent years with ambitious commitments.

A closer look reveals faults in the optimistic plans. For example, nearly 80% of commitments to the Bonn Challenge involve planting monoculture tree plantations or a mix of trees that produce products such as fruit and rubber rather than restoring natural forests. Plantations typically fall significantly short of natural forests in terms of carbon sequestration, habitat creation and erosion control. The potential benefit dwindles further if planted trees replace natural forests, grasslands or savannahs – ecosystems that have evolved to support unique, local biodiversity.

Fungicides containing Mercury are to be finally stopped in sugar-cane crops, so how much gets released in co-generation plants

https://theconversation.com/ban-on-toxic-mercury-looms-in-sugar-cane-farming-but-australia-still-has-a-way-to-go-140596?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2022%202020%20-%201657115953&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2022%202020%20-%201657115953+CID_af5d0f71b0ee4ba27c697587e056ab2d&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Ban%20on%20toxic%20mercury%20looms%20in%20sugar%20cane%20farming%20but%20Australia%20still%20has%20a%20way%20to%20go

This month, federal authorities finally announced an upcoming ban on mercury-containing pesticide in Australia. We are one of the last countries in the world to do so, despite overwhelming evidence over more than 60 years that mercury use as fungicide in agriculture is dangerous.

The ban will prevent about 5,280 kilograms of mercuryentering the Australian environment each year.

[1995] Despite this, authorities exempted a fungicide containing mercury known as Shirtan. They restrictedits use to sugar cane farming in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

According to the sugar cane industry, about 80% of growers use Shirtan to treat pineapple sett rot disease.

[Coal is also a source] The three active power stations in the Latrobe Valley, for example, together emit about 1,200 kilograms of mercury each year.

More information about Forest Bathing

https://www.eurasiareview.com/23062020-what-do-we-breathe-when-in-the-forest/

For the first time, a study characterizes the forest chemistry of the air under the canopy of a Mediterranean holm oak forest and detects maximum concentrations in July and August, at early morning and early afternoon.

Plants produce monoterpenes as a defensive mechanism against herbivory and to adapt to the environment. Among its most studied effects, the anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and anti-tumorigenic activities stand out ...

The results, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, demonstrate a strong variability of these compounds depending on the season and even day, with its highest concentrations during July and August at early morning (from 6 to 8 a.m.) and early afternoon (from 1 to 3 p.m.).... . These peaks in concentrations were not identified in the rest of the sampled months, where emissions increased with solar radiation, reaching their peak around 2 p.m., coinciding with the daily temperature peak.

The results would thus imply that, during the summer, humans walking in the studied forest would be subject to a potential higher absorption of monoterpenes into their bloodstream, especially in the early morning hours and early afternoon. The concentrations registered are similar or higher than in previous studies, showcasing the relationship between these compounds and human health not only in the laboratory but also in the forest.

19 June 2020


Forest protests are hotting up in Victoria and Nambucca

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/logging-breaches-catalyst-new-indigenous-led-alliances

First Nations leaders, community members and environmental activists who stopped logging operations in Victoria and New South Wales in early June said the continent’s environmental crimes can be traced back to colonisation and that Traditional Custodians must lead the way on forest management.

On June 9, locals and activists in Victoria walked on to logging sites, suspended themselves in tree-sits 30 metres high and locked on to machinery, forcing contractors to stop clear-felling native forest in seven locations. The following day in NSW, Traditional Custodians and environment activists in Nambucca State Forest blockaded a site to prevent NSW Forestry Corporation from resuming logging after a court stop work-order lapsed.

Spokesperson for the Victorian protesters Chris Schuringa said locals are taking action because the government is failing to acknowledge the consequences of over-logging and a warming climate — more frequent and intense bushfires, accelerating wildlife extinctions and water security concerns.

But those who took direct action in the forests in early June are calling for more transformative change. Schuringa said that attempts at reform had “systematically failed”. “There have been years to conduct reviews,” she said. “We need fundamental change. That means ensuring Traditional Owners have the ultimate say, because [environmental damage in Australia] stems from colonisation and the ongoing dispossession of country.”

At the protest camp in the Nambucca State Forest in NSW, set up by the Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group, Gumbaynggirr woman Sandy Greenwood said that the NSW Forestry Corporation “haven’t done due diligence” and would destroy cultural heritage, rich ecology and abundant bush foods and medicines if allowed to continue.

Gumbaynggirr custodians have launched a landmark case that could fundamentally challenge forestry laws. The case by McAvoy went to the Land and Environment Court on June 17 but was adjourned until June 25. “I was straight on to it when elders told me there were sacred sites all through the forest,” Greenwood said.

On June 5, the Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group secured an initial stop work order, which allowed custodians to conduct an independent cultural heritage survey. Logging was permitted to resume when the temporary order ended on June 10, but Greenwood said that heavy rain had obstructed logging. “The rain was the ancestors watching over us,” she said laughing. “[Forestry Corporation] are not getting back in until we have our hearing in court.”

Community group Protect Warburton Ranges has been stopping operations at the Pat’s Corner coupe for most of the past five weeks. VicForests said this is costing about $8000 a day and had interrupted supply chains. However, on June 6, contractors cut down about 1 hectare of trees in just four hours — despite a dozen locals protesting inside the coupe.

[ Greenwood ] “It’s healing my trauma. I feel like a powerful Aboriginal woman. Gumbaynggirr girrwaa balmuun [Gumbaynggirr mob are strong]! We’ve got our elders guiding us, our ancestors protecting us and our beautiful allies by our side — and there’s nothing that’s going to stop us. We are going to win.”

Nambucca forest activists take their case to NSW Parliament

Noosa News-16 Jun 2020

They say the NSW Forestry Corporation has used the cover of coronavirus to start logging precious forests at Nambucca and that cultural sites have already ...

Facebook Watch Video Link - 17 June 2020 Sydney Rally to support Gunbaynggirr Conservation Group's case in the L&E Court against NSW FC logging the  Nambucca state forest.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=1431810030360040&ref=watch_permalink 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8420549/Greens-MP-David-Shoebridge-accused-risking-Ruby-Princess-like-visit-Aboriginal-community.html

Green MP's trip 'risked a Ruby-like virus outbreak'

Daily Telegraph-14 Jun 2020

Just 48 hours later, Mr Shoebridge travelled almost 500km to the Nambucca State Forest to join the local Gumbaynggirr community for an anti-logging rally.

Sue Arnold covers a range of issues including Kalang, Great Koala NP and Nambucca:

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/nationals-influence-gladys-berejiklians-environmentally-destructive-vision,14006

Mrs Pavey steadfastly ignored complaints, concerns and non-compliance. She ensured a complete lack of any follow-up on animals driven out of the forests by the massive RMS clearing for the highway upgrade. Any attempt to meet with the minister was shoved off to staff who wrote notes at meetings with NGOs, destined to go into the nearest wastepaper basket.

Her efforts to destroy koala habitat in native forests are legendary. As MP for Oxley, in the centre of the critical koala mid-north coast forests, Pavey has been scathing in her rejection of any protection. 

Extraordinary efforts have been made by NGOs and community activists to have these critical areas declared the Great Koala National Park.

Right now in Pavey’s Oxley electorate, the Nambucca forest is the focus of forestry operations and massive community opposition and demonstrations.

Many Nightcap Oaks were killed by the fires, though the good news is that they are resprouting

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-15/ancient-nightcap-oak-natures-great-survivor/12353034

A stand of Gondwana-era trees ravaged by bushfire last year is showing what it takes to be one of nature's great survivors.

The critically endangered nightcap oak has survived in the rainforests of northern New South Wales since the Eocene epoch, about 40 million years ago.

"I was acutely aware that people were up here fighting fires and lighting backburns and I was deeply concerned that this species would be affected," Dr Kooyman said.

"Despite the tragedy of large stems being lost, to see that potential re-emerge and to see the numbers shift — that the extent of mortality is less than it looked to be initially — it's uplifting."

"What that does is uniquely allows the species to retain that high genetic diversity in low population numbers, just ticking over through space and time and hanging on to those 100 or so individuals that contribute to reproduction," Dr Kooyman said.

Dr Kooyman said despite the positive signs, only time would tell whether Eidothea hardeniana's initial response to fire would result in its long-term future survival.

He said a drying landscape and increased risks of fire were now the biggest threats to the trees.

The sawmillers have their hands out for the Eden-Momaro By-election

https://tatimes.com.au/timber-troubles-outlined-by-industry/

Mr Hampton is using the Eden-Monaro election campaign to lobby for support from the major parties and rally for forest industry support over the coming years.

“We’re going to do everything we can during this campaign to gain support from the major parties so that we can get through the hollow, the dip that’s coming, it’s inevitable, and minimise it, and then surge out of it on the other side,” Mr Hampton said in relation to the downfall in timber that is expected in six months, once the burnt timber has been processed.

Mr Hampton presented Ms Kotvojs with the AFPA’s campaign, which calls on Eden-Monaro candidates to pledge the following:

• Long-term financial support for transporting logs to mills from unburnt plantation regions and timber production native forests, as well as the extra costs of transporting and storing timber and forest products
• Capital grants for upgrading/retooling of timber and fibre processing facilities to ensure their viability at reduced log volumes
• Accelerated depreciation for all forestry-based companies to encourage investment and manufacturing jobs
• Support for the government’s Carbon Farming Initiative regulatory changes before Parliament to allow forestry plantations to participate in the Emissions Reduction Fund and help climate change mitigation
• Establishment of the NSW South Coast Regional Forest Industries Hub, consistent with the already established South West Slopes Forestry Hub.

As bushfires worsen, the National Party are using fires as an excuse to open up national parks

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/fire-experts-say-hazard-reduction-burns-help-but-not-the-solution-20200616-p55387.html

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro wants landowners to have more access to national parks for hazard reduction burns but fire experts warn that while prescribed burning can reduce bushfire risk it is not the solution, particularly as the climate warms and dries.

His submission, one of 1000 made to the six month state-based inquiry into the devastating bushfire season that killed 25 people, also calls for cattle grazing to be used as a fire prevention method.

It also says "inadequate access to public land, including wilderness areas of national parks, creates unnecessary barriers to bushfire prevention activities".

However a separate, national inquiry into the recent bushfire season, the Royal Commission into National Natural Hazard Arrangements, heard on Tuesday...

Professor Bradstock said there was clear evidence "the more you treat, the lower the risk" of house loss from fire, with the greatest benefit coming from burning near residential areas rather than in distant bushland.

David Bowman, a professor with the University of Tasmania's School of Natural Sciences, said some landscapes, particularly tall, wet forests, were not amenable to fuel-reduction efforts and yet, with the wrong weather conditions, "could burn terribly intensively".

"So prescribed burning is generally, we're talking about grassy systems, savannas, woodlands and dry sclerophyll forests, where we have this classical accumulation of fuel that can be burnt and maintained in different states and quite simple vegetation structures," Professor Bowman said.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-16/bushfire-royal-commission-hazard-reduction-burn-warning/12355504

Hazard reduction burns can have long-term negative impacts if done incorrectly, fire experts have told the bushfire royal commission.

Associate Professor Kevin Tolhurst from the University of Melbourne told the commission, the biggest benefits were seen in the first one to two years. 

"Depending on how well those operations were carried out, in five, 10 years' time you may actually end up with a worse fuel arrangement if the way in which the regeneration occurs brings back more flammable species," he said.

"So you may have had a short-term gain for a long-term loss, so understanding the ecology needs to go hand in hand with trying to manage or manipulate the fuels."

Fire ecologist Professor David Bowman from the University of Tasmania told the commission that while science does not have all the answers, there were clear benefits to prescribed burning. 

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2020/06/16/royal-commission-hears-black-summer-bushfires-created-their-own-weather-systems/

Australia experienced almost as many firestorms – bushfires so intense they create their own weather systems – during the ‘Black Summer’ season as in the previous three decades.

Firestorms or pyrocumulonimbus events were previously considered to be bushfire oddities, University of Tasmania expert David Bowman told the royal commission into the disaster on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately this last summer there was a near doubling of the record of these events, in one event, and that assembly of data goes back about 30 years,” said Professor Bowman, referring to University of NSW data.

UNSW research published last year found climate change was making it likely pyrocumulonimbus bushfires would become more common in parts of south-east Australia.

And concerns about the accelerated burning of the world's forests grow

https://phys.org/news/2020-06-huge-forest-health.html

After Australia, Siberia is burning, indicating that the frequency of such events is on the rise, with myriad dire consequences: devastated ecosystems, risk of desertification, CO2 emissions, toxic particles, further climate impacts... An expert in atmospheric processes at EPFL, Athanasios Nenes shares his views about it. 

The populations in urban environments and other locations that are exposed to high levels of pollutants are more likely to have compromised respiratory, cardiac and immune systems and even conditions like dementia and diabetes—and are therefore more vulnerable to infection from the coronavirus. Biomass-burning smoke is particularly toxic, containing a large number of carcinogens, as well as compounds that cause oxidative stress upon inhalation. 

When trees are seriously damaged, they take a long time to regenerate and may never recover. Because forests store water, they act like a buffer. Once they're gone, that buffer—and the associated water—is eventually lost, leading to desertification. This is certainly possible for Australia, and for other drought-prone parts of the world. 

Forest fires also release a lot of particulate matter into the atmosphere, where it can remain for weeks on end. These particles are transported all over the world, affecting air quality over vast regions. They contain soot and brown-colored molecules that absorb sunlight, thereby accelerating climate warming. And if they fall on ice and snow—as we've seen in the Arctic from fires in Siberia—they can darken these normally highly reflective surfaces and cause them to melt more quickly. Smoke from the fires in Australia turned the surface of some glaciers in New Zealand orangey-brown, and there's evidence to suggest that it even reached coastal areas of the Antarctic.

But the problem is that climate change could throw ecosystems "off balance" and lead to catastrophic fires, like the ones we've seen in Australia and Siberia, but also in the Mediterranean, for example

And these aren't just onetime events. They'll happen again and again, and in areas of the world that have rarely seen them before. You only have to look at the Sweden fires in the summer of 2018, or the fires in Greenland, to see the direct consequences of climate change in action.

But if you have more frequent fires, you basically have a lot more particles in the air all the time, with impacts on the climate, visibility, and the health of living beings. In Europe, for instance, sometimes half or more of the particle mass we breathe can be attributed to fires—either forest fires in summer or wood burning in winter. In other words, we're continuously breathing smoke. Now imagine if forest fires become more frequent and prevalent. 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/17/climate-crisis-alarm-at-record-breaking-heatwave-in-siberia

A prolonged heatwave in Siberia is “undoubtedly alarming”, climate scientists have said. The freak temperatures have been linked to wildfires, a huge oil spill and a plague of tree-eating moths.

In May, surface temperatures in parts of Siberia were up to 10C above average ... Wildfires have raged across hundreds of thousands of hectares of Siberia’s forests. ...

Swarms of the Siberian silk moth, whose larvae eat at conifer trees, have grown rapidly in the rising temperatures. ... He warned of “tragic consequences” for forests, with the larvae stripping trees of their needles and making them more susceptible to fires. 

Even contained fires are a problem

https://theconversation.com/like-having-a-truck-idling-in-your-living-room-the-toxic-cost-of-wood-fired-heaters-140737?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2019%202020%20-%201655515932&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2019%202020%20-%201655515932+CID_f31e2d89b10f332c9886ac5c94b43b4b&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Like%20having%20a%20truck%20idling%20in%20your%20living%20room%20the%20toxic%20cost%20of%20wood-fired%20heaters

Based on NSW guidelines, burning 10 kilograms of wood (an average day) in a modern, low-emitting wood heater can produce around 15 grams of “particulate matter”.

By contrast, a truck travelling on congested urban roads can produce just 0.03 grams of particulate matter per kilometre travelled.

Australia’s wood-fired heaters are estimated to cause health costs of around A$3,800 per wood heater each year. 

Given the roughly 900,000 wood heaters used as primary household heating sources in Australia, this could be as high as A$3.4 billion annually across the country.

One study published in May estimated 69 deaths, 86 hospital admissions, and 15 asthma emergency department visits in Tasmania were attributable to biomass smoke each year – the smoke which comes from burning wood, crops and manure. More than 74% of these impacts were attributed to wood heater smoke, with average associated yearly costs of A$293 million.

Another study modelled the effects of air pollution on over-45-year-olds in Sydney over seven years. It found chronic exposure to low levels of particulate matter was linked with an increased risk of death. Depending on the model used, it found between a 3-16% increased risk of dying occurred with each extra microgram (one millionth of a gram) of particulate matter per cubic metre of air.

Forests are part of the climate solution, provided they are not burning

https://phys.org/news/2020-06-forests-offset-carbon-emissions-requires.html

Given the tremendous ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, some governments are counting on planted forests as offsets for greenhouse gas emissions—a sort of climate investment. But as with any investment, it's important to understand the risks. If a forest goes bust, researchers say, much of that stored carbon could go up in smoke. 

This paper, part of that roadmap, calls attention to the risks forests face from myriad consequences of rising global temperatures, including fire, drought, insect damage and human disturbance—a call to action, Anderegg says, to bridge the divide between the data and models produced by scientists and the actions taken by policymakers.

Forests absorb a significant amount of the carbon dioxide that's emitted into the atmosphere—just under a third, Anderegg says. "And this sponge for CO2 is incredibly valuable to us."

Because of this, governments in many countries are looking to "forest-based natural climate solutions" that include preventing deforestation, managing natural forests and reforesting. Forests could be some of the more cost-effective climate mitigation strategies, with co-benefits for biodiversity, conservation and local communities.

But built into this strategy is the idea that forests are able to store carbon relatively "permanently", or on the time scales of 50 to 100 years—or longer. Such permanence is not always a given. "There's a very real chance that many of those forest projects could go up in flames or to bugs or drought stress or hurricanes in the coming decades," Anderegg says.

Forests have long been vulnerable to all of those factors, and have been able to recover from them when they are episodic or come one at a time. But the risks connected with climate change, including drought and fire, increase over time. Multiple threats at once, or insufficient time for forests to recover from those threats, can kill the trees, release the carbon, and undermine the entire premise of forest-based natural climate solutions.

https://www.news.ucsb.edu/2020/019930/risky-climate-investment?utm_source=miragenews&utm_medium=miragenews&utm_campaign=news

Nature-based solutions provide a way forward

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/3-keys-scaling-nature-based-solutions-climate-adaptation

... wetland ecosystems cover about 8 percent of the planet’s land surface and the ecosystem services they provide — including flood protection, fisheries habitat and water purification — are worth up to $15 trillion.

The Global Commission on Adaptation is working with leading organizations and countries, including the governments of Canada, Mexico and Peru, the Global Environment Facility and the U.N. Environment Program, to scale these approaches globally through its Nature-Based Solutions Action Track. According to the Commission’s Adapt Now report — which builds on UNEP-WCMC’s research — three crucial steps are needed to make this happen:

Policymakers need to better understand the value of natural capital such as mangroves and other ecosystems that provide important benefits for communities. For example, it can be 2 to 5 times cheaper to restore coastal wetlands than to construct breakwaters ­— artificial barriers typically made out of granite — yet both protect coasts from the impact of waves.

Nature-based solutions often work best when people use them at larger scales — across whole landscapes, ecosystems or cities. 

Water supplies are especially vulnerable to climate change, as shifting rainfall patterns cause droughts in some places and floods in others. Mexico is proactively protecting its water on a national scale by designating water reserves in more than one-third of the country’s river basins.

This approach can work in many other places. Research on cities’ water supplies shows that by conserving and restoring upstream forests, water utilities in the world’s 534 largest cities could better regulate water flows and collectively save $890 million in treatment costs each year.

The benefits of nature-based solutions go far beyond climate adaptation. From the heart of the city to vast forests and coastal wetlands, healthy ecosystems underpin societies and economies. They provide food, fuel and livelihoods; sustain cultural traditions; and offer health and recreation benefits. Many of these solutions actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, serving as climate mitigation strategies as well. They also provide critical habitat for biodiversity.

As we degrade the world, some species win and some loose, though it can take a few generations to tell

https://theconversation.com/how-forest-loss-has-changed-biodiversity-across-the-globe-over-the-last-150-years-140968

As forest cover has fluctuated over time, the biodiversity within forests has changed too. Forests support around 80% of all species living on land, but the species we see on our woodland walks today are likely to be different from those people saw in the past

Harnessing over five million records across 150 years at over 6,000 locations, we were surprised to find that forest loss didn’t always lead to declines in biodiversity. Instead, when forest cover declined, changes in biodiversity intensified, with increases in the abundance of some species and decreases in others. The composition of forest life – the different types of species present – was altered too. The rate at which these changes happened in each location accelerated as forest cover shrank.

When forests were lost in previously pristine wilderness, we found declines in the abundance of animals like swift parrots in Australia, tigers in Russia and capercaillies (a type of grouse) in Spain. These species only tend to thrive in ancient and lightly disturbed forest habitats.

The species that we discovered increasing in abundance after forest loss included white storks, Eurasian skylarks, red deer and red foxes – species which have evolved alongside disturbance and are more adaptable.

Changes in biodiversity didn’t always immediately follow forest loss. We discovered that the pace at which forest loss altered biodiversity differed among short-lived species, such as light-loving plants like St John’s wort, and longer-lived species like red-tailed hawk. The longer the lifespan of a species, the longer it took for the effects of forest loss to register.

Sometimes the effects carried across generations. Red-tailed hawks may manage to raise their young alongside deforestation, but these offspring may struggle to prosper in the shrinking habitat, and ultimately fail to produce young of their own. If resources are scarce, species with longer lifetimes could persist but not reproduce for decades. That’s how the impact of forest loss on such species might only appear decades after the first wave of deforestation.

As forests exhale the rain falls, but does the wind blow

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/controversial-russian-theory-claims-forests-don-t-just-make-rain-they-make-wind

With their ability to soak up carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, the world’s great forests are often referred to as the planet’s lungs. But Makarieva and Gorshkov, who died last year, say they are its beating heart, too. “Forests are complex self-sustaining rainmaking systems, and the major driver of atmospheric circulation on Earth,” Makarieva says. They recycle vast amounts of moisture into the air and, in the process, also whip up winds that pump that water around the world. The first part of that idea—forests as rainmakers—originated with other scientists and is increasingly appreciated by water resource managers in a world of rampant deforestation. But the second part, a theory Makarieva calls the biotic pump, is far more controversial.

But the biotic pump has faced a head wind of criticism, especially from climate modelers, some of whom say its effects are negligible and dismiss the idea completely. The dispute has made Makarieva an outsider: a theoretical physicist in a world of modelers, a Russian in a field led by Western scientists, and a woman in a field dominated by men.

Yet, if correct, the idea could help explain why, despite their distance from the oceans, the remote interiors of forested continents receive as much rain as the coasts—and why the interiors of unforested continents tend to be arid. It also implies that forests from the Russian taiga to the Amazon rainforest don’t just grow where the weather is right. They also make the weather. “All I have learned so far suggests to me that the biotic pump is correct,” says Douglas Sheil, a forest ecologist at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. With the future of the world’s forests in doubt, “Even if we thought the theory had only a small chance of being true, it would be profoundly important to know one way or the other.”

The Amazon flying river is now reckoned to carry as much water as the giant terrestrial river below it, says Antonio Nobre, a climate researcher at Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research.

... West Africa. Using a hydrological model based on weather data, he found that, as one moved inland from the coast, the proportion of the rainfall that came from forests grew, reaching 90% in the interior. The finding helped explain why the interior Sahel region became dryer as coastal forests disappeared over the past half-century.

Even those who doubt the theory agree that forest loss can have far-reaching climatic consequences. Many scientists have argued that deforestation thousands of years ago was to blame for desertification in the Australian Outback and West Africa. The fear is that future deforestation could dry up other regions, for example, tipping parts of the Amazon rainforest to savanna. Agricultural regions of China, the African Sahel, and the Argentine Pampas are also at risk, says Patrick Keys, an atmospheric chemist at Colorado State University, Fort Collins.

Some modeling even suggests that by removing a moisture source, deforestation could alter weather patterns beyond the paths of flying rivers. Just as El Niño, a shift in currents and winds in the tropical Pacific Ocean, is known to influence weather in faraway places through “teleconnections,” so, too, could Amazon deforestation diminish rainfall in the U.S. Midwest and snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, says Roni Avissar 

The biotic pump would raise the stakes even further, with its suggestion that forest loss alters not just moisture sources, but also wind patterns. The theory, if correct, would have “crucial implications for planetary air circulation patterns,” Ellison warns, especially those that take moist air inland to continental interiors.

We are amongst the world-leaders in climate change denial

https://theconversation.com/the-number-of-climate-deniers-in-australia-is-more-than-double-the-global-average-new-survey-finds-140450?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2017%202020%20-%201653215906&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2017%202020%20-%201653215906+CID_40d42a47dde64eb79288d0261550c428&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=The%20number%20of%20climate%20deniers%20in%20Australia%20is%20more%20than%20double%20the%20global%20average%20new%20survey%20finds

Australian news consumers are far more likely to believe climate change is “not at all” serious compared to news users in other countries. That’s according to new research that surveyed 2,131 Australians about their news consumption in relation to climate change.

Young people are much more concerned than older generations, women are more concerned than men, and city-dwellers think it’s more serious than news consumers in regional and rural Australia. 

More than half (58%) of respondents say they consider climate change to be a very or extremely serious problem, 21% consider it somewhat serious, 10% consider it to be not very and 8% not at all serious. 

Out of the 40 countries in the survey, Australia’s 8% of “deniers” is more than double the global average of 3%. We’re beaten only by the US (12%) and Sweden (9%). 

While most Australian news consumers think climate change is an extremely or very serious problem (58%), this is still lower than the global average of 69%. Only ten countries in the survey are less concerned than we are.

And even those who care are living in a fool's paradise

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/climate-progressives-fail-on-paris-carbon-target/

LONDON, 19 June, 2020 − Nations which pride themselves on their zeal in tackling climate change by cutting carbon dioxide emissions as they have promised, the so-called “climate progressives”, are a long way from living up to their promises, scientists say.

They say the annual rate that emissions are expected to be cut is less than half of that needed, and suggest the UK should reduce them by 10% each year, starting this year. It also needs to achieve a fully zero-carbon energy system by around 2035, they say, not 2050 as UK law requires.

But as emissions of greenhouse gases have continued to rise, these models have come to rely increasingly on the extensive deployment of what the authors judiciously call “highly speculative negative emissions technologies” (NETs), often known under the umbrella title of carbon capture and storage (CCS), or carbon sequestration.

“Here we have collectively denied the necessary scale of mitigation, running scared of calling for fundamental changes to both our energy system and the lifestyles of high-energy users.

“For almost two decades we have deluded ourselves that ongoing small adjustments to business as usual will deliver a timely zero-carbon future for our children.”

We are still just beginning to understand the below ground forest processes

https://scitechdaily.com/new-method-for-capturing-carbon-via-fluids-emitted-from-tree-roots-in-wild-forests/

It is well known that plants use carbon dioxide obtained from the air in photosynthesis to use as energy and grow bigger. Naoki Makita and Maiko Akatsuki of Shinshu University confirmed that a large amount of this carbon is expelled into the soil through root exudates.

Carbon is often said to be the building block of life, and in this research, Makita and Akatsuki were able to show that a large amount of this carbon is released from the root system of trees as exudates. It was also found that not all root parts are equal. Thinner, finer roots exude more than thicker roots. The surrounding microbial symbiotic groups, such as ectomycorrhiza and arbuscular mycorrihiza form a strong relationship with tree roots, and play a significant role in the chemistry and morphology of the root exudation.

Roots release exudates which include amino acids, organic acids, sugars, phenolics and other secondary metabolites. They have an allelopathic effect, demonstrating inhibitory or stimulatory on microorganisms and other creatures that thrive around the root system. Exudates inhibit the growth of competitive plants while promoting the growth and colonization of similar plants. By chemically and physically changing the properties of the rhizosphere soil near the exuding root system, they are able to change the number and activity of microorganisms which in turn effect the priming and decomposition rate of fallen leaves, branches and dead roots through the availability of inorganic ions. The fine roots at the extremity of trees exert such effects and make a great contribution to the material cycle of the forest ecosystem.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/121846326/planting-nonnative-trees-accelerates-the-release-of-carbon-back-into-the-atmosphere

But there is ongoing debate about whether to prioritise native or non-native plants to fight climate change. As our recent research shows, non-native plants often grow faster compared to native plants, but they also decompose faster and this helps to accelerate the release of 150% more carbon dioxide from the soil.

Our research, recently published in the journal Science, shows that when non-native plants arrive in a new place, they establish new interactions with soil organisms.

So far, research has mostly focused on how this resetting of interactions with soil microorganisms, herbivorous insects and other organisms helps exotic plants to invade a new place quickly, often overwhelming native species.

We found that non-native plants provided a better food source for herbivores compared with native plants – and that resulted in more plant-eating insects in communities dominated by non-native plants.

Similarly, exotic plants also raised the abundance of soil microorganisms involved in the rapid decomposition of plant material. This synergy of multiple organisms and interactions (fast-growing plants with less dense tissues, high herbivore abundance, and increased decomposition by soil microorganisms) means that more of the plant carbon is released back into the atmosphere.

Reforested areas are typically replanted with native species that occurred there before, whereas afforested areas are planted with new species. Our results suggest planting non-native trees into soils with microorganisms they have never encountered (in other words, afforestation with non-native plants) may lead to more rapid release of release of carbon and undermine the effort to mitigate climate change.

A study has estimated the economic value of the world's forests and emphasised the urgent need to protect them for our future (it attempts to take a holistic assessment of forest values, though many of these are limited and simplistic with environmental values understated,  its biggest failing is its emphasis on sustainable logging):

https://therising.co/2020/06/15/global-temperature-forest-value-bcg/

The world’s forests are an incredibly valuable resource: storing carbon, purifying air and water, ensuring natural biodiversity, and providing a livelihood for millions of people. And a new Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report confirms this. In its report, BCG estimates the value of forests to be up to $150 trillion. But if we don’t take appropriate action, including watch our global temperature, we could lose 30 percent of that value by 2050, BCG researchers warn.

Trees play a vital role in controlling our CO2 emissions, and “if we take aggressive action in the six areas and succeed in limiting global temperature increase to less than 2°C, forests can become net absorbers of CO2 after 2045 and capture up to 2 gigatons of CO2 per year,” the report says. For content, “This amount is more than the annual CO2 emissions from Russia today.”

That’s why it’s no surprise that deforestation itself accounts for 10 percent of global emissions — and makes it counterproductive to fight climate change.

https://www.bcg.com/publications/2020/the-staggering-value-of-forests-and-how-to-save-them.aspx

The world’s forests—which today cover 30% of the earth’s land surface—are an incredibly valuable resource, storing massive amounts of carbon, helping to purify water and air, ensuring natural biodiversity, and providing livelihoods for millions of people. But despite the vital importance of forests, they are under worldwide assault, with the equivalent of 30 soccer fields disappearing every minute.

The estimated total value of the world’s forests is as much as $150 trillion—nearly double the value of global stock markets. The ability of forests to regulate the climate through carbon storage is by far the largest component of that total value, accounting for as much as 90%.

However, our analysis finds that land use changes and rising global temperatures, major drivers of deforestation, will actually be the main causes of forest value losses. Of the five primary threats to forest value that we identified, these two account for about 70% of projected losses between now and 2050. Ultimately, if the five major threats to forests today are not addressed, global forest value will drop by roughly 30% by 2050.

We have identified six critical actions that can protect forests and limit deforestation—and therefore preserve forest value: (1) restore and plant forests for the purpose of protection as well as wood production, sustainably manage these and more of the existing forests, and increase their productivity; (2) boost sustainable and productive agriculture; (3) reduce meat consumption; (4) push for deforestation-free production of palm oil, soy, beef, and timber; (5) increase wood recycling; and (6) limit global temperature increase to less than 2°C. Ambitious but realistic action, including follow-through on current global pledges for forest protection, can preserve 20% of value and thus reduce value loss to about 10% by 2050.

Existing forests store CO2 in the form of carbon on a massive scale—and young, growing forests absorb significant amounts of CO2. However, on a global scale, because of deforestation (the permanent loss of forested area) and decay, forests are now releasing more CO2 than they are absorbing—meaning forests are net carbon emitters. Depending on the actions we take today, forests will either be a powerful tool for combating climate change or a major contributor to rising CO2 levels.

The largest share of forests’ total value—between 65% and 90%—lies in their climate-regulatory function. Commercial value accounts for the next largest share, and environmental and social value account for the remaining portion in equal amounts.

Another study has quantified the benefits to human health from urban tree plantings

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-06/ufs--sip061620.php

The first city-wide health impact assessment of the estimated effects of a tree canopy initiative on premature mortality in Philadelphia suggests that increased tree canopy could prevent between 271 and 400 premature deaths per year. The study by Michelle Kondo, a Philadelphia-based research social scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and her partners suggest that increased tree canopy or green space could decrease morbidity and mortality for urban populations - particularly in areas with lower socioeconomic status where existing tree canopies tend to be the lowest. 

The analysis is one of the first to estimate the number of preventable deaths based on physical activity, air pollution, noise, heat, and exposure to greenspaces using a tool developed by public health researchers in Spain and Switzerland called the Greenspace-Health Impact Assessment

Recently published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health, the study is available through the Forest Service's Northern Research Station at: https://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/59911

They found that increasing urban tree canopy to the Greenworks Philadelphia goal of 30 percent in all neighborhoods could prevent 400 deaths annually, but lesser increases in tree canopy still resulted in reduced mortality. A 5 percentage point increase in tree canopy only in areas without trees could result in an annual reduction of 302 deaths citywide, researchers found, and a 10 percentage point increase in tree canopy cover across the city was associated with an estimated reduction of 376 deaths.

Under the cover of COVID 19 the de-natured despots are winding back environmental protection to fast-track economic recovery

https://theconversation.com/mr-morrison-you-can-cut-green-tape-without-harming-nature-but-itll-take-money-and-gumption-140732?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2017%202020%20-%201653215906&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2017%202020%20-%201653215906+CID_40d42a47dde64eb79288d0261550c428&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Mr%20Morrison%20you%20can%20cut%20green%20tape%20without%20harming%20nature%20%20but%20itll%20take%20money%20and%20gumption

Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week announced environmental approvals for 15 major infrastructure projects will be fast-tracked to accelerate investment as Australia emerges from the COVID-19 lockdown.

Under the current system, proponents must seek both state and federal approvals for big developments. The new “single touch” approvals process will involve teams of state and federal officials assessing the projects jointly. 

It’s true that while governments may claim faster approvals won’t erode environmental standards, there aren’t many hard-and-fast standards to maintain.

Instead, EPBC Act decisions mostly hinge on the minister’s conclusion that assessed environmental impacts are “not unacceptable”, provided certain conditions, such as minimising a project’s physical size, are met. But this is no standard at all, because such decisions are arbitrary and no “bottom line” for a project’s environmental performance is set.

As things stand, the closest thing to an on-ground environmental standard is the environmental offsets policy, which allows environmental damage from a project to be compensated for by environmental improvements elsewhere. But policies are not binding, there is no public register of approved offsets and little evidence of them being monitored and enforced.

America is one of many countries using the Corona virus to accelerate forest destruction

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-energy-202/2020/06/15/the-energy-202-forest-service-sparks-controversy-for-pushing-logging-oil-during-pandemic/5ee6835d602ff12947e8c134/

The Trump administration's “blueprint” paving the way for more logging, grazing and energy extraction is the newest flashpoint over regulatory rollbacks during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s order on Friday, meant to cut through legal red tape around chopping down trees, garnered praise from Republicans in Congress.

But it is also drawing protest from conservationists concerned Trump officials are taking advantage of the pandemic to develop more of the 193 million acres of forests and grasslands managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

https://www.thecattlesite.com/news/55446/usda-announces-modernisation-blueprint-for-the-us-forest-service/

“Under this administration, the Forest Service has sold more timber than we have in the last 22 years and made significant increases in our hazardous fuels treatments and active management of our national forests. While I am proud of our progress to promote active management, reduce hazardous fuels, work across boundaries and increase the resiliency of our nation’s forests and grasslands, I believe more can be done,” said Secretary Perdue. “Today, 12 June, I am announcing a blueprint for reforms to provide further relief from burdensome regulations, improve customer service, and boost the productivity of our national forest system.”

And Brazil is leading the race to oblivion by example

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/06/14-straight-months-of-rising-amazon-deforestation-in-brazil/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=dc5c456393-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-dc5c456393-77229786

  • Deforestation in Earth’s largest rainforest increased for the fourteenth consecutive month according to data released today by the Brazilian government.
  • Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is currently pacing 83% ahead of where it was a year ago.
  • The high level of deforestation through the first few months of 2020 means the year is shaping up to have a bad fire season.
  • The rise in deforestation troubles scientists who fear that the combination of forest loss and the effects of climate change could trigger the Amazon rainforest to tip toward a drier ecosystem.

Here's a nice article about the benefits of forest bathing in America

https://telluridemagazine.com/rx-for-all-forest-bathing-for-better-health/

Chances are, you have important trees in your past.

These are the trees you think of in times of stress, or loneliness, or when your phone has become your ball and chain. Your happy place is populated by these trees, standing by, steady, calm and vibrant—and, as it happens, ready to serve.

When we are standing still in our majestic forests here in Colorado wondering why it is we feel so alive, so protected, so well accompanied, it is because forest bathing is good for the full spectrum of health, seen and unseen, felt and unfelt. All we have to do is slow down, slow way down, and be open to it.

https://www.chieftain.com/entertainmentlife/20200613/forests-carry-healing-power

 

13 June 2020


Nambucca had some good TV coverage:

NBN - https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2020/06/08/logging-halted-in-nambucca-state-forest/

Prime 7 - https://www.prime7.com.au/news/26488-logging-protest

And more media coverage (though logging has been stopped before by protests on a variety of occasions since the RFA, and for years in some cases):

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/gumbaynggirr-custodians-stop-work-nambucca-state-forest

Gumbaynggirr custodians are claiming a hard-fought victory by stopping the NSW Forestry Corporation from logging cultural sites in the Nambucca State forest.

On June 5, lawyer for the Forestry Corporation of NSW David Giles advised that it would cease its work until June 10. This is the first time logging has been stopped since the NSW regional forestry agreement came into force more than 20 years ago.

The stop work allows Gumbaynggirr representatives to file legal proceedings against the Forestry Corporation.

Sandy Greenwood, Gumbaynggirr custodian and spokesperson said on June 7 they were concerned about the Forestry Corporation's “lack of transparency” because it had “avoided the Gumbaynggirr community consultation processes and ignored contact and questions from the community”.

https://www.nambuccaguardian.com.au/story/6778800/tent-embassy-protests-nambucca-logging/

A GUMBAYNGGIRR embassy camp has been formed in response to active logging taking place within the Nambucca State Forest over sites that hold significant cultural value to the local Gumbaynggirr people. 

"The NSW Forestry Corporation have been given the permission to log 140,000 hectares of coastal forests from Taree to Grafton which they refer to as 'intensive harvesting zones'. If we don't act now our deeply significant cultural heritage will be desecrated, our beautiful old growth trees will be logged, rare flora will become extinct and our koalas and endangered species will literally have nowhere else to go," Gumbaynggirr camp spokesperson Sandy Greenwood said.

GoFundMe: Support the Gumbaynnggirr Tent Embassy

The page had a target of $2000, and more than $6000 has now been raised.

A Koala Smart education program is underway

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/6786590/koala-smart-education-program-expands-australia-wide/?cs=12

The 2020 Koala Smart Program which educates NSW primary and secondary school students about threats to koalas launches this month with the support of local Lions Clubs.

Koala Smart is a Lions Club project, launched last year in Port Macquarie and Kempsey, which empowers students to develop local initiatives to protect the species and is now in its second year with the support of Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. 

The project, now funded with $50,000 through the NSW Government's Saving Our Species program and the NSW Koala Strategy, is being aligned this year with the NSW Education and Standards Authority and expanded across all NSW schools.

Maybe we could all have our own backyard Koala 'sanctuaries'

https://coastcommunitynews.com.au/central-coast/news/2020/05/landowners-asked-to-help-with-koala-conservation/

The race to protect what remains of the severely fragmented Central Coast koala population is well and truly on, and Palmdale’s, Joe Weston, believes that the region’s landowners could play a big part in the decades to come.

Three years and more than $4,000 later, Joe has transformed three acres of his property into a nursery, with more than 250 native saplings growing strong behind feral pest proof fencing.

Joe reckons it’ll be about eight years or so before the space is ready for a possible koala translocation, but he’s confident his handmade sanctuary will one day provide a home to a small group of koalas.

The federally funded Pearl Beach Koala Translocation project has also added fuel to Joe’s fire and he’s hoping to ignite government interest and funding for his idea.

[Jake Cassar] While he’s unsure about the long term feasibility of the proposal, Jake believes smaller scale sanctuaries could actually be a perfect fit for koalas with critical needs.

“There may be scope for koalas who have been injured and can’t be released back into the wild to live their lives out in a nice little sanctuary like Joe’s, rather that ending up in a zoo or small enclosure somewhere,” Jake said.

Remnant Koalas were hit by wildfires on the south coast

https://www.begadistrictnews.com.au/story/6787588/fears-murrah-koalas-functionally-extinct-with-evidence-showing-dramatic-drop-in-numbers/

Following ongoing drought and the summer bushfires, evidence of only a solitary koala remains in an area where up to a dozen were located just last year.

Robert Bertram has been surveying and looking to protect koalas in the Murrah and surrounding forested areas for many years.

Of the original 10 locations, three in the western section of the survey area have ongoing evidence of koalas. 

"The western area also includes the most fertile forest area in the region where up to three koalas have been located," he said.

"Unfortunately only one koala has been located in steeper less fertile forests in the eastern section where up to a dozen koalas were located last year.

Forest protectors are ramping up actions in Victoria

https://nationalpost.com/pmn/environment-pmn/burning-issue-australia-debates-risks-of-logging-fire-damaged-forests-3

The Warburton clearcut and others like it in the state are becoming a key battleground for Australia’s environmental policy in the wake of the worst recorded bushfires in the country’s history.

A new report by a group of leading Australian scientists suggests logging of native forests increases the risk and severity of wildfires.

Near Warburton, local environmentalists have launched protests over logging plans.

Nicole Fox, who alongside other conservationists chained herself to harvesting machinery and was arrested in an attempt to halt logging, spoke of the need to cut bushfire risks for the sake of threatened wildlife.

https://www.thedispatch.in/burning-issue-australia-debates-risks-of-logging-fire-damaged-forests/

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-10/traditional-owners-join-logging-protest-in-gippsland/12337292

Protests by a coalition of traditional owners and environmentalists have forced a halt to native timber logging at seven coupes in Victoria's Gippsland and the Central Highlands.

Yesterday's protests stopped logging at coupes at Mount Cole, Baw Baw, Toolangi, Big Pat's Creek, Cambarville, Lakes Entrance and Noojee operated by state-owned timber company VicForests.

The protesters used a variety of tactics, including tree-sits, walking into logging coupes, and in one case locking themselves to machinery.

Scientists are maintaining their campaign against logging for increasing forest flammability

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/logging-and-severe-fire-both-make-forests-more-flammable-20200605-p5500y.html

The clear and overwhelming evidence is that logging makes forests more flammable. These are the findings of four peer-reviewed, published scientific studies from four institutions in six years, and of multiple scientific reviews.

The likely reasons are that after logging, increased sunlight dries out the forest floor, thousands of fast-growing saplings per hectare increases the fuel for a fire to burn, and the wind speed on hot days increases because of the lack of a tree canopy (wind speed is a key factor in creating extreme fire conditions). Most branches that burn in a bushfire are smaller than the diameter of a human thumb. Young trees burn almost completely while big, tall trees often remain alive and standing after fire.

Climate change is already resulting in more extreme fire danger days, and the evidence is that native forest logging makes things worse.

Peer-reviewed studies show post-fire logging also increases forest flammability for decades.

After logging, the top of the tree, the bark and the branches are left on the ground. Only the stripped trunk of the log is taken. Even if the area is then burned, excess dead branches remain, and then dense plant regrowth creates much more fire fuel.

There is no published scientific work suggesting logging reduces fire risk. Still, VicForests aggressively attacks scientists who publish peer-reviewed science on the subject, including those it has previously employed. Private Forests Tasmania has claimed commercial logging is a preventative fire strategy. This claim is not supported by any peer-reviewed fire behaviour models.

The NSW Government has released a new summary of the impacts of the wildfires

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/07/more-than-a-third-of-nsw-rainforests-found-to-have-been-hit-by-australian-bushfires

More than a third of New South Wales rainforest was among 5.4m hectares hit by last season’s catastrophic bushfires, according to new state government data.

The report, an updated assessment of the effect of the fires on wildlife and landscapes, said 293 threatened animal species and 680 threatened plant species have habitat in the state’s fire ground. The affected area includes more than 3.5m hectares of the state’s best koala habitat.

Of the national parks in the fire ground, the analysis found 23% have had their canopy fully affected and 36% partially affected. In state forests, those figures are 17% and 32% respectively.

Within the NSW RFS fire ground, 72% of the original ecological was estimated as remaining in 2013. In 2020, that figure has decreased to 44% the report states.

The analysis also looked at the ability of these locations to support native species and ecosystems, what is known as “ecological carrying capacity”.

It estimated that within the fire ground 62% of the original carrying capacity remained in 2013. That had now fallen to 38%.

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/australia-bushfires-2019-rainforest-koalas-extent-damage-new-south-wales-a9553341.html

“In some places where bushfires were very extensive, there is a scarcity of unburnt areas to provide refuge for wildlife as burnt areas recover.”

The analysis also warned the fire damage and resultant loss of foliage could result in significant amounts of erosion which further degrade the environment, making recovery more difficult.

“The combination of fire and follow-up rains can trigger major erosion events which cause lasting damage to ecosystems,” the report said. “This is because the capacity of landscapes to maintain soil stability changes when vegetation is burnt.”

A missed World Environment Day release from Sydney Uni was

https://www.sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2020/06/05/australia-isn-t-doing-enough-to-preserve-biodiversity.html

This World Environment Day, it is useful to reflect on Australia’s climate-induced bushfire disaster during the summer of 2019-20. A conservative estimate is that 1.25 billion animals and 100 billion insects died. Climate change contributed to the inferno through drought, extreme temperatures, dry lightning strikes and unique fire weather systems. By the end of January 2020, more than 10 million hectares had been burnt.

However, Australia’s biodiversity was in a precarious state even before the fires. The 2020-1 IUCN Red List ranks Australia sixth in the world for the highest number of threatened species of reptiles; fish; molluscs; other invertebrates; plants; fungi; and protists (a kind of a single-celled organism). It ranks after Madagascar; Ecuador; Mexico; the United States; and Malaysia.

... From 2012, 177,411 hectares of known or likely koala habitat has been cleared. Of this destruction, 80 per cent was for livestock pasture in Queensland, while in NSW, forest clearing dominated losses of koala habitat (62 percent).

Added to this, some of the NSW government’s immediate responses to the bushfires are deeply troubling. For example, it has agreed to allow inadequately regulated salvage logging in burnt areas to fulfil timber contracts. – and also logging, by the NSW Forestry Corporation, of unburnt forest potentially crucial as a refuge for species that survived the fires.

However, unless the broadscale destruction of native vegetation – the critical habitat of Australia’s biodiversity – is halted, the prospects for its recovery are dim. As the Constitutional Court of Columbia recently said, “biodiversity…being a living entity…[is the] subject of rights…only from an attitude of deep respect and humility with nature…is it possible to enter into relationships [on] fair and equitable terms…”

The Daily Examiner apparently covered our release (behind paywall)

Conservation group speaks up on World Environment Day

Daily Examiner-7 Jun 2020

NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said the Australia was already being ravished by droughts, heatwaves and bushfires fed by climate heating. “With many ...

We need to keep forest canopies closed:

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/jun/08/weatherwatch-how-forests-protect-species-from-global-heating

Most species thrive in what is for them an optimum temperature range, so the stable temperatures of the forest floor provide a cushion against the effect of climate heating. Destroying the protective canopy provided by big trees, even with selective logging, can be catastrophic for this sheltered community. The forest floor dries out and the temperatures surge, changing the habitat overnight. 

Scientists studying 3,000 sites over 80 years say these changes happen too fast for some species to adapt, wiping them out, while allowing others to move in. With increasing heatwaves they plead for foresters to take this into account during their operations and help preserve biodiversity. 

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6492/772

Increasing tree canopy cover reduces warming rates inside forests, but loss of canopy cover leads to increased local heat that exacerbates the disequilibrium between community responses and climate change.

The need to identify and protect disturbance and climate chaos refugia continues to garner attention

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200609095032.htm

Pockets of landscape less prone than adjacent areas to disturbances like fire and drought may hold the key for scientists, conservationists and land managers seeking to preserve vulnerable species in a changing climate.

These areas, categorized as "disturbance refugia," are becoming a focal point for ecologists trying to learn why change doesn't occur as quickly in some landscapes as it does in others nearby.

Known informally as the "lifeboats" or "slow lanes" of biodiversity, refugia have spawned the new field of refugia science, which is the theme of the June issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

And for an explanation of the role of forests in climate change see

Read more at: https://prnigeria.com/2020/06/12/climate-change-forest-nexus/

Forests play a two-fold role in climate change. They serve as a cause and solution of green-house gas (GHG) emission. Forests influence climate through the surface albedo, evaporation, transpiration and emission of hydrocarbons. Through the process of evapotranspiration, forests contribute to the moisture and rainfall pattern on land surface. Forests also have a cooling effect on climate through uptake of CO2 and they affect the temperature, moisture and heat fluxes between land surface and atmosphere. Forests influences the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) most especially carbon because forest trees serves as carbon sinks converting inorganic carbon found in the atmosphere into organic carbon stored in their biomass. This reduces the greenhouse gas (GHG) loaded in the atmosphere, allowing more of the reflected infrared rays from the earth surface to escape to outer space. An increased concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) results in more infrared rays being reflected back into the lower atmosphere and land surface thus increasing the temperature on Earth causing a phenomenon known as global warming. The loss and degradation of forest cover is both a cause and an effect of climate change. Deforestation, which is the permanent removal of trees and forest degradation, releases the carbon back to the atmosphere causing global warming. They also amount to about 12.5% of global GHG emission. The loss of forests will result in the inability of the forest to play its role in climate regulation.

As Western Australia's forests collapse, the push is on to thin out the regrowth - though the loggers see this as an economic opportunity:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-12/landowners-and-loggers-say-eco-thinning-can-save-wa-forests/12340908

The native forests of WA's South West are under increasing pressure, and risk of bushfire and ecological collapse, because the region's rainfall has fallen by 20 per cent since the 1970s.

Eco-thinning is the practice of mechanically removing smaller, weaker trees from regrowth or historically logged forests to reduce density and competition to help larger trees thrive.

Landowners and native loggers are turning to "ecological thinning" to try to save Western Australia's southern native forests from fire and collapse due to climate change.

[Greens] Dr Sharp said the widespread death of native trees in WA's South West in 2011 — after the region experienced record-low rainfall the previous year — was an example of the consequences of climate change and poor regrowth forest management.

Traditional logging tends to harvest larger trees more suitable for saw logging but eco-thinning focuses on the removal of smaller diameter trees, which are currently wasted or left as a fire hazard.

[Protection] "That has been very successful in old growth forests, which are pretty much undisturbed, but where you have forests that have been heavily disturbed, I feel we have to contemplate the fact it requires additional disturbance."

However Mr Walker said there needed to be access to bigger markets, such as export, to be able to practice eco-thinning on a larger scale.

Forest Industries Federation of WA's President, Ian Telfer, said his industry had an important role in creating and tapping into those markets of scale.

And in America they know how to turn the collapse of forests from droughts and wildfires into a profit, using greenwash to hide that they are compounding the problem

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/california-push-grows-turn-dead-trees-biomass-energy

Drought, a warming climate and bark-beetle infestations also have killed 147 million California trees since 2013 ... Scientists say these trees are poised to burn in California’s next round of megafires, threatening the range with blazes so intense they will leave some places unable to establish new forests.

... Kusel, 63, is one of a growing number of citizens and officials anxious to put those trees and their thick undergrowth to use ... His institute has invested in logging equipment to supply wood chips to community biomass facilities, which burn them to produce heat and electricity. 

Biomass projects such as Kusel’s are controversial, especially in the southeastern U.S., where states have rushed to convert forests into pellets for export to power plants in Europe. That market opened up after a much-criticized European Union decision to categorize biomass energy as a form of renewable energy.

As production nearly has doubled at facilities from Virginia to Florida, large-scale logging has had a major impact on Southern forest ecosystems, among the most diverse in the country. More than 35 million acres of natural forests have been lost, replaced by 40 million acres of single-crop pine plantations; local species extinctions doubled between 2002 and 2011, according to the Dogwood Alliance, an environmental organization protecting Southern forests. The American Lung Association and numerous health organizations blame biomass burning for a sweeping array of health harms, from asthma to cancer to heart attacks.

In California, the state with the most biomass power plants, the nearly 70 facilities operating in the early 1990s dropped to about 24 after government incentives waned.

Several high-priority actions in California have embraced removing excess forest fuels as part of an aggressive climate policy. Former Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2018 executive order addressing tree mortality included a component directed toward small biomass generation. CalFire’s commitment to thinning a million acres a year is backed by $2 billion approved by the legislature. And last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency, fast-tracking 35 high-priority logging and thinning projects in fire-prone communities. The state aims to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2045, in part by slashing the amount of CO2 emitted by wildfires.

But Wolf, of the Center for Biological Diversity, sees little difference between Kusel’s push for biomass and the destructive logging of the past. Government contracts for biomass removal include commercial logging — not just dead trees and woody debris, but larger diameter trees, too, she says. Even dead trees sequester carbon, contributing to California’s carbon neutrality goals.

Of all the complaints raised against biomass power, emissions may be the loudest. Burning forest fuels emits 1.5 times as much carbon as coal and three times as much as natural gas, says Chad Hanson, co-founder of the John Muir Project. Even small-scale plants emit pollutants that include mercury, lead and harmful particulates.

The worldwide push for burning forests for electricity continues

https://www.insidesources.com/new-report-biomass-a-big-winner-in-fight-to-reduce-carbon-emissions/

A newly released study from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency concludes that “biomass appears to play a significant role in a climate-neutral, circular economy.”

It’s the latest in a series of findings supporting forestry as part of a global strategy to lower carbon levels in the atmosphere.

The study, “Availability and Application Possibilities of Sustainable Biomass,” drew upon 400 papers and 150 interviews and found that the use of sustainable wood bioenergy is central to the Netherlands’ effort to mitigate climate change.

Some groups, like the Dogwood Alliance, have gone so far as to refer to wood as “worse than coal” when it comes to its environmental impact, and they view the forestry industry as an agricultural version of Big Oil.

Climate chaos induced droughts are having a significant impact on German forests

https://www.cleanenergywire.org/news/recurring-droughts-will-change-face-german-forests-forever-researcher

Alexander Marx: This is very difficult to predict, but I doubt that the country's forests are going to collapse altogether. What seems clear is that we're going to lose parts of our forests to the droughts. About 200,000 hectares have been lost as a direct consequence in recent years. But what is more worrying is that the overall vitality of trees in the country has diminished. A survey of canopy densities in 2019 showed that only one out of five trees can be called completely healthy, whereas 80 percent suffered from frailties to at least some extent. So, some are saying that the structure of our forests is definitely going to change, since some tree species, such as the spruce, can no longer be sustained in large monocultures.

And an American example of the takeover of private forests by corporations

https://features.propublica.org/oregon-timber/severance-tax-cut-wall-street-private-logging-companies/

Logging is booming around Falls City, a town of about 1,000 residents in the Oregon Coast Range. More trees are cut in the county today than decades ago when a sawmill hummed on Main Street and timber workers and their families filled the now-closed cafes, grocery stores and shops selling home appliances, sporting goods and feed for livestock.

But the jobs and services have dried up, and the town is going broke. The library closed two years ago. And as many as half of the families in Falls City live on weekly food deliveries from the Mountain Gospel Fellowship.

“You’re left still with these companies that have reaped these benefits, but those small cities that have supported them over the years are left in the dust,” Mac Corthell, the city manager, said.

Wall Street real estate trusts and investment funds began gaining control over the state’s private forestlands. They profited at the expense of rural communities by logging more aggressively with fewer environmental protections than in neighboring states, while reaping the benefits of timber tax cuts that have cost counties at least $3 billion in the past three decades, an investigation by OPB, The Oregonian/OregonLive and ProPublica found.

Half of the 18 counties in Oregon’s timber-dominant region lost more money from tax cuts on private forests than from the reduction of logging on federal lands, the investigation shows.

Polk County, home to Falls City, has lost approximately $29 million in revenue from timber sales on federal land. By comparison, the elimination of the severance tax and lower property taxes for private timber companies have cost the county at least $100 million.

Oregon lowered taxes and maintained weaker environmental protections on private forestlands than neighboring states in exchange for jobs and economic investment from the timber industry.

Despite such concessions, the country’s top lumber-producing state has fewer forest-sector jobs per acre and collects a smaller share of logging profits than Washington or California.

15 May 2020


The battle to stop logging of Nambucca State Forest is heating up

https://www.nambuccaguardian.com.au/story/6757644/logging-operation-starts-in-nambucca-state-forest-protesters-set-up-vigil-photos/

A LOGGING operation in Nambucca State Forest started today and locals, members of the Indigenous community and concerned conservation groups gathered for a roadside protest.

Speaking as a local councillor, Susan Jenvey stressed how important protecting the forest was for the area.

"Scientists have been telling us since the bushfires, that logging dries out forests, that it makes them fire-prone," she said.

"Wildlife also needs space; otherwise, they come into the urban fringe and begin to create safety issues. Nambucca already has a problem with bats in town.

However, Nambucca Valley Conservation Association (NVCA) spokesperson Lyn Orrego says that more needs to be done to protect the forest.

"We oppose the logging of this coastal, public native forest surrounding the town of Nambucca Heads. Instead we support the Community Campaign for Nambucca State Forest to be protected as a National Park for wildlife, recreation and climate," she said.

"Most of the forest avoided last summer's devastating wild fires, this makes it incredibly valuable to protect as habitat for threatened species devastated elsewhere.

"This public native forest must be managed for the public good. It is worth much more kept intact than it is being logged."

The Nature Conversation Council is organising a petition to appose logging in the Nambucca Heads State Forest, for details on how to sign, click here.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/15/nsw-south-coast-residents-battling-to-save-unburnt-bushland-ask-sussan-ley-to-intervene

[this story had very extensive coverage]

And there are calls for the state government to order Forestry Corporation to abandon plans to log Nambucca state forest on the NSW north coast.

“Logging these forests after so many were devastated in the summer bushfires is morally indefensible,” said the Nature Conservation Council chief executive, Chris Gambian.

“Trees that are habitat for a wide range of native animals, including the greater glider, sooty owl and koalas, will be cut down to make telegraph poles, pool decking and pallets.”

There are also forest protests in Western Australia over the definition of oldgrowth

https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2020-05-15/wa-forestry-industry-lashes-government-over-11th-hour-review/12253752

The WA forestry industry has slammed the State Government's decision to halt a native timber logging operation and initiate a review of the project with just a few hours' notice as "shambolic political interference".5 may

The ongoing standoff between conservationists and the timber industry reached boiling point this week when protestors interrupted operations in the Dalgarup forest near Bridgetown, 250 kilometres south of Perth.

Protestors argue the site is 'old growth' and unsuitable for logging but industry says the classification was set out in WA's Forest Management Plan which was determined by the department.

The ABC understands operations were halted at ministerial request, hours after protestors were moved on by police.

This is a comprehensive article about logging impacts, and while it is focused on Victoria it is applicable to NSW's forests and is worth reading in full (these are lengthy extracts)

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/05/australias-logging-madness-fuels-more-fires-hastens-ecosystem-collapse/

Yet, in Victoria and New South Wales, the two Australian states that were affected the most by the fires, logging companies have continued to saw down swaths of native trees to produce paper pulp for toilet tissue and paper towels. In Victoria, where fires raged through more than 1.2 million hectares (3 million acres) of land, a regional forestry agreement (RFA) was recently renewed for 10 years, allowing the state’s own logging company, VicForests to oversee and manage logging in the state, including logging inside the critically endangered mountain ash forest ecosystem. While the Victorian and federal government in Australia insist that the industry helps preserve jobs and boosts the economy, scientists and conservationists say continued logging doesn’t make economic or environmental sense.

The RFAs, which were established in 1998, excuse logging companies from certain state and federal legislation, such as the Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, meant to protect vulnerable flora and fauna in Australia’s forests. Despite these exemptions, Victoria’s RFAs pledge to properly and sustainably manage forests in order to protect biodiversity.

Politicians aren’t the only ones dissatisfied with the logging industry’s forest management. In 2019, the Victorian government conducted a public survey to assess how the public would like the state to manage its forests. The majority of respondents said that forests should be used for “conserving plants and animals,” while only a small number of respondents emphasized the importance of “providing jobs and economic benefits from timber and wood products.”

Chris Taylor, a research fellow at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University (ANU), said that neither the Andrews government’s 2030 pledge nor the modernization process is doing anything to protect the state’s forests.

“Forest management and logging practices are not being reviewed, amended or revised,” Taylor told Mongabay. “Things are going ahead as business as usual.”

“They’re literally going to run the forest off the edge of the cliff,” Taylor said. “They’re going to exhaust the resource, and that’s their intent. It’ll be highly unlikely that we will even make it to 2030 in terms of the capacity of the forest to supply wood.”

While clear-cutting is commonly practiced in Victoria, loggers also use a technique called selective logging. As its name suggests, workers will select certain trees, while leaving other parts of the forest intact. In theory, selective logging might seem to less destructive than clear-cutting, but environmentalists and scientists warn that this form of logging is just as disruptive to the forest ecosystem, especially since loggers tend to take out the oldest and largest trees, which provide food and shelter for wildlife.

“It’s estimated that there’s less than 2,000 of these little animals in the wild,” Rice said. “The whole time that I’ve been in the Senate, we have been trying to get them to finalize the recovery plan for the leadbeater’s possum, but they haven’t. Even this regional forest agreement would potentially give them [the logging companies] another two years before they finalize the recovery plan. Meanwhile, the forest that they depend upon is being damaged and destroyed, every day of the week.”

Any form of logging also disables a native forest’s ability to produce water, store carbon and support tourism, according to David Lindenmayer, professor at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University.

“All of those uses are actually completely incompatible with timber harvesting,” Lindenmayer told Mongabay. “So when you log a forest, you produce huge amounts of carbon emissions, you reduce water production, and not many tourists want to tramp around in a forest that’s just been blitzed by clear-cutting.”

Logging also makes forests drier, and therefore more fire prone, according to James Watson, professor at School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Queensland.

“When you log a tree, you’re opening up the entire ecosystem, which means it gets drier,” Watson told Mongabay. “You’re allowing wind dynamics to start occurring, which dries out the system as well. And you’ve got all this dry wood on the ground — branches, bark, stumps. The fact that you’ve got these saplings over time start growing, which acts like sticks in a fire. All of these things combined mean that you affect the risk of fire flammability massively.”

Younger trees also provide a larger surface area over which a fire can burn, which is why they’re more incendiary, Taylor said.

“It’s a bit like putting straw in your fireplace — you get that flare-up,” Taylor said. “The reason why that happens is because the width of the fuel is much narrower. If you throw a big log onto a fire, you know how it doesn’t burn immediately? That’s because there’s more mass that’s inside the log that isn’t exposed directly to the fire. Whereas if you get a twig, you’ve got a far greater surface area compared to that mass … so the heat of the fire is able to ignite it more rapidly, and you get that explosive flare-up. That’s what happens in a wildfire event.”

“The biggest concern is that it’s a double disturbance,” Lindenmayer said. “These ecosystems that have been burnt are in the process of trying to recover, and then they get smashed again. And so, very few ecosystems around the world are geared to be able to deal with two enormous disturbances in very rapid succession. And ultimately, those effects have enormous long lasting impacts that can last for up to 200 years. And most of our species are just not adapted to be able to deal with this. And it’s not just here in Australia — all of the global reviews that have been done shows that there are problems just about everywhere where salvage logging is conducted. In fact, I don’t even think it should be called salvage logging because really, you’re not salvaging anything — it’s almost all damage.”

Lindenmayer said. “There’s simply too much disturbance over too big an area that’s happening too quickly for systems to continue to be able to deal with this.”

“It’s a really serious issue,” he added. “What happens is that fire and logging beget more fire and logging.”

“Essentially, what’s happening is that the public are paying for the ‘privilege’ of having their forests cut down,” he said. “They don’t get anything in return other than a loss. And you can kind of say, ‘Okay, I’ll get that if you were employing thousands and thousands and thousands of people. But they’re not. There’s less than 350 direct jobs in the state, right across the state for this whole industry. So how does this persist then?”

“Whilst the defendant [VicForests] has demonstrated it will suffer some short-term loss, and that long-term loss may exacerbate any likely shortfall in production, this pales in comparison to the potential threat of irreversible environmental damage to the fire affected threatened species,” Justice Kate McMilan of Victoria’s Supreme Court said in a statement. “All five of the threatened species have been identified by the state government as on the path to extinction. It goes without saying that once these species are extinct, there is no going back.”

[loggers] “They are the people that have precisely the skills that you need to fight fires,” Lindenmayer said. “There are no people with better skills than these harvesting operators, with bulldozers and excavators. They’re precisely the kinds of people that you want to have on your side when you’re protecting communities from wildfires.”

In Victoria there is push-back from academics on phasing out logging of public native forests over the next decade

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-09/victorian-forestry-academics-clash-over-sustainable-forestry/12218482

"What we should be thinking about is how we can shift our management towards what is best for the forest and how we can set up forests to be as resilient as possible to the future, because in 10 years we're going to have to walk away from them," Professor Baker said.

FSC certification is one of two certifications used to assess the sustainability of wood harvesting. Officeworks and Bunnings say they will only be sourcing wood from FSC certified businesses by the end of the year.

University of Melbourne Associate Professor Craig Nitschke said the 2030 forestry ban undermined the push for more sustainable harvesting practices.

Professor David Lindenmayer AO said more frequent and severe bushfires caused by native timber harvesting were a reason to speed up the transition to plantations.  

"We need to have a good long look at what's happening in the industry, the resource is declining because of fire and logging, we need to make the transition [to plantation timber] and we need to make it very quickly, otherwise we'll see what happened after the 2009 fires which was that the industry massively overharvested the resource," he said.

[Professor Baker] "The facile notion that you can just stop harvesting native forests and put everything in plantations and that will meet all of our wood supply needs is naïve."

Professor Lindenmayer disagrees.

"Eighty-eight per cent of all sawn timber in Victoria comes from plantations — for roof trusses, for furniture, for floorboards and the like — so it's straightforward to make that transition,” he said.  

"The Victorian Government has set aside $120 million to make that transition, it’s good for rural communities, it’s good for the protection of communities from fire risks, and it gives people good and meaningful to protect communities through firefighting."

Export woodchipping from Eden is on again

https://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/extensive-land-clearing-of-bushfire-regions/4014947/

The woodchip carrier, Cattleya arrived in Eden yesterday to load about 40,000 tonnes of woodchips. It is the first shipment since the summer bushfires. The load will consist of the trees that survived the bushfires. They are felled for spurious hazard reduction.
The government is allowing this to happen to the forests of the NSW South Coast and Northern Victoria.
This is an abomination. As much as 85% of these forests were burnt.

It is now 50 years since the Vietnam War protests, for many of us oldies this was the beginning of our activism, and the mass rallies it culminated in are what we need again to force action on climate change:

https://theconversation.com/50-years-on-the-vietnam-moratorium-campaigns-remind-us-of-a-different-kind-of-politics-137883?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201616115502&utm_content=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201616115502+CID_e89a9404ae9a377938b1da32947449dc&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=50%20years%20on%20the%20Vietnam%20moratorium%20campaigns%20remind%20us%20of%20a%20different%20kind%20of%20politics

Fifty years ago this month, hundreds of thousands of Australians assembled across the country to call for an end to the Vietnam War. The first of the moratorium campaigns, the demonstrations of May 8 1970 were the zenith of the anti-war movement in Australia that had been five years in the making.

The largest of the May 8 marches took place in Melbourne, confirming its status as the national capital of protest politics. An estimated 100,000 demonstrators clogged the city’s streets.

The protests expressed a restless mood for change, and represented a key moment in the puncturing of the oppressive Cold War atmosphere that had dominated Australian public life for some two decades.

Third, the success of the May 1970 moratorium was a watershed in legitimising protest in this country. As the anti-war movement developed from the mid-1960s, it found its activities circumscribed by provisions of the Commonwealth Crimes Act, state laws and local government regulations that severely constrained the right to demonstrate.

In that context, the moratorium’s mass occupation tactics struck a mighty blow for the right to public protest and enlarged the space for democratic action. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that demonstrators since, regardless of their cause, have been benefactors of the legacy created by the moratorium campaigners of the early 1970s.

In a parliamentary debate on the moratorium in April 1970, Cairns articulated what was described as the movement’s “manifesto of dissent”

Some … think that democracy is just Parliament alone … But times are changing. A whole generation is not prepared to accept this complacent, conservative theory. Parliament is not democracy. It is one manifestation of democracy … Democracy is government by the people, and government by people demands action by the people … in public places all around the land.

Extinction Rebellion is going for online disruption

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/extinction-rebellion-goes-for-digital-disruption-amid-pandemic-20200507-p54qsc.html

The campaigners are launching a national "digital rebellion" on Monday to target governments and "climate-complicit industries" while obeying public health laws banning group gatherings and enforcing physical distancing.

Planned events include a "koala rebellion" where people dress up as koalas and film themselves to contribute footage to a protest video highlighting NSW and Victorian logging of unburnt native forests.

The activists will also be tweeting during the ABC’s Q&A on Monday night when the Premiers of NSW, Victoria and Queensland are scheduled to appear, and organising "social media swarms" to encourage divestment from the big four banks. Some plans are secret to keep the element of surprise.

[Mr Dowding] "Just listen to the language that is coming out of government about how we deal with this crisis, particularly around listening to the science. We were able to close down all these things to protect life and we need to put that kind of thinking into the context of the climate emergency."

The Federal Government is spending another $150 million of blood money on fire affected wildlife

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/12/government-commits-150m-to-bushfire-affected-wildlife-but-more-action-needed-conservationists-say

The government has been praised for committing an additional $150m for wildlife and habitat recovery after the recent bushfire crisis but conservationists also warn it should be coupled with stronger policy to protect species and address threats related to climate change.

The environment minister, Sussan Ley, said $110m of the new funds would be for on-ground recovery work in fire-affected regions, including in vulnerable areas of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and in rainforests on the NSW north coast.

The money will be spent over two years from 1 July and is in addition to the initial $50m announced in January to support wildlife recovery.

Ley said it would benefit species including the koala ...

But organisations said funding should be matched by work to improve Australia’s conservation protections. They noted that in the aftermath of the fires unburnt habitat had already been opened up for logging.

“These fires have been the largest single catastrophic event for terrestrial biodiversity in generations and it hasn’t instigated a single change to government policy in how they protect and manage nature,” he said.

Responses to written questions from a Senate estimates committee show the government had spent $18.75m of the initial $50m announced in January for wildlife as at 20 April.

Analysis for the federal government has found 113 vertebrate species, nearly 200 invertebrates and more than 400 plants need urgent assistance in the aftermath of the fires.

https://www.miragenews.com/funding-for-wildlife-and-habitats-welcomed/

Australian Conservation Foundation’s James Trezise ...“The expert recovery panel has highlighted the need to protect unburnt habitat areas, yet some of these areas are already being opened up for logging, which is heavily subsidised, including with new money announced this week.

“The review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, led by Graeme Samuel, presents an important opportunity for the Morrison Government to build a stronger legal framework with emergency protection for critical habitats to better protect remaining unburnt areas.

“In the 20 years Australia has had a national environment law, an area of threatened species habitat larger than Tasmania has been logged, bulldozed and cleared.

https://www.dailyliberal.com.au/story/6753352/labor-critical-of-bushfire-relief-speed/?cs=9397

Prime Minister Scott Morrison detailed on Monday how $650 million will be spent to help communities recover, with most to be spend on local projects.

About $150 million of that will go towards helping native wildlife and habitat areas devastated by the fires.

https://www.miragenews.com/govt-s-money-for-wildlife-disingenuous/

The Australian Greens MPsGreens Spokesperson for the Environment Senator Sarah Hanson-Young ...

“$50m was never going to cut it and $150m more now still won’t be enough especially when the government is going to allow more damage to the environment with salvage logging and cut to environmental protections.

“The Federal Government announced yesterday the bushfire recovery funding includes $15m for transporting salvaged logs. This is despite the science clearly showing salvage logging will be devastating to bushfire affected areas causing further disturbance to these ecosystems and hampering regeneration and recovery.

“So on the one hand the government says it is putting more money on the table for the environment but on the other hand, they are supporting salvage logging and planning to cut environmental protections.

https://vision.org.au/radio/news/federal-government-allocates-150m-to-wildlife-recovery/

Where would we be without the Federal Government's compassion

https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/the-fossil-fuel-industry-has-corrupted-our-democracy,13889

So today, Greenpeace Australia Pacific has launched a sequel investigation: Dirty Power: Burnt Country which exposes the malign effects of the fossil fuel industry on our democracy, even as the nation burned.

During the bushfires, there was a sustained effort by powerful forces to minimise the role played by climate change in creating the conditions for the disaster. Disinformation was used as a political tool by the Morrison government. News Corp systematically downplayed the impact of climate change. Voices of truth and reason were attacked in an effort to silence them.

Meanwhile, as koalas burned alive and Australian children huddled on ash-stained beaches, awaiting evacuation by the Royal Australian Navy, the fossil fuel industry continued to lobby and push for new projects and expansions. Over 100 million tonnes of new coal mining projects were approved during the bushfires — including excavation under Sydney’s precious drinking water catchment.

As the fires reached their crescendo, records show that state MPs met with the fossil fuel industry on lobbyists on a weekly basis. In Queensland, the meetings occurred on average every five days. 

The fossil fuel industry persisted with plans for new projects just as if nothing had happened.

More than 30 people were killed directly by the fires and toxic smoke contributed to the deaths of more than 400 others. More than 80% of the Blue Mountains World Heritage area and more than 50% of the Gondwana World Heritage rainforests were destroyed. A billion or more creatures were incinerated.

Australia’s democracy is hostage to dirty power: the institutional corruption of our democracy by the fossil fuel industry and other big polluters. There is urgent work ahead to release the bonds; harnessing the power and determination of the Australian people to reclaim our democracy and create the foundations for a flourishing future.

Even Koalas that escaped the fires are in trouble on the Southern Highlands from drought

https://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2020/05/australias-wildlife-just-cant-catch-a-break/

the Southern Highlands Koala Sanctuary, located in Canyonleigh, New South Wales ...There’s also drought, which has hit the sanctuary hard.

“A lot of the plants shrivelled up, they dried out, and they died,” Johnson told Gizmodo. “These were previously food sources for the animals.”

New South Wales experienced its second-driest period since 1900 between May 2017 to April 2020. This year has brought some increased rain, but it hasn’t been enough to replenish the drying vegetation the animals eat or the watering holes they drink from. The sanctuary turned to supplementary water to prevent the animals from expending energy to seek water sources. Johnson was particularly concerned to see eucalyptus trees dying, which serve as the primary food source for koalas and as key habitat for the country’s largest owl.

“The eucalyptus have been here for an awful long time and these centuries-old eucalyptus have survived many, many droughts,” she said. “It was devastating to see that happen to these ancient trees that provide so much habitat for the wildlife.”

Mark Graham, an ecologist with the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales, told Gizmodo he believes we’ll discover many extinctions in the months ahead. The collapse of ecosystems is hard to reverse – and the Australian government isn’t doing enough to repair the damage that’s been done.

“[Australians are] the custodians of the world’s greatest treasure troves of biodiversity, and frankly we failed in our duty to protect and maintain this globally significant legacy,” Graham said. “We haven’t even seen, really, a billion dollars spent on the most critical of infrastructure, which is our natural ecosystems. They are our life support systems. They give us the water we drink, the air we breathe, and they maintain the fertility of the soils that feed us.

Koalas continue to garner attention and help

https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2020-05-12/habitat-koalas-wires-landcare-bushfires-drought-nsw-eucalyptus/12196350

With up to 30 per cent of koala habitat destroyed by fire across New South Wales, not-for-profit groups are working hard to restore it to protect remaining koalas.

Science for Wildlife executive director Kellie Leigh said a $20,000 grant for its Blue Mountains Koala Project would be used to identify important koala habitat.

"We were uncovering populations in areas where nobody thought koalas really existed," Dr Leigh said.

The Koala Habitat Planting Map has been released online to assist rural landholders on the state's Mid North Coast to restore critical koala habitat.

Rebecca Montague-Drake from the Koala Recovery Partnership said the map allowed landholders to zoom in on their property anywhere in the Port Macquarie-Hastings and Kempsey local government areas.

"They can click on the area they wish to plant, and a list of the appropriate koala food trees for planting will come up," Dr Montague-Drake said.

A donation of 12,500 koala food trees by the state-owned Forestry Corporation has been snapped up within two days by landholders in the northern rivers region.

Mark Wilson from Friends of the Koala in Lismore, which distributed the mixture of five eucalyptus species, said the response of almost 200 enquiries was incredible.

We don't need homes for little Koalas when we can have more really big Koalas that don't need trees

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/6750295/koala-project-taken-out-of-funding-mix/

A KOALA Sculpture Park proposal has not been supported by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council for potential government bushfire tourism recovery funding.

The Koala Sculpture Park, incorporating 16 koala sculptures, is a vision of Hello Koalas at $476,000. This also includes a big koala project in Port Macquarie.

A second big koala, the third component of the Hello Koalas project, is envisaged for the Cowarra tourism precinct where the koala hospital will also establish a wild koala breeding program.

Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams said it is disappointing councillors did not support the inclusion of the Hello Koalas Sculpture Park proposal.

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/6747688/hello-koalas-delivers-a-million-smiles-to-sydney/

It's official - Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail's Sydney visit in October-November 2019 brought almost a million visitors to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

Twenty-two of the 74 Hello Koalas sculptures made the journey to Sydney for a mini sculpture trail that led visitors on a treasure hunt through the garden using maps and phones.

The Facebook Event recorded 27,000 interested participants for the Royal Botanic Garden with October visitation up 14 per cent despite the extreme weather conditions and fire dangers.

This was the second official tour for the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail, with a one-month stay at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra in March 2019 which also highly successful with a social media reach of 12.89 million and 20 per cent increase in visitation.

If people, climate, fires and bat viruses weren't bad enough, now carpet pythons are threatening Koalas

https://massivesci.com/notes/butterflies-migration-captivity-conservation/

Between 2013 and 2017, 503 free-living koalas got fitted with telemetry collars, ....

Carpet pythons seem to kill more koalas than they can swallow. In most cases attributed to carpet python mortality (62%), koalas were killed by asphyxiation with evidence of attempted ingestion, but the koala carcass was ultimately abandoned.

... We now know that carpet pythons are the second biggest predator of wild koalas, behind wild dogs (dingo relatives, not to be confused with the dogs we keep as pets).

Captive breeding is increasingly used as our solution to destroying animals habitats, though what if Koalas start losing their grip

https://massivesci.com/notes/butterflies-migration-captivity-conservation/

Monarch butterflies are a key pollinator and complete an arduous migration as part of their life cycle. Conservationists worry about their rapidly declining numbers, as the butterflies battle against climate change and pesticides. To tackle this, people are breeding them in captivity, and releasing them when they are fully grown.

To the untrained eye, captive butterflies are just as beautiful as wild ones. Scientists know that their migration skills aren’t as fine tuned as their wild counterparts – a process which is essential for the butterflies to successfully lay their eggs.

Both captive and wild butterflies performed a grip test. By measuring the force needed for the butterflies to release their grip on a branch, researchers discovered that the captive butterflies strength was not up to wild standard. Captive butterflies also have much paler and shorter wings than wild butterflies.

More evidence that we need to protect forests for fish

https://www.cifor.org/knowledge/forests-news/65435

a new report published in the journal Bioscience.

“We found strong evidence that forests have a central function in maintaining the diversity of freshwater fish,” Lo said.

Riparian forests that run alongside streams and rivers are an important supply of woody debris and leaf litter, creating a range of habitat spaces conducive to fish diversity. These small niches also act as nursing grounds and refuges to hide away from predators.

More than half of the studies reviewed demonstrated that forests contributed to freshwater habitats by controlling sedimentation and siltation.

A build-up of silt and sediment is typical in freshwater systems without riparian forests or where deforestation has occurred, leading to more homogenous and less varied habitats with fewer bottom-feeding fish species and a less diverse fish population overall. Studies demonstrated that shrimp and fish quantities dropped when sedimentation caused by ecosystem degradation increased.

“Forests are inextricably interlinked with fish in freshwater ecosystems, providing regulatory and provisioning functions that support a healthy aquatic habitat, water quality and food to sustain them,” Lo said

The loggers are now claiming they are the true heroes of the pandemic (like they were of the bushfires) because they went on cutting down trees regardless of their personal safety:

https://www.miragenews.com/forest-industries-launch-digital-campaign-to-thank-those-on-covid-19-frontline/

The Chief Executive of AFPA Ross Hampton said, “These frontline workers are truly heroes. Whilst many of us have been quarantining, they’ve been going to work every day to make sure we have food on our tables and health care when we need it. We are proud that the men and women who work in forest industries right around Australia, have also kept turning up through this time. From the forests and plantations, through to the manufacturing plants in regional centres, they have been ensuring that the essential products which have underpinned vital parts of the economy have still been there.”

The new video produced as part of the digital campaign shows the many uses paper and wood products are put to in homes, shops and hospitals. It explains that production has not slowed down since the pandemic started.

Scientists are warning the U.S. Congress to change their position on burning forests for electricity

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/05/scientists-warn-congress-against-declaring-biomass-burning-carbon-neutral/

  • Some 200 U.S. environmental scientists have sent a letter to congressional committee chairs urging they reject new rules proposed in April under the Clean Air Act that would define biomass, when burned to produce energy, as being carbon neutral.

  • The scientists say that biomass burning — using wood pellets to produce energy at converted coal-burning power plants — is not only destructive of native forests which store massive amounts of carbon, but also does not reduce carbon emissions.

  • A long-standing UN policy, recognizing biomass burning as carbon neutral, has caused the U.S. forestry industry to gear up to produce wood pellets for power plants in Britain, the EU, South Korea and beyond. Scientists warn that the failure to count the emissions produced by such plants could help destabilize the global climate.

  • The letter from environmental scientists concludes: “We are hopeful that a new and more scientifically sound direction will be considered by Members [of Congress] that emphasizes forest protections, and a shift away from consumption of wood products and forest biomass energy to help mitigate the climate crisis.”

Currently, biomass producers in the U.S. and Eastern Europe are gearing up to deliver millions of tons of wood pellets to the EU, Great Britain and other nations to meet a rising global demand for biomass burned at industrial-scale levels at power plants, replacing coal. According to the scientists, wood pellets have been erroneously declared carbon neutral by the United Nations, creating what’s been dubbed “a carbon emission accounting loophole” that could help destabilize the global climate.

“The growing consensus of scientific findings is that to effectively mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, we must not only move beyond fossil fuel consumption, but must also substantially increase protection of our native forests in order to absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere and store more, not less, carbon in our forests,” says the two-page letter.”

The text was followed by nine pages listing signatories, including leading names in climate science and conservation. The letter backs up its conclusions with citations to 24 scientific papers — studies measuring carbon sequestration in trees and soils, examining forest management, wildfire suppression and other issues.

However, the scientists behind the congressional letter point to numerous studies that conclude that carbon neutrality, if trees are replanted at all, takes 50 to 100 years — time that the world doesn’t have.

“The only option we have right now to avoid climate disaster is [to conserve] the natural world,” Bill Moomaw, co-author of the letter to Congress and a leading forest ecologist from Tufts University, told Mongabay. “Forests are the one thing we have the greatest potential to protect. If we let them grow, they will store more and more carbon.”

Still, the UN carbon-neutrality policy remains popular with governments, energy companies and investors across the European Union, in the United Kingdom and South Korea. There, burning wood pellets in former coal-fired power plants is a fast-growing energy source that enables countries to claim on-paper-only carbon emission reductions. Recent studies find that burning wood actually produces more emissions than coal.

Not everyone agrees with that optimistic view. Last year, 200 EU climate scientists lobbied European Union officials, saying that no such biomass burning carbon balance is being maintained, that U.S. and Eastern European forests are being destroyed, and that dangerous levels of carbon emissions are going uncounted to the detriment of the global climate.

One myth the rebuttal authors strive to bust: the immediacy of carbon storage. Trees, they point out, do not sequester substantial amounts of carbon until they are at least 30 years old, and then keep accumulating carbon for centuries; newly planted trees, which biomass advocates promote as climate savers, do not become significant carbon sinks for decades.

In related news, biomass critics were dealt a setback this week in Europe. A 2019 lawsuit against the European Union ... That suit was dismissed on May 11 by the European General Court in Luxembourg for lack of legal standing.

Yet the industry are promoting converting coal-fired power stations to wood, here is a link to their propaganda

http://www.biomassmagazine.com/articles/17044/futuremetrics-explains-benefits-of-coal-to-biomass-conversions

FutureMetrics LLC on May 6 published a whitepaper discussing how converting existing coal-fired power plants to be fueled with wood pellets offers a low cost, easy-to-deploy way to generate low-carbon electricity.

“Wood pellets produced from sustainably managed forestry operations, when used to produce power, do not increase the net stock of CO2 in the atmosphere,” Strauss wrote. “The basic necessary condition for an area of managed forests is if forest growth rate equals or exceeds the harvest rate then the net stock of carbon held in the forest is constant or growing. Thus, the CO2 released in combustion is contemporaneously absorbed by the new growth and no net new CO2 is added to the atmosphere.”

Within the paper, Strauss describes arguments made by those who oppose the use of wood pellets for power generation and debunks their claims. “There is no rational logic that can show the use of materials from responsibly and sustainably managed forests can result in a net addition of CO2 to the atmosphere,” he said. “As climate change consequences exponentially increase even nations like the United States will see the value in converting some existing high-efficiency coal fueled power stations to use wood pellets.

A full copy of the whitepaper can be downloaded from the FutureMetrics website.

Yet more claims that COVID-19 has been a boon for wildlife, this time from France

https://www.connexionfrance.com/French-news/Deconfinement-Extra-care-needed-on-forest-walks-after-May-11-in-France

National forest office ONF says wild animals have got used to living in a calm forest during the confinement period plus they are already more sensitive during spring as it is the birth season.

During confinement, the calm and the absence of noise have made wild animals “less shy” and “therefore more sensitive”, says the ONF and bird protection charity Ligue pour la protection des oiseaux (LPO).

The two organisations report having been able to hear many birds and amphibians in forests recently and say they have noted an increased presence of animals in the daytime during the two months of confinement.

The ONF also warns people to be careful on the road to avoid hitting deer which are no longer used to the dangers of the road.

The spread of COVID-19 and related viruses due to deforestation continues to raise concerns

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/covid-19-why-saving-our-forests-can-help-stop-next-pandemic-12688524

BANGKOK: Preventing the further destruction of Southeast Asia’s forests will be a critical step to stopping the spread of future deadly viruses similar to COVID-19, according to leading experts studying the risk factors that have contributed to the current global pandemic.

“Pandemic risk is linked to habitat loss and exploitation of wildlife. Spillover of zoonotic viruses is more common than we realise and is happening at a rate that is faster than ever, said Christine Johnson, a professor of epidemiology and ecosystem health at the University of California, Davis. 

“As natural habitat is diminished, wildlife often redistribute into marginal habitats in closer and more frequent contact with people,” she said. 

The professor has directed animal and human surveillance activities for PREDICT, part of USAID’s Emerging Pandemic Threats project, which recently uncovered previously undetected strains of coronavirus in bats in Myanmar.

“Protection of natural habitats for wildlife and restriction of the live animal wildlife trade are going to be essential for mitigating disease emergence, which is the establishment of new viruses from animals into susceptible human populations, and, if viruses are human-to-human transmissible, can cause pandemics,” she said.

That project aimed to put an economic cost on deforestation when linked with the spread of infectious diseases, notably Malaria, in Sabah, Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak, and Thailand. In a final report, it concluded that net present value loss between 2015 and 2030 would exceed US$4.35 trillion if deforestation continues at business-as-usual rates.

[David Ganz] “I talk about bundling ecosystem services; we need to value not just the carbon but the water, the pollination values, the recreation values. You have to have full natural capital accounting so forests are really seen for their full value,” he added.

“The health of the forest is tied to the health of human civilisation and the health of the planet. “The more large tracts of healthy forest that we keep as is, the better off we are. The more we displace animals by fragmenting the forest, the worse off it is,” he said.

https://truthout.org/articles/deforestation-and-monoculture-farming-spread-covid-19-and-other-diseases/

Carlos Zambrana-Torrelio, the associated vice president for conservation and health at the EcoHealth Alliance, analyzed over 704 different infectious disease outbreaks between the years 1940 and 2008, and found that measuring the rate of deforestation in a given area was the number one predictor of where the next pandemic will occur. “Scientists have been sending out warnings about this for years now,” Zambrana-Torrelio told Truthout. “We can’t keep encroaching upon the natural habitats of wildlife without taking into consideration what deadly diseases might spill over from that wildlife into the neighboring humans.”

Regions of the Amazon with increased rates of deforestation have concurrently experienced increased rates of malaria in humans. As climate change withers away the canopy of trees that act as the “ceiling” of the rainforest, puddles of stagnant water are becoming increasingly common on the ground. Mosquitos, particularly the kind that carry malaria, love to breed in this murky standing water. This increase in mosquito population in deforested areas is going largely unchecked due to their natural predators, mainly frogs and dragonflies, dying off in the destroyed habitat.

“The drought caused mass forest fires that swept the region. These fires created a huge smog that prevented the plants from growing fruit,” said Amy Vittor, an assistant professor at the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute told Truthout. “This forced the flying fox bats of the rainforest to migrate to the towns of Malaysia.”

Some of these bats flocked to Malaysian pig farms, where the first cases of Nipah virus were reported. Bats would bite into fruit that the pigs ate, causing the virus to spread to the pigs. Humans caught the virus when they came in contact with the pigs.

https://ensia.com/features/the-worst-may-be-yet-to-come-5-ways-new-diseases-emerge-and-what-we-can-do-about-them/

Raina Plowright, a bat specialist at the Bozeman disease ecology lab at Montana State University.
“We need a global pandemic policy. Ecological security needs to become one of the tenets of biosecurity. I would work urgently to preserve continuous landscapes of habitat for wild animals and do everything we can to limit our encroachment on what is left,” she says.

We are playing a Ponzi scheme with the ecosystems that allow our planet to survive. We know what needs to be done to move towards more sustainable food systems that do not regularly spill out novel diseases and lead to an ever-increasing prevalence of non-communicable disease. All we lack is the political commitment,” she says.

Intensive farming of wildlife, especially in Southeast Asia and China, concerns experts as well. Instead of farming a small range of animals like cattle, sheep, goats, poultry and pigs — to whose diseases humans have over centuries become partly immune — farmers are now breeding hundreds of different animals for both food and medicine with potential risk of pandemics. ....

We need to shift away from an ambulance-style, doctor-driven, reactive response to the pandemics that predictably appear and towards a proactive response that will build safe food systems. We are losing too many species, too many natural landscapes. We are intensifying agriculture in ways that are inhumane and unsustainable. The rich turn a blind eye, the poor bear the brunt of unsustainable systems,” Randolph says. “This is a time of reckoning, of hard choices and new directions. Things that cannot go on forever will stop  — often abruptly and nastily.”

https://desertification.wordpress.com/2020/05/12/wildlife-habitat-destruction-and-deforestation-will-cause-more-deadly-pandemics-like-coronavirus-scientists-warn/

https://whatsupnewp.com/2020/05/how-the-lyme-disease-epidemic-is-spreading-and-why-ticks-are-so-hard-to-stop/

In the 1970s, an epidemic of mysterious arthritis-like symptoms began spreading among children in the lushly wooded area around Lyme, Connecticut. Scientists traced the cause to tick bites and named it Lyme disease, but why it had suddenly appeared there was a mystery.

Without deer, deer ticks, also known as black-legged ticks, were rare, and the bacterium that causes Lyme disease was contained in isolated tick populations, primarily in northern Wisconsin and on Long Island.

That changed when deer were reintroduced for hunting in the Northeast during the early 1900s and began to repopulate new forests.

An assessment in India claims that the extent of COVID-19 is related to a lack of forest cover

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/more-forests-less-covid19-impact-claims-mp-forest-dept-1677781-2020-05-14

The Madhya Pradesh forest department has attempted to study the connection between the forest area in a district and the number of Covid-19 cases.

The study found that in districts such as Indore, Ujjain, Bhopal, and Morena, which have the highest number of Covid-19 cases, the availability of forest is less than 100 sq km per 1,000 people.

In contrast, districts such as Betul and Chhindwara, which have a much higher availability of forest area, have fewer cases of Covid-19 even though they are located on the Maharashtra border.

Maharashtra is one of the worst-affected states.

The study also found that districts such as Panna, Balaghat, Umaria, Shahdol, and Anuppur have witnessed the inflow of a large number of migrant workers in the last two months. These districts have large forest areas and have not seen a significant spike in Covid-19 cases

"Deputy Conservator of Forests, Rajneesh Singh said while a lot is not known about Covid-19 and a lot is being discovered, it is clear that areas with fewer forests are badly affected by Covid-19."

Singh said that the reason for this is that forests act as a natural barrier to the increase in the human population in a given area, due to which the spread of disease is controlled.

"The simple reason for this is, with low forest cover, urbanisation and density of population are higher which is contributing to the spread of the disease. One must keep in mind that forests protected under law act as a natural barrier to the increase in human population in a given area," he said.

Singh added that governments can keep the deterrence value of forests in mind while planning for the future and controlling Covid-19.

"In areas with fewer forests and more pollution, respiratory systems are adversely impacted making people more vulnerable to Covid. Areas with more forests also have a higher incidence of malaria which seems to have shown a positive pattern in so far as Covid-19 impacting populations is concerned," he said.

And we are breeding mosquitoes to prefer human blood

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/05/mosquitoes-taste-human-blood-may-grow-african-cities-expand

In most of the world, the Aedes aegypti mosquito is notorious for biting humans and spreading dengue, Zika, and other viruses. But in Africa, where the mosquito is native, most Aedes prefer to suck blood from other animals, such as monkeys and rodents. A new study suggests, though, that their taste for humans may rapidly expand—and with it their ability to spread disease.

By surveying the range of Aedes biting preferences across Africa, the study shows that dryness and dense populations favor strains that target people. Those conditions are likely to intensify in Africa with climate change and increasing urbanization, though not everywhere.

Bats are blamed for the disease and are being targeted for retribution, though its not their fault that we are cutting down their eucalypt feed trees

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/05/bats-resistant-to-viruses-but-not-to-humans/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=ac274e277e-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-ac274e277e-77229786

Yet specialists agree that the fact that a variety of coronaviruses related to SARS-CoV-2 have been found in bats and pangolins does not make them guilty of unleashing this pandemic on the world.

“The enemy is neither the bat nor the virus,” Suzán said. “It is our own failure to maintain a healthy relationship with nature.”

“We are dealing with viruses that we’ve never come into contact with before. We are invading places where these viruses are evolving with their host species. We are invading these niches,” he said.

In the case of bats, if their populations were to decrease or any of their species were to go extinct, there would be severe consequences for the planet

For example, insectivorous bats control pests that affect various crops, including cotton, corn, beans and rice.

Bats are also important seed dispersers. Luis Aguirre said they are “natural forest regenerators” because scientists estimate that more than 500 species of plants depend on bats to spread their seeds. Of these, an estimated 300-plus plant species depend exclusively on bats to be pollinated.

https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/fear-of-flying-foxes-coronavirus-is-topping-off-a-bad-year-for-australias-bats/ar-BB13NMPs

Australia’s bats are turning up in increasing numbers in city suburbs. But as they search for food, they’re bringing for some a newfound paranoia thanks to a global pandemic that likely sprang from one of their overseas relatives.

Dr Pia Lentini, one of Smith’s constituents and a bat expert, says: “Every context is different but the concerns are always the same – they’re noisy, the smell is overwhelming, ‘my car is covered in sh**’, ‘I can’t dry my clothes outside’, or ‘I’m worried about diseases’.”

As our human settlements get bigger, we’re encroaching further into bushland where bats live. At the same time, bats have been hit by droughts, habitat clearing and bushfires that put pressure on their food supplies.

Lentini is studying conflict between bats and human populations and she says the incidence of bats turning up in large numbers in towns is on the rise.

“Now we have flying foxes becoming increasingly urban because they’re losing habitat. There’s now also a great diversity of trees in our cities. They are becoming more urban and the camps are becoming more prominent.

“They are in our cities because they are starving.”

Dr David Westcott of the CSIRO is an ecologist who has studied bats for more than 20 years and says 2019 was “a bad year for bats.”

“We had extreme heat and droughts and bushfires and all kinds of misery for flying foxes.”

The most recent count in February, after the bushfires, suggests grey-headed flying-fox numbers are down by about a third based on an average count for that time of year, but he says they “may have moved to places we don’t know about”.

“We shouldn’t pretend that flying foxes are not vectors for some nasty diseases,” says Westcott. But getting a virus from a bat “generally requires us to have intimate contact with an animal” and, with flying foxes, “we don’t do that”.

Trust Trump's America to have a solution to bats, though they will get more mosquitoes (the worry is it spreading to Australia):

https://www.redoakexpress.com/content/webinar-series-discuss-forest-management-bats

The causes of the declines in bats – forest habitat loss and an exotic deadly disease called White Nose Syndrome ...

However, some species’ populations have declined steadily since the early 2000s, when an exotic fungal disease was introduced from Eurasia that has decimated populations across the eastern United States. That disease, along with the degradation of forests by invasive species and poor management, has made it hard to be a bat in Iowa.

Some bats are fighting back

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/05/endangered-bats-are-evolving-to-fight-off-an-exotic-fungal-disease/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=ac274e277e-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-ac274e277e-77229786

  • Little brown bats, an endangered species, have declined by more than 90% due to white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that causes bats to wake up from hibernation, and consequently drains their essential fat reserves.

  • A new study uses genetics to determine that little brown bats with certain genetic traits are more likely to survive the disease.

I read of forests the world over being devastated by alien pests and diseases, here we are being invaded by Myrtle Rust

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/14/australias-native-guava-plant-close-to-being-wiped-out-by-invasive-disease-study

An invasive plant disease may be ready to claim its first victim in the wild with Australia’s native guava now almost extinct, a study has found.

Monitoring of 66 populations of native guava in Queensland and New South Wales has found 23% “could not be located” with another 61% reduced only to root suckers below a dead canopy.

“They are the living dead,” he said. “I’m shocked because I don’t like to see things going extinct.”. The fungal plant disease myrtle rust was first detected in Australia in 2010, but already has more than 350 known hosts across the country. “It is particularly catastrophic for many rainforest species like the native guava, and could change the nature of some of our rainforests.” “The loss of native guava and replacement by lantana will increase the flammability of rainforests,” the study said.

Local extinctions of native guava would have a knock-on effect on more than 100 species of insects and their interactions with flowering plants. As loggers deplete stored carbon they are hastening climate changes. Climate is changing and the impacts are confounding:

https://phys.org/news/2020-05-longer-seasons-limited-effect-combating.html

Climate warming is leading to early springs and delayed autumns in colder environments, allowing plants to grow for a longer period of time during each growing season. Plants are absorbing more carbon dioxide (CO2) as a result of this longer growing season.

The PlantWatch data show the average date the first flower blooms in 19 plant species has advanced by about nine days for each corresponding rise of one degree Celsius in air temperature. The bloom dates of the earliest-blooming species—such as trembling aspen and prairie crocus—advanced by two weeks during the past seven decades of the past century.

As a consequence of warming temperatures, leaf senescence (leaf colouring and leaf fall) in autumn is also delayed. Researchers using 54 years data records in Japan and South Korea found that autumn leaf fall is occurring later. Long-term satellite data also show delayed leaf senescence for the majority of temperate and boreal plants.

A longer growing season may also increase CO2 release from ecosystems by prolonging the period during which soils decompose. In order for the land to remain a strong carbon sink, the balance of CO2 gain from the lengthening growing season must outweigh the associated increase in CO2 release.

CO2 loss from soil decomposition from autumn warming may be greater than the increased CO2 absorption by delayed senescence. In other words, the delayed autumn brings little or no benefit to ecosystem CO2 storage. In addition, in many northern ecosystems, the benefits of warmer springs on increased CO2 absorption is offset by the accumulation of seasonal water deficits.

With increasing warming throughout the growing season, summer moisture stress may be exacerbated in the future in temperate, boreal and Arctic ecosystems.

Climate change is leading to warmer and longer growing seasons, reduced snow pack in winter, earlier spring snow melt and soil water depletion. This in turn increases moisture stress on plants and makes forests more susceptible to severe wildfire, which already becoming increasingly frequent and severe in large parts of Canada. Severe fires can release huge amounts of CO2, not only from the burning plant tissues but also from top soils and peat lands.

Though the evidence from the Amazon is that it parts of it are already at the tipping point where forests stop mopping up our excess carbon from the atmosphere (as the drought, clearing, logging and fires have made our forests into carbon sources), I found this article profoundly disturbing until I found that only part of the Amazon has tipped over:

https://buffalonews.com/2020/05/13/carbon-dioxide-briefly-falls-then-accelerates/

There is growing evidence tropical rainforests are beginning to show signs of becoming carbon sources (sources for additional carbon emissions) instead of performing as carbon sinks (sinks absorb carbon dioxide). If this process continues, it would be the first time in thousands of years the tropical forests switch from carbon sink to source. In an article published by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the changes are being documented.

Atmospheric chemist Luciana Gatti reported to Yale aircraft measurements over the Amazon actually detect more carbon dioxide emission than absorption. Some of this is due to deforestation, mainly in Brazil, but some of it is due to warming feedback already present in the air. In the past, additional carbon dioxide in the air fed more growth in the rainforests. Now, excessive warming from the greenhouse effect has slowed the growth rate of foliage, outstripping its capacity to absorb as a carbon sink.

“We have hit a tipping point,” Gatti said.

Her earlier work had noted these impacts mainly in drought years, when forest fires multiplied. Now, her team has found the same shift from sink to source is being observed in wet years as well. This may be critical in the rate of a mean warming climate going from bad, but more manageable, to worse and much less manageable.

Current climate models work on a premise of stability in the role of tropical rainforests performing as carbon sinks, which is part of the foundation necessary to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

Gaitti said the most immediate step to slow this alarming trend would be for Brazil and other nations to act more aggressively in countering deforestation.

The next problem to recalculate is the volume of powerful greenhouse gas methane in the atmosphere. Originally, the total amounts were expected to remain stable. Now, it is known that more trapped methane from ocean beds, agriculture, fracking and the melting permafrost is being released, but more reliable estimates on future volume of methane releases are not yet available for the new models.

This article provides the qualifications, while we still have time it is fast running out

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51464694

Every two weeks for the past 10 years, a team of scientists led by Prof Luciana Gatti, a researcher at Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE), has been measuring greenhouse gases by flying aircraft fitted with sensors over different parts of the Amazon basin.

What the group found was startling: while most of the rainforest still retains its ability to absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide - especially in wetter years - one portion of the forest, which is especially heavily deforested, appears to have lost that capacity.

Gatti's research suggests this south-eastern part of the forest, about 20% of the total area, has become a carbon source.

"Each year is worse," she told Newsnight.

For decades, scientists have warned of an "Amazon tipping-point": the point at which the forest loses its ability to renew itself and begins to emit more carbon than it absorbs.

"[The Amazon] used to be, in the 1980s and 90s, a very strong carbon sink, perhaps extracting two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from the atmosphere," says Prof Nobre, who is also a researcher at the University of Sao Paulo's Institute for Advanced Studies and Brazil's leading expert on the Amazon.

"Today, that strength is reduced perhaps to 1-1.2bn tonnes of carbon dioxide a year."

To put that in context, a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide is almost three times what the UK said it officially emitted in 2018.

And deforestation in the Amazon is accelerating

https://www.ecowatch.com/deforestation-in-the-brazilian-amazon-increases-for-13th-month-in-a-row-2645970207.html?rebelltitem=3#rebelltitem3

INPE's deforestation monitoring system, DETER, detected 406 square kilometers of forest loss in the "legal Amazon" during the month of April. That brings the extent of deforestation measured by the system to 9,320 square kilometers for the year ended April 30, 2020, 40% higher than where it stood a year ago and more than twice as high as it was in April 2018.

According to a 2014 study published in the journal Science, the drop in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon between 2004 and 2013 avoided the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent of taking all cars off American roads for three years — 3.2 billion tons.

The rise in deforestation has been particularly sharp since Jair Bolsonaro assumed the presidency in January 2019. Bolsonaro has rolled back environmental regulations, granted amnesty from fines for illegal deforestation, cut budgets for environmental law enforcement, diminished the role of scientists in the government, blamed environmental NGOs for deforestation and claimed without evidence that Leonardo DiCaprio funded last year's fires in the Amazon, and opened protected areas and prospective indigenous territories for extractive industries and agribusiness. He's openly called for more deforestation in the Amazon, while his administration has sacked officials charged with protecting forests and indigenous peoples against illegal land invasions.

Accelerating deforestation, forest degradation, and drought in the Amazon is of great concern to scientists who warn that the entire biome may be near a tipping point where large areas of wet rainforest could transition to dry tropical woodlands and savanna.

We are eating away at the life that makes the earth habitable

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/20/opinion/sunday/amazon-earth-rain-forest-environment.html?ref=oembed

Every year the nearly 400 billion trees in the Amazon rain forest and all the creatures that depend on them are drenched in seven feet of rain — four times the annual rainfall in London. This deluge is partly due to geographical serendipity. Intense equatorial sunlight speeds the evaporation of water from sea and land to sky, trade winds bring moisture from the ocean, and bordering mountains force incoming air to rise, cool and condense. Rain forests happen where it happens to rain.

But that’s only half the story. Life in the Amazon does not simply receive rain — it summons it. All of that lush vegetation releases 20 billion tons of water vapor into the sky every day. Trees saturate the air with gaseous compounds and salts. Fungi exhale plumes of spores. The wind sweeps bacteria, pollen, leaf fragments and bits of insect shells into the atmosphere. The wet breath of the forest, peppered with microbes and organic residues, creates ideal conditions for rain. With so much water in the air and so many minute particles on which the water can condense, rain clouds quickly form.

The Amazon sustains much more than itself, however. Forests are vital pumps of Earth’s circulatory system. All of the water that gushes upward from the Amazon forms an enormous flying river, which brings precipitation to farms and cities throughout South America. Some scientists have concluded that through long-range atmospheric ripple effects the Amazon contributes to rainfall in places as far away as Canada.

If Earth breathes, sweats and quakes — if it births zillions of organisms that ceaselessly devour, transfigure and replenish its air, water and rock — and if those creatures and their physical environments evolve in tandem, then why shouldn’t we think of our planet as alive?

Humans are the brain — the consciousness — of the planet. We are Earth made aware of itself. Viewed this way, our ecological responsibility could not be clearer. By fuming greenhouse gases, we have not simply changed the climate; we have critically wounded a global life form and severely disrupted its biological rhythms. No other member of this living assembly has our privileged perspective. No one else can see the sinews and vessels of our planetary body. Only we can choose to help keep Earth alive.

Seen through the lens of Gaia, the Amazon’s plight is the draining of our communal veins and arteries. We must learn to feel its thirst viscerally. “We are a part of this Earth and we cannot therefore consider our affairs in isolation,” Dr. Lovelock wrote. “We are so tied to the Earth that its chills or fevers are our chills and fevers also.”

A different take on deforestation rates

https://forestsnews.cifor.org/65499/qa-the-year-deforestation-was-supposed-to-be-chopped-in-half?fnl=en

Robert Nasi, the director general of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

“The world has lost 420 million ha of mostly intact forests since 1990, although the rate of deforestation is slowing in some regions, significantly in South America. The world was losing 16 million ha annually between 1990 and 2000 compared to 11 million annually between 2010 and 2020, about a 31 percent decrease in the annual deforestation rate.

The world gained about 242 million ha of forests during the 1990-2020 period, and triangulating the available data, it appears that 111 million ha was gained from regrowth and secondary forests and another 131 million ha of the increase is due to a growing number of planted forests representing 3 percent of the world’s forests.

But plantations, while supplying critical wood and fibre, are not intact forests, which generate vital planetary biodiversity and ecosystem services. Therefore, the “net forest loss” data in the FAO report raise some questions, appearing to mix apples (intact natural forests) with oranges (regrowth, secondary forests) and bananas (plantations).

https://news.globallandscapesforum.org/44355/4-06-billion-remaining-hectares-and-other-new-numbers-on-forests-but-what-do-they-mean/

Logging also engenders domestic violence

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/05/gender-based-violence-shakes-communities-in-the-wake-of-forest-loss/

  • Women in the province of East New Britain in Papua New Guinea say they have faced increasing domestic violence, along with issues like teenage pregnancy and drug abuse, in their communities as logging and oil palm plantations have moved in.

  • Traditionally, women have been the stewards of the land and passed it down to their children, but they say they’ve felt sidelined in discussions about this type of land “development.”

  • Experts say that the loss of forest for large-scale agriculture and extractive industries goes hand in hand with violence against women globally, linked with the colonial and patriarchal paradigms associated with these uses of the land.

  • In Papua New Guinea and elsewhere, women are working to protect themselves, their families and their forests from these changes.

Around the world, the “colonial” approach aimed at extracting valuable resources has destroyed “traditional and customary social relations” in local communities, Jeanette Sequeira, vice director and gender program coordinator at the Global Forest Coalition, said in a telephone interview.

“Deforestation and climate change and environmental degradation do lead to an increase in violence against women,” Sequeira said. “I think that’s a claim we can make more and more.”

Along with the evaporation of the trees, the rights of women to determine what happens to the land they depend on have likewise vanished, Monica Yongol said, as the other women in the room nodded in agreement. The changes have jolted their communities. They’ve made it harder to provide for their families. And problems like teenage pregnancy, drug use and domestic violence in their communities have cropped up that the women say didn’t exist before.

... Suka said. But, he added, the temptation to turn land rights, however spurious, into upfront cash and other benefits for certain members has changed the respect for other customs, such as that of matrilineal inheritance. And it’s led some men to assume the roles of brokers in which they speak for entire communities.

Something for the pets

https://theconversation.com/one-cat-one-year-110-native-animals-lock-up-your-pet-its-a-killing-machine-138412?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20May%2014%202020%20-%201621115555&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20May%2014%202020%20-%201621115555+CID_8567779f94474da3002dda5b59ed1c9c&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=One%20cat%20one%20year%20110%20native%20animals%20lock%20up%20your%20pet%20its%20a%20killing%20machine

We know feral cats are an enormous problem for wildlife – across Australia, feral cats collectively kill more than three billion animals per year.

Cats have played a leading role in most of Australia’s 34 mammal extinctions since 1788, and are a big reason populations of at least 123 other threatened native species are dropping.

On average, each roaming pet cat kills 186 reptiles, birds and mammals per year, most of them native to Australia. Collectively, that’s 4,440 to 8,100 animals per square kilometre per year for the area inhabited by pet cats.

A radio tracking study in Adelaide found that of the 177 cats whom owners believed were inside at night, 69 cats (39%) were sneaking out for nocturnal adventures.

On average, an individual feral cat in the bush kills 748 reptiles, birds and mammals a year – four times the toll of a hunting pet cat.

So while each pet cat kills fewer animals than a feral cat, their high urban density means the toll is still very high. Per square kilometre per year, pet cats kill 30-50 times more animals than feral cats in the bush.

Keeping your cat securely contained 24 hours a day is the only way to prevent it from killing wildlife.

Something for you, there's nothing like a forest bath to get rid of the anxiety you feel from reading this:

https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/what-is-forest-bathing-how-to-guide

I’m attempting the art of shinrin-yoku: forest bathing. ... Leading forest-therapy expert Dr. Qing Li has been researching shinrin-yoku for decades.

The premise of shinrin-yoku seems pretty self-explanatory: spend some time in nature, feel better. But Dr. Li laid out some specific guidelines: Sessions should last for at least two hours, though longer is better. Cameras and phones should ideally be left at home, but books are OK, since they are free of what Dr. Li calls "technostress." This is not about exercise: In a two-hour visit you should only walk about 1.5 miles, taking the time to pause and absorb your surroundings. “It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our sense of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch."

“Aromas from trees have the main effect,” he says. His studies have supported this, showing increased immune system activity for not only subjects who spent time in forests, but those who were exposed to cyprus essential oils for consecutive periods indoors.

After forest bathing was introduced to the masses, the ministry launched a series of studies to back its benefits with science. Dr. Li cited the reduction of stress hormones like cortisol, and the alleviation of "fight or flight" response in favor of the "rest and recover" alternative. Subjects exhibited lowered blood pressure and better sleep, with increased immune-system activity for up to 30 days after their sessions. Further studies showed improvements in friendliness along with a reduction in anxiety, hostility, and acute stress.

Along with Dr. Li, researchers have been conducting studies to test the efficacy of sessions spent in slightly more accessible areas. They found that two-hour strolls in city parks still measurably reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. Dr. Li’s simple rules of slow-paced walking, stopping to rest, and focusing on the five senses can be applied to any green space: It just takes a little practice.

Garden-therapy can work in a similar way, while house plants provide the same stimulating sights and smells even when you’re stuck inside.

And something for the kids

https://zeemarathi.zee5.com/heres-how-bablu-dablu-on-zee5-kids-will-inspire-your-child-to-save-the-environment/

ZEE5 Kids is an ideal destination for any parent who wants to keep their child engaged during the lockdown. Apart from a variety of entertaining animated films, there are several other popular shows that your kids would love to watch on the platform. One of the most highly rated TV shows that we would recommend is Bablu Dablu. The show is based on the life of two bear brothers Bablu and Dablu who desperately try to save their forest from Lakha, a wicked logger. Bablu Dablu also subtly try to inculcate certain important environmental values and will inspire your kids to save nature. Sounds like the perfect show, doesn’t it?

The logger uses heavy machinery to cut the forest but is defeated by Bablu-Dablu’s tact and intelligence. These bears will surely inspire your kid to unite and save the environment from the evil forces

http://grdg.uk.com/family/things-to-do/forest-school-activities-542107

So what is a forest school? A forest school is a programme of teaching that uses the natural world, often forests and other green rural spaces, to teach kids personal and social skills that they would otherwise learn at school, but in a more exciting and dynamic way. Forest school encourages children to connect with the natural world, take calculated risks and aims to help them develop independence, confidence and creative thinking skills.

According to the Forest School Association, forest school activities offer kids “opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees”.

9 May 2020


David Lindenmayer is continuing his campaign against post-fire logging

https://10daily.com.au/shows/theproject/exclusive/v200501vqhoj/should-logging-resume-on-land-recovering-from-bushfires-20200501

A group of scientists have published an opinion piece about logging increasing fire threat which has gained world-wide attention

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/06/compelling-evidence-logging-native-forests-has-worsened-australian-bushfires-scientists-warn

A group of senior Australian scientists have warned in an international journal that logging native forests makes fire more severe and is likely to have exacerbated the country’s catastrophic summer bushfires.

“Beyond the direct and immediate impacts on biodiversity of disturbance and proximity to disturbed forest, there is compelling evidence that Australia’s historical and contemporary logging regimes have made many Australian forests more fire prone and contributed to increased fire severity and flammability,” the scientists write.

This occurs because logging leaves debris at ground level that increases the fuel load in logged forests. It also changes forest composition and leaves these areas of forest both hotter and drier, they say.

The article says during the bushfire season fire had spread from logged areas adjacent to old growth eucalypts and rainforests in the Gondwana world heritage reserves.

They also call for restoration of previously logged forests to build resilience to future fire events.

“In the event of wildfires, land managers must avoid practices such as ‘salvage’ logging – or logging of burnt forests – which severely reduces recovery of a forest,” Lindenmayer said.

Instead, he said governments needed to confine timber supply to plantations and look at ways to accelerate the industry transition in states such as Victoria, which plans to phase out native forest logging by 2030.

“Logging causes a rise in fuel loads, increases potential drying of wet forests and causes a decrease in forest height,” he said.

“It can leave up to 450 tonnes of combustible fuel a hectare close to the ground – by any measure, that’s an incredibly dangerous level of combustible material in seasonally dry landscapes.”

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/northcoast/programs/breakfast/logging-and-bushfires/12219676

(This is the local ABC audio of an interview with Rob Kooyman- they had Vanclay on Friday denying it but he was very wishy-washy)

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200505121655.htm

"The first is to prevent logging of moist forests, particularly those close to urban areas," Professor Lindenmayer said.

"We must also reduce forest fragmentation by proactively restoring some previously logged forests.

"In the event of wildfires, land managers must avoid practices such as 'salvage' logging -- or logging of burnt forests -- which severely reduces recovery of a forest."

Researcher Michelle Ward, from UQ's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said it was time for government to act.

"We urge policy makers to recognise and account for the critical values of intact, undisturbed native forests, not only for the protection of biodiversity, but for human safety," Ms Ward said.

"Let's act strongly and swiftly for the sake of our communities, the species they house, our climate and Australia's wild heritage."

https://www.smh.com.au/national/logging-likely-had-significant-effect-on-summer-fires-scientists-20200505-p54q2m.html

New research from five scientists published in Nature Ecology & Evolution on Wednesday finds that public debates about the links between climate change and bushfires are warranted and should prompt action, but the contribution of logging to bushfires also needs greater scrutiny.

And, unlike much of the action needed to halt global warming, land management is within the control of Australians, write the scientists from the Australian National University, Macquarie University and the University of Queensland in their review of evidence.

Professor David Lindenmayer, a co-author of the study, said prescribed, also known as "controlled", burning is only effective when done within kilometres of dwellings and very regularly, around every three years.

Logging has resumed in fire-damaged forests in Victoria and New South Wales despite warnings from environmentalists that devastated bushland and endangered wildlife are too fragile.

https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/logging-made-last-summers-bushfires-worse-expert-review-finds/12216464

https://www.science20.com/hank_campbell/australian_wildfires_caused_by_not_enough_trees_say_environmentalists-247738

https://www.ecowatch.com/australia-logging-forests-wildfires-2645932845.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1

https://www.zmescience.com/science/logging-native-forests-worsened-australias-fires-researchers-warn/

https://www.iflscience.com/environment/logging-fueled-last-years-catastrophic-megafires-in-australia-and-could-spark-repeats/

https://www.treehugger.com/conservation/australia-wildfires-were-made-worse-logging.html

https://www.earth.com/news/logging-intensified-the-risk-and-severity-of-australian-wildfires/

The Commonwealth has been warned that it cannot absolve itself of its legal responsibilities for threatened species (PS this is what I focused on in NEFA's submission to the Royal Commission)

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/federal/commonwealth-ignores-legally-binding-role-in-bushfire-nature-protection-20200508-p54r6b.html

Experts warn the Morrison government is not using its legal powers to protect wildlife from devastating bushfires, which killed billions of animals in the summer.

Under international law the Commonwealth is responsible for maintaining the biodiversity of World Heritage Areas. Under federal law, it’s also responsible for protecting threatened species listed under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Act. But experts say the Commonwealth is yet to fulfil its responsibilities.

Environment minister Sussan Ley has argued states and territories have "primary" responsibility for wildlife. But environmental law expert, University of Tasmania professor Jan McDonald, said the environment minister is legally obliged to work with states to prevent bushfire damage to threatened species and World Heritage Areas.

"Australia is a party to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the World heritage Convention. They are legally binding obligations… and they absolutely put the onus squarely on the Commonwealth to uphold them."

To date 119 animal species require urgent intervention to prevent extinction, and there are 272 threatened plant species within the 12 million hectare fire zone, with assessments ongoing in devastated Australian World Heritage Areas.

Tamara Smith has bought into the issue of logging Koala habitat on the Richmond Lowlands

https://www.byronnews.com.au/news/comment-our-native-icons-are-under-threat/4009276/

Even though the bushfires have devastated koala populations here on the north coast, the Environment Protection Authority recently granted licences to the Forestry Corporation to log burnt country from three state forests on the Richmond River lowlands.

People might mistakenly think that loggers going in to salvage burnt forests can’t hurt but the reality is that injured and isolated koalas are still present and logging machines are not the arms of support we need to be going in to these areas post bushfire.

It appears that no ecological assessments have been conducted by the EPA before granting the logging licences.

And yes the irony is not lost on me that they are meant to be an agency that protects the environment.

Byron Shire Council doesn't have a Koala Plan of Management yet they are "saving" Koalas:

https://www.ausleisure.com.au/news/byron-shire-council-looks-to-local-farmers-to-create-new-koala-habitats/

Byron Shire Council is appealing to more local farmers to consider planting suitable koala food trees to establish a sustainable habitat for threatened koalas.

Council’s Biodiversity Officer, Liz Caddick advised that there were some great examples of regenerative farming successes around the Byron Shire and that these farmers had a wealth of knowledge and experience to share.

Caddick notes “we are pleased to be able to help landowners with ecological restoration that supports koala habitat through planting programs.

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital has now raised over $7 million and 'saved' 79 out of the thousands of Koalas killed

https://www.panorama.am/en/news/2020/05/07/koala-Australia/2287120

When the worst bushfires in Australia’s history spread through New South Wales last year, more than a billion animals were reportedly killed, with koalas hit particularly hard. Two recent studies put the death toll somewhere between 6382 and 10,000 – either way, a significant percentage of the marsupials’ overall population – while others were treated for severe burns and dehydration. Now some of the patients are being released back into the wild, and in a positive twist, they’re doing it sooner than expected, Lonely Planet reports.

On the country’s east coast, Port Macquarie Koala Hospital took in 79 koalas while the blazes raged, and by late April, 26 had been returned to their habitats at Lake Innes Nature Reserve and Crowdy Bay National Park.

9 news has a short video about saving Koalas

https://www.9news.com.au/videos/australias-koala-population-is-facing-extinction-heres-what-you-need-to-know/ck9tlpgoy001x0hqlp3tc22lt

Its sometimes surprising what science belatedly "discovers" (this was very popular worldwide)

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/koalas-drink-water-licking-trees-australia-sydney-university-a9498456.html

Koalas drink water by licking moisture that is running down trees, scientists have discovered, a finding they say “significantly alters” our understanding of the much-loved but enigmatic animal.

“But now we have observed them licking water from tree trunks. This significantly alters our understanding of how koalas gain water in the wild. It is very exciting.”

And dogs finding Koalas gained quite a bit of media

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/dog-rescues-100-koalas-stranded-by-australian-bushfires-3w6m0ldwl

South coast residents are protesting the clearing of unburnt forest for a housing estate (and won a reprieve)

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/residents-protest-to-save-unburnt-forest-from-developer-20200504-p54pmz.html?

Residents of a South Coast community are resorting to roadside yoga and other lockdown-appropriate protests in a bid to save their last patch of unburnt bushland from being flattened for a housing estate.

Planning compliance officials were due to inspect the proposed construction site for about 180 homes at Manyana on Tuesday, although Planning Minister Rob Stokes has said he had few powers to stop the work.

But the Manyana community plans on protesting every day until the project is stopped. Local resident Jorj Lowrey said she was determined to fight for the animals who live in the area, including the greater glider and yellow-bellied glider.

"Animals need a home too, we cannot survive without biodiversity," she said. "People aren't going to go home tonight and say 'we tried'. They will be there the day after and the day after."

Sue Arnold has reviewed our Governments love for environmentalists

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/environment-protections-dead-in-the-water,13862

In April, Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said “cashed-up activists” should not be able to hold up developments that have been approved by a government agency “simply because they can afford to”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has responded with a threat that has alarmed scientists and free speech advocates, stating that the Government should outlaw “indulgent and selfish efforts by environmental groups to rattle businesses with rallies and boycotts”.

Morrison said:

“New threats to the future of the resources sector have emerged. A new breed of radical activism is on the march. Apocalyptic in tone. It brooks no compromise. It’s all or nothing.”

Last year, Barilaro introduced the country’s toughest penalties on activists who invade farms to document animal cruelty, commenting:

'Vigilantes who are entering our farmers' property illegally are nothing short of domestic terrorists. They don't deserve, nor have time, to be dealing with illegal trespass and vile harassment from a bunch of virtue-signalling thugs.'

Not to be outdone, the Right to Farm Bill 2019 in NSW increases the penalty for "aggravated unlawful entry on inclosed lands" from $5,500 to $22,000. It also adds a three-year prison term for people who merely "hinder" a business while trespassing.

In a world where words are important and leadership increasingly non-existent, Australians need to be aware that President Trump is not alone in his madness. Anti environmentalism is rampant and our own political leaders should scare the hell out of us.

While our landclearing escalates, globally forest loss is slowing, but not by much (a lot of places must be running out)

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-climatechange-forests-trfn/forest-loss-seen-slowing-globally-but-progress-patchy-idUSKBN22J2ZC

The United Nations study found 10 million hectares of forest were destroyed annually in the past five years, down from 12 million hectares a year in the previous half-decade.

Scientists say protecting forests is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to curb climate change because trees suck carbon dioxide, the main gas heating up the planet, from the atmosphere.

While the trend is broadly positive, Pekkarinen said the world had a long way to go to achieve an internationally agreed goal to halt deforestation by 2020.

“In the Global Forest Goals, it was to increase the forest area by 3% between 2017 to 2030 but the forest area is still decreasing,” he added, referring to a set of voluntary targets agreed in 2017.

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/05/world-lost-forest-the-size-of-libya-since-1990-fao-says/

The world has lost 178 million hectares (439 million acres) of forest cover over the past 20 years, which the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) equated to as “about the size of Libya” in key findings from self-reported assessments it collects from more than 260 countries and territories every five years.

We need to be careful thinking that tree-planting will solve our problems

https://scitechdaily.com/ecologist-warns-planting-trees-is-no-panacea-for-climate-change/

Campaigns to plant 1 trillion trees must be undertaken with care and a commitment to long-term management.

“We can’t plant our way out of climate change,” says Holl, professor of environmental studies at UC Santa Cruz and a leading expert in forest restoration. “It is only one piece of the puzzle.”

“Planting trees is not a simple solution,” said Holl. “It’s complicated, and we need to be realistic about what we can and cannot achieve. We need to be thoughtful and plan for the long term.”

On the plus side, planting trees can improve biodiversity, water quality, and increase shade. But depending on where and how it is done, tree planting can also harm native ecosystems and species, reduce water supply, and dispossess local landholders and increase social inequity.

In their commentary, Holl and Brancalion present four principles that should guide forest enhancement initiatives

  • Reduce forest clearing and degradation: Protecting and maintaining intact forests is more efficient, more ecologically sound, and less costly than planting trees, or replanting.

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6491/580.full

The massive Chinese government Grainfor-Green tree-planting program, which cost an estimated $66 billion, illustrates a number of these trade-offs. The program is credited with increasing tree cover by 32% and reducing soil erosion by 45% in southwestern China over a 10- to 15-year period (6). But like many large-scale reforestation programs, most new tree cover is composed of one or a few non-native species that have much lower biodiversity than native forests (6). Moreover, large-scale tree planting in the semiarid Loess Plateau in central China has reduced river runoff and in turn the amount of water available for human activities, owing to the large amount of water transpired by rapidly growing trees (7). Most of the trees for this program were planted in former agricultural land, resulting in a 24% decrease in cropland. During the same time period, native forest cover decreased by 7% (6).

The first priority to increase the overall number of trees on the planet must be to reduce the current rapid rate of forest clearing and degradation in many areas of the world. The immediate response of the G7 nations to the 2019 Amazon fires was to offer funding to reforest these areas, rather than to address the core issues of enforcing laws, protecting lands of indigenous people, and providing incentives to landowners to maintain forest cover. The simplistic assumption that tree planting can immediately compensate for clearing intact forest is not uncommon. Nonetheless, a large body of literature shows that even the best-planned restoration projects rarely fully recover the biodiversity of intact forest, owing to a lack of sources of forest-dependent flora and fauna in deforested landscapes, as well as degraded abiotic conditions resulting from anthropogenic activities (9).

For example, if a primary project goal is to restore historically forested habitat, simply allowing the forest to regrow naturally often results in the establishment of more trees at a much lower cost than actively planting trees, particularly in locations with nearby seed sources and less-intensive previous land use.

Though the industry thinks that government subsidised plantings and bioenergy will solve their problems

https://www.resourcesmag.org/common-resources/tree-planting-land-use-and-forest-climate-benefits/

In the United States alone, forests store enough atmospheric carbon each year to offset more than 15 percent of emissions from the energy and transportation sectors, and the nation’s forest carbon reserve holds about 52 years of annual emissions. Trees matter to the nation’s greenhouse gas balance sheet, and expanding the reserve could be a cost-effective way to help decarbonize the economy.

Policies could work to stabilize declining carbon sequestration in various ways, but by far the most effective way to grow the forest carbon sink is to augment the area of forests.

The greatest potential for demand growth is in the markets for forest bioenergy and mass timber products. In both cases, demand growth depends on policy choices and regulatory treatment.Encouragingly, the Trillion Trees Act prioritizes tree planting, addresses the need for timber markets to increase the area of forests, and acknowledges the potential climate benefits of expanding forests in the United States.

http://thepinetree.net/new/?p=100387

The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), and Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) are pleased to announce a new $17 million program that will provide loans to increase the use of low- and no-value wood from Tuolumne County forests and provide an alternative to pile burning of forest waste.

Smoking can be bad for your health

https://phys.org/news/2020-05-atmospheric-toxins.html

"Prescribed burns are currently the most effective method we have to manage forests in the western United States," says Jen, an assistant professor of chemical engineering. "But burning such a large amount of built-up fuel—feet of duff and tree litter on the forest floor—will significantly impact the regional air quality.

"We've so far found that certain types of fuel produce way more organic smoke—white smoke as opposed to black, sooty smoke—than other fuels," says Jen. "We also found that certain plants produce more toxic compounds. One example being manzanita, a common shrub in coastal California, just spews unhealthy hydroquinone when burned. Unfortunately, the vast majority of compounds we found in smoke have not previously been studied for health impacts, so understanding just how toxic these compounds are to humans has to be the next step."

While the differences between these toxic compounds are still unclear, the negative health impacts of burning organic material have been known for a long time. Certain atmospheric particles known as organic aerosols—particles released when organic materials like trees and other plant matter are burned—have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, and even death.

In addition, we know that chronic lung diseases like COPD and asthma, which can be brought on or exacerbated by wildfire smoke inhalation, are risk factors that could potentially make one more susceptible to contracting a more severe case of COVID-19. This ongoing crisis makes research in this area more important than ever, and Jen and her lab are beginning to look into how best to ensure wildfires don't make the problem worse.

Biodiversity offsetting is a dubious idea at the best of times

https://news.trust.org/item/20200429082242-qrym6

Indonesia, Brazil, Australia and Mozambique do not have enough suitable land for restoration to balance damage caused by new roads, mines and plantations, study finds

The paper is based on a principle of biodiversity offsetting - recognised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and dating back to the 1970s - under which developers revegetate or protect areas of wildlife habitat and ecosystems to balance the harm done by their projects.

"We were particularly surprised to find that, in some places, there would not be enough land to simultaneously approve planned development projects and achieve no net loss of biodiversity," said Sonter, from the University of Queensland.

A landmark global science report said last year that a million animal and plant species were at risk of extinction, including medicinal plants and insects that pollinate crops.

If countries run out of suitable land, it is more likely offsetting policies would be relaxed than development halted, and "biodiversity losses will soar", she warned in a statement.

Climate chaos is upon us

https://environmentjournal.online/articles/the-age-of-stability-is-over-and-coronavirus-is-just-the-beginning/

Then, about 10,000 years ago, the Earth suddenly entered into a period of climate stability modern humans had never seen before. But thanks to ever accelerating emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, humanity is now bringing this period to an end.

In 2018, a prolonged heat wave and drought hit much of western and northern Europe and decimated much of the potato harvest in the region. Temperatures in my native Germany reached record highs in a summer that was drier and hotter than in many parts of the Mediterranean. Climate models had predicted Europe’s most extreme heat increases would occur in Greece, Turkey and Ukraine, so the odds of such a heatwave seemed impossibly low.

Only one year on, in 2019, western Europe was struck by another “impossible” heat wave. In Germany, with temperatures topping 40°C, the record of the previous year was broken twice. Even in the Netherlands, known for its cool sea breeze even at peak summer, peak temperatures exceeded a searing 39°C.

Wildfire and climate models – including one I worked on myself – did predict a large increase in bushfire activity in the forests of south-east Australia. But they predicted this would happen towards the end of this century. The models certainly did not foresee that megafires wiping out as much as 20% of these forests would strike as early as 2020.

Climate scientists tend to focus on slow changes with their climate predictions. But how much the weather becomes more chaotic is notoriously difficult to predict with climate models. We also have only a very superficial understanding of how vulnerable our modern society is to climate chaos and unexpected climate-related events.

Instead of seeing the climate problem as one felt by the next generations, we need to start focusing on what could happen tomorrow, or next year. To do that, we must better understand, appreciate and acknowledge the vulnerability of modern society – and address this vulnerability at its core.

The documentary Planet of the Humans deals with biomass burning and other energy sources but has been heavily criticised

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/planet-humans-muddy-cocktail-valid-criticisms-disinformation-and-defeatism

Planet of the Humans is a new documentary about climate and environment politics

Much of the film is spent making points that are entirely agreeable. It analyses corporate funding of environmental Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and notes the correlation between donors with certain interests, like logging and woodchip production, and NGO policy on biomass electricity plants. Here in Australia, these plants have been labelled ‘forest furnaces’ and have been fought vigorously.

The film does a good job at exposing these forest furnaces and the monoculture, fertiliser intensive plantation forests that feed them as a bad alternative to fossil fuels. It also looks at such plants being used as municipal waste incinerators. The film explores the negative ecological impacts of producing solar panels, wind turbines, electric cars and batteries.

It argues that solar panels consume more energy to manufacture than they produce – a blatant lie. ...

The film argues that wind and solar have never displaced a single coal fired power plant anywhere in the world (utter bollocks), and that every megawatt of wind and solar needs 24/7 fossil fuel backup due to their intermittency. This is untrue....

Having made a bunch of valid critiques of the role of NGOs in the movement and their connection to corporate interests and donors; having elucidated the problem with incinerating woodchips and garbage to make ‘renewable’ energy; and having dispensed a mixture of valid criticisms alongside rank disinformation and lies about wind and solar, the film then arrives at its alternative campaign beachhead. ...the urgent need to reduce the global population.

https://theconversation.com/3-times-michael-moores-film-planet-of-the-humans-gets-the-facts-wrong-and-3-times-it-gets-them-right-137890?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20May%207%202020%20-%201614615487&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20May%207%202020%20-%201614615487+CID_ba15db4998090ef40c396f6c0d445cee&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=3%20times%20Michael%20Moores%20film%20Planet%20of%20the%20Humans%20gets%20the%20facts%20wrong%20and%203%20times%20it%20gets%20them%20right

Documentary maker Michael Moore’s latest offering, Planet of the Humans, rightly argues that infinite growth on a finite planet is “suicide”. But the film’s bogus claims threaten to overshadow that message.

Climate sceptics here and abroad reacted with glee. Environmentalists say the film has caused untold damage when climate action has never been more urgent.

But the claim that solar panels produce less energy than they generate in their lifetime has long been disproved.

What’s more, a report released this week by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) said with the right regulations, renewables could at times supply 75% of electricity in the national electricity market by 2025.

In Australia on Easter Saturday this year, renewables supplied 50% of the national electricity market, which serves the vast majority of the population.

The film observes that population growth is the elephant in the room when it comes to climate change. ...
An increasing population means increasing demand for energy and other resources, accelerating climate change.

As the film asserts, destroying forests for biomass energy does more harm than good – due to loss of habitat, damage to water systems, and the time taken for some forests to recover from the removal of wood.

Most advocates of cleaner energy systems recognise the limitations of biomass as an energy source.

Who owns Australia's forests (I remember David Brand from his stint with the Forestry Corp)

https://realassets.ipe.com/australian-new-zealand-forest-fund-becomes-perpetual-vehicle/10045462.article

Six investors and their co-investors in the Australian New Zealand Forest Fund (ANZFF), which has combined holdings of A$2.5b (€1.5bn) in forestry assets, have rolled over their closed-end fund into a perpetual vehicle.

Managed by New Forests, ANZFF owns about 10% of the entire forestry assets of Australia. The fund’s estate includes approximately 283,000 gross hectares of land area, with around 195,000 hectares of net planted area and approximately 20,000 hectares dedicated to conservation management.

David Brand, managing director of New Forests, told IPE Real Assets: “Our investors, which are mostly defined benefit plans, recognise that it is going to be very hard to buy assets of this quality again.

http://www.voxy.co.nz/business/5/364346

https://realassets.ipe.com/australian-new-zealand-forest-fund-becomes-perpetual-vehicle/10045462.article

May 8 2020


The battle to stop logging of Nambucca State Forest is heating up

https://www.nambuccaguardian.com.au/story/6757644/logging-operation-starts-in-nambucca-state-forest-protesters-set-up-vigil-photos/

A LOGGING operation in Nambucca State Forest started today and locals, members of the Indigenous community and concerned conservation groups gathered for a roadside protest.

Speaking as a local councillor, Susan Jenvey stressed how important protecting the forest was for the area.

"Scientists have been telling us since the bushfires, that logging dries out forests, that it makes them fire-prone," she said.

"Wildlife also needs space; otherwise, they come into the urban fringe and begin to create safety issues. Nambucca already has a problem with bats in town.

However, Nambucca Valley Conservation Association (NVCA) spokesperson Lyn Orrego says that more needs to be done to protect the forest.

"We oppose the logging of this coastal, public native forest surrounding the town of Nambucca Heads. Instead we support the Community Campaign for Nambucca State Forest to be protected as a National Park for wildlife, recreation and climate," she said.

"Most of the forest avoided last summer's devastating wild fires, this makes it incredibly valuable to protect as habitat for threatened species devastated elsewhere.

"This public native forest must be managed for the public good. It is worth much more kept intact than it is being logged."

The Nature Conversation Council is organising a petition to appose logging in the Nambucca Heads State Forest, for details on how to sign, click here.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/15/nsw-south-coast-residents-battling-to-save-unburnt-bushland-ask-sussan-ley-to-intervene

[this story had very extensive coverage]

And there are calls for the state government to order Forestry Corporation to abandon plans to log Nambucca state forest on the NSW north coast.

“Logging these forests after so many were devastated in the summer bushfires is morally indefensible,” said the Nature Conservation Council chief executive, Chris Gambian.

“Trees that are habitat for a wide range of native animals, including the greater glider, sooty owl and koalas, will be cut down to make telegraph poles, pool decking and pallets.”

There are also forest protests in Western Australia over the definition of oldgrowth

https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2020-05-15/wa-forestry-industry-lashes-government-over-11th-hour-review/12253752

The WA forestry industry has slammed the State Government's decision to halt a native timber logging operation and initiate a review of the project with just a few hours' notice as "shambolic political interference".

The ongoing standoff between conservationists and the timber industry reached boiling point this week when protestors interrupted operations in the Dalgarup forest near Bridgetown, 250 kilometres south of Perth.

Protestors argue the site is 'old growth' and unsuitable for logging but industry says the classification was set out in WA's Forest Management Plan which was determined by the department.

The ABC understands operations were halted at ministerial request, hours after protestors were moved on by police.

This is a comprehensive article about logging impacts, and while it is focused on Victoria it is applicable to NSW's forests and is worth reading in full (these are lengthy extracts)

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/05/australias-logging-madness-fuels-more-fires-hastens-ecosystem-collapse/

Yet, in Victoria and New South Wales, the two Australian states that were affected the most by the fires, logging companies have continued to saw down swaths of native trees to produce paper pulp for toilet tissue and paper towels. In Victoria, where fires raged through more than 1.2 million hectares (3 million acres) of land, a regional forestry agreement (RFA) was recently renewed for 10 years, allowing the state’s own logging company, VicForests to oversee and manage logging in the state, including logging inside the critically endangered mountain ash forest ecosystem. While the Victorian and federal government in Australia insist that the industry helps preserve jobs and boosts the economy, scientists and conservationists say continued logging doesn’t make economic or environmental sense.

The RFAs, which were established in 1998, excuse logging companies from certain state and federal legislation, such as the Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, meant to protect vulnerable flora and fauna in Australia’s forests. Despite these exemptions, Victoria’s RFAs pledge to properly and sustainably manage forests in order to protect biodiversity.

Politicians aren’t the only ones dissatisfied with the logging industry’s forest management. In 2019, the Victorian government conducted a public survey to assess how the public would like the state to manage its forests. The majority of respondents said that forests should be used for “conserving plants and animals,” while only a small number of respondents emphasized the importance of “providing jobs and economic benefits from timber and wood products.”

Chris Taylor, a research fellow at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University (ANU), said that neither the Andrews government’s 2030 pledge nor the modernization process is doing anything to protect the state’s forests.

“Forest management and logging practices are not being reviewed, amended or revised,” Taylor told Mongabay. “Things are going ahead as business as usual.”

“They’re literally going to run the forest off the edge of the cliff,” Taylor said. “They’re going to exhaust the resource, and that’s their intent. It’ll be highly unlikely that we will even make it to 2030 in terms of the capacity of the forest to supply wood.”

While clear-cutting is commonly practiced in Victoria, loggers also use a technique called selective logging. As its name suggests, workers will select certain trees, while leaving other parts of the forest intact. In theory, selective logging might seem to less destructive than clear-cutting, but environmentalists and scientists warn that this form of logging is just as disruptive to the forest ecosystem, especially since loggers tend to take out the oldest and largest trees, which provide food and shelter for wildlife.

“It’s estimated that there’s less than 2,000 of these little animals in the wild,” Rice said. “The whole time that I’ve been in the Senate, we have been trying to get them to finalize the recovery plan for the leadbeater’s possum, but they haven’t. Even this regional forest agreement would potentially give them [the logging companies] another two years before they finalize the recovery plan. Meanwhile, the forest that they depend upon is being damaged and destroyed, every day of the week.”

Any form of logging also disables a native forest’s ability to produce water, store carbon and support tourism, according to David Lindenmayer, professor at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University.

“All of those uses are actually completely incompatible with timber harvesting,” Lindenmayer told Mongabay. “So when you log a forest, you produce huge amounts of carbon emissions, you reduce water production, and not many tourists want to tramp around in a forest that’s just been blitzed by clear-cutting.”

Logging also makes forests drier, and therefore more fire prone, according to James Watson, professor at School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Queensland.

“When you log a tree, you’re opening up the entire ecosystem, which means it gets drier,” Watson told Mongabay. “You’re allowing wind dynamics to start occurring, which dries out the system as well. And you’ve got all this dry wood on the ground — branches, bark, stumps. The fact that you’ve got these saplings over time start growing, which acts like sticks in a fire. All of these things combined mean that you affect the risk of fire flammability massively.”

Younger trees also provide a larger surface area over which a fire can burn, which is why they’re more incendiary, Taylor said.

“It’s a bit like putting straw in your fireplace — you get that flare-up,” Taylor said. “The reason why that happens is because the width of the fuel is much narrower. If you throw a big log onto a fire, you know how it doesn’t burn immediately? That’s because there’s more mass that’s inside the log that isn’t exposed directly to the fire. Whereas if you get a twig, you’ve got a far greater surface area compared to that mass … so the heat of the fire is able to ignite it more rapidly, and you get that explosive flare-up. That’s what happens in a wildfire event.”

“The biggest concern is that it’s a double disturbance,” Lindenmayer said. “These ecosystems that have been burnt are in the process of trying to recover, and then they get smashed again. And so, very few ecosystems around the world are geared to be able to deal with two enormous disturbances in very rapid succession. And ultimately, those effects have enormous long lasting impacts that can last for up to 200 years. And most of our species are just not adapted to be able to deal with this. And it’s not just here in Australia — all of the global reviews that have been done shows that there are problems just about everywhere where salvage logging is conducted. In fact, I don’t even think it should be called salvage logging because really, you’re not salvaging anything — it’s almost all damage.”

Lindenmayer said. “There’s simply too much disturbance over too big an area that’s happening too quickly for systems to continue to be able to deal with this.”

“It’s a really serious issue,” he added. “What happens is that fire and logging beget more fire and logging.”

“Essentially, what’s happening is that the public are paying for the ‘privilege’ of having their forests cut down,” he said. “They don’t get anything in return other than a loss. And you can kind of say, ‘Okay, I’ll get that if you were employing thousands and thousands and thousands of people. But they’re not. There’s less than 350 direct jobs in the state, right across the state for this whole industry. So how does this persist then?”

“Whilst the defendant [VicForests] has demonstrated it will suffer some short-term loss, and that long-term loss may exacerbate any likely shortfall in production, this pales in comparison to the potential threat of irreversible environmental damage to the fire affected threatened species,” Justice Kate McMilan of Victoria’s Supreme Court said in a statement. “All five of the threatened species have been identified by the state government as on the path to extinction. It goes without saying that once these species are extinct, there is no going back.”

[loggers] “They are the people that have precisely the skills that you need to fight fires,” Lindenmayer said. “There are no people with better skills than these harvesting operators, with bulldozers and excavators. They’re precisely the kinds of people that you want to have on your side when you’re protecting communities from wildfires.”

In Victoria there is push-back from academics on phasing out logging of public native forests over the next decade

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-09/victorian-forestry-academics-clash-over-sustainable-forestry/12218482

"What we should be thinking about is how we can shift our management towards what is best for the forest and how we can set up forests to be as resilient as possible to the future, because in 10 years we're going to have to walk away from them," Professor Baker said.

FSC certification is one of two certifications used to assess the sustainability of wood harvesting. Officeworks and Bunnings say they will only be sourcing wood from FSC certified businesses by the end of the year.

University of Melbourne Associate Professor Craig Nitschke said the 2030 forestry ban undermined the push for more sustainable harvesting practices.

Professor David Lindenmayer AO said more frequent and severe bushfires caused by native timber harvesting were a reason to speed up the transition to plantations.  

"We need to have a good long look at what's happening in the industry, the resource is declining because of fire and logging, we need to make the transition [to plantation timber] and we need to make it very quickly, otherwise we'll see what happened after the 2009 fires which was that the industry massively overharvested the resource," he said.

[Professor Baker] "The facile notion that you can just stop harvesting native forests and put everything in plantations and that will meet all of our wood supply needs is naïve."

Professor Lindenmayer disagrees.

"Eighty-eight per cent of all sawn timber in Victoria comes from plantations — for roof trusses, for furniture, for floorboards and the like — so it's straightforward to make that transition,” he said.  

"The Victorian Government has set aside $120 million to make that transition, it’s good for rural communities, it’s good for the protection of communities from fire risks, and it gives people good and meaningful to protect communities through firefighting."

Export woodchipping from Eden is on again

https://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/extensive-land-clearing-of-bushfire-regions/4014947/

The woodchip carrier, Cattleya arrived in Eden yesterday to load about 40,000 tonnes of woodchips. It is the first shipment since the summer bushfires. The load will consist of the trees that survived the bushfires. They are felled for spurious hazard reduction.
The government is allowing this to happen to the forests of the NSW South Coast and Northern Victoria.
This is an abomination. As much as 85% of these forests were burnt.

It is now 50 years since the Vietnam War protests, for many of us oldies this was the beginning of our activism, and the mass rallies it culminated in are what we need again to force action on climate change

https://theconversation.com/50-years-on-the-vietnam-moratorium-campaigns-remind-us-of-a-different-kind-of-politics-137883?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201616115502&utm_content=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201616115502+CID_e89a9404ae9a377938b1da32947449dc&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=50%20years%20on%20the%20Vietnam%20moratorium%20campaigns%20remind%20us%20of%20a%20different%20kind%20of%20politics

Fifty years ago this month, hundreds of thousands of Australians assembled across the country to call for an end to the Vietnam War. The first of the moratorium campaigns, the demonstrations of May 8 1970 were the zenith of the anti-war movement in Australia that had been five years in the making.

The largest of the May 8 marches took place in Melbourne, confirming its status as the national capital of protest politics. An estimated 100,000 demonstrators clogged the city’s streets.

The protests expressed a restless mood for change, and represented a key moment in the puncturing of the oppressive Cold War atmosphere that had dominated Australian public life for some two decades.

Third, the success of the May 1970 moratorium was a watershed in legitimising protest in this country. As the anti-war movement developed from the mid-1960s, it found its activities circumscribed by provisions of the Commonwealth Crimes Act, state laws and local government regulations that severely constrained the right to demonstrate.

In that context, the moratorium’s mass occupation tactics struck a mighty blow for the right to public protest and enlarged the space for democratic action. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that demonstrators since, regardless of their cause, have been benefactors of the legacy created by the moratorium campaigners of the early 1970s.

In a parliamentary debate on the moratorium in April 1970, Cairns articulated what was described as the movement’s “manifesto of dissent”:

Some … think that democracy is just Parliament alone … But times are changing. A whole generation is not prepared to accept this complacent, conservative theory. Parliament is not democracy. It is one manifestation of democracy … Democracy is government by the people, and government by people demands action by the people … in public places all around the land.

https://www.miragenews.com/funding-for-wildlife-and-habitats-welcomed/

Australian Conservation Foundation’s James Trezise ...“The expert recovery panel has highlighted the need to protect unburnt habitat areas, yet some of these areas are already being opened up for logging, which is heavily subsidised, including with new money announced this week.

“The review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, led by Graeme Samuel, presents an important opportunity for the Morrison Government to build a stronger legal framework with emergency protection for critical habitats to better protect remaining unburnt areas.

“In the 20 years Australia has had a national environment law, an area of threatened species habitat larger than Tasmania has been logged, bulldozed and cleared.

https://www.dailyliberal.com.au/story/6753352/labor-critical-of-bushfire-relief-speed/?cs=9397

Prime Minister Scott Morrison detailed on Monday how $650 million will be spent to help communities recover, with most to be spend on local projects.

About $150 million of that will go towards helping native wildlife and habitat areas devastated by the fires.

https://www.miragenews.com/govt-s-money-for-wildlife-disingenuous/

The Australian Greens MPsGreens Spokesperson for the Environment Senator Sarah Hanson-Young ...

“$50m was never going to cut it and $150m more now still won’t be enough especially when the government is going to allow more damage to the environment with salvage logging and cut to environmental protections.

“The Federal Government announced yesterday the bushfire recovery funding includes $15m for transporting salvaged logs. This is despite the science clearly showing salvage logging will be devastating to bushfire affected areas causing further disturbance to these ecosystems and hampering regeneration and recovery.

“So on the one hand the government says it is putting more money on the table for the environment but on the other hand, they are supporting salvage logging and planning to cut environmental protections.

https://vision.org.au/radio/news/federal-government-allocates-150m-to-wildlife-recovery/

Where would we be without the Federal Government's compassion:

https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/the-fossil-fuel-industry-has-corrupted-our-democracy,13889

So today, Greenpeace Australia Pacific has launched a sequel investigation: Dirty Power: Burnt Country which exposes the malign effects of the fossil fuel industry on our democracy, even as the nation burned.

During the bushfires, there was a sustained effort by powerful forces to minimise the role played by climate change in creating the conditions for the disaster. Disinformation was used as a political tool by the Morrison government. News Corp systematically downplayed the impact of climate change. Voices of truth and reason were attacked in an effort to silence them.

Meanwhile, as koalas burned alive and Australian children huddled on ash-stained beaches, awaiting evacuation by the Royal Australian Navy, the fossil fuel industry continued to lobby and push for new projects and expansions. Over 100 million tonnes of new coal mining projects were approved during the bushfires — including excavation under Sydney’s precious drinking water catchment.

 

As the fires reached their crescendo, records show that state MPs met with the fossil fuel industry on lobbyists on a weekly basis. In Queensland, the meetings occurred on average every five days. 

The fossil fuel industry persisted with plans for new projects just as if nothing had happened.

More than 30 people were killed directly by the fires and toxic smoke contributed to the deaths of more than 400 others. More than 80% of the Blue Mountains World Heritage area and more than 50% of the Gondwana World Heritage rainforests were destroyed. A billion or more creatures were incinerated.

Australia’s democracy is hostage to dirty power: the institutional corruption of our democracy by the fossil fuel industry and other big polluters. There is urgent work ahead to release the bonds; harnessing the power and determination of the Australian people to reclaim our democracy and create the foundations for a flourishing future.

Even Koalas that escaped the fires are in trouble on the Southern Highlands from drought:

https://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2020/05/australias-wildlife-just-cant-catch-a-break/

the Southern Highlands Koala Sanctuary, located in Canyonleigh, New South Wales ...There’s also drought, which has hit the sanctuary hard.

“A lot of the plants shrivelled up, they dried out, and they died,” Johnson told Gizmodo. “These were previously food sources for the animals.”

New South Wales experienced its second-driest period since 1900 between May 2017 to April 2020. This year has brought some increased rain, but it hasn’t been enough to replenish the drying vegetation the animals eat or the watering holes they drink from. The sanctuary turned to supplementary water to prevent the animals from expending energy to seek water sources. Johnson was particularly concerned to see eucalyptus trees dying, which serve as the primary food source for koalas and as key habitat for the country’s largest owl.

“The eucalyptus have been here for an awful long time and these centuries-old eucalyptus have survived many, many droughts,” she said. “It was devastating to see that happen to these ancient trees that provide so much habitat for the wildlife.”

Mark Graham, an ecologist with the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales, told Gizmodo he believes we’ll discover many extinctions in the months ahead. The collapse of ecosystems is hard to reverse – and the Australian government isn’t doing enough to repair the damage that’s been done.

“[Australians are] the custodians of the world’s greatest treasure troves of biodiversity, and frankly we failed in our duty to protect and maintain this globally significant legacy,” Graham said. “We haven’t even seen, really, a billion dollars spent on the most critical of infrastructure, which is our natural ecosystems. They are our life support systems. They give us the water we drink, the air we breathe, and they maintain the fertility of the soils that feed us.

Koalas continue to garner attention and help:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2020-05-12/habitat-koalas-wires-landcare-bushfires-drought-nsw-eucalyptus/12196350

With up to 30 per cent of koala habitat destroyed by fire across New South Wales, not-for-profit groups are working hard to restore it to protect remaining koalas.

Science for Wildlife executive director Kellie Leigh said a $20,000 grant for its Blue Mountains Koala Project would be used to identify important koala habitat.

"We were uncovering populations in areas where nobody thought koalas really existed," Dr Leigh said.

The Koala Habitat Planting Map has been released online to assist rural landholders on the state's Mid North Coast to restore critical koala habitat.

Rebecca Montague-Drake from the Koala Recovery Partnership said the map allowed landholders to zoom in on their property anywhere in the Port Macquarie-Hastings and Kempsey local government areas.

"They can click on the area they wish to plant, and a list of the appropriate koala food trees for planting will come up," Dr Montague-Drake said.

A donation of 12,500 koala food trees by the state-owned Forestry Corporation has been snapped up within two days by landholders in the northern rivers region.

Mark Wilson from Friends of the Koala in Lismore, which distributed the mixture of five eucalyptus species, said the response of almost 200 enquiries was incredible.

We don't need homes for little Koalas when we can have more really big Koalas that don't need trees:

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/6750295/koala-project-taken-out-of-funding-mix/

A KOALA Sculpture Park proposal has not been supported by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council for potential government bushfire tourism recovery funding.

The Koala Sculpture Park, incorporating 16 koala sculptures, is a vision of Hello Koalas at $476,000. This also includes a big koala project in Port Macquarie.

A second big koala, the third component of the Hello Koalas project, is envisaged for the Cowarra tourism precinct where the koala hospital will also establish a wild koala breeding program.

Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams said it is disappointing councillors did not support the inclusion of the Hello Koalas Sculpture Park proposal.

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/6747688/hello-koalas-delivers-a-million-smiles-to-sydney/

It's official - Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail's Sydney visit in October-November 2019 brought almost a million visitors to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

Twenty-two of the 74 Hello Koalas sculptures made the journey to Sydney for a mini sculpture trail that led visitors on a treasure hunt through the garden using maps and phones.

The Facebook Event recorded 27,000 interested participants for the Royal Botanic Garden with October visitation up 14 per cent despite the extreme weather conditions and fire dangers.

This was the second official tour for the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail, with a one-month stay at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra in March 2019 which also highly successful with a social media reach of 12.89 million and 20 per cent increase in visitation.

If people, climate, fires and bat viruses weren't bad enough, now carpet pythons are threatening Koalas:

https://massivesci.com/notes/butterflies-migration-captivity-conservation/

Between 2013 and 2017, 503 free-living koalas got fitted with telemetry collars, ....

Carpet pythons seem to kill more koalas than they can swallow. In most cases attributed to carpet python mortality (62%), koalas were killed by asphyxiation with evidence of attempted ingestion, but the koala carcass was ultimately abandoned.

... We now know that carpet pythons are the second biggest predator of wild koalas, behind wild dogs (dingo relatives, not to be confused with the dogs we keep as pets).

Captive breeding is increasingly used as our solution to destroying animals habitats, though what if Koalas start losing their grip:

https://massivesci.com/notes/butterflies-migration-captivity-conservation/

Monarch butterflies are a key pollinator and complete an arduous migration as part of their life cycle. Conservationists worry about their rapidly declining numbers, as the butterflies battle against climate change and pesticides. To tackle this, people are breeding them in captivity, and releasing them when they are fully grown.

To the untrained eye, captive butterflies are just as beautiful as wild ones. Scientists know that their migration skills aren’t as fine tuned as their wild counterparts – a process which is essential for the butterflies to successfully lay their eggs.

Both captive and wild butterflies performed a grip test. By measuring the force needed for the butterflies to release their grip on a branch, researchers discovered that the captive butterflies strength was not up to wild standard. Captive butterflies also have much paler and shorter wings than wild butterflies.

More evidence that we need to protect forests for fish:

https://www.cifor.org/knowledge/forests-news/65435

a new report published in the journal Bioscience.

“We found strong evidence that forests have a central function in maintaining the diversity of freshwater fish,” Lo said.

Riparian forests that run alongside streams and rivers are an important supply of woody debris and leaf litter, creating a range of habitat spaces conducive to fish diversity. These small niches also act as nursing grounds and refuges to hide away from predators.

More than half of the studies reviewed demonstrated that forests contributed to freshwater habitats by controlling sedimentation and siltation.

A build-up of silt and sediment is typical in freshwater systems without riparian forests or where deforestation has occurred, leading to more homogenous and less varied habitats with fewer bottom-feeding fish species and a less diverse fish population overall. Studies demonstrated that shrimp and fish quantities dropped when sedimentation caused by ecosystem degradation increased.

“Forests are inextricably interlinked with fish in freshwater ecosystems, providing regulatory and provisioning functions that support a healthy aquatic habitat, water quality and food to sustain them,” Lo said

The loggers are now claiming they are the true heroes of the pandemic (like they were of the bushfires) because they went on cutting down trees regardless of their personal safety:

https://www.miragenews.com/forest-industries-launch-digital-campaign-to-thank-those-on-covid-19-frontline/

The Chief Executive of AFPA Ross Hampton said, “These frontline workers are truly heroes. Whilst many of us have been quarantining, they’ve been going to work every day to make sure we have food on our tables and health care when we need it. We are proud that the men and women who work in forest industries right around Australia, have also kept turning up through this time. From the forests and plantations, through to the manufacturing plants in regional centres, they have been ensuring that the essential products which have underpinned vital parts of the economy have still been there.”

The new video produced as part of the digital campaign shows the many uses paper and wood products are put to in homes, shops and hospitals. It explains that production has not slowed down since the pandemic started.

Scientists are warning the U.S. Congress to change their position on burning forests for electricity:

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/05/scientists-warn-congress-against-declaring-biomass-burning-carbon-neutral/

  • Some 200 U.S. environmental scientists have sent a letter to congressional committee chairs urging they reject new rules proposed in April under the Clean Air Act that would define biomass, when burned to produce energy, as being carbon neutral.
  • The scientists say that biomass burning — using wood pellets to produce energy at converted coal-burning power plants — is not only destructive of native forests which store massive amounts of carbon, but also does not reduce carbon emissions.
  • A long-standing UN policy, recognizing biomass burning as carbon neutral, has caused the U.S. forestry industry to gear up to produce wood pellets for power plants in Britain, the EU, South Korea and beyond. Scientists warn that the failure to count the emissions produced by such plants could help destabilize the global climate.
  • The letter from environmental scientists concludes: “We are hopeful that a new and more scientifically sound direction will be considered by Members [of Congress] that emphasizes forest protections, and a shift away from consumption of wood products and forest biomass energy to help mitigate the climate crisis.”

Currently, biomass producers in the U.S. and Eastern Europe are gearing up to deliver millions of tons of wood pellets to the EU, Great Britain and other nations to meet a rising global demand for biomass burned at industrial-scale levels at power plants, replacing coal. According to the scientists, wood pellets have been erroneously declared carbon neutral by the United Nations, creating what’s been dubbed “a carbon emission accounting loophole” that could help destabilize the global climate.

“The growing consensus of scientific findings is that to effectively mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, we must not only move beyond fossil fuel consumption, but must also substantially increase protection of our native forests in order to absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere and store more, not less, carbon in our forests,” says the two-page letter.”

The text was followed by nine pages listing signatories, including leading names in climate science and conservation. The letter backs up its conclusions with citations to 24 scientific papers — studies measuring carbon sequestration in trees and soils, examining forest management, wildfire suppression and other issues.

However, the scientists behind the congressional letter point to numerous studies that conclude that carbon neutrality, if trees are replanted at all, takes 50 to 100 years — time that the world doesn’t have.

“The only option we have right now to avoid climate disaster is [to conserve] the natural world,” Bill Moomaw, co-author of the letter to Congress and a leading forest ecologist from Tufts University, told Mongabay. “Forests are the one thing we have the greatest potential to protect. If we let them grow, they will store more and more carbon.”

Still, the UN carbon-neutrality policy remains popular with governments, energy companies and investors across the European Union, in the United Kingdom and South Korea. There, burning wood pellets in former coal-fired power plants is a fast-growing energy source that enables countries to claim on-paper-only carbon emission reductions. Recent studies find that burning wood actually produces more emissions than coal.

Not everyone agrees with that optimistic view. Last year, 200 EU climate scientists lobbied European Union officials, saying that no such biomass burning carbon balance is being maintained, that U.S. and Eastern European forests are being destroyed, and that dangerous levels of carbon emissions are going uncounted to the detriment of the global climate.

One myth the rebuttal authors strive to bust: the immediacy of carbon storage. Trees, they point out, do not sequester substantial amounts of carbon until they are at least 30 years old, and then keep accumulating carbon for centuries; newly planted trees, which biomass advocates promote as climate savers, do not become significant carbon sinks for decades.

In related news, biomass critics were dealt a setback this week in Europe. A 2019 lawsuit against the European Union ... That suit was dismissed on May 11 by the European General Court in Luxembourg for lack of legal standing.

Yet the industry are promoting converting coal-fired power stations to wood, here is a link to their propaganda:

http://www.biomassmagazine.com/articles/17044/futuremetrics-explains-benefits-of-coal-to-biomass-conversions

FutureMetrics LLC on May 6 published a whitepaper discussing how converting existing coal-fired power plants to be fueled with wood pellets offers a low cost, easy-to-deploy way to generate low-carbon electricity.

“Wood pellets produced from sustainably managed forestry operations, when used to produce power, do not increase the net stock of CO2 in the atmosphere,” Strauss wrote. “The basic necessary condition for an area of managed forests is if forest growth rate equals or exceeds the harvest rate then the net stock of carbon held in the forest is constant or growing. Thus, the CO2 released in combustion is contemporaneously absorbed by the new growth and no net new CO2 is added to the atmosphere.”

Within the paper, Strauss describes arguments made by those who oppose the use of wood pellets for power generation and debunks their claims. “There is no rational logic that can show the use of materials from responsibly and sustainably managed forests can result in a net addition of CO2 to the atmosphere,” he said. “As climate change consequences exponentially increase even nations like the United States will see the value in converting some existing high-efficiency coal fueled power stations to use wood pellets.

A full copy of the whitepaper can be downloaded from the FutureMetrics website.

Yet more claims that COVID-19 has been a boon for wildlife, this time from France:

https://www.connexionfrance.com/French-news/Deconfinement-Extra-care-needed-on-forest-walks-after-May-11-in-France

National forest office ONF says wild animals have got used to living in a calm forest during the confinement period plus they are already more sensitive during spring as it is the birth season.

During confinement, the calm and the absence of noise have made wild animals “less shy” and “therefore more sensitive”, says the ONF and bird protection charity Ligue pour la protection des oiseaux (LPO).

The two organisations report having been able to hear many birds and amphibians in forests recently and say they have noted an increased presence of animals in the daytime during the two months of confinement.

The ONF also warns people to be careful on the road to avoid hitting deer which are no longer used to the dangers of the road.

The spread of COVID-19 and related viruses due to deforestation continues to raise concerns:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/covid-19-why-saving-our-forests-can-help-stop-next-pandemic-12688524

BANGKOK: Preventing the further destruction of Southeast Asia’s forests will be a critical step to stopping the spread of future deadly viruses similar to COVID-19, according to leading experts studying the risk factors that have contributed to the current global pandemic.

“Pandemic risk is linked to habitat loss and exploitation of wildlife. Spillover of zoonotic viruses is more common than we realise and is happening at a rate that is faster than ever, said Christine Johnson, a professor of epidemiology and ecosystem health at the University of California, Davis. 

“As natural habitat is diminished, wildlife often redistribute into marginal habitats in closer and more frequent contact with people,” she said. 

The professor has directed animal and human surveillance activities for PREDICT, part of USAID’s Emerging Pandemic Threats project, which recently uncovered previously undetected strains of coronavirus in bats in Myanmar.

“Protection of natural habitats for wildlife and restriction of the live animal wildlife trade are going to be essential for mitigating disease emergence, which is the establishment of new viruses from animals into susceptible human populations, and, if viruses are human-to-human transmissible, can cause pandemics,” she said.

That project aimed to put an economic cost on deforestation when linked with the spread of infectious diseases, notably Malaria, in Sabah, Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak, and Thailand. In a final report, it concluded that net present value loss between 2015 and 2030 would exceed US$4.35 trillion if deforestation continues at business-as-usual rates.

[David Ganz] “I talk about bundling ecosystem services; we need to value not just the carbon but the water, the pollination values, the recreation values. You have to have full natural capital accounting so forests are really seen for their full value,” he added.

“The health of the forest is tied to the health of human civilisation and the health of the planet. “The more large tracts of healthy forest that we keep as is, the better off we are. The more we displace animals by fragmenting the forest, the worse off it is,” he said.

https://truthout.org/articles/deforestation-and-monoculture-farming-spread-covid-19-and-other-diseases/

Carlos Zambrana-Torrelio, the associated vice president for conservation and health at the EcoHealth Alliance, analyzed over 704 different infectious disease outbreaks between the years 1940 and 2008, and found that measuring the rate of deforestation in a given area was the number one predictor of where the next pandemic will occur. “Scientists have been sending out warnings about this for years now,” Zambrana-Torrelio told Truthout. “We can’t keep encroaching upon the natural habitats of wildlife without taking into consideration what deadly diseases might spill over from that wildlife into the neighboring humans.”

Regions of the Amazon with increased rates of deforestation have concurrently experienced increased rates of malaria in humans. As climate change withers away the canopy of trees that act as the “ceiling” of the rainforest, puddles of stagnant water are becoming increasingly common on the ground. Mosquitos, particularly the kind that carry malaria, love to breed in this murky standing water. This increase in mosquito population in deforested areas is going largely unchecked due to their natural predators, mainly frogs and dragonfliesdying off in the destroyed habitat.

“The drought caused mass forest fires that swept the region. These fires created a huge smog that prevented the plants from growing fruit,” said Amy Vittor, an assistant professor at the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute told Truthout. “This forced the flying fox bats of the rainforest to migrate to the towns of Malaysia.”

Some of these bats flocked to Malaysian pig farms, where the first cases of Nipah virus were reported. Bats would bite into fruit that the pigs ate, causing the virus to spread to the pigs. Humans caught the virus when they came in contact with the pigs.

https://ensia.com/features/the-worst-may-be-yet-to-come-5-ways-new-diseases-emerge-and-what-we-can-do-about-them/

Raina Plowright, a bat specialist at the Bozeman disease ecology lab at Montana State University.
“We need a global pandemic policy. Ecological security needs to become one of the tenets of biosecurity. I would work urgently to preserve continuous landscapes of habitat for wild animals and do everything we can to limit our encroachment on what is left,” she says.

“We are playing a Ponzi scheme with the ecosystems that allow our planet to survive. We know what needs to be done to move towards more sustainable food systems that do not regularly spill out novel diseases and lead to an ever-increasing prevalence of non-communicable disease. All we lack is the political commitment,” she says.

Intensive farming of wildlife, especially in Southeast Asia and China, concerns experts as well. Instead of farming a small range of animals like cattle, sheep, goats, poultry and pigs — to whose diseases humans have over centuries become partly immune — farmers are now breeding hundreds of different animals for both food and medicine with potential risk of pandemics. ....

“We need to shift away from an ambulance-style, doctor-driven, reactive response to the pandemics that predictably appear and towards a proactive response that will build safe food systems. We are losing too many species, too many natural landscapes. We are intensifying agriculture in ways that are inhumane and unsustainable. The rich turn a blind eye, the poor bear the brunt of unsustainable systems,” Randolph says. “This is a time of reckoning, of hard choices and new directions. Things that cannot go on forever will stop  — often abruptly and nastily.”

https://desertification.wordpress.com/2020/05/12/wildlife-habitat-destruction-and-deforestation-will-cause-more-deadly-pandemics-like-coronavirus-scientists-warn/

https://whatsupnewp.com/2020/05/how-the-lyme-disease-epidemic-is-spreading-and-why-ticks-are-so-hard-to-stop/

In the 1970s, an epidemic of mysterious arthritis-like symptoms began spreading among children in the lushly wooded area around Lyme, Connecticut. Scientists traced the cause to tick bites and named it Lyme disease, but why it had suddenly appeared there was a mystery.

Without deer, deer ticks, also known as black-legged ticks, were rare, and the bacterium that causes Lyme disease was contained in isolated tick populations, primarily in northern Wisconsin and on Long Island.

That changed when deer were reintroduced for hunting in the Northeast during the early 1900s and began to repopulate new forests.

An assessment in India claims that the extent of COVID-19 is related to a lack of forest cover:

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/more-forests-less-covid19-impact-claims-mp-forest-dept-1677781-2020-05-14

The Madhya Pradesh forest department has attempted to study the connection between the forest area in a district and the number of Covid-19 cases.

The study found that in districts such as Indore, Ujjain, Bhopal, and Morena, which have the highest number of Covid-19 cases, the availability of forest is less than 100 sq km per 1,000 people.

In contrast, districts such as Betul and Chhindwara, which have a much higher availability of forest area, have fewer cases of Covid-19 even though they are located on the Maharashtra border.

Maharashtra is one of the worst-affected states.

The study also found that districts such as Panna, Balaghat, Umaria, Shahdol, and Anuppur have witnessed the inflow of a large number of migrant workers in the last two months. These districts have large forest areas and have not seen a significant spike in Covid-19 cases

"Deputy Conservator of Forests, Rajneesh Singh said while a lot is not known about Covid-19 and a lot is being discovered, it is clear that areas with fewer forests are badly affected by Covid-19."

Singh said that the reason for this is that forests act as a natural barrier to the increase in the human population in a given area, due to which the spread of disease is controlled.

"The simple reason for this is, with low forest cover, urbanisation and density of population are higher which is contributing to the spread of the disease. One must keep in mind that forests protected under law act as a natural barrier to the increase in human population in a given area," he said.

Singh added that governments can keep the deterrence value of forests in mind while planning for the future and controlling Covid-19.

"In areas with fewer forests and more pollution, respiratory systems are adversely impacted making people more vulnerable to Covid. Areas with more forests also have a higher incidence of malaria which seems to have shown a positive pattern in so far as Covid-19 impacting populations is concerned," he said.

And we are breeding mosquitoes to prefer human blood:

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/05/mosquitoes-taste-human-blood-may-grow-african-cities-expand

In most of the world, the Aedes aegypti mosquito is notorious for biting humans and spreading dengue, Zika, and other viruses. But in Africa, where the mosquito is native, most Aedes prefer to suck blood from other animals, such as monkeys and rodents. A new study suggests, though, that their taste for humans may rapidly expand—and with it their ability to spread disease.

By surveying the range of Aedes biting preferences across Africa, the study shows that dryness and dense populations favor strains that target people. Those conditions are likely to intensify in Africa with climate change and increasing urbanization, though not everywhere.

Bats are blamed for the disease and are being targeted for retribution, though its not their fault that we are cutting down their eucalypt feed trees:

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/05/bats-resistant-to-viruses-but-not-to-humans/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=ac274e277e-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-ac274e277e-77229786

Yet specialists agree that the fact that a variety of coronaviruses related to SARS-CoV-2 have been found in bats and pangolins does not make them guilty of unleashing this pandemic on the world.

“The enemy is neither the bat nor the virus,” Suzán said. “It is our own failure to maintain a healthy relationship with nature.”

“We are dealing with viruses that we’ve never come into contact with before. We are invading places where these viruses are evolving with their host species. We are invading these niches,” he said.

In the case of bats, if their populations were to decrease or any of their species were to go extinct, there would be severe consequences for the planet

For example, insectivorous bats control pests that affect various crops, including cotton, corn, beans and rice.

Bats are also important seed dispersers. Luis Aguirre said they are “natural forest regenerators” because scientists estimate that more than 500 species of plants depend on bats to spread their seeds. Of these, an estimated 300-plus plant species depend exclusively on bats to be pollinated.

https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/fear-of-flying-foxes-coronavirus-is-topping-off-a-bad-year-for-australias-bats/ar-BB13NMPs

Australia’s bats are turning up in increasing numbers in city suburbs. But as they search for food, they’re bringing for some a newfound paranoia thanks to a global pandemic that likely sprang from one of their overseas relatives.

Dr Pia Lentini, one of Smith’s constituents and a bat expert, says: “Every context is different but the concerns are always the same – they’re noisy, the smell is overwhelming, ‘my car is covered in sh**’, ‘I can’t dry my clothes outside’, or ‘I’m worried about diseases’.”

As our human settlements get bigger, we’re encroaching further into bushland where bats live. At the same time, bats have been hit by droughts, habitat clearing and bushfires that put pressure on their food supplies.

Lentini is studying conflict between bats and human populations and she says the incidence of bats turning up in large numbers in towns is on the rise.

“Now we have flying foxes becoming increasingly urban because they’re losing habitat. There’s now also a great diversity of trees in our cities. They are becoming more urban and the camps are becoming more prominent.

“They are in our cities because they are starving.”

Dr David Westcott of the CSIRO is an ecologist who has studied bats for more than 20 years and says 2019 was “a bad year for bats.”

“We had extreme heat and droughts and bushfires and all kinds of misery for flying foxes.”

The most recent count in February, after the bushfires, suggests grey-headed flying-fox numbers are down by about a third based on an average count for that time of year, but he says they “may have moved to places we don’t know about”.

“We shouldn’t pretend that flying foxes are not vectors for some nasty diseases,” says Westcott. But getting a virus from a bat “generally requires us to have intimate contact with an animal” and, with flying foxes, “we don’t do that”.

Trust Trump's America to have a solution to bats, though they will get more mosquitoes (the worry is it spreading to Australia):

https://www.redoakexpress.com/content/webinar-series-discuss-forest-management-bats

The causes of the declines in bats – forest habitat loss and an exotic deadly disease called White Nose Syndrome ...

However, some species’ populations have declined steadily since the early 2000s, when an exotic fungal disease was introduced from Eurasia that has decimated populations across the eastern United States. That disease, along with the degradation of forests by invasive species and poor management, has made it hard to be a bat in Iowa.

Some bats are fighting back:

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/05/endangered-bats-are-evolving-to-fight-off-an-exotic-fungal-disease/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=ac274e277e-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-ac274e277e-77229786

  • Little brown bats, an endangered species, have declined by more than 90% due to white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that causes bats to wake up from hibernation, and consequently drains their essential fat reserves.
  • A new study uses genetics to determine that little brown bats with certain genetic traits are more likely to survive the disease.

I read of forests the world over being devastated by alien pests and diseases, here we are being invaded by Myrtle Rust:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/14/australias-native-guava-plant-close-to-being-wiped-out-by-invasive-disease-study

An invasive plant disease may be ready to claim its first victim in the wild with Australia’s native guava now almost extinct, a study has found.

Monitoring of 66 populations of native guava in Queensland and New South Wales has found 23% “could not be located” with another 61% reduced only to root suckers below a dead canopy.

“They are the living dead,” he said. “I’m shocked because I don’t like to see things going extinct.”

The fungal plant disease myrtle rust was first detected in Australia in 2010, but already has more than 350 known hosts across the country.

“It is particularly catastrophic for many rainforest species like the native guava, and could change the nature of some of our rainforests.”

“The loss of native guava and replacement by lantana will increase the flammability of rainforests,” the study said.

Local extinctions of native guava would have a knock-on effect on more than 100 species of insects and their interactions with flowering plants.

As loggers deplete stored carbon they are hastening climate changes. Climate is changing and the impacts are confounding:

https://phys.org/news/2020-05-longer-seasons-limited-effect-combating.html

Climate warming is leading to early springs and delayed autumns in colder environments, allowing plants to grow for a longer period of time during each growing season. Plants are absorbing more carbon dioxide (CO2) as a result of this longer growing season.

The PlantWatch data show the average date the first flower blooms in 19 plant species has advanced by about nine days for each corresponding rise of one degree Celsius in air temperature. The bloom dates of the earliest-blooming species—such as trembling aspen and prairie crocus—advanced by two weeks during the past seven decades of the past century.

As a consequence of warming temperatures, leaf senescence (leaf colouring and leaf fall) in autumn is also delayed. Researchers using 54 years data records in Japan and South Korea found that autumn leaf fall is occurring later. Long-term satellite data also show delayed leaf senescence for the majority of temperate and boreal plants.

A longer growing season may also increase CO2 release from ecosystems by prolonging the period during which soils decompose. In order for the land to remain a strong carbon sink, the balance of CO2 gain from the lengthening growing season must outweigh the associated increase in CO2 release.

CO2 loss from soil decomposition from autumn warming may be greater than the increased CO2 absorption by delayed senescence. In other words, the delayed autumn brings little or no benefit to ecosystem CO2 storage. In addition, in many northern ecosystems, the benefits of warmer springs on increased CO2 absorption is offset by the accumulation of seasonal water deficits.

With increasing warming throughout the growing season, summer moisture stress may be exacerbated in the future in temperate, boreal and Arctic ecosystems.

Climate change is leading to warmer and longer growing seasons, reduced snow pack in winter, earlier spring snow melt and soil water depletion. This in turn increases moisture stress on plants and makes forests more susceptible to severe wildfire, which already becoming increasingly frequent and severe in large parts of Canada. Severe fires can release huge amounts of CO2, not only from the burning plant tissues but also from top soils and peat lands.

Though the evidence from the Amazon is that it parts of it are already at the tipping point where forests stop mopping up our excess carbon from the atmosphere (as the drought, clearing, logging and fires have made our forests into carbon sources), I found this article profoundly disturbing until I found that only part of the Amazon has tipped over:

https://buffalonews.com/2020/05/13/carbon-dioxide-briefly-falls-then-accelerates/

There is growing evidence tropical rainforests are beginning to show signs of becoming carbon sources (sources for additional carbon emissions) instead of performing as carbon sinks (sinks absorb carbon dioxide). If this process continues, it would be the first time in thousands of years the tropical forests switch from carbon sink to source. In an article published by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the changes are being documented.

Atmospheric chemist Luciana Gatti reported to Yale aircraft measurements over the Amazon actually detect more carbon dioxide emission than absorption. Some of this is due to deforestation, mainly in Brazil, but some of it is due to warming feedback already present in the air. In the past, additional carbon dioxide in the air fed more growth in the rainforests. Now, excessive warming from the greenhouse effect has slowed the growth rate of foliage, outstripping its capacity to absorb as a carbon sink.

“We have hit a tipping point,” Gatti said.

Her earlier work had noted these impacts mainly in drought years, when forest fires multiplied. Now, her team has found the same shift from sink to source is being observed in wet years as well. This may be critical in the rate of a mean warming climate going from bad, but more manageable, to worse and much less manageable.

Current climate models work on a premise of stability in the role of tropical rainforests performing as carbon sinks, which is part of the foundation necessary to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

Gaitti said the most immediate step to slow this alarming trend would be for Brazil and other nations to act more aggressively in countering deforestation.

The next problem to recalculate is the volume of powerful greenhouse gas methane in the atmosphere. Originally, the total amounts were expected to remain stable. Now, it is known that more trapped methane from ocean beds, agriculture, fracking and the melting permafrost is being released, but more reliable estimates on future volume of methane releases are not yet available for the new models.

This article provides the qualifications, while we still have time it is fast running out:

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51464694

Every two weeks for the past 10 years, a team of scientists led by Prof Luciana Gatti, a researcher at Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE), has been measuring greenhouse gases by flying aircraft fitted with sensors over different parts of the Amazon basin.

What the group found was startling: while most of the rainforest still retains its ability to absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide - especially in wetter years - one portion of the forest, which is especially heavily deforested, appears to have lost that capacity.

Gatti's research suggests this south-eastern part of the forest, about 20% of the total area, has become a carbon source.

"Each year is worse," she told Newsnight.

For decades, scientists have warned of an "Amazon tipping-point": the point at which the forest loses its ability to renew itself and begins to emit more carbon than it absorbs.

"[The Amazon] used to be, in the 1980s and 90s, a very strong carbon sink, perhaps extracting two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from the atmosphere," says Prof Nobre, who is also a researcher at the University of Sao Paulo's Institute for Advanced Studies and Brazil's leading expert on the Amazon.

"Today, that strength is reduced perhaps to 1-1.2bn tonnes of carbon dioxide a year."

To put that in context, a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide is almost three times what the UK said it officially emitted in 2018.

And deforestation in the Amazon is accelerating:

https://www.ecowatch.com/deforestation-in-the-brazilian-amazon-increases-for-13th-month-in-a-row-2645970207.html?rebelltitem=3#rebelltitem3

INPE's deforestation monitoring system, DETER, detected 406 square kilometers of forest loss in the "legal Amazon" during the month of April. That brings the extent of deforestation measured by the system to 9,320 square kilometers for the year ended April 30, 2020, 40% higher than where it stood a year ago and more than twice as high as it was in April 2018.

According to a 2014 study published in the journal Science, the drop in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon between 2004 and 2013 avoided the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent of taking all cars off American roads for three years — 3.2 billion tons.

The rise in deforestation has been particularly sharp since Jair Bolsonaro assumed the presidency in January 2019. Bolsonaro has rolled back environmental regulations, granted amnesty from fines for illegal deforestation, cut budgets for environmental law enforcementdiminished the role of scientists in the government, blamed environmental NGOs for deforestation and claimed without evidence that Leonardo DiCaprio funded last year's fires in the Amazon, and opened protected areas and prospective indigenous territories for extractive industries and agribusiness. He's openly called for more deforestation in the Amazon, while his administration has sacked officials charged with protecting forests and indigenous peoples against illegal land invasions.

Accelerating deforestation, forest degradation, and drought in the Amazon is of great concern to scientists who warn that the entire biome may be near a tipping point where large areas of wet rainforest could transition to dry tropical woodlands and savanna.

We are eating away at the life that makes the earth habitable:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/20/opinion/sunday/amazon-earth-rain-forest-environment.html?ref=oembed

Every year the nearly 400 billion trees in the Amazon rain forest and all the creatures that depend on them are drenched in seven feet of rain — four times the annual rainfall in London. This deluge is partly due to geographical serendipity. Intense equatorial sunlight speeds the evaporation of water from sea and land to sky, trade winds bring moisture from the ocean, and bordering mountains force incoming air to rise, cool and condense. Rain forests happen where it happens to rain.

But that’s only half the story. Life in the Amazon does not simply receive rain — it summons it. All of that lush vegetation releases 20 billion tons of water vapor into the sky every day. Trees saturate the air with gaseous compounds and salts. Fungi exhale plumes of spores. The wind sweeps bacteria, pollen, leaf fragments and bits of insect shells into the atmosphere. The wet breath of the forest, peppered with microbes and organic residues, creates ideal conditions for rain. With so much water in the air and so many minute particles on which the water can condense, rain clouds quickly form.

The Amazon sustains much more than itself, however. Forests are vital pumps of Earth’s circulatory system. All of the water that gushes upward from the Amazon forms an enormous flying river, which brings precipitation to farms and cities throughout South America. Some scientists have concluded that through long-range atmospheric ripple effects the Amazon contributes to rainfall in places as far away as Canada.

If Earth breathes, sweats and quakes — if it births zillions of organisms that ceaselessly devour, transfigure and replenish its air, water and rock — and if those creatures and their physical environments evolve in tandem, then why shouldn’t we think of our planet as alive?

Humans are the brain — the consciousness — of the planet. We are Earth made aware of itself. Viewed this way, our ecological responsibility could not be clearer. By fuming greenhouse gases, we have not simply changed the climate; we have critically wounded a global life form and severely disrupted its biological rhythms. No other member of this living assembly has our privileged perspective. No one else can see the sinews and vessels of our planetary body. Only we can choose to help keep Earth alive.

Seen through the lens of Gaia, the Amazon’s plight is the draining of our communal veins and arteries. We must learn to feel its thirst viscerally. “We are a part of this Earth and we cannot therefore consider our affairs in isolation,” Dr. Lovelock wrote. “We are so tied to the Earth that its chills or fevers are our chills and fevers also.”

A different take on deforestation rates:

https://forestsnews.cifor.org/65499/qa-the-year-deforestation-was-supposed-to-be-chopped-in-half?fnl=en

Robert Nasi, the director general of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

“The world has lost 420 million ha of mostly intact forests since 1990, although the rate of deforestation is slowing in some regions, significantly in South America. The world was losing 16 million ha annually between 1990 and 2000 compared to 11 million annually between 2010 and 2020, about a 31 percent decrease in the annual deforestation rate.

The world gained about 242 million ha of forests during the 1990-2020 period, and triangulating the available data, it appears that 111 million ha was gained from regrowth and secondary forests and another 131 million ha of the increase is due to a growing number of planted forests representing 3 percent of the world’s forests.

But plantations, while supplying critical wood and fibre, are not intact forests, which generate vital planetary biodiversity and ecosystem services. Therefore, the “net forest loss” data in the FAO report raise some questions, appearing to mix apples (intact natural forests) with oranges (regrowth, secondary forests) and bananas (plantations).

https://news.globallandscapesforum.org/44355/4-06-billion-remaining-hectares-and-other-new-numbers-on-forests-but-what-do-they-mean/

Logging also engenders domestic violence:

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/05/gender-based-violence-shakes-communities-in-the-wake-of-forest-loss/

  • Women in the province of East New Britain in Papua New Guinea say they have faced increasing domestic violence, along with issues like teenage pregnancy and drug abuse, in their communities as logging and oil palm plantations have moved in.
  • Traditionally, women have been the stewards of the land and passed it down to their children, but they say they’ve felt sidelined in discussions about this type of land “development.”
  • Experts say that the loss of forest for large-scale agriculture and extractive industries goes hand in hand with violence against women globally, linked with the colonial and patriarchal paradigms associated with these uses of the land.
  • In Papua New Guinea and elsewhere, women are working to protect themselves, their families and their forests from these changes.

Around the world, the “colonial” approach aimed at extracting valuable resources has destroyed “traditional and customary social relations” in local communities, Jeanette Sequeira, vice director and gender program coordinator at the Global Forest Coalition, said in a telephone interview.

“Deforestation and climate change and environmental degradation do lead to an increase in violence against women,” Sequeira said. “I think that’s a claim we can make more and more.”

Along with the evaporation of the trees, the rights of women to determine what happens to the land they depend on have likewise vanished, Monica Yongol said, as the other women in the room nodded in agreement. The changes have jolted their communities. They’ve made it harder to provide for their families. And problems like teenage pregnancy, drug use and domestic violence in their communities have cropped up that the women say didn’t exist before.

... Suka said. But, he added, the temptation to turn land rights, however spurious, into upfront cash and other benefits for certain members has changed the respect for other customs, such as that of matrilineal inheritance. And it’s led some men to assume the roles of brokers in which they speak for entire communities.

Something for the pets:

https://theconversation.com/one-cat-one-year-110-native-animals-lock-up-your-pet-its-a-killing-machine-138412?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20May%2014%202020%20-%201621115555&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20May%2014%202020%20-%201621115555+CID_8567779f94474da3002dda5b59ed1c9c&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=One%20cat%20one%20year%20110%20native%20animals%20lock%20up%20your%20pet%20its%20a%20killing%20machine

We know feral cats are an enormous problem for wildlife – across Australia, feral cats collectively kill more than three billion animals per year.

Cats have played a leading role in most of Australia’s 34 mammal extinctions since 1788, and are a big reason populations of at least 123 other threatened native species are dropping.

On average, each roaming pet cat kills 186 reptiles, birds and mammals per year, most of them native to Australia. Collectively, that’s 4,440 to 8,100 animals per square kilometre per year for the area inhabited by pet cats.

A radio tracking study in Adelaide found that of the 177 cats whom owners believed were inside at night, 69 cats (39%) were sneaking out for nocturnal adventures.

On average, an individual feral cat in the bush kills 748 reptiles, birds and mammals a year – four times the toll of a hunting pet cat.

So while each pet cat kills fewer animals than a feral cat, their high urban density means the toll is still very high. Per square kilometre per year, pet cats kill 30-50 times more animals than feral cats in the bush.

Keeping your cat securely contained 24 hours a day is the only way to prevent it from killing wildlife.

Something for you, there's nothing like a forest bath to get rid of the anxiety you feel from reading this:

https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/what-is-forest-bathing-how-to-guide

I’m attempting the art of shinrin-yoku: forest bathing. ... Leading forest-therapy expert Dr. Qing Li has been researching shinrin-yoku for decades.

The premise of shinrin-yoku seems pretty self-explanatory: spend some time in nature, feel better. But Dr. Li laid out some specific guidelines: Sessions should last for at least two hours, though longer is better. Cameras and phones should ideally be left at home, but books are OK, since they are free of what Dr. Li calls "technostress." This is not about exercise: In a two-hour visit you should only walk about 1.5 miles, taking the time to pause and absorb your surroundings. “It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our sense of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch."

“Aromas from trees have the main effect,” he says. His studies have supported this, showing increased immune system activity for not only subjects who spent time in forests, but those who were exposed to cyprus essential oils for consecutive periods indoors.

After forest bathing was introduced to the masses, the ministry launched a series of studies to back its benefits with science. Dr. Li cited the reduction of stress hormones like cortisol, and the alleviation of "fight or flight" response in favor of the "rest and recover" alternative. Subjects exhibited lowered blood pressure and better sleep, with increased immune-system activity for up to 30 days after their sessions. Further studies showed improvements in friendliness along with a reduction in anxiety, hostility, and acute stress.

Along with Dr. Li, researchers have been conducting studies to test the efficacy of sessions spent in slightly more accessible areas. They found that two-hour strolls in city parks still measurably reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. Dr. Li’s simple rules of slow-paced walking, stopping to rest, and focusing on the five senses can be applied to any green space: It just takes a little practice.

Garden-therapy can work in a similar way, while house plants provide the same stimulating sights and smells even when you’re stuck inside.

And something for the kids:

https://zeemarathi.zee5.com/heres-how-bablu-dablu-on-zee5-kids-will-inspire-your-child-to-save-the-environment/

ZEE5 Kids is an ideal destination for any parent who wants to keep their child engaged during the lockdown. Apart from a variety of entertaining animated films, there are several other popular shows that your kids would love to watch on the platform. One of the most highly rated TV shows that we would recommend is Bablu Dablu. The show is based on the life of two bear brothers Bablu and Dablu who desperately try to save their forest from Lakha, a wicked logger. Bablu Dablu also subtly try to inculcate certain important environmental values and will inspire your kids to save nature. Sounds like the perfect show, doesn’t it?

The logger uses heavy machinery to cut the forest but is defeated by Bablu-Dablu’s tact and intelligence. These bears will surely inspire your kid to unite and save the environment from the evil forces

http://grdg.uk.com/family/things-to-do/forest-school-activities-542107

So what is a forest school? A forest school is a programme of teaching that uses the natural world, often forests and other green rural spaces, to teach kids personal and social skills that they would otherwise learn at school, but in a more exciting and dynamic way. Forest school encourages children to connect with the natural world, take calculated risks and aims to help them develop independence, confidence and creative thinking skills.

According to the Forest School Association, forest school activities offer kids “opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees”.

5 May 2020


The Great Koala National Park has had a boost:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/call-for-forestry-halt-after-koala-national-park-assessment-revealed-20200529-p54xrv.html

Details of the 10 so-called focus areas were developed in an analysis of a potential Great Koala National Park by the Department of Planning Industry and the Environment, and revealed following a freedom of information request by the Bellingen Environment Centre.

All up, the zones would see the transfer of just under 55,000 hectares of state forests to the national park estate, with almost two-thirds of that land currently earmarked for logging.

Ashley Love, a forest campaigner with the Bellingen Environment Centre, said the need to carve out protection of the habitat had only increased following the past season's bushfires, which scorched five of the 10 focus areas and part of two others.

Conservationists want the government to impose a moratorium on logging in those 10 regions given they had been identified was important sanctuaries.

Mr Kean did not comment on whether he supported a logging halt.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/06/government-report-reveals-crucial-importance-of-koala-national-park/

A vast tract of koala habitat is set to be logged despite a government report identifying it as crucial to the survival of the threatened species, the Nature Conservation Council says.

Last year NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean requested an analysis of a proposed ‘Great Koala National Park’.

The NCC is calling on the community to join its social media campaign raising the profile in the wider community in the hops that this will force the government to act on the information in the report.

‘We knew there was support within the government to protect more koala habitat and reverse the decline in our koala populations and this report proves it,’ Ms Hall said.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/06/great-koala-national-park-a-step-in-the-right-direction/

North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson Dailan Pugh welcomes the news that the Department of Planning Industry and Environment’s (DPIE) has identified 55,000 hectares of State Forests for addition to existing National Parks as the Great Koala National Park. ‘It’s a step in the right direction,’ he said.

‘It is refreshing that expert advice and Koala records have been applied to identify priority areas for protection.

‘Last time in 2018 when the NSW Government proposed 24,000 hectares as Koala Reserves, as a pillar of its Koala Strategy, they allowed the Forestry Corporation to select areas with no timber value and no Koalas.

Forest actions are continuing at Nambucca

https://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/news/first-nations-protest

An embassy camp has been formed in response to active logging taking place within the Nambucca State Forest in northern NSW over sites that hold significant cultural value to the local Gumbaynggirr People.

There have also been concerns about the lack of transparency from Forestry Corporation who have avoided community consultation processes and ignored contact and questions from the community.

Sandy Greenwood, Gumbaynggirr custodian and spokesperson says that “The NSW Forestry Corporation have been given the permission to log 140,000 hectares of coastal forests from Taree to Grafton which they refer to as "intensive harvesting zones." 

“If we don't act now our deeply significant cultural heritage will be desecrated, our beautiful old growth trees will be logged, rare flora will become extinct and our koalas and endangered species will literally have nowhere else to go," she says.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/05/forestry-corp-face-traditional-custodians-over-north-coast-logging-resumption/

With logging resuming in Nambucca State Forest after devastating fires late last year, conservation groups and the Gumbaynggirr traditional custodians are calling on the NSW government-owned Forestry Corporation to instead protect ‘the last areas of unburnt forests on the state’s north coast’.

NSW Nature Conservation Council (NCC) claims that ‘over 50 per cent of state forests on the north coast burned, and more than 5,000 koalas perished, so we should stop logging until koala populations and their forests have had a chance to rebound’.

‘Trees that are habitat for a wide range of native animals, including the greater glider, sooty owl and koalas, will be cut down to make telegraph poles, pool decking and pallets’, Mr Gambian said.

‘We are driving our forest wildlife to extinction to make products that will end up in landfill, or rot in people’s backyards.

Gumbaynggir people take a stand against logging

Coffs Coast Advocate 31 May 2020

... will become extinct and our koalas and endangered species will literally have ... is one of the few remaining endangered Koala habitats of its kind in the area.

The knitting nanas visited Myrtle SF today, though this is behind a paywall:

Nannas knit their protest on state forest access road

Lismore Echo

NSW Forestry Corporation were contacted for comment. Lismore Knitting Nannas at a protest against ...

Great that people are writing to the media

Daily Examiner, 1 June 2020

Leonie Blain CVCC: Community concern about logging in state forests following the recent bushfires continues to grow. Logging in Nambucca State Forest near Nambucca Heads and Myrtle State Forest south of Casino are subject to local campaigns.

Spin doctors have been providing MPs with the usual misleading to erroneous information about forest management to pass on to their constituents. This is very unlikely to stop the strengthening StandUp4Forests campaign.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/06/public-native-forests/

Johanna Evans, Kyogle After enduring the extreme conditions of last summer it seems like an increasingly stupid move by Forestry NSW to continue with plans to log bushfire and drought-decimated public native forests such as Myrtle State Forest south of Casino.

https://www.naroomanewsonline.com.au/story/6777179/what-happened-at-brou-letters-to-the-editor/

Walkers were mystified to discover two big spotted gums chainsawed down and left lying on the foreshore at Lake Brou last Tuesday (May 26).

The 30-to-40-metre high trees have been cut down at the historical camping area on the north west side of the lake in the State Forest, off Tarourga Rd. It doesn't make sense. Not only are these perfectly healthy trees, they haven't even taken the wood, just left it where it all where it fell on the ground.

Eco-tourism is a sustainable business and there's potential right here. Visitors could drive through protected rather than logged forest to a lovely picnic spot. 

Marion Riordan has raised the spectre of burning north-east NSW's forests for electricity

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/06/opinion-native-forest-must-not-be-made-a-renewable-energy-source/

Right now, Australia’s renewable energy agency (ARENA), is consulting with industry groups and the general community on whether to allow native forest timber to be classified as a renewable energy source.  The logic being: trees contain carbon, which is released into the atmosphere when you burn them, but more trees can grow in their place sucking up carbon once again – thereby making the whole process “carbon neutral.”

Most of us will recognise the missing links in this logic: It omits the 70-100 years it takes for trees to regrow.  It doesn’t account for the impacts on climate from the removal of living carbon sinks.  It doesn’t account the carbon emissions caused by the increased frequency and intensity of wildfires.

Federal energy minister Angus Taylor is not perturbed by this implausible concept. He has asked ARENA for a ‘Bioenergy Roadmap’ which he hopes will include forest hardwood pellets to be burned as a ‘renewable energy source’.

Hunter Energy (in the Hunter Valley) is one of several companies hoping to qualify for government “energy certificates”.  It intends to convert the former Redbank Coal Plant into a biomass operation that produces 150 MW of electricity.

CEO Richard Poole describes the process as ‘zero emissions’ using the convenient calculation above.  In our region Cape Byron Power admits to using “wood waste” in their co-gen plants combined 30 MW operation.  In response to a FOI request from NEFA last year on their actual fuel sources they declined to answer.

World Environment Day did generate lots of interest, much tokenism, and our carbon emissions reached record levels

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/06/start-taking-action-on-world-environment-day/

To mark World Environment Day the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is calling upon people to raise their voices to demand that state and federal governments take urgent action to avoid climate chaos by hastening the transition to genuine renewable energy, while at the same time increasing the removal of atmospheric carbon by protecting existing forests and increasing regeneration.

[Dailan Pugh] ‘We can’t afford to lose our forests as we rely upon them to absorb one-third of the CO2 released from burning fossil fuels. Without forests to mop up our mess we have no chance of avoiding the worst.

‘If logging of north-east NSW’s native forests were stopped tomorrow they would begin sequestering in the order of 26 per cent of NSW’s annual carbon emissions as they regain their lost carbon.

‘We need to urgently stop logging of public native forests and offer private owners financial incentives to protect their forests.

‘In 2018/19 land clearing in NSW increased from a long-term average of 2,700 hectares per year to 45,553 hectares. Increasing land-clearing in a climate emergency is akin to pouring petrol onto the flames. It has to stop.

https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/in-focus/article/world-environment-day-time-to-preserve-nature-or-perish/601880

Mother Nature has enough for human need but not for human greed. But the human race has been constantly mistreating the environment to fulfil its greed. Human activities are leading us to a global catastrophe. Impact of human activities has the potential to collapse an entire ecosystem and that can have a domino effect on other inter-related ecosystems. Climate change is real. Such human-induced environmental hazards have not only put the survival of the human race at risk but also of million other species.

It is not about saving the environment but it is about saving us. As day and night sweep over mountains and seas, the human race should now reconcile with the laws of nature for reinforcing economic interests and survival imperatives. 

https://www.jagranjosh.com/current-affairs/world-environment-day-2020-theme-global-co2-emissions-hit-record-high-in-may-amid-covid19-pandemic-1591334575-1

Taking care of biodiversity is both an urgent and existential concern, as each year, marine plants produce more than half of the earth’s oxygen. A mature tree can absorb up to 22 kilos of CO2, releasing oxygen in exchange.

According to the latest US government data released on June 4, the global carbon dioxide emissions hit a record high in May despite most economies being on a virtual standstill in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to Pieter Tans, Chief Scientist at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, though the rate of increase of CO2 will decrease a bit, it will still be increasing. 

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/on-world-environment-day-where-are-we-at-with-australia-s-climate-movement

“Last summer was so extreme ... it had such a pervasive economic impact as well as a personal impact, that it was very hard for politicians not to take it on board,” said Mark Howden, a vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and director of the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute.

“So there was definitely a softening of some of the political rhetoric to be more accepting of climate change. But unfortunately, along comes COVID and that mood just got lost.”

“And because we’ve only got a relatively small number of years during which we can reduce our emissions and stay below the Paris Agreement temperature targets, every year counts. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has put us a year behind on that program.”

Instead, he’s hoping the government will see the post-COVID-19 economic recovery as an opportunity to build a greener future.

And do our Governments want to build a greener future?

https://www.adn.com/nation-world/2020/06/04/trump-signs-order-to-waive-environmental-reviews-for-key-projects/

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday instructing agencies to waive long-standing environmental laws to speed up federal approval for new mines, highways, pipelines and other projects given the current economic “emergency.”

Declaring an economic emergency lets the president invoke a section of federal law allowing "action with significant environmental impact" without observing normal requirements imposed by laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. These laws require agencies to solicit public input on proposed projects and analyze in detail how federal decisions could harm the environment.

https://theconversation.com/lets-fix-australias-environment-with-any-pandemic-recovery-aid-the-kiwis-are-doing-it-139305

As part of New Zealand’s innovative Wellbeing Budget the government will invest NZ$50 billion in a direct COVID-19 recovery response.

Of that, NZ$1.1 billion will be spent on creating 11,000 “nature jobs” to combat unemployment and supplement pandemic-affected sectors.

This is a win for New Zealand’s environment and wildlife, particularly native fish species and unique birds. It’s also a win for people and the economy.

Australia’s destructive COVID-19 recovery

In contrast, the Australian federal and some state governments have resorted to environmentally destructive projects and policies to stimulate economic activity and support employment.

In Victoria, the government delayed key improvements to environmental protection laws and amended legislation to allow onshore gas extraction

Federally, wider plans exist for an apparent fossil-fuel-led national recovery through gas expansion, fast-tracked by relaxing environmental regulations. This includes a proposed exemption from additional approvals under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

The relaxing of environmental legislation and protections (commonly referred to as cutting “green tape”) has been pushed by business and industry lobby groups and some quarters of the media. 

Even politicians such as federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley see it as a way to promote economic recovery.

Finally a judgement on the Victorian Leadbeater and Greater Glider case, and it is a game changer (but doesn't apply to us because we don't apply the precautionary principle)

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/27/vicforests-breached-forestry-agreement-with-central-highlands-logging-court-rules?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

For the first time in 20 years forestry operations may have to be assessed under national environmental laws after the federal court ruled VicForests had breached laws related to threatened species.

The environment group argued VicForests had breached the code of practice in its regional forestry agreement and that its exemption from national environmental laws should therefore not apply.

It said the court should prevent further logging unless it was assessed and approved by the federal environment minister, Sussan Ley.

In a judgment on Wednesday, the court agreed VicForests had breached provisions related to environmental conservation in the code of conduct, and that past and proposed logging would have a significant impact on the vulnerable greater glider and the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum.

Its ramifications could extend beyond Victoria to logging operations in other states.

Under the EPBC Act, forestry operations are exempt from assessment if they are conducted in accordance with a regional forestry agreement ... In Victoria, these agreements include a code of practice that sets out conditions logging operations must meet ...

In her judgment, justice Debra Mortimer found VicForests had breached the code of practice by not complying with the precautionary principle relating to conservation of the environment.

... management operations meant to reduce the impact “have not been effective to arrest the decline of the greater glider and the Leadbeater’s possum”.

“Not only do VicForests’ forestry operations damage or destroy existing habitat critical to the survival of the two species, they also prevent new areas of forest from developing into such habitat in the future,” the summary states.

https://theconversation.com/the-leadbeaters-possum-finally-had-its-day-in-court-it-may-change-the-future-of-logging-in-australia-139652?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%202%202020%20-%201638415745&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%202%202020%20-%201638415745+CID_81e07d4620c799591207c061a7549e3f&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=The%20Leadbeaters%20possum%20finally%20had%20its%20day%20in%20court%20It%20may%20change%20the%20future%20of%20logging%20in%20Australia

Under so-called “regional forest agreements”, a number of logging operations around Australia are exempt from federal environment laws. This effectively puts logging interests above those of threatened species. The court ruling narrows these exemptions and provides an opportunity to create stronger forestry laws.

In 1995, after logging trucks blockaded parliament, then Prime Minister Paul Keating offered a deal to the states: the federal government would accredit state forest management systems, and in return federal law would no longer apply to logging operations. Drawing up regional forest agreements between state and federal governments achieved this.

The court found the company breached a number of aspects of the Code of Practice for Timber Production 2014. This code is part of the Victorian regulatory system accredited by the regional forest agreement. 

In particular, VicForests had not, as required, applied the “precautionary principle” in planning and conducting logging operations in coupes containing the greater glider. 

These failures meant the logging operations were not covered by the exemption from federal laws. As such, the court found VicForests had breached federal environmental law, as the logging operation had, or were likely to have, a significant impact on the two threatened species. 

In any case, the result is the perfect opportunity for state and federal governments to rethink forest management. That means properly taking into account the ongoing threats to threatened species from climate change, wildfires and habitat loss.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/04/calls-for-review-of-forestry-exemption-laws-after-vicforests-conservation-breaches

A landmark court judgment that a government forestry agency repeatedly breached conservation regulations has sparked calls for a review of an industry-wide exemption for logging under national environment laws.

It means for the first time in 20 years, forestry operations may have to be assessed under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. Forestry is exempt from the act under the terms of RFAs in place in four states.

The Federal Government's response is to circulate propaganda promoting logging of native forests

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/03/australian-government-youtube-videos-promoting-logging-should-be-taken-down-greens-say

A government promotion for the forestry industry that encourages Australians to “look up at the trees, think about wood” should be taken down after a recent federal court ruling on native forest logging, the Greens say.

The department of agriculture paid a production company $94,875 last year to produce a series of videos aimed at promoting Australia’s logging industry as environmentally sustainable.

One three-minute video, “Australian Forestry – planning for tomorrow, today”, features expansive shots of pristine native forests and close-ups of koalas. It describes timber as a “material so versatile, so extraordinary that if it didn’t exist, we’d have to invent it”.

[Janet Rice] “If it was the industry producing and paying for them that would be one thing. But not our taxes at work, our government doing it. It’s outrageous really.”

https://www.bandt.com.au/it-would-be-hilarious-if-it-wasnt-so-serious-fury-as-pro-logging-ad-uses-images-of-pristine-native-forests/

Led by the Federal Government, the sharks are circling our forests

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/renewable-bio-seeking-hardwood-biomass/?fbclid=IwAR3CAcsUgB2P-1RBmDv51PZF2pokgNc7IBNHXYwmPe0YBn25JEnjNm0qdwI

Perth-based Renewable.bio is seeking expressions of interest for the supply of 100,000GMT of hardwood biomass on an FOB basis at suitable Australasian ports in 20,000 to 40,000GMT lots. In particular it is looking for fire affected and low-grade timber. 

Renewable.bio, an Australian bioenergy company, has been working with international energy companies to develop large scale demand for surplus and refuse hardwood timber for use as a renewable and sustainable energy source.

Fire affected and low-grade timber from managed forestry operations across Australia that can be certified as sustainable is an ideal source of material for energy use, and typically processed using standard harvesting and transport techniques to produce raw woody biomass.
Renewable.bio’s customers for this material require large scale multi-year contracts

https://renewable.bio/our-business

Bioenergy has the capacity to provide 20-30% of our energy needs by 2050. It is the only renewable that can replace fossil fuels in all energy markets to support heat, electricity and fuel demand for our future.

Wood pellets, a compact form of bioenergy is being used to directly replace coal in large power stations. 

Our business is based on diversified  Australian forestry and agricultural resources located around the country. Private and public resources are committed to managing and maintaining millions of hectares and billions of trees in a responsible and sustainable way. 

Low sovereign risk, deep reserves of material , strong government backing and a skilled and responsible workforce guarantees long term secure resources.

The Bushfire Royal Commission has attracted a bit of interest, David Lindenmayer continues to fan the flames

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6768363/logged-native-forests-significantly-more-fire-prone-research-says/

Professor Lindermayer's research is the latest in a number of studies on logging native forests.

"Last week, there was a paper published in Tasmania, which found exactly the same as what we've been finding," he said.

"Then there's work on the north coast of NSW and southeast Queensland, showing that some of the ancient rainforest areas, that should never burn, have actually been burning.

"And they're the ones that have logging adjacent to them. So the fires are actually burning from the outside areas into these areas."

The research is very unpopular with the logging industry

https://www.theland.com.au/story/6768123/logged-native-forests-significantly-more-fire-prone-research-says/?cs=4956

THE royal commission into bushfires begins today and evidence is growing that logging native forests drastically increases their fire risk.

"That's tree heads, lateral branches, bark, all the shrubs and understory trees, they will left there. So that's about 40 to 60 per cent of the forest biomass.

"Then that material is left in the forest for a year or so to dry out, and then it's burnt - about half of that biomass goes into the atmosphere as smoke, but the other half actually stays there and becomes fuel in the new forest that goes up."

Logged areas are generally drier, as the young trees competing to fill the gap left in the forest use lots of water in an effort to grow quickly.

"It's like having a household full of teenagers cleaning out your fridge every day," Professor Lindermayer said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-wildfire-logging-climate-ch/burning-issue-australia-debates-risks-of-logging-fire-damaged-forests-idUSKBN23B1CO
The Warburton clearcut and others like it in the state are becoming a key battleground for Australia’s environmental policy in the wake of the worst recorded bushfires in the country’s history. 

“Our research shows that if you strip large trees out of a native forest system, the forest composition alters,” explained Lindenmayer. 

“Forests, which should be moist, become drier and more fire prone, and flammable species will grow up and take the place of the original species.” 

The debris left behind by logging activities also can increase the fuel load, raising fire risk, Lindenmayer added. 

“Salvage logging is absolutely the worst type of logging,” he said. 

https://www.eco-business.com/news/burning-issue-australia-debates-risks-of-logging-fire-damaged-forests/

Dogs finding Koalas after fires continues to attract a lot of interest

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/05/taylor-and-tate-canine-human-teams-rescue-australias-fire-ravaged-koalas/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=42529b83cf-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-42529b83cf-77229786

Slow moving koalas had a hard time outpacing the racing fires. And their first instinct when threatened is to climb high up into the canopy, curl into a ball, and wait for the danger to pass. But the fires were extremely intense. Periods of prolonged, scorching temperatures —up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit — combined with strong winds and other factors to turn many wildfires into deadly infernos that burned hotter than crematoriums. Sometimes, flames engulfed entire trees. Other times, the fires were so deadly that even if the animals left the canopy untouched, the koalas would inhale smoke, overheat, fall, or suffer burns after climbing down.

Another problem: dehydration. Normally, koalas get their water from eating eucalyptus leaves. But the fires, along with extended drought, sapped the leaves’ moisture.

Which is why canine teams like Tate and Taylor — who could locate koalas faster and more efficiently than human searchers alone — were critical to a successful rescue effort.

Like other koala detection dogs, Taylor was trained on both koala fur, which lets her find live koalas, and their scat, which tells where the marsupials have been. The droppings — tiny black or dark brown “footballs” less than an inch long — are hard to find because they can slip under leaf litter or blend with burnt soil, or be mistaken for scat from other species. None of that hinders the dogs’ sense of smell.

The image of trees screaming as they die from drought continues to generate interest

http://geographical.co.uk/places/forests/item/3703-drought-may-pose-a-bigger-threat-to-australia-s-forests-than-bushfires

While the fires were devastating, ravaging vegetation and wildlife alike, ecologists pinned hope on the ability of many tree species to recover after being burned. The first signs of regeneration came in February when small green branches began to emerge from blackened trunks and shrubs appeared from charred undergrowth. 

Scientists have argued, however, that trees can only recover if they are strong and healthy enough to do so. As droughts intensify as a result of climate change and become an increasingly familiar part of the Australian summer, trees are weakened by water stress and internal damage, so much so that they are often killed outright. Those that manage to survive periods of severe drought face little hope of withstanding the bushfires that frequently follow and essentially act as kindling for the flames.

In other words, increasing heat and water shortages are contributing to a noticeable demise in tree health, a phenomenon also confirmed by researchers at the University of Melbourne.

While bushfires offer a very visual affirmation of destruction, drought causes gradual, but arguably more severe long-term damage. According to specialists, this requires a new level of scrutiny. Tim Brodribb from the University of Tasmania told Inside Climate News that most trees alive today will be dead within the next 40 years if temperatures and dryness increase as expected. ‘We really need to be able to hear these poor trees scream. These are living things that are suffering. We need to listen to them,’ he said.

A plea from the heart for the wild

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/call-of-the-wild-listen-up-people-time-is-running-out-20200424-p54mzq.html

For decades, humans have been ignoring Mother Nature’s warnings about the future of the planet. Exactly how loudly does she have to scream?

It was early in the new year and I was bathed in more greens than I could count or identify – jade, lime, olive, bottle, emerald – all of nature’s special effects on display. Meanwhile, to the east, west, north and south of me, tens of thousands of people were being evacuated, towns were being
engulfed by rolling waves of flame, smoke and radiant heat; lives, homes and treasured keepsakes were being lost, more than one billion animals were being vaporised – dying creatures everywhere – and birds, tens of millions of king parrots, crimson rosellas, lorikeets, kookaburras, whip birds, bower birds, every type of wattlebird, black cockatoos, white cockatoos, galahs, were dropping from the heavens.

... what I’d never understood before was how trees actually communicate with each other, through the air and via an underground trading system of roots, bacteria and fungal threads that has come to be known as the Wood Wide Web.

... Roots and plants link together through a subterranean network of living fungal threads called mycorrhiza; trees pool resources, feed each other, build immune systems, keep their young and sick alive, forge alliances, deter attacks and send warnings to other trees. And they operate at frequencies way too low for us to hear, co-operating through a secret language of scent and electrical signalling.

I thought of the Gondwana rainforests near where I’d once lived in northern NSW – all those brushbox, turpentine and coachwood that had never burnt and should never have been burning – and I thought, too, of the estimated 15 billion trees that had been cleared in the Murray-Darling Basin since white settlement, and how loggers – right now – are taking their chainsaws into burnt and unburnt native forests for pulp and woodchip, even though the evidence shows overwhelmingly that logged forests burn at much higher severity than those left alone.

I have often asked myself since then, and more so today: “What would I do for nature? What is the single best thing I could do for tomorrow’s world?” Would I stand before a tree that had survived the epochs, only to now be facing the logger’s chainsaw? Would I lift a finger for, say, the endangered sandpiper who, for millions of years, has been refining its 13,000-kilometre flight path from the Arctic Circle to the coastal wetlands of Toondah Harbour in Queensland’s Southern Moreton Bay, only to find its mudflats slated for a marina and 3000-apartment residential complex?

Would I start loving this stricken earth in ways I never have before because, in this time of terror, sickness and forced seclusion, I have come to appreciate, at long last, how the planet’s interests and ours are the same, that all our fates are bound together?

Nature is speaking to us very loudly right now. We’d do well to listen.

Extinction is quickening as populations are exterminated, and Australia is amongst the leaders in mammal and bird extinctions

https://www.sustainability-times.com/environmental-protection/many-land-animals-will-go-extinct-in-just-two-decades/

"The ongoing sixth mass extinction may be the most serious environmental threat to the persistence of civilization, because it is irreversible,” the biologists write. “Thousands of populations of critically endangered vertebrate animal species have been lost in a century, indicating that the sixth mass extinction is human caused and accelerating.”

Based on the researchers’ estimates, in the the last century at least 543 land vertebrate species went extinct. Roughly the same number of species will likely go extinct in the wild in just the next two decades. In delicately poised ecosystems such as coral reefs, mangrove forests, rainforests and deserts even the loss of a few keystone species could have severe knock-on effects for other species within them.

Ehrlich and his colleagues examined the abundance and distribution of critically endangered species and found that 515 species of terrestrial vertebrates, or 1.7% of all the species they analyzed, are teetering on the brink of extinction with fewer than 1,000 individuals of them left in the wild. About half of the species have fewer than 250 individuals left, which means that even a relatively minor environmental stress, such as further habitat loss, poaching or disease, could wipe them out entirely.

“With fewer populations, species are unable to serve their function in an ecosystem, which can have rippling effects. ...

https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/early/2020/05/27/1922686117.full.pdf

We examine 29,400 species of terrestrial vertebrates, and determine which are on the brink of extinction because they have fewer than 1,000 individuals. There are 515 species on the brink (1.7% of the evaluated vertebrates). Around 94% of the populations of 77mammal and bird species on the brink have been lost in the last
century. Assuming all species on the brink have similar trends, more than 237,000 populations of those species have vanished since 1900.

Vast areas in Europe, northern Africa, the Middle East, Australia, and North America have lost most of those mammals and birds that are now on the brink.

Tropical rainforest's tipping point of 32.2 C continues to garner attention

https://scitechdaily.com/temperature-tipping-point-for-tropical-forests-identified-scientists-recommend-immediate-steps/

They also found that the two most important factors predicting how much carbon is lost by forests are the maximum daily temperature and the amount of precipitation during the driest times of the year.

As temperatures reach 32.2 degrees Celsius, carbon is released much faster. Trees can deal with increases in the minimum nighttime temperature (a global warming phenomenon observed at some sites), but not with increases in maximum daytime temperature.

Forests can adapt to warming temperatures, but it takes time. Tree species that cannot take the heat die and are gradually replaced by more heat-tolerant species. But that may take several human generations.

https://phys.org/news/2020-06-two-thirds-tropical-forests-threat-decade.html

"The results suggest that intact forests can withstand heating to some extent," but for this to happen it is vital that forests remain intact ...

"I don't have confidence that forests are going to be able to adjust on the time scale they will need to,"

Another study has found that where trees aren't disappearing they are shrinking

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2020/05/31/climate-change-driving-forests-to-smaller-and-younger-trees/#76ba3c592787

“Mortality is rising in most areas, while recruitment and growth are variable over time, leading to a net decline in the stature of forests,” said McDowell. 

We have long thought that there are areas on Earth that would be generally immune to global warming, mainly wet areas like central Europe, the Amazon AMZN and the southeastern United States. However, droughts do happen even in these wet areas, and when they do occur, they can be devastating and result in wildfires not normally seen.

One key effect of rising temperatures and expanding dry periods is that trees shut off their stomata (the opening in their leaves through which they respire) more often to avoid moisture loss. But that also shuts down metabolism, especially photosynthesis, so the trees grow slower and smaller.

Temperature: rising temperatures limit life-giving photosynthesis, leading to lower growth, higher mortality, and reduced regeneration. This is one key to shorter trees, the study determined. 

Wildfire is increasing in many forests worldwide and future fires may be more frequent than they have been in the past 10,000 years in some regions, the study found. Plant growth following forest fires may be slow or absent due to elevated temperatures.

Wood harvests by humans alone have had a huge impact on the shift of global forests towards younger ages or towards non-forest land, reducing the amount of forests, and old-growth forests, globally. Where forests are re-established on harvested land, the trees are smaller and the biomass is reduced. 

If all that our great-grandchildren will be able to do is walk through a hologram of an old growth forest that we took for granted is really sad. Even sadder is that they won’t feel the loss since they probably won’t have ever seen a real one anyway.

https://scitechdaily.com/trees-are-getting-shorter-younger-trees-conditions-started-decades-ago/

... rising temperatures and carbon dioxide have been altering the world’s forests through increased stress and carbon dioxide fertilization and through increasing the frequency and severity of disturbances such as wildfire, drought, wind damage and other natural enemies.  Combined with forest harvest, the Earth has witnessed a dramatic decrease in the age and stature of forests.

“This trend is likely to continue with climate warming,” said Nate McDowell, a PNNL Earth scientist and the study’s lead author. “A future planet with fewer large, old forests will be very different than what we have grown accustomed to. Older forests often host much higher biodiversity than young forests and they store more carbon than young forests.”

Wood harvests alone have had a huge impact on the shift of global forests towards younger ages or towards non-forest land, reducing the amount of forests, and old-growth forests, globally. Where forests are re-established on harvested land, the trees are smaller and biomass is reduced.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/28/climate-crisis-world-forests-shorter-younger-study

Prof Tom Crowther, at ETH Zurich University in Switzerland and not part of the analysis team, said the study was extremely important: “For a long time, scientists have predicted that elevated CO2 and warming will increase carbon storage in forests that will help to offset climate change. But this study adds to a growing concern that these factors, along with human disturbance, may in fact be decreasing the amount of carbon stored in these ecosystems.

“But it also suggests that, if we can protect the forests that we already have, and allow them to grow to maturity, there is a huge potential for them to capture a lot of additional carbon,” he said.

Yet another study proving forests create their own microclimate

https://phys.org/news/2020-05-forests-higher-thermal-buffer-ability.html

They found that forests generally had higher thermal buffer ability (TBA) than non-forests. Forests and wetlands buffer thermal fluctuation better than non-forests (grasslands, savannas, and croplands), and the TBA boundary between forests and non-forests was typically around 10. 

Moreover, mature forests were more resistant to environmental temperature change than disturbed and young plantations. Canopy height was the primary impact factor influencing TBA of forests

"Our study demonstrates that forest degradation and deforestation reduce TBA. Protecting mature forests, both at high and low latitudes, is critical to mitigate thermal fluctuation under extreme events," said Dr. LIN Hua, first author of the study. 

https://en.brinkwire.com/news/forests-have-stronger-thermal-buffer-ability-than-non-forest-areas-research/

Both the mean temperature and fluctuation of the vegetation’s surface are crucial for the local climate and thermal environment of plants and animals. With the increase in intensity and frequency of extreme climate events, interactions between vegetation and local climate are gaining more and more attention.

Droughts in southern Australia are going to become more frequent and intense

https://www.zmescience.com/science/climate-change-droughts-9235264/

New research from ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, Australia, says we’ll see longer and more frequent droughts due to climate change.

Southwestern Australia, parts of southern Australia, as well as regions in the Amazon, Mediterranean and southern Africa can expect to see more frequent and intense droughts in the future as climate patterns shift across the globe.

And another article extolling the health benefits of forest bathing

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-forest-therapy-enhance-health-and-well-being-2020052919948

In test subjects, levels of cortisol decreased after a walk in the forest, compared with people who walked in a laboratory setting.

Trees give off volatile essential oils called phytoncides that have antimicrobial properties and may influence immunity. One Japanese study showed a rise in number and activity of immune cells called natural killer cells, which fight viruses and cancer, among people who spent three days and two nights in a forest versus people who took an urban trip. This benefit lasted for more than a month after the forest trip!

Don’t worry if you don’t have three days to spend in the forest. A recent study in the United Kingdom of nearly 20,000 people showed that spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature improved self-reported health and well-being. ...

Some research suggests exposure to natural tree oils helps lift depression, lowers blood pressure, and may also reduce anxiety. Tree oils also contain 3-carene. Studies in animals suggest this substance may help lessen inflammation, protect against infection, lower anxiety, and even enhance the quality of sleep.

And others extol tree-hugging

https://asia.nikkei.com/Editor-s-Picks/Tea-Leaves/Why-tree-hugging-should-be-taken-seriously

Social distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is preventing many of us from hugging friends and even loved ones. But some are seeking succor in trees. The Iceland forestry service, for instance, recommends that citizens embrace their forest friends daily for five minutes to whittle down stress.

Why making a trunk call should ease stress is not clear. But the author and entrepreneur Matthew Silverstone argues in his book “Blinded by Science” that trees vibrate in a way that has a positive impact on people suffering from issues such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, poor concentration, depression and headaches.

India has its own historic version of tree-hugging. The Chipko movement of the 1970s, which gained traction as a way of resisting damage to forests, was all about embracing trees. Chipko, meaning “to hug” in Hindi, reflected the movement’s primary tactic of clinging to trees to prevent loggers from cutting them down.

In 1730, when the Maharaja of Marwar dispatched soldiers to chop down khejri trees for an ostentatious new palace, the locals rebelled. A feisty protester -- Amrita Devi Bishnoi, nicknamed the “guardian angel of the woods” -- informed the king’s party that tree cutting was prohibited by the Bishnoi religion. She was told that if she wanted the trees spared, she should give money as a bribe.

Devi refused, and the situation escalated. As she and her three young daughters stood up to the feudal party, their arms outstretched to protect the trees, the soldiers beheaded all four. Hundreds of villagers rushed to punish the soldiers, but met with a similarly gory end. The episode was later dubbed the Khejarli Massacre.

The trees were cut down, but the sacrifice of the Bishnois was not in vain. The community’s intrepid defense of its forest has had an enduring impact on India’s environmental advocacy, not least by inspiring millions of Indians to join the Chipko movement.

Nearly three centuries later it continues to motivate concern among ecologists for the country’s environmental bounty. So find a tree and give it a cuddle. You will certainly be helping the tree, and you may feel better yourself.

And we continue to clear forests with gay abandon, it is no surprise that satellite data shows it is more than the Government's admit

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/climate/deforestation-climate-change.html

Destruction of tropical forests worldwide increased last year, led again by Brazil, which was responsible for more than a third of the total, and where deforestation of the Amazon through clear-cutting appears to be on the rise under the pro-development policies of the country’s president.

The worldwide total loss of old-growth, or primary, tropical forest — 9.3 million acres, an area nearly the size of Switzerland — was about 3 percent higher than 2018 and the third largest since 2002. 

Global Forest Watch researchers estimated that the loss of primary tropical forest in 2019 resulted in the release of more than 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, or more than the emissions from all on-road vehicles in the United States in a typical year.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/02/football-pitch-area-tropical-rainforest-lost-every-six-seconds

The amount of pristine tropical rainforest lost across the globe increased last year, as the equivalent of a football pitch disappeared every six seconds, a satellite-based analysis has found.

And its not just the loggers, dope growers play their part

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/05/marijuana-cultivation-whittling-away-madagascars-largest-connected-forest/

  • Northern Madagascar contains the largest block of connected forest left in the country.
  • Tsaratanana Reserve is supposed to protect a large portion of this forest. However, satellite data and imagery show Tsaratanana is being cleared at a rapid rate.
  • Local officials say slash-and-burn agriculture for marijuana cultivation is to blame. The Madagascar National Parks agency helped organize military deployments to the Tsaratanana area in 2014 and 2017, and is planning another intervention this year.

The  FAO released State of the World's Forests report on 22 May, here are some excerpts from the summary:

http://www.fao.org/publications/sofo/en/

The State of the World's Forests reports on the status of forests, recent major policy and institutional developments and key issues concerning the forest sector. It makes current, reliable and policy-relevant information widely available to facilitate informed discussion and decision-making with regard to the world's forests.

Forests provide habitats for 80 percent of amphibian species, 75 percent of bird species and 68 percent of mammal species. About 60 percent of all vascular plants are found in tropical forests. Mangroves provide breeding grounds and nurseries for numerous species of fish and shellfish and help trap sediments ...
Forests cover 31 percent of the global land area ... Almost half the forest area is relatively intact, and more than one-third is primary forest. .. Almost half the forest area
(49 percent) is relatively intact, while 9 percent is found in fragments with little or no connectivity.

Since 1990, it is estimated that some 420 million hectares of forest have been lost through conversion to other land uses ... Large-scale commercial agriculture (primarily cattle ranching and cultivation of soya bean and oil palm) accounted for 40 percent of tropical deforestation between 2000 and 2010, and local subsistence agriculture for another 33 percent.

More than 60 000 different tree species are known, more than 20 000 of which have been included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, and more than 8 000 of these are assessed as globally threatened (Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable). More than 1 400 tree species are assessed as critically endangered and in urgent need of conservation action. Some 8 percent of assessed forest plants, 5 percent of forest animals and 5 percent of fungi found in forests are currently listed as critically endangered. The forest-specialist index, based on 455 monitored populations of 268 forest mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds, fell by 53 percent between 1970 and 2014, an annual rate of decline of 1.7 percent. This highlights the increased risk of these species becoming vulnerable to extinction.

More than 28 000 plant species are currently recorded as being of medicinal use and many of them are found in forest ecosystems. Visits to forest environments can have positive impacts on human physical and mental health... The majority of new infectious diseases affecting humans, including the SARS-CoV2 virus that caused the current COVID-19 pandemic, are zoonotic and their emergence may be linked to habitat loss due to forest area change and the expansion of human populations into forest areas ...

An estimated 2.4 billion people use wood-based energy for cooking.
The role of forests and trees in mitigating climate change, regulating water supply, providing shade, windbreaks, feed and fodder and providing habitats for many pollinators renders them essential for sustainable food production.

We must move away from the current situation where the demand for food is resulting in inappropriate agricultural practices that drive large-scale conversion of forests to agricultural production and the loss of forest-related biodiversity.

On a positive note, forests are increasingly recognized for their role as a nature-based solution to many sustainable development challenges, as manifest in strengthened political will and a series of commitments to reduce rates of deforestation and to restore degraded forest ecosystems. We must build on this momentum to catalyse bold actions to prevent, halt and reverse the loss of forests and their biodiversity, for the benefit of current and future generations.

And the fires in Russia are gaining momentum as the next fire cycle takes hold

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/06/03/russias-2020-wildfires-cover-greece-sized-area-greenpeace-a70462

Russia's Federal Forestry Agency has identified 12.3 million acres of wildfires raging across the country’s forests so far this year, four-fifths of which are in Siberia and the Russian Far East. Experts warn that this year’s blazes, some of which may have survived from last summer through a historically warm and dry winter, could become the most destructive in history.

Using satellite data, Greenpeace Russia estimated that 33.3 million acres — more than the area of Greece and nearly three times more than official data indicates — burned across forests, steppes and fields from January to mid-May. 

Last year’s wildfires in Siberia burned across an area the size of Belgium at their peak and emitted the equivalent of Sweden’s total annual carbon dioxide emissions in one month alone.

2 May 2020


The Forestry Corporation have been caught out trashing forests and the rules yet again

https://www.begadistrictnews.com.au/story/6736425/forestry-corporation-fined-30k-for-alleged-offences-in-tantawangalo-forest/

Forestry Corporation of NSW has been fined $30,000 over its operations in Tantawangalo State Forest in 2019, with a state MP saying although a significant amount the corporation was "resistant to improving its practices".

NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) director of regional operations south Nigel Sargent said Forestry Corporation had allegedly breached regulations by not properly marking important trees needed to protect native animal habitat and the environment.

A fine of $15,000 was given for allegedly not marking an adequate number of trees for retention, as well as $15,000 for allegedly not marking the boundary of an environmentally-sensitive area as an exclusion zone, required to protect the habitat of the powerful owl.

https://www.begadistrictnews.com.au/story/6486416/forestry-corporation-again-accused-of-misconduct-in-tantawangalo-forest-epa-investigates/

But where would we be without them, after their pogrom on large hollow-bearing trees and vital recruits for the past century, they are now giving back and claiming the credit for "saving" hollow-dependent wildlife (warning - this story could be bad for your health, look at a potplant after reading):

https://www.wauchopegazette.com.au/story/6738318/nesting-boxes-deployed-to-support-forest-bushfire-recovery/

Forestry Corporation of NSW has joined forces with a range of other agencies and organisations to construct and deploy nesting boxes in severely burned forests on the Mid North Coast.

Staff from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, the Rural Fire Service, Forestry Corporation and FAWNA (NSW) are working together to support local wildlife and better understand how nesting boxes can be used as a tool during bushfire recovery.

"The nesting boxes will be constructed from modified logs as well as timber products, and we expect to install them in a range of forests and locations based on species records, topography and fire intensity in North Coast forests."

Forest protectors are winging again

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/australia-urged-suspend-logging-wake-devastating-fires-200430010530726.html

Pressure is mounting on authorities in Australia to curb the logging of native forests in the wake of the country's devastating southern summer bushfires.

With conservationists saying restrictions on movement because of COVID-19 are preventing protests against the resumption of logging, people have instead gone online with more than 22,000 signing a petition calling on the New South Wales (NSW) government to declare a moratorium on logging in the state's native forests.

Veteran forest activist Dailan Pugh was involved in what was possibly the first forest blockade in the Western world, at Terania Creek in northern NSW in 1979.

For him, the summer's fires - including those that hit rainforest areas that do not usually burn - were devastating. 

"They're areas we fought over for a long, long time," said Pugh, who is now in his mid-60s. "We saw them going one after another, it was horrifying and surreal."

"Logging has commenced again as per normal when nothing is normal in the landscape," says Lyn Orego, a conservationist near Nambucca Heads on NSW's northern coast.

"It is frustrating to not be able to go out like we could."

"We are inside our homes due to the coronavirus but outside the government is continuing to authorise this destruction, subsidised by taxpayers' money."

Fellow campaigner Susie Russell said the restrictions on movement were "very problematic".

In the Comboyne State Forest, she was part of a group able to protest and delay logging equipment in the days before lockdown measures were imposed in Australia, preventing protest. Logging, under Australia's business-friendly social isolation measures, is allowed to continue as an "essential" economic activity.

"The government is opening up areas that were burned, logging areas that were not, all sorts of approvals which are damaging to the environment are happening during this time. We feel angry and frustrated at not being able to get out there."

Many burned areas are subject to what is known as "salvage logging"; a practice for which Lindenmayer saves some of his fiercest words. 

"It's the worst form of logging of all," he says. "The system has burnt and is struggling to recover and you smash it again. There's no more stupid thing you can do."

Questions in estimates revealed that while Forestry Corporation has enacted its "force majeure" clauses in contracts they expect to deliver the full volume to sawmillers this year

https://www.theage.com.au/national/loggers-return-to-native-forests-burnt-in-summer-bushfires-20200430-p54ok1.html

Government logging has resumed in fire-damaged forests in Victoria and New South Wales despite warnings that devastated bushland and endangered wildlife are too fragile to withstand "business as usual".

In March, the Goongerah Environment Centre wrote to VicForests head Monique Dawson to inquire about logging in fire-affected forests, referring to research by Professor Lindenmayer on the impact of salvage logging.

In her response, Ms Dawson said: "We do not accept the published opinions of Professor David Lindenmayer as reflective of evidence and do not consider him to be an authority in these matters."

"Somehow I'm not the world expert on salvage logging even though I've written the only global textbook on the topic. Comments like this reflect an organisation that is unscientific and is baseless in terms of how it manages its forests."

Professor Lindenmayer has previously called for an immediate end to native forest logging in the wake of the catastrophic summer bushfires, saying his research demonstrates logging makes native forests more prone to fire.

https://www.standard.net.au/story/6743045/concerns-over-nsw-logging-after-bushfires/

NSW conservationists are concerned about future koala populations as the state's Forestry Corporation increases its logging intensity to keep up with the demand after the bushfire crisis.

Nature Conservation Council of NSW says Forestry Corporation documents released through parliamentary processes show 85 per cent of native forest on the South Coast designated for logging was burnt.

Some 44 per cent of designated forest on the north coast was scorched in the 2019-20 bushfire season.

Council chief executive Chris Gambian says despite the concerns, the state-owned logging company has told wood contract holders it's confident of maintaining supply.

He believes this can only be done through increased logging in viable NSW forests.

https://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/breaking-news/concerns-over-nsw-logging-after-bushfires/news-story/fb7a52bd3ccd3a59298e45bd9d28480e

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/call-for-nsw-logging-halt-amid-concerns-for-bushfire-affected-koala-habitat

The Commonwealth have released their assessments of plants and invertebrates affected by the fires, once again they recommend protection and surveys, though is anyone listening:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/26/bushfires-leave-470-plants-and-200-animals-in-dire-straits-government-analysis

More than 400 plants and nearly 200 invertebrates need urgent attention after the bushfire crisis, new analysis for the federal environment department has found.

Freshwater mussels, shrimps, burrowing crayfish, land snails, spiders, millipedes, bees, dragonflies and butterflies were among the invertebrates whose ranges have been severely affected by the unprecedented fires through spring and summer.

Australia has about 320,000 invertebrates – much greater than the number of vertebrate or plant species – and monitoring of even the most threatened is often lacking.

“Assessment of the impacts of the 2019-20 fires on Australian invertebrates is also constrained by the absence or limited extent of monitoring of Australian invertebrates, with little monitoring even for most threatened invertebrate species,” Woinarski’s report said.

The Greens environment spokeswoman, Sarah Hanson-Young, said she was concerned that EPBC review would not account for “the full impact” of the bushfires because much of the assessment work was still to be done.

Vines, once rainforest protectors, may be now fueling fires:

https://www.miragenews.com/vines-are-drying-usc-scientist-delivers-forest-fire-warning/

Following Australia’s recent bushfire crisis, a USC scientist working to preserve forests has warned that vines that once protected vegetation from fire may now be drying into fuel.

“Lianas growing extensively over the top of trees actually protect forests from fire, but if they’re not properly managed, dried lianas can act as fuel for fires,” said Dr Marshall, who is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow.

“Increasing fire resulting from climate change is likely to worsen this effect because some forests will likely become too dry for lianas, leaving dried out vegetation behind for fires to spread – even up into the forest canopy.

Natural fire solutions deserve more attention, it has been suggested that millions of Koalas once removed vast quantities of flammable leaves and that ground animals regularly turned over the understorey to compost leaf litter:

https://truthout.org/articles/wildfires-can-reduce-biodiversity-can-biodiversity-be-used-to-reduce-wildfires/

According to a new analysis of 57 peer-reviewed studies looking at the link between climate change and wildfire risk, the weather conditions that led to the Australian wildfires are set to become more common. The unanimous conclusion was that “climate change increases the frequency or severity of fire-favorable weather conditions.”

The review found that “fire weather seasons have lengthened globally between 1979 and 2013. Fire weather generally involves hot temperatures, low humidity, [and] low rainfall in the preceding days and weeks, and windy conditions.” Furthermore, the studies’ climate models show that this change has come about as a direct result of climate change, as opposed to natural fluctuations.

Leaf litter is one of the most prominent sources of flammable material when it comes to wildfires. In the past, much of this pesky detritus has been cleaned up by “fossorial species,” like small marsupials, that burrow and turn over the dead leaves with soil, which ultimately helps to break it down. With these populations diminishing, the amount of leaf litter accumulates — and so does the material for starting fires.

“These forest systems have been adapting to cycles of wet and dry epochs for millions of years, so they know how to take advantage of fires when they happen. The problem is that humans degrade and alter forests that were perfectly adapted, and sometimes the remaining forests are too small and fragmented to do what they evolved to do. The solution to our global climate and biodiversity crises is to preserve our existing forests, regrow damaged or lost forests wherever possible, and let natural processes continue,” said Lee.

To test this theory, Matt Hayward, a conservation ecologist at Bangor University in Australia and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, set up an experiment, as explained in Anthropocene Magazine. Together with his colleagues, Hayward reintroduced fossorial species to certain, fenced-off areas. The team went on to compare the accumulation of leaf litter within these enclosed areas versus outside. They discovered that the little critters had helped reduce litter by 24 percent, which a mathematical model calculated could drastically reduce both the intensity and speed in fires due to the “reduction in fuel.”

https://anthropocenemagazine.org/2016/03/biodiversity-protect-against-wildfires/

By comparing the accumulation of leaf litter both within those enclosed areas and outside of them, the researchers could determine whether the native diggers really were helping to reduce the amount of flammable dead leaves. They discovered that the native fossorial mammals reduced the mass of leaf litter to the tune of 24%. That is, there was 24% less fuel for wildfires within the fenced areas than outside of them.

Then, the researchers turned to a mathematical model to see whether the presence of the reintroduced marsupials really did lower the probability of a fire starting. The model predicted a 74% reduction in flame height and a 33% reduction in the speed at which a fire would spread within the fenced-in areas, thanks to the reduction in fuel.

Lest we forget - about the threat of urban development to our coastal Koalas:

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/04/west-byron-will-destroy-koala-habitat/

Our Byron coastal koalas are heading for extinction and if the ‘new’ West Byron development application (DA) is approved, it is fast tracking their plight.

Very little has changed with this amended version. The developers’ report denies assessments by Biolink, DECCW and Byron Council that core koala habitat is on the West Byron site. This is a hugely important site for the Byron coastal koalas and a vital link for maintaining connectivity between koalas to the north and south of the Shire. If this development is allowed, it will most certainly lead to the demise of our beloved coastal koalas.

The developers’ Koala Plan of Management endorses removal of a significant amount of core koala habitat and feed trees, without any assessment of the number of feed trees to be removed. It does not buffer retained habitat, and the proposal will impede koala dispersal. Fencing in the Ewingsdale area is already affecting the natural dispersal of koalas there.

Hunter Energy is going to restart a coal powerstation using our trees

The Australian, April 29 2020, (but I don't have a link as it is a subscriber article):

The former Redbank coal plant in NSW’s Hunter Valley will be �repurposed into a biomass fuels power station, with owner Hunter Energy planning to start supplying energy into the national electricity grid by early next year.

Hunter Energy plans to reuse waste wood products to create a biomass facility with an output of 151MW, enough to power up to 200,000 homes, as it seeks to �reboot the former Alinta-owned facility, which closed in 2014.

Although the company had previously held talks with neighbour Yancoal to reuse coal tailings from its Mount Thorley Warkworth mine, the project now plans to operate solely on biomass to qualify for the government’s large scale generation certificates.

Bark, sawdust and straw were typical wood waste materials used and qualified as a carbon-neutral energy source, he said.

Talks have been held with a local supplier, and Hunter Energy said it could also use timber if the NSW government adopted bushfire hazard-reduction programs.

Talks were held last week with the NSW government to gauge their appetite to help fund the project, with the company suggesting it could qualify for support under stimulus measures as the econ�omy �reboots after COVID-19.

“We went up as a coal-fired generator to the underwriting scheme, but frankly there is a lack of political will to support coal. If you’re a politician you’d far rather be supporting 100 per cent biomass,” Mr Poole said.

“NSW is asking for shovel- ready projects, and we’re sitting here with one now.”

https://hunterenergy.com.au/

https://reneweconomy.com.au/hunter-valley-group-plans-to-re-open-australias-dirtiest-coal-generator-46960/

The new owners of a mothballed coal generator near Singleton in the Hunter Valley plan to restart operations at the 150MW facility, in what would be the first reversal of a coal closure in Australia amid a widening political divide over climate and energy.

The Redbank coal facility near Singleton was closed in 2014 after being put into administration following the failure of Babcock & Brown.

Redbank was shuttered in 2014, despite pocketing a $9 million hand-out from the federal government Energy Security Fund under the then Labor government’s carbon pricing scheme.


It was then sold to a company that was looking at biomass operations. The new owners, which bought the plant last September, however, want to revive the coal generator itself as part of a plan for an “energy transition” park.


Poole became a centre of attention in the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption Operation Jasper inquiry, which found he and others acted corruptly by concealing the Obeid family’s interest in a Hunter coal area.

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/a-hunter-valley-power-station-could-be-brought-back-online-to-provide-cheap-power-for-cryptocurrency-miners-2018-4

Australia is disappointed that we don't burn enough biomass and want to ramp it up:

https://reneweconomy.com.au/arena-calls-for-input-into-roadmap-to-kick-start-australias-bioenergy-sector-29524/

ARENA has started the development of a new bioenergy roadmap after receiving a request of federal energy minister Angus Taylor, who hopes to use its outcomes to guide future government decisions on how it can support the bioenergy industry, including by feeding into the government’s Technology Investment Roadmap.

ENEA Consulting and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu have been engaged by ARENA to lead the development of the bioenergy roadmap, and have started public consultation on the proposed roadmap.

The bioenergy sector has struggled to get the same foothold in the Australian energy system as been achieved by solar, wind and storage. While it is used heavily in some processes, such as sugar refining as biogas production from food and agricultural wastes, it has often been limited to use as a supplementary fuel. Examples include ethanol mixing in transport fuels and biomass mixing in thermal electricity generation.

In Canada biomass production is ramping up and taking more whole trees, even though they said they wouldn't:

https://biv.com/article/2020/04/trees-harvested-biomass-energy-under-scrutiny

The controversy could grow in B.C, as wood pellet producers appear to be resorting to using more live whole trees to produce wood pellets for export, as opposed to just wood waste.

“Wood pellets are obviously the worst and lowest use of our last primary forests in the interior,” said Michelle Connolly, director of Conservation North, which has documented the use of whole trees at B.C. pellet plants.

“The B.C. government assured us that green trees would not be used in pellet plants, and clearly that’s not true.”

But as the demand for biomass energy has grown, especially in Europe, so has wood pellet production in B.C., at a time when the availability of fibre has been declining in B.C., and when sawmills are shutting down, reducing the amount of sawmill waste that was available.

In Germany, biomass accounts for about 8% of electricity generation, and in the UK it accounts for 11%.

Annual wood pellet exports from Canada increased by 73% in the last five years, according to the Canadian Energy Regulator.

But its OK because they are inferior trees:

https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/04/30/news/bc-says-firms-can-chop-down-whole-trees-pellet-fuel-if-they-are-inferior

Companies can cut down whole trees to be ground into pellets for fuel if they are “inferior,” says British Columbia’s natural resources ministry, a position that has led to concerns the government is "rebranding" old growth forests as low-quality in order to justify logging them.

“The B.C. government appears to be rebranding primary and old growth forests as ‘waste,’ ‘inferior’ or ‘low-quality’ in order to justify allowing companies to level them and grind them into pellets,” said Connolly.

“Keeping natural forests intact, in particular old forests, is actually one of our best hopes for addressing climate change. Exploiting forests for bioenergy will make climate change worse, not better.”

Hansen agreed: “it seems like the province is calling ecologically rich, primary forests ‘inferior’ in order to justify logging them for pellets. That is deeply concerning,” she said.

The push is on to open up northern Australia for major timber production (or is it just going to be more biomass?):

https://www.miragenews.com/growth-tipped-for-northern-forestry-industry/

The Morrison Government has welcomed the findings of a Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) study that has identified the enormous economic potential of the Northern Australian forestry and forest products industry.

The study, by the CRC for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA), found the industry could potentially treble its production value to up to $300 million per annum and create 600 new jobs over the next five to ten years.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the nation’s north boasted 63 million hectares of native forest, and 13 million hectares of this had been identified by the study as having commercial timber potential.

Scientists are warning us that ecosystem collapse can be rapid and that it is already underway, though will rapidly worsen as climate thresholds are reached:

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/07042020/global-warming-ecosystem-biodiversity-rising-heat-species

Global warming is about to tear big holes into Earth's delicate web of life, pushing temperatures beyond the tolerance of thousands of animals at the same time. As some key species go extinct, entire ecosystems like coral reefs and forests will crumble, and some will collapse abruptly, starting as soon as this decade, a new study in the journal Nature warns.

Many scientists see recent climate-related mass die-offs, including the coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef and widespread seabird and marine mammal mortality in the Northeastern Pacific linked to a marine heat wave, as warning signs of impending biodiversity collapse, said lead author Alex Pigot, a biodiversity researcher at University College, London. The new study shows that nowhere on Earth will escape the impacts.

..."I think these studies are showing that many species are already living very near their thermal limits. Our results suggest that these losses are likely to involve multiple species near simultaneously rather than happening gradually, one species at a time," he said.

In the study, Pigot's team assessed temperatures ranges for more than 30,000 land and sea species—birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and other marine animals and plants—to estimate when they will start experiencing unprecedented temperature conditions. Capping global warming at 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit would decrease the risk of ecosystem failures significantly, but allowing global warming to continue unchecked would lead to widespread biodiversity decline quickly, they found.

"By the time things get really bad it's going to be too late," he said. "But our results show very clearly that it is not too late to act to delay the risk or even avert it entirely for many thousands of species. By holding warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), we can effectively flatten the curve of how climate risks to biodiversity accumulate over time."

Drought is taking an increasing toll on trees, with many forests on the brink:

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/24042020/forest-trees-climate-change-deforestation

Tim Brodribb has been measuring all the different ways global warming kills trees for the past 20 years. With a microphone, he says, you can hear them take their last labored breaths. During blistering heat waves and droughts, air bubbles invade their delicate, watery veins, cracking them open with an audible pop. And special cameras can film the moment their drying leaves split open in a lightning bolt pattern, disrupting photosynthesis.

"We really need to be able to hear these poor trees scream. These are living things that are suffering. We need to listen to them," said Brodribb, a plant physiologist at the University of Tasmania who led a recent study that helps identify exactly when, where and how trees succumb to heat and dryness.

Trees and forests can be compared with corals and reefs, he said. Both are slow-growing and long-lived systems that can't easily move or adapt in a short time to rapid warming and both have relatively inflexible damage thresholds ...
The detailed new information and modeling on how water stress kills trees suggests there is a similar drought threshold for tree mortality, beyond which forests could also perish on a global scale, he said.

"The review ends on a hard note, with high confidence that we're going to have a lot of impacts with hotter droughts in the future," he said. Mass forest die-offs will proliferate and expand. The trend toward more extreme heat waves and droughts is lethal for forests. But despite the grim outlook, it's important not to paint an entirely desperate picture, he said.

"It's our choice of how much worse we want it to get. Every little bit of reduction of warming can have a positive effect. We can reduce the tree die-off. Are we going to make the choices to try and minimize that?"

At the current pace of warming, much of the world will be inhospitable to forests as we know them within decades. The extinction of some tree species by direct or indirect action of drought and high temperatures is certain. And some recent research suggests that, in 40 years, none of the trees alive today will be able to survive the projected climate, Brodribb said

The new paper reinforces the observational evidence that global warming has pushed many of the world's forests to a knife edge, said University of Utah forest researcher Bill Anderegg.

Six's research focuses on tree-killing bugs, and she said it's clear how global warming and insect devastation fit together. Heat causes drought-weakened trees to release different chemicals from healthy trees, and the bugs "are incredibly good at finding them," she said.

"Even with average rainfall it's still a drought for trees now much of the time because of increased temperatures. Trees are tough, but they can only take so much. Some of the forests look like they're fine, but they're not, they are already near thresholds," she said.

"Some of the things we are seeing are dreadful and devastating, but there are studies showing trees can adapt quite rapidly on an evolutionary level. But if we keep cranking up the temperature, there is never going to be enough adaptation possible," she said.

https://johnmenadue.com/peter-sainsbury-sunday-environmental-round-up-26-april-2020/?mc_cid=08531952da&mc_eid=013da2c91a

In ecosystems where some species are living close to their climatic or other environmental limits the loss of one of two key species can create a domino effect that results in the rapid collapse of the whole ecosystem; coral reefs and forests are particularly at risk. The research also shows that multiple species in multiple ecosystems may be affected almost simultaneously and abruptly, and that nowhere on earth will be spared. At current rates of warming tropical oceans will be affected by 2030 and tropical forests and higher latitudes by 2050. The slower the rate of warming and the lower we can keep maximum warming the better it will be for ecosystems and the more time it will give humanity to prevent and prepare. This is another study demonstrating that the changes induced by climate change are likely to be sooner, more abrupt, more widespread and more catastrophic than was believed as recently as the signing of the Paris Agreement in December 2015.

The lockdown has been a boon for wildlife as demonstrated by this story

https://sea.mashable.com/culture/10156/leatherback-turtles-are-returning-to-thailands-empty-beaches-to-spawn-largest-amount-of-nests-in-20

The coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has forced billions of people across the globe to go under some form of lockdown. While this may be of inconvenience to us humans, it isn't the same for wildlife.

In fact, it may have just been beneficial for leatherback sea turtles who regularly land on the beaches of Phuket and Phang Nga in Thailand.

Aside from the beaches being untouched, the lack of human foot traffic has been more than ideal for leatherback sea turtles returning to spawn.

According to environmentalists, the rate at which these leatherback sea turtles are laying eggs on the beaches of Phuket and Phang Nga has reached an all-time high.

The role of deforestation in spreading viruses continues to garner attention

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/tropical-deforestation-releases-deadly-viruses/

“The connection between deforestation and infectious diseases is just one more impact of deforestation, added to impacts of losing both Amazonia’s biodiversity and the forest’s vital climate functions in avoiding global warming and in recycling water.”

He is one of the co-authors of a paper by a team led by Joel Henrique Ellwanger on the impacts of Amazon deforestation on infectious diseases and public health, which has just been published in the Annals of the Brazilian Academy.

The warnings are not new. Ana Lúcia Tourinho, with a Ph.D in ecology at the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT), interviewed by Deutsche Welle, said: “For at least two decades scientists have repeated the warning: as populations advance on the forests, the risk grows of micro-organisms – up till then in equilibrium – migrating to humans and causing victims.

The relationship between deforestation and the increase of diseases in the Amazon has been studied by Brazil’s Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA).

A 2015 survey in 773 Amazon towns showed that for each 1% of forest destroyed, malaria cases increased by 23%. The incidence of leishmaniasis, a disease spread by the bite of sand flies, which causes skin sores, disfigurement and can kill, also increased.

Bats (of all shapes and sizes) are being blamed as disease carriers, leading to renewed calls to get rid of flying foxes seeking food and refuge near urban areas after the droughts and fires decimated their food and populations:

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/inquirer/coronavirus-bats-have-evolved-into-perfect-virus-carriers/news-story/c8a55a665404161a47c66c9e7a4e6e64

The same dynamic is playing out in Australia, though thankfully in the less threatening context of Hendra and lyssavirus.

Peel says the pressure on bat habitats in China has echoes in the periodic outbreaks of Hendra virus in Australia, only here it is compounded by climatic factors. The last major eruption in 2011 came after a La Nina episode of torrential rain, causing Brisbane River to break its banks and inundate thousands of homes on top of deadly flash-floods in nearby Lockyer Valley and range-top Toowoomba. Twenty-one infected horses in Queensland and NSW died of Hendra or were put down, though there were no human cases.

Just be careful what you wish for, Peel warns. Bats do far more good than harm and are crucial to maintaining the nation’s besieged natural forest estate. “They connect pockets of eucalypt forest up and down the coast,” she says. “They support the forest that other species like koalas rely on … without flying foxes we won’t be able to restore forests that were so heavily burnt in the recent bushfires.”

https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2020/05/no-aussie-bats-wont-give-you-coronavirus/

In this pandemic it’s tempting to look for someone, or something, to blame. Bats are a common scapegoat and the community is misled to believe getting rid of them could be a quick fix. But are bats really the problem?

Australian bats have been in the news recently for two main reasons: the misplaced fear they might carry COVID-19, and overblown reports they carry a koala-killing virus.

This recent bad press has seen increased incidences of disturbing cruelty against Australia’s bats, as well as calls to cull or “move on” bats that live close to people. Because fewer bats would mean less disease, right? Wrong. Here’s why.

Australian bats also recently appeared in the news because of the discovery of a retrovirus in black flying-foxes related to koala immune deficiency syndrome. Some news outlets have falsely suggested bats pose a risk to koala populations.

But the original scientific paper clearly stated the proposed transmission from bats to koalas happened long ago, on evolutionary time scales. What we see in these species today are two separate viruses - there’s no evidence the virus detected in today’s bats can infect koalas, let alone cause disease.

Flying-foxes have had a tough few months. Many Eucalypts failed to flower, so food shortages saw thousands of flying-foxes perish from starvation, and then many more died en masse in this summer’s extreme heat.

They were also heavily affected by the summer bushfires that burnt large tracts of the bats’ winter feeding areas.

Physiological stress could also promote viral shedding. Flying-fox populations are already struggling to recover from severe food shortages, extreme heat events and bushfires. So advocating such actions is misguided, with the potential to amplify, rather than alleviate disease risk.

More research that shows that nature, even potplants or photos of potplants, are good for us

https://theconversation.com/cant-go-outside-even-seeing-nature-on-a-screen-can-improve-your-mood-135320?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20April%2030%202020%20-%201608115412&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20April%2030%202020%20-%201608115412+CID_1898ab536108711f42fa13bd4b7fcf26&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Cant%20go%20outside%20Even%20seeing%20nature%20on%20a%20screen%20can%20improve%20your%20mood

Are you feeling anxious or irritated during the coronavirus lockdown? Do you constantly want to get up and move? Maybe you need a moment to engage with nature.

Getting into the great outdoors is difficult at right now. But our research soon to be published in Australian Forestry shows you can improve your mood by experiencing nature indoors. This could mean placing few pot plants in the corner of your home office, or even just looking at photos of plants.

Our work adds to a compelling body of research that shows being around nature directly benefits our mental health.

Our research has demonstrated that even a small number of plants hanging in pockets on along a busy corridor provide enough nature to influence our physiological and psychological perceptions.

We photographed the plants from viewpoints similar to those the corridor users experienced. Survey responses from those who only viewed these digital images were almost the same as those who experienced them in real life.

So the good news is if you can’t get to a nursery – or if you have a serious inability to keep plants alive – you can still benefit from looking at photographs of them.

And there may be something to chemtrails keeping us complacent by dulling our thinking

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/carbon-dioxide-pollution-dulls-the-brain/

Carbon dioxide pollution slows our thinking. It could get bad enough to stop some of us thinking our way out of danger.

LONDON, 27 April, 2020 – If humans go on burning ever-greater quantities of fossil fuels, then tomorrow’s children in badly-ventilated classrooms or workers in crowded offices could find their wits dulled: the predicted concentrations of carbon dioxide pollution by 2100 could reduce the ability to make decisions by 25%, and cut the capacity for complex strategic thinking by as much as half.

 

25 April 2020


My request for the EPA to withdraw their approval to log 5,000 ha of burnt Koala habitat in the Banyabba ARKS has had some coverage (in Sydney Morning Herald, Grafton Daily Examiner, Echonet, ABC radio, 2ZZZ)

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/conservation/epa-approves-logging-without-looking-at-koala-impacts-after-bushfires-20200417-p54kru.html

The NSW Environment Protection Authority has approved logging in forests hard hit by recent bushfires in the state's north without first assessing the toll taken on koalas and other wildlife.

In early March, the agency gave the go-ahead for state-owned Forestry Corporation to log 5062 hectares – or 18 times the size of Sydney's CBD – in 19 compartments within three state forests on the Richmond River lowlands.

Areas such as the Banyabba region had lost half their koalas before the recent bushfire season. As many as three-quarters have been lost since.

"We need to know what the impact of the fires was," Mr Pugh said. "They have done nothing – I find that totally reprehensible – and yet they are approving the logging."

Koala numbers in the Banyabba region had already shrunk by more than half because of clearing and logging before the blazes. Now, as many as three-quarters of the survivors of what had been one of the largest colonies in north-eastern NSW had been lost. "Extinction is the process of the elimination of populations," Mr Pugh said, noting large colonies elsewhere, such as near Port Macquarie have also been burnt.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/04/nefa-asks-epa-to-withdraw-approval-to-log-burnt-koala-habitat/

Active conservation can save species from ongoing decline

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/23/conservation-plans-help-boost-threatened-mammals-scientists-find?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0d1YXJkaWFuVG9kYXlBVVMtMjAwNDIz&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTAU_email&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayAUS

Populations of some Australian mammals declined by more than a third over two decades, but sites with clear conservation management saw improvements in their populations of 46%, according to new research.

The first tranche collates data for 57 threatened and near-threatened mammal species, including the northern quoll and the yellow-footed rock wallaby. It covers the years 1995-2016 across 1,186 different locations.

Populations of the mammals at these sites declined on average by 38%

At sites with clear conservation management efforts, populations increased on average by 46%. Only 155 of the 1,186 locations had active conservation work in place.

At 15 feral cat and fox-free sites, the populations of threatened and near-threatened mammals had increased five-fold.

The research found where there was no active conservation work, populations had declined on average by 60%.

The Greens have gone on the attack over Forestry Corporation's being awarded half the regional grants

https://www.miragenews.com/millions-of-taxpayer-dollars-being-spent-propping-up-damaging-and-loss-making-native-forest-logging/

The NSW Government is handing Forestry Corporation $46 million from its $100 million regional grant scheme and there are fears it will lead to a surge in native forest logging. While some of this expenditure is being spent on repairing and expanding nurseries for the radiata pine plantation industry, the money is also slated for road works and other infrastructure that will facilitate logging native forests.

With native forests so damaged during the summer fires we need a state-wide moratorium on native forest logging, not a state government that is putting millions of dollars into logging roads to increase the devastation.

Greens MP and Forests Spokesperson David Shoebridge said “It is disgraceful that at a time when people are still reeling from the loss of native forests in their local area that more money is being given to Forestry Corporation to build roads and other assets to facilitate native forest logging.

“The loss-making destruction that is native forest logging must now end, we cannot keep asking the taxpayer to pay to log and then woodchip these forests at an environmental and economic loss.

“With over 82% of habitat for some endangered species burned, habitat fragmentation and billions of animals killed in the fires these forests are essential reservoirs of biodiversity and will be critical tourism assets after pandemic conditions pass.

“Victorian estimates show that ending native logging there immediately rather than in 2030 would save $192 million for taxpayers there and a similar figure would apply here.

Bird Life identify 5 priority fire affected species

http://www.birdlife.org/worldwide/news/ashes-5-birds-affected-australias-bushfires

Regent Honeyeater ...pre-bushfire numbers were estimated to be fewer than 250 birds in the wild.

Superb Lyrebird ... the loss of over half of its habitat to the inferno demonstrates that no bird’s future should ever be assumed secure.

Eastern Bristlebird ... northern population ... possibly as few as 28 birds left here. When the bush catches fire, this bird will habitually evacuate its usual habitat and take refuge in nearby rainforest, but as the case of the lyrebird reveals, in the face of these exceptionally intense fires, this strategy is no longer always viable.

Carbon emissions from the 2019-20 fires have been immense

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/subscribe/news/1/?sourceCode=TAWEB_WRE170_a_GGL&dest=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theaustralian.com.au%2Fnation%2Fbushfires-released-two-years-worth-of-co2-into-atmosphere%2Fnews-story%2Feeca6392d6514d5701f85c6e86ff646e&memtype=anonymous&mode=premium

Fires freed two years’ worth of CO2

The bushfires released 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, an amount almost double the nation’s annual emissions.

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/australianz/fresh-forest-regrowth-might-offset-climate-hit-from-australia-fires

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - The vast swathes of smoke that blanketed Australia during its most devastating bush fire season on record are expected to have a negligible long-term impact on the climate.

Despite the razing of an area the size of England, and the spewing out of more than one-and-a-half times the nation's annual carbon-dioxide emissions, forest regrowth over the next decade will offset much of the impact from the blazes, Australia's Department of Industry, Science, Energy & Resources said on Tuesday (April 21) in a report. However, global climate change could affect the recovery process and its impact would be monitored closely.

The eucalyptus forests of Australia's southeast are well-adapted to fire and tend to recover quickly, usually within 10 to 15 years of the event, according to the report,

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/apr/21/summers-bushfires-released-more-carbon-dioxide