Weekly Media Stories

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:

https://prnigeria.com/2020/06/12/climate-change-forest-nexus/

orests 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.

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.

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.

Read more at: https://prnigeria.com/2020/06/12/climate-change-forest-nexus/

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

Week of Friday May 8 - 15, 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.

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 speciesnearly 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 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 filmsthere 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-4 hours ago
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 specter  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 oC 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-than-australia-does-in-a-year

Australia’s devastating bushfire season is likely to have released 830m tonnes of carbon dioxide, far more than the country’s annual greenhouse gas pollution, according to a government estimate.

If compared with international emissions, it suggests the Australian temperate forest bushfires between September and February would rank sixth on a list of polluting nations, behind only China, the US, India, Russia and Japan.

Other scientists have been less optimistic about the capacity of Australian forests to reabsorb all emissions released during bushfires, warning under normal conditions it could take decades for enough regrowth to occur and the climate crisis was increasing the risk of repeat fires within shorter timeframes.

Pollution from national disturbances are considered beyond human control are not counted under UN greenhouse accounting rules.

Australia emits about 530m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent a year.

This is based on a report by the Commonwealth which estimates it will take 10-15 years for the forests to regain the lost carbon (provided they are not logged or burnt in the interim), though this ignores that we have effectively lost 10-15 years of sequestration of our other CO2 emissions:

https://www.industry.gov.au/data-and-publications/estimating-greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-bushfires-in-australias-temperate-forests-focus-on-2019-20

Based on data supplied by Landgate and the Emergency Management Spatial Information Network Australia (EMSINA), the department estimates the current bushfire season affected around 7.4 million hectares of temperate forests across Australia up to 11 February 2020.

Most of the area affected by this season’s fires lies within national parks and conservation areas (Table 1). A further significant portion is in State Forests managed for timber production.

The department has made a preliminary estimate of net emissions for the 2020 fire season of around 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2-e) (based on the fires up to 11 February 2020), and noting that affected forests are expected to recover over time, generating a significant carbon sink in the coming years.[4]

This season’s fires have affected some of Australia’s highest-biomass forests with an average above-ground biomass and debris estimated at around 300 tonnes per hectare (Figure 5). The fires are estimated to have burnt an average of around 20 per cent of the above-ground biomass and debris, resulting in average emissions of around 130 tonnes of CO2-e per hectare of forest burnt.

Bushfires mainly affect debris and grasses or understorey vegetation, and sometimes forest canopy (leaves, twigs), which all rapidly build up carbon again following fire – within 10-15 years.[2] Even in rare patches of fire-induced mortality, there is minimal loss of carbon at the landscape level, which is usually balanced within a few years by fast-growing regrowth.

Climate change impacts, including droughts or more frequent and more intense fires, can affect the ability of forests to recover after fire

Iceland has a solution to social distancing for Earthday:

https://www.greenmatters.com/p/iceland-recommends-hugging-trees

Many have found solace in nature during the coronavirus pandemic, whether that means taking a long walk in the woods, or admiring budding trees as spring progresses. Iceland's forestry service, however, is taking its love for nature to the next level, by recommending locals hug for a full five minutes, at least once a day, during the lockdown to induce relaxation and encourage wellness, according to Time Out.

When you hug [a tree], you feel it first in your toes and then up your legs and into your chest and then up into your head... it’s such a wonderful feeling of relaxation and then you’re ready for a new day and new challenges,”

Earthday prompted some reviews

https://www.vox.com/2020/4/22/21226521/earth-day-2020-climate-action-coronavirus-google-doodle

The ferocious bushfires across Australia in late 2019 and early 2020 illustrated what happens to an already volatile climate as average temperatures rise and offered a window into the future for the rest of the planet.

Volatile weather is a signature of Australia’s climate. The continent sits in the middle of three major ocean circulation systems, so it’s often vacillating between extremes. In 2019, those circulation patterns aligned in such a way to drive moisture away and trap heat.

But long-term changes are also underway. The fires emerged after years of drought, leaving vegetation primed to burn. And Australia’s climate has warmed by just over 1 degree Celsius since 1910, slightly faster than the global average. Rainfall patterns have shifted too, with more in the north and less in the southeast, where most Australians live.

So natural variability on top of climate change created the conditions for Australia’s devastating fires, with trends that were building for decades suddenly wreaking havoc over the course of weeks. Australia’s fire season is getting longer and more dangerous as well.

Protecting and restoring forests, then, is crucial for the planet. A research team last year found that helping forests recover and regenerate could soak up a large share of all the greenhouse gas emissions humanity has ever produced. Other researchers were skeptical of the scale of these calculations but otherwise agreed that nature-based solutions like protecting forests are critical to fighting climate change.

https://www.resourcesmag.org/common-resources/celebrating-50-years-earth-day/

Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson saw an opportunity. The anti-war protests of the 1960s made clear that the public could mobilize en masse around social movements. Simultaneously, a growing consciousness was emerging about how people impact the environment. So, the Democrat Nelson teamed up with a Republican congressperson and hired a young Harvard graduate student to serve as coordinator for a “national teach-in on the environment.” On April 22, 1970, Earth Day was born. The environmental movement began in earnest, elevating the importance of Resources for the Future’s work (begun 17 years earlier) to advance both a healthy environment and economic well-being.

April 22, 1970: 20 million Americans—at the time, 10 percent of the total population of the United States—take to the streets during the first Earth Day

https://www.livelaw.in/columns/earth-day-2020-climate-action-and-the-problem-with-how-dare-you-155643

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/earth-day-2020-why-global-reforestation-will-restore-the-earth-s-health/

World Economic Forum

Science has of course also warned us about the unfolding climate and environmental crises. For example, we know that:

These trends simply cannot continue and need to be reversed.

If we are to avoid the unbearable risk of far-reaching environmental collapse, Earth Day must become an annual reminder of what we are gaining, restoring and reducing, rather than what we are losing, destroying and emitting.

Indeed, healthy forests are one of those critical ecosystems that human civilization cannot live and thrive without. Forests are among the most productive carbon sinks, they store water and help regulate weather, they are a source of food and medicine, and they help clean the air in cities and across whole land masses.

A growing body of research also highlights they improve our health and well-being. Increases in deforestation have spurred new outbreaks; loss of tree cover has been rising steadily over the past 17 years, and 31% of outbreaks of new and emerging diseases, such as the Nipah virus, Zika and Ebola, are linked to deforestation.

It is against this backdrop that we launched 1t.org the Trillion Trees Platform at the 50th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum this past January, with support from leaders from government, business, civil society and grassroots movements. 1t.org is the global platform to support the conservation, restoration and growth of 1 trillion trees by 2030.

We know that forest restoration is a critical part of global climate and sustainable development solutions. We also know that forest restoration must be complemented by the ambitious decarbonization of industry and protection and conservation of existing forests – all in an inclusive and ecologically responsible way. If we do this and we embed restoration as a top priority in our economic, social and policy agendas, we have a significant opportunity to ensure that the 60th Earth Day will be a celebration of a successful Decade of Delivery during which humanity embraced the restoration of nature as part of the solution we all need.

As we emerge from the ravages of COVID-19, we have an opportunity to stimulate a different green growth paradigm, where the vision of restoring the earth to health is a corollary for how we restore human health. And without a healthy planet we cannot have healthy societies or economies.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/dateline/opinion-why-covid-19-is-a-chance-for-us-to-regreen-our-mindscapes

In my time with World Vision I’ve worked with communities suffering from the impacts of deforestation, land degradation and climate change in 26 countries.
As part of that work, I often conduct workshops where one of the very first activities is what I call Past, Present, Future. I ask people to describe what life was like when they were children, what it’s like now, and what life will be like for their children if no corrective actions are taken.

The results are amazingly uniform. Generally, people describe how rainfall was more predictable and reliable, fields yielded enough to eat, streams flowed all year, there was more diversity, greater numbers of plants and wild animals. Today, they mostly relate sad stories of scarcity, adverse climate and grinding poverty. I ask, if we don’t change any behaviours, what of the future? The answers are startling: “It will be hell on earth; we will have to leave everything we know and love and migrate to the capital city; and most shocking, we will become cannibals!”

This exercise has become one of my most powerful tools to stimulate reflection that can lead to positive behaviour change. People became indignant – “no, we do not want that bleak future for ourselves or our children” and begin to ask “but what can we do differently?”

At this point in history, when we’ve been forced to stop, and hopefully reflect on the things which matter, what’s to stop us from regreening our own mindscapes? And to do what’s required to avoid dangerous climate change, to maintain and restore forests and ecosystems, to sustainably manage our land and stop polluting?

Researchers argue that we can reduce the footprint of agriculture, restore half the farmland for biodiversity and carbon sequestration,  and still meet all our needs:

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/halve-the-farmland-save-nature-feed-the-world/

If we farm efficiently, scientists say, we can cut climate change, slow extinction and feed the world even as it asks for more.

But it does yet again address one of the enduring challenges of population growth and the potentially devastating loss of the biodiversity upon which all individual species – humans more than most – depend to survive.

The answer? Simply to farm more efficiently and more intensively, to maximise the yield from those tracts of land most suitable for crops, and let nature reclaim the no-longer so productive hectares.

European researchers argue, in a study in the journal Nature Sustainability, that as less land was cultivated, but more intensively, the greenhouse gas emissions from farming would be reduced: so too would water use.

So the challenge is to restore and return to nature around half the land humans already use, while at the same time feeding what could be an additional 2bn people, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions but still sustaining development in the poorest nations.

That is, the land humans occupy is not being managed efficiently. If it were, the other half could be returned to wilderness, and conserved as natural forest, grassland or wetland.

There would be costs – nitrogen pollution would go up in some places, and many rural farmers would become even poorer – so more thinking needs to be done. The point the European researchers want to make is that, in principle, it should be possible to feed people, abandon farmland to the natural world and reduce emissions all at the same time.

The problem we have is that standing trees are not recognised for their massive carbon stores and landholders are not rewarded for the carbon standing forests store in their wood and soils:

https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/121052187/can-we-defend-nzs-staggering-natural-carbon-reserves

New Zealand's native trees contain staggering amounts of carbon - so much that the country's old-growth forests were recently listed among the world's most irreplaceable carbon sinks. But very little of this forest is able to earn carbon credits, meaning some private landowners stand to make more money by logging. Is there a more climate-friendly solution?

Our old-growth temperate forests – along with similar forests in Chile, Tasmania, southeastern Australia and northwestern North America – are among the world's densest natural carbon stores, according to a recent article in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change.

Globally, it's been estimated saving old forests from further damage and degradation is even more crucial to halting climate change than planting new trees. That's because new trees will take centuries to reach the same level of carbon storage. Typically, New Zealand's mature indigenous forests hold twice as much carbon per hectare as tree plantations, and more too, than younger regenerating native forests.

It's a difficult choice for landowners like Gibbs, who need income, but don't want to cut their trees down.

"You have this beautiful forest resource, but it's very hard to be remunerated for that," says Gibbs. Just around the corner from his land, the neighbours are selectively logging their old forest for beech and mataī.

Mature native forests are not eligible for carbon credits under the ETS, which only recognises native forests planted after 1990. Working in the private market, "the due diligence you have to do is orders of magnitude greater," says Weaver.

Yet the benefits of these schemes can be real. Weaver estimated that every year Gibbs' group forgoes logging, it saves 2458 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released to the atmosphere. The carbon credits were purchased by Qantas, Les Mills and other companies, who wanted to reduce their impact by more than the legally-required minimum provided for in the ETS. The money is used for pest control, weed control and education and training scholarships for young shareholders in the forest, says Gibbs.

"It's a compensatory payment," says Weaver. "It's not heaps, but enough to make that decision not to log and lock up that land in perpetuity."

"We can't get carbon credits under the ETS because the government has said indigenous forests don't meet the criteria. What Sean (Weaver) has done is find a way to do it through the voluntary carbon market, which is a very tortuous route to take and compliance-heavy."

"The costs of keeping those areas untouched has all been privatised to us, and the benefits have been socialised to everybody."

The simplest way to explain why old forests are largely invisible to carbon policy, is that it's age discrimination. There's no magic to the year 1990, other than it's been the starting point for carbon accounting rules because it's the year of the Kyoto Protocol.

While the climate doesn't care what year a tree began its life, carbon stores locked away in ancient native forests barely figure in our climate policies. Natural forests are largely excluded from New Zealand's international emissions targets, says the Ministry for the Environment.

By contrast, old-growth forests are assumed to be breathing in about the same amount of carbon dioxide as they're exhaling. They're guardians of stores that were sequestered hundreds of years ago, but they aren't shifting the official balance sheet.

But that doesn't mean all long-stored carbon is safe, nor that it couldn't be increased by good management.

The researchers found conservation land could store almost 700 million tonnes of additional carbon dioxide (equivalent to almost nine years' worth of New Zealand's emissions) through a mix of reforesting cleared land, helping shrublands regenerate, and letting existing mature forests recover from animal over-browsing. Controlling wild animals would help with all of these goals, the authors noted. And while it would be harder to quantify the small gains from pest control made over huge existing forests than to track the newer forests, the gains would still very likely be real.

If the department wanted to claim carbon credits, the authors said, it could probably do so for up to 99 million tonnes of the newly-sucked greenhouse gases. "Given that conservation land represents the largest land area in New Zealand under a single manager, DOC's management of carbon is critical for New Zealand," they concluded.

Forbes believes there must be a way to give landowners a small reward for managing carbon on their land.

After all, the climate doesn't care whether or not a tree was registered for carbon credits - only that the wood is felled or rotting.

"Just because it's hard - just because we might get a bill or it's difficult - doesn't mean we should not do it."

There are large scale projects in America aimed at enhancing carbon stores in private forests:

https://www.environmentalleader.com/2020/04/as-part-of-its-plan-to-be-carbon-neutral-by-2040-amazon-commits-10-million-to-restore-and-conserve-4-million-acres-of-forest/

Amazon today announced a $10 million grant to conserve, restore, and support sustainable forestry, wildlife and nature-based solutions across the Appalachian Mountains, in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy.

Nature-based solutions refer to the sustainable management and use of nature for tackling challenges such as removing carbon from the atmosphere to slow climate change and helping maintain water and food security, biodiversity protection, human health, and disaster risk management.

The Family Forest Carbon Program will open up carbon credit markets to small family forest owners. Amazon’s commitment will expand the program in the Appalachians and other US regions, and go towards designing new methods for measuring and verifying reforestation and forest management practices. The Forest Carbon Co-op will help owners of mid-sized forests use sustainable forest management and protection measures to earn income through the carbon credit market.

Amazon's is a carbon offsets scheme, with the intent of managing the offset areas for timber production, so only offsetting for a few decades rather than a century (which is effectively a offsets-lite scheme),  with the difference of aggregating numerous small properties into a trading block:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/family-forests-climate-crisis-conservation_n_5e8ca7fdc5b6e1d10a6a99ee?ri18n=true

Many family owners generate income by selling trees to loggers. But loggers often want to buy older trees and are willing to pay more for them ― a practice called “high grading.” Selling off too many mature trees, however, shortens the lifespan of a forest and lowers its carbon capturing powers. In Northern Appalachia, where Brensinger is based, unsustainable logging is one of the biggest hindrances to cultivating healthy forest lands.

But there is another avenue to make money that conservationists say can both help owners maintain healthy forests and maximize their potential to tackle climate change: carbon offsets. Previously, only large commercial landowners and federal or state governments have had easy access to carbon markets, but now there is a new focus on bringing in smaller family-owned forests, too.

The idea of carbon offsets is simple: Carbon emitters purchase “credits” to offset their emissions, essentially paying someone else to remove carbon from the atmosphere in their place ― through actions such as protecting wildlife habitats or planting trees.

It’s this additional carbon storage ― from not logging mature trees or not selling a portion of the forest to developers ― that is meant to be sold as offsets. The goal is to ensure that carbon polluters aren’t trying to offset their emissions with practices that landowners were already implementing anyway.

The Family Forest Carbon Program hopes to persuade owners to forgo the short-term cash boost of high-grading by paying 20% of the “opportunity cost” of preserving mature trees for a more diverse harvest later on. The scheme will also foot roughly 60% of the cost of treatments that remove competing vegetation, like invasive species or overcrowding saplings.

While offsets have become a multibillion-dollar market, they’ve remained a controversial way to mitigate fossil fuel emissions.

One problem is “leakage,” when storing carbon in one area simply leads to it being released in another. For example, while landowners in an offsets program may harvest less timber, the same quantity of wood may just be harvested elsewhere if the demand for wood products doesn’t change. In California, a research paper found that around 80% of the offsets purchased for its statewide carbon program leaked in another location.

Programs must also address permanence. In traditional forest programs, this means offsets are purchased on the premise that the carbon will be sequestered from the atmosphere for at least 100 years. The Family Forest Carbon Program says that while it aims to partner with landowners for shorter contracts, between 10 and 30 years,...

The links between habitat and disease outbreaks is still widely touted:

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/reports/2020/04/20/483455/confronting-pandemic-must-save-nature-save/

Habitat loss and overexploitation of wildlife—compounded by climate change—are driving factors in the disease boom, and they endanger human health in three ways:

  1. Expanding transmission pathways from wildlife to humans. Habitat destruction and wildlife consumption, especially the large-scale legal and illegal wildlife trades, increase the rate of interaction between humans and disease-carrying animals, exposing our most vulnerable frontline communities—and our entire species—to new pathogens.

  2. Disrupting ecosystems and biodiversity. Habitat fragmentation and changes in the populations of different species can throw ecosystems off balance—eroding the built-in checks and balances that reduce and regulate the risk of disease—and cost future generations undiscovered medical breakthroughs in vanishing biodiversity.

  3. Reducing communities’ ability to cope. Loss of natural areas translates into fewer spaces for people to enjoy the great outdoors. Many studies have shown the direct connection between time spent in nature and healthy populations—both mentally and physically. In the face of global health crises, access to nearby parks and open space is critical for all communities.

To save ourselves, we must save nature.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/deforestation-may-drive-animal-to-human-infections

A new study published in the journal Landscape Ecology has identified some factors that bring humans and nonhuman primates into contact.

The researchers point out that the continued destruction of forest habitats, for agricultural use or human habitation, would cause this contact to become more frequent, as humans and nonhuman primates would be forced into closer proximity.

According to a review in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, more than half of all human pathogens are believed to be zoonotic, meaning that they first emerged in nonhuman animals and were then transmitted to humans.

The review notes that global, intensive agriculture has increased, climate change has transformed ecologies, habitats have been fragmented, biodiversity has been reduced, and humans have been placed in increasing contact with wildlife, either directly or through intermediary animals, such as intensively farmed livestock.

The present study focuses on the roles that deforestation and other human behaviors may have in increasing contact between humans and nonhuman primates, from whom many viruses that currently circulate among people derive.

And from America increasing temperatures are making it worse:

https://capitalandmain.com/why-coronavirus-wont-be-the-end-of-it-0420

Vector-borne diseases,” says the World Health Organization, “account for more than 17 percent of all infectious diseases.” Another two-thirds of human illnesses are “zoonotic” – incubated in animals, they later become contagions in the human sphere. Which means the more space we share with wild animals and insects, the sicker we get. And as temperatures rise around the globe, space is getting tight. Climate change means humans are increasingly treading on animal territory to grow food and to live. Insects, meanwhile, are expanding their ranges everywhere.

Warmer temperatures, Diuk-Wasser says, accelerate mosquito development, making the insects both more prevalent and more lethal. “They develop faster, they bite more frequently, the virus develops faster, they digest the blood faster.”

Rising temperatures and warmer winters mean more ticks will be able to complete the full cycle” from larva to nymph to adult, says Igor Dumic, a researcher and practicing doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and co-author of a 2018 study on climate and Lyme disease. In fact, the relationship between climate and the  black-legged tick, which infects as many as 300,000 people per year with its Lyme-causing spirochete, is so well known that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regards Lyme disease as a climate indicator. The tick needs two to three years of favorable weather to grow into an effective vector. Dumic estimates that a 2-degree Celsius increase in annual average temperature could increase the adult population by more than 20 percent.

18 April 2020


Susie and Greg's mini blockade continues to have ramifications

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-08/logging-after-fires-raises-concerns-among-environmental-groups/12105394

Environmental groups are calling for logging operations in parts of New South Wales to be suspended until the impact of the summer bushfires on wildlife can be assessed.

Susie Russell, of the North East Forest Alliance, said her concerns for koalas in the Comboyne State Forest had increased since COVID-19 restrictions were imposed, rendering activists unable to protest.

"While we're [staying home] I'm told that the log trucks are coming out of there loaded with logs," she said.

Nature Conservation Council (NCC) chief executive Chris Gambian says approvals given prior to fires, when there was a different set of circumstances for conservation and ecological values, should be reassessed.

"Let's just pause, take stock, have a proper understanding of what the fires have meant for endangered animals and hollow-bearing trees and recommence when we know it is sustainable to do so."

The COVID-19 lockdown's effect on forest monitoring had some coverage:

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/years-of-effort-to-be-wasted-angst-over-volunteer-lockouts-in-forests-20200409-p54ii5.html

Coronavirus restrictions have halted volunteer monitoring of logging industry activity and important recovery programs for the east coast's fire ravaged forests.

Invasive Species Council chief executive Andrew Cox said curbs on volunteer-based programs to remove invasive weeds could cause "years of effort to be wasted".

Chris Schuringa, spokeswoman for East Gippsland conservation group Goongerah Environment Centre said it was "unreasonable" that logging in native forests was allowed to continue while "critical surveying done by volunteers" was potentially illegal.

North East Forest Alliance member Susie Russel said there was "a lot of angst" among her peers over the government restrictions.

"We don't trust government agencies and the Forest Corporation to do proper monitoring of habitat but we felt the way the media could spin it if police were called out to a protest could be very counter-productive," Ms Russell said.

Community groups fill gaps in public expenditure on the environment. Thirteen leading ecologists published a paper in October in the journal Conservation Letters that found spending on Australia's threatened species dropped to $49.6 million in 2018-19, from $86.9 million in 2017-18. They forecast a rise to $54.6 million this fiscal year.

The roading will start in Nambucca SF soon (not yet as in this article):

https://www.nambuccaguardian.com.au/story/6714418/call-to-action-to-save-rare-pockets-of-nambucca-state-forest/

The Nambucca Valley Conservation Association has raised the alarm that road works have begun in the Nambucca State Forest in preparation for logging in unburnt areas.

She said an ecologist's survey commissioned by the NVCA last week found nine Slender marsdenia plants, a threatened moist area forest vine, in an area to be logged imminently. Another rare plant, the Scrub turpentine, was also found.

"We let Forestry Corporation (FC) know so they can be protected but what else has FC failed to find? And what do the new weakened logging rules, which are being applied here for the first time in our area, fail to protect? ... lots, is the likely answer.

"But we won't know before its lost."

Koalas still face the bulldozers:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/destruction-of-habitat-sped-up-after-koalas-were-listed-as-vulnerable-20200412-p54j6p.html?fbclid=IwAR2VKBpr5nKU7TxwN-iv-xmSxzcbNZ4PKeHI35ZhLx2NVUxdlDp2w7lCCSM

Koala habitats in NSW and Queensland has been destroyed at a faster rate since the animal was declared vulnerable in 2012 than before, a new survey shows.

In NSW, koala habitat destruction increased from an average annual loss of 11,153 hectares in the period from 2004 to 2012, to 14,695ha between 2012 and 2017, or around 32 per cent.

Since 2001, Queensland’s koala population has crashed by at least 50 per cent and the NSW population has declined by between 33 per cent and 61 per cent, according to two new reports by science consultants Biolink.

Biolink estimates the 2019-20 bushfires in NSW killed 6382 koalas up to mid-February.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/renewed-calls-for-koalas-to-be-named-an-endangered-species-after-deadly-bushfire-season

Almost half of Australia's koala population is believed to have perished during this summer's bushfires, which scorched millions of hectares of forests and national parks, greatly impacting the species which was declared vulnerable eight years ago.

And they are still the conservation focus:

https://au.news.yahoo.com/concern-for-koala-as-australia-fights-coronavirus-071613244.html

As attention is diverted from bushfire recovery to managing the coronavirus crisis, the plight of Australia’s dwindling koala population has moved out of the national spotlight.

But environment campaigners are desperate for government reviews to be completed to determine how many koalas were lost in the fires and for the much loved marsupial to be listed as endangered.

Despite millions of dollars in private donations and government funding to help koala hospitals and koala habitat recovery, concern remains.

As development and logging continue to threaten koala habitat, a growing list of environmental groups has called on authorities to list the marsupial listed as endangered.

Earlier this month, Greenpeace accused the government of walking away from its commitment to koalas after signing a bilateral agreement with NSW to streamline assessments of habitat for major projects including mining.

Amid the ongoing string of disasters facing Australia, the federal government is set to work through legislation that works to preserve some of Australia’s most vulnerable wildlife.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) is in place to manage matters of national environmental significance and is reviewed once every 10 years.

With so many of Australia’s forests, rivers, wildlife and communities devastated by last summer’s bushfires, we should strengthen our environment laws, not weaken them.”

 The Forestry Corporation are coming to the rescue  of Koalas, replacing all those old mature trees they are cutting down with little new ones:

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/6719216/seeds-of-hope-to-help-rebuild-koala-habitat/

Forestry Corporation of NSW has donated over 50,000 eucalyptus seedlings to a number of north coast koala care groups to help rebuild koala habitat on private land.

The first deliveries of the koala-preferred tree seedlings were recently completed, much to the delight of recipients Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, Friends of the Koala (Northern Rivers) and Bangalow Koalas.

The public are on our side:

https://www.miragenews.com/nine-in-10-australians-are-worried-about-post-bushfire-extinctions-poll/

Almost nine in 10 Australians (87 per cent) are worried wildlife species are at risk of extinction unless something is done now to protect natural habitats following the bushfires, new polling shows.

The survey of 1,024 Australian adults, conducted by YouGov in March for the Places You Love alliance, gauging post-bushfire views about nature, found:

  • Almost nine in 10 say unless something is done now to protect natural habitats following the bushfires, wildlife species are at risk of extinction (87 per cent).

  • Most Australians believe the government should invest more in the recovery of Australia’s wildlife and their natural habitats (84 per cent).

  • Most believe the Federal Government is doing a poor job of protecting the country’s forests, rivers and wildlife (57 per cent).

  • Eight in ten Coalition voters agree the Government should be doing significantly more to protect and restore wildlife (82 per cent) and forests and natural landscapes (81 per cent).

  • Most Australians (64 per cent) and even the majority of Coalition voters (57 per cent) believe environment laws should be strengthened.

  • Two-thirds of Australians agree there should be a complete end to logging of native tress in Australia to facilitate a faster recovery following the bushfires (66 per cent). This includes the majority living in regional areas.

The loggers are joyous that they got their own department

https://www.miragenews.com/forest-industries-welcome-establishment-of-department-of-regional-nsw-and-calls-for-bushfire-recovery-to-be-a-priority/

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has commended the NSW Government for creating a new Department of Regional NSW.

This decision by NSW to bring together a number of state government agencies under one roof to grapple with regional issues is to be commended, as is the appointment of Gary Barnes as Secretary, someone who understands regional NSW and has done a great job representing it in his current role as Coordinator General for regional NSW in the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. But we do urge the new department to set bushfire recovery as a major priority.”

In Victoria stopping logging saves money:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/13/ending-logging-in-victoria-now-would-save-taxpayers-192m-budget-office-estimates

Ending native forest logging in Victoria immediately, rather than phasing it out by 2030 as the state government plans, would save taxpayers $192m over the next decade, according to an estimate by the state’s independent budget office.

The Victorian Greens asked the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) to calculate what it would cost to shut down the native forest timber industry in the state now, including bringing forward the government’s promised $120m transition package for the industry and workers.

But across the decade it found the money saved from no longer keeping VicForests afloat would be far greater than forestry revenue. The officials calculated it would be expected to improve the state budget position by $191.9m by 2029-2030.

Jonathon Duniam, the Morrison government’s assistant minister for forestry, said the value of the native forestry industry was in the jobs and livelihoods it provided. “Communities and our economy are stronger when people are in work,” he said.

Yet more bad news for Vic Forests:

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/vicforests-not-eligible-for-fsc-membership/

VicForests is no longer eligible for membership of the Forest Stewardship Council of Australia because it has failed to achieve Controlled Wood Standard within the required time. Source: Timberbiz

However, this does not mean that Vicforests will be denied Controlled Wood Standard accreditation in the future. VicForests’ CEO Monique Dawson said that to retain FSC membership accreditation needed to be achieved with “a reasonable time”.

The FSC said it would welcome an application from VicForests when it could satisfy the current membership requirement and has strongly urged VicForests to continue its pursuit of the Controlled Wood Standard.

Sue Arnold has a broad spray at the Berejiklian Government using the COVID 19 crisis to cover up some bad decisions:

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/berejiklian-government-uses-covid-19-crisis-to-further-environmental-vandalism,13772

Shockingly, albeit predictably, it didn’t take long for the NSW Government’s priority agenda to seep out. One of the first indications was the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s approval in March of Peabody Energy’s extension of coal mining under one of Greater Sydney reservoirs.  

In March, Independent MLC Justin Field was able to force the release of a previously secret report by the Natural Resources Commission on the impacts of the NSW Government’s changes to land clearing laws in 2016. The report revealed that land clearing approvals have increased by 1,200% since 2016.

Around the same time, the Australian National University released its report, Australia’s Environment in 2019. Their Environmental Condition Score (ECS) is data collated from‘a vast number of measurements on the state of our environment: weather, oceans, fire, water, soils, vegetation, population pressure, and biodiversity’.

Australia scored 0.8 out of ten. The report says that ‘immediate action is needed to put Australia’s environment on a course to recovery’.

Undeterred by this critical report, NSW Planning Minister Robert Stokes announced that the Government ‘will cut red tape and fast track planning process to keep people in jobs and the construction industry moving throughout the COVID-19 crisis’.

In March, again, there was another clear indication that any environmental epiphany at a government level as a result of the bushfires was wishful thinking. Forest destruction continued in spite of massive protests by the scientific and environmental communities. The NSW Forestry Corporation continued to log unburned forests.

The findings that 90 year old eucalypt forests on poor soils can not store more carbon because they are limited by soil nutrients has received some coverage, and misrepresentation:

https://www.miragenews.com/don-t-look-to-mature-forests-to-soak-up-carbon-dioxide-emissions/

Researchers at Western Sydney University’s EucFACE (Eucalyptus Free Air CO2 Enrichment) experiment have found new evidence of limitations in the capacity of mature forests to translate rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations into additional plant growth and carbon storage.

However, scientists have long wondered whether mature native forests would be able to take advantage of the extra photosynthesis, given that the trees also need nutrients from the soil to grow. This question is particularly relevant for Australia, where our iconic eucalypt bushland is usually found on soils that are low in phosphorus, a vital nutrient required alongside the extra carbon to supply plant growth.

This carbon-tracking analysis showed that the extra carbon absorbed by the trees was quickly cycled through the soil and returned to the atmosphere, with around half the carbon being returned by the trees themselves, and half by fungi and bacteria in the soil.

“The trees convert the absorbed carbon into sugars, but they can’t use those sugars to grow more, because they don’t have access to additional nutrients from the soil. Instead, they send the sugars below-ground where they ‘feed’ soil microbes”, explained Professor Medlyn.

Lead author of the study, Dr Mingkai Jiang, said that “Overall, long-term exposure to increased levels of carbon dioxide can only increase carbon storage in ecosystems with younger tree stands or more fertile soils. That’s really important, because we are currently relying on mature forests to take up some of the additional carbon dioxide we are emitting. Our findings suggest that we have even less time than we thought to bring down greenhouse gas emissions.”

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00962-0

When atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide increase, land ecosystems take up more carbon from the atmosphere as a result of increased photosynthesis, a process known as CO2 fertilization. It has long been suggested that CO2 fertilization will slow the rate of increase of CO2 levels in the atmosphere1, potentially mitigating climate change.

A previous investigation4 of the same forest indicates that increased CO2 levels do not have much of an effect on the leaf-area index (LAI, a measure of total canopy leaf area) in this location, whereas CO2 enrichment did stimulate leaf-area expansion in field experiments in other ecosystems5,6

... This low carbon-use efficiency substantially truncates the CO2-fertilization effect. The two factors discussed above therefore jointly caused the CO2-fertilization effect in the Australian forest to be small.

We need the Ents, the long-lived forest giants, to come to our rescue:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/09/tolkein-was-right-giant-trees-have-towering-role-in-protecting-forests

Scientists have shown to be true what JRR Tolkien only imagined in the Lord of the Rings: giant, slow-reproducing trees play an outsized role in the growth and health of old forests.

The authors said their study highlights the importance of forest protection and biodiversity as a strategy to ease global heating. They say it should also encourage global climate modellers to shift away from representing all the trees in a forest as essentially the same.

https://www.miragenews.com/a-glimpse-into-future-of-tropical-forests/

Nowhere in the world is the loss of the so-called primary forests advancing faster than in the tropics. The natural primary forests are compelled to give way to agriculture and livestock farming and, as a result of clearing, important habitats are lost. In addition, the carbon stored in the trees is released as CO2. When the cleared areas are no longer used, new ‘secondary’ forests grow on them and these then capture part of the previously released CO2. The promotion of such natural forest areas can therefore offer an inexpensive way of mitigating climate-damaging CO2 from the atmosphere and, at the same time, promote biodiversity.

These ‘infertile giants’, also known as long-lived pioneers, grow relatively quickly, and reach a great stature, but produce only a few offspring per year, contrasting with the ‘fertile dwarfs’; small shrubs and treelets which grow slowly and do not live long, but produce a large number of offspring.

While forests are being impacted by climate change, they are also significantly slowing its pace – estimates are the vegetation of the earth is soaking up approximately 34% of the carbon molecules we emit, annually. However, scientists are not sure whether we will be able to count on this significant ecosystem service in the future

https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-04/gcfi-agi040320.php

A study has emphasised the vulnerability of forests to climate heating and drought (though the study can't be accessed):

https://cosmosmagazine.com/climate/putting-drought-in-the-spotlight

The Earth isn’t new to megadroughts, Ault notes; throughout history they have brought powerful civilisations to their knees, including the Khmer and Mayan Empires and the Yuan Dynasty of China.

But he warns that “[d]roughts of the future may eclipse those of past centuries”.

Even low levels of warming could magnify their impact – especially in vulnerable regions such as the Caribbean, Central America, Brazil, western Europe, central Africa, South-East Asia and Australia.

Trees and forests are another major casualty of a drying planet, write Tim Brodribb from the University of Tasmania, Australia, and co-authors from Australia, the US and France.

Reviewing evidence from the last five years, they find that forest mortality is increasing, with grave ecological, atmospheric and financial consequences.

Early suggestions that higher CO2 may benefit trees seems to be largely incorrect,” Brodribb says, “with the bulk of evidence indicating negative effects of increased temperatures.”

Like corals, trees are long-lived organisms, with intricately developed matrices to carry water over long distances from the roots to the leaves, prompting the researchers to investigate their vulnerability to climate change.

The slow construction of these carbon-dense, woody skeletons leads to a slow generation time, leaving trees and forests highly susceptible to rapid changes in climate,” they write.

The combined impact of warmer temperatures and water stress damage the tree’s vascular system, leading to high risk of death.

This has hit Australian forests particularly hard, Brodribb says.

Massive forest mortality in the hottest/driest year on record in Australia (2019) looks like it will greatly eclipse the impacts of the well-publicised fires.”

https://www.miragenews.com/vulnerability-of-global-forests-similar-to-corals/
The University of Tasmania-led review of recent research, Hanging by a thread? Forests and drought, highlights an emerging view that, similar to corals, tree species have rather inflexible damage thresholds, particularly in terms of water stress.

Future improvements in physiological understanding and dynamic monitoring are needed to improve the clarity of predictions; however, changes in community structure and ecology are certain, as are extinctions of tree species by the direct or indirect action of drought and high temperatures,” the review team concludes.

 https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6488/261

Trees are the living foundations on which most terrestrial biodiversity is built. Central to the success of trees are their woody bodies, which connect their elevated photosynthetic canopies with the essential belowground activities of water and nutrient acquisition. The slow construction of these carbon-dense, woody skeletons leads to a slow generation time, leaving trees and forests highly susceptible to rapid changes in climate. Other long-lived, sessile organisms such as corals appear to be poorly equipped to survive rapid changes, which raises questions about the vulnerability of contemporary forests to future climate change. The emerging view that, similar to corals, tree species have rather inflexible damage thresholds, particularly in terms of water stress, is especially concerning. This Review examines recent progress in our understanding of how the future looks for forests growing in a hotter and drier atmosphere.

Here is another take on Climate Works assessment that we can do it - if we seize the moment:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/04/australias-path-to-net-zero-emissions-lies-in-small-stimulus-friendly-steps

cutting greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050 ... “We found not only is it not yet out of reach in Australia, but it can be achieved using technologies that are mostly already mature and available,” says Anna Skarbek

The resulting report, Decarbonisation Futures, is an update of similar work in 2014. It found net-zero emissions were possible not just by mid-century but by 2035 – soon enough for Australia to play its part in an effort to limit global heating to 1.5C.

The latter requires an “all-in” approach from governments, business and individuals in what the report calls “the transformational decade” before 2030. After that, the window for Australia to do its bit towards the Paris targets and prepare for a coming global zero emissions economy may have closed.

Skarbek says it means a “make or break moment” is coming. The good news, she says, is many transformational climate-friendly steps are stimulus-ready.

If we get this right, we can meet Australia’s international climate change commitments, create jobs in sustainable industries, and set ourselves up for a smoother and speedier shift to a zero-emissions economy,” she says.

If we miss the moment of the stimulus injection to also accelerate on climate, the downturn will make it even harder to do what is needed over the next decade. I do worry we might miss this chance forever if we don’t seize it now.”

It would include upgrading homes and commercial buildings to boost energy efficiency and run on solar power; building more large-scale clean energy plants and storage; installing electric vehicle charging stations; boosting the use of recycled goods in supply chains; and supporting more carbon forestry by planting and protecting trees to store CO2.

Reaching net-zero emissions in the medium-term would involve expanding use of forests to store carbon to offset the sector where, based on today’s technology, the complete eradication of CO2 is not yet possible. But the report warns this is a temporary solution. The country cannot reforest land forever, and trees are vulnerable to bushfires, drought and heatwaves, which are exacerbated by climate change.

The fire fight is underway, with the Sydney Morning Herald paper of 18/4/20 running a story:

A "massive" funding boost is needed to prevent the extinction of more than 100 plants and animals whose habitat was wiped out in the summer bushfires, scientists and conservation groups say.

Sydney University ecologist Chris Dickman said it was hard to calculate funding requirements because crucial fieldwork by scientists, agencies and volunteers had been halted by coronavirus. "We still need to get into burnt areas where threatened ecological communities were known to occur and begin monitoring programs to figure out whats left after the fires"

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has welcomed the start of proceedings of the Bushfire Royal Commission, they want fire fighting efforts to be focused on sawmills and plantations , and of course mechanical thinning:

https://www.miragenews.com/afpa-welcomes-start-of-bushfire-royal-commission-and-calls-for-recognition-of-economic-importance-of-forestry/

AFPA has also called on the Royal Commission to recognise the importance of Australia’s forestry assets such as timber plantations, timber-producing native forests, and processing facilities, as the recent fires highlighted the enormous economic impact on regional communities from the loss of such assets.

While saving lives must be the priority for firefighting resources, we must also redefine critical infrastructure to include key economic assets such as timber plantations because they are the economic backbone of many regional communities, and they can take decades to recover. This should apply not just to the deployment of fire mitigation and suppression resources, but also recovery funding and timber salvaging operations.”

With the Royal Commission’s terms of reference including ‘the preparedness and resilience responsibilities, which includes land management and hazard reduction measures’, this is an opportunity to ensure Australia has a coordinated, whole-of-landscape approach to land management and more aggressive fuel reduction that includes mechanical fuel reduction alongside prescribed burns in the future.”

Is this the rapture or rupture?

https://phys.org/news/2020-04-bushfires-coronavirus.html

The world faces profound disruption. For Australians who lived through the most horrific fire season on record, there has been no time to recover. The next crisis is now upon us in the form of COVID-19. As we grapple with uncertainty and upheaval, it's clear that our old "normal" will never be recovered.

Radical changes like these can be interpreted through the lens of "rupture." As the social scientist Christian Lund describes, ruptures are "open moments, when opportunities and risks multiply… when new structural scaffolding is erected."

When Australia burned last summer, few could avoid the immediacy of dead wildlife, devastated landscapes and hazardous air. Australians were overwhelmed by grief, and a new awareness of the impacts of climate change. New debates emerged about how our forests should be managed, and the pro-coal stance of the federal Coalition was challenged.

Indian author Arundhati Roy recently wrote that, in these troubled times, rupture "offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves."

The challenge now is to seize opportunities emerging from this rupture. As our economies hibernate, we're learning how to transform. Carbon emissions have declined dramatically, and the merits of slowing down are becoming apparent. We must use this moment to re-align our relationships to one another, and to nature.

Now bats are being blamed  for spreading disease among Koalas:

https://www.miragenews.com/new-virus-in-bats-linked-to-aids-like-disease-decimating-koalas/

Devastated by summer’s unprecedented firestorms, Australia’s koalas are facing a potentially more serious and enduring existential threat from a fellow mammal – the bat.

A new collaborative study led by Burnet Institute and CSIRO scientists reveals bats as a reservoir for a family of deadly viruses that cause an AIDS-like disease in koalas, a finding with important implications for the conservation of the iconic marsupial.

... the research reveals Australian and Asian bats to be carriers of multiple gammaretroviruses very closely related to the koala retrovirus, known as KoRV.

By depressing the immune system in a similar way to HIV in humans, KoRV renders the koala susceptible to cancers and infections including chlamydia – a cause of infertility, blindness and kidney failure – and is estimated to infect the majority of Australia’s koalas.

The relationship between environmental degradation and disease continues to get a run:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200407164947.htm

In Uganda, loss of forested habitat increases the likelihood of interactions between disease-carrying wild primates and humans. The findings suggest the emergence and spread of viruses, such as the one that causes COVID-19, will become more common as the conversion of natural habitats into farmland continues worldwide.

The analysis, published in Landscape Ecology, reveals how the loss of tropical forests in Uganda puts people at greater risk of physical interactions with wild primates and the viruses they carry. The findings have implications for the emergence and spread of infectious animal-to-human diseases in other parts of the world, and suggest potential solutions for curbing the trend.

When people venture into forested areas for resources and when animals venture out of their habitats to raid crops, the chances increase for transmission of zoonotic -- or animal-to-human -- disease. A prime example is HIV, which is caused by a virus that jumped from wild primates to humans via infected bodily fluids.

"We humans go to these animals," study co-author Eric Lambin, the George and Setsuko Ishiyama Provostial Professor in Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. "We are forcing the interaction through transformation of the land."

At the end of the day, land conservation and the reduction of forest fragmentation is our best bet to reduce human-wild animal interactions," said study coauthor Tyler McIntosh, a former graduate student in the Stanford Earth Systems Program now working at the Center for Western Priorities.

https://theconversation.com/most-laws-ignore-human-wildlife-conflict-this-makes-us-vulnerable-to-pandemics-135191?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20April%2010%202020%20-%201590115225&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20April%2010%202020%20-%201590115225+CID_1c445d03109bd50057621243f08ecea3&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Most%20laws%20ignore%20human-wildlife%20conflict%20This%20makes%20us%20vulnerable%20to%20pandemics

At the root of the problem is a social phenomenon called “human-wildlife conflict”. This is when the interests of humans and the needs of wildlife overlap in a negative way.

Research shows environmental destruction is also leading to an increase in zoonotic diseases. For example, clearing forests and destroying habitats can force animals to move closer to urban areas, bringing diseases with them.

Various changes to law have been proposed in light of COVID-19, including closing all wildlife markets and trade.

Laws must acknowledge how all humans are vulnerable to wildlife and broader environment change. If they haven’t even acknowledged this, then they can’t start to address it.

... both international and domestic laws must recognise the interdependency between humans and all aspects of the natural environment, in every area of law – from environmental law, to trade law, human rights and corporate law.

Ecuador, for example, integrated this idea into its national constitution so the necessity of environmental protection is linked to the continued existence of its people.

https://forestsnews.cifor.org/65145/covid-19-pandemic-how-nature-steps-in-to-refill-empty-forests-when-animals-disappear?fnl=en

In a paper published in Nature in 2017we demonstrated that the increased probability of an Ebola outbreak occurring is linked to deforestation, and that the likelihood of future outbreaks could be reduced through forest conservation.We suggested that when the flying frugivores are unsettled by human activities leading to deforestation, their habitats expand, increasing their contact with people and influencing the spread of disease.

Empty forests, depleted of natural biodiversity by such large-scale encroachments as extraction, industry and agriculture are hollowed out by widespread deforestation and landscape degradation.

We suggest that when prey species, especially large mammals, are taken out through hunting, the balance between pathogens and hosts is altered to the extent that viruses, bacteria that cause disease can jump between different animals and even onto humans.

Overall, experts agree the number of animal-to-human infectious diseases is on the rise. A number of studies have examined the potential causes, including isolating human-dominated landscapes where animal species have increased their numbers and adapted as a potential factor.

For example, in areas where human and wildlife habitats and diets overlap in agricultural or urban settings.

We must not let our focus on busy landscapes manufactured by human-led interventions distract us from the devastating potential of the ecological changes occurring in forests on human health.

Its an old story, Australia is the seventh most biodiverse country on earth, giving us a special responsibility:

https://news.mongabay.com/2016/05/top-10-biodiverse-countries/?utm_source=spotim&utm_medium=spotim_recirculation&spotim_referrer=recirculation&spot_im_comment_id=sp_8TLFqmLV_186570_c_K54u0R

#7: Australia

Australia really outperforms when it comes to reptiles and fish, leading the world in both categories according to The Reptile Database and FishBase. The Great Barrier Reef and terrestrial ecosystems ranging from dry deserts to tropical rainforests give the continent-nation a boost in the rankings.

7 April 2020


The push is on to have Koalas listed as Endangered:

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/worse-than-we-thought-call-for-koalas-to-be-listed-as-endangered-amid-shocking-decline

Three animal welfare organisations have called on the federal government to raise the threat level for koalas from 'vulnerable' to 'endangered' in Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT. 

The call comes as a report commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia (WWF-Australia) found that Queensland’s koala population has declined by at least 50 percent since 2001. 

Numbers declined between 33 per cent and 61 per cent in New South Wales during the same period, a parallel investigation from the International Fund for Animal Welfare found. Estimates suggest that 6,382 died during the 2019-20 bushfire season. 

Here's why Koalas are rapidly going extinct in western NSW:

https://theaimn.com/going-going-gone-koalas-and-their-uncertain-future-west-of-the-sandstone-curtain/

In early February this year, I appeared as a witness to the New South Wales Upper House Inquiry into Koala populations and habitat in New South Wales as someone who had worked extensively with Koalas in the north-west of NSW.

It was a fairly gloomy hearing as the Committee struggled to digest the lack of good news on the future for Koalas west of the divide. While forests west of the divide were spared the worst parts of the recent bushfire season, with some exceptions, eg. Mt Kaputar National Park lost over 80% of its total area, Koalas have been declining in this region over the last 20 years for a variety of factors, not least declining habitat conditions and extent. In particular, one question gave me pause to think, going to the heart of the matter one which requires a better and urgent examination of our attitudes to conservation more generally.

The question was, why has there been little apparent action in relation to Koala conservation west of the divide? Here is my written response.

The burning of our rainforests is still getting attention:

https://www.miragenews.com/a-forest-and-its-history-threatened/

"You may think of the Amazon when you think of rainforests, but Australia has just a few little pockets that are still wet year-round,” Wilf said. “The areas are so small that climate change could just wipe them out in a geologic second and with it, wipe out more than 40 million years of rainforest history. The area of Nightcap National Park, about half of which was affected by the recent fires, is a World Heritage site because it is a living museum of paleo-Antarctic plants that are found nowhere else".

According to Wilf, the wildfires around the world are threatening to destroy some of the last ancient living-fossil forests on the earth and their living evolutionary history, like in the rainforests in Australia and Southeast Asia. It is these ancient forests that hold the connection to the history Wilf searches for.

Wilf said that walking through those rainforests is about as close as you can get to walking in Antarctica 40 million years ago.

The remarkable ancient plants include the Nightcap Oak,” Wilf said. “Its origins lie in the paleo-Antarctic, going back maybe 90 million years. It is so rare that there are only about 125 adult plants remaining in the world, and they’re all in one area.”

During the recent Australia bushfires, about 10% of the Nightcap Oaks were destroyed.

Kooyman has been working with Wilf for years on these ancient forests and their fossil heritage. He said the letter was really a plea for recognition of the value of the Gondwana Rainforests and the need to protect them.

Echonet gave the increase in landclearing a run

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/04/1330-increase-in-land-clearing-under-liberal-national-leadership/

The bush, the forests, the animals, and the people of NSW – make that Australia – have been enduring the back to back impacts of flood, drought, fire, flood, and now the COVID-19 pandemic. What could make this any worse? A significant increase in land-clearing; because the more land is cleared the more regional temperatures increase, rainfall decreases and the higher the fire risk.

Nature Conservation Council (NCC) chief executive Chris Gambian said.

This report is alarming because land clearing is a key threat pushing most of the state’s threatened species towards extinction.

Koalas and other vulnerable species are being smashed from every direction, by bushfires, drought, logging and land clearing. We also know that trees are a proven way to remove carbon from the atmosphere – carbon that is slowly cooking the planet and putting our future prosperity in grave danger.’

North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is calling for an immediate halt to land-clearing following the release of the NRC report ...

The NRC’s damning review shows that land-clearing has skyrocketed, the promised off-setting is not being implemented, Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value are not being protected, the regulatory map has not been released, and that land-clearing represents a biodiversity risk across north-east NSW.’

The NRC are scathing in their assessment that the government is only setting aside in protected areas a fraction of the area approved to be cleared, when the government promised they would protect two to four times more than was cleared.

On the North Coast the NRC reveal only one fifth the area of the land cleared is being set aside, and this drops down to less than a tenth on the New England Tablelands.

Yet another study has found that forests can significantly lower temperatures:

https://eos.org/research-spotlights/reforestation-as-a-local-cooling-mechanism

Reforestation has been shown to cool surface temperatures, and a novel study suggests it may also reduce air temperature up to several stories above the ground.

And after decades of net global forest loss, reestablishing forests worldwide is viewed as a viable option for mitigating the effects of climate change.

Beyond the carbon sequestration potential of reforestation, in many parts of the world, forests offer the added benefit of reducing surface temperatures by drawing water from the atmosphere and increasing heat transfer away from the surface. At a local level, restoring forests may help alleviate the effects of climate warming.

The study found that although air cooling from forests is not as significant as cooling on the surface, forest canopies still reduce air temperature near the surface by 0.5°C–1°C over a year. During the growing season, the warmest time of the year, forests reduce daytime near-surface air temperatures by 2°C–3°C.

Its logging as usual despite the fires and coronavirus:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/despite-the-fires-logging-continues-in-damaged-forests-20200329-p54f0t.html

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/sustainability/despite-the-fires-logging-continues-in-damaged-forests-20200329-p54f0t.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_feed

Despite bushfire damage to half of NSW state forests, logging has returned at pace to unburnt areas, while so-called “salvage logging” has been approved in 11 burnt state forests, prompting fears that vulnerable species will be pushed further towards extinction.

Logging after the fire is the worst form of logging and now the NSW government is making the same ill-informed mistake that the Victorian government made in the past,” said Professor David Lindenmeyer...

He said the Victorian government had conducted salvage logging after fires in 1939, 1983 and 2009 and on each occasion had damaged forest floors, destroyed more wildlife habitat and left the forests more prone to bushfires.

The taxpayer ends up funding the destruction of their forests,” Professor Lindenmeyer said.

The Victorian Government has extended their Regional Forest Agreements for 10 years despite the fires:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/victoria-s-plans-for-logging-in-bushfire-zones-grossly-irresponsible-20200401-p54g0t.html

On Wednesday the government released new plans for its five Regional Forestry Agreements that designate areas for logging across the state until 2030.

Local conservation group the Goongerah Environment Centre estimates last summer's fires burnt through two thirds of the area that had been protected from logging under the previous RFA in East Gippsland.

However, the updated RFA for the region does not increase the area of forest protected from logging to include new, unburnt habitat.

The Victorian Association of Forest Industries, the Australian Forest Products Association and the Australian Forest Contractors Association welcomed the extension of the RFAs in a joint statement, but criticised the Victorian government's plan to close logging native forests by 2030.

We will continue to oppose the Andrews government’s plan to end native timber harvesting right up to the next Victorian election to have it overturned.” AFPA chief executive Ross Hampton said.

This is despite the warning that forests contain "irreplaceable" carbon that we can not afford to release:

https://www.conservation.org/blog/study-protect-these-places-or-face-climate-doom

To stop climate catastrophe, there are certain places on Earth that we simply cannot afford to destroy, according to new research by Conservation International scientists.

The scientists identified pockets of “irrecoverable carbon” — vast stores of carbon that are potentially vulnerable to release from human activity and, if lost, could not be restored by 2050. (Why 2050? It’s the year by which humans need to reach net-zero emissions to avoid a climate catastrophe.)

We already know that fossil fuels release massive amounts of emissions and that we need to keep them in the ground,” Turner said. “We now know that when particular ecosystems are destroyed or degraded, they release massive amounts of carbon that we simply can’t get back in time to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change. We have to make protecting these places a top priority of this decade.”

We have growing evidence that the final battle ground whether we fail or succeed in delivering the Paris Climate Agreement of holding the 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming line, is not only whether we are able to get off fossil fuels, it is also whether we are able to safeguard the carbon sinks in nature,” said Johan Rockström

The wildfires may have been overwhelmed by coronavirus, though they remain an issue, particularly how they have shown-up the conservatism of climate change predictions and the real threats of passing tipping points:

https://environmentjournal.online/articles/climate-scientists-wont-know-exactly-how-the-crisis-will-unfold-until-its-too-late/

Australia’s climate had been warming rapidly for many decades, and eventually, the moment came when record-breaking extreme heat coupled with an exceptionally dry period created the conditions for a series of mega-fires.

In all, the fires burned more than 20% of temperate broadleaf forests in New South Wales and Victoria, compared to less than 2% in a typical season.

Many of the forests may never recover to their previous state. Other ecosystems may contain similar tipping points.

For example, the massive scale of the recent Australian bushfires goes beyond what any model used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has ever simulated – for the present or the future.

In fact, one of us has published extensively on future wildfires, and his work found that fire activity in parts of south-eastern Australia would likely increase significantly by the late 21st century.

In reality, much more widespread fires occurred some 70 years earlier than predicted.

The IPCC’s estimates of how much CO we can still emit to be on the safe side explicitly leave out many known large-scale disruptions or tipping points because of insufficient understanding or because models cannot capture them.

Here is a concise summary of the outcomes the rednecks want from the fire inquiry - if this frightens you (as it does me) you better get a submission in:

https://canadafreepress.com/article/bushfires-in-australia-two-choices

A dangerous and destructive landscape with too many people cowering in suburban and rural enclaves surrounded by a tinderbox of pest-ridden weeds, scrub and litter – a threat to trees, wildlife and property. This is today’s fire regime in Eastern Australia.

Here is a Five Point Plan which should come from Bushfire Enquiry number 58.

I Appoint trained and experienced foresters to maintain safe and healthy public forests ...
Appoint trained and experienced foresters to maintain safe and healthy public forests. They should be given authority and resources for reducing fuel loads especially in national parks and forests by cool season burning, or by combinations of grazing, timber harvesting, slashing/mulching and collecting dead fire-wood.

IV. Abolish restrictions on the management of “protected” vegetation reserves on private land

Climate Works have assessed that it is still possible for Australia to meet net zero emissions, as well as structural change of our economy they place high reliance upon forests:

https://en.brinkwire.com/canada/australias-path-to-net-zero-emissions-lies-in-rapid-stimulus-friendly-steps/

... cutting greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050 – was still possible in Australia.

... requires an “all-in” approach from governments, business and individuals in what the report calls “the transformational decade” before 2030. After that, the window for Australia to do its bit towards the Paris targets and prepare for a coming global zero emissions economy may have closed.

... I do worry we might miss this chance forever if we don’t seize it now.”

It says much of the shift needed now could be rolled out quickly by rapid and large-scale deployment of familiar technology. ...
and supporting more carbon forestry by planting and protecting trees to store CO2.

Reaching net-zero emissions in the medium-term would involve expanding use of forests to store carbon to offset the sector where, based on today’s technology, the complete eradication of CO2is not yet possible. But the report warns this is a temporary solution. The country cannot reforest land forever, and trees are vulnerable to bushfires, drought and heatwaves, which are exacerbated by climate change.

There is a frightening detailed assessment of the State of the Environment by LGAs throughout Australia:

https://phys.org/news/2020-03-grim-story-drought-australia.html

Record hot weather, drought and a devastating bushfire season in 2019 damaged our environment and natural resources on an unprecedented scale, according to the annual Australia's Environment Report.

"Last year was just another step down on the continuing descent into an ever more dismal future—unless we finally take serious action," said Professor van Dijk from the Fenner School of Environment and Society.

He also argues the global response to the coronavirus pandemic—which has overwhelmed health systems in many countries and smashed the world's economies—offers a silver lining, with a model of how humanity can tackle the climate change crisis.

"To blame arsonists or a lack of hazard-reduction burns is uninformed at best, and intentional disinformation at worst. Hazard-reduction burns help firefighting efforts, but do not stop massive bushfires from spreading."

https://theconversation.com/a-major-scorecard-gives-the-health-of-australias-environment-less-than-1-out-of-10-133444?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20March%2030%202020%20-%201577915103&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20March%2030%202020%20-%201577915103+CID_27d9a63a7e4931b77fb9f83fc6dee08e&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=A%20major%20scorecard%20gives%20the%20health%20of%20Australias%20environment%20less%20than%201%20out%20of%2010

The report for 2019, released today, makes for grim reading. It reveals the worst environmental conditions in many decades, perhaps centuries, and confirms the devastating damage global warming and mismanagement are wreaking on our natural resources.

Immediate action is needed to put Australia’s environment on a course to recovery.

Worldwide forests continue to decline at an alarming rate:

https://therising.co/2020/03/30/tree-cover-loss-progress/

Across the globe, tree cover loss hit record highs from 2016-2018, with roughly the size of a soccer field lost each second. In 2018 alone, the area of tree cover loss was larger than the UK.

While the model still can’t distinguish between true wildfires and those set as prescribed burns,” Harris said, “the ever-growing classification of wildfire as a driver of tree cover loss signals that the effects of climate change are changing fire regimes around the world.”

In the tropics, almost half of total loss was driven by agricultural activities such as deforestation for oil palm plantations, cattle grazing, and other commercial commodities, as well as the expansion of small-scale farming.

Demand for several key commodities—palm oil, soybeans, leather, beef, timber, and pulp and paper — drives deforestation worldwide.

More people are linking coronavirus to our despoiling of the environment:

https://india.mongabay.com/2020/04/deforestation-and-disease-how-natural-habitat-destruction-can-fuel-zoonotic-diseases/

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is likely a global effect of natural habitat destruction combined with the effects of globalisation, experts say.

Researchers say that usually in undisturbed habitats, viruses keep circulating in mild forms in animals. It is when this equilibrium is disturbed and they come in contact with humans, some cross the species barrier due to a mutation, and human infections start taking place.
When extractive industries, such as logging, oil exploration, and mining, are implemented in largely uninhabited wilderness areas, they provide the opportunity for human exposure to novel pathogens.

https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-is-a-wake-up-call-our-war-with-the-environment-is-leading-to-pandemics-135023

The COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the world is a crisis of our own making.

That’s the message from infectious disease and environmental health experts, and from those in planetary health – an emerging field connecting human health, civilisation and the natural systems on which they depend.

Biodiversity (all biological diversity from genes, to species, to ecosystems) is declining faster than at any time in human history.

We clear forests and remove habitat, bringing wild animals closer to human settlements. And we hunt and sell wildlife, often endangered, increasing the risk of disease transmission from animals to humans.

It might be clear to readers here that human health depends on healthy ecosystems. But this is rarely considered in policy decisions on projects that affect natural ecosystems – such as land clearing, major energy or transport infrastructure projects and industrial-scale farming.

https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/04/580080/price-we-pay-not-preserving-forests

FOR years, scientists have been trying to warn us that deforestation will unleash infectious diseases onto human populations. International travel then helps some of these diseases spread, damaging human health and economies significantly.

The Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases has documented the steep increase in malaria cases in areas in East Malaysia where forested land has been cleared for agriculture. Mosquitoes and other pathogens proliferate in forest edges where the boundaries between human habitation and forested areas become blurred, and primates and other disease carriers wander into human habitation.

The Nipah virus outbreak in 1999 was caused by rampant deforestation in Indonesia which resulted in fruit bats losing their forest habitat and venturing into farms in Malaysia, where they inadvertently spread the virus to pigs, which then jumped species to humans.

HIV is believed to have arisen from the hunting of primates in central African forests. Ebola has been associated with hunting in Gabon and the Republic of Congo.

Phytophthora dieback still a threat to West Australian plants and forests:

http://www.futuredirections.org.au/publication/phytophthora-dieback-poses-a-significant-threat-to-the-australian-environment-this-introduced-plant-pathogen-spreads-easily-causing-disease-death-and-potential-extinction-in-susceptible-plants-and/

Phytophthora dieback or just dieback, poses a significant threat to the Australian environment. This introduced plant pathogen spreads easily, causing disease, death and potential extinction in susceptible plants; also loss of habitat for native animals. The disease is often difficult to detect and can cause permanent damage to ecosystems and landscapes before it is identified. It can also remain dormant for long periods during dry weather. In most situations, it is impossible to eradicate from infested areas, so it is critical to prevent further spread. The disease is currently threatening large parts of Western Australia’s South-West native forests. It poses a major threat to over 40 per cent of the native flora in Western Australia, particularly in the South-West regional area.

The Echo's Planet Watch has another article extolling us to action:

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/03/planet-watch-emergency-on-planet-earth/

This current global extinction rate is higher than ever before in human history, and between 10 to 100 times higher than the average extinction rate over the last 10 million years.

So both as individuals and communities, we all must step up to intervene in this unfolding ecological tragedy. Anyone with a backyard or some acreage can aid in this global revegetation project by planting and tending trees and shrubs that will produce food or provide habitat for native wildlife. Individuals, businesses and landholders can all get involved in tree planting efforts to regenerate forests for their biodiversity and climate-stabilising benefits.

At a state and national level, governments need to immediately ban logging in all old growth forests, and commit to more conservation measures such as buffer zones around National Parks. They also need to increase connectivity between reserves, create more wildlife corridors, and legislate proposed new biodiversity reserves such as The Great Koala National Park.

Government assistance for landholders and farmers to conserve and enhance biodiversity on their properties must be provided.

While its not a forest, its worth mentioning that The Great Barrier Reef is on its last legs as its hit by another bleaching event (so sad and so disgusting that we have done this, meanwhile tourist operators and the Government pretend there is no problem):

https://theconversation.com/we-just-spent-two-weeks-surveying-the-great-barrier-reef-what-we-saw-was-an-utter-tragedy-135197?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20April%207%202020%20-%201585715187&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20April%207%202020%20-%201585715187+CID_2d66fcafacdd4fcc30f28adff9c6e280&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=We%20just%20spent%20two%20weeks%20surveying%20the%20Great%20Barrier%20Reef%20What%20we%20saw%20was%20an%20utter%20tragedy

The Australian summer just gone will be remembered as the moment when human-caused climate change struck hard. First came drought, then deadly bushfires, and now a bout of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef – the third in just five years. Tragically, the 2020 bleaching is severe and the most widespread we have ever recorded.

This year, February had the highest monthly sea surface temperatures ever recorded on the Great Barrier Reef since the Bureau of Meteorology’s records began in 1900.

We surveyed 1,036 reefs from the air during the last two weeks in March, to measure the extent and severity of coral bleaching...

Of the reefs we surveyed from the air, 39.8% had little or no bleaching (the green reefs in the map). However, 25.1% of reefs were severely affected (red reefs) – that is, on each reef more than 60% of corals were bleached. A further 35% had more modest levels of bleaching.

Compared to the four previous bleaching events, there are fewer unbleached or lightly bleached reefs in 2020 than in 1998, 2002 and 2017, but more than in 2016. Similarly, the proportion of severely bleached reefs in 2020 is exceeded only by 2016. By both of these metrics, 2020 is the second-worst mass bleaching event of the five experienced by the Great Barrier Reef since 1998.

The Great Barrier Reef will continue to lose corals from heat stress, until global emissions of greenhouse gasses are reduced to net zero, and sea temperatures stabilise. Without urgent action to achieve this outcome, it’s clear our coral reefs will not survive business-as-usual emissions.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/01/climate-crisis-may-have-pushed-worlds-tropical-coral-reefs-to-tipping-point-of-near-annual-bleaching?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0d1YXJkaWFuVG9kYXlBVVMtMjAwNDAx&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTAU_email&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayAUS

Rising ocean temperatures could have pushed the world’s tropical coral reefs over a tipping point where they are hit by bleaching on a “near-annual” basis, according to the head of a US government agency program that monitors the globe’s coral reefs.

Dr Mark Eakin, coordinator of Coral Reef Watch at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Guardian Australia there was a risk that mass bleaching seen along the length of the Great Barrier Reef in 2020 could mark the start of another global-scale bleaching event.

The real concern is with this much bleaching without tropical forcing,” Eakin said. “This may be a sign we’ve now tipped over to near-annual bleaching in many locations.”

29 March 2020


Land clearing has again become an issue after Justin Field forced release of a damning report from the Natural Resources Council:

https://www.theage.com.au/environment/conservation/devastating-biodiversity-loss-made-worse-by-rise-in-land-clearing-20200327-p54em2.html

Approvals for clearing trees in NSW soared 13-fold after the Berejiklian government loosened laws in 2016, prompting a state agency to conduct a secret audit of deforestation.

"After a summer of bushfire hell and the worst drought on record, accelerated land clearing is just adding to devastating biodiversity loss," Mr Field said.

According to the report, more than 37,000 hectares were approved to be cleared in the 2018-19 year, or almost 13 times the annual average rate of approval to clear 2700 hectares in the decade prior to the law changes in 2016-17.

... the commission identified 7100 hectares of "unexplained" clearing during the six months between August 2017 and January 2018, or about 60 per cent of all land clearing.

The government has also failed to act on a pledge to set aside between two and four times the areas of land approved for clearing. In nine of the 11 regions, the set-asides ranged from 6 to 69 per cent of the approved hectares, the audit found.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/27/nsw-land-clearing-approvals-increased-13-fold-since-laws-relaxed-in-2016

Yet more studies show that deforestation increases regional temperatures and reforestation decreases them (except in the snow zone):

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/vegetation-holds-key-to-climate-control/

In sum, and for the time being, the big picture remains that forests absorb carbon, and more vigorous growth absorbs more carbon to significantly reduce the average rates of global heating across the entire planet.

In effect, all three studies demonstrate that vegetation moderates extremes of temperature in three climate zones.

[in Brazil, note doesn't apply to each hectare but rather local scales] If even one fourth of a hectare had been cleared, the local temperature went up by 1°C. If the entire hectare had been razed, the rise could be as high as 4°C.

By contrast, Europeans have achieved a local 1°C cooling simply by abandoning farmland that was no longer sufficiently productive.

Overall, the loss of cropland in Western Europe was associated with a drop of 1° in spring and summer. In eastern and northeastern Europe, however, temperatures rose by as much as 1°C, partly because what had once been wetlands began to dry.

The message is quite clear. Abandoned cropland – or land cover change more generally – and its role in regional climate can help us adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. And by improving agricultural systems, we can free up land for multiple uses.”

But while Europe is changing, and forest in the tropics is being lost, the Arctic is becoming greener: as temperatures rise, vegetation has moved northwards and spring has arrived ever earlier, and growing seasons have lasted longer.

That means snow-covered ground has retreated, and green leaves have moved northwards, and become denser.

Snow reflects solar radiation, and darker colours absorb it. That means that local landscapes in the north have tended to become even warmer with each decade.

Nambucca people are campaigning to stop ongoing degradation of their unburnt forest, with logging due to start on April Fool's Day:

https://www.nambuccaguardian.com.au/story/6695906/logging-to-begin-in-nambucca-state-forest/

A spokesperson from Forestry Corporation (FC) has confirmed they had "completed planning for a light selective harvesting operation within three compartments of Nambucca State Forest".

NVCA representative Lyn Orrego has said what is more important after the recent devastation of many public native forests, is that the remaining habitat is kept to protect wildlife, and as a space for the public to enjoy.

Nambucca State Forest is now a very rare patch of unburnt native forest acting as a wildlife refuge for many native species that have been decimated elsewhere.Lyn Orrego

"Community concerns have been raised along with an appeal to government for a moratorium on the logging of unburnt public native forests until post fire assessments of the impacts on wildlife are conducted," she said.

https://www.nambuccaguardian.com.au/story/6695168/letter-convert-nambuccas-blank-spaces-to-tell-our-heritage/

IT IS a great sorrow and amazement to hear that the Nambucca State Forest will soon be intensively logged by the Forestry Corp. This beautiful mature forest has been found to be the home of many creatures including the koala, yellow bellied gliders and some endangered flora. This is a forest that escaped the devastating fires in the valley and is now one of the few remaining mature forests on the coastal plain that surely is a valuable wildlife refuge.

The Nambucca council however has rejected a moratorium on logging.

The burning of our rainforests is being recognised in a world context:

https://www.kpcw.org/post/fires-where-they-are-not-supposed-happen-australias-ancient-rainforest#stream/0

"These are the deepest, wettest parts of the whole landscape, pure rainforest," he says. "To see them burning... it was like this dissolution of the biosphere. It was like, 'this is not supposed to happen.'"

"These are consistent patterns across whole biomes of the planet now," Graham says. "We're in the Pyrocene, the age of fire."

... the world's rainforests. There, human land-use and climate change are working in disharmonious concert to intensify wildfire spread.

Take the Amazon, the largest tropical rainforest in the world. Last year, thousands of fires burned across Brazil, sparking concern around the world. Even the Pope chimed in.

Large swaths of old unbroken rainforest are not very susceptible to wildfire, "except in perhaps tens of thousands of year cycles," says Robert Kooyman, a botanist at Macquarie University who's worked in the Amazon and Australia's rainforests.

And when a fire burns in the rainforest, torching canopy and introducing more sunlight, it can change the type of vegetation that grows back, increasing the likelihood of future fire.

"There's little to room escape the fact that scale of fires, the extent of fires and the places that fires are burning, globally, has expanded," Kooyman says.

The vast majority of Australia's forests are adapted to fire and ecologists are confident that, given enough time, many of them will recover.

It's less clear if the burned portions of rainforest will follow suit. Because fire so rarely burns in these areas, it's hard to know how they'll react.

The Victorians are keeping up the pressure to stop native forest logging:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/22/the-forest-is-now-terribly-silent-land-set-aside-for-threatened-species-entirely-burnt-out

New photos showing the devastating impact of bushfire in east Gippsland forests are sparking renewed calls for the Victorian government to rethink its approach to logging and bring forward the promised 2030 phase-out of the native timber industry.

Blakers, an experienced Tasmanian nature photographer, said before the fire the area’s south-facing slopes had been populated with primeval tree-ferns and giant sassafras trees with vast buttressed trunks. Now the tree-ferns were re-sprouting but the sassafras had been killed.

We didn’t see a single one that had survived,” Blakers said. “A lot of the biggest eucalypts are gone too, either toppled in the fire or undermined so that they will fall in a storm. These were the best homes for owls and gliders.”

Andrews said the native timber supply had already reduced significantly, down about 50% in a decade, and that a large bushfire might hasten the industry’s end. He reiterated that warning on ABC radio as the fires burned in January. “We’ve said for a while now that the sustainability of this industry could be directly impacted by a significant fire event and that’s exactly what’s happened here,” he said.

Another take on koalas:

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/03/koalas-vs-climate-change-qa-with-john-zichy-woinarski/

Mongabay spoke to John Zichy-Woinarski, Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Australian Marsupial and Monotreme specialist group, to examine the marsupial’s current status in the aftermath of the Australian bushfires.

John Zichy-Woinarski: Yes, along with many Australian threatened species, koala numbers continue to decline, notwithstanding many generic and closely targeted conservation programs and plans, and reasonable protection for the species in legislation. Probably the single factor that could make the most improvement to koala conservation is tighter control on land clearing.

... these are critical refugial habitat from which koala populations can re-colonize burned areas when these again become suitable, so there is a critical need to protect these unburned areas.

... I’d foreshadow that an Australian-wide listing of vulnerable would be the likely outcome from any national re-assessment – this is the status we concluded in our IUCN assessment.

Indeed. Koalas as the ‘flagship’ is a mixed blessing. Koala losses help convey the magnitude of biodiversity loss associated with these fires (and with other factors), but many less charismatic species have been far more affected by fires (including plants, invertebrates, reptiles, fish, birds and other mammals) and there has been far less funding available for them. ...

Yes, there are many lessons, and they are apposite globally: 1., climate change will have devastating consequences for biodiversity, so if we are serious about species conservation then we need to strive harder to constrain it, 2., significant biodiversity assets need to be better factored into fire control operations, 3., conservation and recovery planning needs to factor in the possibility of catastrophe, in part by trying better to spread the risk, 4., rapid responses post-fire (e.g. salvage of populations of threatened species from sites no longer capable of supporting viable populations, protection of unburned refugial areas) are important and can help maintain significant local populations, and 5., support should be prioritized strategically, for example to species most likely to become extinct without such support.

Another story on ecosystem collapse, in mountain and alpine ash forests fire is occurring too frequently for trees to regenerate, requiring manual seeding:

https://www.pri.org/stories/2020-03-25/regrowing-australias-forests-may-require-human-intervention

In Australia, wildfires have burned through massive forests of mountain and alpine ash — some of the tallest trees in the world. These trees aren’t naturally equipped to deal with frequent fires and are struggling to grow back on their own. But humans are helping to give them a shot at recovery.

With no intervention, these ravaged forests, located primarily in Southeast Australia, would eventually turn into a different type of ecosystem, like savanna or grassland. Owen Bassett, of Forest Solutions, is not ready to let that happen. For years, he has collected seeds from these trees and manually replanted them in an effort to rebuild the forest.

Mountain ash is the tallest flowering plant in the world, Bassett said. In the last 20 years, these forests have burned, on average, every four years. The trees need at least 20 years of growth to be able to reproduce because young trees don’t flower.

These four year intervals [between fires] are just too quick, and where you get these fires overlapping, then the species is in big trouble,” Bassett said. “We're experiencing that now in Australia. Forests are at the stage of population collapse. Classically, it occurs in species like alpine ash and mountain ash that require much longer periods of fire intervals to survive.”

David Suzuki extols the need for forests:

https://www.straight.com/news/1375871/david-suzuki-healthy-forests-mean-healthy-people

We can’t live without trees and forests. They provide oxygen, food, wood, and other resources, and sequester carbon. Forests—and all natural spaces—are also beneficial for our physical and mental health. Numerous studies illustrate how much forest walks can do for heart and respiratory health, immune system function, and lowering stress levels.

Wild animals become more susceptible to pathogens if their habitat is damaged or destroyed, and this also puts infected animals in closer contact with people. The illicit wildlife trade is another area that needs to be brought under control to keep pathogens from spreading from one species to another.

Now and always, we need to protect, conserve, plant, and restore forests, wetlands, and other natural areas to help in the fight against climate disruption and disease spread, and to ensure more people have access to areas that keep us mentally and physically well.

Indigenous leaders are also blaming habitat destruction for the rise of coronavirus:

http://www.heraldmalaysia.com/news/destruction-of-forests-of-the-world-drive-viruses-as-well-as-climate-change/52635/1

The same forest destruction that accelerates climate change can also encourage the emergence of diseases such as the coronavirus, Indigenous peoples’ leaders said March 13, as they criticized Cargill and other multinational companies for replacing forests with soy, palm, and cattle plantations.

The coronavirus is now telling the world what we have been saying for thousands of years—that if we do not help protect biodiversity and nature, then we will face this and worse future threats,” said Levi Sucre Romero, a BriBri indigenous person from Costa Rica who is the coordinator of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests.

Recent peer-reviewed science has concluded that protecting the land and human rights of Indigenous peoples who occupy much of the earth’s forested areas is the best way to keep forests standing, which in turn reduces global warming and biodiversity loss.

We know that 25 percent of the medicines [the world] uses come out of the forests and that by losing the forests we put in danger future solutions,” said Sucre Romero.

There is a growing chorus who link the spread of corona virus with environmental destruction:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/25/coronavirus-nature-is-sending-us-a-message-says-un-environment-chief?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0d1YXJkaWFuVG9kYXlBVVMtMjAwMzI2&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTAU_email&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayAUS

Nature is sending us a message with the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis, according to the UN’s environment chief, Inger Andersen.

To prevent further outbreaks, the experts said, both global heating and the destruction of the natural world for farming, mining and housing have to end, as both drive wildlife into contact with people.

They also urged authorities to put an end to live animal markets ...

Never before have so many opportunities existed for pathogens to pass from wild and domestic animals to people,” she told the Guardian, explaining that 75% of all emerging infectious diseases come from wildlife.

Our continued erosion of wild spaces has brought us uncomfortably close to animals and plants that harbour diseases that can jump to humans.”

She also noted other environmental impacts, such as the Australian bushfires, broken heat records and the worst locust invasion in Kenya for 70 years. “At the end of the day, [with] all of these events, nature is sending us a message,” Anderson said.

There are too many pressures at the same time on our natural systems and something has to give,” she added. “We are intimately interconnected with nature, whether we like it or not. If we don’t take care of nature, we can’t take care of ourselves. And as we hurtle towards a population of 10 billion people on this planet, we need to go into this future armed with nature as our strongest ally.”

The spread of diseases from the natural world into human populations because of our activities is getting quite a bit of traction:

https://theecologist.org/2020/mar/26/protecting-forests-will-help-safeguard-our-future

But for those seeking to protect the world’s forests, there is plenty of authoritative, thought provoking material worth diving into as we recalibrate ourselves towards whatever new reality emerges in the pandemic’s wake.

This week, Nature published genetic data, analysed with astonishing speed, that strongly suggests that the virus originated from pangolins, rather than bats, as originally thought.

Since 1940, hundreds of microbial pathogens have either emerged or re-emerged into new territory where they’ve never been seen before. They include HIV, Ebola in West Africa, Zika in the Americas, and a bevy of novel coronaviruses. The majority of them—60 percent—originate in the bodies of animals. Some come from pets and livestock.

"Most of them—more than two-thirds—originate in wildlife. But that’s not the fault of wild animals The problem is the way that cutting down forests and expanding towns, cities, and industrial activities creates pathways for animal microbes to adapt to the human body.”

Wildfires, which destroy forests and habitat, can lead to human-animal interfaces that wouldn't have happened. Because when animals lose their homes they're going to go somewhere else. Climate change is a destabilizing force when it comes to the spread of infection through several potential pathways.”

TV5 Monde picked up on these themes, although Le Figaro has struck a cautionary note on whether the coronavirus itself is linked to deforestation.

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/destroying-habitats-has-opened-pandoras-box-new-diseases-emerge

"We invade tropical forests and other wild landscapes, which harbor so many species of animals and plants — and within those creatures, so many unknown viruses," David Quammen, author of "Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Pandemic," recently wrote in the New York Times. "We cut the trees; we kill the animals or cage them and send them to markets. We disrupt ecosystems, and we shake viruses loose from their natural hosts. When that happens, they need a new host. Often, we are it."

Increasingly, says Jones, these zoonotic diseases are linked to environmental change and human behavior. The disruption of pristine forests driven by logging, mining, road building through remote places, rapid urbanization and population growth is bringing people into closer contact with animal species they never may have been near before, she says.

The resulting transmission of disease from wildlife to humans, she says, is "a hidden cost of human economic development. There are just so many more of us, in every environment. We are going into largely undisturbed places and being exposed more and more. We are creating habitats where viruses are transmitted more easily, and then we are surprised that we have new ones."

The "wet market" (one that sells fresh produce and meat) in Wuhan, thought by the Chinese government to be the starting point of the current COVID-19 pandemic, was known to sell numerous wild animals, including live wolf pups, salamanders, crocodiles, scorpions, rats, squirrels, foxes, civets and turtles.

Jones says that change must come from both rich and poor societies. Demand for wood, minerals and resources from the Global North leads to the degraded landscapes and ecological disruption that drives disease, she says.

https://baynature.org/article/biodiversity-and-the-spread-of-disease/

Lyme disease, which is transmitted by tick bites, is currently the most common vector-borne disease in the U.S.; more than 300,000 people are infected yearly. Swei’s research could help illuminate both why the prevalence of Lyme has increased so dramatically in recent decades, mostly in the Northeast and upper Midwest, and also why Lyme remains much less common in California.
One hypothesis the Swei Lab is pursuing is that the structure of the ecosystems in California, which are somewhat less disturbed and more intact compared to the Northeast, and the presence of certain key animals may limit the spread of the bacterium. Swei’s research could thus have big implications not just for Lyme disease, but for conservation generally. Biodiversity may have an under-recognized role in keeping people healthy by limiting certain infectious diseases.

What the major pandemics of history teach us is that how we shape the ecosystems around us, whether by newly introducing certain animals into the human orbit or inadvertently encouraging creatures like rodents and mosquitoes to proliferate, can greatly increase our exposure to infections. This dynamic continues to this day. 

The emergence of new infectious diseases, particularly “zoonotic” ones that jump from animals, accelerated in the 20th century. Most of the big scares of modern times—SARS, MERS, Ebola, HIV and coronavirus—originated in animals.

... The implication is that human activity inadvertently makes the wild disease-scape more virulent.

The very animals that tend to be infected with Lyme disease in the Northeast—mice and chipmunks—thrive in fragmented landscapes. Other animals that might control the number of Lyme-infected rodents, like weasels, are relatively scarce. These small hunters are very sensitive to forest disturbance,...

... The opossum, for example, is immune to Lyme and thus won’t transmit it to ticks. And it grooms itself so obsessively that it serves as a tick death trap, reducing the number of ticks on the landscape ...

Together these findings suggest that the shape of northeastern forests, fragmented on the one hand and ecologically simplified (compared to precolonial times) on the other—and suffering from a paucity of predators large and small—has yielded an ecosystem perfectly tuned to churning out Lyme-infected ticks.

Yet another plea for action to save forests to save ourselves;

https://theecologist.org/2020/mar/27/ecocide-forests-must-end

Forests burst with life, full of plants and animals found nowhere else. In the tropics, these range from orchids to orang-utans, and make up some of the most diverse, unique habitats on our planet.

Forests are vital stores of carbon, and destroying them will make meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement – already on a knife-edge – simply impossible.

The Paris Agreement in 2015 explicitly called for forests to be preserved as a ‘natural solution’ to climate breakdown, taking carbon out of the atmosphere with no action required except to leave them alone, yet few countries include land use and forestry in their plans, and fewer still are acting on them. 

This loss is now so critical that some forests have shifted from taking in more carbon than they emit – known as a carbon sink –� to being a source of emissions, and the Amazon, the biggest on the planet, is on track to be in this position in the next decade. This means that as the eyes of the world turn to Glasgow in November for the make-or-break COP26 climate negotiations, where countries have a final chance to commit to serious attempts to keep warming below 1.5 degrees, forests – and those who live in them – must be front and centre of the conversation.

We cannot give up on our forests – the future depends on it.

If you want some positive news, the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre extols some successes:

https://sdg.iisd.org/commentary/guest-articles/sustainable-forests-and-reaching-the-sdgs/

Forests are among the most biodiverse of Earth’s ecosystems. They sequester carbon and help to mitigate against climate change. They protect watersheds and help to control soil erosion. And yet, around 11% of carbon dioxide emissions come from deforestation and forest degradation, which is second only to the energy sector.

In work led by UNEP-WCMC, the UN-REDD Programme has supported over 20 developing countries to analyze where REDD+ actions could result in multiple benefits beyond carbon. Through spatial analyses carried out in close collaboration with national partners, countries have been empowered to identify areas that have potential for forest conservation, restoration and sustainable management, and can also help secure a range of additional important benefits for people and planet.

The widespread planting of forests, notably over the African savanna, has been criticised:

https://allafrica.com/stories/202003240699.html

Bond and his colleagues stress that they have nothing against trees per se. In fact, they strongly endorse tree planting to restore closed forests, the retention of remaining intact forests and the planting of trees in urban areas for shade and enjoyment.

However, writing in the science journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, they argue that several mass tree planting campaigns are based on "wrong assumptions" and simply distract global attention from the tougher business of decarbonising the world at source.

From an ecological perspective, they note that Africa is the world's grassiest continent, supporting pastoral communities and large remaining herds of grass-dependent and sunlight-loving wildlife species.

"The tree-planting plans ignore the fate of the savanna's current inhabitants. And they bring the risk of raging megafires as well as adversely altering stream flows. By fixing set targets by a set period, they are forcing rapid land-use change on a massive scale. It is surely time to pause and ask questions of tree planting and its consequences," Bond suggests.

Even if Africa achieved the 100 million hectare target, current carbon growth rates would be mitigated by a mere 2.7% per year.

"If this seems very small reward for afforesting a continent, consider that the coal that drove 200 years of the industrial revolution took 400 million years to accumulate. How can we possibly expect to grow enough trees to stuff all the carbon back in again in just a few decades?"

This reduction of water flow in rivers would create critical impacts on dry-season water supply for local communities already facing water scarcity.

In America they are assisting the migration of trees:

https://www.northernexpress.com/news/feature/southern-saviors/

According to Kama Ross, district forester for the Leelanau, Grand Traverse, and Benzie Conservation Districts, climate change has kicked off a domino effect that is already wreaking havoc on northern Michigan forests. The U.S. Forest Service says that changing climate conditions can affect trees by “making them more susceptible to diseases” and by “influencing the spread of infectious diseases and their carriers.” In northern Michigan, diseases such as beech bark disease and oak wilt disease, as well as pests like emerald ash borer, have wiped out huge numbers of beech trees, oak trees, ash trees, and elm trees — to name a few species.

The idea to create ATREP came together slowly throughout my studies and my summer experience with Kama,” Baroli said. “A lot of my studies focused on the effects of climate change and what forest health and management challenges it presents. I got really interested in the concept of assisted range expansion, which is defined as the ‘intentional movement of species to areas just outside their established range in response to climate change, facilitating or mimicking natural range expansion.’

The idea of ATREP is to take species of trees that aren’t native to the area — but that are predicted to thrive and reproduce in the changing climate — and to plant them here as a means of diversifying local forests and offsetting recent tree losses. For Baroli, that means focusing on species that already thrive in southern Michigan and assisting their range expansion into the northern part of the state. This process, she says, is more natural (and much less risky) than migrating trees to the area from farther away.

Another study promoting biomass does indicate concerns with loss of native forests, though still promotes it:

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/13/eaay6792

The role that forests should play in mitigating climate change is still widely debated. Some researchers have argued that forest-based biomass energy is not carbon neutral (1113) and, thus, that forest-based bioenergy should not be allowed to offset other energy sources under renewable energy standards. These assessments have suggested that when forest biomass energy is generated, it creates a carbon emission to the atmosphere that may, or may not, be taken back up by trees that grow in the future. Even if regrowth does occur, it occurs slowly over time, increasing global climate damages during the period when the released carbon is in the atmosphere. Given these concerns, some have argued that society should focus on enhancing carbon sinks rather than encouraging biomass energy

Projections using IAMs show that bioenergy demand is very likely to dominate under the 1.5° to 2°C target scenarios (10). Our study provides a comprehensive outlook of how this bioenergy future will affect forest harvests, prices, timber management investments, the area of forest, and forest carbon balance when market interactions and management responses are considered.

The results show that lower levels of bioenergy demand, consistent with RCPs 4.5 and 6.0, can lead to net carbon emissions if the higher prices encourage more harvesting of natural forests but not enough of an increase in investments in forest regeneration. For RCPs more stringent than 4.5, bioenergy demand is sufficiently high that it encourages strong enough investments in forest management to offset the negative effects of harvesting inaccessible and natural forests. Thus, for these higher levels of bioenergy demand, there are net positive effects on the global carbon balance, although there are notable impacts on natural forests.

https://phys.org/news/2020-03-woody-biomass-global-forest-ecosystem.html

Incentivizing both sequestration and avoidance of emissions— using a carbon rental or carbon tax and subsidy approach—versus only a carbon tax encourages protection of natural forests by valuing the standing stock, according to a new study led by Georgia Institute of Technology.
A concern of many environmental organizations is expansion of biomass energy in the U.S. and globally that would harm ecosystems by encouraging most forests to become industrial timber plantations. This study shows how that can be avoided, according to the researchers.

Favero says. "Policy should not be a focus on either forest carbon or biomass carbon, but rather how to incentivize both. Simply penalizing emissions from bioenergy without an offsetting subsidy for carbon accumulation is an inefficient climate policy because it creates relatively less demand for forest products, depresses timber prices and reduces forest area."

21 March 2020


Its International Day of Forests today (21 March). 

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/jessica-carey-webb/fight-our-future-depends-forests

Forests around the world, from the great northern boreal to tropical rainforests, breathe life onto our planet and provide everything from clean air and water to a stable climate. If we are going to overcome the immense environmental crises we currently face, we need to recognize that our future depends on protecting our forests.

This International Day of Forests has the theme of Forests and Biodiversity, marking forests’ essential role in harboring 80 percent of the world’s species, including biodiversity riches we don’t even know exist.

Yet biodiverse, intact forests also have another essential function: regulating earth’s climate. Forests are the largest contributor to the terrestrial sink, absorbing about 25 percent of our annual greenhouse gas emissions and slowing our impact on the climate. Forests are also carbon sinks, keeping vast stores of carbon locked away in their vegetation and soils. Tropical forests contain about 25 percent of the world’s carbon ... the Canadian boreal forest alone contains twice as much carbon as is in the entire world’s oil reserve.

Forests can only maintain this value for the climate if they are left intact. However, around the world, intact forests are being fragmented, clearcut, and degraded in the name of industrial logging, agricultural and cattle operations, mining, and other industrial activities....

This loss of intact forests is eroding our best natural ally in the fight against climate change, even as we struggle to lower our fossil fuel emissions....

Ending deforestation and restoring degraded forests is a critical piece to keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, yet decision-makers have been slow to take action—some even rolling back protections—and the global marketplace continues to fuel demand for products from these important ecosystems.

... in these uncertain times, one certainty is the global importance of protecting forests. The health of our forests is inextricably tied to our own; it’s time to look beyond their fleeting value as toilet paper or farmland and protect these forests for generations to come.

https://news.globallandscapesforum.org/43156/forgotten-forests/

The world’s first trees are believed to be the Archaeopteris, fern-like trees that grew into 10-meter-high forests across the terrestrial Earth some 360 million years ago during the Late Devonian Period.

Protecting the pristine tropical forests is one of the best things we can do to slow the global threats of biodiversity loss and climate change,” says Tom Crowther of the Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich and contributor to the recent 1T.org initiative.

Conserving and protecting the natural pristine forests that currently exist is critical for biodiversity and human livelihoods in every region that they are found around the world,” he says. “We must fight to conserve all native forests wherever they exist.”

https://forestsnews.cifor.org/64660/five-or-six-solutions-for-saving-the-worlds-forests-and-restoring-landscapes?fnl=en

On International Day of Forests, we join with the United Nations to draw attention to the urgent need for general recognition of the key role these treed landscapes play in combating climate change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), targets aimed at alleviating poverty.
We urge the international community to implement robust, systemic changes required to address the dramatic consequences of deforestation and forest degradation, to conserve intact forests, sustainably manage secondary, disturbed or overlogged forests, increase  trees on farms, while restoring degraded lands for both global goods and local livelihoods.

The ongoing logging of unburnt fauna habitats had a good run:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/15/state-mps-dismayed-at-nsw-forestry-logging-unburnt-habitat-after-bushfires

Endangered species have lost up to 82% of their habitat but Environment Protection Authority says logging of unburnt forest is legal

The NSW Forestry Corporation has continued to log unburnt forest that is habitat for some of the most imperilled species in the aftermath of the state’s bushfire crisis.

Logging operations have continued in the Styx River state forest on the north coast that is now remnant habitat for endangered species including the greater glider and the Hastings River mouse.

Trucks have also moved into an area of the Lower Bucca state forest northwest of Coffs Harbour in bushland that is part of the proposed Great Koala national park.

We requested an immediate end to logging in unburnt forest on the north coast, particularly unburnt forest that is known koala habitat,” Ashley Love a member of the steering committee and the Bellingen Environment Centre said.

But the independent MP Justin Field it was “unacceptable to the community that some of our last unburnt forests are being logged before the assessment of the impact of these fires has even been completed”.

Susie's action had a run in the Echo:

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/03/protesters-really-frustrated-by-logging-after-fires/

On Saturday four conservationists stopped logging in koala habitat in Comboyne State Forests west of Port Macquarie.

Spokesperson for the protesters Susie Russell said they had been informed during the week that a neighbour had seen and heard koalas in that patch of forest.

We stayed on site for almost three hours before we were escorted off by police and threatened with significant fines. We will consider taking further action,’ said Ms Russell.

Forests are beginning to recover

https://www.kuow.org/stories/australia-s-fire-ravaged-forests-are-recovering-ecologists-hope-it-lasts

"Notwithstanding climate change, we're still seeing the ecosystems recover as we might expect they would," he says.

"If we get more and more frequent fires, this vegetation might not have the break it needs to [fully] recover," says Marta Yebra, a research fellow from ANU who studies fire severity.

Compounding the problem, as climate change brings hotter temperatures and more erratic precipitation, recovery for some species might take longer than normal. That could give less dominant species an upper-hand.

"Far from seeing ecosystem collapse, I think we could see ecosystem change," Doherty says. "And that change may or may not be desirable from a human point of view."

Desirable in that a forest will still exist. Not desirable in that some of the species humans love may not.

One of those species is an Australian icon: the koala.

Though long after the fires the toll on Koalas continue:

https://theconversation.com/scientists-find-burnt-starving-koalas-weeks-after-the-bushfires-133519?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20March%2016%202020%20-%201563514952&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20March%2016%202020%20-%201563514952+CID_c8d591637ce36652e51d2787d20ee83a&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Scientists%20find%20burnt%20starving%20koalas%20weeks%20after%20the%20bushfires

The plight of koalas during the recent bushfire crisis made headlines here and abroad. But the emergency for our wildlife is not over. Koalas that survived the flames are now dying from starvation, dehydration, smoke inhalation and other hazards.

Over the past three weeks in one wildlife conservation property alone, our rescue team found koalas recently crushed under fire-damaged trees, and koalas with burnt paws after descending to the smouldering ground after the inferno had passed, hoping to change trees and find food. One of our most recent rescues was an orphaned, emaciated koala with all four paws burnt.

Koalas are also at risk of dying from infections associated with these injuries, or from the ongoing effects of smoke inhalation. Even uninjured koalas are struggling to find food in their burnt habitat and may soon starve.

We’ve also observed koalas returning to their favourite trees in their home ranges, only to find the canopies completely burnt. Others survived in a small unburnt patch but are now isolated and surrounded by vast tracts of inhospitable habitat.

Koala sniffing dogs have had a fair bit of media:

https://www.miragenews.com/koalas-returning-to-burnt-habitat-face-danger/

The team has been deployed nearly every week following the bushfires, working with deployment partner International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and have found more than 40 koalas struggling to survive in burnt bushland. From there, they’ve taken the koalas to local wildlife triage centres to receive medical attention.

But it’s not happening fast enough. Every day the fires continued, more koalas are displaced and their lives put in danger,” Dr Frere said.

The habitat they are returning to is not sustainable for them, and the problem is that they are going back to the place they know best, because that’s what koalas do. But there is not enough food or water left for them, and the danger there is that they might starve or fail to thermoregulate.”

Forestry are taking the opportunity to clear native forest from around their pine plantations:

https://tatimes.com.au/70km-dunns-road-fire-break-finished/

A joint effort to clear a 70-kilometre long fire break around the Bondo pine plantation has been completed, a collaboration between the Forestry Corporation, Rural Fire Service, Hume Forests, private contractors and the Australian Defence Force.

The Government's aerial baiting to control predators post-fire will have significant consequences for native carnivores:

https://theconversation.com/air-dropping-poisoned-meat-to-kill-bush-predators-hasnt-worked-in-the-past-and-its-unlikely-to-help-now-132195?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20March%2016%202020%20-%201563514952&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20March%2016%202020%20-%201563514952+CID_c8d591637ce36652e51d2787d20ee83a&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Air-dropping%20poisoned%20meat%20to%20kill%20bush%20predators%20hasnt%20worked%20in%20the%20past%20and%20its%20unlikely%20to%20help%20now

After the summer’s devastating bushfires, the New South Wales government announced a plan to airdrop one million poisoned baits in the state’s most vulnerable regions over the next year. The plan is aimed at protecting surviving native animals from foxes, feral cats and wild dogs.

In a study published this week, I explore Australia’s history as pioneers of this technology. The review raises serious concerns about the ethics and poor results of baiting programs, and the high uptake of baits by non-target species such as marsupials

A 2018 trial found non-target species consumed more than 71% of ground-laid meat baits, including ravens, crows, goannas, monitor lizards, marsupials and ants.

These baits are not benign. Repeat doses can kill marsupials; non-lethal doses can kill pouch young. Secondary poisoning can also be lethal. Applying this outdated technology to vulnerable bushfire regions is from a historical viewpoint, potentially hazardous.

There are new technologies available to help protect and repair Australia’s fragile and broken ecosystems. Remote surveillance, drones, AI, heat sensing equipment, and more could locate populations and dispatch dangerous animals.

One thing is for certain: halting the program would prevent hundreds of thousands of these poisoned meat baits ending up in the stomachs of our treasured native animals.

The Victorian Auditor General has again found Victorian Forestry is operating illegally, as they do here:

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/victoria/not-policing-our-own-backyard-victorian-forestry-industry-breaches-logging-rule-20200312-p549ix.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_feed

Victoria's state-owned logging company doesn't comply with Australian requirements designed to stop illegal logging in developing countries, the state's Auditor-General has found.

Breaches recorded by the Auditor-General show paper companies buying logs from VicForests may not be meeting the conditions of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act, which requires companies to minimise the risks of legal breaches in supply chains.

The Auditor-General's report published in December last year found that in 2017-2018 VicForest had a non-compliance rate of 43 per cent in areas related to road design, and eight breaches were detected across the 30 logging coupes audited that were assessed to have a major environmental impact.

Ms Jacobs said the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act and its regulations impose "extensive due diligence requirements" on buyers of logs "including an obligation to consider all information that is reasonably available relating to whether the timber they are processing was logged legally".

"Where there are many questions about the legality of native forest logging, including findings by the Victorian Auditor-General's Office that some VicForests activities are not consistent with requirements under Victorian law, then there is a clear risk that in accepting and processing Victorian native forest logs, Australian Paper is not complying with its due diligence obligations under the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act," she said

Of course the Victorian liberals want to stop the proposed logging ban:

https://www.miragenews.com/victorian-liberal-nationals-to-be-commended-for-calling-for-forest-industry-ban-inquiry/

The forestry industry has congratulated the Victorian Liberal Nationals Opposition for showing its support for the industry in Victoria and trying to ensure it has a future.

On Tuesday the Opposition introduced a motion to State Parliament to establish an inquiry into the Government’s plan to end native forest harvesting by 2030.

Another story about the widespread death of eucalypt canopies because of drought asks is this ecosystem collapse (yes it is):

https://theconversation.com/entire-hillsides-of-trees-turned-brown-this-summer-is-it-the-start-of-ecosystem-collapse-126107?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201561514929&utm_content=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201561514929+CID_5575c81832c81d313fd338d2dd98e6f8&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Entire%20hillsides%20of%20trees%20turned%20brown%20this%20summer%20Is%20it%20the%20start%20of%20ecosystem%20collapse

The drought in eastern Australia was a significant driver of this season’s unprecedented bushfires. But it also caused another, less well known environmental calamity this summer: entire hillsides of trees turned from green to brown.

We’ve observed extensive canopy dieback from southeast Queensland down to Canberra. Reports of more dead and dying trees from other regions across Australia are flowing in through the citizen science project, the Dead Tree Detective.

The plight of the Amazon is pretty devastating:

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/rainforest/

Just when I thought the destruction couldn’t get any worse, it has,” says Nobre, one of Brazil’s leading scientists who has studied the Amazon – its unique flora and fauna, and its influence on both the local and global climate – for more than 40 years.

In terms of the Earth’s climate, we have gone beyond the point of no return. There’s no doubt about this.”

Nobre argues that Bolsonaro doesn’t care about the Amazon and has contempt for environmentalists.

His administration is encouraging the land grabbers who illegally take over protected or indigenous tribal land, which they then sell on to cattle ranchers and soybean conglomerates.

For indigenous tribes, life has become more dangerous. “They are being murdered, their land is being invaded,” Nobre says.

In August last year, the world watched as large areas of the Amazon region – a vital carbon sink sucking up and recycling global greenhouse gases – went up in flames.

Thousands of people organized, through WhatsApp, to make something visible from space,” he says. “They hired people on motorbikes with gasoline jugs to set fire to any land they could.”

The vast majority of Brazilians, he says, are against deforestation and are concerned about climate change – but while he believes that there is still hope for the rainforest, he says that time is fast running out.

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/rainforest-and-reefs/

In less than a human lifetime, the world’s greatest rainforest could become parched grassland and scrub, and the Caribbean coral reef system could collapse completely.

LONDON, 17 March, 2020 – The entire Amazon rainforest could collapse into savannah – dry grassland with scrub and intermittent woodland – within 50 years as a result of human action.

And the study of what it takes to alter an enduring natural ecosystem confirms that, within as little as 15 years, the rich Caribbean coral reef system could be no more.

A new statistical examination of the vulnerability of what had once seemed the eternal forest and the glorious coral reefs confirms that once large ecosystems begin to change, they can reach a point at which the collapse becomes sudden and irreversible.

The research confirms an increasing fear that global heating driven by profligate human use of fossil fuels could tip not just climate but also natural landscapes into a new and potentially catastrophic states.

Vietnam is leading the way with payment to landholders for ecosystem services, a step in the right direction:

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/03/vietnams-new-conservation-plan-prioritizes-trees-and-people-emissions-not-so-much/

For nearly a decade now, Vietnam has made “payment for forest ecosystem services” its key strategy for protecting forests and improving the lives of poor rural communities. Now, it plans to use the same model to help rein in greenhouse gas emissions.

The fast-growing Southeast Asian country is on the verge of piloting a unique program that would require large polluters — primarily cement manufacturers and coal-fired power plants — to pay forest communities and landowners for conservation and restoration efforts. Dubbed carbon payment for forest ecosystem services (C-PFES),...

C-PFES appears to be the first national program of its type, in that it puts a price on carbon dioxide emissions and funnels that money specifically to forests.

Requiring companies that benefit from nature’s “services” to pay for them — and improve the lives of the people protecting the area — is nothing new. Research published in the journal Nature Sustainability in 2018 found 550 payment for ecosystems services programs (commonly abbreviated as PES) active around the world and more than $36 billion in annual transactions.

Globally, PES has a mixed record, the Nature Sustainability researchers found, as did Mongabay study a year earlier.

... U.N.’s REDD+. An investigation published by ProPublica last year found that carbon offsetting schemes failed to offset the amount of pollution they were supposed to; or they made gains that were quickly reversed; or their gains couldn’t be accurately measured to begin with. “Ultimately, the polluters got a guilt-free pass to keep emitting CO, but the forest preservation that was supposed to balance the ledger either never came or didn’t last,” the ProPublica article notes.

If they didn't do enough for us, trees also help us sleep,

https://theconversation.com/more-green-more-zzzzz-trees-may-help-us-sleep-132354?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20March%2016%202020%20-%201563514952&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20March%2016%202020%20-%201563514952+CID_c8d591637ce36652e51d2787d20ee83a&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=More%20green%20more%20zzzzz%20Trees%20may%20help%20us%20sleep

Our latest research has found people with ample nearby green space are much more likely to get enough sleep than people in areas with less greenery.

We recently published research that suggested more green space – and more tree cover in particular – could help reduce levels of cardiometabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes.

Green space might counter impacts of noise and air pollution, and cool local heat islands, all of which can make sleep difficult.

Contact with nature can also provide opportunities for psychological restoration and stress reduction. It seems the benefits are greatest if there’s more tree canopy and more biodiversity (such as a richer variety of birdlife).

Our early results provided evidence of a link between green space and sleep duration in Australia. Since then, many more studies from various countries have reported similar results.

Our new longitudinal study addresses this concern. We investigated whether people with more green space within 1.6km had lower odds of developing insufficient sleep over about six years.

We found 13% lower odds of developing insufficient sleep among people in areas where 30% or more of landcover within 1.6km

For example, a UK-based study suggests the link between green space and lower diabetes risk might not be increased physical activity.

An American study of the impacts of plantations on water yield found :

https://newportnewstimes.com/article/timber-harvesting-results-in-persistent-deficits-in-summer-streamflow
Segura and collaborators looked at 27 years of streamflow data to compare the effects of historic and contemporary forestry practices on summer streamflow in three sites within the Alsea watershed

After the mature forests were harvested in 1966, streamflow increased for seven years, then began to decline as the Douglas fir seedlings grew, eventually falling below pre-harvest streamflow levels.

Compared to mature forests, daily streamflow from 40- to 53-year-old plantations was 25 percent lower overall and 50 percent lower during summer months, when there is minimal precipitation in the coast range.

13 March 2020


Steve Phillips is finding a greater loss of Koalas than he expected:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-07/koalas-losses-post-bushfires-bigger-than-modelled/12033834

"As part of the broader modelling that we're doing with fire, we're assuming a 70 per cent loss or — 70 per cent mortality rate," Dr Phillips said.

"And current information suggests that, based on our field survey work, that the real answer is probably north of that somewhere.

"If we're losing upwards of 70 per cent of those populations, you've got to ask yourself the question of the remaining 30 per cent.

"Will they have time to recover before another fire event happens? Because the Scientific and Industrial Research Organisations (SIRO) are telling us it's going to get worse not better."

Ms Flanagan said it is still a work in progress coming up with the exact figures of how many koalas perished in the bushfires, but she said what is needed is funds to buy large tracts of land.

"We've got the money to do conservation breeding but we need the money to buy as much land as we can to turn it over for conservation, manage it properly to ensure the survival of these animals into the future.

The NSW Government is considering whether to up-list the Koala to endangered:

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-nsw-government-is-considering-whether-to-classify-the-koala-as-an-endangered-species

The NSW government is considering whether to list the koala as an endangered species in the state following the summer's unprecedented bushfires.

Environment Minister Matt Kean on Friday said the state's Threatened Species Scientific Committee was considering elevating the marsupial's status from 'vulnerable' to 'endangered'.

The loggers are complaining that the new Koala SEPP will close down the PNF industry - time to have your say:

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/6661798/new-koala-sepp-will-cripple-development-says-timber-nsw/

The vice president of Timber NSW says the just-implemented Koala State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) will cripple agriculture, private native forestry and development across the state.

Mr Dobbyns painted a dire picture for the future of land use adding that it will "basically close down the private native forestry industry".

Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams said the Koala SEPP provides new guidelines.

"Now more than ever we need to be protecting these iconic Australian animals," she said.

"The new guideline for the Koala SEPP are currently on exhibition and I encourage members of the community and key stakeholders across Port Macquarie to have their say and share their feedback.

"PNF is not allowed to be undertaken in core koala habitat. The new SEPP changes the definition and they are making it easier to tag core koala habitat areas.

Mr Dobbyns said most koala deaths occur from vehicle strikes, disease, other wildlife, pests and habitat fragmentation.

"None of those activities are attributable to PNF," he added.

Further information about the Koala SEPP and form to make a submission on the Guidelines can be found at the planning NSW website.

Submissions close on the 30th March.

The Federal Government has committed $3 million to purchasing properties with Koala habitat in north-east NSW and southern Queensland (apparently Port Maquarie and Coffs-Bellingen are priority areas for purchase):

https://www.miragenews.com/experts-gather-for-koala-workshop-and-ministerial-roundtable/

The Morrison Government has already provided $3 million to support Queensland koala hospitals and committed $3 million for Koala habitat restoration in northern NSW and south-east Queensland.

With the guidance of the Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel established under Threatened Species Commissioner Dr Sally Box, we will continue to invest in strategies to protect our native wildlife and habitat.

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/governments-shift-attention-away-from-koala-plight,13676

The bottom line is that the coronavirus may have an even more devastating impact on the environment than anyone anticipated. The toilet paper crisis is yet another nail in the koala coffin as eucalypts are logged to ensure Australians have enough toilet paper.

The end result? Given that $3 million is the total amount allocated by the Federal Government to be split between NSW and Queensland, the choices are bordering on ridiculous.

Initially in NSW, 25 sites were recognised....

The list was narrowed down to 13 sites. Too many. So the experts came up with four sites which had the highest priority.

They are Belmore River, Coffs Harbour, North Bellingen, Port Macquarie.  

Meantime, the NSW Government plans to drop one million 1080 laced baits ‘in a bid to keep native species safe’.

I had an article published about our burning rainforests:

https://johnmenadue.com/dailan-pugh-we-are-in-serious-trouble-when-rainforests-burn/

A third of northern NSW’s ancient and irreplaceable rainforests burnt last year. Buffers need to be established, and weed control undertaken, to increase their resilience.

Though until we stop global heating burning will become more frequent and intense, eroding the extent, viability, and biodiversity of our residual rainforests, along with our future.

The impacts of rising temperatures, droughts and heatwaves on rainforests have been increasing. When mature rainforests start burning we know the situation has become dire, as they are not adapted to fire. Burning of rainforests is akin to the bleaching of coral reefs.

This seems to have had a run in the Northern Star, Byron Shire News, and Ballina Advocate (though I can't read it)

Bushfire aftermath: 'The rainforest left needs protecting'

Rob Kooyman continues to lament the damage to Gondwanan rainforests - a hardcopy is available at:

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/367/6482/1083.1

The ABC Science Show has run a series about Terania Creek

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/terania-creek---saved-in-1979,-ravaged-by-fire-in-2019/11988330

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/terania-creek-40-years-on-and-devastation-for-kangaroo-island/12010704

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/terania-creek---a-final-reflection/12034582

Some are spreading the message through letters to papers:

https://www.camdencourier.com.au/story/6672648/we-need-to-preserve-unburned-habitat-in-our-forests/

No Electricity From Forests is having a fundraiser:

https://www.camdencourier.com.au/story/6671363/night-of-music-fun-and-food-for-forest-action-fun-raiser/

"It seems crazy that logging has started up again in our State forests," she said.

"Just when we need to hang on to what's left for our surviving flora and fauna after those devastating fires."

Great news from Victoria with an injunction granted to stop logging of unburnt threatened species habitat:

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6636159/court-bid-to-protect-threatened-species/

"VicForests is proceeding as if the fires never happened at all," WOTCH lawyer Kathleen Foley argued in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

"There is a real risk of irreparable harm to the overall population of these species if logging continues," she said.

But VicForests argued there was no basis in law for the "unprecedented" order to prevent logging in 15 coupes in the state's central highlands for up to two years.

VicForests could potentially lose more than $100,000 if the injunction was granted, he said.

https://www.9news.com.au/national/logging-halted-in-some-victorian-forests/f0565e07-64ec-495d-9912-835f66e9151a

https://www.nynganobserver.com.au/story/6664827/logging-halted-in-some-victorian-forests/?cs=9397

Logging has been halted temporarily in parts of Victoria's forest after the state's catastrophic bushfires to help protect rare wildlife including the greater glider.

Environmental group Wildlife of the Central Highlands successfully stopped government company VicForests logging in parts of the Central Highlands and West Gippsland regions.

The judge said VicForests demonstrated it would suffer short-term financial loss and potential long-term loss may exacerbate a production shortfall.

"This pales in comparison to the potential threat of of irreversible environmental damage to the fire-affected threatened species," Justice McMillan wrote.

"Once these species are extinct, there is no going back."

David Lindenmayer is again sayings its time to stop:

https://www.theage.com.au/national/don-t-see-how-we-can-justify-it-bushfire-scientist-wants-immediate-end-to-logging-20200308-p54828.html?fbclid=IwAR0KkG_wDjAbYp_T26FUZL8YHXlJUV80rWKUvkUoL--RooFid1ZknC17VZg

A leading Australian bushfire recovery scientist has called for an immediate end to native forest logging in Victoria in the wake of the catastrophic summer bushfires.

Professor David Lindenmayer, a world expert in forest ecology and conservation, says his research demonstrates that logging makes native forests more prone to fire.

"Now we’re seeing the wicked combination of fire in highly-altered landscapes coupled with nasty fire weather. I just don’t see how we can justify it,” he said.

This is partly because when a forest is logged a percentage of the logging “slash” – branches, debris and bark – remains and adds to the fuel load, he said.

“And when a forest is young, because it has been cut down and re-grown, it burns at very high temperatures because it’s much denser,” he said. Young forests also have few large trees, which provide micro refuges for animals and aid the forest's recovery.

Our analysis in East Gippsland has shown that the frequency of fire is ridiculously elevated,” Professor Lindenmayer said. “Places are burning four times in 25 years when they are supposed to burn once every century. We have created fire-prone logged areas across the landscape.”

The Forestry Corporation want people to stop visiting forests as salvage logging ramps up:

https://www.theislanderonline.com.au/story/6675634/sightseers-risking-their-lives-by-visiting-burned-out-forests/?cs=7


"We can't understate how dangerous burnt forests are, and urge people to avoid these areas until reopened.

As the softwood industry races to process as much of the bushfire-affected timber as possible before it becomes unsalvageable, a Tumbarumba mill is expanding its workforce to cope with demand.

Hyne Timber, which already employs about 230 people, is in the process of adding a third shift.

There are complaints about the widespread roadside clearing that occurred during and after the fires:

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/victoria/conservation-watchdog-investigates-is-bushfire-tree-removal-overzealous-20200305-p5476c.html

The government's conservation watchdog is investigating claims that “unprecedented” roadside tree removals throughout areas of East Gippsland affected by the catastrophic summer bushfires have been over-zealous and will fragment ecosystems.

Members of environment and landcare groups in Gippsland have raised the alarm over the quantity of trees being felled and removed by logging contractors in fire-affected areas, including near Cann River, Mallacoota, Cape Conran and Orbost.

Residents say they understand roads need to be reopened and made safe, but they are concerned that large trees - often blackened but still intact - are being unnecessarily cut down by contractors without the proper oversight of arborists.

We are extremely disturbed at the amount of questionable clear felling of large habitat trees occurring along thousands of kilometres of East Gippsland’s roads,” ...

The Office of the Conservation Regulator was established by the department of environment early in 2019 after an independent review of timber harvesting regulation into the state's native forests found the system of regulation was labyrinthine and the department was "neither an effective or respected regulator".

In Western Australia conservationists are celebrating the temporary protection of oldgrowth trees:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-09/wa-government-12-month-stop-mature-two-tier-karri-forest-logging/12037488

The Western Australian Government has placed a 12-month freeze on the logging of "two-tier" karri forests in the state's wooded South West region.

Key points:

  • Conservationists say the 12-month ban on logging karri timber is a "major breakthrough" for the forests

  • Forest industry groups say the freeze is unwelcome and unnecessary

  • WA's Forestry Minister David Kelly said the decision was focused on "customer demand"

Mr Kelly said many native timber processors and manufacturers supplied by FPC were moving away from the use of older native-timber resources.

"Many in the industry are moving towards accessing smaller timbers and making use of logs that would otherwise be considered waste," he said.

"We think the industry has a good future in WA, but in order to have that you need to be responding to community concerns about very old trees being taken out of the forest."

Mr Granger said the Forestry Minister has assured the industry the stoppage would only last 12 months.

"What that means is that come 2021 and future years the two-tier karri will be available for sustainable harvesting," he said.

The Climate Council has released their assessment of the bushfires:

https://www.qt.com.au/news/aussie-bushfires-sent-emissions-soaring/3965415/

The devastating impacts of Australia's 2019 bushfire season have been highlighted in a new report from the Climate Council.

Summer of Crisis details the grim toll to Australia's economy, its environment and animal life of the horrific bushfire season.

"The bushfire season was the worst on record for New South Wales in terms of the scale of the bushfires, the number of properties lost and the amount of area burned.

"Climate change fuelled the unprecedented fires."

Impacts include the loss of rainforest that were normally considered too damp to burn, and the release of huge amounts of carbon emissions.

Overall 5.4 million hectares burned in NSW, which made up about 6.82 per cent of the state.

About 54 per cent of the Gondwana Rainforests in NSW and Queensland burned.

"It is unlikely that these areas will return to their previous ecological state," the report said.

The bushfires are estimated to have released between 650 million and 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

This is more than the annual emissions of Germany and far higher than Australia's annual emissions of around 531 million tonnes.

It was roughly equivalent to the annual emissions from commercial aircraft worldwide.

Australia experienced only two confirmed and two possible fire-caused storms between 1978 and 2001 but there has been 78 such storms since 2001.

These storms occur when bushfires couple with the atmosphere, generating explosive thunderstorms that can include strong downdrafts, lightning and even black hail, making bushfire behaviour very unpredictable.

The report is at:

https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/summer-of-crisis/

The powers of darkness welcome the distraction of planting trees, but want more subsidies for burning forests for electricity:

https://www.resourcesmag.org/common-resources/opportunities-ahead-expanding-forests-and-harnessing-bioenergy/

Last month, President Trump touted at his State of the Union address that the United States would join the global campaign. After floating plans for legislation that builds off the global initiative earlier this year, House Republicans also introduced the “Trillion Trees Act,” which sets new goals for American reforestation and expands a tax credit for companies that sequester carbon dioxide.

... the success of forest bioenergy is uniquely dependent on policies that incentivize its expansion.

Part of the reason that forest bioenergy is more widely used in the European Union and United Kingdom is because those jurisdictions price carbon; absent such mechanisms, forest bioenergy will struggle to outcompete coal or natural gas.

The best ways to control emissions are to ensure that land used for harvesting forest biomass retains that intended purpose....This approach ensures that harvested areas are regrown—this way, the amount of carbon burned is functionally equivalent to the amount of carbon stored in trees afterward.

Worries about the impacts of the bushfires on aquatic systems persist:

https://theconversation.com/sure-save-furry-animals-after-the-bushfires-but-our-river-creatures-are-suffering-too-133004?

Of the 113 priority fauna species identified by the federal government as worst impacted by bushfires, 61 (54%) are freshwater species ...

Following recent rain, water flowing into rivers has washed ash into streams. This clogs fish gills and brings nutrients that drive algal blooms. Sediment washed into waterways fills in the gaps between rocks and holes in river beds – places where many species shelter and breed. For instance, the River Murray catchment’s last population of Macquarie perch was impacted as rain washed ash and sediment into Mannus Creek in southern NSW.

The devastating impact of the fires in river environments may be long-lived.

When aquatic animals species are wiped out in particular rivers, they may not be able to recolonise from surviving populations in other unconnected rivers.

And after fires, fast-growing young eucalyptus forests transpire much more water than older burnt trees. This may reduce inflows into streams for a century.

In the short term, we must protect surviving and regenerating habitat. ...

Now so many infested riverside forests are accessible, it is a key time to control weed regrowth.

In the medium term, we should expand programs to fence livestock out of waterways, install other watering points for these animals and revegetate stream banks.

Successive governments have been asleep at the tiller when it comes to threatened aquatic animals.

Though it is not just bushfires and loggers that are killing trees:

https://phys.org/news/2020-03-entire-hillsides-trees-brown-summer.html

The drought in eastern Australia was a significant driver of this season's unprecedented bushfires. But it also caused another, less well known environmental calamity this summer: entire hillsides of trees turned from green to brown.

We've observed extensive canopy dieback from southeast Queensland down to Canberra. Reports of more dead and dying trees from other regions across Australia are flowing in through the citizen science project, the Dead Tree Detective.

A few dead trees are not an unusual sight during a drought. But in some places, it is the first time in living memory so much canopy has died off.

The higher the temperature, the greater the moisture loss from leaves. This is usually good for a tree because it cools the canopy. But if there is not enough water in the soil, the increased water loss can push trees over a threshold, causing extensive leaf "scorching," or browning. The extensive canopy dieback we have observed this summer suggests that the soil had finally become too dry for many trees.

But it's likely that some forests now recovering from fire were already struggling with canopy dieback. So these two disturbances will test how resilient our forests are to back-to-back drought and bushfire.

And another warning it is going to get worse:

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00627-y

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/mar/05/bushfire-crisis-conditions-eight-times-more-likely-under-2c-warming-analysis-shows?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0d1YXJkaWFuVG9kYXlBVVMtMjAwMzA2&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTAU_email&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayAUS

The hot and dry conditions that helped drive Australia’s bushfire crisis would be eight times more likely to happen if global heating reached 2C, according to new analysis.

The models found the probability of the index reaching levels seen during Australia’s bushfires had increased due to human-caused climate change by 30%.

However, they always underestimate the increase in chances for extreme fire risks such as Australia saw in the last few months. This means we know the effect is likely larger than 30% increase lower bound, which is already a significant influence of global warming.”

The analysis also looked at conditions under a climate that warms by 2C above the pre-industrial levels. Two climate models found that fire weather conditions like those seen in 2019 “become about eight times more likely” in a 2C world, with a “lower bound of four times more likely.”

This is explored in a bit more depth:

https://www.knowablemagazine.org/article/physical-world/2020/australia-wildfires-explained

There also is increased interest in the traditional burning practices of Australia’s indigenous peoples, whose ancestors set fire to carefully selected stretches of vegetation for thousands of years, a practice still followed in some parts of northern Australia. Bowman has spent months in the field studying the impacts of indigenous burning in the savanna there, finding, for example, that the practice may not just benefit kangaroos, which enjoy the tender young plants that sprout up after a burn, but also the fire-sensitive indigenous northern cypress pine. He believes that indigenous traditions could inform and inspire better burning practices in the future.

Cawson agrees that this might work in the dry forests. “I suspect that in the dry eucalypt forest, which has been impacted a lot by these fires, there was a lot of indigenous burning in the past,” she says. Other experts have identified specific plant patterns that seem to be the byproduct of centuries of planned burns. In the wetter forests, there isn’t the same evidence, and Cawson doesn’t recommend burns there. There always seems to be a lot of fuel in such forests, she adds, whether or not a fire has recently occurred. And fires open up the canopy, which can dry out the understory — making forests even more prone to fires.

Some think that forests have the ability to continue absorbing our CO2 til the end of this century:

https://goodmenproject.com/environment-2/how-much-longer-will-trees-suck-up-co2/

There’s reason to hope trees will continue to suck up carbon dioxide at generous rates through at least the end of the century, according to new research.

Keeping fossil fuels in the ground is the best way to limit further warming,” says study lead author César Terrer, a postdoctoral scholar in earth system science in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences at Stanford University. “But stopping deforestation and preserving forests so they can grow more is our next-best solution.”

To more accurately predict the capacity of trees and plants to sequester carbon dioxide in the future, the researchers synthesized data from all elevated carbon dioxide experiments conducted so far—in grassland, shrubland, cropland, and forest systems—including ones the researchers directed.

Their results show that carbon dioxide levels expected by the end of the century should increase plant biomass by 12%, enabling plants and trees to store more carbon dioxide—an amount equivalent to six years of current fossil fuel emissions.

Source: Stanford University

Original Study DOI: 10.1038/s41558-019-0545-2

Though another article considers the research that found tropical rainforests uptake of CO2 is rapidly diminishing:

https://www.eco-business.com/news/tropical-forests-may-be-heating-earth-by-2035/

Within about fifteen years, the great tropical forests of Amazonia and Africa could stop absorbing atmospheric carbon, and slowly start to release more carbon than growing trees can fix.

In the 1990s, intact tropical forests removed around 46 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. By the 2010s, the uptake had fallen to around 25 billion tonnes. This means that 21 billion tons of greenhouse gas that might otherwise have been turned into timber and root had been added to the atmosphere.

This is pretty much what the UK, France, Germany and Canada together spilled into the atmosphere from fossil fuel combustion over a 10-year period.

Our modeling shows a long-term decline in the African sink and that the Amazon sink will continue to rapidly weaken, which we predict will become a carbon source in the mid-2030s.”

Intact tropical forests remain a vital carbon sink but this research reveals that unless policies are put in place to stabilise the Earth’s climate, it is only a matter of time until they are no longer able to sequester carbon,” said Simon Lewis, a geographer at the University of Leeds, and one of the authors.

One big concern for the future of humanity is when carbon-cycle feedbacks really kick in, with nature switching from slowing climate change to accelerating it.

After years of work deep in the Congo and Amazon rainforests, we’ve found one of the most worrying impacts of climate change has already begun.

This is decades ahead of even the most pessimistic climate models. There is no time to lose in tackling climate change.”

While some complain about climate modelling as being unrealistic, others warn that it may be too conservative:

https://theconversation.com/we-climate-scientists-wont-know-exactly-how-the-crisis-will-unfold-until-its-too-late-133400

For example, the massive scale of the recent Australian bushfires goes beyond what any model used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has ever simulated – for the present or the future. In fact, one of us (Wolfgang) has published extensively on future wildfires, and his work found that fire activity in parts of south-eastern Australia would likely increase significantly by the late 21st century. In reality, much more widespread fires occurred some 70 years earlier than predicted.

One such tipping event, the unravelling and eventual disappearance of the Amazon rainforest, may already be underway. A new study uses model-aided statistical analysis from past ecosystem collapses and comes to the conclusion that, once triggered, Amazon dieback could take as little as 50 years.

To discuss highly uncertain but potentially catastrophic outcomes is often seen as political fearmongering. But basing the political response to the climate crisis on a series of safe-looking and – in their totality – apparently certain predictions is therefore painting a wholly inadequate picture of the potential risks that the climate and ecological crises pose to humanity and the biosphere.

The pine industry in NZ is in dire straits:

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/rural/2020/03/coronavirus-forestry-industry-in-crisis.html

The industry group representing forestry contractors says the crisis facing the sector because of coronavirus is dire, and is getting worse.

Many of the country's logging crews are unable to work because of supply chain disruption in China.

The New Zealand Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) said contractors were reaching breaking point in an ever-worsening situation.

Rapid impacts had been felt over the past month by the industry with the effects of the outbreak of the coronavirus, with many out of work and in serious financial crisis, it said.

There is a role for citizen scientists:

https://www.chemistryworld.com/opinion/biodiversity-after-the-australian-bushfires/4011221.article

Erin Roger, chair of the Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA), thinks that citizen science can play a huge role in measuring the wide ranging impact of the bushfires, particularly because so many people want to know what they can do to help.

Following conversations with colleagues, Kirchhoff launched ‘Environment Recovery Project: Australian Bushfires’, hosted on the citizen science platform iNaturalist. The aim is to encourage people to upload photographs taken in fire-affected areas (once it’s safe to return to the bush) so that scientists can better understand which species of plants and animals are returning and which remain threatened – or even more tragically, which may be extinct.

5 March 2020


Another estimate of Koala losses:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/04/bushfires-likely-to-have-killed-about-5000-koalas-in-nsw-report-finds

About 5,000 koalas in New South Wales are likely to have died in the bushfires, and their numbers may have dropped by as much as two-thirds in less than 20 years, a new report has found.

Dr Stephen Philips, principal research scientist and koala ecologist at the environmental consultancy Biolink, which compiled the report, said: “We’ve taken a conservative approach. But we still think that we have lost two out of every three koalas in NSW. It’s a spectacular loss in terms of conservation criteria and meets endangered listing almost immediately.”

The study examined previous estimates of koala populations. It found that in 2012 there were about 54,284 koalas in NSW. Before the fires hit, three generations of koalas’ numbers had fallen by about 20%.

On Tuesday Ifaw wrote to the NSW threatened species committee and the environment minister, Matt Kean, to ask that koalas be “emergency uplisted” to endangered status.

Steve Phillips report is here:

https://www.ifaw.org/au/resources/koala-conservation-status-new-south-wales

Given the intensity of the majority of the 2019 fire events thus far, we applied what we consider to be a conservative mortality estimate of 70% ...

... we estimate the 2019 fire events as removing a further 9.46% of the remaining NSW koala population ...
if the estimated numbers of koalas occurring in NSW are correct, it implies that nearly 4,000 koalas across NSW were killed by fires between September and midDecember, 2019.

...  Based on this consideration, we conclude that the NSW koala population has declined by at least 28.52% (lower bound) to as high as 65.95% (upper bound) over the three most recent koala generations, inclusive of the impacts of the fire events up until midDecember, 2019.

... the two key factors driving the extent of koala population declines that have been detailed in this report are in essence, a) extreme drought likely exacerbated by the inexorable mechanics of progressive climate change (see below) and b) intense wildfires arising from these considerations. ... the rate at which the Pilliga population has declined from a population in the thousands to functional extinction in little more than 2 decades should provide a sobering reality check of the challenges that lie ahead ...

The costs of wildlife recovery and logging of a small patch of unburnt Hastings River Mouse habitat in a an extensively burnt section of Styx River SF got a run:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/teetering-on-the-brink-half-a-billion-dollars-sought-to-aid-wildlife-recovery-20200228-p545hn.html

Conservation efforts in NSW to stop more species becoming extinct in the wake of this season's unparalleled bushfires require more than half a billion dollars over the coming four years.

The leaked requests come as Forestry Corporation resumed logging in unburnt refuges in the Styx River State Forest despite risks to species including nationally endangered Hastings River mice.

While officials wrangle over conservation funding, industrial-scale logging has resumed in fire-hit regions such as the Styx River, inland from Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast.

Chris Gambian, chief executive of the Nature Conservation Council, said the logging would have "immensely negative ecological impacts" given so little of the Styx River forest was unburnt.

Logging remnant forests after such a disaster is like sending a demolition crew in to conduct a cyclone recovery operation," he said. "It is hard to imagine a more harmful intervention."

Salvage logging underway on the south coast and in East Gippsland gets a serve from David Lindenmayer:

https://theconversation.com/logging-is-due-to-start-in-fire-ravaged-forests-this-week-its-the-last-thing-our-wildlife-needs-132347

Hollows in fire-damaged trees and logs provide critical habitat for animal species trying to survive in, or recolonise, burned forests.

Long-term monitoring data from extensive field surveys shows hollow-dependent mammals, such as the vulnerable greater glider, generally do not survive in areas burned and then logged.

Forests logged after a fire have the lowest bird biodiversity relative to other forests, including those that burned at high severity (but which remain unlogged). Critical plants such as tree ferns are all but eradicated from forests that have been burned and then logged.

Soils remain extensively altered for many decades after post-fire logging. This is a major concern because runoff into rivers and streams damages aquatic ecosystems and kills organisms such as fish.

Fire badly disrupts forest ecosystems. Animals and plants then begin recovering, but most forests and the biota they support simply cannot deal with the second intense disturbance of logging so soon after a first one.

The last thing our forests need is yet more disturbance.

Echonet has given the scientists calling for an end to native forest logging a run:

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/03/native-logging-makes-fires-more-dangerous/

... a group of eminent international forest and climate experts has written an open letter to the parliament of Australia calling for an urgent end to native forest logging.

Sadness at the losses from the fires sears our souls,’ the letter begins. ‘Worse might lie in wait.

We write to ask you to respond to the climate, fire, drought and biodiversity loss crises with an immediate nationwide cessation of all native forest logging.

In Tasmania the industry is winning their campaign to be able to do 'mechanical thinning' (aka logging) to reduce fire threat:

https://www.miragenews.com/tasmanian-government-paves-way-for-mechanical-fuel-reduction-to-tackle-australian-bushfires/

The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) welcomes the Tasmanian Premier’s announcement that he will introduce legislation to make it easier to mechanically remove vegetation to create fire breaks.

AFPA has been urging all Australian governments to recognise the effectiveness of mechanical fuel reduction to complement prescribed burns as a bushfire mitigation tool, following the recent catastrophic bushfire season.

AFPA recently released a report, Using Fire and Machines to Better Fire-Proof Our Country Towns, which makes the case for mechanical fuel reduction, showing its effectiveness overseas, and providing examples where it could have reduced bushfire risk in Australia,” Mr Hampton concluded.

Their report is scary (they of course want to do it across all tenures):

https://ausfpa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Using-fire-and-machines-to-better-fire-proof-our-country-towns-small.pdf?utm_source=miragenews&utm_medium=miragenews&utm_campaign=news

Federal, state and local governments should work more closely with rural communities to create buffers within a 5km radius of at-risk towns and strategic assets. This will reduce fuel loadsand improve access for firefighters, which in turn will reduce the risk of bushfires developing and engulfing towns and important rural assets.
Research has found that in the eucalypt forests of south-eastern Australia, an annual fuel reduction program of 5% of the landscape could reduce the extent of bushfires by as much as 50%.
Biomass removal and fuel reduction burning needs to be ongoing to prevent the undergrowth regenerating within a short number of seasons and should be combined with more aggressive fire break construction.

The strategic use of hazard reduction burns and mechanical fuel reduction is consistent with how Indigenous Australians managed the land for tens of thousands of years ...

The impact of the fires upon the Border Ranges is the focus of this article:

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/02/fallout-threatened-species-in-australia-continue-to-struggle-after-fires/

The landscape spanning the border region of the eastern Australian states of New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland is ecologically rich and diverse, and home to ancient rainforest. However, despite its fire-retardant nature, large swathes of this rainforest – which are bordered by drier forests dominated by eucalyptus – have been devastated by the region’s protracted, severe 2019/2020 fire season.

Last week, the Australian government released an initial report detailing how threatened ecological communities have been affected by bushfires in southern and eastern Australia since the drought-fueled fire crisis broke out in July 2019. Its conclusion: up to half of lowland subtropical rainforest in Queensland and NSW has been damaged.

Keith identified the Nightcap Range in NSW and the Lamington plateau in Queensland as being among the most affected.

The forests are burnt, severely in some places, but not lost,” he said. “Where fire has killed tree canopies, it causes major reorganisation of the rainforest that will require many decades or more than a century to recover.

In other areas, the impacts may be confined to the edges of large forest patches or to the rainforest understory, which has the capacity to recover more rapidly, given follow up rains.”

Does climate change have anything to do with wildfires?:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2020/03/04/australian-wildfires-worsened-climate-change-study-finds/4953360002/

  • Climate change increased the chances of Australia experiencing extreme fire weather by at least 30%.

  • "Extreme heat is clearly influenced by human-caused climate change, which can influence fire conditions."

  • 2019 was both Australia's driest and hottest year on record since measurements began a century ago.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/australia-wildfires-climate-change

Human-caused climate change made southeastern Australia’s devastating wildfires during 2019–2020 at least 30 percent more likely to occur, researchers report in a new study published online March 4.

A prolonged heat wave that baked the country in 2019-2020 was the primary factor raising the fire risk, .... Such an intense heat wave in the region is about 10 times more likely now than it was in 1900, the study found.

We put the lower boundary at 30 percent, but it could well be much, much more,” he said.

Temperature observations going back to 1910 show that the region’s temperatures have risen by about 2 degrees Celsius on average, van Oldenborgh and colleagues report. The climate simulations underrepresented that warming, however, showing an increase of only 1 degree Celsius in that time.

... Conditions not generally factored into regional climate simulations, such as land-use changes, may be responsible for the disparity. Changes in vegetation cover, for example, can have an impact on how hot or dry a region gets.

https://www.ecowatch.com/australia-wildfires-climate-models-2645279035.html?rebelltitem=2#rebelltitem2

In a post-mortem of the Australian bushfires, which raged for five months, scientists have concluded that their intensity and duration far surpassed what climate models had predicted, according to a study published yesterday in Nature Climate Change.

The bushfires were far more catastrophic than any climate crisis models out there, leading the scientists to call the devastation, "a fiery wake-up call for climate science," as the BBC reported.

In fact, the models were so far off target that not only did they say that fires of such magnitude could not happen this year, but they predicted that fires of this magnitude would not happen before the year 2100, as Wired reported.

... This event was worse than anything in any of the models at any point in this century. Only one of the models toward the end of the century started producing things of this magnitude."

The fires may not have gone away for long:

https://www.smh.com.au/national/race-to-understand-fire-lessons-as-another-significant-season-looms-20200303-p546bk.html
NSW is without a bushfire for the first time in eight months but agencies and scientists are warning the state faces another potentially "significant" fire season within half a year even as rains return.
"A lot of high-population areas fortunately didn't get burned," Dr Heemstra said,
"there's still potential for a significant fire season" starting in as short as five months' time.

By contrast, scientists have "just about no research on the effectiveness" of the suppression of active fires despite such efforts drawing much of the resources in terms of water-bombing aircraft and other costly equipment, he said.

"There's also no research on the environmental effects of fire retardants in Australia," Professor Bradstock said.

This article has a different take on fire and landscape restoration:

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/02/fire-in-australia-is-a-symptom-of-a-degraded-ecosystem-commentary/

  • A compromised ecosystem where biological decomposition of plant matter is insufficient renders an imbalance between photosynthesis and respiration, leaving fire as the only way to balance the carbon equation.

  • Steps towards ecological regeneration will have far-reaching and exponential benefits to environment and society and provide natural fire mitigation.

The Australian has an interesting article about the impacts of fires on the south coast:

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/weekend-australian-magazine/tracking-the-impact-of-australias-horror-bushfires/news-story/ab3f5032a6d5e9bbcab41c88c7358c34

As green shoots return, Trent Dalton retraces the inferno’s path from Batemans Bay to Mallacoota – and hears stories of heroism, heartbreak and hope

The smell gets him first. The forest smells like a fireplace stuffed with five dead wallabies chewed out by maggots. Maurice wants to feel what the fire did because he couldn’t understand it from his living room armchair. This fire that swallowed up summer along with everything we thought we knew about land �management. A fire of such terrifying ambition and adaptability; a thing so very good at doing all that it is here on Earth to do.

And he doesn’t know if “beautiful” is the respectful thing to say but he can’t find a �better way to describe new life when it emerges from certain death; wonder when it comes from destruction; light when it comes from dark. A gallery of towering eucalypts dipped in a tattooist’s thick ink, black upon black upon black, but from these �hellfire poles shoot the most radiant splashes of new growth.

Yet another dire warning about the collapse of our lungs:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/04/tropical-forests-losing-their-ability-to-absorb-carbon-study-finds
The Amazon could turn into a source of carbon in the atmosphere, instead of one of the biggest absorbers of the gas, as soon as the next decade, owing to the damage caused by loggers and farming interests and the impacts of the climate crisis, new research has found.

We’ve found that one of the most worrying impacts of climate change has already begun,” said Simon Lewis, professor in the school of geography at Leeds University, one of the senior authors of the research. “This is decades ahead of even the most pessimistic climate models.”

For the last three decades, the amount of carbon absorbed by the world’s intact tropical forests has fallen, according to the study from nearly 100 scientific institutions. They are now taking up a third less carbon than they did in the 1990s, owing to the impacts of higher temperatures, droughts and deforestation. That downward trend is likely to continue, as forests come under increasing threat from climate change and exploitation. The typical tropical forest may become a carbon source by the 2060s, according to Lewis.

Humans have been lucky so far, as tropical forests are mopping up lots of our pollution, but they can’t keep doing that indefinitely,” he told the Guardian. “We need to curb fossil fuel emissions before the global carbon cycle starts working against us. The time for action is now.”

The uptake of carbon from the atmosphere by tropical forests peaked in the 1990s when about 46bn tonnes were removed from the air, equivalent to about 17% of carbon dioxide emissions from human activities. By the last decade, that amount had sunk to about 25bn tonnes, or just 6% of global emissions.

Forests lose their ability to absorb carbon as trees die and dry out from drought and higher temperatures, but the loss of forest area from logging, burning and other forms of exploitation is also a leading factor in the loss of carbon sinks.

The study, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, tracked 300,000 trees over 30 years, providing the first large-scale evidence of the decline in carbon uptake by the world’s tropical forests.

The economic benefits of forests in mitigating flood impacts are being promoted in Canada:

https://ckpgtoday.ca/2020/03/03/wetlands-forests-can-help-cities-save-millions-in-climate-adaptation-costsstudy-2/

HALIFAX — As Canadian communities brace for rising risks of spring flooding related to climate change, a non-profit group has published findings suggesting preserving wetlands and forests can be key to reducing adaptation costs.

The natural assets report says in Florenceville-Bristol, N.B., protecting 182 hectares of forested area along the St. John River helps avoid costly human-engineered systems that would be required for a one-in-100 year rain storm.

It estimates forest conservation would save the creation of a $3.5 million stormwater management pond system.

In Riverview, N.B., adjacent to Moncton, protecting four wetlands that cover 14,000 square metres in the Mill Creek Watershed would avoid the $2.3 million needed to create stormwater management ponds to handle a 1-in-100 year flood, as predicted under a climate change scenario.

Natural benefits heightened by wildness:

https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/scientists-say-if-you-do-this-outdoor-activity-you-will-be-a-much-happier-person

It’s a piece of advice that’s recycled quite often. Feeling blue? Get outside, go for a walk, or maybe just stop and smell the roses. Spending some time in nature has long been linked to feeling better on an emotional and mental level. However, a new study says there’s a specific aspect of nature that’s especially important for humans to get a healthy dose of every now and then: wildness.

It was clear from our results that different kinds of nature can have different effects on people,” comments lead author Elizabeth Lev, a graduate student in the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, in a press release. “The wilder areas in an urban park seem to be affording more benefits to people — and their most meaningful interactions depended on those relatively wild features.”

... Essentially, about six categories connected to interacting with the vast park were named most often by the participants. These categories included coming upon wildlife, gazing out at a vast view, walking along water, and walking along a trail.

The full study can be found here, published in Frontiers in Sustainable Cities.

27 February 2020


A special edition of Nature and Climate Change focuses on Australian fires:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/feb/25/unprecedented-globally-more-than-20-of-australias-forests-burnt-in-bushfires

Research published in a special edition of Nature Climate Change focused on the bushfire crisis finds that 21% of the total area covered by Australian forests – excluding Tasmania - has burnt so far in the 2019-20 bushfire season.

... “there is no doubt that the record temperatures of the past year would not be possible without anthropogenic influence”. It adds that “under a scenario where emissions continue to grow, such a year would be average by 2040 and exceptionally cool by 2060”.

https://weather.com/science/nature/news/2020-02-26-australia-fires-burn-unprecedented-amount-of-forests

  • More than 20% of Australia's forests were scorched, according to a new study.

  • In all, more than 40,000 square miles of land have burned.

  • The fires were fueled by drought, record heat and high winds.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0720-5

(note that most articles are pay only)

One key difference is that Australia plays a much larger role in generating greenhouse gas emissions than, for example, sub-Saharan Africa (15.4 versus 0.8 metric tonnes per capita3). Australia’s role as an industrialized country removes the disconnect between the countries bearing responsibility for climate change, and those bearing the burden. Australia has the potential to mitigate the source of the very problems it is currently fighting.

A second aspect is the direct impact on people and everyday life. The majority of Australians have been affected by the fires4,5, whereas coral reef loss is not directly seen by most. This widespread impact challenges the “double reality” in wealthy countries, where the science of climate change is accepted, but the impacts are held at a distance, writes Lesley Head in a Comment that warns against acclimating to such events as the new normal.

The wide availability and accessibility of photos, videos and social media messages from Australia showing the disaster in real time may also play a role.... These crafting efforts show engagement with the issues and public concern, write Jager and Coutant in a Correspondence, but also illustrate a disconnect between actions aimed at saving individual animals, and the broader adaptation and political steps needed to preserve species and address the emissions at the source of the problem.

Experts have called for an end to logging of native forests:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/26/call-to-end-logging-of-protective-native-forests-in-wake-of-bushfire-crisis

A group of forestry and climate scientists are calling for an immediate and permanent end to the logging of all native forests across Australia as part of a response to climate change and the country’s bushfire crisis.

In an open letter, the group said forestry workers involved in logging in native forests should be redeployed to support the management of national parks.

Among the signatories to the letter are University of Tasmania’s distinguished conservation ecologist Prof Jamie Kirkpatrick, James Cook University ecologist Prof Bill Laurance, and Prof Tim Flannery, of the University of Melbourne.

The letter says: “We write to ask you to respond to the climate, fire, drought and biodiversity loss crises with an immediate nationwide cessation of all native forest logging.”

Large old-growth trees are important for capturing and storing carbon, the letter said, adding that native forest logging “is heavily subsidised by our taxes, which can be better spent on fire mitigation”.

The best economic use for native forests would be to leave the forests intact and push for inclusion in a carbon trading scheme,” the document said.

When wet eucalypt forests are cleared the regrowth and understorey is drier and more flammable, according to the document. Species that live in forests make up 80% of all Australia’s threatened species.

Sanger added: “Native forest logging just isn’t beneficial. It is not profitable, and there are not a lot of jobs that rely on it.

Ecologically [forests] are under a lot of stress from other impacts, including climate change and habitat destruction, and it does not make sense to be logging these forests.”

Prof Peter Kanowski, an international forest governance expert at the Australian National University’s Fenner School of Environment and Society, said he also could not support a ban on native forest logging.

The letter and supporting information are available here:

https://www.tai.org.au/content/bushfire-response-international-experts-open-letter-call-native-logging-ban

The bushfire inquiries are underway:

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6640823/fire-probe-to-focus-on-practical-things/

Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled the details of his bushfires royal commission on Thursday, saying it would focus on the "practical things" such as land clearing and building rules.

The terms of reference for the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements steer a careful path around the question of climate change. They acknowledge that the changing climate brings higher risks, but the commissioners have been asked to focus on mitigation, planning rules, adaptation and land clearing. The commission is also asked to consider whether Indigenous land and fire practices should be adopted more widely.

Mr Morrison also announced that Australian National University environmental lawyer, professor Andrew Macintosh, and former Federal Court judge, Dr Annabelle Bennett, would join chairman Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin as the commissioners.

It will invite submissions in March.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-51301917

The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has announced an independent inquiry into the ongoing bushfires, promising to "leave no stone unturned".

The six-month inquiry will examine the causes of the fires, as well as how the state prepared and responded to them.

State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the inquiry would consider how climate change, human activity and other factors had contributed to the blazes.

https://www.bellingencourier.com.au/story/6638787/shadow-minister-kate-washington-offers-anonymity-for-nsw-bushfire-inquiry-submissions/

Submissions are open for the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry and people are being encouraged to offer their experience, ideas and views.

For details regarding how to make submissions to the Inquiry before the closing date of March 27, please visit: www.nsw.gov.au/improving-nsw/projects-and-initiatives/make-a-submission-to-the-bushfire-inquiry/

The Inquiry will be travelling to bushfire affected communities to meet with and hear directly from people who have been impacted. The schedule for community visits will be posted online as soon as it is confirmed, and the Inquiry will inform local communities ahead of all visits to ensure it reaches as many people as possible.

The Inquiry welcomes submissions from bushfire-affected residents, emergency and support personnel, organisations and the general public.

More information can be found at:www.nsw.gov.au/bushfireinquiry

Yet another estimate of Koala loses:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/koala-losses-spectacularly-huge-after-nsw-drought-bushfires-20200218-p5420h.html

Steve Phillips, an ecologist and managing director of the Biolink consultancy, said his team used surveys of known koala sites in northern NSW to estimate more than 6000 koalas died in the fires.

Losses of koala habitat were as much as 85 per cent in the Wardell and Rappville regions, he said.

"They've gone - they've been taken out ... It's pretty significant as these are big numbers."

Over the past three generations - about 15-20 years - NSW has lost as many as half to two-thirds of its koalas.

"The scale of what happened is spectacularly huge, it's incomprehensible," Dr Phillips told the Herald. "Its status needs to be updated to endangered from vulnerable."

The fires were a wake-up call with growing [demands] on the government to do much more, starting with protecting core koala habitat from threats like logging and development," Ms Faehrmann said.

Others argue that Koalas are now on the brink:

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/mainstream-media-is-hiding-the-truth-about-koala-extinction,13616

IS THERE A CONSPIRACY to hide the fact NSW koalas are on the verge of extinction? Not in 2050 as WWF continues to predict, but in plain sight now.

The Chief Scientist’s panel identified key koala areas as Coffs Harbour, Pilliga Forests, Liverpool Plains and Gunnedah, South Coast, Port Macquarie-Hastings and Campbelltown.

With the exception of Campbelltown, these are the populations which have suffered catastrophic losses as a result of bushfire and drought.

Morrison, Berejiklian and all other state premiers ignored the International Union for the Conservation of Nature report that designated the koala as one of the world’s ten most vulnerable species to climate change.

The time to act is now. NSW and Federal Governments must protect every single living koala and all remaining habitat if there’s to be any chance of the species survival.

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/6638714/call-for-bushfire-ravaged-koalas-to-be-added-to-endangered-species-list/

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital supports a conservation status change for koalas

The Forestry Corporation thinks all is good:

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6650383/nsw-forestry-defends-koala-protection-work/?cs=14231

The senior planning manager of the state-owned body, Dean Kearney, appeared at a NSW upper house inquiry into koala populations and habitat on Wednesday to discuss concerns about logging in the wake of the summer's bushfires.

Mr Kearney argued other impacts such as climate change, dog attacks, urbanisation, drought and bushfire are more of a threat to the marsupials than timber production.

"Harvesting operations have little to no impact on koalas," he said.

She said people were calling for "a moratorium on logging and land clearing."

Mr Kearney hit back at the claim insisting it wouldn't be effective because of the different severities of fire damage across each state forest.

This article about the new Koala SEPP requires a subscription:

www.dailyexaminer.com.au%2Fnews%2Fconservationists-and-loggers-almost-united%2F3953217%2F&usg=AOvVaw1h28OkxELp1lLYdG4-UBdZ

CONSERVATIONISTS and loggers might not always agree, but they are united in their concern over new planning laws to protect koalas – albeit for different reasons.

Coming into effect on March 1, the Koala Habitat Protection State Environmental Planning Policy aims to redefine the concept of “core koala habitat” and make it easier for councils to identify koala habitat when preparing Koala Plans of Management.

He called on the government to take the burden of local councils by undertaking comprehensive mapping of core koala habitat and facilitate the development of Comprehensive Koala Plans of Management.
Those plans, which had been in existence since 1995 had been grossly under used by councils and Mr Pugh said at the current rate it would take 300 years before all the required plans were prepared.
“Koalas can’t wait that long. We need to get this sorted as soon as possible and if we are going to protect koalas we have to protect core koala habitat which means going out and looking for it,” he said.

In relation to Port Macquarie John Jeayes wrote:

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/6651057/government-policy-a-threat-to-koalas/

PMHC had at last designed a process called a Coastal Koala Plan of Management but you might have noticed the slight of hand which eliminated the word "Comprehensive" from CKPoM and in that way eliminated the possible consideration of land west of the highway and Forestry operations.

That did not matter much as they never adopted the CKPoM anyway and Land Dynamics overturned a Council decision against development zoned core koala habitat under the old KPOM which council do not intend to change.

There has to be a moratorium on logging in State Forests and Private Native Forest while we find out just how many koalas, gliders, bandicoots, owls etc have survived, where they are and what their immediate habitat needs are regarding food trees and hollows.

The Nightcap losses continue to reverberate:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/02/australia-bushfires-ancient-trees/607039/

One of those species, Eidothea hardeniana, or the Nightcap Oak, occupies just a few acres of land in a rain-forest preserve. The grove’s adult trees resprout over and over by cloning, and some of them are likely to be many thousands of years old. This past bushfire season killed at least 10 percent of the population.

Robert Kooyman, a botanist at Macquarie University, told me, “losing any individuals is a disaster.”

Elements of what you lose … are irreplaceable,” he said. “If we’ve lost some of its genetic diversity, in evolutionary terms that’s lost forever.”

The mythological epithet is appropriate in more ways than one. Based on DNA evidence, researchers have estimated that the Eidothea genus evolved more than 70 million years ago, deep in the history of flowering plants.

In fact, ecological surveys suggest that in addition to sheltering dozens of threatened endemic animals, the Nightcap area is more “Gondwanan,” floristically speaking, than any other place in Australia.

As Kooyman explained, if heat or fire penetrates the thin bark of rain-forest trees, they can develop fatal vascular embolisms or fungal infections long after the flames have passed.

Kooyman, by contrast, emphasized the need to redouble conservation efforts within the Nightcap area by clearing out encroaching weedy vegetation and felled timber left behind after historical logging.

The Newcastle Herald ran another story on the impact of the fires on Barrington Tops:

https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/6635310/hunter-tourist-treasure-facing-climate-threat/?cs=2593

The Barrington Tops is facing climate threats that could have serious consequences for the area's tourism, water supply and biodiversity.

The North East Forest Alliance is compiling data from the recent bushfires to present a case to UNESCO that world heritage forests - including the Barrington Tops National Park - are in danger.

"We're concerned the Gondwana rainforests of Australia are declining. And the fires are the latest symptom of that," forest alliance spokesman Dailan Pugh said.

Ecologists believe the recent drought and bushfires could be the start of NSW's ancient forests drying out in a world of "global heating".

Tarkine Protectors are facing huge fines in the name of workplace safety:

https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/6641538/bob-brown-foundation-banned-from-protesting-in-forests/

"The notice prohibits the foundation from carrying out forest protests throughout Tasmania, until such time the foundation has satisfied the Work Health and Safety Regulator it is managing health and safety duties appropriately.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/feb/21/tasmanian-anti-logging-protesters-banned-from-forests-over-unsafe-behaviour

Anti-logging activists from the Bob Brown Foundation have been banned from protesting in Tasmanian forests by the state’s workplace safety regulator over “unsafe behaviour”, and threatened with fines as high as $500,000.

WorkSafe said the foundation had exposed people to risk of death or serious injury without reasonable excuse.

This is not about stopping protesting ... [but] ensuring that activities are undertaken in a safe manner,” WorkSafe head Mark Cocker told ABC radio on Friday.

Brown said the move was something that would make Russian president Vladimir Putin proud.

This legislation is not there to evict people from forests who are protesting. It’s in place to protect workers in the workplace,” he said.

WorkSafe says protesters have engaged in high-risk construction work and are at risk of falling from wooden tripods and platforms.

The regulator also warned protesters risked falling or being crushed when climbing machinery.

https://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/antilogging-protesters-banned-in-tasmania/news-story/b70a6964e8a7a19862e04ab901993618

Given that megafires are becoming more frequent it makes sense that we prioritize protecting refugia:

https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/how-do-we-protect-our-unique-biodiversity-from-megafires

Megafires destroy vast tracts of land and are now occurring at a frequency and severity that prevents natural ecosystem recovery processes.

While scientific evidence has highlighted that most Australian ecosystems, including those in our alpine regions, are resilient to the occasional severe fire, the increase in frequency and severity is likely to result in substantial and permanent impacts.

This includes local extinctions and changes to ecosystems like forests becoming more flammable.

In a future that predicts increases in the intensity, duration and frequency of fires, drought and other severe weather, how do we protect Australia’s unique biodiversity?

However, the unprecedented rates of climatic change we’re currently seeing now will likely be too rapid for most animals and plants to adapt – especially for long-lived species.

So, the persistence of vulnerable species under climate change is likely be governed by the availability of refugia within the landscape.

Following the devastating fires this summer, now is the time to identify, conserve and protect genetic refugial areas.

We need to plan for extra protection measures in identified biodiversity refugia; we’ve already seen it’s possible to protect key areas in times of crisis after specialist firefighters were deployed to save the world’s last stand of ancient Wollemi Pine from the Gospers Mountain fire in New South Wales.

We need to rethink biodiversity protection and take a much longer perspective in terms of its conservation, accepting that we cannot ‘save’ species, but that we can only reduce the extent to which biodiversity is depleted.

This requires strong leadership, political will and an evolutionary approach to conservation as our climate changes.

It is time for planned retreat from drought and fire threat:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/01/only-way-confront-australias-wildfires/604546/
“This is our Gallipoli; this is our bushfire Gallipoli,” says David Bowman, ... In an echo of the Gallipoli retreat, thousands had to be rescued from beaches by the Australian navy and air force.

Even before climate change, survival—particularly of agriculture—in some parts of Australia was precarious. Farmers were so often rescued from the very edge of disaster by long-overdue rains that arrived just in time. Now the effects of climate change are making that scenario even less likely, and this bushfire season and drought are but a herald of things to come.

After the Black Saturday bushfires, the state government attempted to buy back land from people in the most high-risk areas who had lost their homes in the fires. Very few took up the offer. Now there’s a record-breaking drought on top of the fire threat. Dubbo—a regional New South Wales town with a population of more than 38,000 people—has all but run out of water, with its dam at just 3.7 percent of capacity and the river supplying it forecast to dry up by May of this year.

Catherine Ryland, an urban planner and a bushfire-resilience expert. She would like to see more conversation around the idea of planned retreat—rebuilding in low-risk locations, reducing development in high-risk areas, and even relocating existing, unaffected communities, which she describes as the “biggest, bravest, boldest step.”

Privatisation of pine plantations is now off the agenda:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-20/timber-plantations-will-not-be-privatised-state-government/11983622

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/berejiklian-government-abandons-forestry-privatisation-after-bushfires-20200220-p542kh.html

The Berejiklian government has abandoned its plans for the potential billion-dollar lease of the state's plantation forests, after extensive damage caused during the summer's bushfires.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the decision not to proceed followed a five-month scoping study, which also assessed the impact of bushfire fires, which destroyed 25 per cent of the softwood division.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro, the minister responsible for forestry, said Forestry Corporation was focused on harvesting timber damaged during the fires, and would soon begin a "massive re-planting program".

The Government's announcement that they are not going to sell off pine plantations was welcomed by Labor, AWU and NEFA, but slightly differently:

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/02/sale-of-state-forests-off-the-table/

The Liberal National party coalition had proposed the sell-off in August 2019 have now backed away from the move.

NSW Labor Shadow Minister for Natural Resources, Paul Scully.

This is great news for Forestry Corporation’s 560 workers, including over 200 in the softwoods division.

It’s also great news for the timber-dependent rural and regional communities of Tumut, Tumbarumba, Gandagai, Lismore, Coffs Harbour and Grafton.’

Mr Walton from the the Australian Workers’ Union said the decision was welcome

The NSW government has announced a huge replanting program to replace the forests that were destroyed during the bush fire season. This will create new jobs and opportunities for our forestry workers.

However, Dailan Pugh, Spokesperson for NEFA has said that following the fires a ‘fire sale of pine plantations was no longer an economic option.

In north-east NSW, north of the Hunter River, the Forestry Corporation has 37,000 hectares of Pine Plantations, 16,000 hectares (43 per cent) of them were burnt.

Massive replanting is required, which provides an alternative employment opportunity to continued logging of native forests. Though in this heating world maybe they should consider re-establishing them as more resilient eucalypt plantations.

The Labor Party really doesn’t understand the decline of the timber industry and expansion of tourism if they are claiming Lismore and Coffs Harbour as timber-dependent communities.’

Experts warn against allowing an expansion of honeybees in national parks:

https://theconversation.com/buzz-off-honey-industry-our-national-parks-shouldnt-be-milked-for-money-131891?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20February%2024%202020%20-%201542814730&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20February%2024%202020%20-%201542814730+CID_19868c867e8bfa917e3786fbc668340c&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Buzz%20off%20honey%20industry%20our%20national%20parks%20shouldnt%20be%20milked%20for%20money

Native pollinator populations have been decimated in burned areas. They will only recover if they can recolonise from unburned areas as vegetation regenerates.

But our native pollinators badly need these resources – and the recovery of our landscapes depends on them. While we acknowledge the losses sustained by the honey industry, authorities should not jeopardise our native species to protect commercial interests.

Currently, beekeepers’ access to conservation areas is limited. This is because bees from commercial hives, and feral bees from previous escapes, damage native ecosystems. They compete with native species for nectar and pollen, and pollinate certain plant species over others.

In NSW, honeybees are listed as a key threatening process to biodiversity.

Australia’s native birds, mammals and other insects rely on the same nectar from flowers as honeybees, which are abundant and voracious competitors for this sugary food.

Many native plant species are not pollinated, or are pollinated inefficiently, by honeybees. This means a concentration of honeybee hives in a conservation area could shift the entire makeup of native vegetation, damaging the ecosystem.

A long-term solution is to increase the area of native vegetation for both biodiversity and commercial beekeeping, by stepping up Australia’s meagre re-vegetation programs.

The loggers too are still pushing to get into national parks, this time focusing on claims they need to use all the trees that were cut down as firebreaks in national parks;

https://www.begadistrictnews.com.au/story/6637207/salvaged-logs-from-national-parks-could-be-used-for-commercial-purposes/?cs=509

Timber felled in national parks during the bushfire emergency could be removed and used for commercial purposes in a proposed plan that aims to make parks safe again.

A spokesperson for NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro confirmed ongoing negotiations were taking place between Forestry Corporation (FC) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to assist in the removal of timber from the parks in the aftermath of the fires.

During the bushfire emergency, the spokesperson said, the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) used FC contractors to create fire breaks in national parks to prevent the spread of fire, but the fallen timber was now a fire risk that often lay across roads.

They said some trees felled in the operations were "potentially commercial quality timber", while the NPWS would benefit from the arrangement as it would not have to spend money to remove the timber itself.

"We can't allow Forestry Corporation to be accessing national parks for the commercial recovery of timber; that's a red line the Environment Minister [Matthew Kean] needs to enforce."

The issues with wildfire and forests are similar in America:

https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/02/21/we-can-fireproof-homes-but-not-forests/

... the Forest Service’s own fire scientists have found that logging won’t stop wildfires, but having a non-flammable roof and clearing most trees next to your home will definitely help keep your home from burning down in a wildfire.

If Daines and Feinstein really want to help, they should fund programs to educate people on how to fireproof their homes, not cut down national forests.  Our national forests already do what they do best, produce clean drinking water, habitat for native fish and wildlife and absorb carbon. Best of all, forests do all of this for free.

While politicians’ promises to plant a trillion trees worldwide is a good start, an even better idea is to simply leave our nation’s existing environmental laws and forests intact. National forests absorb a whopping 10 percent of the carbon America produces

https://www.missoulacurrent.com/outdoors/2019/04/wildfire-jack-cohen/

Renowned wildfire scientist Jack Cohen wants Missoula area residents to know wildfires don’t usually burn homes in communities; poor wildfire preparation does.

Wildfires and extreme wildfire conditions are inevitable. But maybe we have opportunities to keep homes from burning down without necessarily having to suppress a wildfire. Maybe we can actually separate the problem of homes burning from that of extreme wildfire conditions,”

https://www.registerguard.com/opinion/20200222/in-my-opinion-old-forests-not-clearcuts-are-climate-solutions
In natural forest conditions, when a tree dies, some carbon is released into the atmosphere, but the majority is stored in the soil and forest floor. Industrial logging interrupts this natural process by taking that carbon out of the forest and emitting most back into the atmosphere. The carbon that is stored in short-lived wood products like paper and packaging biodegrade and release back into the atmosphere within 10 years, and longer-lived products typically only last 50 years or less.

Offsetting forest destruction with plantations has been questioned in England:

https://theecologist.org/2020/feb/21/not-forest

But growing political momentum on climate change has erupted into a frenzy of over-simplified, blanket solutions: plant an unfathomable number of trees. Every environmental target now seems to be written in this way, as arbitrary targets that become meaningless in their implausibility and simplicity.

Frantically planting trees to ‘offset’ carbon emissions is part of a wider movement within conservation, known by some critics as ‘selling the right to harm’. Poor and damaging behaviour, such as emitting greenhouse gases or destroying biodiversity, is supposedly ‘cancelled out’ by paying to plant trees or improve biodiversity elsewhere.

But clearing vast areas of old pasture or ancient woodland would take 500 years to replace. Trees are slow, ancient, careful creatures that cannot be easily coerced into an anthropocentric regime that values quick, blueprint solutions. 

Plantations are worlds away from ancient woodlands. Worryingly, by paying for carbon offsets in the form of new plantations, consumers and businesses are given the false impression of having no negative effect on the planet. What we should be focussing most of our attention on is protecting the ancient forests that exist, not planting trillions more trees.

Concerns are growing over the future of the Amazon:

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00508-4

The forest plays a major part in keeping itself alive, by recycling water through trees to generate rainfall. A water molecule travelling across the Amazon can fall as rain up to six times4. If drought, fire or deforestation damage too many trees, reduced rainfall leads to less vegetation, and so on in a shrinking cycle. Eventually, this might transform large regions of the Amazon into an ecosystem more like a savannah (although with much less biodiversity)

... stating5 that if just 20–25% of the rainforest were cut down, it could reach a tipping point at which eastern, southern and central Amazonia would flip to a savannah-like ecosystem ... “If the tree mortality we see continues for another 10–15 years, then the southern Amazon will turn into a savannah,” Nobre told Nature.

And some other researchers aren’t sure that it’s even possible to define critical deforestation thresholds. “The jury’s out on that,” says Peter Cox ...

If that happens, it would not only affect the millions of people and animals in the region. It could also mean billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide will be emitted into the atmosphere as trees die and vegetation burns; less rainfall throughout central and southern South America; and altered climate patterns farther afield.

The urgent priority is to halt deforestation. Another is to promote the growth of new forest in degraded areas. A 2016 study that analysed thousands of plots across 45 sites in South America showed that secondary forests that emerged in abandoned agricultural lands can take up huge amounts of carbon, at rates up to 11 times faster than those of old-growth forests9.

Another expert extolling the importance of trees in avoiding and coping with climate heating, this time focusing on urban areas:

    https://theconversation.com/here-are-5-practical-ways-trees-can-help-us-survive-climate-change-129753?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20February%2019%202020%20-%201538314680&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20February%2019%202020%20-%201538314680+CID_a2bbfa9bad27c18a128cad230a7ff617&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Here%20are%205%20practical%20ways%20trees%20can%20help%20us%20survive%20climate%20change

    In Australia, trees and urban ecosystems must be at the heart of our climate change response.

    Adequate tree canopy cover is the least costly, most sustainable way of cooling our cities. Trees cool the surrounding air when their leaves transpire and the water evaporates. Shade from trees can also triple the lifespan of bitumen, which can save governments millions each year in road resurfacing.

    Tree roots also soak up water after storms, which will become more extreme in a warming climate. In fact, estimates suggest trees can hold up to 40% of the rainwater that hits them.

    Outside cities, we must preserve remnant vegetation and revegetate less productive agricultural land. This will provide shade and moderate increasingly strong winds, caused by climate change.

    Planting along creeks can lower water temperatures, which keeps sensitive native fish healthy and reduces riverbank erosion.

    Strategically planting windbreaks and preserving roadside vegetation are good ways to improve rural canopy cover. This can also increase farm production, reduce stock losses and prevent erosion.

    Urban trees are not just ornaments, but vital infrastructure. They make cities liveable and sustainable and they allow citizens to live healthier and longer lives.

Studies continue to show Antarctica is melting faster and faster than previously estimated, the impacts on mangroves, saltmarshes, coastal wetlands, estuaries, tidal waters and ICOLLs will be major as numerous coastal communities are forced to adapt to rising sea-levels (against their will):

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/record-antarctic-temperatures-fuel-sea-level-worry/

Temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula reached more than 20°C for the first time in history earlier this month, the Guardian reported: “The 20.75C logged by Brazilian scientists at Seymour Island on 9 February was almost a full degree higher than the previous record of 19.8C, taken on Signy Island in January 1982.”

The Antarctic Peninsula has warmed by almost 3°C since the start of the Industrial Revolution around 200 years ago − faster than almost anywhere else on Earth.

Now a study by scientists co-ordinated by Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) says sea level rise caused by Antarctica’s ice loss could become a major risk for coastal protection in the near future.

Coastal planning cannot merely rely on the best guess. It requires a risk analysis. Our study provides exactly that. The sea level contribution of Antarctica is very likely not going to be more than 58 centimetres.”