Weekly Forest News


Forest Media 15 January 2021

The Central Coast community is ramping-up its campaign to have its Koalas recognised and protected, though the Government isn’t listening. In rejecting 31 of the 42 recommendations of the NSW Koala Inquiry the NSW Government is promising more of the same. With this and the Koala SEPP debacle (and an apparent deal over the Redbank Power Station) it is no wonder Matt Kean and John Barilaro are making-up. The Wollemi Pine is the first to be classified as an “asset of intergenerational significance”.

In Tasmania the Swift Parrot moratorium has been extended to include more forests, pending the outcome of the federal court case. As in NSW, the Federal Government is increasing frustrating freedom of information requests.

Scientists are becoming increasing outspoken about “the ghastly future of mass extinction, declining health and climate-disruption upheavals” that threaten human survival because of ignorance and inaction. 2020 rivalled 2016 as the hottest year ever recorded. While Australia has warmed 1.44oC since 1910, the arctic has risen more than 6oC. This year will witness a 50% increase in atmospheric CO2 above the average for most of human history, and its exponentially increasing. A new study finds we have already released enough CO2 to lock in 2o warming, its just a matter of how long it takes. Forests take-up 30% of our CO2 emissions, though they are rapidly losing their ability to do so, and may become net carbon emitters within a few decades.

Kakadu’s floodplain forests are being inundated by rising seas, Many insect populations are crashing at a rate of 1-2% each year. Even deep in the intact Amazon rainforest most understory birds are in decline. As forests degrade, and trees dies, they become more vulnerable to burning. And in India a bird flu pandemic is gathering momentum amongst wild birds, including migratory species.

Australia is predictably missing as more than 50 countries commit to protect almost a third of the planet by 2030 to halt the destruction of the natural world and slow extinctions of wildlife – though actions rarely match words. Meanwhile we have lost our ranking as one of the world’s 10 worst deforesters (not by much), slipping to 14th – though we are increasing, with forestry in NSW a major contributor – at least we have the distinction of being the only developed nation on the list. The great fix of Carbon Capture and Storage is failing dismally.

Dailan Pugh

Central Coast community call for Koala protection:

https://coastcommunitynews.com.au/central-coast/news/2021/01/koala-sightings-prompt-calls-for-action/

Coast Community Alliance (CEA) is calling on local politicians to unite in having the Central Coast region recognised as a koala sanctuary.

“We need to ensure their habitat is urgently protected and that wildlife corridors between these populations are not fragmented through development.

“More recently there have been sightings at McMasters Beach, Ourimbah and in the Basin camping area in the Watagans, only a few hundred metres from where logging is taking place in Olney State Forest.”

“The Coast can play a pivotal role in the overall survival of this iconic and extremely vulnerable native animal, but our elected leaders need to act now and put a stop to development in or around koala habitat in our region,” Cassar said.

“CEA has written to local State MPs in the hope that they will lobby the State and Federal Governments to urgently make it a priority to protect our local koala population, but so far we have not received any support.

Government’s response to Koala Inquiry, business as usual:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/alarmingly-relaxed-government-slammed-for-koala-inquiry-response-20210111-p56t9b.html

Koala advocates say the NSW government is not doing enough to save the animal from extinction after it backed without qualification a quarter of the recommendations of an upper house inquiry into the marsupial's populations and habitat.

In its formal response into the koala inquiry, the government supported 11 of the 42 recommendations, while offering "support in principle" to 17 others. It "noted" the remaining 14.

Among the recommendations supported was the suggestion the government rule out opening old-growth forests within the state reserve for logging, and that it create Georges River National Park to secure habitat on Sydney's southern fringe.

However, it only "noted" the call to investigate setting up a Great Koala National Park in northern NSW.

[Cate Faehrmann] “Many of the key recommendations, the vast majority of which were supported by all committee members because they are what needs to be done to save koalas from extinction, seem to have been rejected outright."

Separately, Prince Charles on Tuesday will use his Sustainable Markets Initiative to launch a global fund to raise $US10 billion ($13 billion) to support biodiversity, including in Australia, by 2022.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-13/nsw-government-slammed-for-response-to-koala-inquiry/13054712?nw=0

It's a symbol of Australia and at risk of becoming extinct. But the NSW government won't commit to most of the recommendations made by a parliamentary inquiry into saving the animal. Sarah Gerathy reports. [interviews Kate Washington, Gladys Berejiklian, Jacqui Mumford]

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-12/koala-hospital-disappointed-by-nsw-response-to-population-study/13051326

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital clinical director Cheyne Flanagan said she was bitterly disappointed but not surprised.

"To me it's just a lot of smoke and mirrors and not much grunt behind it," she said.

"There's just a lot of supporting in principle or duly noted, which is basically saying nothing's going to be done and some of the things they said that they're actually doing are very loose.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said in a statement that he had asked the Chief Scientist and Engineer, Hugh Durrant-Whyte, to assemble an expert panel to advise on how to double the state's koala population.

"This advice will be used to develop a new NSW Koala Strategy, due for release in the coming months."

[Flanagan] "We need to tighten the legislation to protect all these native fauna that are so precious to this country … this document just smacks of no change."

Matt Kean and Barilaro make-up:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/no-let-up-likely-for-kean-as-environmental-challenges-keep-mounting-20201231-p56qz1.html

If Matt Kean, NSW's Energy and Environment Minister, thought conservation groups would cut him some slack in 2021 after last year's successes, he might be disappointed.

Yes, his energy road map sets the state on track to lure three times as much renewables into the grid than the existing Snowy Hydro scheme. And Kean is well on the way to adding 400,000 hectares of land to the national parks estate after doubling his early goal.

Kean, unusual for a Liberal minister anywhere in Australia, says "the number one issue is climate change" and dealing with it – the implementation of his new energy policy will be a top priority in 2021.

(Garnaut) "[The energy plan] sets the state up to be a leader of the development of zero-emissions industry."

Another unresolved issue potentially putting Kean at odds with the Nationals is habitat destruction. It threatens koalas and other species already left more vulnerable after last summer's record-breaking bushfires.

Chris Gambian, chief executive of the NSW Nature Conservation Council, says groups like his "won't let [Kean] rest on his laurels", with "vast amounts of land clearing" still going on.

"One core challenge for 2021 is what happens with koalas," Gambian says. "We've got an extinction crisis. What are they going to do to make sure koalas don't go extinct by 2050?"

The formal creation of a Great Koala National Park near Coffs Harbour and stopping logging in state forests would be "a good next step but it won't be enough", he says.

Barilaro, who is also forestry minister, indicates he is open to change.

"After last year's fires, there's no question there's been an impact on both national parks and all our floral resources, including our timber resources," he tells The Sun-Herald. As a result, he's prepared to "revisit all that".

Assuming the Premier keeps her role, a reshuffle is expected by March, with speculation swirling that Kean could be shifted out of energy and environment into the transportation portfolio.

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/i-believe-in-climate-change-how-barilaro-s-new-bromance-with-kean-changed-nationals-policy-20210108-p56sq5.html?btis

Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro says he is open to ending logging in state forests as part of improved relations he has struck with Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean.

Ties between the two senior ministers in the Berejiklian government frayed last year over issues such as land-clearing and feral horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park. Since taking a month off for health reasons last September, however, Mr Barilaro says he found new areas of common ground.

"I've decided to do things a bit differently," Mr Barilaro told The Sun-Herald. "I've found it's been easier [to work with Kean] since I got back."

An improved relationship between Mr Barilaro and Mr Kean could help resolve some of the issues that Nationals and Liberals have clashed over since coming to power in 2011. These include habitat-clearing curbs on farmers and whether old-growth logging should be phased out in state forests, particularly after the bushfires.

Mr Barilaro, who is also forestry minister, said that "after last year’s fires, there’s no question there’s been an impact on both national parks and all our floral resources, including our timber resources". As a result, he's prepared to "revisit all that".

Wollemi Pine an “asset of intergenerational significance”:

https://thenewdaily.com.au/life/science/environment/2021/01/15/wollemi-pines-protection/

The ancient Wollemi pine, nicknamed the dinosaur tree, has been declared an “asset of intergenerational significance” in NSW, bolstering efforts to shield the species from future bushfires.

Some of the adult trees are estimated to be up to 1000 years old, and the species may be up to 90 million years old.

The secret site in the Blue Mountains where the Wollemi grow is the first to receive the NSW government’s protection label.

The designation means the government can take extra measures to protect the “living fossils” from bushfires, protecting them for future generations.

“Despite the incredible efforts by the NPWS and RFS teams last summer, several hundred juvenile trees in the protected site were impacted and are yet to resprout,” Environment Minister Matt Kean said.

Tasmanian moratorium extended pending court outcome:

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/stt-agrees-to-halt-logging-in-49-coupes/

Sustainable Timber Tasmania and the Bob Brown Foundation have reached an agreement with STT agreeing to halt logging in 49 coupes in the North Eastern tiers. Sources: Mercury, Timberbiz

The agreement means a Federal Court injunction battle scheduled for Monday this week did not go ahead.

STT had already agreed to halt logging in 19 coupes, but has now added a further 30 to its no-go list after coming to an agreement this week.

The Mercury in Hobart reported this week that the injunction application had been an interim measure to stop logging the coupes in question while both sides awaited a decision from the full bench of the Federal Court over the legality of Tasmania’s Regional Forest Agreement (RFA).

Australia losing its freedom:

https://www.themandarin.com.au/147747-australian-conservation-foundation-audit-of-foi-requests-finds-environment-minister-dept-agencies-stifling-access/

New analysis by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has found that environment minister Sussan Ley refused outright 39 freedom of information requests in the last financial year, while granting just one in full and three in part.

The audit Access denied: How Australia’s freedom of information regime is failing our environment examines government FOI data, as well as more than 100 FOI requests made by ACF, over the past five years.

It is one of the first major pieces of research to look at freedom of environmental information in Australia, and reveals an increase in refused FOI requests, more redactions, higher charges and longer delays for access to government documents.

Scientists get bolshie as climate crisis worsens:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/13/top-scientists-warn-of-ghastly-future-of-mass-extinction-and-climate-disruption-aoe

The planet is facing a “ghastly future of mass extinction, declining health and climate-disruption upheavals” that threaten human survival because of ignorance and inaction, according to an international group of scientists, who warn people still haven’t grasped the urgency of the biodiversity and climate crises.

The 17 experts, including Prof Paul Ehrlich from Stanford University, author of The Population Bomb, and scientists from Mexico, Australia and the US, say the planet is in a much worse state than most people – even scientists – understood.

“The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms – including humanity – is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts,” they write in a report in Frontiers in Conservation Science which references more than 150 studies detailing the world’s major environmental challenges.

“Ours is not a call to surrender – we aim to provide leaders with a realistic ‘cold shower’ of the state of the planet that is essential for planning to avoid a ghastly future,” it adds.

Dealing with the enormity of the problem requires far-reaching changes to global capitalism, education and equality, the paper says. These include abolishing the idea of perpetual economic growth, properly pricing environmental externalities, stopping the use of fossil fuels, reining in corporate lobbying, and empowering women, the researchers argue.

The report follows years of stark warnings about the state of the planet from the world’s leading scientists, including a statement by 11,000 scientists in 2019 that people will face “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” unless major changes are made. In 2016, more than 150 of Australia’s climate scientists wrote an open letter to the then prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, demanding immediate action on reducing emissions. In the same year, 375 scientists – including 30 Nobel prize winners – wrote an open letter to the world about their frustrations over political inaction on climate change.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/13/top-scientists-warn-of-ghastly-future-of-mass-extinction-and-climate-disruption-aoe

The planet is facing a “ghastly future of mass extinction, declining health and climate-disruption upheavals” that threaten human survival because of ignorance and inaction, according to an international group of scientists, who warn people still haven’t grasped the urgency of the biodiversity and climate crises.

The 17 experts, including Prof Paul Ehrlich from Stanford University, author of The Population Bomb, and scientists from Mexico, Australia and the US, say the planet is in a much worse state than most people – even scientists – understood.

“The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms – including humanity – is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts,” they write in a report in Frontiers in Conservation Science which references more than 150 studies detailing the world’s major environmental challenges.

“Ours is not a call to surrender – we aim to provide leaders with a realistic ‘cold shower’ of the state of the planet that is essential for planning to avoid a ghastly future,” it adds.

Dealing with the enormity of the problem requires far-reaching changes to global capitalism, education and equality, the paper says. These include abolishing the idea of perpetual economic growth, properly pricing environmental externalities, stopping the use of fossil fuels, reining in corporate lobbying, and empowering women, the researchers argue.

The report follows years of stark warnings about the state of the planet from the world’s leading scientists, including a statement by 11,000 scientists in 2019 that people will face “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” unless major changes are made. In 2016, more than 150 of Australia’s climate scientists wrote an open letter to the then prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, demanding immediate action on reducing emissions. In the same year, 375 scientists – including 30 Nobel prize winners – wrote an open letter to the world about their frustrations over political inaction on climate change

https://theconversation.com/worried-about-earths-future-well-the-outlook-is-worse-than-even-scientists-can-grasp-153091

While the problems are too numerous to cover in full here, they include:

  • a halving of vegetation biomass since the agricultural revolution around 11,000 years ago. Overall, humans have altered almost two-thirds of Earth’s land surface
  • About 1,300 documented species extinctions over the past 500 years, with many more unrecorded. More broadly, population sizes of animal species have declined by more than two-thirds over the last 50 years, suggesting more extinctions are imminent
  • about one million plant and animal species globally threatened with extinction. The combined mass of wild mammals today is less than one-quarter the mass before humans started colonising the planet. Insects are also disappearing rapidly in many regions
  • 85% of the global wetland area lost in 300 years, and more than 65% of the oceans compromised to some extent by humans
  • a halving of live coral cover on reefs in less than 200 years and a decrease in seagrass extent by 10% per decade over the last century. About 40% of kelp forests have declined in abundance, and the number of large predatory fishes is fewer than 30% of that a century ago.

Essentially, humans have created an ecological Ponzi scheme. Consumption, as a percentage of Earth’s capacity to regenerate itself, has grown from 73% in 1960 to more than 170% today.

Then there’s climate change. Humanity has already exceeded global warming of 1°C this century, and will almost assuredly exceed 1.5 °C between 2030 and 2052. Even if all nations party to the Paris Agreement ratify their commitments, warming would still reach between 2.6°C and 3.1°C by 2100.

Financed disinformation campaigns against climate action and forest protection, for example, protect short-term profits and claim meaningful environmental action is too costly – while ignoring the broader cost of not acting.

Scientists must not sugarcoat the overwhelming challenges ahead. Instead, they should tell it like it is. Anything else is at best misleading, and at worst potentially lethal for the human enterprise.

https://westender.com.au/on-track-for-a-ghastly-future-experts-grim-prognosis-for-the-planet/

… the world becomes more feverish:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-08/2020-ties-with-2016-as-worlds-hottest-year-on-record-eu-climate/13043854

Last year tied with 2016 as the world's warmest on record, rounding off the hottest decade globally as the impacts of climate change intensified, the European Union's earth observation program says.

In 2020, temperatures globally were an average of 1.25 degrees Celsius higher than in pre-industrial times, Copernicus said.

Although COVID-19 lockdowns meant global emissions of CO2 dipped in 2020 compared with recent years, the concentration of the gas accumulated in the atmosphere continued to rise.

Last year also saw the highest temperature ever reliably recorded, when in August a California heatwave pushed the temperature at Death Valley in the Mojave Desert up to 54.4C.

The Arctic and northern Siberia continued to warm more quickly than the planet as a whole in 2020, with temperatures in parts of these regions averaging more than 6C above a 30-year average used as a baseline, Copernicus said.

The State of the Climate report released by the BOM and the CSIRO in November reported that Australia's warming is now up to 1.44 plus or minus 0.24C since 1910.

… 2oC warming may now be locked in:

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/earth-is-now-committed-to-a-2c-hotter-future/

Some time this year, thanks to fossil fuel combustion and the destruction of natural ecosystems, the levels of carbon dioxide in the planetary atmosphere will be half as high again as the average for most of human history. That is, they will be more than half-way to doubling.

“The human-caused build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere is accelerating,” said Richard Betts, of the Met Office. “It took over 200 years for levels to increase by 25%, but now, just 30 years later, we are approaching a 50% increase.”

A third study warns that yet more warming is now inevitable: the greenhouse gases already released must take average planetary temperatures from the present rise of more than 1°C to beyond 2°C − the limit that 195 nations vowed not to exceed when they met in Paris in 2015.

Chinese and US researchers report in Nature Climate ChangeChen Zhou of Nanjing University, the lead author. “After accounting for this effect, the estimated future warming based on the historical record would be much higher than previous estimates.”

And his co-author Andrew Dessler, of Texas A&M University, said: “The bad news is that our results suggest we have most likely already emitted enough carbon to exceed 2C.”

But this could be delayed by urgent action. “If we can get emissions to net zero soon, it may take centuries to exceed 2°C.”

… forests losing ability to take up CO2:

https://www.sciencealert.com/forest-will-start-emitting-more-co2-than-they-absorb-by-2050-if-we-don-t-make-changes

Forests and other land ecosystems today absorb 30 percent of humanity's CO2 pollution, but rapid global warming could transform these natural 'sinks' into carbon 'sources' within a few decades, opening another daunting front in the fight against climate change, alarmed researchers have said.

Under current greenhouse gas emission trends, plants across half the globe's terrestrial ecosystem could start to release carbon into the atmosphere faster than they sequester it by the end of the century, researchers reported this week in Science Advances.

Ecosystems that store the most CO2 - especially tropical and boreal forests - could lose more than 45 percent of their capacity as carbon sponges by mid-century, a team led by Katharyn Duffy from Northern Arizona University found.

"Anticipated higher temperatures associated with elevated CO2 could degrade land carbon uptake," said the study, based not on modelling but data collected over a period of 25 years.

"The temperature tipping point of the terrestrial biosphere lies not at the end of the century or beyond, but within the next 20 to 30 years."

… Kakadu’s floodplain forests disappearing:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-13/rising-sea-levels-visible-in-kakadu-national-park/12292646

Floodplains around Australia's largest national park are undergoing a visible transformation as rising sea levels push saltwater further from the coast into its freshwater river systems.

If emissions continue to rise, modelling by the CSIRO from 2017 shows almost half of Kakadu's freshwater wetlands could be inundated with saltwater within 50 years, spelling out drastic repercussions for biodiversity.

Due to a process that began decades ago, evidence of saltwater inundation is plain to see in areas of the park and beyond, where mangroves — shrubs that thrives in brackish water — have taken over as far as the eye can see.

At Tommycut Creek, a remote channel off the Mary River near Kakadu's western boundary, what was once a paperbark forest is now a graveyard of bleached and stricken trunks.

The "dead forest" offers a glimpse into the future for similar low-lying coastal areas along the Top End coast, which are most vulnerable to rising sea levels.

… insect life collapsing:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/11/insect-populations-suffering-death-1000-cuts-scientists

Insect populations are suffering “death by a thousand cuts”, with many falling at “frightening” rates that are “tearing apart the tapestry of life”, according to scientists behind a new volume of studies.

The insects face multiple, overlapping threats including the destruction of wild habitats for farming, urbanisation, pesticides and light pollution.

The 12 new studies are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Nature is under siege [and] most biologists agree that the world has entered its sixth mass extinction event,” concludes the lead analysis in the package. “Insects are suffering from ‘death by a thousand cuts’ [and] severe insect declines can potentially have global ecological and economic consequences.”

Prof David Wagner of the University of Connecticut in the US, the lead author of the analysis, said the abundance of many insect populations was falling by 1-2% a year, a rate that should not be seen as small: “You’re losing 10-20% of your animals over a single decade and that is just absolutely frightening. You’re tearing apart the tapestry of life.”

“Insects are really susceptible to drought because they’re all surface area and no volume,” Wagner said. “Things like dragonflies and damselflies can desiccate to death in an hour with really low humidity.”

Another of the papers sets out actions that can protect insects. Individuals can rewild their gardens, cut pesticide use and limit outdoor lighting …

The biggest systematic assessment of global insect abundances to date, published in April 2020, showed a drop of almost 25% in the last 30 years, with accelerating declines in Europe. It indicated terrestrial insects were declining at close to 1% a year. The previous largest assessment, based on 73 studies, led the researchers to warn of “catastrophic consequences for the survival of mankind” if insect losses were not halted. It estimated the rate of decline at 2.5% a year.

Other PNAS papers found both declines and rises. Butterfly numbers have fallen by 50% since 1976 in the UK and by 50% since 1990 in the Netherlands, according to one. It also showed the ranges of butterflies began shrinking long ago, dropping by 80% between 1890 and 1940.

… impacts extending deep into the forest:

https://news.mongabay.com/2021/01/patches-of-amazon-untouched-by-humans-still-feel-impact-of-climate-change/?utm

  • Researchers looking at the abundance of insect-eating birds in a pristine patch of forest deep in the Brazilian Amazon have seen populations of dozens of species decline over the past 35 years.
  • The remoteness of the site and the still-intact tree cover rule out direct human activity as a factor for the population declines, with researchers attributing the phenomenon to the warmer and more intense droughts caused by climate change, which in turn puts stress on the birds and their food sources.
  • A similar phenomenon has been observed in the Caatinga shrubland ecosystem of northeastern Brazil, where rising temperatures, severe droughts, and irregular rainfall may lead to the extinction of birds and mammals over the next 60 years, even inside national parks.

The data comparison indicated that the birds that experienced the greatest population decline since the early 1980s are the terrestrial insect-eating ones and those that live close to the ground …

Of the 79 species of birds captured, the study indicated that 52 had seen their populations decline, while 24 saw an increase. Three remained stable.

[Stouffer] “They are not in danger of extinction while there are many intact forests, but our data suggest that their populations are decreasing, which makes it crucially important to protect as much forest area as possible,” he said. This becomes even more urgent when considering that these birds do not tolerate small fragments of forest, and the regeneration of degraded areas takes more than 30 years to provide adequate habitat for them again.

… as trees die forests become more fireprone:

https://phys.org/news/2021-01-highlights-role-forest-fuels-climate.html

California's drought of 2012-2016 killed millions of trees in the Sierra Nevada—mostly by way of a bark beetle epidemic—leaving a forest canopy full of dry needles.

In the study, published in the journal Ecological Applications, scientists found that the presence of recently dead trees on the landscape was a driver of wildfire severity for two large fires that occurred toward the end of the drought: the 151,000-acre Rough Fire in 2015 and the 29,300-acre Cedar Fire in 2016.

It identified pre-fire tree mortality as influential on all measures of wildfire severity on the Cedar Fire, and on two of three measures on the Rough Fire. For the Rough Fire, it was the most important predictor of trees killed by fire. For the Cedar Fire, weather conditions during burning had the strongest influence on fire severity.

… bird flu pandemic starts in India:

https://www.devdiscourse.com/article/science-environment/1402374-gujarat-bird-flu-confirmed-in-four-districts

The Gujarat government sounded a bird flu alert on January 5.

In the following days, districts like Surat, Vadodara,Tapi, Kutch, Narmada, Valsad, Mehsana etc. recorded deaths of birds, especially crows, ducks, pigeons, peacocks and lapwings, the health department said.

''Avian influenza is a low pathogenic virus, meaning itis less lethal than other bird flu viruses. Not a single case of avian influenza has been reported in humans so far,'' it said.

https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/civic/forest-dept-monitors-waterbodies-in-dist-to-keep-a-watch-on-sick-birds-flu/articleshow/80272702.cms

As of Thursday, the number of districts recording unexplained bird deaths in Maharashtra has now gone up to over 250.

While, Sachindra Singh, commissioner of animal husbandry (state), added, “We are culling birds on a large scale to stop the virus from spreading.”

The animal husbandry department of Maharashtra confirmed that 238 bird deaths were reported in the state on Wednesday, … Close to 2,100 birds have died in the state since January 8

Australia an international laggard:

… missing in action:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/11/50-countries-commit-to-protection-of-30-of-earths-land-and-oceans

A coalition of more than 50 countries has committed to protect almost a third of the planet by 2030 to halt the destruction of the natural world and slow extinctions of wildlife.

The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People, which includes the UK and countries from six continents, made the pledge to protect at least 30% of the planet’s land and oceans before the One Planet summit in Paris on Monday, hosted by the French president, Emmanuel Macron.

In the announcement, the HAC said protecting at least 30% of the planet for nature by the end of the decade was crucial to preventing mass extinctions of plants and animals, and ensuring the natural production of clean air and water.

Greta Thunberg tweeted: “LIVE from #OnePlanetSummit in Paris: Bla bla nature Bla bla important Bla bla ambitious Bla bla green investments…”

… slips to 14th worst deforester in world (as NSW lifts clearing rates):

https://news.mongabay.com/2021/01/california-sized-area-of-forest-lost-in-just-14-years/

The report, titled Deforestation Fronts: Drivers and Responses in a Changing World, looks at the state of forests and causes of deforestation in 24 “active deforestation fronts” (MAP), which account for over half of all tropical and subtropical deforestation that occurred over the 14-year period.

Using five satellite-based datasets, the report finds 43 million hectares (166,000 square miles) of deforestation during the period [2004-2017].

“We know what has to be done: protect critical biodiversity areas and sustainably manage forests, halt deforestation and restore forest landscapes, recognize and protect the tenure rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, support local people to build sustainable livelihoods, enhance landscape governance, and transform our economies, food and financial systems to better account for the value of nature,” wrote Marco Lambertini, Director General WWF International, in the report’s preamble.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/forest-loss-hotspots-bigger-germany-000102100.html

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a groundbreaking report on land use in 2019, in which it outlined a string of looming trade-offs in using land.

In that same year, the UN's biodiversity panel said that 75 percent of all land on earth had been "severely degraded" by human activity.

Forests are an enormous carbon sink, together with other vegetation and soil sucking up roughly a third of all the carbon pollution humans produce annually.

Yet they continue to disappear rapidly, threatening irreparable losses to Earth's crucial biodiversity.

https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/australia-deforestation-land-clearing-conservation/13054460

Australia is the only developed nation on the list of the world's deforestation hotspots, according to a new report by WWF, previously known as the World Wildlife Fund.

"Nearly a million hectares of forest has been cleared just in Queensland and New South Wales and just in the hotspot areas," Dr Martin Taylor, Senior Scientist with WWF Australia, told Hack.

But in Eastern Australia, agriculture is by far the biggest driver of deforestation.

"Eighty-five per cent of it is just for beef cattle pasture or for sheep pasture," Dr Taylor said.

"People do see their local favourite patch of bush being bulldozed for a housing or industrial estate, or a road... That turns out to be a small percentage of the total destruction in Eastern Australia. Most of it is out bush, far from the public gaze, and most people don't know it's going on," he explained.

https://www.wwf.ch/sites/default/files/doc-2021-01/Deforestation%20fronts%20-%20drivers%20and%20responses%20in%20a%20changing%20world%20-%20full%20report.pdf

[The report identifies eastern Australia as a major deforestation front due to cattle ranching and large scale logging. Australia has been squeezed out of the top ten countries to 14 th worst deforester in the world].  

Drivers of deforestation

Development of livestock pasture is the chief driver of forest loss in Eastern Australia, accounting for 75%[8, 9]. There was a spike in large-scale clearing for crops in Queensland after laws were weakened in 2013, but these crops were primarily grain and fodder for livestock[10]. This loophole was closed in 2018[

Harvest for timber is a minor driver of loss, accounting for 16%, mostly in the state of New South Wales (NSW). Intensified logging of state forests, in addition to significant private native forestry[12], make it the primary driver of deforestation and degradation in NSW[13].

Forest loss 2004-2017

0.7Mha of forests (3.5% of forest area in 2000) when looking only at estimates from Terra-I; ~2Mha 2004-17 (4%), up to 5Mha including secondary forest clearing based on SLATS[5]

Main outcomes

Growth of protected areas has largely stalled due to lack of government interest, except for rapid growth of indigenous protected areas, which are largely in unforested arid areas[17]. Vegetation laws are governments’ preferred approach to reduce deforestation but have had a chequered history and are now universally weaker than they were in the mid-2000s.

Underlying causes

Grazing land capital value is increased greatly with forest clearing; landholders are often mortgaged to banks and are under pressure to extract more value by clearing[15]. Climate change is a significant and growing cause of deforestation because of increasingly severe droughts, fires and low humidity affecting production and driving forest loss[16].

Recommended future actions

  • Increase investments in protected areas and strengthen forest protection laws.
  • Promote verifiable progress in deforestation-free supply chains, especially for beef.
  • Enhance funding to support farmers and graziers to regenerate forests, with incentives for those who demonstrate improved forest condition.
  • Develop policies and structures to support a transition from native forest logging to plantations and independently certified forest management.

… industry’s solution of artificial Carbon Capture and Storage a sham:

https://environmentjournal.online/articles/carbon-capture-technology-will-not-solve-the-climate-crisis-report-says/

The vast majority (81%) of carbon captured globally to date has been used to extract more oil via the process of Enhanced Oil Recovery, according to a new report conducted by the Tyndall Centre and commissioned by Friends of the Earth Scotland.

Globally, there are just 26 CCS plants in operation, with capacity currently at around 39MtCO2 per year, this is about 0.1% of annual global emissions from fossil fuels.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s climate campaigner Jess Cowell said: ‘The world needs urgent cuts to climate emissions every year of this decade but CCS can’t deliver anything meaningful until the 2030s, if at all. Politicians and CCS backers in the fossil fuel industry want us to trust them with a technology with a long history of over-promising and under-delivering.

‘This report makes it clear that Carbon Capture and Storage is a dangerous distraction from the necessary action to cut climate emissions from our energy sector in this crucial decade.

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/carbon-capture-and-storage-wont-work-critics-say/

Forest Media 8 January 2021

Another study of species’ particular tree hollow requirements shows the limiting availability of suitable hollows, for Superb Parrots finding that their preference large hollows with specific attributes means only 0.5% of potentially available hollows are structurally suitable, noting there is already a shortage with access further limited by more aggressive competitors and the need for this colonial nester for clusters of trees. They recommend protecting hollow-bearing trees with DBH >77 cm.

An invertebrate expert warns that with only 25-33% of Australia’s terrestrial invertebrate fauna formally described we can’t assess the dramatic impact of the bushfires on trillions of invertebrates, highlighting that the wet forest refugia along the Great Dividing Range has led to high edemicism. Lest we forget, the Conversation has taken a retrospective review of the fires affects on vertebrate fauna and plants, highlighting cases such as the Smoky Mice that ironically died from smoke inhalation, the risk of the loss of endemic native bees, spiders and plants due to frequent fires, and the massive impact of runoff after the fires on fish, such as the Macquarie perch.

In America climate heating is fostering increases in the frequency and intensity of wildfires, with massive impacts on wildlife and watersheds, and changing microclimates affecting recovery. Like in NSW, American politicians are pushing for inclusion of biomass as renewables despite the overwhelming evidence of its deleterious impacts. Meanwhile in British Columbia (Canada) 140,000 hectares of old-growth forests continues to be clearfelled each year, as public debate intensifies and minor concessions made. Concerns that the conversion of natural grasslands to tree plantations is having major impacts.  

2020 was Australia’s 4th warmest on record,1.15oC above average. A study of the Black Summer bushfires found they were “unmatched” because 2019 was the hottest and driest year on record, with temperatures 2oC above average. If current climate trends continue, we can expect “catastrophic” bushfires that would be “beyond anything we had experienced in the past” to become more frequent, with Australian temperatures as much as seven degrees above average before the end of this century if emissions are not reduced. An international study warns the world could soon undergo irretrievable change, with it possible the 1.5oC average warming could be reached within the next seven years as the ‘worst case’ scenario unfolds. There are concerns that the worldwide trend for shifts to mega fires may represent passing of another tipping point.

Dailan

Only the best for Superb Parrot, and there’s not enough:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-02/superb-parrots-pickiness-highlights-conservation-risk/13026452

New research indicates superb parrots are so fussy about the tree hollows they choose to lay eggs in that they are limited to about one in 200 available nesting sites — far fewer than previous studies suggested.

Superb parrots are a migratory bird that range over a large part of south-eastern Australia and choose only certain eucalypt species that are large enough to host multiple tree hollows.

It is thought there are somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000 of the birds living in the wild.

"We found that of all the trees we climbed, and all the hollows we surveyed, there was 0.5 per cent that were suitable for superb parrots," Ms Rayner said.

"Our study just shows what's present, it doesn't go into 'can they access that hollow, can they actually nest there, are there other constraints on them?'

"Whether they'll actually secure that hollow and be able to nest in it is yet another battle that they'll have to face."

Ms Rayner said superb parrots were generally a timid species, which often lost the fight for tree hollows against bossier birds like crimson rosellas and introduced feral pests like starlings.

After climbing 75 of the oldest trees, and inspecting 487 hollows, Ms Rayner said the situation for the little parrot was actually much more dire.

"There is a much greater demand for hollows than there are hollows in the landscape that meet their needs," she said.

But the new research showed that it was not good enough just to leave a few large trees in housing estates — because the superb parrots are so sociable.

"Superb parrots will nest in colonies, so they don't just look for individual trees … they also need a cluster of trees, because come the end of the breeding season, they flock together and help each other raise the young," Ms Rayner said.

"So they're not looking for individual trees, they're looking for landscapes that have multiple suitable nest trees.

"Actually finding an area where a colony has established is a precious, precious thing."

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/582ea0d1579fb3ef8b09706d/t/5fc4213ff8cdb769c6658da6/1606689097584/1-s2.0-S0378112720314870-main.pdf

Superb parrots selected cavities that were deeper, with wider floors and entrance sizes than random cavities. Cavities with the combination of selected traits comprised only 0.5% of the standing cavity resource.

Our results reveal that superb parrots are highly selective in their choice of cavities that they use for nesting. Superb parrots selected trees with the most abundant cavities, and their nests were deeper, with wider floors, wider entrance sizes and in larger stems than random cavities. This particular combination of traits was extremely uncommon in the study area. Our results confirm those of other studies that show parrots strongly select for the traits of cavities … and adds to the evidence that suitable cavities for wildlife are rare in degraded landscapes.

We suggest that a precautionary approach to conservation management of superb parrot nesting habitat should focus on protecting cavity-bearing trees (where at least one cavity is detected from the ground) with DBH >77 cm (i.e. two standard deviations below the mean nest tree DBH). Enhanced conservation outcomes may also be gained from protecting trees with 10 or more potential cavities as these trees are more likely to be a nesting site than not (i.e. probability >0.5, Fig. 2).

What we don’t know:

https://theconversation.com/photos-from-the-field-zooming-in-on-australias-hidden-world-of-exquisite-mites-snails-and-beetles-147576?utm

Australia’s terrestrial invertebrate multitude contains several hundred thousand uniquely Australian organisms. Most remain poorly known.

Hidden from view, many trillions more invertebrates burned or were displaced by the fires. And yes, invertebrates are animals too.

Most invertebrates are poorly known because there are so many species and so few people working on them. In fact, it’s likely only a quarter to one-third of Australia’s terrestrial invertebrate fauna is formally described (have a recognised scientific name).

Every species has an evolutionary history, a particular habitat, a set of behaviours reflecting that history, and a role to play in the ecosystem. And many terrestrial invertebrates belong to especially ancient lineages that record the deep history of Australia’s past.

The moss bug family Peloridiidae, for example, dates back more than 150 million years. For context, the kangaroo family (Macropodidae) is likely 15-25 million years old.

This continent-wide drying fragmented wet forests that covered much of the continent, resulting in the restriction of many invertebrate groups to pockets of wetter habitat, especially along the Great Dividing Range and in southwestern Australia.

You can join iNaturalist, a citizen science initiative that lets you upload images and identify your discoveries.

Lest we forget the bushfires:

https://theconversation.com/summer-bushfires-how-are-the-plant-and-animal-survivors-6-months-on-we-mapped-their-recovery-142551?utm

Click through below to explore the impact Australia’s summer of fires had on an already drought-ravaged landscape and the work being done to rescue and recover habitats.

… smoking is bad for the Smoky Mouse:

https://theconversation.com/death-by-irony-the-mystery-of-the-mouse-that-died-of-smoke-inhalation-but-went-nowhere-near-a-fire-139906

Some 119 animal species were identified for urgent conservation intervention following the fires. The smoky mouse was among them. Modelling showed 26% of its distribution overlapped with burnt areas, and in NSW more than 90% of the species’ habitat burned.

In a note attached, the vet suggested bushfire smoke had killed the smoky mouse – and asked, in a nod to the species’ name, if this was a case of “death by irony”.

Canberra, like many other cities and towns, was shrouded in thick smoke in January. But the breeding facility was more than 50 kilometres from the nearest fire zone, so I thought the vet’s theory was unlikely.

Over the following month, eight more smoky mice died. I inspected the lungs of one – to my shock, it contained thousands of brown smoke particles. Once I knew the distribution of particles to look for, I found them in most of the other dead mice too.

The mice didn’t die immediately after inhaling the smoke. They hung on, but when temperatures in Canberra spiked at more than 40℃, they went into respiratory distress and died.

There is hope for the smoky mouse. Motion-sensing cameras set up in Kosciuszko National Park after the fires have recorded smoky mice at seven burnt sites.

But as global warming escalates, fires in Australia are predicted to become even worse. Now more than ever, the future of the smoky mouse, along with many other Australian animals, hinges on decisive climate action. Captive breeding programs and blind hope will not be enough.

… to bee or not to be:

https://theconversation.com/jewel-of-nature-scientists-fight-to-save-a-glittering-green-bee-after-the-summer-fires-139555

Many native plants, such as guinea flowers, velvet bushes, Senna, fringe, chocolate and flax lilies, rely completely on buzz-pollinating bees for seed production. Introduced honey bees do not pollinate these plants.

There are several reasons green carpenter bees are vulnerable to fire, including:

  • the species uses dead wood for nesting, which burns easily
  • if the nest burns before the offspring matures in late summer, the adult female might fly away but won’t live long enough to reproduce again, and
  • the bees need floral resources throughout the year.

Grass trees flower prolifically after fire, but the dry stalks are only abundant between two and five years after fire. Banksia species don’t survive fire, and need to grow for at least 30 years to become large enough for the bees to use.

With increasingly frequent and intense fires, there’s not enough time for Banksia trunks to grow big enough, before they’re wiped out by the next fire.

We were horrified to see the intensity and speed of the fire that turned our efforts to ash, along with most of the remnant, long (more than 60 years) unburnt Banksia habitat the bees rely on. In New South Wales, much of the species’ natural range was also burnt.

The carpenter bee is not the only species facing this problem. Many Australian plants and animals are not resilient to high frequency fires, no matter their intensity or time of year.

The ecological importance of longtime unburnt forest needs urgent recognition, as increased fire frequency – both of natural and “managed” fires – is likely to drive a suite of species to extinction.

… for whom the bells toll:

https://theconversation.com/after-last-summers-fires-the-bell-tolls-for-australias-endangered-mountain-bells-139665

The Stirling Ranges were ravaged by this summer’s fires, and three-quarters of this WA national park now experience fire cycles twice as frequent as species recovery rates.

With an astonishing range of colours, the Stirling Range mountain bells are the glamour plants in WA’s floral bouquet.

Many plants and animal species here may never recover. Yes, many Australian plants evolved to cope with bushfire - but not with how frequently these fires are reoccurring.

Contemporary fire is now one of the single greatest threats to what remains of this extraordinary ecosystem.

The mountain bells need more than 15 years or more to rebuild their soil seed bank, as these plants are killed by even the mildest of fire.

… muddying the waters:

https://theconversation.com/before-and-after-see-how-bushfire-and-rain-turned-the-macquarie-perchs-home-to-sludge-139919

When the rains finally arrived, the situation for many fish species went from dangerous to catastrophic.

A slurry of ash and mud washed into waterways, turning freshwater systems brown and sludgy. Oxygen levels plummeted and water quality deteriorated rapidly.

Hundreds of thousands of fish suffocated. It was akin to filling your fish tank with mud and expecting your goldfish to survive.

Macquarie perch like rocky river sections with clear, fast-flowing water, shaded by trees and bushes on the banks.

Massive change wrought on our rivers over the past century means Macquarie perch are now only found at a handful of locations in the Murray-Darling Basin.

A study in 2017 found a Macquarie perch population that was restricted to a 9km section of the creek but was doing quite well.

To our surprise, some Macquarie perch had survived. But with most of the catchment fully burnt, and no vegetation to stop runoff, we knew it was a ticking time bomb.

They rescued ten fish. Days later, rain washed ash and silt into the channel. Within hours, the once-pristine creek became flowing mud with the consistency of cake mix.

While maintaining the rescued populations, we must redouble our efforts to improve their natural habitats.

… some losses unaccountable:

https://theconversation.com/im-searching-firegrounds-for-surviving-kangaroo-island-micro-trapdoor-spiders-6-months-on-im-yet-to-find-any-139556

Kangaroo Island Micro-trapdoor spiders exist only on Kangaroo Island. They live in short, 6cm burrows, built neatly into creek banks. They are slow, calm spiders, spending most of their time in their burrow, determinedly holding the door shut with their fangs.

Sadly, all the known western populations of this enigmatic spider were destroyed. I am yet to find any survivors in the fire ground, but it is early days.

But the majority of Australia’s invertebrate species are yet to be discovered. Many will be similarly at risk, but we have no way of measuring the scale of risk or the repercussions. That’s a fact we should all find scary.

As California burns their crisis reflects ours:

https://www.marinij.com/2021/01/02/california-voice-for-forests-resilient-to-wildfire-the-time-to-act-is-now/

The primary lesson: Because we are confronted with climate-driven dangers beyond our immediate control, coupled with decades of management that has left our forests and rangelands in an unnatural state, we must take urgent action to address things we can control – forest health, the condition of our landscapes and the resiliency of communities in fire-prone areas.

We know what this fire season has wrought. In the months of August and September five of the six largest wildfires in history scorched this state. Combined, those five megafires burned parts of 22 of our 58 counties. All told, more than 8,200 fires blackened more than 4 million acres – more than doubling the previous record for any year. Even now in December, wildfires are searing parts of Southern California.

The toll on wildlife habitats and watersheds has been no less severe.

We know that the effects of climate change have made every fire season increasingly dangerous, as temperatures keep rising, our wildlands become more parched, and extreme wind events become more common.

Right now we can control our natural landscape. Urgent action is needed.

https://www.theweek.com/articles/956874/how-rebuild-california-forests-climate-mind

The Creek Fire, which burned east of Fresno in the western Sierra Nevada, flamed with such frenzy that it produced a cloud resembling an atomic bomb blast, with smoke reaching the stratosphere. That fire and others, like the huge, lightning-sparked North Complex fires in the Sierras north of Sacramento, didn't burn in the usual patchy fashion of wildfires, leaving lightly singed spots mixed with more intensely burned islands. They torched much of the acreage within their boundaries, killing even large trees that would have withstood smaller blazes.

The resulting charred landscapes, a consequence of decades of fire suppression policies and a warming climate, may represent a funeral for some forests, which struggle to regenerate on their own after such severe conflagrations. This new regime of ferocious flames threatens to completely change familiar forest ecosystems, tipping towering pine stands into lands dominated by squat scrub species. Forest ecologists warn that this may harm biodiversity, lower the capacity of forests to store carbon, and even threaten water supplies.

Among foresters, the general rule is that seeds can move a maximum distance that's twice the height of the mother tree. "The seeds of the conifer trees are too heavy to disperse out into that area," says Matthew Hurteau, a forest ecologist at the University of New Mexico. "And then the other thing is, when you burn off all the tree cover, it gets a hell of a lot hotter and drier in that environment." That means the seeds that do sprout may have trouble surviving.

The clearest evidence for such specialization comes from experiments called provenance tests that were done starting in the 1930s, in which researchers planted tree seeds at various elevations. The general pattern that came out was that plants grew best within about 500 feet up or down from their source. "Anything more than 500 feet was really moving them more than what was optimal," says North.

For that reason, the U.S. Forest Service has a rule of thumb that trees should not be replanted outside their original 500-foot elevation band. The rule is codified in the California tree seed zone map, first published in 1946. It's had a couple of revisions since then, but it's still the document that silviculturists refer to when sourcing their seeds.

In their efforts to revegetate with the most local seeds possible, reforestation workers found the 500-foot rule satisfactory — until the impacts of climate change began to reveal themselves. As temperatures warmed, trees' historic habitats sometimes no longer matched their preferred climate.

Biomass under fire:

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-12-28/wood-burning-power-plants-clean-energy

The mammoth pandemic stimulus and spending bill Congress passed last week includes billions of dollars to expand solar, and wind energy. These are good measures to address greenhouse gas emissions. But the bill also contains a rider that would undercut those efforts.

A provision added to the bill, pushed for by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), declares that cutting down trees and burning them for energy is carbon-neutral. This, of course, makes no sense. Burning wood will add to global warming — even if the wood replaces coal or natural gas, as scientific organizations and hundreds of scientists have long argued.

In recent years, however, there has been a bizarre but dangerous push to retrofit power plants and factories to burn wood. The European Union has spurred this effort by adopting laws to require more low-carbon renewable energy (which by themselves are good), but then simultaneously allowing wood to count as a carbon-free, renewable fuel. Countries in the EU responded by subsidizing power plants to burn wood. Utilities lobbied for this shift after realizing that their coal-fired power plants could stay in business if modified at public expense to mix in some use of wood.

But the process of burning wood results in more carbon being released into the atmosphere than burning coal. This happens in two ways. Trees in a forest store carbon and keep it out of the atmosphere. When trees are cut down, more than half the wood is left to rot or burned in producing a usable form of fuel (usually wood pellets), which releases carbon into the air. The wood fuel that is ultimately burned in power plants generates still more carbon. Overall, using wood produces two to three times as much carbon per kilowatt hour as burning coal or natural gas.

Burning wood for energy is accelerating with alarming speed in Europe. One study in the journal Nature found a 70% increase in Europe’s tree-cutting since 2015. And much of Europe’s wood is coming from the U.S. If the world tried to pursue this strategy at even a small scale, the consequences would be dire for the world’s forests. To replace just 2% of the world’s fossil fuels with more wood would require doubling the commercial harvest of trees.

The battles to stop destroying Canada’s oldgrowth continues:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/the-saga-over-b-c-s-oldest-biggest-trees-set-for-a-turning-point-in-2021-1.5853280

"There's active logging going on right now, taking our old growth out and leaving a big mess" said Knox. "When they put in the roads on the mountainside, and after they log there is erosion and it causes landslides into salmon bearing rivers." 

Conservationists along the south coast who have blockaded logging roads to try and keep B.C.'s ancient trees from being felled want a further commitment from the province to protect B.C.'s biodiversity. Communities that rely on the sector for their livelihood also want assurances new rules won't put an end to life as they know it.

In September 2020, the B.C. government released its Old Growth Strategic Review (OGSR) titled A New Future for Old Forests, which lays out an ambitious set of recommendations meant to help the province change its forest management policies on a systemic level to better protect endangered ancient ecosystems as well as support a sustainable, long-term forestry industry.

The report asked that immediate action be taken to defer logging in areas where significant old growth trees are.

Sierra Club B.C. estimates that more than 140,000 hectares of old-growth forests — those with trees at least 120 years old — are logged each year along the B.C. coast and in the Interior.

Concern that natural grasslands are being converted to plantations:

https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/opinion/article/2001398966/afforestation-efforts-threat-to-savannas-and-grasslands

This is a potential threat to drylands, grasslands, savannas and the rangelands they support. Large areas targeted for forest restoration in Africa, Asia and South America are covered by savanna and grassland.

They are in fact ancient, productive and biodiverse and support millions of livelihoods. They also provide many important ecosystem services, which would be lost if converted to forests.

Savanna and grassland store up to a third of the world’s carbon in its soils. They keep streams flowing, recharge groundwater, and provide grazing for livestock and wildlife.

Grasslands can store carbon reliably under increasingly hot and dry climates. The same conditions make forests vulnerable to die-back and wildfires. Restoring grasslands is also relatively cheap and has the highest benefit-to-cost ratio of all the world’s biomes.

Meeting the international targets for forest restoration requires large-scale afforestation. Nearly half the land pledged for forest restoration is earmarked for plantations, mostly of fast-growing exotic species. These provide a fraction of the ecosystem services of the natural vegetation they replace. And they store 40 times less carbon than naturally regenerating forests.

No amount of ecosystem restoration will solve the climate crisis if its underlying causes are not addressed. The clearing of forests and other ecosystems for commodity agriculture and timber urgently needs to be regulated. Emissions from burning fossil fuels need to be drastically reduced.

Time is fast running out:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-08/sydney-news-heatwaves-floods-fire-drought-climate-change-report/13040668

A new Bureau of Meteorology report has confirmed 2020 saw the highest temperature ever recorded in the Sydney basin —reaching 48.9 degrees Celsius in Penrith Lakes on January 4 last year.

The Annual Climate Statement 2020 also confirmed last year was Australia's fourth-warmest year on record, with the annual national mean temperature coming in at 1.15C above average.

The report explores the droughts, bushfires, floods and heatwaves the country experienced following Australia's driest year on record in 2019.

https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/black-summer-study-grim-warning-on-australias-fire-future/news-story/2ef2a3704860e52eab3b3342e809850e

Last year’s fire season was “unmatched” because 2019 was the hottest and driest year on record, a study of factors behind the Black Summer bushfires found.

The study warns horror fire seasons are likely to continue as well as “rapidly intensify” because of climate change.

More fires and more intense fires are predicted to become a feature of southeast Australia, lead author Nerilie Abram from the Australian National University said.

The Black Summer bushfires were in many respects the worst Australia has seen.

But Professor Abram said we could expect to see “catastrophic” bushfires that would be “beyond anything we had experienced in the past” as current climate trends continued.

But in southeast Australia in 2019 it was two degrees warmer than the historical mean temperature, Professor Abram said.

Temperatures in Australia could be as much as seven degrees on average above pre-industrial levels before the end of this century if emissions were not reduced, she said.

“Our new work highlights the strong evidence that southeast Australia’s climate has shifted and that this type of fire weather is becoming more frequent, prolonged and severe.”

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/seven-years-to-ground-zero-for-the-climate-crisis/

LONDON, 4 January, 2021 − Within the next seven years, the world could undergo irretrievable change. It could emit enough greenhouse gases from fossil fuel combustion to cross the threshold for dangerous global heating in the year 2027.

Or it could exceed what is supposed to be the globally-agreed target for containing catastrophic climate change − just 1.5°C above the average level for most of the last 10,000 years − a little later, in the year 2042.

But on present trends, according to new research, the world is committed, whatever happens, to the crossing of its own threshold for irreversible climate change within that 15-year window.

Again and again, last year alone, scientists found that conditions initially proposed as the unlikely “worst case outcome” are already taking shape.

On the evidence of the latest study in the journal Climate Dynamics, however, they now have even less time in which to enforce dramatic cuts to fossil fuel use.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00382-020-05521-x

https://news.mongabay.com/2021/01/were-approaching-critical-climate-tipping-points-qa-with-tim-lenton/?utm

Awareness of climate tipping points has grown in policy circles in recent years …

“Some of the tipping elements are changing more rapidly than others,” Lenton told Mongabay during a December 2020 interview. “The most concerning include the West Antarctic Ice Sheet – part of it looks to be in irreversible retreat – and the Amazon rainforest – where droughts and changing fire regimes are accelerating forest loss, alongside renewed human pressures.”

Lenton says the the rate at which we appear to be approaching several tipping points is now ringing alarm bells, but “most of our current generation of politicians are just not up to this leadership task”.

Tim Lenton: Fires generate their own reinforcing feedbacks – drying the fuel load, creating local convection and winds, and even thunderstorms – and such self-amplifying feedbacks are the vital ingredient for creating tipping point dynamics.

Fire regimes in the wet tropics can pass a tipping point from localized fires to much larger ‘mega fires’ – a bit like a phase transition in physics. Such mega-fires now seem to be happening in the American West, Australia and even the Arctic. So there looks to be a localized fire tipping point, and some signs that it is being passed at similar times across large areas – making for a bigger tipping point.


Forest Media 31 December 2020

A bad year for forests, starting with droughts and fires and ending in floods. Across the landscape millions of trees have been killed by both drought and fire, with the combination dramatic. As climate heating gains momentum, complex ecosystems have been devastated and wildlife populations decimated. Protecting forests is a vital necessity to help mitigate climate change, though here and around the world they are being cleared at an accelerating rate despite increasing scientific and political recognition of the urgent need. We know we need to protect forests, though it is up to us to do it.  

The NSW Government’s strategy for private lands is to focus on using the $350 million biodiversity trust to pay regional landowners for protecting koala habitat as an alternative to regulation. Announcing $11.8 million for 1,094 hectares of land in the Southern Highlands to be protected koala habitat in perpetuity – putting a value (ie $11,000 ha) on protecting core Koala habitat on public lands.  Meanwhile Kean has announced  additions of 912 hectares to Cataract National Park and 93 hectares combined to Maria National Park in Crescent Head near Kempsey and Bongil Bongil National Park south of Coffs Harbour, stating “You can’t save koalas without first protecting their habitat and the best way to do that is by fortifying and expanding our national parks.

South-east floodplain forests recognised as nationally threatened. Protests in Tasmania’s Blue Tier forests and the Tarkine. New species of underground orchid found at Barrington Tops - likely dispersed by wallabies and bandicoots.

China’s ban on wood imports (pine pulplogs?) expand to NSW while having significant industry impacts. Forestry Corporation promoting State Forests for recreation. PR push claims Kangaroo Island environment recovering for tourism.

Meanwhile the impacts of climate heating continue, with Japan’s treeline expanding upslope and Brazil’s drier forests transitioning to carbon sources rather than sinks. More warnings that increasing encroachments into rainforests are a viral threat. As clearing gathers pace worldwide, there are more pleas to protect forests, particularly those that are still intact.

The growing evidence of the heath benefits of forest bathing encourage a growing recreation industry.

 Dailan

NSW Government moves marginally on Koala conservation:

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/cash-for-koalas-nsw-government-considers-paying-farmers-to-preserve-habitat-20201221-p56pc1.html

Farmers would be paid by the NSW Government to preserve koala habitat on their properties under a proposal being formulated by senior ministers.

The plan, which involves compensating farmers under the Biodiversity Conservation Trust, is being developed following the failure of the koala planning policy that split the coalition and threatened to plunge the NSW government into minority in September.

Both NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro and Liberal Environment Minister Matt Kean are working to tailor the $350 million biodiversity trust to pay regional landowners for protecting koala habitat.

“[It's] putting in place stewardship payments to private landholders that want to give up some of their land for conservation, and in this case for koala habitat. Let's pay them for it just like we do under the biodiversity legislation,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The National Party will be working to bring back a SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policy) to deal with koala habitat, bring back a strategy that deals with doubling its population and protecting its habitat.”

Mr Kean said he was confident the coalition partners would be able to reach an agreement on the divisive policy.

“Just like we did on energy, the Deputy Premier and I will find a way through this issue that protects private property rights and helps preserve our most loved and iconic animal,” he said.

Mr Kean has recently made changes to the biodiversity trust’s board, bringing in former deputy NSW Nationals leader Niall Blair who is now a professor of food sustainability at Charles Sturt University, and economist John Pierce, the former Australian Energy Market Commission chairman and state treasury secretary.

The Nationals are planning to revisit their September requests of reducing the proposed number of koala-feed tree species from 123 to 60, as well as ensuring private native forestry is decoupled from the SEPP.

https://www.news.com.au/technology/science/animals/nsw-extends-national-parks-by-1000-hectares-to-protect-koalas/news-story/9f7f38e4b60bb98ccb7ac8c201f65737#.thge6

The NSW government is expanding three national parks by a thousand hectares in total to secure land for the state‘s vulnerable koala population.

The new land will add 912 hectares to Cataract National Park three hours west of Byron Bay, and 93 hectares combined to Maria National Park in Crescent Head near Kempsey and Bongil Bongil National Park south of Coffs Harbour.

“This expansion of key areas of our national parks secure critical habitat across a number of animal and plant species, most notably our iconic koalas,” Environment Minister Matt Kean said.

“You can’t save koalas without first protecting their habitat and the best way to do that is by fortifying and expanding our national parks, which is exactly what we are doing.”

https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/environment/nsw-landowners-share-118-million-to-create-koala-safe-zones-ng-7eee1c00dd191ecc3f19eb592b230d5e

Five NSW landholders will share a $11.8 million pot of government money in exchange for designating parts of their land safe zones for koalas.

The recently signed agreements will make a total of 1,094 hectares of land in the Southern Highlands protected koala habitat, a status that will remain in perpetuity.

That means those parts of the land will not be developed or logged.

“The area is home to one of the most significant koala populations in the State, and a large portion of koala habitat in the Southern Highlands is found on private land,” NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said.

The money will be paid out in annual portions by the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust.

The BCT has entered into over 226 conservation agreements with private landholders over the last two years, snapping up land covering more than 59,300 hectares at a cost of over $125 million to protect various types of wildlife.

“The BCT’s conservation tenders are a great way for landholders to protect habitat for native species while diversifying their income,” said Mr Kean.

The NSW government committed $350 million to the BCT last year.

Theoretical protection for SE floodplain forests:

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7059436/coastal-forests-to-be-protected-under-national-environment-laws/

A large stretch of coast hit by the Black Summer bushfires will be protected under national environment laws, after its eucalypt forests were listed as critically endangered.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley on Monday declared river-flat eucalypt forests on coastal floodplains between Newcastle in NSW and Sale in Victoria would be listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

At least 70 per cent of native vegetation on the coastal floodplains of NSW has been destroyed since European settlement.

Climate change was also listed as a key threat to the forests.

The warming and the drying of the climate in southern and eastern Australia is expected to significantly reduce run-off to coastal rivers and streams, as well as intensifying drought events which could lead to mass die-offs.

Tasmanians battle on:

https://www.victorharbortimes.com.au/story/7070498/protesters-descend-on-mountain-bike-trails/?cs=9676

Mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners and activists converged on a Tasmanian town to protest logging of coupes near mountain bike trails in the area.

Protesters gathered at the head of the famed Derby trails in the state's north-east on Tuesday afternoon before heading up the Krushkas trail to a giant Eucalyptus Regnan commonly referred to as 'big mama'.

The Blue Tier forests …

Local mountain bike guide Kerry Costello said logging the forests people were coming to see made no sense for local businesses or ecologically.

… blockade re-established in Tarkine:

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/12/tarkine-summer-blockade-launched/

The Bob Brown Foundation has moved in overnight to establish a blockade camp in the Pieman River area of takayna/Tarkine, in Tasmania. The camp will halt Sus Timbers Tasmania’s machinery access to proposed logging coupe BO092C.

Logging in this coupe was commenced in February 2020 but was abandoned after a successful four day blockade by Bob Brown Foundation volunteers. The coupe has been rescheduled for logging this summer.

The Foundation is now asking that anyone who is able support the takayna/Tarkine Summer Blockade, ‘to prevent the destruction of this incredible forest’.

In other Tasmanian forest news, the logging machinery has been removed from the contentious Lost Falls area, where Bob Brown and five others were arrested recently.

New Underground Orchid dispersed by wallabies and bandicoots:

https://theconversation.com/like-finding-life-on-mars-why-the-underground-orchid-is-australias-strangest-most-mysterious-flower-144727

What about a small, pale tuber that spends its whole life underground, blooms underground and smells like vanilla? This is the underground orchid, Rhizanthella, and it’s perhaps the strangest Australian orchid of them all.

In 1931, another underground orchid was discovered in eastern Australia at Bulahdelah in NSW …

And most recently, in September, I confirmed an entirely new species of underground orchid, named Rhizanthella speciosa, after science illustrator Maree Elliott first stumbled upon it four years ago in Barrington Tops National Park, NSW.

For much of its life, an underground orchid exists in the soil as a small white rhizome (thickened underground stem). When it flowers, it remains hidden under leaf litter and soil close to the surface, its petals think and pink, its flower head a little larger than a 50 cent coin.

All orchid species need a buddy, a particular soil fungus, for their seeds to germinate, and Rhizanthella must have its habitat to survive.

We observed swamp wallabies and long-nosed bandicoots visiting the site where R. slateri grows.

We suspect they disperse the seeds of underground orchids via their excrement, finding the orchid among truffles and other goodies in the leaf litter and soil of the forest floor.

In Western Australia, these animals are locally extinct. Without bandicoots and wallabies to transport seeds away from the parent plant, the natural cycle of renewal and establishment of new plants has been broken.

China timber bans biting:

https://www.liverpoolchampion.com.au/story/7070545/timber-industry-reeling-as-jobs-lost-due-to-china-ban/

Earlier this month, a notice from Chinese customs officials confirmed that Tasmanian and South Australian timber imports would be banned from entering China due to claims that a pest known as a bark beetle had been detected in a log shipment. It came after timber from Victoria and Queensland had already been locked out.

According to the South China Morning Post, China's customs agency announced last week that it would now be banning timber imports from New South Wales and Western Australia, as well, after "live forest pests" were supposedly found in logs that had come from the two states.

Tasmanian Forest Products Association chief executive Nick Steel said the impact of the bans was already being felt within Tasmania's timber industry, confirming that about 100 jobs had so far been lost.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2020-12-28/china-ban-causes-job-losses/13017450

  • 150 harvest contractors lose their jobs in South Australia's Green Triangle
  • Another 100 jobs have been lost in Tasmania
  • The timber industry is lobbying for assistance to process more logs in Australia

The industry fears up to 1,000 forestry jobs in the Green Triangle, which incorporates Western Victoria and South East South Australia, will be lost in that region alone by March 2021 if the bans continue.

Mr Hampton said timber harvesting crews had stockpiled large volumes of pulp wood, but because none of it was moving it was hampering the entire operation of harvest and export.

Pulp wood is low-grade timber exported as logs. It is generally used in China to produce bio-energy, kitchen panels and to make paper and pulp.

China had been taking 95 per cent of Australia's exports, much of it through Portland in south-west Victoria, but about 20 per cent of that timber could be processed in Australia if changes to processing equipment were made here.

Forestry Corporation launch their 2021 PR:

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/12/fun-in-forests-this-summer/

There are more than two million hectares of state forests in NSW, which means there are plenty of unique areas to discover and activities to share.

‘There are so many places where you can bring the family and picnic or camp for free – even the family dog is welcome!’ said Ms Faulkner.

‘State forests contain thousands of kilometres of roads for four-wheel driving, mountain biking, trail biking, horseriding and bushwalking.

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/7062182/exploring-local-forests-heres-what-you-need-to-know/

https://aboutregional.com.au/holidays-a-good-time-to-head-into-the-forest/

It’s holiday season and if you’re looking for something to do, one place to start is the Forestry Corporation of NSW website, where you can learn a little bit more about what fun can be had in a state forest nearest to you.

Tumut State Forest has trails that cater for both walkers and mountain bike riders of all abilities, and offers wonderful views over the Tumut township and Tumut River valley.

Also near Tumut is Micalong Swamp, a unique and special site in Buccleuch State Forest.

Box Cutting Rainforest Walk in Bodalla State Forest … The Bermagui Picnic Area … Near Canberra, the surrounding native bush of Tallaganda State Forest …

Kangaroo Island bouncing back?

https://www.miragenews.com/one-year-on-bushfire-regeneration-in-south-australia/

A year on from the devastating fires that burnt almost half of Kangaroo Island and 23,000 hectares of the Adelaide Hills, a carpet of green covering the landscape leaves little doubt that the island and hills are bouncing back. Birdsong is deafening, kangaroos and koalas are content, flora is flourishing, and the community is closer than ever. Life has well and truly returned to the bush, and with it the opportunity to experience regeneration at a once-in-a-lifetime scale.

“It’s healing to the soul and it’s exciting to see what’s coming back,” Alison said. “You feel that nature’s doing what nature is supposed to do.

“It will be three to five years until it looks normal-ish but don’t wait for that to come and look. You need to see it growing to appreciate what it’s doing. If you only come when it’s totally regrown, you miss that story.”

Japan’s receding tree line:

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201229/p2a/00m/0dm/043000c

NIIGATA -- The edges of the forest on Mount Fuji have crept up several dozen meters in altitude over the past 40 years, an ecological study has found.

The research team made fixed-point observations of the tree line some 2,400 meters up Mount Fuji's southwest slope, in the central Japan prefecture of Shizuoka between 1978 and 2018. In that period, Salix reinii willow trees advanced some 40 meters further up, while tall Japanese larches climbed 30 meters higher. It was also confirmed that the increase in individual trees had accelerated over the last two decades compared to the first 20 years during the period.

Professor Sakio commented that the tree line had "risen very quickly considering the harsh environment." He added that if warming continues, it's "possible that Japanese larches and other greenery will no longer be able to exist there, and that they will be replaced by other plants."

Converting forests into carbon sources:

https://phys.org/news/2020-12-brazilian-forests-transitioning-carbon-sources.html

 A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Brazil has found that some non-Amazonian forests in Brazil have already begun to transition from carbon sinks to carbon sources. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their 33-year study of deciduous, semi-deciduous and evergreen forests in Brazil's state of Minas Gerais.

In looking at their data, the researchers found that forests in the studied region (which covered 33 hectares of land) were sequestering approximately 2.6% less carbon per year in 2020 than they were back in 1987. And during that same time period, the area released approximately 3.4% more carbon dioxide. In looking at total amounts being sequestered versus emitted, they found that the region now emits more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than is sequestered—changing it from a carbon sink to a carbon source. The data also showed that the region experienced a tipping point back in 2013.

The researchers suggest that the problem is not unsolvable—even with a warming planet, it would be possible for the region to transition back to a carbon sink if land management changes were made. They suggest the Brazilian government ban forest burning and promote forest planting. They note also that efforts to reverse global warming by reducing global emissions could help, as well. They also point out that failure to make changes will likely mean that more forested areas in Brazil (and other parts of the world) will transition from carbon sinks to carbon sources—including rainforests in the Amazon river basin.

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/51/eabd4548

Our results highlight a long-term decline in the net carbon sink (0.13 Mg C ha−1 year−1) caused by decreasing carbon gains (2.6% by year) and increasing carbon losses (3.4% by year). The driest and warmest sites are experiencing the most severe carbon sink decline and have already moved from carbon sinks to carbon sources. Because of the importance of the terrestrial carbon sink for the global climate, policies are needed to mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases and to restore and protect tropical seasonal forests.

… In general, these forests are shifting from carbon sinks to carbon sources. Currently, the forests under intermediate climate conditions and the forests under the driest and warmest conditions are already carbon sources, probably because they may have reached a stress threshold. Meanwhile, the carbon sink of the wettest and coldest forests is continually declining.

Another viral warning:

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/12/22/africa/drc-forest-new-virus-intl/index.html

Humanity faces an unknown number of new and potentially fatal viruses emerging from Africa's tropical rainforests, according to Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, who helped discover the Ebola virus in 1976 and has been on the frontline of the hunt for new pathogens ever since.

"We are now in a world where new pathogens will come out," he told CNN. "And that's what constitutes a threat for humanity."

HIV emerged from a type of chimpanzee and mutated into a world-wide modern plague. SARS, MERS and the Covid-19 virus known as SARS-CoV-2 are all coronaviruses that jumped to humans from unknown "reservoirs" -- the term virologists use for virus' natural hosts -- in the animal kingdom. Covid-19 is thought to have originated in China, possibly in bats.

Since the first animal-to-human infection, yellow fever, was identified in 1901, scientists have found at least another 200 viruses known to cause disease in humans. According to research by Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, new species of viruses are being discovered at a rate of three to four a year. The majority of them originate from animals.

Experts say the rising number of emerging viruses is largely the result of ecological destruction and wildlife trade.

As their natural habitats disappear, animals like rats, bats, and insects survive where larger animals get wiped out. They're able to live alongside human beings and are frequently suspected of being the vectors that can carry new diseases to humans.

Scientists have linked past Ebola outbreaks to heavy human incursion into the rainforest. In one 2017 study, researchers used satellite data to determine that 25 of the 27 Ebola outbreaks located along the limits of the rainforest biome in Central and West Africa between 2001 and 2014 began in places that had experienced deforestation about two years prior. They added that zoonotic Ebola outbreaks appeared in areas where human population density was high and where the virus has favorable conditions, but that the relative importance of forest loss is partially independent of these factors.

A multidisciplinary group of scientists based across the US, China, Kenya and Brazil has calculated that a global investment of $30 billion a year into projects to protect rainforests, halt the wildlife trade and farming would be enough to offset the cost of preventing future pandemics.

"If you go in the forest ... you will change the ecology; and insects and rats will leave this place and come to the villages ... so this is the transmission of the virus, of the new pathogens," Muyembe said.

… And in most of the scientific publications there is an assumption that there will be more contagions coming as humans continue to destroy wilderness habitats. It's not an "IF" it's a "WHEN".

The solution is clear. Protect the forests to protect humanity -- because Mother Nature has deadly weapons in her armory.

More pleas to protect the world’s forests as clearing gathers pace:

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/12/companies-must-account-for-quality-not-just-quantity-when-it-comes-to-forests-commentary/

The launch of the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) in 2014, with the support of nearly 200 corporate, government, NGO and Indigenous peoples and local community endorsers, put forests at the forefront of climate action and sustainable development. The launch event triggered a flurry of corporate pledges to tackle deforestation in company supply chains. However, as a recent assessment of NYDF progress has shown, large swaths of intact forests continue to be converted for consumer products with significant consequences for the climate, local ecosystem services, and biodiversity. When it comes to forests, companies need to consider not only the quantity of hectares of forest cover but also the quality of natural forest areas left standing.

Commodity supply chains, especially for soy, palm oil, beef and timber, continue to drive forest loss which is associated with five percent of all global emissions. Of particularly grave consequence for our climate is the loss of intact forests, large, unbroken swaths of primary forests that are free of significant anthropogenic damage. Intact mangrove forests, tropical forests and forested peatlands sequester more carbon than any other type of forest. Intact forests in particular account for nearly one-third of all carbon stored in trees and absorb one-fifth of human-caused emissions every year, despite making up just 13% of the world’s total forest area.

While about half of the world’s humid tropical forests can still be considered of “high quality,” less than a quarter of forests worldwide are considered intact. However, only 6.5% of these high quality, intact tropical forests are formally protected, putting them at significant risk of being lost, according to a recent study. By one estimate, intact forests are being damaged at twice the rate of forests overall, including from logging and land clearance for industrial agriculture.

Because protecting intact forests has a climate impact six times greater than previously thought, some researchers wonder whether the financial incentive to preserve them, and the penalties for destroying them, should be substantially higher.

In addition to the forest’s role in storing carbon, companies need to consider the vital role intact forests play in other sustainable development goals. These forest areas are key to local, national and regional water security…. Natural forest areas are also key to maintaining the world’s biodiversity – about 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity is found in forests.

https://www.earth.com/news/earths-forests-are-threatened-by-drought-and-human-development/

In a new study from the University of Copenhagen, a team of experts has identified major trends that will impact the world’s forests in the coming years. These trends include drought, human development, and viral outbreaks.

“It is critical for all countries – especially those with poor economic conditions, to prioritize forests and have forest conservation plans. Without the adoption of conservation strategies, droughts and viral outbreaks could have severe consequences on forests and humans alike,” said Professor Rasmussen.

The study is published in the journal Nature Plants.

https://www.miragenews.com/droughts-viruses-and-road-networks-trends-that-will-impact-our-forests/

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/12/worlds-forest-intact-new-data-study-finds

  • Of the world’s remaining forests, only 40% have high ecological integrity, according to data from a newly developed index.
  • Ecological integrity is a measure of human impact, looking at factors from infrastructure to tree-cover loss.
  • High-integrity forests are found mostly in Canada, Russia, the Amazon, Central Africa, and New Guinea; of the remaining high-integrity forests, only 27% are currently in nationally designated protected areas.
  • Conserving forests is a critical part of achieving the international Sustainable Development Goals, and understanding where high-quality, intact forests remain may inform conservation planning.

Forest Bathing growing:

https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20201231/get-out-nature-is-the-fix-for-covid-19-stress

Like Stafford, millions of other Americans trying to cope with the pandemic and its restrictions have discovered -- or rediscovered -- the power of the outdoors and nature to ease stress.

Among the indications of that trend:

  • Sales of outdoor gear and sports equipment are up. Visits to many national parks are breaking records. Yellowstone had the busiest October on record, with visits up 110% over last October, according to park statistics. (As of mid-November, overall visits are down 6% from the same period last year, but the park had to close due to COVID-19 in March, not reopening until June.)
  • Bookings for the nature experience known as forest bathing or forest therapy, which means ''taking in the forest," were already popular but are on the rise.
  • Doctors who launched walking groups, such as Walk with a Doc, have tweaked the sessions so they can continue virtually if necessary.

Research backing up the benefits of connecting with nature just keeps accumulating. "We call it ‘vitamin N,’" says John Norcross, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania and author of Leaving It at the Office, a book on self-care for psychologists in its second edition. For increasing well-being, he says, ''we tell people that vitamin N is [spending] 30 minutes in nature." While many equate nature with forests or something else green, Norcross says some research also suggests that aquatic environments provide the same benefits.

Two hours a week boosts health: Researchers from the University of Exeter in the U.K. conclude that spending at least 120 minutes weekly in nature is linked with good health and well-being. They evaluated the patterns of nearly 20,000 people responding to a survey who reported their well-being, health, and contact with nature.

They found that 120 minutes was the sweet spot, with positive associations peaking between 200 and 300 minutes a week, with no further gain in health or well-being after that.

Short walk, better mood: When 60 adults walked for 15 minutes in a bamboo forest, their mood improved more than when they walked 15 minutes in a city environment.

Stress dissolver: Forest bathing lowers levels of cortisol, a marker of stress, according to a review of 30 published studies.

Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols, PhD, in his 2014 bestselling book, Blue Mind, lays out how ''being near, in, on or under water" can improve health and happiness, among other benefits.


Forest Media 18 December 2020

Bushfire recovery is still a major issue. WWF report that 5 years after a fire in WA that quoka populations have recovered to about half of what they were. On Kangaroo Island 8,500 Koalas survived out of 48,000, while 230 were rescued. Nestboxes are in vogue, but why are hollow bearing trees still being cut down? The Feds have their priorities for bushfire recovery sorted, giving Visy $10 million to upgrade their equipment (and their mill wasn’t affected). Logging of unburnt forests in East Gippsland is for educational purposes.

Australian Koala Foundation have attacked the Feds for wasting time counting Koalas when they should be protecting habitat. Meanwhile Port Macquarie’s Hello Koalas is a platform for the Forestry Corporation PR. The defection of Port Macquarie’s Leslie Williams to the Liberals over Koalas means that the Nationals and Liberals will battle it out in the next election.

Neglect means populations of our threatened plants fell by almost three-quarters between 1995 and 2017. Macadamia integrifolia is thought to have less than 1,000 wild individuals left, with the millions planted comprising just 20 individuals - their pollen swamps their wild relatives.

Queensland’s investment in multi-million-dollar carbon farming projects this year will see up to 1.9 million tonnes of carbon out of the atmosphere and 1.8 million hectares of land restored. As temperatures rise tropical trees die younger. In the Amazon it was found that degraded forests are hotter, drier, and more flammable than nearby “healthy” intact forests. In Britain some are advocating focusing on natural regeneration rather than expensive plantings to restore forests. Others are advising not to forget about the importance of soils. Meanwhile China is progressing with expanding their forests to absorb CO2, while protecting native forests.

Dailan

 Bushfire recovery a slow process:

https://www.mandurahmail.com.au/story/7052997/wa-quokkas-face-long-recovery-road-study/?cs=289

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/dec/13/western-australias-quokkas-rebound-but-face-long-road-to-recovery-after-severe-bushfire

A quokka population nearly wiped out by a severe bushfire in Western Australia may take more than a decade to fully recover, research has shown.

When fire in 2015 charred 98,000 hectares of forest near Northcliffe, a small town in the state's southwest, the local quokka population was decimated.

Twelve months on from the blaze, scientists estimated there were only 39 of the small wallabies remaining in the area from an original group of about 600.

That number has now reached approximately 272 …

The WWF-Australia quokka project also found that the creatures had in five years moved more than 50km to recolonise some patches of habitat and had by now reoccupied roughly 60 per cent of their territory.

… Kangaroo Island’s Koalas decimated:

https://www.theislanderonline.com.au/story/7054046/ki-koala-numbers-estimated-down-to-8500-from-48000-before-bushfires/

The survey results support the estimate earlier this year of about 8500 koalas remaining.

This is down from the estimated population of 48,000 before bushfires burnt almost half the Island last summer.

Department for Environment and Water conservation and wildlife director Lisien Loan said the survey of 34 sites found that koala density had not increased in areas that were untouched by the fires.

This supported the initial assumption that the majority of koalas in the fire zone did not survive.

A dedicated group of rescuers, including Kangaroo Island locals, brought in 648 injured koalas from the burned timber plantation and natural scrub to the emergency triage centre at the KI Wildlife Park at Parndana run by Sam and Dana Mitchell.

The good news is that 230 rescue koalas have now been released ….

… temporary homes replace those lost by logging and fire:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-12/non-toxic-nest-boxes-give-homes-bushfire-affected-wildlife/12833618

This year lots of people have been hammer-ready, knocking up makeshift homes for animals that lost their habitats in last summer's fires.

But glues and varnishes used for constructing nest boxes mean that people could be building useful yet unhealthy products.

Conservation entrepreneur David Brook said he put the health of his furry clients first by doing away with toxic building materials.

Mr Brook's Wildbnb nest boxes were chosen as the ideal home for a trial bushfire recovery project on the North Coast of New South Wales.

Made from hoop pine grown in South-East Queensland, Mr Brook said no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or glues were involved in the process.

… Feds priorities for bushfire recovery:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/dec/16/anthony-pratts-visy-wins-10m-from-australias-bushfire-recovery-fund

Australia’s bushfire recovery fund has given $10m to a paper mill owned by one of Australia’s richest men and major political donor, Anthony Pratt, and hundreds of thousands of dollars to a forestry group with links to the Cayman Islands.

The industry assistance stream of the local economic recovery fund has already handed out a staggering $10m to Visy, one of the world’s biggest paper companies owned by Australia’s second richest man, to upgrade its technology to boost productivity at its Tumut mill.

Pratt’s Visy packaging and recycling empire is a multinational giant, with operations spanning across the globe. Last year, Guardian Australia revealed that a key holding company in the business empire had legitimately paid very little tax since 2013 despite reaping profits totalling more than $340m over the same period, according to corporate and tax records.

The fund, administered by the NSW government, has also handed $275,000 to the Snowy Mountains Forests Australia Trust to replace a bridge on Tarcutta Creek and Baga Creek, near Tumut, which will help improve accessibility into plantation areas to enable the harvesting of burnt timber.

The trust trades as Snowy Mountains Forests Pty Ltd, which owns roughly 23,600 hectares of softwood plantation in the region.

Corporate documents show that entity is wholly owned through the Cayman Islands, and is registered to the office of an offshore legal firm, Mourant Governance Services, also in the Cayman Islands.

Educational logging of unburnt forests in East Gippsland:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-12/east-gippsland-logging-fire-damaged-forests/12973870

Environmentalists say a logging school is operating in bushfire-damaged forests in East Gippsland that should be protected.

Publicly-owned forest agency VicForests has allowed an unburnt coupe at Nowa Nowa, four hours east of Melbourne, to be logged by Gippsland TAFE students for training.

Louise Crisp from Gippsland Environment Group …"How can they justify logging in unburnt coupes at all? They are driving species to extinction," she said.

Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes told ABC Gippsland only salvage logging of burnt forests was taking place in East Gippsland.

"I can assure you that there is no harvesting in East Gippsland occurring at the moment, apart from salvage logging," she said.

The coupe at Nowa Nowa is the second unburnt coupe allocated for TAFE training this year and the latest in a handful of unburnt coupes logged in recent months.

AKF pillory the Feds misdirection on Koalas:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-16/federal-government-koala-census-wasting-time-foundation-says/12974478

Australia's principal koala conservation group says the Federal Government is in denial about the threat to koalas.

The Australian Koala Foundation has accused the Federal Government of wasting time and money in a pointless census project instead of protecting habitat — the one thing that would help the vulnerable marsupial.

"There are about 600 different species of eucalypts in Australia — koalas only feed on about 50 of those," Ms Tzipori said.

"And then, even more so, they only feed on the species that are found in their geographical location, that might only be eight or 10 species."

For that reason, breaking up koala habitat had a devastating effect on the animals.

"There's a real knock-on effect with land clearing and deforestation … they're coming in contact more with roads, and dogs, other domestic pets, and all of that is just one big, massive knock-on effect," she said.

Hello Koalas a PR platform for Forestry Corporation:

https://www.camdencourier.com.au/story/7056705/sculpture-trails-newest-koala-finds-happy-haven-on-school-grounds/

Happy Haven was sponsored by Hello Koalas as a prize for schools participating in the innovative educational project Koala Smart, which was developed in 2019 by Tacking Point Lions Club, in collaboration with Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, NSW Koala Recovery Program and Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail.

Since then, the Koala Smart project has worked with education writers to create classroom-ready content which is now available at no cost to primary and secondary schools who register on the Koala Smart website www.koalasmart.org.au.

…now Kempsey Train Station will have its own home grown Hello Koalas sculpture to entertain and engage with passengers.

Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail has been developing a strong community engagement program with NSW Trains and Forestry NSW over the past two year.

Posters featuring Hello Koalas sculptures are displayed in a number of train stations in NSW to entice people to "Visit NSW Forests".

Koalas spark battle over Port Macquarie:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/dec/15/nationals-will-field-a-candidate-in-port-macquarie-against-sitting-liberal-mp

John Barilaro has announced the National party will run a candidate in the seat of Port Macquarie against the sitting MP, Leslie Williams, who defected to the Liberals during a stoush over koala policy.

The deputy premier was speaking in Port Macquarie on Tuesday, just weeks after the government shelved a land-clearing bill that was put to the parliament as part of a compromise between the Coalition parties.

The Coalition remains divided over the koala state environmental planning policy (Sepp) that nearly split the government three months ago when Barilaro and some of his Nationals colleagues threatened to move to the crossbench.

Threatened Plants disappearing through neglect:

https://theconversation.com/australia-first-research-reveals-staggering-loss-of-threatened-plants-over-20-years-151408?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20December%2016%202020%20-%201812817620&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20December%2016%202020%20-%201812817620+CID_5352cffd8062648c9561b381a686c189&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Australia-first%20research%20reveals%20staggering%20loss%20of%20threatened%20plants%20over%2020%20years

New Australia-first research shows the population sizes of our threatened plants fell by almost three-quarters, on average, between 1995 and 2017. The findings were drawn from Australia’s 2020 Threatened Species Index, which combines data from almost 600 sites.

Australia’s plant species are special - 84% are found nowhere else in the world. The index shows that over about 20 years up to 2017, Australia’s threatened plant populations declined by 72%. This is faster than mammals (which declined by about a third), and birds (which declined by about half). Populations of trees, shrubs, herbs and orchids all suffered roughly similar average declines (65-75%) over the two decades.

Of the 112 species in the index, 68% are critically endangered or endangered and at risk of extinction if left unmanaged. Some 37 plant species have gone extinct since records began, though many others are likely to have been lost before scientists even knew they existed. Land clearing, changed fire regimes, grazing by livestock and feral animals, plant diseases, weeds and climate change are common causes of decline.

A quarter of the species in the threatened plant index are orchids. Orchids make up 17% of plant species listed nationally as threatened, despite comprising just 6% of Australia’s total plant species.

The endangered coloured spider-orchid (Caladenia colorata) is pollinated only by a single thynnine wasp, and relies on a single species of mycorrhizal fungi to germinate in the wild.

Our research found threatened plant populations at managed sites suffered declines of 60% on average, compared to 80% declines at unmanaged sites. This shows that while management is beneficial, it is not preventing overall declines.

… Macadamias threatened by Macadamias:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/12/in-a-nutshell-how-the-macadamia-became-a-vulnerable-species-aoe

But this week the macadamia came to the world’s attention for another reason: Macadamia integrifolia, or the Queensland nut tree, was listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list of threatened species “on account of its population size, suspected at potentially fewer than 1,000 mature individuals”. Its endangered relative, Macadamia ternifolia, has previously been listed on the IUCN red list of threatened plants, as the four macadamia species indigenous to Australia come under significant environmental pressure.

Dr Catherine Nock …“You can fly over the Northern Rivers of New South Wales and see millions of macadamia trees, but there will only be about 20 individuals because they are clones of each other,” she says.

Denise Bond, ... The rainforests they live in are “exactly the places that humans like to live [and as a result] 80% of macadamia habitat has been cleared in Queensland – and in New South Wales they have cleared around 98%”.

The presence of macadamia orchards poses a threat to the genetic diversity of the wild population, says Nock, because the pollen from the cultivated clones is carried by bees to fertilise nearby wild trees. Young trees are being found in the wild with orchard genetics. “You’ve got a case where you have four fathers and maybe 100 mothers,” says Nock. Over generations this could dramatically reduce the genetic diversity of the wild population.

Carbon farming in Queensland:

https://www.miragenews.com/landmark-carbon-farming-project-to-create-jobs-and-environmental-benefits-across-queensland/

The Palaszczuk Government’s investment in multi-million-dollar carbon farming projects this year will see up to 1.9 million tonnes of carbon out of the atmosphere and 1.8 million hectares of land restored. Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the $2.1 million partnership between the Palaszczuk Government, GreenCollar and the Goondicum Pastoral Company was part of the state’s Land Restoration Fund to build the carbon farming industry in Queensland.

The Beef and Conservation for the Future project aims to improve landscape connectivity and condition of habitat for threatened species in the Wide Bay-Burnett Region through avoided land clearing and regeneration of native forest.

CO2 Australia will receive $3.7 million which will go towards the Mungalla Carbon Project, a 16-year collaboration with the government.

Eighteen projects have been secured and are now underway as part of the government’s Land Restoration fund.

Rainforest trees dying younger:

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-12/uol-ctf121120.php

Findings, published today (14 December) in the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) show that across the tropics, tree lifespans decrease for temperatures above 25 C.

As temperatures are rising rapidly across large parts of the tropics, tree mortality is likely to accelerate in substantial parts of the tropics, including the Amazon, Pantanal and Atlantic forests with implications for animal habitats, air quality and carbon stocks.

Although tropical rainforests account for only 7% of all land, they are home to about 50% of all animal and plant species, and approximately 50 % of forest carbon stocks on earth. Thus small changes in the functioning of tropical forests can significantly change the atmospheric levels of CO2 - the most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas.

Dr Locosselli said: "In the tropics, trees grow, on average, twice as fast as those in cooler regions of the world. But they also have a shorter average lifespan of 186 years, compared to 322 years of trees in other climates. Our analysis suggests that the life-spans in the tropics will likely decrease further still.

More evidence that regrowth forests are more vulnerable:

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/12/lasers-reveal-steep-decline-in-ecosystem-function-of-degraded-amazon-forests/

Every year, growing swaths of the Amazon rainforest are degraded by logging, fragmentation, and human-sparked fires. New research using airplane-based laser scanning of trees shows that degraded forests are hotter, drier, and more flammable than nearby “healthy” intact forests. But in periods of drought, intact forests also run out of water and start behaving like degraded ones, researchers reported recently in JGR Biogeosciences.

The degraded segments were 6.5°C (11.7°F) hotter on average than the intact areas. They also were more flammable—a serious concern, said Longo.

The team found that degraded forests absorbed and stored 34 percent less carbon from the atmosphere than their intact counterparts. They also cycled about 35 percent less water between plants and atmosphere.

Researchers were surprised to see that the conditions of degraded and intact forests converged during major droughts.

“Essentially, at some point, the [whole] system runs out of water, and the climate stress is more relevant than the forest structure,” Longo said of the extremely dry periods.

“Another way to look at this is that degraded forests are functioning almost as intact forests hit by extreme drought in typical years,” said Elsa Ordway, an Earth systems scientist at Harvard University, who was not involved in the study. “And that’s really concerning, because there’s been a huge amount of forest degradation across the tropics. The fact that there’s such an impact on these areas on a yearly basis is really important.”

Priority should be to encourage natural regeneration:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/15/restore-uk-woodland-trees-report-rewilding-britain

Allowing trees and woodland to regenerate through the natural dispersal of seeds should become the default way to restore Britain’s forest cover, according to a new report.

Natural regeneration brings the most benefits for biodiversity, is cost-effective and may sequester more carbon than previously thought, argues Rewilding Britain.

“Given sufficient seed sources and suitable site conditions, trees will plant themselves in their millions for free over as large an area of land as we are willing to spare,” said the charity in a new report seeking to galvanise support for natural solutions to help meet the government’s ambitious target to increase Britain’s forest cover by 30,000 hectares annually by 2025.

“Nature is pretty good at doing this itself. Natural regeneration brings multiple potential benefits – you get the right tree in the right place, you don’t get the potential carbon emissions you get with planting on peaty soils and you boost the complexity of the ecosystem, which builds resilience. Natural regeneration also helps species to shift and adapt to climate change. There’s growing evidence that it can sequester more carbon although there isn’t a broad research base yet because natural regeneration is just not on people’s radars.”

… and restore soil carbon:

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/tree-planting-slows-climate-heating-%e2%88%92-and-is-costly/

LONDON, 16 December, 2020 − The world can grow out of its climate emergency − but at a price. Enough tree planting around the world could achieve a 10% reduction in carbon emissions − but only if landowners are paid to plant and protect them.

And by 2055, the bill for planting trees to keep global heating from going any higher than the internationally-agreed target of 1.5°C above the average for most of human history could be US$393bn (£297bn) a year.

Grassland restoration, on the other hand, can pay dividends. And since grasslands are home to 40% of the planet’s natural vegetation, the rewards could be substantial, a second study suggests.

The researchers looked at the challenge of avoiding deforestation; of forest management; of stepping up harvest rotation; and of reforestation or afforestation, in 16 regions of the planet.

The scientists also established that tropical rainforest nations would − if they restored or protected the forests of the Amazon, Indonesia and the Congo basin − contribute the largest share, in the race for global mitigation: from 72% to 82%. The southern US, too, could make a significant contribution.

Researchers write in the journal Scientific Reports that they looked at data from a degraded sample of grassland in Kenya − invaded by a Mexican tree species, Prosopis juliflora, a kind of mesquite − to find that 40% of the life-enhancing soil organic carbon had disappeared. Thirty years of a restoration programme replenished soil organic carbon to a depth of a metre at the rate of 1.4% a year.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-12/ncsu-cop120120.php

https://phys.org/news/2020-12-greenhouse-gas-emission-tropical-deforestation.html

A large part of our uncertainty is related to what is happening in soils as a result of forest conversion to agriculture. Soils store about twice as much carbon as the atmosphere and they are responsible for regulating concentrations of two other important greenhouse gases—nitrous oxide, which is a greenhouse gas about 265 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and methane, which is the second most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide.

The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT has been working with partners across the CGIAR to increase emissions data availability. In recent months, we published three papers with new primary data from sites across the humid tropics. Two studies looked at the conversion of forests to different types of agriculture on upland soils in Cameroon and on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia; the third study examined forest degradation in a tropical peatland from the unsustainable harvesting of palm fruits in Peru.

The consistent finding across these papers is that the conversion of forest to agriculture and forest degradation slows down the carbon and nitrogen cycles in these landscapes, which affects the flows of greenhouse gases between the biosphere and the atmosphere.

One of the gases we looked at was methane, and this is important because soil removes this greenhouse gas from the atmosphere and limits its climate impact. Our study in Cameroon found that conversion of humid forest to cropland reduced this removal by 47%, but conversion to a cacao plantation did not reduce removal. Our study in Sumatra found lower, but still important, removal rates compared to the forest that we observed in Cameroon.

Conversion of forest to rubber and oil palm plantations decreased greenhouse gas removal by soil to near zero.

Methane is increasing in the atmosphere at an accelerated rate. The orders of magnitude of the reduction of the tropical forest methane removals that we observed suggest that deforestation may be contributing between 4% and 9% of this increase.

Forest trends:

https://www.preventionweb.net/news/view/75184

[MANILA] The emergence of COVID-19 and other diseases of animal origin such as Ebola, SARS and HIV indicates that disturbing forests can trigger pandemics, say the authors of a new study, highlighting megatrends shaping the future of forests.

FAO’s State of the World’s Forests Report 2020 says that the majority of new infectious diseases are zoonotic and their emergence may be linked to changes in forest areas, as well as the expansion of human populations into forest areas.

According to the study, the unprecedented exodus of forest communities to urban areas is shaping the future of forests. As examples, the study cites how international migration is helping reforestation in Nepal, changing community forest management institutions in Mexico and driving shifts from subsistence to commodity crop monocultures in the Philippines.

Growing consumption and demand has already seen large-scale, corporate-led land acquisitions for industrial production of cattle, soy and palm oil in South-East Asia, Latin America and Africa. According to the study, during 2001—2015, 27 per cent of forest disturbance was attributed to commodity-driven deforestation.

“Halting and reversing forest loss is increasingly recognised as a means to mitigate the effects of climate change and address biodiversity collapses,” Johan Oldekop,

https://www.conservation.org/blog/climate-action-humanitys-footprint-landmark-forest-support-3-stories-you-may-have-missed

“Five years after the Paris Agreement, in the midst of a devastating pandemic, we have a choice about the economy and the future we want to create,” wrote Raghav in the article. “Our best chance of avoiding climate catastrophe is for everyone — corporations, governments, and communities — to reject complacency and pursue immediate action. Investing in nature is an enormous opportunity to couple commitments with immediate action.” Research led by Conservation International scientist Bronson Griscom found that protecting and restoring tropical forests and mangroves can provide at least 30 percent of the emissions reductions needed to avoid the worst climate scenarios by 2030. 

“More than one million people have chosen to stand up for our forests, nature and the rights and well-being of people who depend on them,” said Herbert Lust, who leads Conservation International’s work in Europe. “This shows that the deforestation linked to the products we consume daily is not invisible to consumers – people want to do better.” Research shows that the consumption of products such as beef, soy, coffee, cocoa and palm oil in the EU is responsible for roughly 10 percent of global deforestation. Experts agree that creating a law that limits the import of products that drive deforestation could help conserve the world’s forests — and the services they provide. 

And this is what China is doing:

http://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay.aspx?newsID=782417

China's National Forestry and Grassland Administration on Thursday vowed to increase the country's forest coverage rate to 24.1 per cent in the next five years

China's forest carbon reserve has reached 9.2 billion tonnes, representing an increase of over 200 million tonnes on average each year, which is equivalent to a carbon sink of 700 million to 800 million tonnes, according to Liu.

Liu said with the expansion of forest area and the increase of forest stock, forest carbon sinks will gradually increase, helping the country cope with climate change and reach its carbon neutral target.

In 2019, China's forest coverage rose to 22.96 per cent, with the world's largest area of planted trees, according to a National Greening Commission report released earlier this year.

The year witnessed a big rise of forest coverage in China, with the newly planted forests reaching 7.07 million hectares, and all commercial logging in natural forests banned, said the report.


Forest Media 11 December 2019

Western Australian nanas are increasingly sitting down and making tea for forests.

The Black Summer bushfires toll of 3 billion animals affected includes 60,000 Koalas; 40 million possums and gliders; 36 million antechinuses, dunnarts, and other insectivorous marsupials; 5.5 million bettongs, bandicoots, quokkas, and potoroos; 5 million kangaroos and wallabies; 1.1 million wombats and 114,000 echidnas. A few were rescued, some found refuges and a few are being helped, with control of brumbies even mooted. The Victorian EPA have similarly engaged in a losing argument over compounding fire impacts with forestry as NSW. Now half the World Heritage Fraser Island has been burnt, warranting its inclusion with Gondwana Rainforests and Blue Mountains as "significant concern" as climate heating threatens the survival of these world gems.

I haven’t referenced them, though there are a number of studies from north America showing that high intensity wildfires, in part fed by logging regrowth, are increasing in frequency and intensity and altering forests, changing species and threatening to convert many to shrublands and grasslands. Like here, there is talk about thinning out the regrowth, though they need to take the larger trees to make it economic.

There is a legislative battle underway in Federal parliament, with the Greens trying to protect Koala habitat, and the Nationals trying to stop legal challenges to the RFAs.

Heatwaves a threat to birds.

Millions are being spent on fenced enclosures to “rewild” Australia – are these just mega zoos? Port Macquarie’s new “wild” Koala breeding facility, AKA Cowarra State Forest Tourism Precinct, is to be a tourist attraction replete with giant Koalas, tree-top walks and forestry propaganda. Meanwhile there are warnings that as wild Tassie Devils evolve to cope with facial tumour disease, that release of captive raised Devils threatens a resurgence of disease.

There is a glut of timber as the Forestry Corporation salvage log burnt plantations and China refuses to accept export logs and woodchips, though sawmills are crying poor. The push is on for total mechanization of tree planting. The industry has rebranded itself, as they claim that 40% of imported timber being mis-branded is a good outcome.

Young plantations and regrowth increase landslide risk. An assessment of the world’s remnant forests (including mapping) shows 60% have degraded integrity due to logging, fires, hunting, wildlife exploitation and edge effects, and calls for increasing integrity to better withstand climate heating. As concerns about European deforestation grow, the Dutch Government has decided to stop subsidizing biomass power, but not using it.

Be warned, an assessment of the past interglacial in south-eastern Australia, when temperatures were similar to today, found droughts lasted for centuries and millennia, not just decades.

Dailan

Nanas go viral:

https://www.yasstribune.com.au/story/7043264/knitting-nannas-native-forest-campaigners/?cs=6252

They've been dubbed "The Magnificent Seven" - seven grandmas, frustrated by the continued logging of native forests, who set up a blockade in McCorkhill Forest near Nannup.

On September 8, they woke at 3.30am and wrapped up warm. Then the knitting nannas offered tea and muffins to police and forestry workers.

Then more nannas rallied to the cause. Calling themselves Nannas for Native Forests, on September 29 more than 40 of them created a blockade to stop logging in Helms Forest between Nannup and Margaret River.

"At the second blockade we had a couple of women over 90 join us and I think we have nearly 1000 people following us on Facebook now," Peta said.

"We need to stop chopping down these forests now and there is no good reason why we can't," Peta said.

The nannas hope to inspire grandmothers everywhere to take up the cause.

"We need bodies out there, we need voices," Peta said.

"The elders getting out there and speaking for the community is very powerful. We have a powerful voice but we need to use it.

https://www.thesenior.com.au/story/5415902/hags-and-seedy-ladies-perfect-pairing-to-help-save-environment/

https://www.mandurahmail.com.au/story/7044146/nanna-brings-award-winning-environmental-film-to-mandurah/

Nannas for Native Forests are a group of 'Nannas' from Perth to the South West who have joined with Binjareb people in raising awareness of the need to care for country, especially the forests and waterways.

After personally witnessing the destruction with massive machines in the Helm Forest, and seeing the larger story presented by the film Cry of the Forests: A Western Australian Story, Merrilee wanted to bring the film to Mandurah.

https://www.colliemail.com.au/story/7040182/native-forests-lost-in-policy/?cs=1443

Conservation groups have hit out at the WA Government's climate policy stating its "like a like a lung cancer prevention policy that refuses to mention cigarettes."

The policy released last week outlined an investment of $123.3 million to fund a range of initiatives to create a low carbon future and transition to net zero emissions by 2050.

[Ms Beckerling] "To do so the most obvious thing we can do is protect our forests from logging and clearing.

"Protecting native forests from logging has the potential to prevent up to 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted over the next 10 years. This is a massive amount of carbon - the equivalent of taking 1.2 million cars off the roads - and we can do it right now."

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said protecting and restoring native vegetation was a core element of their response to climate change.

"The Western Australian Climate Policy includes a $15 million investment a Carbon Farming and Land Restoration Program and actions to leverage the McGowan Government's commitment under Plan for Our Parks, which will increase the size of our conservation estate by more than 20 per cent," he said.

"The policy also includes a range of commitments for native vegetation rehabilitation and offsets which will support habitat restoration and protection of existing vegetation.

[South West MLC Diane Evers] "Scientists are telling us this is a critical decade - we must do better to stop cutting down our native forests, to grow and protect them, maximise carbon draw down and sequestration, and create a better future for WA and future generations."

Wild Things film:

https://www.tasmaniantimes.com/2020/12/wild-things-2/

Wild Things: A Year on the Frontline of Environmental Activism is an upcoming 90-minute documentary that follows a new generation of environmental activists who are moving against forces more powerful than themselves and saying, ‘Enough’.

Ingleton hopes that when people watch Wild Things, they will by inspired by the activists in it. She also hopes the documentary will encourage people to try and make a difference.

Bushfire Recovery:

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/new-research-details-black-summer-wildlife-toll-in-the-billions-20201206-p56l1n.html

The 3 billion animals estimated to have been killed, injured or seen their habitat destroyed by the summer fires is now understood to have included 143 million mammals, 181 million birds, 51 million frogs and 2.46 billion reptiles.

The toll includes an estimated 40 million possums and gliders caught in the path of fires; more than 36 million antechinuses, dunnarts, and other insectivorous marsupials; 5.5 million bettongs, bandicoots, quokkas, and potoroos; 5 million kangaroos and wallabies; 1.1 million wombats and 114,000 echidnas.

It is believed 60,000 koalas were killed, injured or lost habitat, with the worst losses on Kangaroo Island where 40,000 were killed or harmed in some way.

About 11,000 koalas were hit in Victoria and 8000 in NSW according to a new report into the impact of the fires on native wildlife, which confirms an earlier overall estimate but provides far more detail about the losses.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/almost-three-billion-native-vertebrates-impacted-by-fires/news-story/49094ef5d8850ee64fbb455c20a28bf9?btr=e81970c3644cd4439021f69c3127e630

The research into how many animals were impacted by the fires was managed by Dr Lily Van Eeden and overseen by Professor Chris Dickman, both from the University of Sydney.

Their recommendations include implementing mapping and monitoring of plants and animals in bioregions most at risk in future fires, and developing strategies to protect these areas during fires.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/dec/07/devastating-more-than-61000-koalas-among-3-billion-animals-affected-by-bushfire-crisis

… surviving Lyrebirds:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-06/photographer-paul-mciver-shows-how-lyrebirds-survive-bushfires/12951204

On a trip to Yarrangobilly Caves in Kosciuszko National Park in late autumn, Mr McIver came across a female lyrebird on the fireground, collecting material for her nest.

"When fire totally devastates a region, your natural predisposition is to think, 'it's all gone'. Just to know that this little one has fledged and gone off into the bush, it lifts your spirit.

"I was shocked at the expanse of the fires, how much habitat was impacted, including wet forests, which is the preferred habitat for female lyrebirds," Ms Austin said.

When she returned to one of her study sites in the Blue Mountains National Park, where fires burnt 80 per cent of the World Heritage-listed forest, she discovered that the lyrebirds she was tracking had escaped the flames.

But despite the extraordinary survival skills of lyrebirds, Ms Austin remains deeply concerned for their ongoing survival in a landscape transformed by hotter, more frequent fires. With the loss of forest vegetation, food resources are scarcer, and the birds are more visible to predators.

Recent research has revealed the vital role lyrebirds play in protecting forests from the build-up of dry fuel that heightens the risk of fires.

As it forages for invertebrates, a lyrebird will turn over 150 tonnes of soil and leaf litter every year.

… helping a few Regent Honeyeater, now they need to stop logging its feed trees:

https://www.manningrivertimes.com.au/story/7039977/emergency-initiatives-activated-to-help-bolster-regent-honeyeater-numbers/

The DPIE Saving Our Species staff and the Regent Honeyeater National Recovery Team convened to determine the potential devastating impacts for Regent Honeyeater earlier this year post the fires.

Key threats identified included loss of potential breeding habitats to fire, impacts in unburnt refuges on breeding from competitor species such as Noisy Miners and subsequent loss or minimal flowering of primary feed trees from a combination of drought and fire impacts.

Hunter Local Land Services supported BirdLife Australia and the Australian National University to conduct urgent Noisy Miner culling in one partially burnt valley in the Upper Hunter.

"There is anecdotal evidence that burnt areas are also 'opened up' post-fire, thus making the habitat more suitable to miners."

Post-fire control of the Noisy Miner commenced during winter to reduce competition in an attempt to boost the honeyeater's population numbers.

… controlling brumbies:

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7042449/alpine-bushfire-rehabilitation-efforts-receive-8m-federal-boost/

The federal government will spend $8 million on long-term recovery and rehabilitation efforts in fragile alpine ecosystems, including efforts to limit the impact of hard-hooved animals after last summer's bushfires.

[Ms Ley] "Feral animals, particularly heavy, hooved animals, pose great threats to our smaller native wildlife which are at constant risk of trampling or having their habitat destroyed by trampling.

"The Australian Alps is unique in our dry, arid country and is recognised as being a world-centre of plant diversity, so it is important that we manage the impact that hard hooved animals have on the environment."

… and another World Heritage site burns:

https://theconversation.com/the-kgari-fraser-island-bushfire-is-causing-catastrophic-damage-what-can-we-expect-when-its-all-over-151664?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20December%209%202020%20-%201806017547&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20December%209%202020%20-%201806017547+CID_8dc7c6096ca094e08febe534ce24ac75&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=The%20Kgari-Fraser%20Island%20bushfire%20is%20causing%20catastrophic%20damage%20What%20can%20we%20expect%20when%20its%20all%20over

K’gari (Fraser Island) has been burning for more than seven weeks and, so far, the fires have razed half of the World Heritage-listed island off the coast of Queensland. The devastation will become more pronounced in coming weeks, despite overnight rain.

Much of the commentary on these fires has focused on how these landscapes are “meant to burn”, and that (luckily) there have been no major fires in the fire-sensitive, rainforest-style ecosystems in the island’s centre.

For thousands of years, the Butchulla traditional owners maintained the island’s ecosystems with patch mosaic burning. The general principle behind patch mosaic burning is that by burning regularly and strategically, you create habitat niches that cater for a wide variety of generalist and specialist species, which favours biodiversity.

With an absence of this mode of burning during 130 years of logging on the island (ending in 1991), today’s environmental managers have faced an uphill battle to claw back the balance.

Effectively, only 50% of the island now provides habitat and food sources for the entire island’s wildlife, and the remaining habitat is not always a like-for-like replacement.

When the fires have extinguished and plants begin to regenerate, a sea of green may convince people the ecosystems have bounced back marvellously from the fires. But in actual fact, they may have been irrevocably changed.

https://www.townandcountrymagazine.com.au/story/7046968/bushfire-hit-regions-of-significant-concern-to-world-conservation-union/

As rain brings relief to the fire efforts on the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island it's marked by close parallels to the Black Summer on mainland Australia.

Seventy to 80 per cent of the Blue Mountains world heritage area was burnt by the summer fires, and the concern is that the fires were so fierce the habitat may not return as it should.

Concerns that must be forming around Fraser Island.

Mr Luscombe said the biggest problem of the fires last summer was just how ferocious they were.

"Normally when you have burnt ground you get refuges, you'll have areas that didn't burn that hot or didn't burn at all and that didn't happen this year," he said.

"So much of it was burnt severely and the amount of refuge was really small."

"In the big wilderness areas those rainforest corridors are your main advantage and down in the major river systems, but no, the fire just carried straight through," he said.

For the Gondwana Rainforests the report noted "given the severe nature and extent of the fires even the significant resources and even well-planned and completed hazard reduction burns conducted in the previous autumn and winter season were ineffective.

"The fires dramatically changed the conservation outlook for the Gondwana Rainforest of Australia, and it remains to be seen whether the natural ecosystems and ecological functions are sufficiently resilient to recover from this previously unexperienced perturbation."

Victorian EPA made similar post-fire gestures to NSW, and allowed logging to continue:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/08/vicforests-allowed-to-resume-logging-despite-risk-of-irreversible-damage-in-fire-hit-gippsland

Victoria’s publicly owned forestry agency has been allowed to restart logging in bushfire-ravaged east Gippsland despite a warning from a regulator there was a risk of “serious and irreversible damage” to the state’s biodiversity.

A report released under freedom of information laws show the state’s conservation regulator twice wrote to VicForests during and after last summer’s catastrophic bushfires advising it should apply the “precautionary principle” when logging in the area.

An initial letter in January suggested that logging should be modified “in response to the changed conditions for vulnerable and threatened species across the state”. A follow-up in February said the scale of the damage meant it was justified to stop commercial logging until there was more information that reduced scientific uncertainty about the risk of permanent damage.

Schuringa said there had not been a satisfactory explanation of how this satisfied the precautionary principle, or how the environment department was monitoring logging.

“We aren’t seeing any changes on the ground and there hasn’t really been any indication from the department about what they are doing,” she said.

Birds feeling the heat:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-11/why-do-birds-stop-singing-when-it-gets-too-hot/12952674

Dr Kaplan said when the temperature increased the budgerigars' breathing rate also increased dramatically.

"When it comes to 40 degrees their breathing rate increases sharply — it then doubles — and from then on every single degree doubles the number of breaths the bird has to take," she said.

"So, at 40 degrees it has 100 breaths per minute and at 41 degrees it's 200 breaths per minute. They won't vocalise once it gets to 40 degrees.

"When you get to 46 degrees that's the absolute limit and after that birds really suffer immensely."

"The study found when the temperature reaches 27 degrees, magpies stopped feeding because there is too much energy going into that.

"So, when you get a heatwave that is over 35 or 40 degrees they cannot feed at all and they cannot digest food or anything.

"So, if that lasts for a week, the bird will be out of condition or near death — they can't forage, let alone sing.

"They are actually starving — if the temperature goes to 42 degrees and above and maintains this temperature for a few days, many birds will die."

Federal Greens try it on for Koalas:

https://www.miragenews.com/koalas-and-fraser-island-burned-climate-will-take-australia-s-treasures/

The Australian Greens have warned that the government’s climate inaction is pouring fuel on fires incinerating our country’s iconic animals, landscapes, and flora, amid news that tens of thousands of koalas died during last season’s bushfires, and as an uncontrolled bushfire tears through an untouched world heritage rainforest.

Greens Environment spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young will this week move a ‘Save the Koala Bill’ to protect the habitat of Australia’s most iconic tree-hugger, in a bid to stave off extinction.

“Today Australia is watching one of our national treasures burn. The Fraser Island fire comes on the back of record-breaking temperatures and is a further harbinger of the climate emergency that we face,” Greens Leader, Adam Bandt said.

“The Bill will legislate a moratorium on clearing of critical koala habitat which is absolutely vital to saving the species.

… Federal Nationals try it on against Koalas:

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/legislation-to-provide-clarity-for-native-hardwood-industries/

Legislation will be introduced in Federal Parliament today by Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie that will aim to provide certainty for Australia’s native hardwood timber industries. Source: Timberbiz

Australian Forest Products Association CEO Mr Ross Hampton said Senator McKenzie’s Bill will clarify a legal anomaly created by a Federal Court ruling in May, which has created significant uncertainty for Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) – the national framework that delegates the environmental regulation of Australia’s sustainable native timber forestry operations to the states.

“Senator McKenzie’s Bill will affirm and clarify the Commonwealth’s intent regarding RFAs to make it explicitly clear that forestry operations covered by an RFA are exempt from Part 3 of the EPBC Act.

“As the daughter of a log truck driver and growing up in timber towns in Victoria, Senator McKenzie knows first-hand how vital the industry is for regional communities.

https://www.miragenews.com/senator-mckenzie-stands-up-for-timber-workers-to-deliver-certainty/

https://www.tasmaniantimes.com/2020/12/logging-and-swift-parrots/

New federal legislation to allow logging of native forests despite current court rulings of illegality is a rort against the majority of Australians who want the forests and wildlife saved, former Greens leader Bob Brown said today.

“The nation will have all summer to see how Bridget McKenzie’s bill to exempt clearfell destruction of forests from the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act is no less than the Nationals doing the bidding of the powerful logging industry.

The global extinction crisis should see this bill replaced with one to end all native forest logging as New Zealand did decades ago,” said Bob Brown.

The study by ANU that showed swift parrot numbers were far lower than previous estimates was today described as a, ‘crisis’ by BirdLife Tasmania.

The ANU study suggested that the global population of swift parrots could be as low as 100 – 200 breeding pairs.

“There is a crisis unfolding in our forests” Dr Woehler added. “With other woodland species such as wedge-tailed eagle, grey goshawk and masked owl also listed as Critically Endangered, we also stand to lose these species unless there is a fundamental change in land use and forestry practices in Tasmania.”

Rewilding is where the money is:

https://www.ecovoice.com.au/rewilding-australia-joins-wwf-in-bold-plan-to-regenerate-australia/

WWF-Australia has welcomed the not-for-profit Rewilding Australia into its ranks, as part of its bold Regenerate Australia program to restore degraded landscapes and reverse the decline of native wildlife.

Experts from Rewilding Australia will be part of a dedicated unit within WWF-Australia to deliver major rewilding projects, including the continued reintroduction of eastern quolls to mainland Australia and the return of brush-tailed bettongs to South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula after an absence of more than 100 years.

Rewilding is a conservation method that involves reintroducing lost species to natural environments to restore ecosystems and create more resilient landscapes.

… return of the Numbat to enclosures:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-07/saving-numbats-from-brink-of-global-extinction/12951644

Numbats have not been seen in the New South Wales wild for more than a century and globally they are rarer than the black rhino, their near-extinction caused by feral predators such as foxes and feral cats.

But the precious numbat is hoped to spring back to life in far south-western NSW near Gol Gol, just over the Murray River from Mildura, thanks to a 42-kilometre-long, two-metre-high electrified fence.

The fence establishes a 9,500-hectare feral predator-free safe haven for reintroduced small mammals and marsupials ranging from bilbies, western barred bandicoots, burrowing bettongs, brush-tailed bettongs, red-tailed phascogale, bridled nailtail wallabies, Mitchell's hopping mouse, and western quolls.

The ambitious joint $41.3 million, 10-year project is a partnership between NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) and AWC, constructing three feral predator-free sites in NSW.

Across the three sites, homes have been established for crest-tailed mulgara and bilbies within the Sturt National Park, bridled nailtail wallabies in the Pilliga National Park, and more bilbies and greater stick-nest rats in the Mallee Cliffs National Park.

… the future for Koalas:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-10/koala-breeding-to-feature-at-cowarra-state-forest-precinct/12970838

The nation's next big thing, a Big Koala, is set to be installed in a new tourist attraction unveiled near Port Macquarie on the New South Wales mid-north coast.

The Cowarra State Forest Tourism Precinct will also host a breeding program for wild koalas, run by the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.

[Margaret Meagher] "The one thing I wanted was to have a Big Koala in a natural environment.

"Standing under this canopy of trees where the Big Koala's going to be, I feel like I've won the lottery."

"Forestry deserves 16 million medals for this. It will not only be a visitor experience, it will be a learning experience about Aboriginal culture, forestry practice, and koala conservation. It's got all the ingredients."

"We're here to help save the threatened species, that's what this project is about," Mr McBryde said.

Wildnets — like trampolines — will be strung among the trees, he said.

"After that you can wind through the treetops, even in a wheelchair or with a stroller, through a narrow ribbon, and that allows people to hover around and look at the koalas close up."

The Bunyah Local Aboriginal Land Council are partners in the project which will include a cafe run by them, an art gallery, and an amphitheatre for cultural awareness training for schools.

The council will also manage the land through cultural burning.

"It means a lot to us. The beauty of this is that State Forests [Forestry Corporation] approached us, we didn't approach them, which makes it more important, or just as important," CEO Amos Donovon said.

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/7049883/cowarra-forest-tourism-precinct-and-koala-sanctuary-unveiled/

Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams said $2.1 million from the NSW Government's Regional Growth - Environment and Tourism Fund and financial contributions from the project partners will boost tourism in the local region.

"This precinct will be the first ever conservation breeding facility for koalas which will be returned to the wild while creating an iconic tourist destination that highlights the importance of sustainability, renewable resources and the role we can all play in having a low carbon footprint," Ms Ashton said.

Kathy Lyons, senior manager Stewardship Forestry Corporation of NSW said "the precinct will provide the opportunity for locals and visitors to learn about old and new land management practices".

"This will include the use of traditional Aboriginal management practices such as cultural burning in a contemporary setting, and how Forestry Corporation manages state forests for multiple benefits including recreation, conservation and the sustainable production of renewable timber which stores carbon for life," Ms Lyons said.

https://www.portstephensexaminer.com.au/story/7046133/caring-christmas-gift-that-keeps-giving/

Christmas is just around the corner and for those looking for a thoughtful, out-of-the-box present that will support local as well as the plight of an iconic Australian animal, then Port Stephens Koalas has the ideal gift idea for you.

Nine of the marsupials in Port Stephens Koalas' care, many with ongoing medical needs, are available to adopt virtually and symbolically (sorry, you can't take them home with you) as a Christmas gift.

"After the drought, bushfires and mass deforestation along the east coast in the past year alone, it is important to educate the public about the immediate threats to the koala.

… a threat for recovering devils:

https://theconversation.com/tasmanian-devils-look-set-to-conquer-their-own-pandemic-151842?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20December%2011%202020%20-%201808017569&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20December%2011%202020%20-%201808017569+CID_01f3cb2f6f072670ce3f7d184deeafcf&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Tasmanian%20devils%20look%20set%20to%20conquer%20their%20own%20pandemic

In the midst of a human pandemic, we have some good news about a wildlife one: our new research, published today in Science, shows Tasmanian devils are likely to survive despite the infectious cancer that has ravaged their populations.

Devil facial tumour disease, … has led to a decline of at least 80% in the total devil population.

This suggests some sort of steady state has been reached, and the disease and devils are now coexisting.

Finally, and perhaps most encouragingly of all, we have now seen tumours shrink and disappear — something that was unheard of when the disease first emerged. What’s more, we also know this has a strong genetic basis, again suggesting the devils are genetically adapting to their foe.

But meanwhile, our results provide a warning that a strategy of reintroducing captive-reared animals to supplement diseased wild devil populations is likely to be counterproductive.

When devils from populations that have never been exposed to the disease interbreed with wild animals in diseased populations, the evolution we have seen in wild populations is likely to slow down or even reverse, endangering those populations.

What’s more, the slowing rate of disease transmission may be partly a consequence of reduced devil population densities, resulting in fewer bites. Artificially boosting population densities might accelerate disease transmission, the opposite of the intended effect.

Sawmills starving amidst a timber glut:

Australian Forests &Timber News, November 2020

Forestry Corporation of NSW is celebrating an important recovery milestone with two million tonnes of fire-affected timber harvested, hauled and sold from the organisation’s bushfire affected Tumut and Bombala softwood plantations.

But Timber New South Wales is warning that the South Coast is almost closed and that mills are facing huge shortages of hardwood and softwood.

She said the material being harvested was going to chip mills and not for sawlogs.

“Nothing is going into the mills on the south coast,” she said.

“There is a stand-off with Forest Corp and their coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval requirements and then post the bushfires the EPA’s site-specific conditions.

“So they are down to negotiating block by block, and nothing has happened.”

On the north coast of the state the same problem existed.

Ms Mccaskill said the EPA was trying to starve the timber industry out so it financially collapses.

https://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/australian-economy/china-cracks-down-on-more-australian-exports/news-story/3b311f11a0179a5aae2c74b0c3d26e75

China has continued its attack on Australian exports, with its ban on timber now including products from Tasmania and South Australia.

A notice from China’s custom officials claimed pests had been detected in shipments of timber logs from the two Australian states.

… time for rebranding:

https://www.miragenews.com/afpa-launches-new-look-for-a-new-decade-of-advocacy/

In advance of its tenth anniversary, to be celebrated in 2021, the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has unveiled a new brand.

The National Association of Forest Industries (NAFI) and the Australian Plantation Products and Paper Industry Council (A3P) united at that time to create AFPA.

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/afpa-gets-a-new-logo-for-its-10th-birthday/

… though branding can be misleading:

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/dna-testing-shows-40-of-imported-timber-incorrectly-labelled/

An Australian first national DNA testing program used to verify the species and origin of imported timber sold at retail outlets has released its first round of results, confirming more than 60% of the species’ labels were accurate. Source: Timberbiz

Mechanizing planting:

https://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/7047728/mechanical-planting-of-forest-trees-has-been-sow-good/?cs=4720

A trial of mechanical forest planting near Nundle in northern NSW may provide a new solution to bushfire recovery planting programs.

Mechanical planting has the potential to reduce the need for site preparation as well as increasing planting rates and extending the planting season, the Forestry Corporation's manager of innovation and research Mike Sutton said.

"Mechanical planting could be a way of addressing the extra workload ahead of us in replanting burnt forests while maintaining a safe workplace for our crews and contractors," he said.

Plantations loose in a landslide:

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/123635319/landslide-study-offers-suggestions-for-forest-management-in-tasman

The authors of a new research article, published in the New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science, used gridded rainfall, topography, lithology and land cover surfaces to develop a high-resolution model of the landslides that occurred in a 196 square kilometre area of Tasman District during the time Gita brought heavy rain to the region.

The article says that clear-felled plantation forest, including areas where trees have been replanted for less than eight years, occupies just over 712ha of the study area. However, about 45 per cent of this area has a predicted probability of landslides greater than 75 per cent, indicating clear-felled plantation forest “is much more vulnerable to landslides than other land cover classes and contributes disproportionately to landslide occurrence”.

Regenerating native forest was the predominant land cover and included just over 1266ha that has a predicted probability of landslides greater than 75 per cent.

“Our study indicates [regenerating native forest] is more vulnerable to landslides than tall forest, and is consistent with other studies,” the article says. “Thus, if [regenerating native forest] reverts to tall native forest through natural succession, landslide occurrence in the Tasman region is likely to decrease.”

Forest’s integrity at stake:

https://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2020/12/index-reveals-integrity-issues-many-of-worlds-forests

“This extremely fine-scale analysis of the ecological integrity of the world’s forests has found that only 17.4 million square kilometres of Earth’s remaining forests – or 40 per cent of them – are considered to have high integrity,” Professor Watson said.

“And just 27 per cent of this area is found in nationally designated protected areas.

“High integrity forests are those which contain high levels of biodiversity, provide high quality ecosystem services and are more resilient to climate change.

“Many of our remaining forests have been heavily impacted by a variety of human activities, including logging, fires, hunting, wildlife exploitation and edge effects.

“By protecting and expanding forests with high integrity, we can help slow the impacts of climate change, preserve biodiversity, protect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities and prevent future pandemics.”

“We show how critical some countries are, including Canada, Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, Papua New Guinea and Australia, in sustaining the world’s last large intact forests.

The study is published in Nature Communications and the index can be accessed at forestlandscapeintegrity.com.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-9030343/Less-half-worlds-forests-functioning-naturally-should.html

Biomass deforesting Europe:

https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2020/12/biomass-for-dutch-power-plants-is-depleting-protected-baltic-forests/

Wood chips imported to the Netherlands from the Baltic states contains timber from protected woodland, investigative new platform Investico has found.

The wood pellets are used by Dutch power plants to produce electricity which is classified as greener than coal or gas-fired power. The Netherlands bought some hundred million pellets last year which, according to the sustainability certificates, are ‘an inevitable by-product’ of woodland management and therefore eligible for subsidies.

However, local environmental organisations say the export of wood pellets is depleting local forests, including those that belong to the protected woodland network Natura 2000.

In a recently published report, the organisations claim that woodland twice the size of Amsterdam is cut down for electricity production in Estonia and Lithuania every year. ‘Intensive forestry has an important negative impact on climate,’ the report said

Dutch biomass plants, which are supposed to help comply with EU climate goals, have been given over €3.5bn in subsidies in the last seven years. They have, however, become deeply controversial because of longer-term damage to the environment.

Critics are saying the government have not included worldwide effects, such as deforestation in the Baltic states, into its calculations. In July the Dutch government’s senior advisory body SER recommended that subsidies for the use of biomass in power stations be phased out quickly, a point the government later agreed on.

https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2020/10/dutch-to-phase-out-subsidies-for-wood-fired-power-stations/

The government is planning to phase out the use of subsidies for power stations which are powered by biomass, or which generate heat for city heating schemes.

The agreement decision to phase out the use of subsidies was taken at Friday’s cabinet meeting because there are, ministers agree, enough greener alternatives for generating both electricity and heat. This would be on condition the alternatives are both achievable and affordable, economic affairs minister Eric Wiebes has told MPs in a briefing.

The government’s advisory body SER has also recommended that subsidies for biomass power be phased out.

Despite the subsidy decision, the government ‘remains convinced that the use of biomass is necessary in the transition to a climate neutral and circular economy by 2030 and 2050.’

Time for a global forest treaty:

https://www.passblue.com/2020/12/10/a-global-forest-treaty-is-needed-now/

Illegal deforestation has become a defining problem of our time, but its place in global governance remains piecemeal. Just a few months ago, the idea of an international agreement on forests would have been unthinkable because of the spread of climate denialism and nationalist populism. But the winds of geopolitical change have blown open a new opportunity. It is time to create a global treaty to protect forests — one with meaningful involvement from a wide range of parties. And with legal force.

You think this is a drought, this is a drought:

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/china-and-australia-face-a-climate-tipping-point/

And that same anthropogenic climate tipping point poses the same threat to great tracts of south-east Australia: water could become more scarce, bush fires could become more frequent, and winds could begin to blow away the parched soils in droughts that could last decades, or even centuries.

The evidence from Australia is based on a much more distant past, and preserved in stalagmites deep in a cave in New South Wales. Researchers write in the journal Scientific Reports that during a warm interval in the last Ice Age, from 129,000 to 116,000 years ago, global temperatures rose to levels much as they are today, and perhaps slightly warmer.

And the record of lower falls of snow, higher temperatures and ever-scarcer water, preserved in the ancient annual growths of underground calcium carbonate, provided the scientists with a hint of what to expect in a world of global heating driven by ever-increasing use of fossil fuels, and ever-greater destruction of natural ecosystems.

“We found that, in the past, a similar amount of warming has been associated with mega-drought conditions all over south-eastern Australia. These drier conditions prevailed for centuries, sometimes for more than 1000 years,” said Hamish McGowan of the University of Queensland, who led the study.


Forest Media 4 December 2020

Reverberations continue over NSW’s allowance of 25m clearing along boundaries and the Commonwealth’s decision to count Koalas while refusing to protect their habitat. The Port Macquarie Koala hospital is to establish a wild Koala breeding facility on State Forest in the midst of the new clearfelling zone – where will they live? There are signs of Koala recovery in south-east South Australia.  

On the south coast they continue to complain about logging of burnt forests. In Victoria an independent Major Event Review is to be undertaken to assess bushfire impacts, while the loggers complain about not being allowed to log burnt forests despite being approved, and the CFMEU is campaigning to over-turn the phase out of logging of public native forests and want something done to stop protests (not theirs).

Meanwhile IUCN upgraded the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef to “critical” condition, and the Blue Mountains and Gondwana Rainforests to “significant concern” because of the fires – with 36% of south-east Queensland rainforests burnt. Climate change was listed as a threat to 69% (11 of 16) of Australian properties. Since then 80% of the Fraser Island World Heritage site has been burnt, and its continuing.

Don’t be fooled by Silky Oak’s old age and glamorous appearance, they are killers. By comparison pythons are recent immigrants, only being here 23 million years. As the campaign against the Dunoon Dam (north of Lismore) intensifies, others are campaigning against a Lower Hunter dam. The clearing of 989 ha of the Piliga for Santo’s gas wells have been approved by the Commonwealth, though Santos is still to decide whether they will proceed. In Tasmania Swift Parrot populations continue to crash, as the moratorium of logging key Tasmanian breeding habitat stands while the court considers its decision on the Bob Brown case. Surprisingly the Feds intervened to stop the clearing of 1840 hectares of oldgrowth forest on Cape York that had been approved by Qld – emphasising the value of the Federal oversight that the Feds are trying to remove.

China’s trade war with Australia has stopped the export of huge volumes of logs and chips to China, creating chaos in the timber industry. God botherers are showing they are bothered by the degradation of god’s creation, though the concerns don’t extend to our chief god botherer who is hell-bent on hastening the apocalypse as Australia is accused of committing climate suicide.

A review finds when it comes to protecting the world’s forests, which are essential to global and national efforts to combat climate change and biodiversity loss, there has been little – if any – progress, while forest health is declining and die-offs occurring at unprecedented scales. Another study found that planting and protecting trees, especially in the tropics, could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 6 gigatons a year from 2025 to 2055 (10 percent of the total reduction needed), though would cost as much as $393 billion a year. Protecting American forests for water supply is increasingly being recognised.

While clearing continues, the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility is spending billions of dollars to ‘protect’ millions of hectares of rainforest and other biodiverse biomes. In America publicly funded incentive payment programs for private landholders to sequester additional carbon and provide ecosystem services such as cleaner water and air, and biodiversity protection, are being advocated as an alternative to market-based carbon models. While increasing atmospheric carbon has been found to accelerate tree growth, the trees die younger, offsetting the benefits. Another article discusses the inter-relationships between mother trees and their young, and between species, through mycorrhiza wood-wide webs, commenting ‘The razing of an old-growth forest is not just the destruction of magnificent individual trees — it’s the collapse of an ancient republic whose interspecies covenant of reciprocation and compromise is essential for the survival of Earth as we’ve known it’.

Dailan

Continuing reactions:

https://clarencevalleynews.com.au/nationals-use-bushfire-response-to-further-weaken-land-clearing-controls/

The NSW Government has used its response to the Black Summer bushfires to sneak through new land-clearing laws that will destroy thousands of hectares of forest and woodland. 

The Bushfires Legislation Amendment Bill that passed the Legislative Council last week with the support of the ALP will allow landholders to clear 25m-wide strips of bush all around their property without independent environmental assessment or approval. 

“The 25m land-clearing rule won’t reduce bushfire risk in extreme conditions but it will trash thousands of hectares of prime wildlife habitat,”  Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7038952/koala-count-is-futile-conservationists/?cs=14231

More than 20 conservation groups [including NEFA] have blasted the federal government's proposed koala census as a pointless smokescreen in an open letter demanding better habitat protection.

The letter to Environment Minister Sussan Ley sent on Thursday calls for her to instead overturn development approvals on sites with koala habitat and refuse any future applications.

It also asks Ms Ley to apply pressure on the states to halt native forest logging and fund new national parks containing important koala habitat.

"Degradation of koala habitat has increased under your government, and continues right now," the letter reads.

"Koalas cannot wait for a national count to reveal their numbers. They're on a knife-edge now."

https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/7038952/koala-count-is-futile-conservationists/?cs=7

https://7news.com.au/news/wildlife/koala-count-is-futile-conservationists-c-1695234

https://au.news.yahoo.com/koala-count-futile-conservationists-163019369--spt.html

Recovering Koalas:

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/7037796/partnership-leads-the-way-to-bolster-koala-population/

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital's GoFundMe campaign, initially to buy and distribute wildlife drinking stations, was expanded to include the wild koala breeding program.

The campaign raised $7.9 million.

The breeding facility will be built at Cowarra State Forest on land managed by the Forestry Corporation of NSW.

The aim is to breed koalas with a high level of genetic diversity.

Juvenile koalas will be released into the wild to create new populations and bolster existing populations.

https://www.bellingencourier.com.au/story/7038141/bushfire-donations-fund-koala-breeding/?cs=9676

A breeding facility, which it's hoped will house up to 60 koalas, will be built on land in the Corowa State Forest from bushfire donations.

An estimated three billion animals were killed or displaced and up to seven billion trees destroyed or damaged during the bushfires.

Initially koalas will be sourced from the mid north coast only, with the aim of releasing selected offspring back in to the area.

However, Ms Flanagan says the breeding programs alone is not enough to save koalas, when their habitat is disappearing so quickly.

"We've got to ensure these animals that are bred and put back out into the wild are safe because it's just going to be pointless otherwise," she said.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-02/the-ambitious-project-to-save-the-koala/12944610?nw=0&pfmredir=sm

Video

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-03/koala-numbers-limestone-coast-buck-national-trend/12919090

A South Australian region is reporting an upswing in koala numbers despite warnings the iconic animal is under threat in some states.

The South Australian Wildlife Department has revealed there are climbing koala numbers in the Limestone Coast, which straddles the Western Victorian border.

"Koalas in the south-east of South Australia are considered part of the greater Victorian population, which occur naturally in the area."

While no specific numbers were available, he said sightings were on the rise and the animal was being reported in new areas where they were not found 20 years ago.

Historically he said koalas were only found in the Limestone Coast, but koalas were released on Kangaroo Island and at the Riverland, Mount Lofty, and Eyre Peninsula.

Controversy over logging of burnt forests continues:

https://www.batemansbaypost.com.au/story/7036246/conservation-groups-brace-for-logging-onslaught/

The bushfire tore through the Shallow Crossing and South Brooman region and Clyde River locals are bracing themselves for an onslaught of logging by NSW Forestry Corporation with 18 forestry areas slated for logging, in burnt forests between Batemans Bay and Ulladulla.

President of the South Brooman State Forest Conservation Group Brian Bennett said the destruction needs to stop.

"We have had enough. Clyde River locals fought fires twice, were flooded out by torrential rain, then bang, from March on, the struggling wildlife that survived in our spotted gum forests has had to survive logging of two compartments logged in South Brooman right next to unburned creeklines," he said.

"Birdlife Australia has called for an end to native forest logging on the South Coast between Ulladulla and Merimbula to protect critically endangered swift parrot feed trees," Mr Bennett said.

"We want the Forestry Corporation out of these forests as 85 per cent of South Coast forests were burnt in the fires and billions of animals killed.

"These forests need to be given time to recover, not further degraded by logging."

… Victoria to review their RFA in light of fires:

https://www.miragenews.com/major-event-review-for-victoria-s-fire-impacted-forests/

A review to determine what actions are required now and into the future to protect, enjoy and use the state’s forests is underway following an agreement between the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments.

The Major Event Review will assess the significant impacts of the 2019-20 bushfires and what remedial action needs to be taken to ensure our forests continue to be managed appropriately.

The Review is a new feature of the updated Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) which can be conducted jointly by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments when a significant environmental event, including a major bushfire, occurs.

The Review is expected to take six months and will assess the impacts of the fires on forest biodiversity and forestry industries, as well as the wider economic, social and cultural impacts.

An independent panel will lead the Review which will be informed by scientific data and research, Traditional Owner knowledge, forest experts and communities.

The Review will support the continued delivery of the Victorian Forestry Plan which is phasing out native timber harvesting by 2030 and provides transitional measures towards a strong and sustainable plantation based industry.

… though Victorian loggers won’t give up:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-03/industry-renews-timber-ban-campaign-in-native-forests/12945742

Forestry workers in Victoria are rallying to fight the State Government's proposed ban on native logging.

From 2024, VicForests will start winding back allocations until a complete ban on logging in native forests is imposed in 2030.

"We spoke to more than 100 workers at the [state-owned] Heyfield timber mill last night as well as representatives from the local council, contractors, sawmill workers and some community representatives and it's about trying to defend the timber industry in Victoria from the government decisions," CFMEU forestry division national secretary Michael O'Connor said.

Mr O'Connor said the State Government's logging ban was ideological, cruel and irresponsible and would put thousands of regional Victorians out of work.

Agriculture minister Jaclyn Symes said the industry had already started transitioning away from native logging.

"The Victorian Forestry Plan provides a clear pathway and strong support for businesses and workers to transition to sustainable plantation timber," Ms Symes said.

But anti-logging protestor Chris Schuringa from the Goongerah Environment Centre said the industry had no-one else to blame for its refusal to transition to plantation timber.

"Really what it's about is investing money, time and energy into furthering the plantation industry because that is where these jobs are and it's important our forests are protected given how intense these bushfires have been and how much has been wiped out," she said.

The Victorian Government has announced grants of up to $500,000 to cover the cost of storing logs burnt in last summer's bushfires.

More than 1.2 million hectares of native forest and 6,400 hectares of pine plantations were burned in Gippsland and the north east.

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/is-jaclyn-symes-withholding-release-of-harvestable-burnt-timber/

The Victorian Government has been accused of deliberately delaying the release of timber burned in the catastrophic January bushfires in north-east Victoria and Gippsland. The burnt timber will be saved from going to waste through a grants program funded by the Federal Government and the Victorian State Government. Source: Timberbiz

But Shadow Minister for Agriculture and for Bushfire Recovery Peter Walsh said that despite calls from industry to release coupes as assessments were finalised through the year, Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes has withheld the release of harvestable timber.

No harvesting of unburnt areas within the fire footprint will take place in 2020, with current salvage harvesting primarily focused on fire-killed ash, fire-killed plantations and other severely burnt forest areas. Salvage occurs within existing harvesting areas and the volumes allocated.

Salvage harvesting is subject to additional environmental regulations, over and above operations in unburnt forests.

https://www.timberbiz.com.au/union-wants-immediate-action-on-forest-protests/

The timber workers union, CFMEU Manufacturing last night participated in a meeting in Healesville where forestry contractors and their crews described the financial pain, physical danger and mental strain of ongoing forest protests and dangerous workplace invasions.

“We are sick and tired of our people being targeted and victimised by forest protesters and workplace invaders and the government doing nothing about it,” National Secretary CFMEU, Manufacturing, Michael O’Connor said.

The meeting heard of contractors being on edge whilst going about their work tasks, not knowing if a tree falling would result in death of severe injury to a protester hiding in the forestry coupe.

Burning our World Heritage forests:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/facing-bushfire-lessons-from-australia-s-ancient-gondwana-forests-20201126-p56ie7.html

Last year, sections of Queensland’s rare Gondwana rainforest burnt for the first time in recorded history in what was a preview of Australia’s horror summer of bushfires.

Twelve months later, scientists are observing for the first time how these ancient rainforests recover and are discovering some of the secrets that had been hidden under their cloud-covered canopies.

“The top of Mt Ballow was free of fire, but it was on the approaches – the eastern aspects of it - that was where they were smashed.

"We stood on the ridge line that was normally covered in beautiful thick forest and it was just sticks out of dust.”

“They never burn. They are cloud forests. That is their design. If they are not getting clouds, they are drying out.”

Mt Barney National Park received only 350mm of rain in 2019, but surprisingly 500mm in February 2020, he said.

Of the 366,500 hectares of Gondwana rainforest in both states, about 60,000 hectares are in south-east Queensland, in Lamington, Springbrook, Mt Barney and Main Range National parks. More than 18,515 hectares were burnt.

In August 2020 the federal government reported on the repair strategy after bushfires burnt 36 per cent of south-east Queensland's rainforests.

https://theconversation.com/severely-threatened-and-deteriorating-global-authority-on-nature-lists-the-great-barrier-reef-as-critical-151275?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20December%203%202020%20-%201801317494&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20December%203%202020%20-%201801317494+CID_5abae577af15b3f8daccae53fe6be582&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Severely%20threatened%20and%20deteriorating%20global%20authority%20on%20nature%20lists%20the%20Great%20Barrier%20Reef%20as%20critical

The Great Barrier Reef is now in “critical” condition and the health of four other Australian World Heritage properties has worsened, according to a sobering report just released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

[Blue Mountains and Gondwana Rainforests have been listed as of significant concern]

Climate change is now the most prevalent threat to natural World Heritage sites, and to many cultural sites.

Overall, the report assessed climate change as a high or a very high threat in 83 out of 252 global properties (33%). This rate is double in Australia, with climate change listed as a threat to 69% (11 of 16) of Australian properties.

More frequent and intense bushfires are a problem for the Blue Mountains, Shark Bay, and Gondwana Rainforests. These ancient rainforests, along with Ningaloo and Shark Bay, also face threats of invasive species, diseases and storms.

Management of non-climate stressors is, and will remain, essential to halt the decline of the values of our properties. But Australia must adopt more ambitious climate goals to avoid losing those values that make our heritage places special, preserving them for future generations.

https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/7039455/world-heritage-areas-face-growing-threat-the-barrington-tops-included/?cs=12&utm_source=website&utm_medium=index&utm_campaign=sidebar

The conservation outlook of the Gondwana rainforests of Australia’s east coast – including the Barrington Tops world heritage area – has deteriorated in the wake of the Black Summer bushfires.

North East Forest Alliance spokesman Dailan Pugh compared the threat of rainforests burning to the bleaching of coral on the Great Barrier Reef.

“We’re in big trouble,” Mr Pugh said

Ecologist Mark Graham who has studied the Gondwana rainforests for decades, said the burnt areas were not recovering in some places.

If the trajectory continues, Mr. Pugh said our rainforests and half our biodiversity are under threat”.

The World Heritage Outlook report said the most prevalent threats to natural world heritage sites were invasive alien species and climate change”.  

https://www.vice.com/en/article/jgqggp/the-great-barrier-reef-is-now-officially-in-critical-condition

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/great-barrier-reef-climate-crisis-b1765836.html

IUCN Director-General Bruno Oberle said.

“Climate change is wreaking (havoc) on natural World Heritage, from shrinking glaciers to coral bleaching to increasingly frequent and severe fires and droughts.”

Don’t be fooled by their old age and glamorous appearance, they are killers:

https://theconversation.com/silky-oaks-are-older-than-dinosaurs-and-literally-drip-nectar-but-watch-out-for-the-cyanide-148920

Grevilleas have an ancestry older than dinosaurs. They originated on the super-continent Gondwana, and are closely related to banksias, waratahs and proteas.

Like most other grevillea, silky oak possesses proteoid or cluster roots, which are dense and fine. These roots greatly increase the absorbing surface area and allow plants to thrive in nutrient-deprived soils.

But you have to know which species to taste as some, including the silky oak, contain hydrogen cyanide that could make you ill.

Like other grevilleas the silky oak also contains tridecyl resorcinol, which causes an allergic reaction leading to contact dermatitis. The chemical is similar to the toxicodendron in poison ivy.

So when working with silky oaks, you’d be wise to wear gloves, a face mask, protective eye wear (or face shield) and long sleeved clothing. Washing hands and showering at the end of the day is also recommended.

… by comparison pythons are relatively recent immigrants:

https://phys.org/news/2020-12-plots-pythons-history-australia.html

Pythons first arrived in Australia from Asia around 23 million years ago and then adapted to their new home by becoming incredibly diverse, according to new research from The Australian National University (ANU).

"They tend to think of animals like Kangaroos when they think of Australia, but we actually have the biggest diversity of pythons on the planet, in total 15 species."

Those damned dams:

https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/7031678/conflicting-accounts-of-potential-new-hunter-dams-impacts-on-species/

Contrasting assessments have emerged of how a future Lower Hunter dam would impact sensitive native species.

As an example, the Limeburners Creek study found 28 potentially threatened flora species and seven primary koala feed trees.

By comparison, Hunter Water's recently released 'summary of ecological studies' for the sites lists relatively few potential impacts.

The Healthy Hunter Rivers Group which is fighting to stop the construction of new Hunter dams, says the summaries are deliberately misleading.

"It is inconceivable in the current context that Hunter Water would be considering new dam options that would drown Koala habitat. These dam proposals should be ruled out and Hunter Water directed to focus on water efficiency, recycling and re-use options," Independent MLC Justin Field said.

Piliga go ahead:

https://au.news.yahoo.com/concern-for-wildlife-after-contentious-plan-approved-025349946.html

This is the final in a four-part series, reporting on the community impact of the controversial Narrabri gas project.

Wildlife will face an invasion of feral predators if construction of a coal seam gas project inside a NSW forest goes ahead, conservationists fear.

State and federal government approval has been given for up to 989 hectares of bush to be cleared by energy giant Santos who is currently assessing whether to move forward with a plan to drill 850 gas wells in and around the woodland.

[David Paull] “Fox hunting improves when they have tracks to run along, they rely a lot on tracks and roads and other natural linear features like that.

“So what you’re doing is increasing the predation pressure overall on the whole fauna. Foxes eat everything.”

Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter argues that the government approving what he describes as a “filthy fossil fuel” project sends a worrying message to the world about our commitment to lowering emissions.

“The message that it sends is that the Australian Government doesn't care about the climate emergency, “ he said.

“It doesn't care about our wildlife, doesn't care about our farmers, or the future of the agricultural sector, doesn't care about traditional owners and doesn't care about community,” Mr Ritter said.

In approving the project last week, federal environment minister Sussan Ley added that the region’s biodiversity will be protected by a number of conditions which include clearing limits, impact mitigation and rehabilitation.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/dec/03/hundreds-rally-in-australian-capital-cities-against-the-36bn-narrabri-gas-project

Hundreds of people in Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane have rallied in support of Aboriginal traditional owners to voice their strong opposition to Santos’s $3.6bn gas project in western New South Wales, which they say will devastate Gamilaraay Gomeroi cultural ties to sacred and significant heritage sites.

While the way is now clear for Santos to proceed, the company has said it will take between 12 and 18 months to decide whether or not to invest in the development.

Public response to the development has been overwhelmingly opposed. The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment received nearly 23,000 submissions. Almost 98% were opposed on a range of grounds, including that it could damage groundwater relied on for agriculture, lead to a loss of pressure in the Great Artesian Basin, affect biodiversity in the Pilliga forest and release substantial greenhouse gas emissions.

Swift Parrots plummet as judgement waited on Tasmanian RFA case:

https://au.news.yahoo.com/parrots-dwindle-court-examines-forests-025112227--spt.html

Researcher Dejan Stojanovic said the parrots were threatened by a range of factors including deforestation.

"This study shows that threats like the severe deforestation of the Tasmanian breeding habitat of swift parrots has drastically reduced their population size and increased the odds that the species will go extinct," he said.

Swift parrot breeding season began this month and STT agreed not to log in the areas where they breed while the court proceedings are underway.

The foundation claims the Tasmanian forest agreement doesn't enforce national environmental protections, including for threatened species, as required by legislation.

It was the intention of the legislation to protect rare and endangered species, Mr Merkel said.

He said protections should be provided against harm being caused, rather than to provide a remedy only after the harm has been done.

The judges have reserved their decision.

https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/7038644/states-forest-pact-disputed-in-court/

The federal court has reserved for decision a court matter which could end native forest logging in Tasmania.

The second claim against its legitimacy related to a 2017 amendment to the act which meant the Tasmanian Government could change policies and practices under its RFA without approval from the federal government.

Mr Merkel argued management of reserve systems and ecological management of forests were not legally binding under Tasmania's RFA.

Why we need the Feds to be able to intervene:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/rejection-of-plan-to-clear-old-growth-forest-shows-why-federal-oversight-must-stay-20201127-p56in9.html

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley's decision to reject a 2014 Newman government ruling allowing old-growth forest to be cleared on Cape York for cattle grazing shows why federal oversight of environmental issues is crucial, the Queensland Conservation Council said.

On November 24, Ms Ley ruled against the clearing of 1840 hectares on Kingvale Station, under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

The federal environment department identified 19 species within 10km of the proposed clearing, including the vulnerable red goshawk and the endangered northern quoll, golden shouldered parrot, and Gouldian finch.

Campbell Newman's previous LNP state government approved cattle stockman Scott Harris’ application to clear a further 1840 hectares of bushland near Princess Charlotte Bay on Cape York.

Where would we be without WWF?

https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/wwf-australia-is-preparing-for-year-of-renewal/

During the crises they received $40 million in donations to their Nature Recovery Fund which allowed them to launch 40 separate recovery and restoration missions starting in January of 2020 and which included supporting independent veterinary efforts to take care of injured wildlife with the best equipment, organizing large food dispersions to feed wildlife whose homes were destroyed, and mobilize dogs and drones to search for koalas who had survived the blaze.

Now with the fires behind them, the WWF are looking towards their Two-Billion Tree 10-point plan to regenerate as much forest as was lost, and to help kick off their plan they worked with partners to plant 10,000 koala habitat trees in New South Wales (NSW), as well as getting koalas in eastern Australia designated as an “endangered population” under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Additionally, WWF secured commitments from the NSW government to retain protections of old growth forest and national parks, to which was added the Narriearra Station National Park in June.

China’s logs and chips ban bites hard:

https://www.smh.com.au/national/crisis-looms-in-sea-and-forest-as-china-tightens-export-bans-20201127-p56imw.html

China's recent trade bans on logs and crayfish are causing a crisis in Portland and what is known as the "green triangle" – a cross-border area rich in 340,000 hectares of plantation forests.

No ships carrying softwood logs have sailed from Portland for more than two weeks, leaving tens of thousands of tonnes of logs stacked around the port and in danger of deteriorating to the point they won't find a buyer.

More than $70 million of plantation harvesting and haulage equipment is "parked up" for lack of work, according to the chair of the Green Triangle Forest Contractors Group, Wendy Fennell, who is co-owner of one of the biggest forestry industry and transport companies in the area.

The managing director of Green Triangle Forest Products, Laurie Hein, estimated more than $100 million of log exports were at risk over 12 months, and about $9 million had already been lost.

At least one shipload of about 30,000 tonnes of logs normally leaves Portland, bound for China, every week.

But the bulk carrier Western Maple was forced on November 12 to unload the cargo of logs it had just loaded at Portland after word came through that China would no longer accept Australian timber.

The ban on logs follows a significant fall this year in the export of hardwood woodchips following the COVID pandemic. The port of Portland is the world's largest exporter of hardwood chips, almost all of which go to China and Japan.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-12/victorian-timber-logs-blocked-by-china-after-bark-beetle-found/12875066

It follows China's decision to block a shipment of Queensland timber last month, sending exporters into limbo amid fears more exports will be blocked.

The ABC understands almost 30 consignments from Australia to China in the months up to July, including some with burnt logs from the summer's bushfires, had a bug detected in them.

While there are no bans on timber exports out of Western Australia, timber company Varied has pre-emptively stopped exporting to China for fear it would be rejected at receival points.

God botherers are bothering:

https://www.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/church-leaders-join-call-for-mps-to-act-now-before/4149938/?cspt=1606863378|ef263d2d4ebaee39999e0c7bec1d4dad

Jason John from the Uniting Church says future generations want our leaders to invest in healthy, life-giving employment which repairs and restores the ecosystems, not prop up industries which accelerate the climate emergency.

"Humans were created to serve and protect God's earth, and to do for others what we would want done for us," Mr John said.

"Jesus calls us to give to whoever asks us, so on behalf of the future I ask our leaders to give them a future - humans and all God's wonderful creatures."

… but not our chief god botherer who is hell-bent on hastening the apocalypse:

https://www.theage.com.au/environment/climate-change/world-awaits-action-by-suicidal-australia-says-former-climate-chief-20201201-p56joj.html

The world is waiting for a "suicidal" Australia to reverse its stance on climate change, says one of the world's most senior diplomats.

[Christiana Figueres]  "I've been pretty vocal about my frustration for so many years of a completely unstable, volatile, unpredictable stand and position on climate change in Australia."

Fiona Reynolds said anyone who failed to accept that climate sustainability had now moved into the mainstream and was being embedded in financial regulations would soon be left behind.

She predicted that the next frontier in investing would be in so-called negative emissions technologies and practices, which reduce the amount of greenhouse gas already in the atmosphere.

Climate solutions based on avoiding deforestation and other "viable near-term opportunities" in removing carbon could generate $US800 billion in revenues by 2050 and assets valued at well over $US1.2 trillion, more than the current value of the major oil and gas companies.

Saving or damning the world’s forests:

https://news.trust.org/item/20201130162103-4iwc7

The fifth anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement offers a moment to reflect on progress towards global climate goals. When it comes to protecting the world’s forests, which are essential to global and national efforts to combat climate change and biodiversity loss, there has been little – if any – progress.

A new study released this week that we co-authored, alongside 22 other experts in the field, identifies five mega-trends affecting forests and forest communities. We believe that these trends are poorly understood and are likely to have major consequences for forests and forest livelihoods over the coming decade.

  1. Forest mega-disturbances

Droughts and excessive rains are increasing forests’ susceptibility to diseases and human-induced wildfires and floods. These are affecting forest health and die-offs at unprecedented scales, and there is increasing evidence that the degradation of forests can result in the emergence of zoonotic diseases with the ability to spread globally…

  1. Changing rural demographics

Increased rural to urban migration – primarily of working-aged men – is causing a mass exodus among forest-reliant communities. … On the one hand, the rural exodus can lead to reforestation as people cease to use land for agriculture. On the other, greater demand for beef and soy in growing cities could also lead to increases in deforestation.

  1. The rise of the middle-class in low-and middle-income countries

By 2030 the middle class in low-and middle- income countries will grow to an estimated 4.9 billion people, amounting to around 50% of the global population. The growth in demand driven by the new middle classes will increase pressure on land and other resources for the production of cattle, soy and palm oil. Already, between 2001-2015, 27% of forest disturbance was attributed to commodity-driven deforestation.

  1. Increased availability, access and use of digital technologies

Technologies that collect, compile and disseminate forest data are increasingly accurate, sophisticated and easy-to-use, including near real-time satellite data to monitor deforestation. …

  1. Large-scale infrastructure development

Large-scale infrastructure initiatives, such as China’s Belt and Road projects, are likely to have transformational impacts on forests and rural communities.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201201124117.htm

… and why we need to change our ways:

https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-12/osu-tch120120.php

The study, published today in the journal Nature Communications, found that planting and protecting trees, especially in the tropics, could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 6 gigatons a year from 2025 to 2055. That reduction, the researchers' economic model showed, would cost as much as $393 billion a year over the same time period.

"There is a significant amount of carbon that can be sequestered through forests, but these costs aren't zero," said Brent Sohngen, co-author of the study and a professor of environmental economics at The Ohio State University.

A 6-gigaton reduction by 2055 would amount to about 10 percent of the total reduction needed to keep the climate from warming beyond 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius

A number of recent studies have suggested that tree planting, management and conservation can solve a significant share of the world's climate problem, but most studies have ignored the costs.

The researchers found that protecting existing forests is cheaper than planting new ones, and that forest management, including changing how and when trees are harvested, provides low-cost options to store carbon in regions where timber management is an important economic activity.

"What we see is that you should devote about a third of your effort to this stuff and two-thirds to the other stuff - to reducing coal, to investing in solar, to switching to electric," Sohngen said. "If you want your total mitigation to be as cheap as possible, that's what you would do."

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-12/ncsu-cop120120.php

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2261277-saving-forests-to-fight-climate-change-will-cost-393-billion-annually/

http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19578-z

https://www.climatechangenews.com/2020/12/01/carbon-securing-clean-water-protecting-forests/

One 2017 study found that natural climate solutions, including forest restoration and preservation, could provide over one-third of the climate mitigation needed between now and 2030 to stabilise warming to below 2°C.

The data on water quality is just as impressive: one recent study of global sourcewater protection efforts demonstrated that 81% of cities studied could meaningfully reduce water pollution simply through protecting forests and pasturelands.

Forests in particular, as well as healthy agricultural lands, are nature’s filters, keeping water clean for natural and human communities.

Today, 15 million people drink water from the Delaware river system … The most recent estimates suggest that securing clean water throughout the basin will require permanent protection of a minimum of 350,000 additional acres of forest, primarily in headwaters and riparian corridors, at a cost of about $1.75 billion.

That expense, however, is very likely to be recouped by savings in water treatment costs, as well as in climate benefits and compliance with regional and national carbon sequestration goals.

New York City’s massive investment in its Catskills forests is an example of the kind of approach that can catalyse big dollars for big forest protection. Driven by its pressing need for clean drinking water, the city has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in forest protection.

Taking with one hand, giving with the other:

https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1366144/indonesia-world-bank-strike-deal-on-emissions-reduction

JAKARTA — Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry and the World Bank signed a deal on Friday on the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), which provides an additional opportunity for the government to receive payments in exchange for reducing carbon emissions

Under the agreement, Indonesia will be eligible to receive up to US$ 110 million for reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation until 2025.

The emissions reduction program aims to protect 12.7 million hectares of rainforest and other biodiverse biomes in East Kalimantan, which is home to about 3.5 million people.

The agreement is expected to improve land management and provide local jobs, in addition to protecting the habitats of vulnerable and endangered species. It also seeks to improve the issuance of forestry permits, encourage small-scale plantations and promote community planning for forest areas.

“Indonesia has committed to reducing 41 percent of its greenhouse emissions by 2030

https://en.nhandan.org.vn/scitech/item/9346902-new-resources-for-forest-protection.html

The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility pledged to purchase 10.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions … at US$ 51.5 million in total, via the Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) in the 2018-2024 period, which was recently signed between the World Bank (WB) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) is a global partnership of governments, businesses, civil society, and Indigenous Peoples' organisations focused on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, forest carbon stock conservation, the sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries, activities commonly referred to as REDD+.

Since its launched in 2008, the FCPF has worked with 47 developing countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean, along with 17 donors that have made contributions and commitments totalling US$1.3 billion.

The resources from the FCPF provide new opportunities to conserve and regenerate forest landscapes and biodiversity while simultaneously supporting sustainable economic growth, which is critical for Vietnam’s development going forward.

“Vietnam has shown tremendous leadership in developing robust programs to deliver forest emission reductions on a large scale,” said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam.

The agreement will help to increase the existing forest area and improve the forest coverage in the north central region; support forest restoration, and mitigate impacts of climate change.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-55130304

Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has surged to its highest level since 2008, the country's space agency (Inpe) reports.

A total of 11,088 sq km (4,281 sq miles) of rainforest were destroyed from August 2019 to July 2020. This is a 9.5% increase from the previous year.

… another approach:

https://www.sightline.org/2020/12/03/family-forest-owners-could-champion-carbon-drawdown/

Across the United States, family forest owners (which the US Forest Service defines as private, individual or family owners), manage a full third of all forests

Together, these landowners control one of the country’s biggest opportunities for carbon drawdown. 

Family forest owners are ideal champions for ecological, climate-smart forest management as the majority of these landowners consistently cite values like recreation, wildlife, aesthetics, and family legacy as primary drivers of their management decisions. These values open many family forest owners to alternatives to industrial-style forest management, which can degrade their forests’ aesthetic and ecological value. 

Although carbon markets could offer a way to close the financial gap between production and ecological forest management by paying for the additional carbon stored in climate-smart forests, they currently don’t serve many family forest owners well. The persistently low market price of carbon, coupled with complex and expensive project development protocols and long contracts, make offset projects unappealing to many family forest owners.

Publicly funded incentive payment programs offer an alternative to the market-based model. If explicitly focused on carbon, these programs could sever the direct ton-to-ton linkage between polluters and forest carbon storage, and pay forest owners to adopt practices proven to sequester additional carbon and provide ecosystem services such as cleaner water and air. Incentive programs would give these landowners a means of monetizing the ecosystem services they provide without the lengthy and expensive inventory and monitoring required by offset markets. 

… Landowners who choose to participate commit to adopting best practices for conservation, water and air quality, soil health, or ecosystem protection. In return, they receive payments, which vary by program and estimated environmental benefits. 

Programs could scale payments based on carbon sequestration estimates from COMET-Farm, the USDA’s recently developed open-source tool for land-based carbon flows. Projects that offer bundles of ecosystem services, like water quality and wildlife habitat protection, could receive additional subsidies and priority. 

Though COMET’s carbon estimates can’t be used to issue offsets, they may be accurate enough to count toward jurisdictional emission reduction goals.

The quick and the dead:

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-12/fda-tld120320.php

Accelerating tree growth in recent years has been accompanied by a reduction in tree lifespan, which could eventually neutralize part of the increase in net uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2). This trade-off between tree growth and life expectancy applies to forests worldwide, including in the Amazon and other tropical regions, as well as temperate regions and the Arctic.

These are the key points discussed in an article published in Nature Communications.

"There's an inverse relationship between tree growth and longevity," Locosselli told Agência FAPESP. "We consistently show that this relationship exists regardless of species and location. If trees are growing faster, they're also assimilating carbon faster. The problem is that they'll live shorter lives and the carbon will be stored for less time."

For forests sake, save the mothers to look after the kids:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/12/02/magazine/tree-communication-mycorrhiza.html

Underground, trees and fungi form partnerships known as mycorrhizas: Threadlike fungi envelop and fuse with tree roots, helping them extract water and nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen in exchange for some of the carbon-rich sugars the trees make through photosynthesis. Research had demonstrated that mycorrhizas also connected plants to one another and that these associations might be ecologically important … Simard, who is 60, has studied webs of root and fungi in the Arctic, temperate and coastal forests of North America for nearly three decades. … By analyzing the DNA in root tips and tracing the movement of molecules through underground conduits, Simard has discovered that fungal threads link nearly every tree in a forest — even trees of different species. Carbon, water, nutrients, alarm signals and hormones can pass from tree to tree through these subterranean circuits. Resources tend to flow from the oldest and biggest trees to the youngest and smallest. Chemical alarm signals generated by one tree prepare nearby trees for danger. Seedlings severed from the forest’s underground lifelines are much more likely to die than their networked counterparts. And if a tree is on the brink of death, it sometimes bequeaths a substantial share of its carbon to its neighbors.

In May, Knopf will publish Simard’s own book, “Finding the Mother Tree,” a vivid and compelling memoir of her lifelong quest to prove that “the forest was more than just a collection of trees.”

An old-growth forest is neither an assemblage of stoic organisms tolerating one another’s presence nor a merciless battle royale: It’s a vast, ancient and intricate society. There is conflict in a forest, but there is also negotiation, reciprocity and perhaps even selflessness. The trees, understory plants, fungi and microbes in a forest are so thoroughly connected, communicative and codependent that some scientists have described them as superorganisms. Recent research suggests that mycorrhizal networks also perfuse prairies, grasslands, chaparral and Arctic tundra — essentially everywhere there is life on land. Together, these symbiotic partners knit Earth’s soils into nearly contiguous living networks of unfathomable scale and complexity.

Simard explained that trees sense nearby plants and animals and alter their behavior accordingly: The gnashing mandibles of an insect might prompt the production of chemical defenses, for example. Some studies have even suggested that plant roots grow toward the sound of running water and that certain flowering plants sweeten their nectar when they detect a bee’s wing beats. “Trees perceive lots of things,” Simard said. “So why not us, too?”

Most trees were generalists, forming symbioses with dozens to hundreds of fungal species. In one study of six Douglas fir stands measuring about 10,000 square feet each, almost all the trees were connected underground by no more than three degrees of separation; one especially large and old tree was linked to 47 other trees and projected to be connected to at least 250 more; and seedlings that had full access to the fungal network were 26 percent more likely to survive than those that did not.

Depending on the species involved, mycorrhizas supplied trees and other plants with up to 40 percent of the nitrogen they received from the environment and as much as 50 percent of the water they needed to survive. Below ground, trees traded between 10 and 40 percent of the carbon stored in their roots. When Douglas fir seedlings were stripped of their leaves and thus likely to die, they transferred stress signals and a substantial sum of carbon to nearby ponderosa pine, which subsequently accelerated their production of defensive enzymes.

She calls the oldest, largest and most interconnected trees in a forest “mother trees” — a phrase meant to evoke their capacity to nurture those around them, even when they aren’t literally their parents. In her book, she compares mycorrhizal networks to the human brain. And she has spoken openly of her spiritual connection to forests.

Kiers is one of several scientists whose recent studies have found that plants and symbiotic fungi reward and punish each other with what are essentially trade deals and embargoes, and that mycorrhizal networks can increase conflict among plants. In some experiments, fungi have withheld nutrients from stingy plants and strategically diverted phosphorous to resource-poor areas where they can demand high fees from desperate plants.

The razing of an old-growth forest is not just the destruction of magnificent individual trees — it’s the collapse of an ancient republic whose interspecies covenant of reciprocation and compromise is essential for the survival of Earth as we’ve known it.

When a seed germinates in an old-growth forest, it immediately taps into an extensive underground community of interspecies partnerships. Uniform plantations of young trees planted after a clear-cut are bereft of ancient roots and their symbiotic fungi. The trees in these surrogate forests are much more vulnerable to disease and death because, despite one another’s company, they have been orphaned. Simard thinks that retaining some mother trees, which have the most robust and diverse mycorrhizal networks, will substantially improve the health and survival of future seedlings — both those planted by foresters and those that germinate on their own.


Forest Media 27 November 2020

The fallout from Catherine Cusack using her casting vote to refer the Koala killing bill to the Koala committee for review continues. While the Government continues to find another way of allowing logging in core Koala habitat and environmental zones, the committee review will proceed despite the bill being dropped. Meanwhile, while still failing to prepare the long overdue Koala recovery plan and still intending to gut the EPBC Act, the Feds are throwing money around, with $2 million for a census, $2 million for koala health research and $14 million for habitat restoration. A landowner has offered a $50,000 reward to find out who logged Koala habitat on his property. There are unconfirmed reports that NRC will review logging rules for burnt forests - given their siding with FC against EPA over CIFOA rules this is unlikely to be good.

As droughts intensify and we continue to divert streamflows, while degrading waters and riparian vegetation, endangering the survival of the iconic platypus. And we have only learnt that platypus, wombats, bilbies and a variety of nocturnal mammals glow in the dark. The super spreaders are a growing threat to us, as if flying foxes and cats weren’t bad enough, now its our beautiful parrots accused of passing on their diseases to us, and those endangered ones eat our food  – all the more reason to leave them some bush homes (not cats).

As Europe wrestles with American forests being fed into their incinerators to displace genuine renewable energy, the mothballed Redbank power station in the Hunter valley is intended to be rebooted with 1 million tonnes of NSW’s forests, starting from the middle of next year. As temperature records tumble, fires intensify and spread, ecosystems collapse (including Lebanon’s famous cedars), and pests proliferate, the commissioning of one of the world’s 10 largest biomass plants pumping 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 into our atmosphere each year makes a mockery of NSW’s lauded renewable energy revolution.

Dailan

The aftermath of the last battle in the Koala wars reverberates:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/a-state-of-disarray-as-koala-war-continues-to-rage-20201120-p56gik.html

That protecting koalas could twice throw the NSW government into disarray has to go down as one of the most bizarre and unpredictable political events of 2020.

Round two of the so-called koala wars between the Liberals and Nationals erupted this past week without the public bluster and brinkmanship of the September outbreak but the consequences in terms of deepening enmity and mistrust between the coalition parties could be just as grave.

Hints that the Nationals weren't done surfaced in October when the party - sans the absent Barilaro - demanded in cabinet that farmers be given the right to clear 50-metre fire breaks on their properties and that Environment Minister Matt Kean be instructed to do the same on the periphery of national parks.

Eager to avert another breakdown, Berejiklian barely spoke in what one colleague described as a "trainwreck" session, and agreed on a compromise of a 25 metre fire break for private land.

The clearing rate passed into law this week following amendments to the Rural Fires Act.

"The old SEPP 44 was a pretty weak instrument and the updates were still pretty weak," Walmsley says. Among the limitations identified by the EDO, was that farmers could still apply and get approval to bulldoze their woodlands by applying under the state's land-clearing laws.

Lands would also not be rezoned under the updated SEPP and it was voluntary for councils to create their own koala plan of management (KPoMs) and only a handful had.

Still, in Stokes's view, the new SEPP was a marked improvement on the past forcing would-be developers to at least go through a modicum of assessment before the bulldozers could start to move in.

Charged by cabinet to make amendments to the Local Land Services Act (LLS), Marshall had inserted provisions that were not authorised, as the Herald reported earlier this week .

The new law nullified the key environmental and coastal planning policies, effectively creating a parallel planning system for the state.

Stokes is understood to have been appalled and told close associates his position would be made untenable if the changes were allowed to stick.

"It was the most shocking thing," says Kelly, adding the Nationals appeared to have made "a massive power grab...it was an attack on local government".

And in a twist that may not be the final one, the government's fixes to its own faulty bill were never tabled so upper house MPs still don't know just what bullet had been dodged.

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/stokes-vows-to-strengthen-koala-protection-predicts-fraught-talks-20201120-p56gjs.html

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes says he remains determined to tighten koala protections despite being ordered by Premier Gladys Berejiklian to reverse years of work after the latest political flare-up with the Nationals.

"[My party] will be putting forward a koala strategy in the new year and will consider stewardship type payments to landholders to help preserve genuine core koala habitat," Mr Barilaro said. Such an approach could draw wider support, including from the Greens.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/time-to-act-premier-our-koalas-and-farmers-deserve-better-20201120-p56gjq.html

Sorry, what, Premier?

And what, pray tell, do our koalas deserve, Premier? Who speaks up for them? Premier, as you know better than most, for 240 years since colonisation this continent has wiped out habitat after habitat, eco-system after eco-system, species after species. In recent years – even as the consequences of environmental devastation have been realised – the ongoing land-clearing has been justified on the reckoning that we just need a few more developments, a few more swathes of trees gone, another election or two won, and then we can stop. But we are getting near the end of the line. If it is not our generation that stops the endless clearing to protect the koalas and other species, which generation is it? If it is not a Premier with your smarts and former reputation for integrity that will stand up for what you know is right, then which one? For you know how bad this legislation is! When two-thirds of NSW koalas live on private property, you seriously want to defend legislation that allows owners to wipe them out at will? But you still backed down anyway to John Barilaro who refers to koalas as “tree rats” and put out a press release with him blathering about how the farmers deserve better.

[Cusack] I live on NSW North Coast, and our whole community is in uproar and distress. The councils up here asked for greater power to protect habitat and the bill removes them.”

That bill is a disgrace, and you know it, Premier. This time Ms Cusack has stopped it, but it needs more Libs and Nats of integrity to also speak out and say what needs to be said, to support her – or at least kill it off in the back rooms. We are looking at you, Rob Stokes and Matt Kean for starters.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/premier-gladys-berejiklian-sacks-hunter-mlc-catherine-cusack-over-koala-policy-61804

https://clarencevalleynews.com.au/koala-bill-revisited-premier-sacks-cusack-for-crossing-the-floor/

“The Local Land Services Amendment Bill 2020 is a vast improvement on what was proposed initially, and a win not, just for the Nationals, but also for farmers, the timber industry and indeed koalas,” Mr Gulaptis said at the time.

https://www.portstephensexaminer.com.au/story/7026282/mps-sacking-wins-applause/

The Nature Conservation Council has also applauded the principled decision by Ms Cusack in blocking the bill. "It is far better to go back to the drawing board on koala laws than to accept the Nationals' koala-killing bill," said chief executive Chris Gambian.

Northern Rivers Times 26/11/2020

The scrapping of the controversial koala bill has been welcomed by the North East Forest Alliance.

"While Premier Gladys Berejiklian claimed to stand strong, she effectively capitulated to the National's demands by narrowing the definition of core Koala habitat in the Koala State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) to make it harder to identify core Koala habitat, and then gave the Nationals free reign to make dramatic changes to the Local Land Services Act” NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.

"Not only did the Nationals seek to remove the prohibitions on logging and broadscale clearing of core Koala habitat, their bill also tried to stop Councils from being able to include core Koala habitat in environment protection zones, and tried to prohibit Councils from being able to regulate logging and clearing in environmental zones.

"Catherine Cusack has shown that she has enough integrity to stand up against National Party bullying for the survival of Koalas by moving to refer this bill back to the Koala committee. She is the saviour for the 67% of Koalas that live on private lands" Mr. Pugh said.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/11/editorial-koala-konscience/

As expected, locally-based Nationals Northern NSW parliamentary secretary MLC, Ben Franklin, voted in favour of the bill.

[Cusack] ‘I tried for the Blackhall Range koala community. I lost faith in federal protections in the process, so I am fully aware that there is no federal backstop if this bill passes today.

It’s not often a politician speaks truth like this, especially one from the Liberal Party.

It results in weak actors who are actively betraying our interests. They practise the dark art of telling the public one thing, while doing the exact opposite. And standing up for what is right is never popular within the heavily fortified political tent.

Thanks Catherine Cusack, for doing the right thing.

The Feds step up to identify, but not protect, Koala habitat:

https://minister.awe.gov.au/ley/media-releases/18-million-koala-package-include-landmark-census

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/line-in-the-sand-koala-census-to-identify-key-habitat-for-protection-20201122-p56gug.html

A new koala protection policy to be launched on Monday by federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley may put the Morrison government on a collision course with state leaders and project developers.

The centrepiece of Ms Ley’s policy is a population census to identify key habitat areas in koalas' range across Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

The $18 million policy, is funded by $2 million for the census incorporating institutional research and citizen science to establish a “baseline” population data, $2 million for koala health research and $14 million for habitat restoration.

Annual reporting on populations and conservation strategies will be mandatory at national environment ministerial meetings.

The “baseline data” from Ms Ley’s census could act as a backstop against state governments if there are moves to weaken habitat protection - which could clash with state governments planning regimes that have primary control of approvals for urban development and agricultural land clearing.

https://www.2gb.com/koala-count-to-help-preserve-habitats-across-the-country/

[Ben Fordham interview with Susan Ley]

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-11/23/c_139537021.htm

https://menafn.com/1101168736/Australia-announces-national-approach-to-koala-conservation&source=27

"I don't think there's been enough national leadership on this iconic species before," she added.

The data collected in the initial census will be used by the government to prevent state and territory governments from weakening habitat protection, potentially putting the federal government on a collision course with state planning regimes for agricultural land clearing and urban development.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/breaking-news/greens-and-labor-hit-out-at-federal-koala-census-funding/news-story/32df789bc28c7697f59ebd49797bef85

But Greens environment spokeswoman Senator Hanson-Young said a koala census would not save Australia’s national treasure from extinction.

“Koalas have been counted in critical habitat areas only for the government to ignore that data and approve mining and development projects that imperil the koalas calling that land home,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“The Greens will move in the parliament for a moratorium on habitat clearing to save the koala from extinction.”

Labor environment spokeswoman Terri Butler …

“Under the Coalition, 170 out of 171 threatened species recovery plans are overdue.

“The threatened species recovery plan for the koala, originally due in 2015, is one of them.”

https://www.miragenews.com/counting-koalas-won-t-save-national-treasure/

Greens Environment Spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said:

“Koalas have been counted in critical habitat areas only for the Government to ignore that data and approve mining and development projects that imperil the koalas calling that land home.

“Just last month, the Environment Minister approved a quarry at Pt Stephens which will destroy 52ha of critical habitat for the endangered species.

https://www.nambuccaguardian.com.au/story/7025868/counting-cowper-koalas-18-million-to-help-save-our-icons/

https://spectator.com.au/2020/11/the-great-koala-capers-continue/

Multinational green corporations such as World Wildlife Fund are taking millions of dollars from well-meaning and naive people concerned about the welfare of a very cute, but irruptive species that is in absolutely no danger of extinction — the koala. These ‘charities’ are subsidised by Australian taxpayers. Supposedly conservative governments are falling over themselves to jump on the bandwagon seeking green votes. 

Shooting koalas and using their fur was a humane and economic response to the animal welfare crisis, but it didn’t control the irruptions.

Most young koalas in healthy habitat starve because it is fully occupied by their parents. Only a few lucky ones are able to outcompete some old malnourished koalas with worn-out teeth. 

https://theconversation.com/drones-detection-dogs-poo-spotting-whats-the-best-way-to-conduct-australias-great-koala-count-150634?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%2026%202020%20-%201795117425&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%2026%202020%20-%201795117425+CID_04b7019fb08c21310b7b52c8b519bbf9&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Drones%20detection%20dogs%20poo%20spotting%20whats%20the%20best%20way%20to%20conduct%20Australias%20Great%20Koala%20Count

The funding might seem like a lot – and, truth be told, it is more than most threatened species receive. But the national distribution of koalas is vast, so the funding equates to about A$1.40 to survey a square kilometre. That means the way koalas are counted in the audit must be carefully considered.

So far, population estimates for koalas at the state and national level are rare and highly uncertain. For example, the last national koala count in 2012 estimated 33,000-153,000 in Queensland, 14,000–73,000 in NSW and 96,000-378,000 in the southern states.

In numerous research and management programs, we have observed that even the most experienced koala spotter may only see 20–80% of koalas present at a site, especially if the vegetation is thick or the terrain difficult to move through.

Detection dogs have been trained to locate koala scats: in one study, dogs were shown to be 150% more accurate and 20 times quicker than humans.

Recently, heat-seeking drones have also been used to detect koalas. This method can be accurate and effective, especially in difficult terrain. We used them extensively to find surviving koalas after the 2019-20 bushfires.

Citizen scientists can also collect important data about koalas. Smartphone apps allow the community to report sightings around Australia, helping to build a picture of where koalas have been seen.

Last summer’s bushfires highlighted how koalas, and other native species, are vulnerable to climate change. And the clearing of koala habitat continues, at times illegally.

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/newcastle/programs/mornings/koala-drones/12911388

Dr Stuart Blanch spoke with Kylie Morris to explain the role drones are playing in Koala conservation.

https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/sussan-leys-latest-koala-plan-is-a-national-disaster,14556

WITH THE ANNOUNCEMENT of her latest plan to “save koalas”, Federal Minister Sussan Ley has confirmed she lives in a different reality. One that is focused on ensuring the only koalas people see, in the looming future, will be in zoos.

In April, Ley provided Australia’s zoos and aquariums with a $94.6 million support package:

Imagine how much habitat $94.6 million would have acquired.

No information has been provided on where any $2 million census will be carried out. Given that koalas are found in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia, $2 million will not cut the mustard. Nor do we know who will be in charge or how such a census would be undertaken.

$2 million for koala research? Millions and millions of dollars have been granted to various scientists and institutions to find a cure for chlamydia, a disease caused by stress, resulting in a diminished immune system and high mortality.

No cure has been found. The cause is clear — the destruction of habitat.

$18 million for habitat restoration? Where? Is this a tree-planting exercise? Koala tree seedlings take seven years to be suitable for feed and shelter needs.

The Recovery Plan is now eight years overdue.

In NSW, unburned forests which are the remaining koala hubs (identified by the NSW Government) are being bulldozed. Perhaps Ley has forgotten that under the Regional Forest Agreements, no legal challenges are permitted so koalas and wildlife just keeping dying.

Has the Minister not been advised that developers can self refer their projects to the Federal Government? Or that the federal koala referral guidelines are not mandatory?

How about an explanation as to why a scientific submission currently being assessed by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee to upgrade koalas to endangered status in NSW, Queensland and A.C.T. will not be decided until October 2021?

Sussan Ley’s koala plan is a sick joke. The plan is an indication of the Morrison Government’s ongoing refusal to protect Australia’s iconic, irreplaceable species.

Other Koala issues:

https://www.mamamia.com.au/kai-wild/

Kai thoroughly documented the recovery of the joey on social media, and in September, Joey Kai became the 99th out of what is now over 200 koalas released back into the wild on Kangaroo Island. 

He says our next destructive bushfire season will be this year or next, and we need to be prepared. Because despite the optimism that lives in the pages of The 99th Koala, the damage done to Australia's biodiversity scares him. 

"Who knows how many lifetimes that will take to recover, if it ever will," he says. 

Northern Rivers Times 26/11/2020

[full page ad]

A reward of $50,000 (fifty thousand dollars) is offered for reliable information that leads to the successful criminal prosecution of the person, or persons, or entity responsible for damage and destruction of eucalypt food and habitat trees. Located on private land, within the South Gundurimba Parrots Nest area.

… payable by the land owner, upon whose land the destruction and damage has occurred.

NRC to review logging rules for burnt forests?

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/nov/27/logging-in-nsw-bushfire-hit-coastal-regions-to-be-reviewed-after-stand-off-between-industry-and-epa

The New South Wales government is planning a review of forestry operations in bushfire-hit coastal regions as tensions mount between the environment regulator and Forestry Corporation.

The review, which is still to be formally commissioned, will probably be carried out by the state’s Natural Resources Commission (NRC), government sources have told Guardian Australia.

The state’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued the state-owned Forestry Corporation with a series of stop-work orders this year for breaches of its licence in bushfire-hit forests on the south and north coasts.

Last month, the EPA started five prosecutions against Forestry Corporation in the land and environment court for alleged breaches of its licence in a forest near Coffs Harbour.

Field told Guardian Australia the NRC “will effectively be the arbiter in the disagreement between Forestry Corporation and the EPA over what logging could sustainably happen in burnt forest”.

A spokesman for Barilaro would not confirm a formal review.

The spokesman added that separate to the monitoring program, the government “is also considering an appropriate pathway for Forestry Corporation to recommence operating under standing IFOA conditions and prescriptions” in fire-affected regions across the state.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/11/call-to-halt-new-logging-in-bushfire-impacted-areas/

Mr Fields has called n the NSW government to give an undertaking to NSW coastal communities that new approvals for logging in the state’s badly burnt public state forests will not be approved until a review by the state’s Independent NRC is completed.

Local Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith told The Echo that, ‘The Greens oppose logging in native forests on a good day, let alone after catastrophic bushfires and the subsequent destruction of wildlife and biodiversity on an unprecedented scale in NSW last summer.

‘I and thousands of environmentalists begged the government to send in ecologists after the fires last summer not loggers, but they did any way.

[Fields] ‘I hope this review reignites the conversation about a transition away from public native forestry. We can reimagine a much more positive future for our public forests as critical ecological and recreational reserves and create a transition plan for the timber sector into plantations and private land forestry where that can be done responsibly,’ he said.

Another Australian icon going down:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-23/research-shows-platypus-under-threat-as-koalas-get-new-funding/12910412

The platypus has lost 22 per cent of its habitat in just 30 years, leaving it likely to meet the criteria for threatened species, according to research led by the University of New South Wales and commissioned by a coalition of conservation groups.

Dams, over-extraction, land clearing, pollution and predation by feral dogs and foxes were among the main threats, which together could have caused half of all platypuses to disappear, according to the researchers.

"There is a real concern that platypus populations will disappear from some of our rivers without returning, if rivers keep degrading with droughts and dams," said UNSW's Richard Kingsford, one of the lead authors of the report.

The egg-laying mammal's range has been most dramatically slashed in NSW, where 32 per cent of its habitat has disappeared.

https://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/7025794/near-death-platypuses-returned-after-recovery-but-wider-threat-remains/

Aussie Ark has returned five platypus to the wild that were in distress in the Hunter River catchment during the bushfire crisis and drought.

The native mammals were "severely malnourished" and their waterproof fur was showing signs of "extreme distress".

They were found at Moonan Brook in the Barrington Tops in muddy pools of water no bigger than backyard swimming pools and were "essentially swimming in their own faecal matter".

They had little to no food available and rising water temperatures were threatening their lives.

"Platypuses are to rivers what koalas are to forests," said Dr Stuart Blanch, of WWF-Australia.

Mr Faulkner said: "Platypus have been on Earth for nearly 200 million years unchanged. Events like this are changing them now. Let's not let them disappear in our lifetime."

https://2ser.com/platypus-under-threat-as-habitat-dwindles/

One of the researchers at UNSW, Dr Gilad Bino joined us to talk about what lies ahead for the platypus and its habitat.

… and they’re brighter than you think:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-26/glow-in-the-dark-marsupials-surprise-scientists-biofluorescence/12910820

Following the accidental discovery by scientists in the United States that platypuses glow under UV light, further tests by Australian scientists show other mammals and marsupials also glow.

Biofluorescence has long been known to occur in some insects and sea creatures, but it was unknown that it occurred in other Australian mammals until earlier this month, when scientists at the Western Australian Museum rushed to check their specimen drawers to factcheck the US report.

"We pulled the monotreme [egg-laying mammals like platypuses] drawer and the platypuses fluoresced, and it was amazing," she told ABC Radio Hobart.

Dr Travouillon suggests that "the benefit is probably so they can see their species from a distance, and they can approach them because they know that it is safe to go towards that animal."

Parrots another zoonotic disease threat:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-77500-5

Chlamydia psittaci (order: Chlamydiales) is a globally distributed zoonotic bacterium that can cause potentially fatal disease in birds and humans. … We reveal a higher chlamydial prevalence than previously reported in many wild parrots, with implications for potential reservoirs, and transmission risks to humans and other avian hosts.

… as well as devastating our fruit industry:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2020-11-25/black-cockatoos-damage-apple-harvest/12915174

  • WA apple producers say black cockatoos are costing the industry millions of dollars annually
  • Three species of black cockatoos are endemic to WA, including the Carnaby's, Baudin's and forest red-tailed
  • The pome industry is calling for federal funds allocated for netting projects to be expedited

"Don't forget that you are dealing with an animal that is highly intelligent and potentially long lived, and they soon learn that these things go bang at regular or irregular intervals and they will ignore them in time," he said.

Mr Saunders said netting was the obvious answer but argued producers should factor that into in the cost of production.

"If it's too expensive, then maybe they shouldn't be producing apple and pear orchards, because at the moment they have an environmental subsidy, and that environmental subsidy is the destruction of an endangered species."

Burning forests for the powerful:

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/11/opposition-to-forest-biomass-energy-goes-global/

Today protesters gathered on Tweed Valley Way next to the Condong Sugar Mill to show their opposition to what they say is the burning of trees to power the grid which is going on right in our own backyard.

During the International Day of Action on Forest Biomass Energy, the Biomass Action Group (BAG), who staged the local event, say that Cape Byron Power is attracting government subsidies to make it profitable, while incentivising deforestation.

Spokesperson Shaunti Kiehl said this international mass action day will flow around the world. ‘The focus is an important petition that needs to attract many thousands of individual signatures to make a big impact.

The petition can be found here: https://you.wemove.eu/campaigns/the-eu-must-protect-forests-not-burn-them-for-energy.

https://www.realwire.com/releases/International-Day-of-Action-on-Forest-Biomass-sees-demand-for-subsidies

LONDON – 24th November, 2020 – Today is International Day of Action on Forest Biomass and opposition to biomass subsidies is mounting on policymakers across the UK and European member states. On this day, groups around the world are calling on Europe to exclude biomass from receiving renewable energy subsidies and people are posting messages on social media using the hashtag #forestsarenotfuel to highlight the ecosystem destruction and climate chaos caused by the biomass industry.

Biomass is classified as renewable energy under UK law and receives generous subsidies on this basis[2]; however, a growing number of scientists are speaking out against this classification, including the European Academies Scientific Advisory Council[3] and nearly 800 scientists who wrote to the EU Commission in 2018 calling for forest biomass to be removed from the renewable category.[4]

“Current UK subsidy laws mean that over a billion pounds a year is spent on subsiding biomass which destroys forests, makes the climate crisis worse and adds to environmental injustice,” said Frances Howe at Biofuelwatch. “The UK already imports and burns wood pellets made from more trees than we can produce in a year. With yet another biomass power station due to come online in 2021, there is no way this can be considered renewable energy.”

Redirecting biomass subsidies to support solar and wind is the primary goal of Cut Carbon Not Forests, which urges supporters to take action by emailing their local MP.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/11/burning-our-forests-for-energy-unsustainable-say-nefa/

‘The imminent rebooting of the mothballed Redbank Power Station (near Singleton) with north-east NSW’s forests will make it Australia’s most polluting power station and an existential threat to the future of our children and wildlife,’ according to the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA).

According to NEFA Hunter Energy is currently seeking expressions of interest for timber from across north-east NSW to fuel their Redbank Power Station, with plans to restart the facility in mid-2021 fed by native forests to make it one of world’s ten biggest biomass power plants.

‘The claims are that it will power 200,000 homes, which was identified in 2017 North Coast Residues Report as requiring one million tonnes of biomass to be taken from north-east NSW’s forests and plantations each year, with 60 per cent of this coming from private forests,’ said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.

‘This is sheer madness as burning this volume will release some 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year to fuel climate heating, increased droughts, heatwaves, and more intense bushfires, while increasing forest degradation and hastening species extinctions.

‘The community needs to urgently speak up to stop the NSW and Commonwealth Governments from allowing this environmental disaster,’ Mr Pugh said.

Forestry creating allies:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-23/nsw-south-coast-clubs-push-for-world-class-mountain-bike-circuit/12905070

Mountain bike enthusiasts from the New South Wales Far South Coast and Snowy Monaro are joining forces to put the area on the map as a "world-class" mountain biking tourism destination.

Narooma Mountain Bike Club has just received approval from Forestry Corporation of NSW to open 30 kilometres of trails in the Bodalla State Forest.

The Eden club has also gained support from Forestry NSW to apply for grants to create 60 kilometres of trails in the Nullica State Forest.

A spokesperson for Forestry NSW said they will continue to work with both the Eden and Narooma communities to help develop trails in the area.

https://www.edenmagnet.com.au/story/7017801/green-light-for-world-class-trails-in-edens-state-forest/

Plantation sell-off:

https://www.afr.com/street-talk/forestry-bigwig-fires-up-australian-portfolio-sale-resolute-hired-20201125-p56hpc

Forestry investment giant Global Forest Partners LP has put a portfolio of Australian softwood plantations on the block, sparking expectations of one of the biggest domestic forestry deals in the past decade.

It is understood Global Forest Partners is seeking a buyer for the Green Triangle Forest Products (GTFP) softwood business, which owns plantations in the "green triangle" in South Australia and Victoria and services sawmills that supply the residential construction market.

Potential buyers were told the up-for-grabs portfolio was a 25,000 hectare freehold estate

Cooking the earth:

https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/australia-set-to-sizzle-as-mercury-creeps-up-to-50c/ar-BB1bmgLZ

Australians who endured the relentless bushfires last summer are on edge again, with sweltering temperatures of up to 50C predicted in some areas over the next few days. 

A heatwave will blast the country's east from Thursday for five days, affecting swatches of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. 

Severe fire danger is predicted for the weekend, with some temperatures set to exceed long standing records in some locations, with high 40C seen across NSW.

'Some temperatures could be as much as 15 to 18C above the average.

'Broadly across the country the heat actually is going to remain in place for quite a long time,' he said.

'The heat remains in place much of this week, and then it kind of recirculates next week.'

https://theconversation.com/humans-are-changing-fire-patterns-and-its-threatening-4-403-species-with-extinction-150532

Last summer, many Australians were shocked to see fires sweep through the wet tropical rainforests of Queensland, where large and severe fires are almost unheard of. This is just one example of how human activities are changing fire patterns around the world, with huge consequences for wildlife.

In a major new paper published in Science, we reveal how changes in fire activity threaten more than 4,400 species across the globe with extinction. This includes 19% of birds, 16% of mammals, 17% of dragonflies and 19% of legumes that are classified as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable.

There are three main ways humans are transforming fire activity: global climate change, land-use and the introduction of pest species.

A suite of emerging actions — some established but receiving increasing attention, others new — could help us navigate this new fire era and save species from extinction. They include:

For example, new modelling has allowed University of Melbourne researchers to identify alternative strategies for introducing planned or prescribed burning that reduces the risk of large bushfires to koalas.

… Lebanon’s famed cedars feeling the heat:

https://www.gpb.org/news/2020/11/25/climate-change-closes-in-on-lebanons-iconic-cedar-trees

The cedar tree is a source of national pride in Lebanon.

But now the very survival of these ancient giants is in question. Scientists say rising temperatures and worsening drought conditions brought about by climate change are driving wildfires in this Middle Eastern country to ever higher altitudes, encroaching upon the mountains where the cedars grow.

Warming temperatures have spawned infestations of the web-spinning sawfly, which has decimated entire tracts of forest.

The fire that Taleb and his friends fought this summer marked the first time on record that wildfires have reached Lebanon's cedar trees.

Across Lebanon, wildfires have been more frequent and intense. George Mitri, a scientist and director of the land and natural resources program at the Lebanese University of Balamand, says the fires this year burned through an area seven times larger than the annual average. At one point in October, his team counted 150 wildfires in just 48 hours.

"This was the worst fire season on record," Mitri says. "It's a national disaster."

In the Tannourine Nature Reserve, climate change is killing cedars in a different way.

The sawfly is native to this forest and used to coexist with the cedars. "This insect used to sleep under the soil, hibernating, for six to seven years," says Nabil Nemer, an entomologist who identified the sawfly as the cause of a new destruction of the trees in Tannourine forest. "Now, with warmer temperatures it has changed its life cycle to emerge every year." The insects now lay eggs on the cedar buds, which the larvae then eat, killing the tree.

The changing weather has also affected the forest's microbiome. "There used to be a balance in which other microorganisms would cause disease in the sawfly, controlling its population," says Nemer. But these microorganisms survive only in a humid environment. As these forests dry out, the sawfly population soars. Now, Nemer says, the insect has been identified as a cause of blight in most of Lebanon's cedar reserves.

Assault on world’s treasures:

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/big-builders-plans-threaten-to-wreck-forest-survival/

LONDON, 24 November, 2020 − Forest survival in the world’s great conservation targets − the Amazon, the Congo and South-east Asia, for example − is at risk from not just ranchers, loggers and illegal foresters: it’s also under assault from some of the planet’s biggest spenders: governments and the big banks, giant mining corporations and road builders.

A new report warns that in the Amazon region alone − across Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador − governments have promised $27bn worth of investment on 12,000 kms (7,456 miles) of roads over the next five years. If all the promised infrastructure goes ahead, that could mean the loss of 24,000 square kilometres of forest in the next 20 years.

The Indonesian government is planning to drive a 4,000 km network of highway through a national park in Papua, western New Guinea, for access to 500 sq kms of mining concessions. A new planned railway in Kalimantan, Indonesia, will open up new opportunities for palm oil plantations and coal mining concessions.

And in sub-Saharan Africa nations plan dozens of “international development corridors” to provide access to minerals and to energy. The plans threaten to cut through 400 protected areas and degrade another 1800.

“Big new projects under way or planned in the Amazon, Indonesia, Meso-America, the Congo basin and beyond, reveal that our insatiable appetite for coal, minerals, metals, energy and agricultural commodities like soy has opened up a new front in the battle to protect the world’s forests,” said Franziska Haupt, executive director of Climate Focus, Berlin, and the lead author of a new report on efforts so far to limit the destruction of the world’s forests.

“Some governments are compounding this threat and rolling back forest protections, as countries struggle to cope with the economic fallout of Covid-19.”

Forests are key to limiting climate change. It is not enough simply to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy to halt global heating: the climate emergency also requires nations to halt the destruction of, and restore, the world’s great forests.

“Many of these projects would never get the green light if the true value of forests was factored in − their role in reducing climate change, protecting animal habitats and reducing the spread of zoonotic diseases [infections caught from other creatures], keeping water sources clean, providing economic opportunity and a long list of other benefits without a price tag,” said Erin Matson, a consultant at Climate Focus, and a co-author.

“Forests are at a dangerous tipping point, and these new large-scale infrastructure projects could push us over the edge and undermine global efforts to stop deforestation.

https://www.eco-business.com/news/big-builders-plans-threaten-to-wreck-forest-survival/

https://theconversation.com/one-fifth-of-ecosystems-in-danger-of-collapse-heres-what-that-might-look-like-148137

One in five countries are at risk of their ecosystems collapsing, threatening more than half of global GDP (US$42 trillion, or £32 trillion), according to recent research. This scary sounding statistic raises all sorts of questions.

Natural ecosystems can resist stresses from human actions or the climate for a long time – but only up to a point. After a while, these stresses drive positive feedback loops that push the system over a tipping point.

Much of the deforestation across the Amazon basin occurs in patches. But as more local patches are cleared, the forest opens up and makes the regional climate drier, which global warming encourages. The entire forest becomes more prone to drought and wildfire as a result.

We do know that the duration of a collapse is relative to an ecosystem’s size. The bigger the ecosystem, the slower it will collapse because there are more species and connections to fail. There is also more chance that larger system collapses will be triggered at the same time in multiple places, as with the 2019-2020 wildfires in Australia.

My own research has revealed that Caribbean coral reefs could collapse in just a few years, and the entire Amazon rainforest could collapse in a matter of decades.


Forest Media 20 November 2020

Koalas were once again the hot issue, with the Koala killing bill being referred to the Koala committee for review in the NSW Upper House thanks to a principled stance by Catherine Cusack. There were revelations that the bill went beyond what was agreed by Cabinet by over-riding Councils ability to protect high conservation value areas in environmental zones from logging and clearing. - the Liberal claim to not have realised this when they voted for it in the Lower House but they didn't change it when it went to the Upper House. Catherine Cusack was swiftly sacked as Parliamentary Secretary, they are reverting to SEPP 44 and Berejiklian announced she is going to find another way to remove Koala protection. Fred Nile voted for Koala extinction contrary to the growing moves in the church to protect "God's creation".

The impending logging of Bungabbee had a run, with the value of looking before they log proven and the locals asking people to sign their petition. Friends of Kalang Headwaters have launched their Headwaters Conservation Proposal.

Its not just potoroos, wallabies are super spreaders of the underground fungi necessary for healthy ecosystems. Concerns raised that as ecosystems become more endangered their protection is removed.

Indonesian conversion of rainforests to palm oil plantations for biofuels is now focussed on west Papua. With estimates of 10 million hectares of the world's forest lost each year, an average French person would “eat” an average of 352 m2 of forest each year - how much forest do you "eat". Planting trees and creating urban parks brings more green spaces and cleaner air, cutting heart deaths and saving lives. And we need more trees to remove atmospheric carbon, which can been a boon for disadvantaged communities.

Peter FitzSimons did a good opinion piece in the SMH:

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/we-are-one-let-s-sing-it-from-the-rooftops-20201113-p56eg9.html

Nats held back

Here's to – and I mean this – the heroes in the Liberal Party in the NSW upper house who this week have managed to hold off the outrageous attempted amendment to the Land Services Act being driven by John Barilaro’s National Party to make land-clearing easier in this state. I refer specifically to Catherine Cusack, who is leading the push, ready to cross the floor, and who told me yesterday, “I sent a message to Premier last week saying I couldn’t support it if goes ahead.” Due to pass on Thursday, it has now been pushed to next Tuesday, to give us all time to breathe.

If approved, it removes koala protection on private property – significant as two-thirds of koalas live on private property – enables millions of hectares to be cleared/logged and removes the ability of local councils to prohibit clearing/logging or other “allowable activities” in environmental zones, while also increases logging approvals from 15 to 30 years.

In sum, it would be nothing less than an environmental catastrophe, driven by a man who, as discussed, refers to koalas as “tree rats”.

Despite the insanity of it, the legislation has passed the Legislative Assembly, and would have gotten through the Upper House on Thursday if not for some of the Libs threatening to cross the floor. The Nationals are carpet-biting mad about it, which is too bad.

And yes, the Nats assert the landowners should be able to do this because it is their “right” to do with their own land whatever they like. No, it is not their right. If a stream passes through my property, do I have a right to dump waste in it so that everyone downstream will have polluted water? Obviously not. Well, that’s the situation we are in. As a state, as a country, and as a planet we must stop knocking over trees! And yes, the tragic truth is that many trees are worth more dead than alive, which sees the economic imperative to bowl them over. But that is where a sane government must step in for the greater good and have legislation which prevents such insane destruction of our environment, not enable it.

Gladys, on a good day – I am told – gets it. But right now she has been so distracted by the former Member for Dodgy, the pandemic and the resultant economic wobbles that she has let this get away from her. Hence the move by the smart and brave Libs in the Upper House to hold the Nats off until she can get back on top of this.

... the pressure mounted:

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/subscribe/news/1/?sourceCode=DTWEB_WRE170_a_GGL&dest=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailytelegraph.com.au%2Fnews%2Fnsw%2Fbarnesy-and-onj-turn-screws-on-fragile-libsnats-truce-over-koala-laws%2Fnews-story%2F5bf195ece7ea7f3d9b2165a55cb25d21&memtype=anonymous&mode=premium&v21suffix=155-b

Celebs join koala fight as Lib casts doubt on law

Working class man Jimmy Barnes and Aussie sweetheart Olivia Newton-John have weighed into the ongoing fight between Liberals and Nationals MPs over koala habitat.

https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/extinction-of-koalas-means-the-death-of-our-countrys-soul,14526

Koalas are dying as a direct result of governments’ policies of extermination. Defenceless wildlife is being deliberately wiped out because it’s in the way of development, infrastructure, forestry, urbanisation, mining and unsustainable population growth through high levels of immigration.

Our democracy is corrupted. Public interest legal rights have been repealed. There is no transparency. There are no policies to ensure habitat protection, no policies to address the cumulative impacts of development projects, logging, urbanisation — all destroying habitat, taking the lives of defenceless koalas and other forest-dependent species.

Every koala is now sacred. ...

In 2012, when the koala was listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act as “vulnerable”, a National Koala Recovery Plan was recommended.   No recovery plan has been developed.

The international outcry over koalas is unprecedented. Millions of dollars poured into the country in a global expression of compassion and concern — to no avail.

As the NSW Government, through its National Party coalition partner, tries to shove yet another koala killing bill through the Parliament in spite of thousands of protests, Australians need to know we are on the verge of a historic, irreplaceable, avoidable loss.

... Nationals sneaky cheats while Liberals turn a blind eye:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/deputy-premier-barilaro-intervenes-to-stop-new-koala-wars-outbreak-20201118-p56fnc.html

NSW's koala wars have taken another twist with Nationals leader John Barilaro forced to intervene to reverse unsanctioned changes to a bill introduced by one of his senior colleagues that threatened to detonate divisions within the Coalition government.

Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall has been accused of inserting changes to the Local Land Services Amendment Bill 2020 beyond those agreed by cabinet, multiple sources have told the Herald. Those additions expanded the "allowables" for land-clearing, which would have removed virtually all planning oversight.

Key Liberals, including Planning Minister Rob Stokes, only detected the additions buried within the legislation after it had passed the lower house with Coalition support.

Mr Marshall then refused to budge, prompting the Liberals to demand Deputy Premier Mr Barilaro to broker a deal to remove unapproved provisions and restore key protection when the bill goes to the upper house.

Mr Barilaro's intervention has soured relations with his Nationals colleague Mr Marshall. It could also impact relations between Liberals and Nationals ministers over future legislation they put before the Parliament.

"There will be no ministerial direction requiring any local council to zone core koala habitat as an environmental zone – period," Mr Marshall said.

The moves within the Coalition to secure passage of the bill, though, may turn out to be futile, with upper house Liberal MP Catherine Cusack sticking to her plans to block it and push it into an open-ended committee inquiry.

"You may have heard, as I have, the government is likely to move amendments to the bill to improve it," Ms Cusack told her upper house colleagues in a communication obtained by the Herald. "However, this does not alter my opposition to it.

"I have many objections to the bill but I am particularly offended by the way it has landed like a spacecraft from Mars and rendered irrelevant decades of work and investment within an agreed framework.

"It reflects my belief that the opportunity to expose these ideas to some sunlight is the very best course we could take given the issues are not going away even if the bill is defeated."

... then they voted for it anyway, but Catherine refused to:

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/koala-bill-block-by-dissident-liberal-prompts-nsw-nationals-meeting-20201119-p56g8i.html

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has dumped upper house Liberal Catherine Cusack from her role as a parliamentary secretary after she voted against a government bill that was meant to end division within the coalition over koala planning policy.

Ms Cusack's vote was crucial in blocking the bill, which went down 18-19. The move prompted a snap Thursday night meeting by the National Party to address anger over Ms Cusack vote which will have the Local Land Services Bill amendments sent to a committee, a move that effectively prevents its passage until well into 2021.

In a joint statement, Ms Berejiklian and Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the state's farmers "deserve certainty and they do not deserve to be held to ransom by a Greens-controlled inquiry".

"[We] have agreed the NSW government will revert to operations under the former SEPP 44 by the end of the month and in the new year we will develop a policy to protect koalas and the interests of farmers."

"My faith in the processes has been shattered," Ms Cusack said, adding her lower house counterparts had voted on a bill that was "not what you thought and intended".

https://www.youngwitness.com.au/story/7020684/berejiklian-sacks-lib-mp-after-koala-vote/

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/gladys-berejiklian-sacks-parliamentary-secretary-for-not-supporting-renegotiated-nsw-koala-bill

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-19/nsw-koala-bill-scrapped-as-liberal-mp-crosses-floor/12902160

Rather than have the bill examined by a parliamentary inquiry, the Government made the snap decision tonight to dump the legislation altogether.

With the bill now dead in the water, the Government will revert to its former policy on land management under the State Environmental Planning Policy despite the fact it has already expired.

"In the new year we will develop a policy to protect koalas and the interests of farmers," the Premier said.

It's understood there is now tension between the Premier and Planning Minister Rob Stokes, who had carriage of the now failed bill.

He said the old rules were "rudimentary" and needed modernising.

The NSW Government will now end 2020 back at square one on an issue that threatened to tear it apart just months ago.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/nov/20/nsw-koala-war-flares-as-gladys-berejiklian-sacks-parliamentary-secretary-for-crossing-floor

On Friday morning the chief executive of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Chris Gambian, said it was a “regression” for koala protections at a time when the animal is under assessment for a national endangered listing.

“All that good work planning had done in working up a decent Sepp is wasted,” he said. “It’s outrageous. The National party has spent a lot of time this year just wasting everybody’s time.”

https://www.2gb.com/governments-koala-policy-scrapped-in-manner-no-one-could-have-imagined/

[Has an ingratiating interview with Balilaro where he is being sickly sweet and claiming getting rid of the new SEPP as a victory]

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-19/nsw-koala-bill-scrapped-as-liberal-mp-crosses-floor/12902160

Mr Barilaro described the scrapping of the controversial koala bill as "fresh start".

"The war that we had was ugly, there's no doubt about that," he said.

"I actually think the Coalition is stronger today because what we'll now do is work together and get the right outcome.

"I actually think today is a fresh start and it's a blank canvas ... and farmers can get on with what they do best and of course we'll work towards a better strategy going forward."

https://www.miragenews.com/koala-sepp-lasting-solution-needed-in-2021/

NSW Farmers’ President James Jackson said after enduring the worst drought many rural families and communities have ever experienced, farmers were forced to defend their businesses from government intrusion through misguided State Environment Protection Policies.

“The Koala SEPP’s overreach into agricultural land has caused farmers and regional communities a great deal of hurt and insecurity this year, so this decision leaves many wondering what has all this been in aid of?

“This year has demonstrated that one ill-conceived and poorly drafted planning instrument can instantly strip away farmers’ property rights and destroy their business – this level of sovereign risk is not acceptable in a leading sub-national economy like NSW.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/11/no-thinking-let-alone-a-conscience-on-koalas-allowed/

It appears that governance in NSW is no longer about representing your constituents, it is about following the party line, no questions asked

According to the Chair of the Inquiry into Koala Populations and their Habitat Greens MP Cate Faehrmann MLC, ‘The bill [had it passed] would have: frozen the inclusion of new koala habitat under the Koala SEPP; allowed land clearing within “environmental zones” on rural lands; Removed local council’s ability to require development applications for Private Native Forestry; [and] doubled the maximum duration of private native forestry agreements.’

[Ms Cusack] I tried for the Blackhall Range koala community. I lost faith in Federal protections in the process, so I am fully aware that there is no Federal backstop if this bill passes today.

‘That issue and its outcome have been really significant in how I have arrived at my position today, because all of the fine words explaining how much Roads and Maritime Services and others care about koalas were for nothing. I no longer have any confidence in fine words. I just have to process what is on the table in front of me. I was not party to the processes that brought this bill to the House. I cannot be held accountable and nor can I have any faith in that process, which has zero to do with protecting koalas. It is to try to patch-up a political disagreement.’

North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson Dailan Pugh has highlighted the fact that this is double standard, ‘when Chris Gulaptis said he was going to go to the cross-benches and vote against the government he wasn’t sacked as a Parliamentary Secretary.

After sacking Ms Cusack ‘Premier Berejiklian then released a statement with Barilaro saying they are going to revert to the 1995 Koala SEPP 44. This is the same SEPP that Byron’s Coastal Koala Plan of Management was prepared under and the government has refused to ratify since 2016, as well as refusing to ratify Tweeds since 2015. From Ben Franklin’s statements in parliament, it is clear that they are going to continue to block these and all the other plans they have been sitting on for years until the National Party find another way to subvert koala protection.’

A good Koala video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OGAlrH8uXE

Bungabbee gets a run:

https://www.facebook.com/NorthernRiversTimes/posts/182130100194962?__tn__=K-R

THE North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) says the gloves are off to save the Bungabbee State Forest north of Bentley 15 kilometres northwest of Lismore, which it says is the latest area on the North Coast under threat from logging.

"The finding of a large unknown outlying population of the regionally endemic Marbled Frogmouth is exciting. This is one of only a handful of species that the Forestry Corporation is still required to protect additional habitat for, though in this case there is no requirement to look before they log, and luckily we did”.

"It was particularly disturbing to find significant populations of the critically endangered Scrub Turpentine and Native Guava. The very survival of these species is threatened by the introduced fungus Myrtle Rust, they are unlikely to regenerate and now the Forestry Corporation are intending to bulldoze over the survivors”, Dailan Pugh said.

"Our results clearly demonstrate the need for pre-logging surveys to identify the presence and locations of threatened species so they can be appropriately protected”.

“The proposed North Coast Rail Trail passes within a few kilometres of Bungabbee which would provide a cluster of trails perfect for those seeking more challenging cycling experiences”, Renata who has been working with a team of locals to share information and organise future actions said.

“The local community is strongly opposed to the logging and are taking a pro-active stance lobbying against the proposed actions”, she said.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/11/bentley-prepping-for-another-fight/

A Petition against the logging can be signed online or in person at the Lismore Environment Centre, Goolmangar and Cawongla Stores, Rock Valley Post Office, Night Owl in Lismore and other locations

Headwaters Conservation Proposal launched:

https://www.bellingencourier.com.au/story/7019538/animal-justice-mp-to-launch-nature-reserve-proposal/

NSW Upper House MP for the Animal Justice Party, Mark Pearson, will visit Bellingen this month to launch the proposal of a new nature reserve for the Mid North Coast.

The reserve proposal encompasses the entirety of the Upper Kalang River headwaters, the Bellinger River catchment and part of the Nambucca River catchment. Within this reserve proposal is all of Buckrabendinni, Roses Creek and Oakes State Forests and part of Diehappy, Irishman and Scotchman State Forests.

In October last year, Bellingen council voted to support the Headwaters Nature Reserve proposal, with a motion that noted the impact of the Bees Nest fire on habitat and biodiversity, acknowledged the crucial role the Kalang Headwaters area plays in water security, and mentioned the community campaign protesting Forestry Corporation's plans to log the area.

More information about the proposal can be found here:

http://friendsofkalangheadwaters.com.au/index.php/headwaters-conservation-proposal/

Other attendees include NSW MPs David Shoebridge (Greens) and Marjorie O'Neill (Labor, Coogee) Bellingen Shire Mayor Dominic King as well as councillors and community members from across the region.

While Fred Nile voted to kill Koalas, what would God want?

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2020-11/laudato-si-australia-converstion-knox-pedem.html

Care for our common home is at the center of Knox Peden’s conversion. ... organizing conversations with fellow parishioners in Canberra on the message contained in Pope Francis’s Encyclical, as well as prayer walks in nature.

Knox Peden is one of over 10 thousand Laudato si’ Animators throughout the world formed by the Global Catholic Climate Movement. These are people who, for the most part, were already dedicated in their own local parishes, associations, or religious traditions and who feel particularly called to live integral ecology and Laudato si’,

When he discovered Laudato si’, he felt a “shock of recognition”, he explains, recognizing himself in the critique the Pope made regarding modernity and the current crisis. He is referring to Pope Francis’s exhortation regarding the environment as well as the relationship between nature and the society that inhabits it, because, as the Pope writes in the Encyclical, “We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental” (Par 139).

Based on his experience, the University of Queensland professor reads Laudato si’ as a means of ecological conversion as well as a resource for evangelization. “Ecological conversion is a matter of opening and expanding our sense of dependency. Spiritual conversion tells us we depend on God; ecological conversion extends the idea to tell us we depend on creation, what God has made.”

Wallabies super spreaders:

https://phys.org/news/2020-11-truffle-munching-wallabies-forest.html

Edith Cowan University researcher Dr. Melissa Danks led an investigation into how swamp wallabies spread truffle spores around the environment, and results demonstrate the importance of these animals to the survival of the forest.

"Truffles live in a mutually beneficial relationship with these plants, helping them to uptake water and nutrients and defense against disease. Unlike mushrooms where spores are dispersed through wind and water from their caps, truffles are found underground with the spores inside an enclosed ball—they need to be eaten by an animal to move their spores."

"Wallabies are browsing animals that will munch on ferns and leaves as well as a wide array of mushrooms and truffles," she said.

Results showed the wallabies could move hundreds of meters, and occasionally more than 1200 meters, from the original truffle source before the spores appeared in their poo, which makes them a very effective at dispersing truffles around the forest.

As ecological communities become more threatened protection decreases:

https://theconversation.com/we-found-a-huge-flaw-in-australias-environment-laws-wetlands-and-woodlands-will-pay-the-price-150083?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%2019%202020%20-%201788817360&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%2019%202020%20-%201788817360+CID_98193c5a08fd714e40d9877b7d26f000&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=We%20found%20a%20huge%20flaw%20in%20Australias%20environment%20laws%20Wetlands%20and%20woodlands%20will%20pay%20the%20price

There are currently 85 threatened ecological communities listed in the EPBC Act, and the majority of them are listed as critically endangered or endangered.

Major threats to these communities include land clearing and development, which can increase their risk of extinction.

Most listings of threatened ecological communities contain very specific “condition thresholds”.

If areas of a community do not meet these specific minimum thresholds, it means a landholder doesn’t require approval to clear or develop parts of a community, if those parts are perceived to be “poor quality” habitat.

Importantly, we need to change our approach to environmental governance frameworks, including seriously rethinking condition thresholds in the EPBC Act, to ensure we can continue to protect biodiversity as it rapidly changes before us.

Papua a deforestation front as biofuels replace oil:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/indonesia-forest-fire-peat-haze-palm-oil-jokowi-omnibus-bill-13533700

Papua has 50 per cent of Indonesia’s biodiversity and is home to thousands of unique endemic species. According to the Center for International Forestry Research, in 2018, 34.3 million hectares, or 83 per cent of Papua’s total land area remained as primary forest (forests untouched by human activity).

But it is fast disappearing.

A first look at the data shows that 2020 has seen a significant tree cover loss in Papua compared to earlier years. Much of this destruction has taken place behind the veil of COVID-19 restrictions.

The “Omnibus Bill”, which has been passed by Parliament on Oct 5, will relax laws and eliminate environmental regulations to increase foreign investment and fast-track the expansion of palm oil and pulpwood concessions, mining and infrastructure projects.

Between 2015 and 2018, carbon emissions from peatland fires attributed to the plantation sector totalled 427 megatons – equivalent to the average annual emissions of 110 coal-fired power plants or 91 million cars.

Overall, the Bill reinforces a policy shift towards the expansion of the oil palm sector driven by President Joko Widodo’s ambition to reach self-sufficiency in biofuel.

Scientists have repeatedly warned the use of energy crops in biofuels is no solution to climate change, but a way to exacerbate it – since forests need to be cleared to grow crops, which will only lead to more carbon emissions.

For instance, the Indonesian Government gifted the biofuel industry with a US$195 million stimulus package from the government’s economic COVID-19 recovery plan.

The incentive was designed to bolster an industry facing difficult times, but instead of assisting struggling farmers, the funds were largely distributed among palm oil tycoons.

... Netherlands released in June 2020, found that a small increase in air pollution was linked to a measurable increase in COVID-19 death rates.

https://theindependent.sg/while-world-grappled-with-covid-19-indonesia-lost-over-200000-hectares-to-forest-fires/

We deforest to eat:

https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy-environment/news/the-eus-imported-deforestation-problem-a-closer-look/

Forestry policy was on the agenda for Europe’s agriculture ministers on Monday, which made for a heated debate since Europeans are, through their lifestyles, contributing to massive deforestation worldwide.

Their diversity and richness make these ecosystems highly sought-after environments. However, as the timber trade continues to boom and land is cleared for agricultural purposes, forest areas are constantly shrinking. According to FAO estimates, 10 million hectares of forest area are lost each year, an area the size of Portugal.

According to the FAO, production-oriented agriculture remains one of the main causes of this phenomenon. The UN organisation estimates that between 2000 and 2010, “large-scale commercial agriculture was responsible for almost 40% of deforestation in the tropical world”, notably through livestock breeding, soya cultivation and palm oil production.

In its 2018 report, French NGO Envol vert found that the production of soy, leather, palm oil, paper, coffee, rubber, cocoa and wood are – in that order – the main sources of deforestation and that a French person would “eat” an average of 352 m2 of forest each year to meet his or her needs.

Faced with this challenge, France’s High Climate Council recently recommended that the French government accelerate the strategy to combat imported deforestation, because “while greenhouse gas emissions on the national territory are falling, imported emissions are continually increasing”, according to its latest report.

“No EU rules prohibit the placing on the European market of products that have contributed to the destruction of forests”, explained the Vice-President of the S&D Group and member of the Environment Committee, Eric Andrieu, in a statement. Andrieu hopes that sanctions are introduced against “companies that put products derived from raw materials that endanger forests and ecosystems on the European market.”

The ball is now in the court of the Commission, which is due to present its new EU forestry strategy shortly.

Saving trees saves lives:

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/green-spaces-keep-hearts-healthy-and-save-lives/

Planting trees and creating urban parks brings more green spaces and cleaner air, cutting heart deaths and saving lives.

LONDON, 16 November, 2020 − A vast study of the incidence of heart disease, the amount of green spaces and air quality in each county of the United States has shown that the presence of trees, shrubs and grass saves lives.

For every 0.10 (12.5%) increase in what’s called the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index, heart disease decreased by 13 deaths per 100,000. For every one microgram increase in particulate matter per cubic metre of air, heart disease increased by roughly 39 deaths per 100,000.

“We found that areas with better air quality have higher greenness, and that having higher greenness measures, in turn, is related to having a lower rate of deaths from heart disease,” said William Aitken, a cardiology fellow with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Florida.

“Given the potential cardiovascular benefits of higher greenness measures, it’s important that dialogue about improved health and quality of life include environmental policies that support increasing greenness,” he said.

It is clear from this research that they could both remove particulates from the air and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by increasing the amount of vegetation in polluted areas.

We need more trees to save us:

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/11/without-planting-more-trees-in-the-tropics-we-cant-fix-the-climate-commentary/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=e45fdf6e5d-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-e45fdf6e5d-77229786&mc_cid=e45fdf6e5d&mc_eid=c0875d445f

But the basic physics and complex economics of climate change are clear that cutting emissions drastically and stopping deforestation, while necessary, are not by themselves sufficient. We need to also suck out massive amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, partly because emissions reductions cannot run fast enough, and partly because we’ve already emitted far too much carbon.

The only technology we have currently that can suck carbon out of the atmosphere at any kind of scale is growing trees. So tree planting and forest restoration are essential, and we need to scale up our current paltry efforts urgently.

By funding farmers to grow trees on their land, they add an additional revenue stream to some of the world’s poorest families, improve the biodiversity of these landscapes, and potentially increase the resilience of these farmers to extreme events such as storms and floods.

However, tree planting in different locations is not created equal. Fundamentally, trees grow much faster in the tropics, and land and labor are much cheaper there.


Forest Media 13 November 2020

Our Koala Kill Bill actions and pressure on MPs were successful in convincing Catherine Cusack to threaten to cross the floor, resulting in voting on the bill in the Upper House being delayed. We need to keep the pressure up to get the changes Koalas need. The relationship between Gladys and developers has been questioned, The Federal Government is saying they may do something soon, other than just spending millions on koala hospitals, while WWF found between 2010 and 2018 43,113 hectares of known koala habitat was cleared (excluding logging operations) with more than 1500 koalas killed or displaced.

Greater Gliders have been recognised as 3 distinct species, making all species more threatened. Parma Wallaby is another species with millions spent on compounds as we go on destroying and degrading their habitats. Pardalotes are another of the eucalypt foragers losing their habitat while being hounded by out of control Miners.

Fauna are getting short-shrift following fires. Australia's average temperatures have risen 1.44oC, as extremes are skyrocketing, so we can expect more of the same. Meanwhile the logger's champion Joel Fitzgibbon has resigned from the ALP shadow cabinet because they may do something about climate change now that Joe Biden has been elected. In Tasmania Labor and Liberals are backing burning forests for electricity, while in America biomass plants have been closing because its just too expensive - of course they are crying for more subsidies. As genuine renewables become cheaper the arguments for transitioning strengthen. Though the mining boom associated with renewables is a growing threat to forests. Seeing virtual forest changes can change minds.

Dailan Pugh

Saving Blinky by Killing the Bill:

https://twitter.com/7NewsSydney/status/1326064041576468480

The state government's internal war over koala policy is threatening to erupt again. 7NEWS has learned a senior Liberal has warned she will oppose the peace deal with the @NSWNationals and may even cross the floor in parliament to vote against it.

The Daily Examiner 7 November 2020

https://www.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/false-premise-mp-disappointed-in-koala-sepp-pushba/4134276/?cspt=1604880864|597d5d10e24b566b87eb321ace2850a3

The NSW Nationals have made their position on koala protection legislation clear, and now the community is sending their message.

People from around the region gathered at Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh's office on Friday as part of co-ordinated action against new laws which North East Forest Alliance and other conservation groups said could set koala protection back years.

Bellingen Mayor Dominic King said the changes - which included exemptions for agriculture and privte native forestry (PNF) from the Koala SEPP - were all about "weakening koala protection across the state".

Discussing the demonstration, Mt. Singh said it was "disappointing" to see people protesting based on a "false premise" there were sweeping changes that would lead to worse outcomes for Koalas.

"This is actually maintaining the status quo for koala habitat and other species protections under the Local Land Services Act".

Coffs Coast National Parks Association president Kevin Evans disagreed, and said the bill undermined existing protections.

The bill includes a doubling of the allowable duration of PNF plans to 30 years and will prevent local councils from requiring development consent for PNF through local environment plans.

NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh went further saying the Bill represented a "total capitulation" to loggers and developers".

"These proposed changes are clearly intended to make the Koala SEPP ineffective and remove most of the hard won gains made over the past 25 years", he said.

Port Macquarie News 6 November 2020

ENVIRONMENT groups and concerned residents rallied in Port Macquarie today in a bid to urge the NSW government to consider the facts before debating legislation next week they believe will "remove most of the hard won gains made over the past 25 years".

Protests were held in Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Kempsey, Port Macquarie, Sydney, Taree and Tweed Heads.

"This is a despicable act from a government hell-bent on halving our rapidly diminishing populations of koalas, not doubling them," NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.

At a silent vigil outside Mrs Williams' office in Port Macquarie, Susie Russell from NEFA was encouraged the MP opened her doors for a private meeting to listen to their concerns about the "anti-koala" legislation.

NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes was also in attendance.

"So agricultural, logging, all those things now happen without taking into account koalas. Considering the evidence presented to the koala inquiry, up to 85 per cent of this region's koalas died in the fires.

"To have a government not prepared to take steps to identify core koala habitat on private land and work out how it can be protected from damaging activities that are going to kill koalas is very disturbing.

"If you are going to hold a consultation, if you are going to hold an inquiry, if you are going to hold a review, the very least you can do is wait until those outcomes are in before you lock in, for example, logging legislation for another 30 years."

https://www.portstephensexaminer.com.au/story/7005841/community-data-vital-to-koala-research/

The plight to save koala habitats and populations has become a hot issue in Port Stephens and now residents can take part in a data collection campaign which will assist preservation efforts.

Following the approval of the Brandy Hill quarry extension, which will see 52 hectares of koala habitat cleared, a citizen science initiative has been launched by the University of Newcastle which aims to capture a complete picture of the Port's koala population to "inform a koala monitoring program".

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/calls-grow-stop-nsw-nationals-koala-culling-bill

About 100 people rallied at Djarrbarrgalli (Domain) on November 6 as part of a week of action for koalas across New South Wales organised by the Nature Conservation Council of NSW and NSW Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann.

Nicola Benyon from Humane Society International drew attention to the devastating fact that koalas could be extinct in NSW by 2050. He said the bill will only accelerate this extinction catastrophe. “It’s a selfish piece of legislation; it’s about self-interest and we hope that the NSW Liberal Party will wake up to the fact that the people of NSW want compassion and care and protection for koalas”. She also criticised the federal government for failing to take adequate action.

Nature Conservation Council spokesperson Chris Gambion criticised the NSW government for prioritising their “property developer mates” who want to clear vital koala habitats. He said the “koala bill” and changes to planning laws allows farmers to clear up to 25 metres of land beyond their fences in the name of bushfire safety.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/nov/11/gladys-berejiklian-says-she-cant-recall-if-she-was-at-dinner-where-labor-claims-donations-were-made

Gladys Berejiklian has said she cannot remember whether she attended an “intimate fundraising dinner” at Club Taree in May 2018, where Labor claims illegal property donations were made.

The issue of donations from property developers to the Nationals was raised after the Nationals pushed the Coalition to water down the protections for koalas six weeks ago.

The push was driven by threats of a revolt by mid-north coast MPs, including Bromhead, and almost led to the dissolution of the Coalition.

The state environmental planning policy has now been altered to make the requirements less onerous for farmers and developers who might have koala habitat on their land.

Environmental groups, the Greens and even the Liberals’ own planning minister, Rob Stokes, accused the Nationals of misrepresenting the impact of the policy on farmers and accused the Nationals of arguing for the changes on behalf of regional developers.

And the Feds may belatedly do something for Koalas:

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/koala-protection-policy-to-target-habitat-conservation-and-research-20201107-p56cef.html

The federal government will unveil a koala protection package later this month which will include investment in habitat conservation and research.

Any measures to boost habitat protection or scientific research, both of which ecologists say is sorely needed, could make Ms Ley the first environment minister in nearly a decade to move to fill a void in the national conservation regime.

However, a one-off extension of three years is permitted and former environment minister Greg Hunt enacted this clause for the koala plan in 2015. But now, eight years on from the 2012 announcement, the recovery plan is two years overdue.

An analysis of government development approval registers by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) found that between 2010 and 2018 43,113 hectares of known koala habitat was cleared, excluding logging operations.

Based on the average koala population density in the various habitat types present in the areas cleared, WWF estimated that more than 1500 koalas were killed or displaced.

This year the federal government has allocated $3 million to koala hospitals, $3 million to restore habitat in south-east Queensland and north-east NSW, $3 million to major zoos for post bushfire animal recovery, and $15 million for projects in koala habitats.

A pox on both your houses:

https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/berejiklian-government-backs-koala-extinction-plan-for-campbelltown,14505

A hard-hitting, objective Fourth Estate would be calling for charges of crimes against nature to be laid at the doorsteps of the Morrison and Berejiklian Governments.    

Our wildlife is being wiped out. The Morrison and Berejiklian Governments are actively destroying Australia’s wildlife heritage.

In NSW, the latest extinction plan is focused on Campbelltown koalas, a population whose habitat spreads across the Greater Macarthur Growth Area, destined to be a huge metropolis.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that government funding will be focused on zoos and wildlife hospitals with no acquisition of habitat, the only solution which will allow koalas to survive.

A report just released by WWF ecologist Dr Martin Taylor demonstrates that weak enforcement of environmental laws over the past decade has permitted the destruction of tens of millions of native animals, including thousands of hectares of threatened species habitat.

The future of Australia’s iconic and unique wildlife must be elevated to the status of a national emergency. No country can afford such delinquent, irresponsible governments.

Greater Gliders are 3 species:

https://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/28119/20201109/genetic-evidence-confirms-two-new-greater-glider-species.htm

The tiny sugar gliders have become an increasingly popular exotic house pet. Meanwhile, the two new species recently identified are greater gliders, the largest glider species endemic to Australia. Once common and abundant, the bushfires have greatly threatened their existence due to their specialized diet of eucalyptus leaves "and obligate dependence on mature trees with large hollows for shelter," wrote the authors.

Scientists described the two species in the journal Scientific Reports. Greater gliders have been generally identified as Petauroides volans. P. v. minor and P. v. volans has been listed as subspecies based on their body size, fur color, and geographic distribution.

Kara Youngentob from the Australian National University said that confirming the multiple greater glider species "reduces the previous widespread distribution of the original species." The lack of information on greater gliders raises more concerns in preserving the endangered species.

Rather, increased temperature due to climate change and tree clearing had affected the species. It is only in recent years that the bushfires have affected the habitat of greater gliders.

Youngentob added that this means that we barely know anything about the two newly identified species. "If we don't start working them out we could end up losing them."

https://phys.org/news/2020-11-discovery-triples-greater-glider-species.html

While Parma Wallabies are diminishing on the north coast, they still persist, though they are already being relegated to zoos.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/nsw/we-ve-got-to-bring-those-wallabies-back-how-a-species-was-saved-20201103-p56b1t.html

Mr Pigott, 84, has done more than any other person alive to ensure the survival of the parma wallaby, a miniature species that grows to little more than 50 centimetres, with a white band around its chubby neck, a stripe on its face and a rich brown coat of fur.

His private wildlife reserve in the Blue Mountains is home to 180 of the wallabies, along with various other native fauna.

To that end, he extended his property in Mount Wilson, built the enclosure and a caretaker's cottage and created a suitable ecosystem for their survival. The project has cost him about $1 million.

He is now concerned about what will become of the wallabies after his death. Their diet alone costs $20,000 per year and he also spends $8000 per year on rates, because his property falls below the 20-hectare threshold required for a conservation agreement.

Taronga Zoo's director of wildlife conservation, Nick Boyle, said scientists planned to do genetic testing on Mr Pigott's wallabies to improve the fitness and health of the parma wallaby generally, and that more large colonies needed to be established to ensure their survival.

In praise of Pardalotes

https://theconversation.com/friday-essay-in-praise-of-pardalotes-unique-birds-living-in-a-damaged-country-148921?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201785017320&utm_content=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201785017320+CID_fc72490d7251fd3814a611275c2eb3a5&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Friday%20essay%20in%20praise%20of%20pardalotes%20unique%20birds%20living%20in%20a%20damaged%20country

I’ve spent more of my life with pardalotes than with most other acquaintances. They are an obscure and odd group of four species of small (thumb-sized) birds.

They forage almost entirely in eucalypts, that linchpin and defining feature of many Australian environments. Their diet is unusual, comprising mostly the sweet exudate (manna) that seeps from eucalypt foliage, and “lerp”, the sugary coating of psyllid insects (a specialised group of bugs) that suck the phloem (the “sap” in leaves) from within that foliage.

Clearing has broken the continuity of the forests, rendering dispersal more hazardous. In little more than 200 years, about 40% of their forest home has been destroyed, directly causing a comparable proportional loss in their population size.

Pardalotes have other threats. Around 10% of their habitat was burned in the severe wildfires of 2019–20, with those fires most likely killing the birds directly, and leaving burned habitat unsuitable for their re-establishment for at least several years.

In many parts of their range, the manner in which we have degraded and fragmented their forest and woodland habitat has benefitted a small suite of aggressive honeyeaters – the native noisy miner and bell miner – and these miners can kill pardalotes and exclude them from otherwise suitable habitat.

We are corroding our nature and will pass on to our descendants a land that is less healthy, less diverse, less wonderful.

Dealing with fire impacts on fauna:

https://theconversation.com/3-billion-animals-were-in-the-bushfires-path-heres-what-the-royal-commission-said-and-shouldve-said-about-them-149429

The bushfire royal commission’s final report, released on October 30, recognised the gravity of the fires’ extraordinary toll on animals.

While these changes are welcome and necessary, they’re not sufficient. Minimising such catastrophic impacts on wildlife and livestock also means reducing their exposure to these hazards in the first place. And unless we develop more proactive strategies to protect threatened species from disasters, they’ll only become more imperilled.

While promising, the measures listed in the royal commission’s final report will only tweak a management system for wildlife already under stress. Current legal frameworks for protecting threatened species are reactive. By the time governments intervene, species have often already reached a turning point.

The commission also suggested natural hazards, such as fire, be counted as a “key threatening process” under national environment law. But it should be further amended to protect vulnerable species under threat from future stressors, such as disasters.

Cooking with gas:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/14/state-of-the-climate-five-big-issues-from-the-report-that-will-affect-every-australian

Since 1910, Australia has warmed by 1.44C and the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have been accelerating.

In the 58 years from 1960 to 2018, there were only 24 days where the average maximum temperature across the whole continent hit 39C or higher.

In 2019 alone, there were 33 days.

According to the State of the Climate report, three quarters of those long-term undisturbed gauges show a drop in riverflows which, the report says, is “an indicator of long-term impacts from climate change”.

Less water flowing through rivers, Linterman says, means they heat up more and sediment tends to build up instead of being washed through.

“Permanent streams can become ephemeral, oxygen levels drop, sediment levels rise, water temperature goes up and the fish get smothered and cooked,” Lintermans says.

CO2 molecules have different chemical signatures depending on their origins, and Loh says that analysis shows the rise in atmospheric CO2 is being “overwhelmingly driven by fossil fuel emissions with some contribution from land clearing”.

As the State of the Climate report notes, eight of the 10 warmest years on record for the country’s oceans have occurred since 2010.

This, the report says, “has caused permanent impacts on marine ecosystem health, marine habitats and species”. The Great Barrier reef and Ningaloo Reef have both suffered.

But the area heating up the fastest is around the southeast and in the Bass Strait off Tasmania, where kelp forests have been disappearing.

Jaci Brown said globally, sea levels had risen by 25cm since 1880.

The logging industry praises their Federal ALP champion:

https://ausfpa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Media-Release-AFPA-commends-Fitzgibbon-for-his-leadership-on-forestry-and-rural-policy.pdf

The Australian Forest Products Association has thanked Joel Fitzgibbon for his commitment to forestry and regional communities during his extensive time as Shadow Minister for Agriculture.

“Mr Fitzgibbon has been a tremendous supporter of our sustainably managed forest industries and under his leadership the Federal Labor Party has recognised the importance and potential of the sector,” Mr Hampton said.

“Especially the native forest sector and those working in it. Something which, unfortunately, other parts of the Labor Party have at times under-valued.

AFPA has worked closely with Mr Fitzgibbon since 2013 when he was first appointed to the Agriculture and Forestry portfolios, and in his role as co-convenor of the Parliamentary Friends of Forest Industries.

Zero emissions cheaper than thought

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/12/reaching-uk-net-zero-target-cheaper-than-we-thought-says-climate-adviser

Reaching net zero carbon emissions in the UK is likely to be much easier and cheaper than previously thought, and can be designed in such a way as to quickly improve the lives of millions of people, a senior adviser to the government has said.

Chris Stark, the chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, the UK’s independent statutory adviser, said costs had come down rapidly in recent years, and past estimates that moving to a low-carbon economy would cut trillions from GDP were wrong.

“Overall, the cost is surprisingly low – it’s cheaper than even we thought last year when we made our assessments. Net zero is relatively low-cost across the economy,” he said. “But that rests on action now. You can’t sit on your hands and imagine it’s just going to get cheaper by magic.”

Why are biomass plants being shut down?

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/could-biomass-reduce-risk-wildfires

The 1980s were the beginning of "biomass" — organic matter from forest floors — being used to generate electricity at utility-scale through power-purchase agreements (PPAs). These were often 20-30 year contracts between biomass plants and utility companies with agreed pricing. This revenue resulted in the construction of 66 power plants with aggregate operating capacity nearing 1,000 megawatts. Today, only 22 plants remain with 532 MW capacity across 17 counties. This is enough to convert 7.3 million tons of wood waste into electricity. 

Economics is a large reason for the mass shuttering of these plants. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates the levelized cost of electricity for new generation capacity with a targeted date of service of 2025 is $33/MWh for solar, $40/MWH for wind and $95/MWh for biomass, compared to $67/MWh for a natural gas combustion turbine. 

When the PPAs came back around for renegotiation, SoCal Edison and PG&E were unwilling to extend, as the economics were not strong enough to be competitive.

Golden State Natural Resources, a public benefit not-for-profit corporation, has reached a 20-year agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to have access to certain federal timberland for the purpose of removing low-value biomass and converting it to useful products including fuel for power generation. If this program is successful, up to 10 million tons per year of low-value biomass could be removed from the forest. 

Few incentives, coupled with lack of skilled labor, experience and knowledge, leaves the entire ecosystem of biomass at a disadvantage ... Insurance carriers find this sort of business challenging to write and prefer other renewable technologies, namely ones with subsidies. 

... Labor and Liberals support burning forests:

https://tasmps.greens.org.au/media-release/liberals-labor-leave-door-open

The Liberal and Labor parties have united to allow native forest biomass to be classified a future renewable energy source in lutruwita/Tasmania. 
 
Despite the warnings of leading scientists, and a concrete precedent elsewhere in Australia, Labor and the Liberals have voted against the Greens’ amendment to explicitly exclude native forest biomass to be classified as ‘renewable energy’.

Mining for renewables a growing threat to world's forests:

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/11/as-energy-needs-drive-demand-for-minerals-forests-face-greater-threats/

  • Rising demand for energy, especially from renewable sources, looks set to increase pressure on the world’s forests, as many of minerals used in solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage are mined in sensitive forest areas.
  • A World Bank concept called “forest-smart mining” claims to mitigate the negative impacts of mining on forests, but given the complex nature of the extractive industries, its real-life applicability has come into question.
  • While poor governance is often the biggest challenge to efficient forest management, experts emphasize that only a radical reflection of human energy consumption can bring real change.

Mining and deforestation go hand in hand, with impacts that include displacement of species and pollution of water sources. A 2012 study attributed only 7% of global forest loss to mining, and the vast majority, nearly 73%, to subsistence farming and industrial agriculture such as cultivation of oil palms and soybeans, and cattle ranching.

A recent research paper published by the U.K. policy think tank Chatham House ...

“Up to one-third of the world’s forests may already be affected by mining with regions such as the Amazon, the Congo Basin and Southeast Asia at particular risk,” writes Siân Bradley, who authored the report. “While mining is not always a primary direct driver of deforestation and forest degradation, its indirect and cumulative forest impacts can be significant.”

Nguiffo told Mongabay that the World Bank’s approach is reminiscent of the promises made when the logging industry was seen as the new way forward for Central African governments.

“We have been saying for a long time that logging can happen without harming the forest — and it proved to be not true. It also didn’t develop the economies,” he said. For mining, he said he expects the same outcomes.

These observations are confirmed by data visualized by the Global Forest Watch Forest Atlas, which monitors tree cover loss around the globe and shows a striking amount of mining concessions overlapping with intact forest landscapes throughout the Congo Basin. The region is home to the largest tract of rainforest on Earth after the Amazon, and the single largest peatland area in the world.

The trend has already started. A fifth of the Congo Basin’s tree cover constitutes intact forest landscape, as defined in the Intact Forest Landscapes map, developed by the University of Maryland, the World Resources Institute, Greenpeace and Transparent World. But a study by WWF found that 16% of these IFLs overlap with 998 mining claims, and 26% with 27 oil and gas concessions.

Jutta Kill, from the World Rainforest Movement, called the World Bank’s campaign an act of greenwashing. She cited the example of biodiversity offsets like the one that mining giant Rio Tinto applied in Madagascar to illustrate that “the idea that the extractive industries can be sustainable or forest-smart is an illusion.”

In light of what the World Bank calls “a mineral-intensive future,” the Cameroonian lawyer said there are important choices to be made: “We need to decide what we want to do with our forests: If we continue to pretend that all industrial activities can be done without harming the forest, it will prove not true and we are going to see a disaster.”

Seeing virtual forest changes minds:

https://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/28190/20201113/virtual-reality-wisconsin-forest-takes-strollers-2050.htm

Traditional methods of presenting global warming and its consequences include photos, graphs, maps, and satellite images. In a recent study published in the International Journal of Geographical Information Science, a group of geographers describes their virtual reality forest.

What the team offers is an immersive experience of a future forest by combining virtual reality with ecological and procedural modeling, they wrote in the study.

The virtual Wisconsin forest brings people to what it would look like today until 2050. Walking through the forest, viewers would see the types of trees, their understory, and how they've changed because of climate change.


Forest Media 6 November 2020

We did well with our Kill the Bill demonstrations today, with good stories on Prime and NBN, though the National Party's standard response is that we are ignorant and misguided. Bangalow Koalas also organised a successful event with 50 kids from the Byron Community Primary School. The hypocrisy of Gladys granting 0.06 ha to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital at the same time the Feds backed up her Government's decision to clear 50ha for a quarry at Port Stephens was noticed. Finding a collective noun for Koalas may not be an issue soon, when a zoo will do. Paddy Manning gives a detailed summary of forest issues in southern Australia, highlighting its economic absurdity. Millers want a domestic reservation policy for plantation timber, so they should be happy with China's ban.

The Bushfire Royal Commission's finding that climate heating exists, and is getting worse, caused a flurry of inaction. Our bushfires injected a smoke cloud 35km into the stratosphere that travelled 66,000 km over 3 months - at least it cooled the earth. You may hope that Deloite Access Economics' assessment that continued inaction on climate change will cost us more than $3 trillion over the next 50 years would be listened too.

Meanwhile record fires, droughts and introduced pests continue to devastate forests around the world. Despite reafforestation commitments we continue to clear them and reduce logging rules to obtain dwindling timber. True to form the Morrison Government has asked for 5 Australian Biosphere Reserves to be delisted. The benefits of forest bathing are being increasingly recognised in the unfolding apocalypse.

The likely defeat of the meglomaniacal Trump (assuming his coup fails) ) heralds a far better future for action on climate chaos and environmental care, leaving Morrison increasingly isolated.

Dailan

NEFA weren't the only ones trying to kill the bill today:

https://www.winghamchronicle.com.au/story/6998929/environment-groups-join-to-protest-koala-legislation-in-taree/

Local environment groups are joining forces to hold a protest in Taree on Friday, November 6.

Midcoast Knitting Nannas, Extinction Rebellion Midcoast, North East Forest Alliance and Save Bulga Forest say the theme of the protest is 'Koala protection is going backwards' and they are protesting the weakening of bushland and koala protections legislation.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/11/kids-for-koalas-in-byron/

This morning saw around 50 kids from the Byron Community Primary School up to the age of nine out in Byron making their voices heard in support of koalas.

‘We should look after koala habitat because they need a home just like us,’ said Mimi, aged 7. This was supported by Tommy, aged 8, who said ‘koalas need trees to live and the trees also clean the air for us!’

‘I think it’s important that we do not cut down eucalyptus trees because that’s the only habitat they can live in.’ Willow 7

‘We should stop destroying koala land because it’s alive like us.’ Bodhi 7

‘We urge people to email members of the Legislative Council in the Upper House and voice your concern now.’

https://www.goulburnpost.com.au/story/7002125/politicians-hypocrisy-is-a-bigger-issue-than-koalas/

In the face of widespread criticism, the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who had overseen these failed polices and increased land clearing and development where koalas live, announced that she wanted to be "known as the Premier who saved the koala".

Well it WAS pretty simple after all. Basically you identify areas where koalas are known to live and breed, and protect the trees they use. A new koala State Environment Planning policy was put in place.

While publicly acting as though she had stood up to the National Party leader, it wasn't long before the Premier agreed on a compromise. It's the Local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill 2020. It contradicts all previous public statements by the Premier, and will reduce current protections for koalas, and see MORE of their homes cleared in NSW.

The same old routine of say one thing publicly, then do another. Introduce one policy to media applause, then undermine with country polices and exemptions.

Repercussions of Koala killing spree spread:

https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/6992497/why-a-good-outcome-for-koalas-is-no-ley-down-misere/

Hanson, the quarry operator, has now satisfied all the regulatory licenses to go ahead and clear critical koala habitat. But do they have the social license to operate? A social license for Brandy Hill can only be achieved once the project has the ongoing approval and broad acceptance of the local, national and international community.

Minister Ley's decision to approve the project could signify to the international community that the Australian federal government does not really value koalas. This comes at a time when our most respected naturalist, Sir David Attenborough has said: "We should be in no doubt. Biodiversity loss, the destruction of nature, is as grave an issue as climate change. They both work together to destabilise the world we rely upon".

Many people say this project does not pass the pub test, and for me personally, I drink at this pub. If you had seen what I have in my research, you'd know we don't have that many koalas left. If you had walked through Port Stephens listening for the call of a male koala as I have, you would understand why this decision was gut-wrenching. If you ask Save Port Stephens Koalas, or other conservation scientists, clearing koala habitat will always fail the pub test

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/quarry-wins-federal-ministers-decision-at-brandy-hill-while-community-vows-to-fight-on-60859

The public outcry to the quarry expansion decision has inspired local action groups to continue campaigning and are currently working on strategies to stop the loss of this koala habitat.

Chantal Paslow, a key local spokesperson for the Save Port Stephens Koalas campaign, told News Of The Area, “The Minister has chosen rocks over koalas.

“This fight isn’t over yet, we have commenced a petition on change.org.

https://www.portstephensexaminer.com.au/story/6990042/brandy-hill-koala-campaigners-vow-to-fight-on/

https://www.marieclaire.com.au/koala-habitat-destroyed-port-stephens

“The minister’s statement says this area didn’t burn—that’s the whole point. This is koala habitat,” Parslow Redman said. “This just shows that nothing will stop this government from destroying koala habitat.

“It’s a heartbreaking decision," she added. 

https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/6991908/without-a-breeding-program-koala-extinction-will-be-sooner-rather-than-later-port-stephens-koalas/

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/sussan-leys-approval-of-quarry-development-set-to-destroy-koala-habitat,14483

IN WHAT MUST SURELY be the most egregious act of hypocrisy, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian gifted Port Macquarie Koala Hospital with 6,000 square metres of land to help the hospital expand.

The same day, as a result of her government fast-tracking approval of the Brandy Hill Quarry Expansion Project in Port Stephens, Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley approved the development.

The reality of koala survival in NSW is becoming grimmer every day. Every square foot of koala habitat needs to be protected if koalas are to survive in the state. 

Koalas are going extinct now. The species is dying by inches as one inappropriate development after another is given the go-ahead by state and federal governments.

Meantime, back in Berejiklian’s corner, Deputy Premier John Barilaro has described koalas as “tree rats” according to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald. As Minister for the Department of Resources, logging of koala habitat continues in spite of massive public protest.

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/6995634/protesting-the-states-koala-kill-bill/

So, Gladys comes to town to gift the Koala Hospital the land it currently occupies.

While she is being photographed, State Forest continue to decimate habitat that survived bushfires, quarry expansions into koala habitat proceed and her team rush the Koala Kill Bill through Parliament, for a vote in the Upper House next week.

So, one day, a multi-million dollar Koala Hospital might be the only place to see a koala.

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/6995641/koala-extinction-now-more-likely/

Changes made to the Koala Habitat Protection State Environmental Plan (SEPP) and a local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill were passed in the NSW Legislative Assembly, (the Lower house) this week and will be put before the Upper House in November. These changes were demanded by the State National Party and overturn laws and regulations designed to increase protections for declining Koala populations here on the Mid North Coast.

The laws and policies needed tightening not relaxing. The government is taking us backwards many decades, to extremely weak and ineffective regulation, well short of providing the protections needed for koalas.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/11/land-clearing-rule-threatens-koala-habitat/

According to analysis undertaken by WWF and the office of Independent NSW MLC Justin Field, a mapping analysis of the NSW Government’s plan to allow rural landholders to clear 25 metre fire breaks around properties, threatens tens of thousands of hectares of bushland on the NSW North Coast, including significant areas of koala habitat.

Mr Field said the analysis, conducted in four local Government areas across the state including the Clarence, Port Stephens, Shoalhaven and Wollondilly, showed more than 44,000 hectares were at risk, including almost 12,000 hectares of known koala habitat. ‘This analysis implies that hundreds of thousands of hectares of bushland will be at risk across the state as a result of this policy. 

‘The Government has indicated it will bring legislation to Parliament in November to implement the changes.  

‘It looks to me that this is just the latest in an anti-science ideological response from some in the Government who are taking advantage of the bushfire crisis to push their agenda to clear more land. 

What to call a horde of Koalas?:

https://www.smh.com.au/culture/books/a-koallective-noun-for-koalas-a-torpor-a-caramelli-a-barilaro-20201026-p568le.html

Koalas, on the other hand, well … that’s it. There is no word. Kangaroos have mobs, foxes have skulks, but koalas: the cupboard is bare.

Robina Dwyer highlighted this vacuum, writing to say, “There are collective nouns for almost all animals and I see no reason for koalas to miss out. With this in mind, may I suggest a cuddle would be appropriate.”

Yet early colonial journals spent more time quibbling over how to spell the Dharug word, the Anglo-manglings ranging from koolah to cullawine, just as the animal itself was dubbed a native bear, an Australian monkey (or sloth) and Billy Bluegum.

... Doze, for one, was another hit, honouring the leaf-muncher’s lethargy, in league with torpor, inertia, repose, session (‘'because they’re stoned during waking hours'’), kip and coma.

Koma too was tendered, the improvised K popular among responses, appearing in kollection, kuddle, koalaboration and koalition. ...

Barilaro was another eponym, a wink at NSW’s National Party leader, John Barilaro, who’d lobbied in September for more logging inroads, despite several areas being valued as prime koala habitat.

Paddy Manning gives a detailed summary of forest issues in southern Australia:

https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2020/november/1604149200/paddy-manning/coupe-de-gr-ce

The Imlay Road twists inland from the southern coast of New South Wales, between Eden and the Victorian border, through a string of state forests: Timbillica, Yambulla, Nungatta. As on many stretches of highway in 2020, the landscape is thoroughly depressing. For more than 50 kilometres, panic growth blurs blackened trunks and limbs as far as the eye can see – a reminder of the flame heights that terrified residents and firefighters through Australia’s horrific Black Summer bushfires. To the casual observer, the epicormic shoots are a sign the trees are alive. To the trained eye, the shoots show what stress the trees are under – a silent green shriek. Recovery will be slow, and is far from assured.

According to federal government figures, NSW lost 880,000 hectares, or 47 per cent of the native forest managed by the state’s Forestry Corporation, along with a quarter of its plantation estate. In the worst-hit area, the South Coast, more than 80 per cent of state forest marked for timber production was fire-affected, much of it heavily. ... In the state’s native forests nowadays, says Australian National University forest ecologist, professor David Lindenmayer, “the worst-kept secret in the industry is that there’s no timber left”.

The forestry agencies in both states appear to have badly misjudged the public mood, encountering staunch resistance from activists and residents determined to protect what was left – burnt and unburnt alike. In Victoria, protesters shut down logging across seven state forestry coupes, from Mount Cole in the west to Lakes Entrance in the east. “In a climate emergency, we feel it’s time to transition [into plantation logging] and protect what native forests we have left,” said local spokesperson Nic Fox.

In NSW, the state’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) imposed strict new requirements for post-fire logging, stipulating all giant or hollow-bearing trees must be protected, but reports of breaches quickly emerged. At the Mogo and South Brooman state forests, near Batemans Bay on the South Coast, local citizen scientists recorded well over 100 breaches of the new code of practice, taking legally admissible geotagged photos.

[Eden woodchip mill owner] As he surveyed the fire damage in January, McComb told The Australian there would be a short-term glut of burnt wood, and the longer-term future of forestry in the region required a rethink. “This is a watershed event in terms of forest management in Australia,” he said. “It looks like the entire resource has been wiped out.”

Five months later, McComb hosted Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Eden mill, where Morrison announced some $50 million in funding for the timber industry, including infrastructure grants of up to $5 million. October’s federal budget lifted post-bushfire forestry industry assistance to $65 million.

To get its message out, Pentarch has set up a charitable organisation, Forest and Wood Communities Australia (FWCA), ostensibly to represent timber workers. FWCA is active on Facebook sharing pro-forestry, pro-gun and pro-Trump memes, but with just over 500 followers, the group looks like an astroturf-marketing operation. McComb is a director but will not speak on its behalf.

Forestry has taken a hit from COVID and bushfire, but the industry was already staring at decline. According to a September report by business consultancy IBISWorld, revenue and profits from forestry and logging have fallen by 1 per cent and 7 per cent per annum respectively over the past five years. The sector has a $4.7 billion turnover and employs some 10,100 people directly, but has shed 4000 jobs over the past decade, and the number of enterprises has more than halved. Corporatised state government forestry agencies are the dominant players, alongside a few big private plantation managers, such as Boston-based Hancock. There has been a long-run shift to plantations: native-forest logging now accounts for roughly 15 per cent of industry revenue.

A subsequent state parliamentary inquiry warned this year that koalas were on track to become extinct in NSW by 2050, but a planning policy designed to stop habitat clearing nearly blew up the state Coalition government in September. A compromise was reached, which did away with contentious maps of koala habitat and allowed private land clearing. Animals for Australia is now building a case, although NSW’s Forestry Corporation can’t be sued by third parties as VicForests was.

Field says the native forestry industry was barely making money before the fires, is facing a wood-supply crisis and is almost certainly unprofitable, despite ongoing public subsidies. “It’s a loss-making business,” he says. “It’s costing us, and there’s not that many jobs in it either. If we re-imagine the future of these forests, as ecological reserves, as recreational reserves, even some commercial development to take the pressure off commercial development in national parks, that’s many more jobs, particularly for regional communities”. Field points out that low-cost carbon abatement could be achieved by allowing our state forests to mature. “If you want to hit net zero emissions by 2050 in NSW, and take the pressure off other industry sectors, stopping native-forest logging is one of the best ways to do it.”

From the environment movement has come a new determination to end native-forest logging altogether. But the forestry industry has bipartisan support, and the Greens were on their own in August when they introduced a Senate motion calling on the federal government to immediately protect all high-conservation value forests in the wake of the VicForests case. 

The federal assistant minister for forestry is Jonathon Duniam, an ex-staffer of arch conservative Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz. Duniam recently claimed in the Senate that the environmental movement would not stop “until the last chainsaw falls silent”. Today it was native-forest harvesting, he warned, but tomorrow it would be plantations. Not one Greens politician or conservationist I have spoken with has called for an end to plantation forestry.

In some forest types it can take 60 to 100 years before a tree gets to sawlog age. With bushfire risk increasing, there is now an 80 per cent chance that trees will be burned before they reach maturity, says David Lindenmayer. He compares native forest logging with overfishing, as an industry spiralling down the value chain – in forestry’s case, from taking high-value species to ever-lower-grade timber suitable only for use as woodchip or (the worst fear of conservationists) burning as biomass. There could be far more jobs in saving forests – letting them mature and managing them to reduce fire risk, produce clean air and water, store carbon, protect endangered species and be enjoyed by tourists – than there are in cutting them down. “All we’re talking about here is the ideology of continuing to log native forests,” he says. There may be a need for a small proportion of native forest to be harvested for high-value uses such as furnishing and construction, but the days of sending the vast bulk of native timber off to be woodchipped are surely coming to an end. The Black Summer fires have changed the debate about native-forest logging, and there are worse fires to come as the planet heats up. From here on in – whether burnt or unburnt, old growth or regrowth – every patch of native forest matters.

Plantation and job losses raised at inquiry:

https://tatimes.com.au/timber-industry-future-probed-at-inquiry/

A public hearing of the House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources inquiry into timber supply chain constraints in the Australian plantation sector took place on October 23.

Chair of the Committee, Rick Wilson MP, said that the evidence they’ve heard so far is that accessing product is getting harder and harder.

“Obviously here particularly, in Tumut, we’ve got an issue with the fires, which has created a very dire short-term prospect,” he acknowledged. 

... I guess the existing mills are getting fewer and fewer as the capital requirement gets bigger.”

[CEO of AKD Softwoods Shane Vicary] ... “There will be 70 to 80 jobs lost sometime between now and probably June or July next year, when the harvest level reduces. That’s an outcome from the bushfires,” he said. 

... Sawmills have had to get larger to scale up to reduce their processing costs and be able to compete with export pricing.”

“That’s what I would like to see—some form of mechanism that enables free market to work but ensures that we look after Australia’s domestic supply chain first and foremost, but that it doesn’t impinge on the rights of the commercial owner of the plantation.”

https://borderwatch.com.au/news/2020/11/06/call-for-royal-commission/

A ROYAL Commission into the sale of the South East forests is key to understanding the current log export issues, a parliamentary committee into the timber industry has heard.

The Legislative Council committee toured the region on a two-day trip this week as part of an inquiry on issues relating to the timber industry in the Limestone Coast.

At a hearing, veteran forestry consultant Jerry Leech said the committee was likely to conclude the problems underpinning the inquiry are with the clauses in the sale contract, which has never been made public.

 “With the lease it is very obvious in my mind there are very obvious forestry management type flaws in the lease.

Doctors call for forest protection:

https://tasmps.greens.org.au/media-release/greens-welcome-doctors-call-end

The Greens welcome the call by 250 doctors and medical students to end native forest logging in lutruwita/Tasmania. It is a critical step in tackling the climate emergency, and protecting the health of Tasmanians. 

Climate change is a health emergency – as has been made clear by the Australian Medical Association and eight national medical college bodies. The doctors who signed the letter to the Premier understand all too well how intrinsically linked the health of the planet and its people are.

Bushfires fan the flames of climate action:

https://time.com/5904762/australia-bushfires-climate-change-report/

The bushfires that scorched vast tracts of Australia in late 2019 and early 2020 were just a glimpse of what’s to come as global temperatures rise, a landmark report made public on Friday warned.

“Australia will have more hot days and fewer cool days. Sea levels are also projected to continue to rise,” the inquiry, led by a former chief of the Australian Defense Force, a former federal court judge and a climate policy expert, found. “Tropical cyclones are projected to decrease in number, but increase in intensity. Floods and bushfires are expected to become more frequent and more intense.”

But Morrison has argued that there is no direct link between Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and the severity of the fires. “To suggest that with just 1.3% of global emissions, that Australia doing something differently, more or less, would have changed the fire outcome this season,” he told an Australian radio station,

That ignores the fact that Australia is one of the highest per capita emitters of carbon dioxide in the world, according to Climate Analytics, an advocacy group that tracks climate data. It is also one of the world’s leading exporters of coal. Accounting for fossil fuel exports increases the country’s footprint to about 5% of global emissions, equivalent to the world’s fifth largest emitter, according to Climate Analytics.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-31/bushfire-royal-commission-final-report-a-stark-warning/12835096

The bushfire royal commission's final report is a stark warning of a future marked by extreme weather impacts of climate change.

"Extreme weather has already become more frequent and intense because of climate change; further global warming over the next 20 to 30 years is inevitable," they say.

"Catastrophic fire conditions may render traditional bushfire prediction models and firefighting techniques less effective," they say.

The report notes there's essentially nothing we can do about "locked in" warming set to occur over the next two decades.

But what happens after that is up to us. Warming "beyond the next 20 to 30 years is largely dependent on the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions", it says.

"The Bushfire Royal Commission has laid out the facts in no uncertain terms: climate change drove the Black Summer bushfires, and climate change is pushing us into a future of unprecedented bushfire severity," said Greg Mullins, former commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW and founder of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action.

https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/bushfire-royal-commission-warns-of-catastrophic-consequences-of-climate-change/

Australia has warmed by approximately 1.4°C since 1910.

The commission says that the 2019–20 fires started in Australia’s hottest and driest year on record. Much of the country that burned had already been impacted by drought and the forest fire danger index was the highest since national records began.

‘We heard from CSIRO that even under the low emissions scenario, which goes to net negative emissions, the climate does not return to a preindustrial or recent baseline type climate immediately’, the commission says. ‘It takes a very long time for that to occur, and would require CO2 to be removed from the atmosphere.’

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/nov/01/born-in-the-ice-age-humankind-now-faces-the-age-of-fire-and-australia-is-on-the-frontline

As if neglect and omission in the face of the fire threat were not enough, Coalition politicians and their apologists then hastily encouraged lies about the causes of the fires, declaring that they were started by arsonists and that greenies had prevented hazard-reduction burns. Yet these fires were overwhelmingly started by dry lightning in remote terrain, and hazard-reduction burning is constrained by a warming climate. The effort to stymie sensible policy reform after the fires was as pernicious as the failure to plan in advance of them.

For the beleaguered Coalition government, Covid seemed to provide the escape it wanted from climate politics.

The fires and the plague are both symptoms of something momentous that is unfolding on Earth: a concentration and acceleration of the impact of humans on nature. As the environmental scientists Inger Andersen and Johan Rockström argued in June: “Covid-19 is more than an illness. It is a symptom of the ailing health of our planet.”

Doing something about it means more than finding a vaccine; it means urgently addressing the causes of the climate emergency and the biodiversity crisis. It means understanding how dire the current rupture is in the long-term relationship between humans and nature.

https://architectureau.com/articles/bushfire-royal-commission-institue-response/

The Australian Institute of Architects has called on governments to act urgently following the public release of the bushfire royal commission report.

The Institute’s submission to the royal commission highlighted research that suggests up to a million existing houses in bushfire prone areas across Australia have little or no bushfire protection, with 2.2 million people living in high or extreme bushfire risk areas.

“This means we need to consider other approaches like the use of private and public shelters, such as they have done for decades in the United States as protection from hazards like wildfires and tornadoes,” Bell said.

The Institute also reiterated a call on the government to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2030 ...

Cambage said, “Resilience must include a commitment to net zero emissions in our buildings and responsiveness to our new climate reality because it is critically important to ensure that all rebuilding projects following natural disasters look to enhance the standard of our built environment.

... how fires mitigate climate change:

https://yubanet.com/scitech/smoke-cloud-pushed-into-the-stratosphere-by-last-winters-australian-wildfires-was-3-times-larger-than-anything-previously-recorded/

... a global team that has found that the smoke cloud pushed into the stratosphere by last winter’s Australian wildfires was three times larger than anything previously recorded.

The cloud, which measured 1,000 kilometres across, remained intact for three months, travelled 66,000 kilometres, and soared to a height of 35 kilometres above Earth. The findings were published in Communications Earth & Environment,

“We’re seeing records broken in terms of the impact on the atmosphere from these fires,” said Bourassa. “Knowing that they’re likely to strike more frequently and with more intensity due to climate change, we could end up with a pretty dramatically changed atmosphere.”

However, when aerosols—such as smoke from wildfires or sulphuric acid from a volcanic eruption—are forced up into the stratosphere, they can remain aloft for many months, blocking sunlight from passing through, which in turns changes the balance of the climate system.

https://wildfiretoday.com/2020/11/01/smoke-cloud-from-australias-wildfires-was-three-times-larger-than-anything-previously-recorded/

... money talks, and a $3.7 billion cost shouts:

https://www.financialstandard.com.au/news/climate-change-greater-threat-than-covid-report-176228777

Climate change is set to have a greater impact on the economy than the COVID-19 lockdowns, according to a new report from Deloitte Access Economics.

The report, A new choice: Australia's climate for growth, found if climate change goes unchecked, Australia's economy will be 6% smaller and have 880,000 fewer jobs by 2070.

However, in contrast, delivering net zero by 2050 and consistent with keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, could add $680 billion and grow the economy by 2.6% in 2070.

"All of these numbers are sobering. By 2050 Australia will experience economic losses on par with COVID every single year if we don't address climate change. That would compromise the economic future of all future generations of Australians," Philip said.

"Whatever Australia does or doesn't do, the global warming which has already taken place will hurt our lives and livelihoods. This cost is locked in - it is the cost of delay," Philip said.

https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6206257994001

https://reneweconomy.com.au/australia-faces-3-4-trillion-economic-bill-for-failure-to-act-on-climate-change-41179/

https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/wrap-021020-204741533.html

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-02/australian-economy-lose-$3-trillion-climate-change-inaction/12837244

The Australian economy will lose more than if climate change is not addressed, according to a new report from Deloitte Access Economics.

https://thenewdaily.com.au/finance/finance-news/2020/11/02/climate-change-economy-deloitte/

... as the world continues to burn:

https://www.brusselstimes.com/news/eu-affairs/138624/over-400000-ha-of-forests-lost-to-fire-in-2019/

Over 400,000 ha. of forests were destroyed by fire in 2019, the worst year the world has known in recent times in terms of such disasters, the European Commission’s joint research centre noted in a report released on Friday.

The report, which provides an inventory of the devastation wrought by forest fires in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, notes that a record number of protected natural areas were affected throughout the European Union in 2019.

“Part of the answer to ensure that this does not happen at such a devastating scale lies in protecting and managing the forests in a way to reduce their vulnerability to fires, allowing nature to also protect itself,” Sinkevicius stressed.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_1995

Droughts are altering forests:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/uncategorized/how-droughts-affect-forests/

High on the list of the threats forests face due to climate change is tree mortality following droughts, which are becoming longer and more severe.

This could trigger extensive ecosystem changes according to an international team of nearly 40 scientists, writing in the journal PNAS.

Overall, they found limited regrowth of key forest and woodland species. Just 21% of pre-drought trees grew back and 10% of forests and woodlands shifted to non-woody growth such as grasslands.

In more than two thirds of sites, dead trees were replaced mostly by shrubs, “pointing to important post-drought alterations of ecosystem structure and function”.

In 10% of sites there was no replacement by woody vegetation, which the authors say suggests “at least a transient loss of forest and woodland cover promoted by drought-related mortality”.

Tree species that resprout, such as cottonwoods (Populus spp), eucalypts (Eucalyptus spp) and oaks (Quercus spp), more successfully replaced themselves than trees that rely on seeds to propagate, such as pine trees (Pinus spp) and fir trees (Abies spp).

Ecosystems dominated by trees that favour moist conditions, for instance, showed shifts towards more drought tolerant plants. ... Corymbia calophylla superseding Eucalyptus marginate in Australia.

“The ultimate temporal persistence of such changes remains unknown,” they write, “but, given the key role of biological legacies in long-term ecological succession, this emerging picture of post-drought ecological trajectories highlights the potential for major ecosystem reorganisation in the coming decades.”

https://phys.org/news/2020-11-summer-one-tenth-central-european-forests.html

The result: Trees suffered most in warm, dry regions, where it was even hotter and drier than the long-term average, especially if they tended to be small to medium-sized and stood on steep terrain and shallow soils. In future, such locations and tree characteristics can thus be classified as risk factors for drought damage

In the summer of 2018, central Europe experienced its most extreme period of drought and heat wave since measurements began. It has had a greater impact on forests than any other dry spell in the last 60 years. "If such events occur more frequently, beech and spruce will probably have difficulty surviving in the longer term in the regions affected in 2018," says study leader Niklaus Zimmermann

We are super spreaders:

https://inews.co.uk/news/environment/ash-dieback-grim-toll-english-forests-national-trust-750671

Ash dieback is devastating forests across England, with the National Trust this week warning it will have to fell thousands of dead trees this winter for public safety.  

Ash trees make up about 20 per cent of woodland in Britain, but up to 90 per cent of these trees could be lost in the next 30 years to the disease. The fungal disease, which arrived in Europe from Asia about 30 years ago, causes the leaves of a tree to drop off and the crown to die back, eventually causing the death of the tree.  

The good news, he said, is that older Ash trees appear to be more resilient to the disease, with felling largely confined to younger trees planted in the 1990s.  

https://www.miragenews.com/emerald-ash-borer-puts-trees-on-path-to-functional-extinction/

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. —Since the emerald ash borer’s introduction to the United States at the beginning of the 21st century, forest ecologists and government officials have striven to stem its destruction of ash forests. Despite those efforts, the invasive pest may be winning the war. 

Mining 16 years of U.S. Forestry Service Forest Inventory Analysis data for 960 counties, Purdue University professor Songlin Fei has shown that in impacted areas, young trees are dying before they can reach their reproductive stages. Unable to compete with larger trees or resist the emerald ash borer, American ash trees may be doomed to functional extinction.

The Penan still battling to save their dwindling forests:

https://www.ucanews.com/news/malaysias-indigenous-people-seek-to-protect-forests/90124#

Intensive forest clearing has caused an ecological disaster in the Malaysian state of Sarawak where both numerous critically endangered species and indigenous ways of life are at risk of disappearing for good unless all large-scale deforestation ceases in already badly fragmented and much-thinned forests.

“[Further] logging will destroy our forests,” Komeok Joe, a leader of an indigenous semi-nomadic ethnic group known as the Penan, has warned in an interview with Al Jazeera.

“It will destroy our rivers and medicines and prevent us from satisfying all of our needs in the forests on which we depend for our lives. We Penan communities reject any logging activities in our Baram territory,” he added.

https://www.sustainability-times.com/environmental-protection/indigenous-people-on-borneo-seek-to-save-their-forests-from-loggers/

“A century ago, most of Borneo was covered in forest. But the region has lost over half of its forests, and a third of these have disappeared in just the last three decades,” the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) explains.

“Only half of Borneo’s forest cover remains today, down from 75 per cent in the mid-1980s. With a current deforestation rate of 1.3 million hectares per year, only peat and montane forests would survive in the coming years,” the WWF warns.

We know what to do to save ourselves, and some have committed to do it (not Trump or Morrison) , but its not happening fast enough:

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/rewilded-farmland-can-save-money-%e2%88%92-and-the-earth/

Global salvation requires the world’s nations to do simply what they have already undertaken to do: restore 15% of cultivated land to natural forest, grassland, shrubland, wetland and desert ecosystem.

If such restoration happened in the highest priority zones, then almost two-thirds of the wild things now threatened with imminent extinction could survive.

And the restored wilderness that would protect them would also start absorbing atmospheric carbon at an accelerating rate: it could sequester an estimated 229 billion tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2). This is almost a third of all the CO2 spilled into the atmosphere by coal, oil and gas combustion in the last 200 years.

All that would be possible if the world’s nations delivered on vows made 10 years ago in Japan, to restore 15% of ecosystems worldwide. If the 196 nations that signed up went further, and restored a carefully chosen 30%, they could save more than 70% of the million or so species sliding towards extinction, and absorb 465 billion tonnes of CO2: almost half of all the extra atmospheric carbon loaded into the atmosphere by human societies since the Industrial Revolution.

Researchers have repeatedly argued that simply planting more trees could have a dramatic impact on global heating; that a switch towards a plant-based diet could help stem biodiversity loss and reduce emissions; and that without concerted global action, precious ecosystems could collapse altogether.

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/11/rewilding-key-to-averting-mass-extinctions-and-reducing-carbon-emissions/

An international team led by Brazilian researchers recently published a study in the journal Nature showing that restoring habitats that are currently degraded by agricultural activity is key to mitigating climate change impacts and avoiding animal species extinction.

This research sounds the alarm for policymakers and citizens at a time when the world is entering the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration starting next year as defined by the United Nations, ...

Durigan told Mongabay that “it is important to heal Earth’s wounds where they are deepest, where natural areas are degraded the most and where there is more pollution and water scarcity — and these areas do not always match with what the study found.” The areas Durigan highlights are mostly in the global north. Restoring areas at fountainheads and riverbeds are of special importance for the maintenance of water in volume and quality, but this isn’t mentioned in the study, she adds.

Recovering forest areas is crucial to mitigating the effects of climate change, but many forest areas in priority regions such as Brazil are seeing their areas shrink instead of expanding.

... meanwhile in America:

https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2020/11/05/Widest-trees-dominate-carbon-storage-in-Pacific-Northwest-forests/3481604590475/

Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Proposed amendments to a 1994 law preventing the logging of trees with diameters greater than 21 inches could undermine the protection of the region's largest trees.

New research, published Thursday in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, suggest the widest trees dominate carbon storage in the forests of Oregon and Washington State.

When scientists surveyed the population of wide-diameter trees in study plots on national forest lands in the Pacific Northwest, they found trees with diameters in excess of 21 inches accounted for just 3 percent of the tree population, but stored 42 percent of the total above-ground carbon.

The findings are only the latest to highlight the ecological services provided by bigger, older trees.

Forests with bigger, older trees are also more resilient to wildfire.

"Large trees are the cornerstones of diversity and resilience for the entire forest community," Mildrexler said. "They support rich communities of plants, birds, mammals, insects, and micro-organisms, as well as act as giant water towers that tap into groundwater resources and cool our planet through evaporation."

https://www.earth.com/news/study-highlights-the-value-of-old-large-trees/

In the Pacific Northwest, a 21-inch diameter rule was enacted in 1994 to protect large trees in national forests. However, legislative amendments have been proposed that could potentially allow the harvesting of trees up to 30 inches in diameter. The current study was focused specifically on trees with a diameter of at least 21 inches across national forests in Oregon and Washington.

The research is among the first of its kind to investigate how a proposed policy could affect carbon storage in forest ecosystems. If passed, the legislation would contribute to huge releases of carbon dioxide and would disrupt entire ecosystems.

The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change.

https://phys.org/news/2020-11-biggest-trees-capture-carbon-large.html

https://scitechdaily.com/large-trees-dominate-carbon-storage-in-forests-3-of-trees-account-for-42-of-carbon-storage/

Trust Australia to be world leaders at something:

https://www.miragenews.com/twenty-five-sites-join-unesco-s-world-network-of-biosphere-reserves/

UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme today added 25 new sites, one of them transboundary, in 18 countries to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, which now numbers 714 biosphere reserves in 129 countries around the globe.

Four Member States requested the MAB – ICC to withdraw 11 sites from the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Australia requested the withdrawal of five sites: Uluru Ayers Rock-Mount Olga, Croajingalong, Riverland (formerly Bookmark), Kosciuszko, and Unnamed (Mamungari). ...

UNESCO biosphere reserves seek to reconcile human activity with the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. They are a central element of UNESCO’s research and awareness-raising work to foster innovative sustainable development practices and combat the loss of biodiversity supporting communities and Member States’ understanding, valuing and safeguard the living environment.

Take a deep breath while you can:

https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/stories/forest-bathing-a-cure-for-what-ails

Since 2016, the Kite family and others eager for a dose of Mother Nature have gathered in the shady forests around the Tri-Lakes area for guided forest bathing sessions: immersive sensory journeys into nature and mindfulness.

In their new book, “Forest Bathing: The Rejuvenating Practice of Shinrin Yoku,” co-authors Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles describe how phytoncides—airborne chemicals emitted from plants—affected human health. During forest bathing sessions, scientists observed that breathing in these substances from the trees greatly reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol while also improving other vital physiological functions, like heart rate variability and blood pressure. Even natural killer cells, which help fend off viruses and cancer, increased after study participants spent time in the forests.

“In Japan, shinrin yoku has been classified as a preventative therapy, to help protect against illnesses, as well as reinforcement from operations or disease,” write Garcia and Miralles. “Scientists now have irrevocable proof that trees are medicine, something different traditions had instinctively known for millennia.” Reduced stress and psychological well-being continue to be the biggest benefits a walk through the woods can offer. In a 2019 review published in Global Advances in Health and Medicine, researchers found that forest therapy increased feelings of relaxation while minimizing feelings of tension and anxiety. Another recent study published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine by Japanese researchers suggested day-long sessions of shinrin yoku could be used to improve the moods of people who struggled with depression.

Meredith Berry, an experimental psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Florida, says nature exposure generally reduces anxiety while increasing happiness and attention. “Taken together, spending time in nature, like green spaces, has a host of benefits for our cognitive, physiological and biological systems,” she says. “The additional focus on mindfulness may enhance the therapeutic benefits of this practice and nature (or) forest exposure, although more research is needed in this area.”


Forest Media 30 October 2020

Koalas have creamed the media again, or at least their dire straights have. The Government refuses to look before they log, in contravention of ESFM. Barilaro calls Koalas tree rats. Government considers themselves great for allowing a Liberal Party donor to clear a third of their critical habitat at Appin.  Having voted to remove most protection for Koalas on private lands in the Lower House, including allowing clearing for "routine" agricultural practices (including fire breaks) in E zones without approval, their next step is to allow clearing of 25m fire breaks along property boundaries.  Friendlyjordies is trending with Gladys#Koala Killer.  Gulaptis happy to get rid of Koala red tape and wants national parks to be opened up for clearing and grazing. Koalas find the National Party's destruction of their habitat increasingly sickening as their populations succumb.  The State and Federal Government's attitude is highlighted by their approval for 52 hectares of Koala habitat to be cleared at Port Stephens, with Gladys the next day announcing 600m2 would be given to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital while Mat Kean professed to be disappointed.   Thousands & thousands of emails against @JohnBarilaroMP's dodgy anti-koala laws have crashed NSW Parliament's email system. Koalas have been identified as an extreme threat to Tasmania's timber industry if they ever seek refuge from NSW there. Though Barilaro would be pleased that feral horses are thriving. The Githabul are unhappy that forestry roading is damaging their sites.

We are a nation of climate change believers led by unbelievers. The forests are full of potentially virulent viruses waiting for us to let them loose. Fungi are vital for forest health and some are highly valued. Forests are valuable for catchment health, sometimes harvesting water directly from clouds. Yet more examples of drying country, burning forests and starving animals as climate chaos spreads. The world knows what is needed: protecting forests, expanding reserve systems and undertaking massive reafforestation - but we have laggards like Trump, Morrison and Barilaro dragging us backwards.

Dailan

Berejiklian's great Koala war continues:

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/10/nefas-plea-look-before-you-log/

The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is demanding that the NSW Government reconsider their refusal to undertake pre-logging surveys for koalas and other threatened species in burnt forests before logging, in light of more damning expert assessments and advice from the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) that this contravenes their legal obligations.

NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said with its gutting of protection for core koala habitat on private lands and refusal to survey for surviving Koalas ahead of logging in burnt forests on public land, the NSW Government is hell-bent on doubling the extinction rate of Koalas, not doubling their populations.

Mr Pugh said that on behalf of NEFA, the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) have written to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) attaching reports from three experts detailing the EPA’s failure to take a precautionary approach when issuing approvals to log burnt forests in contravention of the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Forestry Management.

‘The experts confirmed the opinion of Dr. Andrew Smith, who was engaged by the EPA, that current logging contravenes the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management, and that logging of fire refugia could be catastrophic for species such as the koala, Greater Glider and Yellow-bellied Glider.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/destruction-of-appin-koala-habitat-a-disgrace-20201026-p568kt.html

Destruction of Appin koala habitat a disgrace

They are a small population of Australian natives, living not far to the south of birrabirragal, Sydney Harbour, clining to existence and living off the land precisely as they have since the days of the Dreamtime. Never, however, have they faced so many threats to their mere survival as right now. Just last summer, whole populations just like theirs were wiped out by the bushfires. Others have fallen victim to developers, disease, and feral cars. Still they hold on, blithely unaware of the forces at play as to whether they live or die.

Courtesy of pressure applied by NSW National Party leader John Barilaro - who I am reliably informed has been overheard to refer to koalas as "tree rats" - the NSW government has recently introduced legislation that weakens koala protection ...

Now, specifically on those 500 Appin koalas? Well, NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes and the NSW government have recently agreed to rezone those 60 hectares so that a $70 million 280-lot housing development of the Walker Corporation - which has donated an estimated $633,000 to the Liberal Party state and federal over the last 11 years - can be established. and take away a third of their critical habitat. This, effectively, overrules Wollondill Shire Council which  has knocked back the plan several times, as - for starters - the Walker proposal has no Koala Management Plan.

As we speak, the natives in the gum trees still cling on. We have about six months to save them before the bulldozers start up. So, in all urgency, let me cut to the chase. This is a DISGRACE. This government cannot pretend to have any care for the environment when they ram through approvals like this. They have weakened vegetation protections, endangered native species, and all at a frightening pace.

They are our representatives. This is on our watch. Do something, indeed.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/26/bush-and-koalas-found-to-be-threatened-by-gratuitous-nsw-land-clearing-plan

Tens of thousands of hectares of bush could be at risk under a New South Wales government proposal to allow rural landholders to clear up to 25 metres of land from their property’s fence line, analysis by WWF-Australia shows.

WWF-Australia used spatial data to examine how much forest could be exposed under the proposed changes in four local government areas: Clarence Valley, Port Stephens, Shoalhaven and Wollondilly.

It found if all rural property holders cleared to the maximum extent, 44,293ha of forest could be at risk in those four council areas, 32,609ha of that in Clarence Valley. The analysis found 12,000ha of at-risk forest in those regions was high quality koala habitat unless the state government imposed conditions to protect it.

The government is likely to introduce the legislation to parliament in November. It has said it would develop a code to take account of endangered species and habitat but it is unclear what this would entail and whether it would be introduced at the same time.

Field said the government needed to ensure protections were in place for riparian zones, such as creek lines, critically endangered habitats, and threatened species, including the koala. He feared the laws could end up being used for purposes unrelated to bushfire risk.

“I’m particularly concerned by coastal rural land that’s held by developers who may have an intention for future rezoning,” he said.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/10/byron-councillors-object-to-govts-koala-killing-bill/

In an urgency motion passed unanimously at last Thursday’s Byron Shire Council meeting, all councillors noted their ‘strong objection’ to the Local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill 2020, which allows for large-scale clearing of bushland by farmers and industry.

But locally based Nationals MLC Ben Franklin said he would be voting for the Bill.

Mr Franklin told The Echo the Local Land Services Act (the LLS Act) and associated codes already contained ‘robust protections for koalas…’

‘The LLS Act and the land management framework totally prevents harm to threatened species habitat. It acts as a complete stop point.

Cr Lyon added that the bill had particular consequences for the Byron Shire, because it undermined the protections offered by E-zones – an environmental zoning that forms a key part of the Shire’s ecological protection policy framework.

‘It allows certain acts within E-zones… and freezes koala habitat plans of management in time.

‘Our identified core koala habitat is under threat.’

Gladys#Koala Killer

https://thebrag.com/friendlyjordies-political-youtube-documentary/

Friendlyjordies is a true independent political watchdog and he’s making genuine waves in Australian government, to the dismay of the right. 

Otherwise known as Jordan Shanks ...

And it’s working. Friendlyjordies recently told his followers to get #KoalaKiller trending on social media, a description he popularised to describe NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. It was part of his campaign against the NSW State Coalition Government, in favour of protecting the State’s wildlife (he’s extremely passionate about the environment). He then credited his fans with forcing the Berejiklian Government to introduce the controversial Koala Habitat Protection (SEPP) legislation.

Dalton explains that Friendlyjordies thinks the [National] party is operating like an independent mafia. They block new investment. They funnel funds to their corporate mates. They gag the councils and make them beg for funding. They essentially give it no chance of progressing.

https://happymag.tv/did-friendlyjordies-almost-bring-about-the-collapse-of-the-nsw-government/

Gulaptis thinks loggers get a bad rap and we need grazing and clearing of national parks:

https://indd.adobe.com/view/9500f5c5-8396-4721-8e1e-7df84edcdefe

North East Forest Alliance's Dailan Pugh said the State Government caved into the loggers by introducing legislation that removed requirements to protect core Koala habitat from logging and unapproved broadscale clearing.

"They doubled the period of logging approvals from 15 to 30 years while stopping councils from being able to require approval for logging or exclude logging from environmental protection zones" Mr. Pugh said.

State MP Chris Gulaptis disagreed and said previous legislation added a layer of red tape.

"There are already protocols in place to protect koalas that the timber industry and farmers observe" he said.

The timber industry gets pilloried, Mr. Gulaptis said.

He said land clearing that "doesn't threaten habitat" can "be done in a sustainable way and in a mosaic way",

The fires last year were made made worse by the lack of hazard reduction in national parks and the locking of fire trails, he said.

"I blame the government for not putting resources into managing national parks using cattle grazing where appropriate and clearing".

Have you heard, north coast's Koalas are in a sickening decline:

https://abc17news.com/news/national-world/2020/10/29/koala-populations-are-in-decline-due-to-increased-human-impacts-on-nature/

Bushfires, habitat fragmentation, vehicle collisions and dog attacks — all which hurt koalas — have been getting worse over the last decade.

That has led to species population decline and increased disease among koalas, according to new research published Wednesday in the academic journal PLOS ONE.

The number of diseased koalas increased over the course of 30 years, while the number of sick koalas that could be released back into the wild dropped, the study said. It analyzed 29 years’ worth of data on koala sightings and animal hospital admissions from three wildlife rescue groups in New South Wales, Australia.

A combination of environmental impacts and human disturbance of koala habitats, researchers found, have made Australia’s iconic marsupials vulnerable to extinction.

“In the last 10 years, we can see koala rescues ramped up significantly because more koalas are being found out in the open and on the ground,” said lead author Edward Narayan, a senior lecturer of animal science at the University of Queensland.

Environmental degradation, rising global temperatures and droughts have led to more koalas falling to the ground because tree leaves dry out and no longer have enough water or nutrients, according to researchers at the University of Sydney in a separate study.

Over and beyond koala injuries and deaths due to habitat loss and human encroachment, Narayan said koalas are in danger because long-term, chronic stress is hurting their immune systems.

The most common reason a koala was reported or admitted for clinical care was disease — including signs of infections, poor body condition and organ damage, the University of Queensland study data revealed.

“We also found that the disease cases are increasing, so there are more koalas found with higher prevalence of chlamydia, which is one of the diseases that affects koalas,” Narayan told CNN. “As a result, more koalas are having to be euthanized, unfortunately.”

“One of the biggest factors is land clearance,” Narayan said. “What’s happening is koalas are facing more and more pressure on the outskirts of the cities. That habitat corridor is more vulnerable … we can see these bubbles of new housing development impacting koalas.”

Agriculture also plays a role in the decline of koalas, as more natural land is cleared for agricultural development, Narayan added. Sustainable agriculture practices and nature conservation, the study’s researchers argue, are vital for saving koalas.

Climate change is also contributing to the decline of koalas. For example, droughts lead to more dehydrated koalas and fewer healthy trees for them to call home.

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0239182&type=printable

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8889007/Australias-iconic-koala-bear-brink-extinction.html

http://www.ecns.cn/news/2020-10-29/detail-ihacnaey6711062.shtml

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/p-ult102120.php

https://7news.com.au/technology/science/nsw-koala-populations-in-steady-decline-c-1477327

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2r1ZiXgcX6Q

Rising temperatures and drought are drying up eucalyptus leaves, the only source of hydration and nutrition for Australia’s iconic animal, the koala. They’re now searching for water to avoid fatal heat stress. That’s why on 18 September 2018, the University of Sydney community will come together to Pave the Way for a brighter future for our koalas. We are fundraising to install drinking stations to give them access to water they so desperately need. Find out more and make a donation: http://www.sydney.edu.au/pavetheway

https://www.portstephensexaminer.com.au/story/6991438/std-worry-for-koalas/

Koalas in key NSW habitats have steadily declined with chlamydia proving a major problem for the furry creatures, new research has found.

The study by Western Sydney University's Dr Edward Narayan examined 12,543 records of wild koalas at rescue sites in Port Stephens, Port Macquarie and Lismore between 1989 to 2018 and found disease was the most common reason they were admitted to care.

"The long-term trends for these koala hotspots paint a picture of a steady decline in populations," Dr Narayan said in a statement.

Dr Narayan said protecting the koalas' environment was the best way to support the work of rescue groups, stabilise the populations and reverse the trends identified.

"There is an urgent need to strengthen on-ground management, bushfire control regimes, environmental planning and governmental policy to reduce stressors impacting koalas on the North Coast and across the state.

Commonwealth pile in on Koalas:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-27/koala-habitat-cleared-for-brandy-hill-quarry-extension/12819054

The expansion of a controversial rock quarry that will clear 52 hectares of koala habitat north of Newcastle has been approved by the Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley.

The grassroots campaign attracted support from celebrities such as Olivia Newton-John, Celeste Barber, Jimmy Barnes and Magda Szubanski.

The NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean had even backed away from his own government's decision, calling on Ms Ley to closely review the project.

"I really thought we would have won this one, because we really need to start winning these campaigns, because we don't have time left to play with anymore," said local resident, Chantal Parslow-Redman.

"It's incredibly frustrating given the groundswell of our campaign, the amount of people that we've had come onboard and support us — and still to get this decision, I'm really quite shocked and upset."

Ms Parslow Redman said she had seen breeding koalas at the site and dismissed plans for an additional 74-hectare corridor to be revegetated.

"It's something that needs to be planted, so the fact is we're looking at between 15 to 20 years until a tree grows," she said.

"It's the trees there on site at the moment that we know are active koala feed trees and habitat trees, they're the trees that need to be retained."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-27/koala-habitat-cleared-for-brandy-hill-quarry-extension/12819054

"We commissioned an independent expert and he did an up-to-date survey and found between one and two koalas and concluded that the quality of the vegetation was such that this wasn't core breeding habitat, that koalas would tend to move through it and not in huge numbers," she said.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/net-gain-for-koalas-under-approval-of-controversial-quarry-expansion-ley-20201027-p5691n.html

https://www.9news.com.au/national/brandy-hill-quarry-53-hectare-koala-habitat-to-be-cleared-after-nsw-quarry-expansion-approval/e31b774b-5c37-4c75-8723-2f9037f252e7

https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/6988514/premier-gifts-port-macquarie-with-a-koala-hospital-expansion-as-port-stephens-gets-heartbreak/

https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/illiterate-oz-%e2%80%a6-ups-and-downs-of-koala-politics-%e2%80%a6-mckenzie-rides-again/ar-BB1asjPz

How much can a koala take? Before she was hauled in front of the authorities for no crime but loving the wrong man (and apparently failing to pick up that wrong man’s alleged corruption that he kept actively trying to tell her about), NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was enjoying good press, having stared down the NSW National Party over its sure-fire, vote-winning policy of koala murder. One can understand why she’d want to return to those heady days.

Hence yesterday’s announcement of 6000 square metres of land being gifted to a koala hospital. The timing is a little off, sadly, given it follows the approval by federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley of a quarry expansion straight through a koala habitat, which is expected to destroy more than 50 hectares. It makes Berejiklian’s recompense (less than a hectare) seem a smidge inconsequential.

https://www.wauchopegazette.com.au/story/6989482/greens-aim-to-ban-koala-habitat-clearing/

The Greens want to ban koala habitats from being cleared to ensure the native marsupial survives.

The minor party hopes such a moratorium would block the Morrison government's decision to allow a controversial quarry extension in Port Stephens to go ahead.

[Sarah Hanson-Young] "Unless habitat clearing is stopped, koalas will soon be extinct," she said.

"Off the back of the worst bushfires in history which killed a third of NSW's koala population and destroyed millions of hectares of habitat across the country, no approvals for developments on koala land should be given."

The party will introduce to parliament a moratorium on habitat clearing.

... Kean disappointing:

Newcastle Herald 28 October 2020

The Premier Gladys Berejiklian was in Port Macquarie on Tuesday to announce state-owned land would be gifted to a koala hospital for expansion.

The move came on the same day that campaigners in Port Stephens were in dismay, as the federal government approved the Brandy Hill quarry expansion into koala habitat.

Port Stephens MP Kate Washington said the premier's move was "an offensive attempt to distract from what they have done".

NSW Environment Minster Matt Kean said the federal decision was "a disappointing outcome".

"Let me be clear, if the proponent of this project in any way does not comply with the strict conditions of its approval, I would expect our state's environmental agencies to apply the full force of the law."

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/oct/29/matt-kean-chides-sussan-ley-over-disappointing-destruction-of-port-stephens-koala-habitat

The New South Wales environment minister, Matt Kean, has said he is disappointed by the decision of his federal counterpart, Sussan Ley, to approve the expansion of a rock quarry in koala habitat in Port Stephens, despite the state government previously recommending environmental approval for the project.

Before it received federal approval, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment recommended it receive a state environmental approval. The state’s Independent Planning Commission approved the project with conditions in July.

Kean has said he wants to double the state’s koala population by 2050, but state policies have led to increases in land-clearing and allowed for continued logging of habitat after the state’s bushfire disaster.

Ley said: “Matt Kean may well be preoccupied with the politics around koalas but I am focused on one thing only, achieving genuine conservation outcomes.

“As a result of my intervention, we have secured an additional 22 hectares of high-quality koala habitat, over and above the conditions imposed by Mr Kean’s government.”

Rachel Walmsley, of the Environmental Defenders Office, said both state and federal levels of government had failed to protect koalas.

She pointed to the recent NSW government turmoil over koala policy that has resulted in proposed changes to laws that would further weaken environmental protections.

“Neither the federal nor the NSW government seem interested in preventing koalas from going extinct,” Walmsley said. “Both of them are failing koalas.”

... and in NSW they are standing up for Koalas:

https://www.facebook.com/greencate/

Thousands & thousands of emails against @JohnBarilaroMP's dodgy anti-koala laws have crashed NSW Parliament's email system today. Sorry about that but you shouldn't mess with koalas. #nswpol#KoalaKillers#SaveourKoalas

Who needs homes when you have money?

https://www.dailyexaminer.com.au/news/animals-plants-queue-up-for-bushfire-recovery-gran/4125532/?cspt=1603670679|d9929f74528b78c2fe0f957dee7b62d4

FOLLOWING the devastation of last summer’s bushfires, more money is available to give helping hand to native animals. They just need someone to take it.

The $10 million Bushfire Recovery for Wildlife and Habitat Community Grants Program is open for applications until November 27.

The 2019/20 bushfires effect on local species has been profound, with koalas the most notable victim.

However, it was not just the furry favourites which were severely affected.

River ecosystems were also ravaged with number of fish kills in the region attributed to ash run-off following significant rainfall weeks after the bushfires.

The long drought had already put the fish population in the upper reaches of the Clarence River in peril and the bushfires and rain simply compounded the problem.

The Department Primary Industries staff even resorted to fish relocation in an effort to protect various threatened species.

Grants from $5,000 to $150,000 are available for projects such as, but not limited to, providing supplementary animal shelter, nest boxes and artificial hollows, eradicating or reducing the impact of pest animals and weeds, protecting sensitive habitat and waterways, and seed collection, propagation and revegetation of native plants.

Grant guidelines are available at business.gov.au/brwhc and applications close on November 27.

Koalas an extreme threat to Tasmania:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-28/why-are-there-no-wild-koalas-in-tasmania/12806032

Although the report said the actual risk of economic damage was not clear, it said koalas had a "demonstrated ability to have a major impact on the health of eucalypt forests in areas where they have been introduced and occur in high densities".

The report said a number of the tree species preferred by koalas were important for Tasmania's forestry production.

In addition, the presence of koalas could cause an increase in forestry management costs by requiring koala management actions in timber production areas."

The assessment concluded that koalas represented an extreme threat to Tasmania.

"Based on the outcome of the risk assessment it is recommended that koalas are not permitted entry into Tasmania," the report said.

At least feral horses are thriving:

https://www.armidaleexpress.com.au/story/6989421/wild-horses-in-demand-but-trapping-program-fails-to-supply-them/

In October 2000, an aerial cull of 600 wild horses in Guy Fawkes River National Park caused a public outcry after Ebor residents Erica Jessup and Graeme Baldwin exposed the lingering deaths suffered by the maimed animals.

The pair then spent two years developing a passive trapping program for the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which has seen over 1000 horses taken from the park to be tamed and rehomed.

This week, Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox used the 20-year anniversary of the mass shooting to declare that the subsequent ban on aerial culling has created an environmental crisis, as "horse populations in parks are without effective control".

"After the 2000 cull Guy Fawkes River National Park had less than 100 horses and yet despite a trap and removal program it is now home to about 1800 horses and rising," he said.

Roads eroding culture

https://indd.adobe.com/view/9500f5c5-8396-4721-8e1e-7df84edcdefe

Jennifer Williams stands at the secret women's waterhole in Tooloom State Forest near Urbenville.

Dirr-darn-ghan, the spirit of the birthing pool, when the rains come and the new soil washes into her waters from where it has been put on roads through the state forest, Jennifer said.

Elder Gloria Williams said the Forestry Corporation was supposed to consult with the Githabul about any changes, but depositing swathes of soft soil had not been discussed.

Tasmanians are promising to stand strong:

https://www.themercury.com.au/business/hundreds-pledge-to-protest-forests-under-threat-from-logging/news-story/2196f268da07dca740d691e716fd7b55?btr=02e835d9d9f5a084a5afd1f743688f97

HUNDREDS of conservationists have signed up to join the front line of forestry protests this summer if logging resumes in the forests of the Florentine Valley.

At the weekend, 300 people pledge to save a local forest giant known as the Home Tree and the rainforest in Florentine coupe TN005D, which is earmarked for logging this summer.

“The Gutwein Government claims that Sustainable Timber Tasmania doesn’t log rainforests, big trees or old growth rainforest but the public saw for themselves the truth – that it continues to log all three,” he said.

Western logging on show:

https://thewest.com.au/news/augusta-margaret-river-times/doco-a-cry-from-the-heart-ng-b881704697z

Capes residents will get the chance of an insider’s look into logging activities in the South West which activists hope will reinforce community sentiment against an industry they consider unsustainable.

The Cry of the Forests documentary screens twice at the Margaret River HEART next Wednesday.

The producers, as part of the WA Forest Alliance, have developed the documentary in recent months while ramping up their campaign against logging in the Helms and McCorkhill forests inland from Margaret River.

Also featured in the hour-long film is the work of the self-described “Nannas for Forests” — a group of Margaret River and Perth grandmothers who have staged their own protests in recent months.

We are a nation of believers led by unbelievers:

https://theconversation.com/new-polling-shows-79-of-aussies-care-about-climate-change-so-why-doesnt-the-government-listen-148726?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%2028%202020%20-%201769917160&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%2028%202020%20-%201769917160+CID_142736764257d0b8f6533dfd6bcb3488&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=New%20polling%20shows%2079%20of%20Aussies%20care%20about%20climate%20change%20So%20why%20doesnt%20the%20government%20listen

The Climate of the Nation report has tracked Australian attitudes to climate change for more than a decade.

This year, it polled 1,998 Australians aged 18 and over, and found the vast majority (79%) hold views in line with the best available scientific evidence. That is, four in five Australians agree climate change is occurring. This is the highest result since 2012.

An even greater majority, 82%, is worried climate change will result in more bushfires, up from 76% in last year’s report.

Only 12% of Australians want to see Australia’s economic recovery led by investment in gas, a plan the Morrison government is set on carrying out.

In contrast, a majority (59%) would like to see the recovery driven by renewables.

The Climate Change Performance Index evaluates 57 countries plus the European Union, which together are responsible for more than 90% of global emissions. This year, Australia ranked last on climate policy.

For everyday Australians, the solution is clear. The Climate of the Nation report shows the vast majority (83%) want to see coal-fired power stations phased out. Some 65% want the Australian government to stop new coal mines from being developed.

68% support a net-zero by 2050 target for Australia.

850,000 pandemics in waiting:

https://theconversation.com/un-report-says-up-to-850-000-animal-viruses-could-be-caught-by-humans-unless-we-protect-nature-148911?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%2030%202020%20-%201771817183&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%2030%202020%20-%201771817183+CID_e6b53b5f62e1b2951e473117465909b0&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=UN%20report%20says%20up%20to%20850000%20animal%20viruses%20could%20be%20caught%20by%20humans%20unless%20we%20protect%20nature

A major report released today says up to 850,000 undiscovered viruses which could be transferred to humans are thought to exist in mammal and avian hosts.

The report, by The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), says to avoid future pandemics, humans must urgently transform our relationship with the environment.

The report says, on average, five new diseases are transferred from animals to humans every year – all with pandemic potential. In the past century, these have included:

  • the Ebola virus (from fruit bats),
  • AIDS (from chimpazees)
  • Lyme disease (from ticks)
  • the Hendra virus (which first erupted at a Brisbane racing stable in 1994).

Tens of thousands of wild animals were culled in China after the SARS outbreak and bats continue to be persecuted after the onset of COVID-19.

The IPBES report identifies potential ways forward. These include:

  • a reduction in land-use change, by expanding protected areas, restoring habitat and implementing financial disincentives such as taxes on meat consumption

However, there are no guarantees it will accept the recommendations of the IPBES report, given the Australian government’s underwhelming recent record on environmental policy.

For example, in recent months the government has so far refused to sign the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature. The pledge, instigated by the UN, includes a commitment to taking a OneHealth approach – which considers health and environmental sustainability together – when devising policies and making decisions.

The government cut funding of environmental studies courses by 30%. It has sought to reduce so called “green tape” in national environmental legislation, and its economic response to the pandemic will be led by industry and mining - a focus that creates further pandemic potential.

https://www.miragenews.com/a-new-analysis-reveals-that-accessible-and-affordable-healthcare-could-be-a-key-tool-for-addressing-climate-crisis/

Although the link may not be obvious, healthcare and climate change – two issues that pose major challenges around the world – are in fact more connected than society may realize. So say researchers, who are increasingly proving this to be true.

Case in point: A new study by UC Santa Barbara’s Andy MacDonald found that improving healthcare in rural Indonesia reduced incentives for illegal logging in a nearby national park, averting millions of dollars’ worth of atmospheric carbon emissions.

The analysis, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that deforestation in the national park declined 70% in the 10 years after an affordable health clinic opened in the area.

The Indonesian clinic accepts barter as payment and gives discounts to villages based on community-wide reductions in logging. Given its success, it could provide a blueprint for preserving the world’s biodiverse carbon sinks while reducing poverty and illness.

Every second, more than 100 trees disappear from tropical forests around the world. These forests, some of the world’s most important carbon reservoirs, are crucial to slowing climate change and mass extinction.

The Wood Wide Web of life:

https://www.eurasiareview.com/25102020-soil-fungi-act-like-a-support-network-for-trees/

Being highly connected to a strong social network has its benefits. Now a new University of Alberta study is showing the same goes for trees, thanks to their underground neighbours.

The study, published in the Journal of Ecology, is the first to show that the growth of adult trees is linked to their participation in fungal networks living in the forest soil.

When they colonize the roots of a tree, fungal networks act as a sort of highway, allowing water, nutrients and even the compounds that send defence signals against insect attacks to flow back and forth among the trees.

The network also helps nutrients flow to resource-limited trees “like family units that support one another in times of stress,” Birch noted.

“We found that the more connected an adult tree is, the more it has significant growth advantages, which means the network could really influence large-scale important interactions in the forest, like carbon storage. If you have this network that is helping trees grow faster, that helps sequester more carbon year after year.”

https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/10/26/news/whats-forest-worth

Forests have historically been valued on an industrial scale, managed to maximize the amount of timber cut. But when they aren’t clearcut, they also offer other valuable resources that advocates say should be recognized as well.

Wild mushrooms — morels, chanterelles, pine mushrooms — grow thick in the B.C. backwoods. Prized by chefs around the world, they’re largely ignored in B.C.’s forestry legislation despite sitting at the heart of a cash-based, gold rush-worthy global trade in non-timber forest resources.

Ferns, berries, other tree species and complex webs of mycorrhizae and bacteria are essential to the ecosystems of old-growth, and older second-growth, forests. Clearcuts, unlike more selective logging practices, destroy this complex ecosystem that develops in the understory and soil over decades. And rapidly replanting those forests with uniform stands of the same tree species is equally problematic, he said, because the new plantations are too dense and homogenous to support similar understory ecosystems.

The most important commercial species of wild mushrooms depends on older, diverse forest ecosystems to thrive.

Chanterelles, which between 1995 and 2005 were worth an estimated $3.5 million annually in exports to Europe alone, do best in stands of Douglas fir between 40 and 80 years old. They prefer open, mossy understories and shade. Pine mushrooms require similar conditions, if a bit brighter, in forests of fir, hemlock and spruce that are at least 60 years old. Between 2000 and 2003, thousands of pounds of these mushrooms were sent to Japan to the tune of roughly $20 million annually.

Water is valuable too:

https://www.minnpost.com/community-voices/2020/10/to-thrive-despite-climate-change-build-a-water-smart-minnesota/

It will cost four times as much to restore landscapes once they’re lost than to preserve them. That’s why we need to act immediately to protect the Mississippi’s headwaters, which are still 60% forested.

When present, forests and wetlands are a natural sponge and filter. The rich soils and roots soak up excess water, keeping it from running off into lakes and waterways with the sediments and chemicals it can carry. This recharges our groundwater and supplies our lakes and streams. But now we’re facing the challenge of diminishing forest and wetlands.

Last year, Ecolab partnered with McKinsey and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on a study that found protecting critical lands in the Mississippi headwaters would yield $500 million in benefits. These include avoided water treatment costs and flood damage, retained property value, tourism and jobs, along with carbon mitigation and public health gains. If we delay too long and the job becomes restoration instead of preservation, the cost could be as high as $8 billion.

... all the more so when it doesn't rain:

https://news.globallandscapesforum.org/47924/cloud-forests-narrow-bands-of-biodiversity-filled-with-mist-fog-and-mystery/

Cloud forests are born of very specific geographic and climatic features: they usually form partway up mountains, when moisture-laden air currents from surrounding lowlands and bodies of water are forced upward and then cool and condense as they rise, creating persistent fog or cloud cover in a particular area. The forests that grow there are often characterized by gnarled, stumpy trees; moss and lichen blanketing the ground and vegetation; strange, colorful orchids; and sodden epiphytes dripping water. It’s easy to see why these places are sometimes known as “goblin forests” or “elvin woodlands”: “They look a lot like some of the enchanted forests you see in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings,” says Nasi. 

But these woodlands’ real magic lies in their ability to conjure water “out of thin air.” Their canopy trees – and the plants that live on them – intercept wind-driven cloud moisture, which drips to the ground and soaks into their spongy soils, often providing a key water source for areas downstream. This water-capturing superpower means these moist forests can crop up even in the middle of deserts ...

Because of the particular conditions they require, cloud forests are usually quite small in size, and in total they make up just 1 percent of global forest area. There are 736 known cloud forest sites across the planet, ...

Like the rest of the world’s woodlands, cloud forests have been compromised and fragmented by timber felling, mining and land clearance for agriculture – we lose about 1.1 percent of the global cloud forest estate to these causes every year ...

A 2019 study estimated that climate change could shrink and dry 60 to 80 percent of cloud forests in the Western Hemisphere in as few as 25 years. “These forests exist in a very narrow attitudinal range, and this altitudinal range is defined by the climatic condition,” says Nasi. “They can’t go down, they can only go up – which means that with the climate changing, the altitudinal range where they are growing is going to be narrower and narrower, until it finally disappears.”

Climate is drying forests and starving animals:

https://en.mercopress.com/2020/10/26/drought-and-wildfires-devastating-south-america-s-wetlands-and-forests

Experts say the wildfires in a region that spans Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay – especially the region between the Paraguay, Parana, and Uruguay rivers – have become critical in 2020.

“There has been a dramatic increase in fires. In Argentina there has been an increase of around 170%, it's very serious,” said Elisabeth Mohle, an environmental politics researcher at Argentina's San Martin National University ...

The Pantanal - the world's largest wetlands that span Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay - is experiencing its worst drought in 47 years.

The Parana River - one of the most powerful on the planet that originates in Brazil and empties into the River Plate estuary - is at its lowest level since 1970. ...

The fires are being fanned by such conditions as strong winds, temperatures over 40 C and the dry season in which farmers use slash-and-burn techniques to try to regenerate the soil.

In Paraguay, “the fires... at the end of September and first week of October, broke all records,” Eduardo Mingo, a top official at the national weather center said.

The Parana Delta that is home to species such as the jaguar, Pampas cat and several rodents, has been hit by fires of an unprecedented intensity since January, leaving what some call a “desert of ashes” over tens of thousands of hectares of wetlands.

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/10/with-a-drastic-decline-in-tropical-fruit-gabons-rainforest-mega-gardeners-go-hungry/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=ae1ce8f542-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-ae1ce8f542-77229786&mc_cid=ae1ce8f542&mc_eid=c0875d445f

  • Climate change appears to be disrupting the yield of fruit trees, a critical food source for many large mammals in Central Africa.
  • A new study warns that endangered forest elephants and other keystone species in Lopé National Park in central Gabon — such as western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, and mandrills — could be facing famine.
  • “The changes are drastic,” says Emma Bush, co-lead author of the study. “The massive collapse in fruiting may be due to missing the environmental cue to bear fruit.”
  • Some tropical trees depend on a drop in temperature to trigger flowering, but since the 1980s, the region recorded less rainfall and a temperature increase of 1°C.

We know what we need to do, we just need to do it:

https://www.miragenews.com/fao-calls-for-stepping-up-forest-and-landscape-restoration/

28 October 2020, Rome – Efforts to restore the world’s degraded forests and landscapes must be scaled up to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, said FAO in a new publication released today.

Land and forest degradation are among the world’s most pressing environmental issues. Globally, 25 percent of the total land area has been degraded. To safeguard the future of our planet, major actions are needed to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.

The importance of land and forest restoration is highlighted in a new edition of FAO’s quarterly forestry publication Unasylva, launched today at the Global Landscapes Forum Biodiversity Digital Conference: One World – One Health.

However, the publication argues that much more needs to be done at the national, regional and global scale to meet commitments under the Bonn Challenge, which aim to restore 350 million hectares of degraded and deforested lands by 2030, and other international pledges.

“Forest and landscape restoration is about much more than trees: it has social and economic benefits such as improving human well-being and livelihoods, and contributes to many of the Sustainable Development Goals, including mitigating climate change and conserving biodiversity,” said Mette Wilkie, Director, FAO Forestry.

“Societies worldwide will need to be convinced of the global restoration imperative by rational economic argument, compassion for current and future generations, and an emotional connection to nature,” according to the authors of one article in the journal.

... we need to double our national parks to meet the 30x30 target:

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/10/despite-covid-political-divides-conservation-can-advance-hansjorg-wyss/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=ae1ce8f542-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-ae1ce8f542-77229786&mc_cid=ae1ce8f542&mc_eid=c0875d445f

2020 was supposed to be the year that the world assessed progress on a decade’s worth of effort to stave off the sixth mass extinction — the first extinction driven by the activities of a single species — and set ambitious new targets for conservation. But the COVID-19 pandemic intervened, leading to postponement of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the IUCN World Conservation Congress, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, among other high-level meetings. Nonetheless, conservationists have continued to press forward with initiatives aiming to preserve habitat for wildlife, including the “30×30” target, which aims to conserve 30% of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030.

[Wyss] “Politics in the U.S. has become all consuming, with folks going to their partisan corners on almost every issue. It remains our job, and the job of conservation advocates, to continue supporting locally-driven conservation efforts and demonstrating to decision makers that these efforts enjoy overwhelming support from the American public, regardless of their political ideology.”

We all recognize that the status quo is not working. One million species are at risk of extinction, many within decades, and a huge percentage of the Earth has already been heavily modified by humans. We have to act quickly and collectively to save what’s left. Thankfully, over the last two years, nations have begun coalescing around the need to dramatically expand protections for lands and waters. A coalition of over 30 countries are currently working to establish a global 30×30 target when nations meet at next year’s Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to establish a new strategic plan for nature.

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/10/ambitious-and-holistic-goals-key-to-saving-earths-biodiversity-study-says/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=ae1ce8f542-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-ae1ce8f542-77229786&mc_cid=ae1ce8f542&mc_eid=c0875d445f

  • A recently published study in the journal Science gives recommendations for decision-makers preparing to set new biodiversity goals at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2021.
  • The researchers urge CBD negotiators and policymakers to consider three critical points as they create the new biodiversity goals: the goals must be multifaceted, developed holistically, and highly ambitious.
  • “No net loss” of diversity is an example of a highly ambitious goal. Its targets include increasing natural ecosystem area, saving culturally important species, and conserving 90% of Earth’s genetic diversity.
  • To turn the tide, the new biodiversity goals must be both highly ambitious and unified, and address ecosystems, species, genetic diversity, and nature’s contributions to people.

The biggest challenge, according to the study, will not be creating these goals, but making them happen. Part of this process is being sure the goals and targets are written in a way that is difficult to exploit, with no loopholes or weaknesses in wording. Addressing the causes of biodiversity loss, including the social, economic and political pressures driving this loss, are key.

... we need to reforest to reduce CO2:

https://www.newser.com/story/298051/study-chinas-forests-suck-up-more-carbon-than-thought.html

(Newser) – China is the world's biggest polluter—but a massive tree-planting program has helped absorb more of its carbon dioxide emissions than researchers expected. In a new study in the journal Nature, researchers say that according to ground and satellite observations, the rapid afforestation of areas of northeast and southwest China has created a previously underestimated "carbon sink" that accounts for around 35% of the country's land carbon absorption. The researchers estimate that China's biosphere absorbs around 45% of the country's human-caused emissions. Beijing, which is planting a "Green Great Wall" in the country's north, recently said it aims to make China carbon-neutral by 2060.

China has expanded its forest cover from 16.74% in 1990 to around 23% in 2020, with billions of trees planted to fight desertification and establish new timber industries.

... and breathe life into our cities:

https://cities-today.com/seoul-to-create-wind-path-forests-to-direct-clean-air-into-the-city/

Seoul has announced plans to create its first “wind path forests” to circulate clean air, absorb particulate matter and minimise the urban heat island effect.

Trees will be placed close together along rivers and roads to create the wind paths so that clean and cool air generated at night from Gwanaksan Mountain and Bukhansan Mountain can flow into the centre of Seoul.

There will be three types of forest. Wind-generating forests, including species such as pine trees and maple trees, will be cultivated so that they direct the fresh air from the forest to flow towards the city centre. Connecting forests will feature air-purifying plants, such as wild cherry trees and oak trees, along a path linking the forest to the city centre – the idea is that the leaves will absorb particulate matter while the branches and tree trunks will block moving particulate matter. Smaller ‘forests’ will be planted in the city centre, including parks, green rooftops and living walls.

The city said the initiative could help to reduce the average temperature in downtown Seoul by up to seven degrees Celsius in summer.

Earlier this month, the City of Boston issued a $US500,000 request for proposals (RFP) to design its first ‘urban forest’ plan, which will develop strategies that promote the growth and protection of its urban canopy over the next 20 years. In August last year, the City of Los Angeles named its first Forest Officer, a new post to oversee the city’s goal of planting 90,000 trees by 2021.

Lets hope they are the death-throes of a tyrant:

https://www.livescience.com/alaska-tongass-national-forest-trump-lifts-protections.html

President Donald Trump will strip Alaska's Tongass National Forest from protections put in place nearly two decades ago, opening up millions of acres of pristine wilderness to road development and logging, according to a notice from the U.S. Department of Agriculture posted on Wednesday (Oct. 28).

The Tongass, which covers most of southeast Alaska, is one of the world’s largest remaining temperate rainforests and serves as a major carbon sink, absorbing at least 9% of all the carbon stored in all of the continental U.S. forests combined, according to The Washington Post.

Much of the Tongass was protected from logging and road construction by the 2001 Roadless Rule, which was put in place by former President Bill Clinton. But starting tomorrow (Oct. 29), the Tongass National Forest will be exempt from this rule, meaning that logging companies can legally build roads and cut timber throughout the forest.

Still, the Trump Administration has reversed, revoked or rolled back more than 70 environmental rules, including climate policies and rules around clean air, water, wildlife and toxic chemicals, according to The New York Times. The administration is currently in the process of revoking a couple dozen more.


Forest Media 23 October 2020

The Berejiklian Government  revealed the depth of their capitulation to the Nats and contempt for Koalas with their comprehensive gutting of Koala protections on private lands by tightening the criteria for identification of core Koala habitat, stopping its protection from clearing and logging, and just to be sure removing Council's power to regulate forestry while opening up environment zones and doubling approval periods for PNF.  Balilaro is back. While NSW was gutting protection for Koalas, one story of their plight gained worldwide attention. WWF have launched their $300 million “Regenerate Australia” program with Koalas Forever, with their intent to double Koala numbers by 2050 - I hope they don't mimic the Government's efforts. Koalas are having trouble adapting to increasing urbanization while urban people are having trouble adapting to flying foxes running out of bush foods. While the Government refuses to assess impacts on Koalas, at least invertebrates are getting a look in - even if we don't know what most of them are. The Big Canopy Campout garnered some attention. In southern NSW the logging reprieve is over as the loggers return against the EPA's advice. Morrison is not just cutting funding for the arts, he is also doing over environmental studies courses - he thinks we need an environmentally illiterate population without ideas. Meanwhile Indonesia is leading by example clearing and burning 4.4 million hectares of its forests over 5 years, while it also relaxes landclearing laws. There is increasing recognition of the importance of natural climate solutions, though the loggers are spinning it for all its worth, including for fashion fibre.

Dailan

Gutting the corpse of the Koala SEPP:

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/liberals-back-down-on-koalas-after-barilaro-bluster-20201016-p565uf.html

After a bruising political battle that saw Gladys Berejiklian impose her authority over state Nationals, NSW Liberals have quietly backed down, supporting a bill to weaken planned reforms designed to protect koalas on privately-owned farmland.

But this week the Nationals introduced the Local Land Services Amendment Bill to Parliament, supported by the Liberals, which will exempt private rural landholders from having to recognise the new, expanded definition of koala habitat.

Environmental Defenders Office head of law reform Rachel Walmsley said the changes would prevent expansion of koala habitat protection on private farmland into the future.

"This bill is trying to freeze in time the small areas that are currently mapped, whereas it's clear from the science we need to protect more habitat," Ms Walmsley said.

There are only five local governments with plans of management mapping koala habitat in place - on the NSW North Coast - and they would be unaffected by the proposed changes.

But if any local government develops one in the future, the bill guarantees private rural landholders are exempt and the protections could only apply to public or peri-urban land.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/10/nefa-say-berejiklian-is-extincting-koalas/

The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) claim that the Berejiklian Government has comprehensively caved into the loggers by introducing legislation that not only removes requirements to protect core Koala habitat from logging and unapproved broads cale clearing, but also doubles the period of logging approvals from 15 to 30 years while stopping Councils from being able to require approval for logging or exclude logging from environmental protection zones.

NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh says the Local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill 2020 introduced into parliament on 14 October represents the Liberal Party’s total capitulation to the loggers and developers at the behest of the National Party.

Mr Pugh says this is a despicable act from a Government hell-bent on halving our rapidly diminishing populations of Koalas, not doubling them.

https://www.townandcountrymagazine.com.au/story/6975856/koalas-lose-out-under-new-bill-in-nsw/

Large-scale agricultural businesses and property developers would be exempt from some koala protection laws in a new proposal before NSW parliament this week, an environmental conservation group says.

The Nature Conservation Council is calling on state members of parliament to vote down the Local Land Services Amendment Bill, saying it prevents further expansion of koala habitat protections into private farmland.

[Chris Gambian] "Basically the Nationals gave the Liberals a choice between saving the Coalition or saving the koala and they chose themselves."

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/nsw-country-hour/nsw-country-hour/12763864

Tue 20 Oct 2020, from 9.50-16.20

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/10/nsw-liberals-betray-koalas-and-back-down-to-national-party/

The changes that the National Party have demanded to the Koala State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), that passed in the NSW Legislative Assembly (Lower House) yesterday, will ensure that koalas are extinct in the wild by 2050, say experts in the field.

During yesterday’s debate local Ballina MP Tamara Smith said ... " It is a tragic day. Our iconic koalas are headed towards extinction and that’s what’s at stake.’

‘This bill isn’t a ‘compromise’ on the new koala policy. It takes koala protections back 25 years, at a time when we need to be strengthening laws to protect koala habitat. We lost maybe 10,000 koalas in NSW in the Black Summer fires. If this bill passes, the government may as well sign their death warrant,’ said Ms Faehrmann.

‘The updated Koala SEPP has been years in the making, but now all that hard work has been scrapped to appease the National Party and the powerful timber and farming lobbies.’

Analysis of the bill by the Environmental Defenders Office has found that the bill allows for: unregulated land clearing of koala habitat not already identified in rural areas; the prevention of expanded koala habitat protection on private farmland into the future; and the exemption of Private Native Forestry operations from important development consents, with their durations doubled from 15 to 30 years.

‘After making a great song and dance about standing up to the Nationals, it seems the NSW Liberals have backed down completely,’ said Evan Quartermain, head of programs at Humane Society International (HSI).

[Dailan Pugh] ‘The National Party stopped north coast councils from rezoning land for environmental protection in 2012, they stopped the Byron and Tweed Coastal Koala Plans of Management being approved in 2015, and now National Party MP Ben Franklin has promised the Shooters [and Fishers] that “e-zones will not be created in relation to any koala plans of management”.

‘Thanks to the Nationals, councils are not allowed to protect koalas or protect anywhere from logging.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/10/tweed-nationals-mp-geoff-provest-condemned-over-koala-vote/

Federal Labor MP for Richmond Justine Elliot has joined the condemnation of the NSW Liberal and National parties over the approval of the  Local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) bill 2020  in the Lower House of the NSW government.

Ms Elliot has also condemned ‘Tweed Nationals MP Geoff Provest and his disgraced Liberal-National Party who voted for laws that will see the widespread killing of our precious koalas on the North Coast’.

‘Now we’re seeing a shameful act of environmental vandalism by Geoff Provest, his Premier and his developer mates – they’re a disgraceful rotten Government with no integrity,’ Ms Elliot said.

Ms Elliot said you can watch Geoff Provest vote in the NSW Parliament for laws that will see the killing of koalas on the North Coast on her Facebook page.

https://www.miragenews.com/common-sense-prevails-for-koalas-and-farmers/

NSW Farmers welcomes the passage of amendments to the Local Land Services Act by the NSW Legislative Assembly today.

“The changes passed today mean landholders will not be overburdened by red tape and planning laws that inhibit the active land management for production and environmental uses on their land.”

Ms Petrie said the amendments will also build certainty for farmers in running their businesses.

“The changes approved today will remove outdated rules that actually inhibit sound forest management, giving land owners, contractors and mills the certainty to manage forests productively while also achieving positive environmental outcomes.”

Balilaro is Back:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-21/john-barilaro-flags-retirement-on-return-to-parliament/12797122

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has not ruled out quitting politics next year as he returned to Macquarie Street after a month's mental health leave.

Mr Barilaro, the NSW Nationals leader, admitted he thought he was "never coming back" when he announced his leave amid an explosive public row with Liberal colleagues over koala habitat policy.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8861581/John-Barilaros-mental-health-battle-Koala-stoush-Gladys-Berejiklian.html

John Barilaro couldn't get out of bed and nearly quit parliament, the NSW deputy premier said on his return from a four-week mental health break.

The outspoken Nationals leader found himself in hot water in September when he threatened to blow up the coalition government if concessions weren't made on its koala protection policy.

Under pressure to quit and copping criticism from all sides, a week later Mr Barilaro announced he would take four weeks mental health leave.

The Nature Conservation Council is calling on state members of parliament to vote down the Local Land Services Amendment Bill, saying it prevents further expansion of koala habitat protections into private farmland.

Koala survival:

https://www.indiatimes.com/trending/environment/australia-koalas-diseases-bushfires-525680.html

After a new report indicated that almost three-quarters of the koala population across Australia perished during last season's bushfires, the species is being considered for official listing as endangered. However, volunteers and authorities have been doing their best for months now, to ensure that the koalas that survived receive the best medical care so that their health can be restored.

Widespread infection among koalas, forest fires, drought, logging, and urban encroachment on their habitat are some of the events that threaten their survival.

The worst wildfire summer in the country in a generation devastated more than 11.2 million hectares, almost half the area of ​​the UK, leaving gray marsupials at the center of political and social debate.

New state laws seek to limit farmers' ability to raze land considered important for koala habitat, sparking a political fight between urban conservationists and those who want to manage their properties in the mountains.

"The rate of tree-clearing and loss of habitats (are) behind all of the other factors that threaten them in those developed areas which include domestic dog attacks and vehicle strikes," said Kellie Leigh, head of Science for Wildlife...

https://www.unilad.co.uk/animals/koalas-at-risk-of-becoming-extinct-in-new-south-wales-in-our-lifetime/

Last year, the devastating bushfires ravaged more than 27 million acres of land, killing at least 5,000 koalas in New South Wales.

As the country prepares to enter another summer, koalas face the potential of more bushfires, which Philpott warned could see the end of the species.

‘If the areas that didn’t burn last year burn this year, that would really be catastrophic. Future fires could spell the end of them,’ he said.

The endangerment of koala bears has caused a political divide in the country after new state laws in New South Wales set out to try and limit farmers’ abilities to clear koala habitats.

Kellie Leigh, who works as head of Science for Wildlife at a conservation organisation, said:

The rate of tree-clearing and loss of habitats are behind all of the other factors that threaten them in those developed areas which include domestic dog attacks and vehicle strikes.

https://news.yahoo.com/wider-image-disease-bushfires-australias-043323102.html

http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202010/20/WS5f8e3bdba31024ad0ba7fb87.html

https://www.scmp.com/video/asia/3106183/after-bushfire-crisis-australias-koalas-fight-survive

video

https://www.wptv.com/news/world/koalas-fight-for-survival-after-devastating-wildfires-in-australia

https://www.sightmagazine.com.au/news/17563-from-disease-to-bushfires-australia-s-iconic-koalas-face-bleak-future

Regenerate Australia:

https://www.eglobaltravelmedia.com.au/wwf-launches-largest-wildlife-and-nature-regeneration-program-in-australias-history/

In response to the bushfire crisis, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia today launched Regenerate Australia, the largest wildlife and nature regeneration program in the nation’s history.

WWF-Australia will kick-start its “Regenerate Australia” program with Koalas Forever, an ambitious project with the goal to double koala numbers on the east coast by 2050. As part of the campaign drones will disperse the seeds of koala food trees. This is one important method being trialled to boost populations, helping hundreds of other species in the process.

At the same time, WWF-Australia will launch the Innovate to Regenerate project, consisting of two global challenges offering $3 million to develop bold solutions to turbocharge nature’s recovery.

Koalas Forever and Innovate to Regenerate are the first WWF-Australia projects ... WWF-Australia aims to raise $300 million over the next five years.

https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2020/10/the-plan-is-initially-aiming-to-double-the-number-of-koalas-on-the-east-coast-by-2050/

https://kyrnews.com/wwf-australia-drones-to-drop-seeds-for-koala-gum-bushes/

https://dispatchpublicist24.com/general-news/australias-koalas-face-a-bleak-future

Along with all these destructive forces, koalas had to face droughts, forest logging as well as urban encroachment into their habitats. In New South Wales, koalas are at risk of becoming extinct. There have been new state laws implemented to limit the farmer’s abilities to clear the land deemed important for koala habitat.

WWF Australia wants to raise A$300 in the next five years to fund the initiative to try the seed drones and other methods to rejuvenate forest habitat. They also want to double koala numbers on the east coast.

Koalas adapting to urban life:

https://au.news.yahoo.com/how-the-hell-disturbing-truth-behind-photos-of-koalas-in-suburbia-093816670.html

Images of koalas finding their way into factories, strolling along railway lines, and climbing up power poles have been shared thousands of times on social media this year.

Frontline volunteers told Yahoo News Australia koalas have lost their homes to development and simply have nowhere else to go.

When trees are felled, Australia’s scattered surviving koalas end up homeless and are later discovered on power poles and roads.

Sadly, rescuers say they are often called to assist the same displaced animals again and again.

“Our koala's are running out of space,” she wrote.

... urban life adapting to Flying Foxes:

https://www.dungogchronicle.com.au/story/6976029/have-your-say-on-flying-foxes/

Residents are invited to have a say on how Dungog Shire Council plans to handle flying fox camps.

The council has created a flying fox management plan to reduce the community impacts of the nine camps dotted throughout the shire.

"The 2019/2020 summer bushfires resulted in significant loss of habitat and food resources for flying foxes, which saw population numbers swell in several local camps, resulting in increased impacts for surrounding residents.

"Our aim is to create a management plan that will provide a framework to help reduce these impacts on Dungog Shire residents, while conserving these animals and supporting the pivotal role they play in sustaining Australia's fragile ecosystem."

Invertebrates get a look in:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/just-like-a-freight-train-cicadas-song-hints-at-bushfire-bounceback-20201021-p5676s.html

That still leaves at least 70 per cent – or perhaps 500 or more Australian cicada species – to be named, he said.

Professor Cassis said now is "an important opportunity" to see if the bushfires have caused major changes to the biota, with some species faring better than others.

UNSW this week received more than $1 million in federal support to fund two projects aimed at assisting the recovery of wildlife after the bushfires.

The larger of the two grants will study how the fires affected invertebrates, from beetles to snails and bees, many of which provide essential services to the forests from pollination to nutrient recycling, UNSW's Professor Shawn Laffan said.

Much of this area was previously surveyed for invertebrates by UNSW and the Australian Museum, including a study of the North East Forests in 1993, giving researchers a baseline for comparison.

The other study will examine how the fires affected reptiles in the sandstone landscapes around Sydney.

Big Canopy Campout:

https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/environment/forest-activists-take-to-the-trees-ng-s-2034374

Conservationists have taken to the trees across several states as part of global action to protect Tasmania's Tarkine Forest.

Those taking part have hoisted their tents high into tree branches this weekend at 112 locations in 24 countries.

The Big Canopy Campout will also focus attention on other threatened forests in Victoria and NSW, with activists in the Gladstone State Forest in Northern NSW.

"The local community have been blockading here for years and watched NSW Forestry Corporation ramp up their destructive extraction from the forest while we were evacuating or fighting fires," camper Ruby Oliver-King said.

"Recently Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group and community allies have successfully kept Forestry Corp from commencing logging in over a third of the forest."

Back to their old ways:

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/unacceptable-timber-battles-resume-in-fire-hit-south-coast-forests-20201016-p565xi.html

State-owned Forestry Corp has been accused of committing the same logging breaches in a bushfire-hit South Coast forest that triggered a lengthy stop work order by the environmental regulator.

After members of the local conservation group Coastwatchers reported evidence of non-compliance, the EPA took 38 days to investigate and issue a stop work order for the contractors to improve operations.

Logging resumed just over a week ago and within days the campaigners found evidence of more felling of the hollow-bearing trees, known to be suitable habitat for yellow-bellied gliders, powerful owls and other fauna.

An EPA spokesman told the Sun-Herald the "initial indications are that the trees in question are likely to be compliant, subject to final review", but the agency would remain on the watch for breaches.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-21/nsw-forestry-post-bushfire-logging-despite-community-concerns/12776112

New sections of burnt-out native forest in the Shoalhaven have been earmarked for logging less than a year after bushfires destroyed more than 80 per cent of the region's bush.

EPA chief executive Tracey Mackey wrote an open letter to Forestry and the Department of Regional NSW in September stating that any logging done without post-fire specific regulations would pose a major threat to wildlife and could be a breach of NSW forestry laws.

Brooman resident Takesa Frank has started a campaign to stop any new logging.

"The forest needs time to recover before they come back," Ms Frank said.

In July, conditions were breached and the EPA issued a stop work order for 40 days after 26 hollow-bearing trees were found to have been cut down or damaged.

"It's frustrating to me, the EPA is actually saying don't log these forests under poor conditions, it's going to destroy the recovery of those forests," Mr Field said.

"The community agrees with that position and Forestry is trying to come in anyway."

Tassie challenge proceeding:

https://www.townandcountrymagazine.com.au/story/6975799/bob-brown-forestry-case-set-for-full-bench-of-federal-court/

The Bob Brown Foundation's legal challenge against the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement has been expedited and will appear before a full bench of the Federal Court before December 18.

The case centres on two main arguments against the validity of the Tasmanian RFA.

The first is that it does not include "legally binding relations" over reserve systems and ecologically sustainable forest management, and the second is that it allows the Tasmanian Government to amend these matters at its own discretion.

https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/6978885/court-date-set-for-bob-brown-forestry-case/

A legal challenge against Sustainable Timber Tasmania will be heard in the Federal Court of Australia on December 2 and 3.

Due to its complexity, the hearing will appear before a full bench of the Federal Court rather than a single Federal Court Judge.

The hearing will be online only.

Morrison, facilitating environmental illiteracy:

https://theconversation.com/devastating-the-morrison-government-cuts-uni-funding-for-environment-courses-by-almost-30-147852?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201760617061&utm_content=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201760617061+CID_21edccfba3980e344a3cf5684881d2a0&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Devastating%20The%20Morrison%20government%20cuts%20uni%20funding%20for%20environment%20courses%20by%20almost%2030

There has been much attention on how the Morrison government’s university funding reforms will increase the cost of humanities degrees. But another devastating change has passed almost unnoticed: a 29% cut to funding to environmental studies courses. This is one of the largest funding cuts to any university course.

Universities will receive almost A$10,000 less funding per year for each student undertaking environmental studies.

The funding cuts may also lower the quality of experiences offered to students or require cross-subsidisation. Some universities may also deem environmental studies courses unviable, and close them, while prioritising higher revenue-generating courses.

The change may also likely to lead to fewer staff, with specialist expertise in areas such as geospatial science, water chemistry and fire management. This will lead to smaller teaching teams with less expertise, who will in turn face increased teaching loads and less time for quality research.

Indonesian forests under wholesale onslaught:

https://www.thestar.com.my/aseanplus/aseanplus-news/2020/10/23/greenpeace-44m-hectares-of-indonesia039s-forests-scorched-since-2015

JAKARTA, Oct 23 (dpa): Indonesia has lost about 4.4 million hectares of forests and peatlands to fires since 2015, according to a report released by Greenpeace on Thursday night (Oct 23).

About 30 per cent of areas burned between 2015 and 2019 are located in palm oil and pulpwood concessions, the environmental group wrote in the report titled "Burning Issues: Five Years of Fire."

Last year, fires destroyed 1.6 million hectares of land and forests - an area 27 times the size of greater Jakarta - in the worst annual fire season since 2015.

Greenpeace said a new law initiated by President Joko Widodo's government and passed by parliament last month could undermine environmental safeguards and worsen the risk of fires.

"When the government gave palm and pulp business companies a role in drafting this bill, it was like giving a hungry fox the keys to the hen house. Now they can act with even greater impunity," the environmental organisation said.

The government said the law, which has triggered nationwide street protests after it was passed, was intended to attract investment and cut red tape.

https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2020/10/23/nearly-a-third-of-indonesia-forest-fires-fall-in-pulp-palm-areas-greenpeace.html

Accounting for forest carbon:

https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy-environment/news/forestrys-climate-impact-invisible-under-un-rules-experts-say/

Forests are the planet’s biggest carbon “sink” – absorbing more CO2 from the atmosphere than they emit – but their contribution to cooling the earth’s climate is currently not fully accounted for under UN rules, experts say.

The European Commission rang the alarm bell about the state of EU forests last month, saying their capacity to absorb carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming – has been decreasing since 2013 and needs to be restored.

What is currently not reflected in EU policy, however, is the “carbon sink” function of forests and agriculture, Runge-Metzger pointed out, saying the Commission is currently looking into ways of rewarding farmers and forest owners for maintaining carbon sinks.

“So the question really is: how can we make sure that we count what’s happening on the sink side” and “put a value” on carbon sinks, he continued. “And that is something we are exploring with the farmers” as part of a new EU “carbon farming initiative” which aims to reward farming practices that remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

https://www.stabroeknews.com/2020/10/23/business/un-affiliated-conservation-group-pushes-for-forests-to-be-at-centre-of-covid-19-recovery-effort/

A fifteen-member group of international organisations concerned with ensuring that issues of forest conservation and the greening of economies remain at the heart of the human development agenda, last week made a high-profile international appeal for forests and tree landscapes to be brought to the centre of the global building back effort “for a more resilient and sustainable future.”

The Collaborative Partnership on Forests, (CPF), a partnership which includes the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF Secretariat), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), says that “forests and tree landscapes should be at the heart of the building back better after the COVID-19 pandemic for a more resilient and sustainable future.”

Making logging fashionable:

https://www.ecotextile.com/2020102026881/materials-production-news/call-for-forest-fibres-to-be-sourced-sustainably.html

GENEVA - The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) has launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the need to source natural fibres, such as viscose, acetate and lyocell, from sustainably managed forests.

The international non-profit, which promotes sustainable forest management through independent third party certification, says it wants to reduce the enviornmental impact of the fashion industry.

The campaign, entitled ‘Fashions Change, Forests Stay’, argues that forest fibres have a huge potential to help the fashion industry on its sustainability journey, but must be sourced responsibly.

https://www.fibre2fashion.com/news/textile-news/pefc-launches-fashions-change-forests-stay-campaign-270501-newsdetails.htm

PEFC, the world’s largest forest certification organisation, is launching the campaign to draw attention to the value of sourcing natural forest fibres such as viscose, acetate and lyocell from sustainably managed forests to transform the environmental impact of the fashion industry and support the vitality of the world’s forests.

“We look forward to work with fashion brands and retailers and help them maximise their impact through sustainable forest management. Together, we can make a difference for the future of the fashion industry, our forests and the world,” Gunneberg said.


Forest Media 16 October 2020

EPA's pending prosecution of Forestry Corporation is still gaining attention. As tableland forests succumb to drought so to do Koalas, and there are grave concerns that flying foxes will have trouble finding nectar after the fires. Its not sharks you need to be worried about, with cats responsible for killing 550 people a year and putting 8,500 in hospitals they are the real threat. More attesting that our reserve system is still nowhere near adequate to save our species, while the Morrison Government's park funding is for tourism. Climate scientist extols us to acknowledge our grief at the loss of the planet’s equilibrium due to climate chaos and use our emotional response to propel us into urgent action. The need for natural climate solutions, notably protecting what is left of our forests and encouraging natural regeneration, is increasingly recognised as urgent to solve both our climate and extinction crises. CSIRO confirm protecting native forests is by far the least risky natural climate solution, followed by natural regeneration, wheras the Morisson Government's soil sequestration preference has a high risk of failure. In Australia nearly half of land-based ecoregions and threatened species are inadequately protected in the reserve system, while Federal expenditure on reserves is focused on tourism. Timber industry seeks to have their shoddy auditing extended to national parks, while with gay abandon they increase flammability of forests in the guise of fire control, and then flog the survivors in burnt forests to within an inch of their lives. Toilet paper is being held to account. Trees are way cool. Virtual forest bathing is being promoted due to the pandemic, while clearing and logging create deathly viral forest bathing pandemics, and playing creates healthy vital forest bathing.

Regards

Dailan

More on EPA Prosecution:

https://www.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/conservationists-praise-epas-prosecution-of-forest/4116364/?cspt=1602450070|4deb84236436045703681ece957a4d7f

CONSERVATIONISTS have praised NSW EPA for launching prosecutions against Forestry Corporation for allegedly felling trees in protected koala habitat.

NEFA spokesperson Dailin Pugh pointed out that the prosecutions come after the EPA issued a Stop Work Order over the felling of two protected giant trees in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest in July 2020.

“It is past time to stop logging these known koala hotspots if we want koalas to survive,” he said.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/10/better-late-than-never-for-wild-cattle-creek/

The North East Forest Alliance has welcomed the Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA’s) belated prosecution of the Forestry Corporation for illegally logging rainforest, rainforest buffers and Koala High Use Areas in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest.

‘After 20 years of getting away with murder the Forestry Corporation is finally being held to account. Their illegal activities have flourished under lax regulation for far too long, we can only hope that by finally holding them to account that they will start obeying the law.

Mr Pugh said this has unfortunately come too late for the koala as the requirement to protect Koala High Use Areas was abandoned in 2018 because the Forestry Corporation refused to do the thorough surveys required to identify them and the EPA refused to make them.

‘Taking legal action now over one of the few Koala High Use Areas identified is like shutting the door after the horse has bolted.

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/the-environmental-protection-agency-vs-forestry-corporation-nsw-over-koala-exclusion-zones-60021

... and some media are a bit slow:

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/forest-defenders-face-court-after-protest-in-wild-cattle-creek-state-forest-60099

Ms Maddie Stephenson, Mr Neville Kirk and Mr Huon Hannaford pleaded guilty to the offences of ‘Hide tools/clothes/property to unlawfully influence person’ and ‘Fail to leave area on being requested by authorised officer’.

Ms Tia Latif pleaded guilty to the offence of ‘Unlawfully enter inclosed non-agricultural lands interfere with conduct of business’.

Ms. Sue Higginson, the solicitor representing the defendants said, “It doesn’t seem to matter how many letters are written or how many legal protests are held but logging continues, despite the need to protect wildlife habitat and that the science is clear that forests are needed to mitigate climate change.”

In court, Ms. Higginson referred to a precedent under Queensland law that referenced a quote from a House of Lords case that said, in part, ‘People who break the law to affirm their belief in the injustice of a law or government action are sometimes vindicated by history’.

There is provision under NSW sentencing laws for first-time offenders who plead guilty early for the magistrate to not record a conviction.

Ms. Stephenson was given an 18-month good behaviour bond while Mr. Hannaford and Ms. Latif received 15-month bonds, without convictions.

When the magistrate offered an 18-month good behaviour bond, Mr. Kirk indicated that he might still need to take action if needed. He was convicted and fined $750.

Drought kills trees and Koalas:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-11/school-growing-trees-save-koala-drought-bushfire/12743570

However, in the town of Delungra in north New South Wales, the animals have the locals on their side.

But after dozens of trees around town died during the latest drought, local koala habitat was looking increasingly scarce.

Students have now taken the recovery effort into their own hands by growing trees for the town in their new greenhouse.

"Teaching is a privilege, with kids, and it's so great to be able to give them the gift of actually believing that they have power to change things," she said.

Environmental consultant John Lemon has researched koalas in the nearby region of Gunnedah for decades.

Between 2009 and 2019, he said a warming climate and disease had driven koala populations in the region down by as much as 75 per cent.

"What happens when koalas are stressed, chlamydia, which is endemic, presents itself, and they just die, it's terrible," he said.

"In some of the rocky ridges we've lost in excess of 50 per cent of the stringy barks and some of the eucalypt species, as well as other species," he said.

"That's just from drought, not from bushfires. To my knowledge there hasn't been much on-ground work to determine how many trees we've lost out of the landscape."

Focus on Macarthur-Campbelltown Koalas:

https://www.wollondillyadvertiser.com.au/story/6964419/global-activist-group-visits-macarthur-to-highlight-koala-plight/?cs=1552

The Red Rebels visited Macarthur after contacting community campaigner Sue Gay about the plight of the region's koalas.

Mrs Gay said the activists wanted to raise awareness about the struggles faced by koalas due to development in the region.

"They were simply wanting to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of development on our koala population," she said.

https://www.wollondillyadvertiser.com.au/story/6968530/nsw-government-fast-tracks-controversial-260-home-appin-development/

The NSW Government has fast-tracked a controversial, 260-home development at Macquariedale Road in Appin.

The Department of Planning website states that the $70.6 million project was fast-tracked "to inject investment into the NSW economy and keep people in jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic".

"The council gave a lot of consideration to this proposal but determined not to support it due to concerns about infrastructure servicing.

"The NSW Government has now approved the land for housing, opening the way for the landowner to submit a DA.

Appin resident Sue Gay said she was shocked and horrified to learn that the development had been fast-tracked by the government.

She said she held grave concerns for Appin's koalas because part of the development had been identified as a koala corridor.

"The community don't want it and the council don't want it, so it's pretty upsetting," she said.

https://www.miragenews.com/an-update-on-mt-gilead/

Campbelltown councillors and the public were last night given an update on the actions being taken to protect the local koala population as part of the Draft Biodiversity Certification Application for Mt Gilead Stage Two.

Since then, the proponent commissioned a report to clarify the necessary size of the koala movement corridors, which was peer reviewed by Dr Steve Phillips on the request of Council.

The findings of these reports concluded that for the preservation of koalas and the provision of suitable and viable habitat, the corridor habitat would require a width ranging from 425m to a minimum width of 250m, resulting in an average corridor width of 350m.

Safe crossing points across Appin Road have been recommended at key fauna corridor linkages as well as protection fencing along Appin Road.

Another Koala story:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/australia-s-koalas-under-threat-from-climate-change-and-urban-13287064

Does protecting the south-east increase logging in north-east:

https://www.examiner.com.au/story/6961781/concerns-over-rapid-increase-in-north-east-logging/

STT entered into the undertaking voluntarily after the Bob Brown Foundation submitted an injunction application which would have prevented logging in 19 coupes in the state's south.

But Blue Derby Wild, an organisation working to protect native forests in the North-East, still holds concerns that logging coupes which were not scheduled for logging until 2021/2022 are being logged this year.

She said they have seen coupes which weren't scheduled to be logged this year being moved into immediate production.

However, an audit of the company against Forest Stewardship guidelines earlier this year found major shortcomings. It found the company had ignore the advice of swift parrot experts, harvested too close to swift parrot nesting sites, and improperly harvested old growth forests under Forest Stewardship guidelines, among other things.

Warning for Flying Foxes:

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/loss-of-forest-habitat-from-the-devastating-bushfires-continues-to-impact-flying-fox-populations-on-the-mid-north-coast-60147

While local flying-foxes were able to fly away from the last bushfire event, their natural food sources of native eucalyptus and hardwood blossoms were decimated.

“After the bushfires wiped out a lot of their food sources, we are expecting to see many malnourished bats come into care,” Rianna told News Of The Area.

Rianna said, “From July 2019 we had a mass starvation event before the bushfires, all along the east coast of NSW and QLD.”

“Things that were supposed to be flowering weren’t, and we were thrown into a heartbreaking six months for the flying-foxes and other blossom-eating wildlife like possums and birds.”

How cats control human populations:

https://theconversation.com/cats-carry-diseases-that-can-be-deadly-to-humans-and-its-costing-australia-6-billion-every-year-147910?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%2016%202020%20-%201759817055&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%2016%202020%20-%201759817055+CID_23908d7f6c1b5bf190804bfe90b1605b&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Cats%20carry%20diseases%20that%20can%20be%20deadly%20to%20humans%20and%20its%20costing%20Australia%206%20billion%20every%20year

Toxoplasmosis, cat roundworm and cat scratch disease are caused by pathogens that depend on cats — pets or feral — for part of their life cycle. But these diseases can be passed to humans, sometimes with severe health consequences.

In our study published today in the journal Wildlife Research, we looked at the rates of these diseases in Australia, their health effects, and the costs to our economy.

Our estimations suggest more than 8,500 Australians are hospitalised and about 550 die annually from causes linked to these diseases.

We calculated the economic cost of these pathogens in Australia at more than A$6 billion per year based on the costs of medical care for affected people, lost income from time off work, and other related expenses.

Some 700,000 feral cats and another 2.7 million pet cats roam our towns and suburbs acting as reservoirs of these diseases.

Progress toward an adequate reserve system:

https://theconversation.com/how-much-the-budget-undervalued-conservation-16-world-heritage-sites-received-less-than-sydney-harbour-147663?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201753816992&utm_content=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%201753816992+CID_7413145f8f69e3eb7cdead76c6e7c1ca&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=How%20much%20the%20budget%20undervalued%20conservation%2016%20World%20Heritage%20sites%20received%20less%20than%20Sydney%20Harbour

Our global research published in Nature yesterday found between 2010 and 2019, protected areas expanded from covering 14.1% to 15.3% of global land and freshwater environments (excluding Antarctica), and from 2.9% to 7.5% of marine environments.

In Australia, we found nearly half of land-based ecoregions and threatened species have inadequate protections.

The Coalition government’s federal budget allocated A$233.4 million to six Commonwealth-run national parks — but most will be spent on tourism infrastructure upgrades.

Australia’s protected area estate is not immune to these management shortfalls. Between 1997 and 2014, there were more than 1,500 legal changes in Australia that eased restrictions, reduced boundaries or eliminated legal protections in protected areas.

Our research also showed less than 1% of the geographic ranges of the orange-bellied frog (Geocrinia vitellina), carpentarian dunnart (Sminthopsis butleri) and upriver orange mangrove (Bruguiera sexangula) — all threatened species — are protected.

Australia’s 16 natural World Heritage sites will receive just A$33.5 million — less than the $40.6 million promised to maintain and restore historical sites across Sydney Harbour.

Timber industry seeks to have their auditing extended to national parks:

https://www.gippslandtimes.com.au/story/6964284/forestry-leaders-audit-management-of-all-reserves-and-parks-not-just-production-forests/

RESPONSIBLE Wood has welcomed a suggestion by forestry leaders that all forests, including parks and reserves, should be certified to find out how well they are being managed.

Simon Dorries, chief executive of Responsible Wood - the Australian arm of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, the world's largest certification system - said the certification standard was designed not only for production areas, but also for reserved areas.

"You don't have to manage just for timber production.

"There are the economic and social aspects, the provision of employment for local communities, public access where appropriate and making sure those processes are managed."

Grief for the state of our world is growing:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/oct/15/the-great-unravelling-i-never-thought-id-live-to-see-the-horror-of-planetary-collapse

[Joëlle Gergis] The truth is, everything in life has its breaking point. My fear is that the planet’s equilibrium has been lost; we are now watching on as the dominoes begin to cascade. With just 1.1C of warming, Australia has already experienced unimaginable levels of destruction of its marine and land ecosystems in the space of a single summer. More than 20% of our country’s forests burnt in a single bushfire season. Virtually the entire range of the Great Barrier Reef cooked by one mass bleaching event. But what really worries me is what our Black Summer signals about the conditions that are yet to come. As things stand, the latest research shows that Australia could warm up to 7C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. If we continue along our current path, climate models show an average warming of 4.5C, with a range of 2.7–6.2C by 2100.

The revised warming projections for Australia will render large parts of our country uninhabitable and the Australian way of life unliveable, as extreme heat and increasingly erratic rainfall establishes itself as the new normal. Researchers who conducted an analysis of the conditions experienced during our Black Summer concluded “under a scenario where emissions continue to grow, such a year would be average by 2040 and exceptionally cool by 2060.”

I often despair that everything the scientific community is trying to do to help avert disaster is falling on deaf ears. Instead, we hear the federal government announcing policies ensuring the protection of fossil fuel industries, justifying pathetic emission targets that will doom Australia to an apocalyptic nightmare of a future.

As more psychologists begin to engage with the topic of climate change, they are telling us that being willing to acknowledge our personal and collective grief might be the only way out of the mess we are in. When we are finally willing to accept feelings of intense grief – for ourselves, our planet, our kids’ futures – we can use the intensity of our emotional response to propel us into action.

Something inside me feels like it has snapped, as if some essential thread of hope has failed. The knowing that sometimes things can’t be saved, that the planet is dying, that we couldn’t get it together in time to save the irreplaceable. It feels as though we have reached the point in human history when all the trees in the global common are finally gone, our connection to the wisdom of our ancestors lost forever.

As ecosystems and species collapse around us, we know that natural climate solutions can help save them and us:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/14/re-wild-to-mitigate-the-climate-crisis-urge-leading-scientists

Restoring natural landscapes damaged by human exploitation can be one of the most effective and cheapest ways to combat the climate crisis while also boosting dwindling wildlife populations, a scientific study finds.

If a third of the planet’s most degraded areas were restored, and protection was thrown around areas still in good condition, that would store carbon equating to half of all human caused greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial revolution.

The changes would prevent about 70% of predicted species extinctions, according to the research, which is published in the journal Nature.

Alexander Lees, senior lecturer in biodiversity at Manchester Metropolitan University, who was also not involved with the study, said: “[This] analysis indicates that we can take massive strides towards mitigating the loss of species and increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide by restoring just 15% of converted lands. The global community needs to commit to this pact to give back to nature post-haste – it’s the deal of the century, and like most good deals available for a limited time only.”

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/13102020/targeted-ecosystem-restoration-nature-study-climate-biodiversity

Protecting 30 percent of the priority areas identified by the new study could save the majority of mammals, amphibians and birds that are dying out and would soak up about 465 billion tons of carbon dioxide, equal to nearly half of the CO2 that has built up in the atmosphere since the start of the industrial age.

But such a restoration plan isn't a substitute for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which is still the highest priority for limiting global warming, and the CO2-reducing climate benefits from healing ecosystems aren't immediate—they would accrue over many decades to come, said co-author Thomas Brooks, chief scientist for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

"It's really important to be honest, not to kid ourselves that there are perfect solutions to address all the challenges," he said. "We show that ecosystem restoration targeted in the right places can deliver enormous benefits to biodiversity and climate."
"I think people sometimes underestimate how much of climate change is due to land use, like the burning of the Amazon and the conversion loss of forests to agriculture," she said. "This study is complementary to the goal of avoiding more destruction. It set priorities for restoration."

... our token efforts back the least effective natural climate solutions:

https://reneweconomy.com.au/csiro-report-questions-morrisons-faith-in-soil-carbon-due-to-warming-climate-65935/

Global warming could undermine the ability of soil carbon to act as a way to store emissions, with warmer temperatures compromising both the amount of carbon stored and the long-term permanence of that storage, according to a new research report from the CSIRO.

The CSIRO has prepared a new assessment of the risks posed by climate change to six different types of carbon abatement and storage, including agricultural soil carbon storage, the re-establishment of native forest cover, the planting of new forests and the protection of existing forests.

Under the technology roadmap, the Morrison government will aim to reduce the costs of monitoring the amount of carbon stored in Australia’s soils, and currently offers to purchase emissions reduction from soil carbon projects under the Emissions Reduction Fund.

So far, vegetation projects, soil carbon storage and savanna management project represent around three-quarters of the projects registered under the Australian government’s Emissions Reduction Fund, and around two-thirds of the abatement generated under the scheme.

It is an ironic assessment that suggests one of the Morrison government’s priority technologies identified as key to reducing Australia’s emissions could ultimately be impacted by climate change.

Senior researcher from the Climate Council, Tim Baxter, said the report confirmed some of the major challenges of relying upon soil carbon as a way of reducing emissions, particularly as it did not address the primary sources of emissions, including the use of fossil fuels.

https://www.climatechangeauthority.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-10/ERF%20Review%20-%20CSIRO%20Technical%20Report%20on%20Climate%20Risk%20-%20Final%20pdf.pdf

Sequestration activities require carbon to be stored in the landscape over the long-term. ...  Because of the permanence requirements, there are therefore risks associated with ensuring both the establishment and ongoing maintenance of the stored carbon. .

The index suggests Management of agricultural soils and Planting of new forests have the highest composite risk rating (Figure S1a). This is followed by Savanna fire management, Management of intertidal ecosystems and Re-establishment of native forest cover, with intermediate values. Protection of existing forests has the lowest risk rating.

Feeling the heat, plant trees:

https://www.statepress.com/article/2020/10/sppolitics-asu-researchers-address-extreme-heat-after-record-breaking-summer

Mark Hartman, the chief sustainability officer for the city of Phoenix, said Maricopa County officials are working together with researchers to make Phoenix a "HeatReady" city, a program that takes actions like planting more trees and installing "cool" concrete.

According to Hartman, Maricopa County has recently started planting over 4,500 trees per year to create more shade, an increase from the 1,000 trees being planted when the Tree and Shade Master Plan was passed in 2010 to make a Phoenix an "urban forest."

In addition to shade, urban forests help to improve air quality, manage stormwater and reduce energy costs.

So far this year, 134 people died of heat associated reasons and 212 suspected heat-related deaths are under investigation, according to a report from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. This is a potential increase from the 197 heat associated deaths in 2019.

"Beyond the people who died, we know there are many more people who get sick and go to the hospital requiring formal medical treatment," Hondula said. "And many more people have some sort of adverse impact on their quality of life and well-being because of the heat."

This year, Arizona experienced 53 days above 110 degrees, an increase from the previous record set in 2011 of 33 days, according to tweets from the National Weather Service Phoenix. The Arizona Department of Health Services reported nearly 2,000 people have died from "excessive exposure to heat" in Arizona from 2009-2019, and around 3,000 people a year visit an emergency room due to heat illness.

Flogging burnt forests to death:

https://www.miragenews.com/new-benchmark-to-protect-biodiversity-after-bushfires/

A new study has found up to three quarters of damaged forest needs to be protected from logging after major natural disasters, in order to preserve its biodiversity.

According to co-author Professor David Lindenmayer from The Australian National University (ANU), “naturally disturbed” forests are among the most threatened habitats in the world.

The study found around 75 per cent of an impacted area need to be left unlogged to maintain the majority (90 per cent) of its richness of unique species.

In contrast, leaving 50 per cent of the forest unlogged only protects 73 per cent of the area’s unique species richness.

“The importance of these unlogged areas didn’t increase or decrease within the first 20 years after salvage logging,” Professor Lindenmayer said.

“In some cases, forests might need several centuries to regrow crucial elements like trees with hollows.”

It has been published in Nature Communications.

Its not just in Australia that loggers try to capitalize on the disaster they are creating:

https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/10/09/wildfire-safety-starts-with-communities-not-logging-forests/

Another harrowing fire season and devastating losses of lives and homes sound an urgent alarm that California’s wildfire policy — focused on logging forests in the backcountry — isn’t working.

The good news is that a road map exists for fire policy that truly protects communities. Step one: Make houses and communities more fire-safe. Step two: Stop building new developments in fire-prone areas. Step three: Take strong action to fight climate change.

For years, state and federal wildfire policies have promoted logging of our forests. Under overly broad terms like forest management, thinning and fuels reduction, these policies do the bidding of the timber industry and entrenched agencies that are invested in cutting down trees. Yet, as more money has poured into logging, we’ve witnessed the unprecedented loss of lives and homes.

The 2018 Camp Fire that destroyed the Butte County city of Paradise spread most rapidly through areas that had been heavily logged, and we’re seeing the same patterns in this year’s fires.

study covering three decades and 1,500 fires, co-authored by one of my colleagues at the Center for Biological Diversity, found that the most heavily logged areas experience the most intense fire. That isn’t surprising given that cutting down trees creates more exposed, hotter, drier conditions and promotes the spread of highly flammable invasive grasses.

https://wkzo.com/2020/10/08/california-needs-forests-to-fight-climate-change-but-they-are-going-up-in-smoke/

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California's record wildfires pose a problem for the state's plan to use its forests to help offset climate-warming emissions.

This year, a record 4 million acres in California have burned, releasing decades of stored carbon into the atmosphere. That amounts to more than 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide ... That is equivalent to nearly half the state's annual human-caused emissions.

Between 2001 and 2014, California's forests and natural lands lost an amount of carbon equivalent to 511 million metric tons of CO2 emissions ... Wildfires accounted for three-quarters of that carbon release from forests, while logging and tree pruning as part of forest management made up the rest, state records show.

If the state's carbon price of about $17 per metric ton were applied to this year's estimated wildfire emissions, that would work out to roughly $3.4 billion in potential carbon market value up in smoke.

In August, California announced an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to reduce wildfire risk in part by using controlled burns and other means to clear 1 million acres of dead wood and other debris each year up to 2025. The deal also seeks to develop markets for woody biomass and a comprehensive statewide plan for forest management that will last 20 years.

The plan is aimed at protecting large trees in particular, which absorb and store carbon over hundreds of years.

Capitalists back climate mitigation:

https://theconversation.com/some-say-neoliberals-have-destroyed-the-world-but-now-they-want-to-save-it-is-scott-morrison-listening-148167?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%2016%202020%20-%201759817055&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%2016%202020%20-%201759817055+CID_23908d7f6c1b5bf190804bfe90b1605b&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Some%20say%20neoliberals%20have%20destroyed%20the%20world%20but%20now%20they%20want%20to%20save%20it%20Is%20Scott%20Morrison%20listening

The International Monetary Fund this week delivered a somewhat surprising message. It warned Earth was on course for “potentially catastrophic” damage under climate change, and called for green investment and carbon prices to put the global economy on a stronger, more sustainable footing.

Of course, the message itself makes a lot of sense. The surprising part is that the IMF is the outfit delivering it.

The Washington-based IMF cannot be dismissed as a bunch of latte-sipping leftists.

It warned policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions were “grossly insufficient to date” and global temperatures could increase by up to 5℃ by the end of this century. This would lead to “physical and economic damage, and increasing the risk of catastrophic outcomes across the planet”.

So in other words, the IMF recognises that now is a good time to undertake green investment, because it has long-term benefits and can act as a useful short-term stimulus.

It’s clear Australia is being left on the wrong side of history. And when even the IMF starts calling for dramatic climate action, Australia starts looking more isolated than ever.

https://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/articles/shades-of-reddwhy-the-world-needs-both-projects-and-policies-to-save-forests/

Demand for nature-based carbon credits is growing. This is encouraging. But progress is threatened by conflicting views on how best to design carbon credit schemes to stamp out deforestation. At one end of the debate are those arguing that governments must lead the way through policy. At the other end is a view that private sector investments in site-scale activities, or projects, are key to protecting forests.

This ideological debate stands in the way of the action the world urgently needs. In fact, if this debate keeps being conducted in a partisan manner, it risks turning off potential buyers of high-quality nature-based credits. This could, for example, result in a situation where planting new trees in developed countries is prioritized over avoiding the loss of biodiverse, carbon-rich, primary forests in developing countries.

So how to move forward? Nature-based carbon credits have a critical and immediate role to play in limiting global warming, when used in addition to other efforts that avoid and reduce emissions – like solar, wind, and hydrogen.

For a positive impact now, we need both policy-based and site-specific activities, and neither approach should hold the other hostage. Reforming forest governance takes time; it is challenging to overcome powerful interests that are often behind forest destruction. Projects can move more quickly and, as such, should contribute now to national climate targets and national aspirations for the forest sector.

What are forests best for?:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/surprising-investor-rebellion-at-procter-gamble-over-toilet-papers-forest-impact-2020-10-15

Two-thirds of Procter & Gamble’s shareholders this week defied the company’s own recommendations, upping the pressure on the consumer-goods giant to reduce sourcing virgin timber for its Charmin toilet paper, Puffs tissues, Bounty paper towels and more.

Some 67% of shareholders voted yes on Green Century Equity Fund’s shareholder proposal, which read “shareholders request P&G issue a report assessing if and how it could increase the scale, pace, and rigor of its efforts to eliminate deforestation and the degradation of intact forests in its supply chains.”

https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2020/10/14/bb-pg-shareholders-push-board-to-publish-report-on-deforestation

Prior to the vote, P&G Chief Executive Officer David Taylor defended the company’s practices, saying the company is “a leader not a laggard” on sustainability. He also said the company has to find ways to balance consumer demand for softer, premium tissue with sustainability questions.

Competitor Kimberly-Clark Corp. has revamped its climate goals to address its sourcing. The company has said it will reduce its sourcing of wood fibers from forests such as the Boreal by 50% by 2025.

Virtual Forest Bathing:

https://www.khon2.com/living-808/forest-bathing-hawaii-hosts-virtual-tours-to-help-destress-individuals-working-from-home/

“When we walk together along easy trails under the forest canopy, I’ll invite you to touch and listen to the trees, to smell and taste what is in the wind, to notice what you are seeing as if for the first time. Slowly, time deepens and the stresses of the modern world fall away,” says Phyllis Look, founder of Forest Bathing Hawaii.

Look says, “During this time when many of us are experiencing heightened stress, disorientation, and a sense of isolation, these virtual forest bathing walks offer opportunities to connect to others, to yourself, and to the grace of the natural world.”

“These online meetings invite you to join from a safe and familiar outdoor space near you, or from inside your home. Our guides will be on a trail or at a green space on the island of Oʻahu and you’ll be able to experience Hawaiʻi’s natural and healing beauty through your screen,” says Look.

... and viral forest bathing:

https://opinion.inquirer.net/134350/forests-pandemics-and-money

The warning signs are everywhere. In the pursuit of “development,” humans have radically modified the natural world. Among the worst affected are the planet’s forest ecosystems. The world has lost about 40 percent of its forests since the dawn of the industrial age.

In a recently published paper in the journal Nature, Gibb and coauthors (2020) analyzed almost 7,000 ecological communities worldwide and 376 host species of human diseases to find out if there is a link between ecosystem destruction and epidemics. Their findings showed that wildlife hosts of human pathogens and parasites are much greater in human-disturbed ecosystems, in some cases two times higher, compared to nearby pristine habitats. This trend is especially true for rodents, bats, and perching birds. As we know by now, COVID-19 likely came from bats originally through an intermediary animal. These findings suggest the need to temper the rampant conversion of natural systems to other land uses. Failure to do so will increasingly expose people to new forms of diseases.

At the individual level, the wise use of forest products like wood, paper, and yes, even ornamental plants, will translate to lesser pressure on forests.

The pandemic reminds us that taking care of our forests is literally a matter of life and death.

... and vital forest bathing:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/14/greener-play-areas-boost-childrens-immune-systems-research-finds

Children whose outdoor play areas were transformed from gravel yards to mini-forests showed improved immune systems within a month, research has shown.

The research is published in the journal Science Advances ...

In four centres, turf from natural forest floors, complete with dwarf shrubs, blueberries, crowberry, and mosses, were installed in previously bare play areas....

Tests after 28 days showed the diversity of microbes on the children’s skin was a third higher than for those still playing in gravel yards and was significantly increased in the gut. Blood samples showed beneficial changes to a range of proteins and cells related to the immune system, including anti-inflammatory cytokine and regulatory T cells.

A report in 2019 by the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health concluded that grubbing around outside is important for building a robust immune system, but that cleanliness is still vital when people are preparing and eating food.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-10-forest-kids-daycare-boost-young.html

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8842817/Nature-Children-play-forests-parklands-stronger-immune-systems-study-suggests.html

    • The team found the kids kept diverse microbiota and got an immune boost
    • It is thought that exposure to microbes challenges the body's immune system 
    • This prevents autoimmune conditions like asthma, eczema and type 1 diabetes

Forest Media 9 October 2020

Wild Cattle Creek protesters found guilty of trying to save the world, while EPA mount first ever north-east NSW prosecution of Forestry Corporation for multiple breaches of threatened species laws. Berejiklian claims victory, while standing over the gutted corpse of the Koala SEPP.  Australia leads the developed world in land clearing and species extinction, though rather than resting on our laurels NSW intends to take it to new heights in the name of bushfire control. Lyrebirds are more effective at controlling fires than logging. Logging of south-east Queensland's State Forests to be stopped by 2024. Victoria funds its transition to plantations, though those god-bothering Feds are funding our transition to armageddon - while we are paying for it now our kids will pay far more! While the Feds throw millions after billions of your taxes on sham carbon capture and storage schemes, nature wants to do be allowed to do it for free, if only they would let it. In air nitrous oxide is no laughing matter.

Regards

Dailan

Wild Cattle Creek protesters plead guilty to trying to save the world:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-07/anti-logging-protesters-sentenced-over-site-of-logging-breach/12740990

Ms Higginson tendered evidence from the EPA that the area where the protest was held was among the areas where Forestry Corporation had breached logging laws by felling giant trees.

Magistrate David O'Neil agreed with the prosecution, and said it was not clear that the pair was aware of the alleged breaches at the time of the protest.

In sentencing Ms Stephenson, Magistrate O'Neil sympathised with her protest goal to promote action on climate change that he said needed "to be addressed urgently".

The 28-year-old was sentenced to an 18-month conditional release order without conviction.

Magistrate O'Neil told the court he was prepared to hand down the same sentence for Mr Kirk, despite his criminal history in Western Australia that included drug and assault offences.

But Mr Kirk addressed the magistrate directly and turned down the charge.

"If it comes up again, I will do it for my country and my ancestors," he said.

The 32-year-old was convicted and ordered to pay a fine of $750.

... then EPA announce they will prosecute Forestry Corporation for illegal logging in Wild Cattle Creek:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/oct/08/forestry-corporation-of-nsw-could-face-1m-in-fines-for-alleged-logging-in-koala-habitat

The Forestry Corporation of New South Wales could face more than $1m in fines for the alleged illegal logging of trees in protected areas, including koala habitat, in the state’s north.

It is facing two charges for logging zones considered “high use” habitat for koalas, with each offence carrying a maximum fine of $440,000.

The authority also alleges that the forestry agency logged protected rainforest and cleared trees inside an exclusion zone surrounding warm temperate rainforest.

The EPA’s acting chief executive, Jacqueleine Moore, said it was unacceptable to put vulnerable species, such as the koala, in danger by breaking the rules. “We have strict procedures in place to protect wildlife, and if they are disregarded it can put these animals under threat,” Moore said.

A spokeswoman for the Forestry Corporation said during the logging operations it had set aside 21 hectares of habitat “which was three times what was required under the ruleset, protecting an additional 6000 trees”. She said the EPA’s allegations related to nine trees.

https://www.miragenews.com/epa-prosecutes-forestry-corporation-for-alleged-breaches-in-koala-exclusion-zones/

The two offences relating to koala exclusion zones carry a maximum penalty of $440,000 each, while the other three offences carry a maximum penalty of $110,000 each.

The prosecutions are listed for mention before the Land and Environment Court on 16 October 2020.

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/growing-a-backbone-nsw-epa-praised-for-prosecuting-forestry-corp-20201008-p563bh.html

North East Forest Alliance spokesman Dailan Pugh said the prosecutions and the stop-work order were the first such actions in northern NSW, and appear to signal a more aggressive stance by the watchdog.

"There's a new team in charge at the EPA and it seems they have finally got some backbone," Mr Pugh said, adding Forestry Corp doesn't pay attention to anything short of prosecutions.

"It's awe-inspiring to go into these forests. These are just magnificent trees," Mr Pugh said.

"The EPA needs to get this environmental operator [Forestry Corp] to act in accordance with the law," Ms Higginson said.

Ms Higginson, though, said the EPA's recent stop work order had come nine days after Forestry Corp contractors had been found to have allegedly illegally logged two giant trees on July 9.

The EPA waited"while the logging went on day after day", she said. "You don't need nine days to work that out."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-09/nsw-environment-regulator-takes-forestry-to-court/12747132

Australian Koala Foundation chair Deborah Tabart said the regulator had taken serious action.

"[We're] absolutely delighted that the Forestry Corporation is being called to account by the EPA," Ms Tabart said.

"I've been in my job for 32 years and it's a very rare event, so I'll be very interested to see the outcomes."

NEFA spokesman Dailan Pugh said he hoped the action against Forestry operations at Wild Cattle Creek Forest would be a catalyst for change.

"[It's] a landmark moment," he said.

"Let's wait and see whether the prosecution is carried through to the end result and that there's a meaningful outcome."

Mr Pugh and other environmental groups, such as the Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group, want the forest to be preserved and eventually made part of a proposed Great Koala National Park on the Coffs Coast.

Berejiklian claims victory when gutting protection for Koalas on private lands:

https://www.goulburnpost.com.au/story/6961073/cranky-koala-goes-out-on-a-limb-for-species-protection/

Mark Selmes is much more at home in the quiet forest at Mount Rae near Taralga.

But on Tuesday he put on his cranky pants, donned his 'Cranky Koala' suit and went off to 'the big smoke.'

Heads turned as he boarded Sydney public transport, armed with his sign - 'Stop logging our home: Save our forests.' Working up a sweat, he marched up to Parliament House where the Libs and Nats were meeting over the controversial Koala State Environmental Planning Policy.

As a key stakeholder in the environment Cranky Koala wanted to be heard. After all, it was Australian Wildlife Week. Who better to represent their views?

Cranky Koala said he was concerned that the National Party seemed not to understand that to save koalas, people needed to save their homes and food - the trees.

Past laws had seemed to protect mining, logging, industrial scale agriculture and urban development - all at the expense of the koala, he told The Post.

https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/News/2020/NSW-Government-finalises-koala-SEPP

[Mr Stokes] “Last night’s resolution demonstrates that there are often important robust and passionate discussions as part of the decision-making process. The koala is an iconic Australian animal and saving it from extinction in the wild is the goal of this policy.”

The NSW Government has agreed the following in order to reverse the decline of the State’s koala population:

  • Retaining the 123 tree species that have been scientifically proven to be critical to koala survival, as habitat and feed source
  • Refining the definition of ‘core koala habitat’, meaning it must be either a highly suitable habitat and koalas are present, or highly suitable habitat and there is a verified record of koalas
  • Decoupling the Private Native Forestry and the Land Management Codes within the Local Land Services Act 2013 from the Koala SEPP on the basis robust protections already exist;
  • Strengthening landholder rights when a local council creates a Koala Plan of Management by extending minimum exhibition timeframes, introducing clear dispute pathways for landholders and ensuring they can access ecologists or use their own to appeal or object to what a council has put forward;
  • Removing the pink Development Application Map in favour of returning to an on-the-ground survey method; and,
  • Refining the blue Site Investigation Map and making it available to local councils.

https://www.miragenews.com/nsw-government-finalises-koala-sepp/

The final Koala SEPP will be taken to the Executive Council for approval by the Governor as soon as possible and Guidelines will be published on Friday, 16 October. The NSW Government will introduce amendments into the Parliament to the Local Land Services Act 2013 this year.

https://www.begadistrictnews.com.au/story/6957806/nsw-government-agrees-to-new-koala-policy/?cs=9676

Mr Barilaro argued the laws were a "nail in the coffin for farmers" and threatened to take his MPs to the cross bench, but backed down less than 24 hours later after an ultimatum from the premier.

Acting Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the agreement reached would free farmers from "green tape", by separating land management and private native forestry within the SEPP.

They were concerned the policy would limit land use on farms and the ability to rezone areas for development as more trees would be classed as koala habitat, which would restrict the clearing of land.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-07/nsw-government-agrees-on-koala-protection-policy/12738432

The new policy separates private forestry and land management into the Local Land Services Act and removes controversial habitat maps in favour of on-ground surveys.

It also re-defines the meaning of "core koala habitat" and enforces the protection of 123 target tree species that have been shown to be crucial sources of habitat and feed for koalas.

[Rob Stokes] "It is particularly aimed at urban expansion on the north coast of NSW or in areas around Sydney where there is significant land clearing of core koala habitat.

"Obviously that has to stop and that's what this policy achieves."

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said the heated debate over the policy resulted in a better outcome for all.

Ms Berejiklian said she was confident the parties would reach a suitable agreement.

"I think it is a great balance; I am really, really happy with where it is has landed," she said.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/robust-negotiations-end-coalition-division-over-koala-policy-20201006-p562m2.html

The definition of "core koala habitat" has been refined to mean it must be highly suitable habitat with koalas present and with a confirmed record of koalas, or highly suitable with a record of koalas in the past 18 years.

Before the government announced an in-principle agreement over the SEPP last week, the Nationals leadership sought endorsement of the deal in an emergency party room meeting over Zoom.

Senior MPs say the resulting agreement shows the Coalition crisis should never have happened, with one Nationals MP saying the result was "more about the absence of Barilaro".

https://www.miragenews.com/koalas-can-t-cope-with-more-habitat-loss-inquiry-chair/

“Koalas have suffered so much, with at least one third of them killed in the bushfires,” said Ms Faehrmann

“They are now seeking refuge and safety in the pockets of bushland and forests which remain. Any further loss could be devastating for local populations which are the key to the species ongoing survival.

“The protection of habitat necessary to stop koalas becoming extinct must be decided by the science, not by the National Party. For the Liberals to back down on the definition of core koala habitat after years of extensive research and mapping by experts is hugely disappointing,” says Ms Faehrmann.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/10/koala-protections-stripped-away-by-berejiklian-government/

There was a moment of hope when environmentalists were praising the NSW Berejiklian government for standing up to the bullying tactics of their National Party colleagues over protecting koalas. But it didn’t last and the Liberal Party has again back-flipped, facilitating the koala’s path to extinction by 2050.

‘Koala populations had declined by 50 per cent over 20 years on the north coast before the fires, then they lost 30 per cent of their remaining populations in one fire season,’ said North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson Dailan Pugh.

‘The Liberals caved in to National Party bullying. Despite the warning of the bipartisan Koala Inquiry that koalas could become extinct by 2050. The Berejiklian government’s perverse response has been to dramatically weaken protection for koalas...

‘It was fear of Council’s now mapping core Koala habitat that upset the timber industry and land developers, and thereby precipitated the National Party’s dummy spit.

‘The outcome is that the mapping criteria are being tightened to limit the ability of Councils to map and identify core Koala habitat, and that when identified it will no longer be excluded from broadscale clearing and logging.

https://www.bellingencourier.com.au/story/6961632/opinion-berejiklian-government-backflip-a-nail-in-the-coffin-of-koalas/

"The government's spin that their gutting of 25 years of Koala protection is somehow a good outcome for Koalas is utter nonsense", said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.

"With 61 per cent of Koala habitat on private land, making mapped core Koala habitat available for logging and allowing its broadscale clearing without approval, is a major loss of protection and will hasten the looming extinction of Koalas.

Allowable fenceline clearing increased from 6m to 25 m.

https://7news.com.au/politics/new-laws-to-clear-bushfire-hazards-in-nsw-c-1368995

The NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner will be given sweeping new powers to decide if vegetation should be cleared to protect lives or property at the risk from bushfires.

Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott also announced simplified rules for landowners, allowing them to clear up to 25 metres on their property from the boundary without seeking approvals.

"If public authorities fail to clear lands, the NSW RFS will step in."

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/oct/07/nsw-will-allow-land-to-be-cleared-up-to-25m-from-property-boundary-citing-bushfire-concerns

The New South Wales government will allow rural landholders to clear up to 25m of land from their property’s fence line without an environmental approval, a move it says will “empower” property owners to reduce bushfire risk.

But the proposal, which was not one of the 76 recommendations from the NSW bushfire inquiry, has been labelled “anti-science” and prompted alarm it will lead to broad-scale clearing of endangered forest and habitat for grazing and other purposes unrelated to hazard reduction.

But there are concerns the plan could allow for unregulated clearing of vulnerable ecosystems including rainforest, koala habitat, old-growth trees and critically endangered ecological communities. NSW has already recorded huge increases in land-clearing rates as a result of changes to native vegetation laws in 2017.

... as if we need more clearing:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2020-10-08/deforestation-land-clearing-australia-state-by-state/12535438

Australia is a world leader in chopping down trees and wiping out animals: two questionable accomplishments that are tightly connected.

Land clearing and habitat loss are the biggest drivers of animal extinction and in recent years, Australia's aggressive rate of land clearing has ranked among the developed world's fastest.

So despite our reputation for untamed wilderness and charismatic wildlife, it's perhaps no surprise that Australia has one of the highest rates of animal extinction in the world.

[2010-18] More than 88,000 hectares of primary forest was cleared in New South Wales.

Reclearing takes the state's entire land clearing tally to 663,000 hectares.

In 2017, New South Wales relaxed its native vegetation clearing laws, however the impact that has had on land clearing is expected to show up in the reporting periods for 2019 and 2020.

A leaked report from the Natural Resources Commission last year suggested that land clearing may have surged by as much as 13 times.

Despite the clearing of more than 3.5 million hectares nationally during the 2010-2018 period, according to the National Greenhouse Accounts(NGA) data there has been a net increase in tree cover in Australia during that time.

To get to that conclusion, they have compared the amount of cleared land (3.78 million hectares) with the amount of land allowed to regrow (4.19 million hectares), to come up with a "net forest clearing" figure of negative-401,000 hectares.

But critics say this does not represent what is happening in our forests from a wildlife conservation or carbon storage perspective.

The issue is that a mature forest can be cleared in one place, and an equivalent area of three-foot-high saplings may have regrown in another.

In that case the data would show no net loss in forest cover, despite a significant deficit of carbon storage and habitat occurring.

For instance, using the SLATs method the Queensland state government reported 356,000 and 392,000 hectares were cleared in Queensland in the periods 2016-17 (winter-to-winter) and 2017-18 respectively.

But the National Greenhouse Accounts (NGA) figures for Queensland show only 304,000 and 254,400 hectares were cleared for the 2017 and 2018 periods — almost 190,000 hectares less.

Lyrebirds great at controlling fires,

https://clarencevalleynews.com.au/lyrical-lyrebird-recognised-as-hard-working-engineer/

Researchers from La Trobe University have discovered the superb lyrebird – famous for its extraordinary vocal range and ability to mimic almost any sound – can move more soil than any other land animal globally.

Lead researcher and PhD candidate Alex Maisey found wild superb lyrebirds displace on average 155 tonnes of soil and leaf litter per hectare in a single year while foraging for food, making an important contribution to forest ecology.

“In just one year, we calculated that each lyrebird in Sherbrooke Forest moved a load equivalent to that carried by 11 standard dump trucks,” Mr Maisey said.

The scientists discovered that by moving large amounts of material, lyrebirds change litter decomposition and the structure of soil on the forest floor, creating opportunities for other species, with important implications for groundcover plants, fire behaviour and post-fire ecosystem recovery.

https://www.audubon.org/news/another-reason-lyrebirds-they-move-tons-dirt-keeping-forests-healthy

Without the Superb Lyrebird, eastern Australia’s forests would be vastly different places. As they forage, the birds inadvertently play a large role in maintaining a healthy habitat that benefits organisms such as plants, fungi, and insects. Their digging aerates the soil and buries leaf litter, hastening its natural decomposition. This creates microhabitats for small invertebrates, and helps seeds germinate on the forest floor.

All that raking also prevents the accumulation of dry leaf litter on the surface, which reduces the risk, extent, and intensity of wildfires. “If there's lots of fuel sitting on the ground available to a fire, then the fire will burn hotter and quicker," Maisey says. "But when lyrebirds are actively burying fuel, it becomes unavailable to fires."

At the end of their two-year study, Maisey and his team found that patches of forest where the birds were experimentally excluded had three times more dry leaf litter than areas where they were allowed to forage freely.

“They definitely play a significant role in fire reduction,” says Todd Elliot, a biologist with the University of New England (Australia), who was not involved with the study.

... cutting down trees not good at controlling fire:

https://phys.org/news/2020-10-thinning-forests-defence.html
Having logging machines "thin" forest for fire reduction is largely ineffective, a new peer-reviewed, scientific study has found.

The study, led by researchers at The Australian National University and published in the journal Conservation Letters, compared fire severity in unthinned versus thinned forest burned in the 2009 wildfires.

The scientific evidence showed that across almost every forest age and type, thinning made little difference. It actually increased the likelihood of a crown burn in older, mixed species forests, and slightly reduced the chance of crown burn in younger aged, mixed species forest.

The study also found 20- to 40- year old forest was more likely to suffer crown burn than 70-year-old forest. It also suggested more study could still be done on the topic.

"A previous report found thinning of forests increased fire risk," Dr. Taylor said. "And multiple previous studies have also found fire severity is lower in older, undisturbed and unlogged forests."

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/oct/08/thinning-forests-doesnt-reduce-bushfire-risk-and-could-make-some-blazes-worse-study-finds

Taylor told Guardian Australia that thinning tended to leave fuel on the forest floor and the machinery used could also crush vegetation.

“What you have left is an abundance of fuel that dries out and becomes a fire risk,” he said.

The study also says thinning can make a forest drier as well as increase air flow “potentially facilitating the spread of fire through the forest”.

Its co-author, Prof David Lindenmayer, said the study “basically says that the solution that the industry is suggesting to help solve the problem is not going to help”.

“The only place where thinning has had a positive effect [on fire severity] is in models,” he said.

In submissions to the royal commission earlier this year, at least three forest industry groups advocated for widespread thinning to cut the risk of bushfires.

Victoria continues transition to plantations:

https://www.miragenews.com/innovation-key-to-future-of-our-timber-industry/

Timber businesses with innovative ideas about using plantation timber and transforming operations away from native timber will be supported with grants from the Victorian Government.

Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development Jaclyn Symes today visited Wodonga manufacturing business XLam to launch the Timber Innovation Grants, which will offer up to $100,000 to help timber mills and harvest and haulage businesses explore shifting to plantation fibre or other timber manufacturing opportunities.

It is a key part of the Government’s $120 million Victorian Forestry Plan to transition from harvesting native forests to a plantation-based sector.

As Queensland ALP recommit to belatedly protecting State Forests in south-east Queensland

https://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/6957797/alp-plan-to-set-aside-17pc-of-state-for-nature-is-revived/

A strategy that continues to support an aspirational target of setting aside 17 per cent of Queensland's land mass for national parks, nature refuges and wildlife reserves has been unveiled by the Palaszczuk government.

Queensland's Protected Area Strategy 2020-2030 is a ten-year plan that Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said would play a vital role in supporting the state's economic recovery by protecting and revitalising park areas and promoting a tourism-led recovery.

Queensland's protected area network currently covers more than 14.2 million hectares or 8.26pc of Queensland ...
In 2019 the government announced that it would transfer up to 20,000 hectares of state forest in south east Queensland, where logging will cease, to protected area by 2024, and the first 6000 hectares of this transfer would occur in the current financial year, as part of the strategy.

Our rulers continue transition to armageddon as they wage war on 'god's' creation:

https://www.nationaltribune.com.au/budget-2020-21-a-win-for-big-polluters-a-loss-for-climate-action/

The gas industry, mining companies and big polluters are the clear winners from this year’s federal budget, while climate action is the clear loser, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.

“We know the best way to cut the pollution driving global warming is to move away from burning coal and gas, yet this budget provides funding that locks in new fossil fuel projects,” said ACF’s Chief Executive Officer, Kelly O’Shanassy.

“The gas industry is the big winner with $52.8 million allocated to accelerating gas projects, continuing gas research and re-establishing the east coast gas market.”

“The fuel tax credit subsidy, which allows multinational mining companies like Rio Tinto, BHP and Glencore to pay zero tax on their off-road diesel use, will cost Australians $33 billion across the forward estimates.

“Coal mining companies alone will receive more than $1.2 billion a year in diesel fuel subsidies over the forward estimates.

“The budget puts $50 million over three years to further experiments with speculative carbon capture and storage, even though CCS has already received $1.3 billion in taxpayer support with virtually no commercial success

https://theconversation.com/backwards-federal-budget-morrison-government-never-fails-to-disappoint-on-climate-action-147659?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%208%202020%20-%201752416972&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%208%202020%20-%201752416972+CID_685341bd6a90f291a5b0e948020e8c0e&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Backwards%20federal%20budget%20Morrison%20government%20never%20fails%20to%20disappoint%20on%20climate%20action

The budget was a chance to reset Australia’s failed climate policy – an opportunity enhanced by the stimulus spending brought on by COVID-19.

Instead, we got a string of backward-looking gestures including subsidies for coal, another go at the failed technology of carbon capture storage and a continued push for gas.

Sooner or later, Australia will have to join the rest of the world in ending our reliance on carbon-based energy. The catastrophic bushfires of last summer proved this. And if we refuse to move, the rest of the world will force our hand.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/budget-2020-18bn-boost-for-national-parks-oceans-recycling/news-story/f83db4c5dee143a9aef2b5088978584a?btr=7bb42d797802911c5d944cb305878fa0

Funding for environmental protection has been bolstered by $1.8bn, with money for national parks, oceans and recycling.

Josh Frydenberg used his budget speech to highlight the government’s responsibility to “protect our environment and this magnificent continent”.

Mr Frydenberg hailed the “biggest single investments in Australia’s commonwealth national parks”, with a $233m upgrade of facilities in Uluru, Kakadu, Christmas Island and the Booderee ­National Park.

An extra $255m over four years will also be spent to “ensure the ­financial sustainability of the ­Bureau of Meteorology”.

Other spending includes $203m for bushfire wildlife and habitat recovery, $149m on a 10-year threatened species strategy and $37m to “maintain the timeliness of environmental assessments” under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

There will also be $41m provided to the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust to “allow for the renewal and repair of heritage-listed infrastructure, public safety improvements and master planning for Cockatoo Island and North Head Sanctuary”.

Mr Frydenberg hailed a $250m reform of the waste and recycling industries, including through the ban of waste exports.

https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/disappointing-environment-budget-lacks-new-funding-for-australian-renewables/ar-BB19KCO1

The environment minister, Sussan Ley, said the government would spend $67.4m on oceans and marine ecosystems, including $14.8 million to tackle the marine impacts of ghost nets and plastic litter and $28.3 million for compliance, enforcement and monitoring activities across Australia’s marine parks.

A further $20m in already announced funding will go towards reestablishing native oyster reefs at eleven sites around the country.

It contains some measures in response to the interim report of the review of Australia’s environment laws ... The money budgeted in response to the report is largely focused on the Morrison government’s deregulation agenda. There is $10.6m over two years for negotiations with the state and territories to move to a “single touch” system for environmental approvals. Legislation that will clear the way for bilateral approval agreements is currently before the parliament.

Greenpeace Australia’s Pacific program director, Kate Smolski, said: “Reading this budget, you would never know that Australia very recently suffered the worst bushfires in its history that killed more than 30 people, billions of animals and burned more than 17 million hectares of land including homes and businesses.”

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/federal-budget-condemns-our-wildlife-to-extinction,14386

This Budget paper should fill every concerned Australian with alarm. Not only is the overview paper an exercise in spin, as evidenced in the list of outcomes, but funding for urgent environmental priorities is ignored.

Without doubt, the plight of koalas is a major concern for the public. Given the millions of dollars donated by Australians and overseas celebs, organisations and concerned citizens, the Budget fails to recognise the koalas’ plight.

Instead of 210,000 human lives lost, the Australian leader is condemning our wildlife to extinction. The Budget is a national disgrace.

As Commonwealth throw millions after billions on sham carbon capture and storage schemes, nature wants to do it for free:

https://www.spatialsource.com.au/uncategorized/study-maps-global-regrowth-carbon-capture-potential

CSIRO scientists have joined researchers across the globe to produce a 1km resolution map of carbon accumulation potential from forest regrowth.

Published in Nature, the study is the first of its kind, producing a ‘wall to wall’ global map that highlights forested areas with greatest carbon returns if allowed to regrow naturally.

Our goal with this study was to show where forests can capture carbon fastest on their own,a mitigation strategy that complements keeping forests standing,” said co-author Dr. Nancy Harris from World Resources Institute.

“If we let them, forests can do some of our climate mitigation work for us.”

The full report is available from Nature, with an overview of the data published on the Natural Climate Solutions World Atlas, a project by Nature4Climate (N4C) –a coalition established by The Nature Conservancy with Conservation International, World Resources Institute and other partners to increase global investment and action on nature-based solutions.

https://www.miragenews.com/fao-director-general-calls-for-transformational-change-in-way-we-manage-our-forests-and-food-systems-that-depend/

5 October 2020, Rome – Transformational change is needed in the way we manage our forests and their biodiversity, produce and consume our foods and interact with nature, if we want to build back better after the COVID-19 pandemic and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This was the key message of a speech delivered today by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu at the 25th session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO).

“Halting deforestation and scaling up reforestation, must be a central building block to the sustainable transformation of food systems”, the FAO chief stressed.

“COVID-19 has taught us that we need to reinforce for urgent action,” Inger Andersen said, noting that a green recovery from the pandemic must promote healthy and restored forests following the transitions laid out in the Convention for Biological Diversity with conserving intact ecosystems, restoring ecosystems and reversing degradation being the priorities . “But to make these transitions happen we need to transform our food systems, which is the largest deforestation cause and which is the largest biodiversity loss cause,” she added.

Nitrous oxide is no laughing matter:

https://theconversation.com/new-research-nitrous-oxide-emissions-300-times-more-powerful-than-co-are-jeopardising-earths-future-147208?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%208%202020%20-%201752416972&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20October%208%202020%20-%201752416972+CID_685341bd6a90f291a5b0e948020e8c0e&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=New%20research%20nitrous%20oxide%20emissions%20300%20times%20more%20powerful%20than%20CO%20are%20jeopardising%20Earths%20future

Nitrous oxide from agriculture and other sources is accumulating in the atmosphere so quickly it puts Earth on track for a dangerous 3℃ warming this century, our new research has found.

Each year, more than 100 million tonnes of nitrogen are spread on crops in the form of synthetic fertiliser. The same amount again is put onto pastures and crops in manure from livestock.

As a greenhouse gas, N₂O has 300 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO₂) and stays in the atmosphere for an average 116 years. It’s the third most important greenhouse gas after CO₂ (which lasts up to thousands of years in the atmosphere) and methane.

The current concentrations are in line with a global average temperature increase of well above 3℃ this century.

We found that global human-caused N₂O emissions have grown by 30% over the past three decades.

 

2 October 2020


The Nationals demand logging of unburnt forests:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brandy Hill Koalas gaining momentum:

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

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

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

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

No piddly quarries for Queensland:

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the Koala SEPP all about:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scotty from marketing knows what's best:

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

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

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

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

First round to Bob Brown in renewed RFA legal battle:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guy Barnett, Minister for Resources

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

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

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

Western Australian nannas aggravate loggers:

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

Meanwhile Victoria is transitioning to plantations:

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

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

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

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

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

... and replanting disappearing alpine forests:

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

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

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

We each get 8 more trees a year:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Though its not all good:

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

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

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

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

Is a fairer and greener Australia possible:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We need to imagine the future we want:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... while ghost forests are spreading:

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

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

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

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

... and zombie fires refuse to die:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... the edge effect makes it worse:

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

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

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

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

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

There is still hope:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25 September 2020


Open warfare erupts between EPA and Forestry Corporation:

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

Key points:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Myrtle continues on:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Koala crisis continues:

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

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

Her resignation was made effectively immediately on September 20.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Koala being considered for national listing as Endangered:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Koala reserves in waiting burnt:

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

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

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

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

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

Koalas get a new home:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... you win some, you lose some:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can hear Tim Cadman from 2:06:10

Road impact of concern to council:

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

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

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

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

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

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

A lot is going on in Victoria:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hollowing out forests:

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

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

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

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

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

[Luckily Forestry Corp put 100 back]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We need to look below:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the human virus attacks the earth's lungs:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A fire tally:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... and Fir forests are feeling the heat:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The dead should R.I.P:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Germany recognising forest's value:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Valuing Conservation:

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

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

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

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

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

... and second place goes to Australia:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18 September 2020


Logging burnt forests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fallout from the Koala Wars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sydney Morning Herald 14_9_2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making hollow gestures

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

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

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

We pay dearly to replace industry's burnt resources

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

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

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

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

.... at least they are good for burning

The Coffs Coast Advocate17 Sept 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A forest history

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lest we forget the great burning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World not meeting biodiversity targets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 September 2020


Koalas surface in Myrtle

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

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

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

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

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

Forests are not rubbish tips

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

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

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

Koala fire losses quantified

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And they really need to be listed as that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Telegraph 6 September 2020

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

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

Wildlife plight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Telegraph 9 September 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, the ABC understands she refused.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... and there is an expemption for bushfire rebuilding

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

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

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

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

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

Giving Koalas a licking

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

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

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

Some can't run away

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

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

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

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

Tasmanian conflict intractable because of politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giant slayers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forester slams foresters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Replacement oldgrowth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By another name

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

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

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

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

Wild populations are crashing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time to speak up for the EPBC Act

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We have no such right.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liberals may be frustrated by senate

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

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

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

Not speaking truth to power

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

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

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

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

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

and just plain lying

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

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

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

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

Trees more profitable than sheep

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

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

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

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

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

Extremes getting more extreme

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

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

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

IAG’s report says bushfire risk will increase across almost all locations nationally and Australia will experience longer fire seasons and this will reduce the amount of time able to be spent on mitigation such as hazard burns.

Australia will experience fewer tropical cyclones but those that do hit will move further inland and be more destructive. Cyclones will also move south towards regions that typically haven’t experienced these types of events, such as south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales.

Large-sized hail risks will particularly increase in an area from the Hunter River through to the southern NSW Highlands, as well as in parts of Victoria.

Now California is feeling the heat

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/world/us-news/2020/09/11/wildfires-us-oregon/

Dozens of extreme wind-driven wildfires have burned through forests and towns in US West Coast states, destroying hundreds of homes and killing at least nine people.

The blazes have torn through at least five communities in Oregon’s Cascade mountain range, as well as areas of coastal rainforest that normally spared from wildfires. In eastern Washington state, a fire destroyed most of the farming town of Malden.

Firefighters said unusually hot, dry winds out of the east supercharged blazes, spreading flames from community to community, and then from house to house.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said up to 40,000 people had evacuated across the state where 365,000 hectares had burned, dwarfing Oregon’s average 202,000 hectare full-year total.

“We have never seen this amount of uncontained fire across the state,” Ms Brown said.

“We are feeling the acute impacts of climate change.”

Wildfires have burned more than 1.2 million hectares in California in 2020, marking a record for any year. Six of the top 20 largest wildfires in state history have occurred this year.

Amazon, degradation outpacing clearing

https://phys.org/news/2020-09-amazon-forest-degradation-outpacing-fulldeforestation.html

New research published in the journal Science by a team of Brazilian and US researchers ... Their work reveals that 337,427 km² of forest were degraded across the Brazilian Amazon between 1992 and 2014, an area larger than neighboring Ecuador. During this same period, degradation actually outpaced deforestation, which contributed to a loss of a further 308,311 km² of forest.

What these maps reveal is that while overall rates of degradation across the Brazilian Amazon have declined since the 1990s—in line with decreases in deforestation and associated habitat fragmentation—rates of selective logging and forest fires have almost doubled. In particular, in the past 15 years logging has expanded west into a new frontier that up until recently was considered too remote to be at risk.

Restoring degraded forests is central to several ambitious international efforts to curb climate change and biodiversity loss, such as the UN scheme to pay developing countries to keep their forests intact. If allowed to recover, degraded forests, particularly those in the tropics, have the potential to sequester and store large amounts of CO₂ from the atmosphere—even more so than their intact counterparts.

Humans are overpopulating

https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/new-study-warns-of-irreversible-societal-collapse-if-we-continue-to-destroy-our-forests/

In a new study, two theoretical physicists argue that human activities are track to trigger the “irreversible collapse” of human civilization within the next two to four decades.

Based on current rates of deforestation and other resource use, the study warns that there is 90 percent chance of catastrophe.

If we continue destroying the world’s forests at the same current rate, we will lose crucial planetary life-support systems including carbon storage, oxygen production, soil conservation, water cycle regulation, food system support, and animal habitats.

“Calculations show that, maintaining the actual rate of population growth and resource consumption, in particular forest consumption, we have a few decades left before an irreversible collapse of our civilization,” the study concludes.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-63657-6.pdf

In this paper we afford a quantitative analysis of the sustainability of current world population growth in relation to the parallel deforestation process adopting a statistical point of view ... Based on the current resource consumption rates and best estimate of technological rate growth our study shows that we have very low probability, less than 10% in most optimistic estimate, to survive without facing a catastrophic collapse.

... Calculations show that, maintaining the actual rate of population growth and resource consumption, in particular forest consumption, we have a few decades left before an irreversible collapse of our civilisation (see Fig. 5). Making the situation even worse, we stress once again that it is unrealistic to think that the decline of the population in a situation of strong environmental degradation would be a non-chaotic and well-ordered decline. This consideration leads to an even shorter remaining time. ... In fact, giving a very broad meaning to the concept of cultural civilisation as a civilisation not strongly ruled by economy, we suggest that only civilisations capable of a switch from an economical society to a sort of “cultural” society in a timely manner, may survive.

....with a ray of hope

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/09/the-best-news-of-2020-humanity-may-never-hit-the-10-billion-mark/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=4dee30bfe2-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-4dee30bfe2-77229786&mc_cid=4dee30bfe2&mc_eid=c0875d445f

The new findings, published in the medical journal The Lancet, differ from other population forecasts, most importantly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNPD) and the Wittgenstein Centre, by predicting that the global population will peak sooner than expected and fall quicker than anticipated (though still, by 2100, the Earth would house more humans than the 7.8 billion of us here today).

This was good news. No, no, this was freaking great news. Because if this research — which made some clever shifts in how it analyzed the data and predicted the future — could be believed, it could mean that Planet Earth, in all its ecological glory, might just survive our current devastating onslaught and begin to recover in the coming centuries. Assuming we, of course, actually deal with climate change. A big assumption.

However, no one else seemed to see it that way. Coverage of the paper’s findings looked more like Munch’s “The Scream.”

4 September 2020


Save Bunyabba Koalas continue

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/08/koala-group-rallies-at-forestry-office-casino/

Days after camping at Myrtle State Forest to block machinery, the Save Banyabba Koalas group have taken their fight to the Casino office of Forestry Corporation of NSW.

‘We’re here at the local Forestry office to call on them to abandon plans to log the habitat of the Banyabba koala population which lost 83% of its habitat in the fires,’ said Naomi Shine from Save Banyabba Koalas.

Shocked by Koala logging

https://www.marieclaire.com.au/koala-habitats-logged

Now conservationists and wildlife experts have expressed concern that Australian state governments are continuing to log unburned forests that house these vulnerable koala populations. 

In July, a state parliamentary inquiry found that koalas will be extinct in NSW before 2050 unless there is urgent government action. The year-long inquiry found habitat loss remains the biggest threat to the species' survival and that continuous logging and habitat clearing has been ongoing, despite the toll it's taking.

Speaking to Vice, James Tremain, from the Nature Conservation Council of NSW said, “It’s a scandal that the government isn’t doing what’s required to prevent the extinction of one of our most iconic species. They’re schizophrenic on the issue. They say they have a koala strategy and an ambition to increase the population of koalas, but they’ve introduced laws that have made it much easier to destroy koala habitat.”

Wildlife rescuer and arborist Kailas Wild recently teamed up with Nature NSW to show koalas in the middle of a logging operation in the Lower Bucca State Forest on the north coast of NSW, showing the devastating impacts the operations are having on already suffering habitats. 

National Party shocked by Koala protection

Daily Telegraph, 1 September 2020

A six month behind-closed-doors fight between the Liberal and National arms of Ms Berejiklian's cabinet is erupting into a full-blown brawl with Nationals leader John Barilaro also investigating parliamentary options to bring a bill to counteract new koala-saving regulations from Liberal Planning Minister Rob Stokes.

The Koala Habitat Protection State Environment Planning Policy (known as a SEPP) has increased the number of species that trigger koala checks ... and expands the responsibility of landholders to conduct time-consuming and costly koala assessments on private land.

"This is such a significant issue for my electorate I have to draw a line in the sand; I won't stand by and see regional communities and livelihoods decimated over something that won't save koalas anyway", Nationals MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said "My position is I would not be part of the government if this goes ahead - I would still be a member of the Nationals and I would sit on the cross bench."

Mr Stokes said he was seeking to strike a balance between conserving koala populations and the rights of landholders, and that he was willing to make amendments based feedback when it supported by science.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-02/nationals-mp-threatens-crossbench-move-over-koala-protections/12619956

A North Coast MP has threatened to head to the crossbench if the New South Wales Government forces farmers to search for koalas on their properties.

"Urban expansion, car kills, chlamydia [that kills koalas] — it's not necessarily the timber industry, nor is it because of the farmers that have cleared the land."

Deputy Premier John Barilaro acknowledged there had been six months behind closed doors negotiations with Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Planning Minister Rob Stokes over the controversial koala policy.

"I'm prepared to bring in a repeal bill to the Parliament if we don't resolve this. I don't want to lose someone like Chris Gulaptis," Mr Barilaro said.

Northern Star 3 September 2020

The Nature Conservation Council claims a stand by Member for Clarence and the National Party will guarantee the demise of the koala in our state.

(Gulaptis] "I love koalas just like everybody else, but I can't support a policy that targets rural industries and decimates regional communities without protecting koalas"

"The new SEPP is ill-founded and essentially determines every part of NSW is koala habitat. It essentially sterilises all private land in regional NSW as koala habitat with the onus on the landowner to undertake an ecological study to prove otherwise".

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/03/nationals-mps-threaten-to-quit-nsw-government-unless-koala-protection-watered-down

Coffs Harbour Nationals MP Gurmesh Singh on Thursday made the same threat, telling Triple M Coffs Coast Radio a compromise was crucial on the number of SEPP-protected tree species.

But the Nature Conservation Council on Thursday said in a statement the SEPP needed to be strengthened, not diluted, after last season’s unprecedented bushfires in NSW.

Koalas kept alive on a drip feed

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-02/bushfire-donations-pay-for-rollout-of-koala-drinkers/12613004

One million dollars donated to the wildlife rescue group WIRES after the bushfire crisis will pay for the rollout of koala drinkers across New South Wales.

Eight hundred of the devices, which are essentially bubblers for koalas suspended in trees, are being manufactured in Gunnedah and are expected to be installed before the start of summer.

Researchers at the University of Sydney found koalas were more likely to go in search of water during periods of drought or extreme heat than was first thought.

Dr Mella said her research revealed more about how much water koalas drink.

"They would lick the tree trunk and the branches and the leaves while it rains, so that they can stay in the tree and still get the water they need," she said.

While experts urge protection of the habitat of the imperiled Port Macquarie Koalas

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/experts-urge-federal-government-to-block-project-that-would-destroy-koala-habitat-in-nsw

Koala experts have written to the federal environment minister to recommend she block a project they say will destroy 52 hectares of prime habitat in NSW.

University of Newcastle researchers Dr Ryan Witt and Associate Professor John Clulow were commissioned by a local action group to assess the impact of the Brandy Hill Quarry expansion in Port Macquarie on the local koala population.

The pair concluded in their report that the expansion, already approved at the state level, would sever a koala corridor, disrupt breeding processes and destroy prime koala habitat critical to the species' survival.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6907953/federal-govt-urged-to-protect-nsw-koalas/

Forestry's incorrect mapping of plantations used to discredit impacts on fires

https://www.miragenews.com/greens-bushfire-claims-up-in-smoke/

Guy Barnett, Minister for Resources

In an embarrassing revelation for the Greens, the UTAS study claiming sustainable forest management increased the intensity of bushfires has been shown to be fundamentally flawed and subsequently retracted.

The contemporary scientific consensus indicates that native forest harvesting does not exacerbate bushfires.

https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/6901680/retracted-utas-bushfire-study-fans-the-flames-of-forestry-debate/

A "hot topic" has come to a head after a Tasmanian academic study was retracted last week, fanning the flames of a long-standing forestry debate.

The UTAS study linked Tasmanian logging practices with an increased risk of bushfires, prompting a fierce round of political back-and-forth.

But contributing author and researcher Dr Jennifer Sanger says the retraction has had a "negligible" effect on the science, and was the fault of incorrect public information provided by the state government.

"We had to withdraw our paper because what we called plantation wasn't plantation," she said, referring to classifications the researchers had gathered from the government's public resource, LISTmap.

Resources Minister Guy Barnett said on Sunday the retraction was "embarrassing" for the Greens, and questioned whether the party would now support the state's "scientifically backed sustainable forest management practices".

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/03/pro-forestry-enthusiasts-seize-on-error-in-study-to-falsely-claim-logging-doesnt-raise-bushfire-risk

Pro-forestry politicians and industry groups have seized upon the retraction of a scientific paper on logging in Tasmania to claim there’s no evidence industry practices raise the risk of dangerous fires.

Industry groups and Tasmania’s resources minister, Guy Barnett, used the retraction to assert there was a scientific consensus showing logging did not make forests more flammable. Experts told Guardian Australia that this was wrong, and scientific evidence exists confirming logging could increase the risk of dangerous fires.

Prof David Lindenmayer, a forest ecologist at Australian National University who has researched the effects of logging on bushfire, also said the “scientific consensus is actually the other way to what the industry is saying”.

“Of course the industry wants to deny it,” he added.

Lindenmayer told Guardian Australia: “The industry is deluded if it says there’s no relationship [between logging and the severity of bushfires]. Of course the industry would make that call and create doubt in people’s minds, but the empirical work is very strong.”

And export of whole logs leaves locals wanting

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-02/softwood-resource-exported-to-china-amid-log-supply-insecurity/12617994

A South Australian regional timber processor has warned thousands of tonnes of softwood resource are bypassing mills and heading to China, despite long-term shortages facing some businesses.

"There are a million-plus tonnes of resource going offshore every year — that's a massive amount of timber," Mr Telford said.

"We could 100 per cent use the logs going out of the Port of Portland —both pulp and sawlogs could be utilised," he said.

"There is no reason for sawlog to be leaving this country anymore. There are plenty of people in this country who would be more than happy to bid for those logs.

"The reality of the situation is that prior to the wave of export that began around 2012, these companies were able to enter into contractual arrangements with forest growers for raw material supplies sufficient to both meet market requirements and the long-term sustainability of the businesses."

He said this was no longer the case as significant volumes of forest produce were being exported at the expense of domestic processors.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation promotes why we need forests

https://theprint.in/environment/five-hidden-benefits-of-forests-everyone-should-know/491173/

Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people,” said former US president, Franklin Roosevelt.

So the FAO is using Twitter to remind the world of these five hidden benefits of forests.

  1. Forests nurture the soil - As well as stabilizing soils and preventing erosion – which quickly occurs where trees are felled forests are home to soil microbes, which together with insects, birds and mammals, play a crucial role in enriching and maintaining soil quality.
  2. Forests absorb carbon - Forests act as ‘carbon sinks’, trapping and storing CO2. NASA estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion tonnes of CO2 every year, while a study in 2017 estimated that forests would absorb a third of the atmospheric carbon needed to keep global warming below 2C by 2030.
  3. Forests provide food for millions - More than 86 million people depend on forests for their livelihoods. Globally, 1 billion people rely on wild foods including meat, insects, plants, mushrooms and fish. As well as providing edible plants and protecting water sources, forests also provide shelter for animals kept by forest dwellers.
  4. Forests are natural aqueducts - Forests provide “relatively pure water”, not just for indigenous peoples, but also for some of the world’s largest cities, according to the FAO. One-third of the world’s metropolises get all or part of their drinking water from forest-protected areas, including Bogotá, Jakarta, Karachi, Madrid, Mumbai and Singapore.
  5. Forests host 80% of Earth’s biodiversity - Forests are home to 80% of the world’s animals, plants, fungi and bacteria. They include almost two-thirds of all plants, three-quarters of all birds, 80% of amphibians and 68% of mammals.

.... and forests are good for crops

https://www.miragenews.com/multiple-benefits-of-conserving-native-forest/

Research published in Journal of Applied Ecology shows how the presence of Chaco Serrano forest remnants in the vicinity of soybean fields has led to an increase in the diversity of insects that control pests. This translates into lower herbivory and higher yield in soybean plants.

Both the number of species and the abundance of these natural enemies in the crop increased in soybean plants located near the forest and in fields surrounded by larger areas of forest, which shows that both the quantity and the distance to the forest fragments are important for these insects. Likewise, near the forest and in fields surrounded by more forest, the damage produced to soybean leaves by pests (area consumed by chewing insects such as caterpillars) was lower, while soybean production (seed weight per plant) increased. These benefits for the crop were directly related to different groups of natural enemies, showing that the influence of forests on neighbouring crops occurs through the movement of these insects between environments.

With an increasing risk of pandemics if we continue the destruction

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/30/rampant-destruction-of-forests-will-unleash-more-pandemics

A UN summit on biodiversity, scheduled to be held in New York next month, will be told by conservationists and biologists there is now clear evidence of a strong link between environmental destruction and the increased emergence of deadly new diseases such as Covid-19.

Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of farming and the building of mines in remote regions – as well as the exploitation of wild animals as sources of food, traditional medicines and exotic pets – are creating a “perfect storm” for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people, delegates will be told.

Almost a third of all emerging diseases have originated through the process of land use change, it is claimed. As a result, five or six new epidemics a year could soon affect Earth’s population.

In a paper published in Science last month, Pimm, Dobson and other scientists and economists propose setting up a programme to monitor wildlife, reduce spillovers, end the wildlife meat trade and reduce deforestation. Such a scheme could cost more than $20bn a year, a price tag that is dwarfed by the cost of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has wiped trillions of dollars from national economies round the world.

https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/pandemic-perfect-storm-warning-destruction-22600958

And the fires are out of control

https://meaww.com/forest-fires-2020-up-13-globally-course-worse-2019-numbers-study-much-more-intense-wildfires

As countries focus on fighting the coronavirus pandemic, another crisis is unfolding around the world. This one is taking place in forests, where the latest fire seasons have been raging with unprecedented ferocity, from the Amazon to the Arctic. The number of fire outbreaks across the globe was up by 13% in April this year compared to last year, which was already a record year for fires, according to researchers. They warn that fires in 2020 are on course to be worse than in 2019.

Persistent hotter and drier weather due to climate change, and other human factors such as land conversion for agriculture and poor forest management are the main drivers behind the increase, say experts from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). According to them, climate change and wildfires mutually reinforce each other, and the fires burning today in many parts of the world are bigger, more intense, and last longer than they used to. If current trends continue, there will be devastating long-term consequences on people, wildlife, and the climate, they warn. A greater number of more intense fires, for example, will release millions of extra tonnes of carbon, decimate biodiversity, destroy vital ecosystems, impact economies and people, threaten property and livelihoods, and cause severe long-term health problems for millions around the world.

According to the research team, fires are a critical global issue that needs urgent global solutions. To have any chance of restricting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C in line with the Paris Agreement, more needs to be done to cut carbon emissions from forest fires ...

... as the world cooks

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/arctic-heating-races-ahead-of-worst-case-estimates/

LONDON, 2 September, 2020 – An international team of scientists brings bad news about Arctic heating: the polar ocean is warming not only faster than anybody predicted, it is getting hotter at a rate faster than even the worst case climate scenario predictions have so far foreseen.

They found that, on average, the Arctic has been warming at the rate of 1°C per decade for the last four decades. Around Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, temperatures rose even faster, at 1.5°C every 10 years.

Researchers have also confirmed that the average planetary temperature  continues to rise inexorably, that the Arctic Ocean could be free of ice in  summer as early as 2035, and that the climate scientists’ “worst case” scenarios are no longer to be regarded as a warning of what could happen: the evidence is that what is happening now already matches the climate forecaster’s worst case. The latest finding implicitly and explicitly supports this flurry of ominous observation.

... and forests are burnt

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/are-forests-the-new-coal-global-alarm-sounds-as-biomass-burning-surges/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=3e60a31bfc-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-3e60a31bfc-77229786&mc_cid=3e60a31bfc&mc_eid=c0875d445f

  • As climate change rapidly escalates with worsening impacts, and with standing forests vital to achieving global warming solutions, the forest biomass industry is booming. While the industry does utilize wood scraps, it also frequently cuts standing forests to supply wood pellets to be burned in converted coal power plants.
  • Though current science has shown that burning the world’s forests to make electricity is disastrous for biodiversity, generates more emissions than coal, and isn’t carbon neutral, a UN policy established in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol erroneously counts energy produced from forest biomass as carbon neutral.
  • As a result, nations pay power companies huge subsidies to burn wood pellets, propelling industry growth. While the industry does utilize tree residue, forests are being cut in the US, Canada, Russia, Eastern Europe and Vietnam to supply pellets to the UK, EU and other nations who can claim the energy creates zero emissions.
  • So far, the UN has turned a blind eye to closing the climate destabilizing carbon accounting loophole. The Netherlands, which now gets 61% of its renewable energy from biomass, is being urged to wean itself off biomass for energy and heat. If the Dutch do so, advocates hope it could portend closure of Europe’s carbon loophole.

Further reading

Protecting the future:

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200318-the-worlds-largest-nature-reserve

Repairing the economy:

https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2020/nature-global-stimulus/120911

https://www.weforum.org/reports/new-nature-economy-report-ii-the-future-of-nature-and-business

28 August 2020


EPA stop logging again

https://www.prime7.com.au/news/28919-fight-for-koalas

Echo 26 August 2020

Logging of the Myrtle State Forest south of Casino was scheduled to start on Monday, 24 August. Around two dozen protesters had set up a camp on Sunday ready to p[rotect the vulnerable koala area.

However, the forest was given a short reprieve on Monday when the environment protection agency (EPA) responded to the North East Forest Alliance's (NEFA) audit report of the area NSW Forestry Corporation were about to start logging.

[Mr. Pugh] They were supposed to identify ten per cent of the logging area to be put aside in perpetuity. We found the allocations were grossly deficient. The areas they had picked were the worst bits of forest that had been badly affected by the fires, and had a lot of dead trees in them'.

Mr O'Shannessy said that while the protesters had left the state forest they were ready to go back down if necessary.

'If Gladys doesn't want to become known as the koala killer, then she needs to bring John Barilaro to heel and stop him rampaging through our forests and destroying them.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/08/myrtle-state-forest-gets-short-logging-reprieve-after-nefa-audit/

[Also Daily Examiner - Daily Catchup 26 August 2020, Chronicle August 25, Whitsunday Times 25 August ]

Growing support for Sandy Creek Koala Park

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/08/creating-koala-parks-key-to-preservation-of-species/

It is often through the on the ground actions of a variety of groups that the damage and destruction that is being done through frontline action such as the Gumbaynggirr custodians and environmentalists who worked to halt logging in the Nambucca State Forest in June. Or the work of environmentalists like those with the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) who are checking the activities of NSW Forestry Corporation and delivering reports on their failure to meet the legislative requirements in setting aside forest areas for native species in areas like Myrtle State Forest (this area is not included in the suggested park).

[Tamara Smith] ‘I completely support North East Forest Alliance’s proposal for a 7,000 ha Sandy Creek Koala Park on the Richmond River lowlands and recognise their tireless research, activism and advocacy on behalf of threatened species for well over three decades.’

Ben Franklin and Kevin Hogan (Nationals) and Janelle Saffin (Labor) didn’t respond to questions submitted by Echonetdaily.

Federal minister for Richmond Justine Elliot has highlighted the importance of protecting koalas telling Echonetdaily that, ‘This idea [Sandy Creek Koala Park] has great merit and I encourage the NSW state government to look favourably at it. It’s vitally important that we protect our precious koalas and their habitat.’

In their efforts to double Koala populations, Government Saves two Koalas while logging the shit out of homes of hundreds

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-23/guula-ngurra-koala-country-national-park-opens/12587296

The new Guula Ngurra National Park is about 25 kilometres north-west of Bowral and 3,358 hectares in size.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the park played an important role in supporting koala habitat in the area "There have been two sightings in two particular areas within this area where koalas are living, but clearly it is not enough," she said.

[Matt Kean] "This is just the beginning — we have a lot more to do."

[what an understatement, just 2 Koalas, really!]

https://www.murrayvalleystandard.com.au/story/6891545/new-national-park-opens-to-protect-koalas-for-future-generations/

Important koala habitat will be protected for future generations with the creation of Guula Ngurra National Park.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the creation of the Southern Highlands park, gazetted on August 23, would secure the future of koalas in the wild.

[doubling the park's population is easy, though will it save Koalas?]

https://happymag.tv/koalas-lost-82-of-their-homes-in-the-bushfires-and-logging-hasnt-stopped/

The bushfires have resulted in a loss of up to 82% of Koala habitats, with over two million hectares destroyed.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped NSW from banning logging and deforestation in their habitats. James Tremain, from the Nature Conversation Council of NSW told Vice News that the Forestry Corporation hasn’t stopped logging their already rare habitats and that “it’s a scandal that the government isn’t doing what’s required to prevent the extinction of one of our most iconic species.”

However, if the Forestry Corporation is so intent on fulfilling this promise then NSW forests will be completely stripped bare and it will take decades to ever recover from such ruin.

Tremain also told Vice News that “unfortunately for koalas, they tend to like the same kinds of trees that loggers like—so they’re in direct competition” and that “the main extinction pressure that’s placed on koalas is habitat loss, primarily from logging for timber production or land clearing for agriculture. And although there is a desire for the government to do the right thing, there are powerful industry interests to prevent it from doing what has to be done.”

.... and accelerates landclearing

https://www.ausleisure.com.au/news/the-environmental-defenders-office-identifies-nsw-law-failures-to-protect-koalas

Marking the third anniversary of the commencement of the NSW native vegetation laws, a new report from Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) identifies 10 areas of regulatory failure and confirms the law has facilitated a skyrocketing return to broadscale land clearing in NSW – threatening the koala with extinction due to permitted destruction of habitat.

On 25 August 2017, a new legal framework for regulating land clearing and impacts on biodiversity commenced in NSW. The framework featured a strong emphasis on deregulation, particularly for land clearing in rural areas. Previous laws that prevented broadscale land clearing unless it was shown to maintain or improve environmental outcomes were repealed in favour of expanded self-assessable codes and a more flexible biodiversity offsets scheme.

Walmsley advises “under this law, the balance has tipped significantly against ecologically sustainable development, with a return to broadscale land clearing in NSW.

“After a three-year experiment in deregulation, it is time to restore the balance to NSW native vegetation laws to ensure healthy, productive and resilient landscapes for generations to come.”

To access the report go to https://www.edo.org.au/publication/report-nsw-native-vegetation-law/

Though in late news

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/84m-to-support-wildlife-protection-plan-for-cumberland-plain-20200826-p55pcq.html

The Berejiklian government will spend $84 million to protect wildlife on the Cumberland Plain, including installing 120 kilometres of fencing and planting 100,000 trees.

The plan, unveiled on Wednesday, was a "once-in-a-generation commitment" to support koalas and other biodiversity in the fast-expanding housing zone in Sydney's south-west, Planning Minister Rob Stokes said.

"Rather than assessing the biodiversity impact of individual development applications on an ad-hoc basis, we've identified upfront the key areas that need to be protected," Mr Stokes said. "Too often the environment has been an afterthought in urban planning."

The plan also includes the creation of a new koala reserve to protect the marsupial population in the Georges River region. South-west Sydney is home to some of the healthiest koala colonies in NSW.

Mr Kean said he would instruct staff to proceed with plans to turn the koala reserve into a new national park "as soon as possible". The first stage will require the purchase of about 700 hectares from private landholders, tapping about $40-50 million of the available funds.

The Deputy Chief Scientist found the proposed habitat corridor linking the Nepean and Georges colonies would need to be widened through revegetation to as much as 425 metres.

Labor's environment spokeswoman Kate Washington said the local community and Labor had supported the creation of a 4000-hectare Georges River national park.

"This is half the size it needs to be, so this announcement shows just how desperate the government is for a headline without taking the necessary steps to deserve that headline," she said.

https://www.aap.com.au/new-koala-reserve-to-protect-sydney-colony/

[Kean] “The Georges River Koala Reserve will protect up to 1885 hectares of existing koala habitat and enhance the connectivity of fragmented patches of important habitat, including protecting the important north-south koala corridor so this iconic species can move about safely,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

NSW will spend $84 million in the first five years planting 100,000 trees in the reserve to restore koala habitat and to install 120 kilometres of koala fencing.

The draft Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan will be on public exhibition until September 25.

Koalas are back out west

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/koalas-sighted-once-again-in-the-pilliga-forest/12588396

In very good news, koalas have been sighted once again in the Pilliga Forest of north-west NSW.

Once a stronghold for the koala, and home to one of the largest populations in NSW, the Pilliga koalas were pronounced 'extinct' only two months ago by the NSW Parliamentary koala inquiry.

Over the past decade or so, thousands of koalas had died from long periods of heat stress and drought.

But now, individuals have been sighted or heard in the east, south and west of the Pilliga.

[podcast]

And we have a new coastal hospital

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-25/special-koala-hospital-approved-for-nsw-north-coast/12593198

A New South Wales conservation group has been given the green light to operate the first specialised koala hospital in the Northern Rivers.

The Friends of the Koala group has been granted a licence by the NSW Veterinarian Practitioners Board to operate the specialist hospital.

Friends of the Koala acting president Susannah Keogh said the hospital had been outfitted with the latest equipment, including X-rays, ultrasounds and blood machines.

Conservation groups in the Tweed Shire fear the recent Duranbah bushfire, on the edge of the Cudgen Nature Reserve, may have killed or injured some of the region's vulnerable koala population.

Head of Team Koala Jenny Hayes said there were between 50 and 250 koalas left in the Tweed area.

"It's devastating that the bushfire burned in well-known koala habitat," says Ms Hayes.

Impacts of burning on macropods, some more dodgy conclusions from limited studies

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/planned-fires-can-spare-threatened-species-if-kept-small-research-20200820-p55npe.html

Planned bushfires can reduce weeds with only limited impacts on threatened marsupial species provided they are kept small enough to leave places for the animals to find refuge from predators, new research has found.

Scientists from the Southern Cross University used remote cameras to track the response to prescribed burns in parts of the Gondwana World Heritage Area in northern NSW. Of particular interest was how the endangered black-striped wallaby and the vulnerable-listed long-nosed potoroo and red-legged pademelon would respond.

One scientist not involved in the study also cautioned against extending the findings from prescribed burns to wildfires. Similarly, while remote cameras can provide useful data, the results were too short term to reveal longer term trends and don't provide insights into the abundance of the studied species.

Another researcher, Phil Zylstra, an adjunct associate professor at Curtin University, noted the paper contained qualified conclusions.

"After burning at a very small scale, they said that their burn may not have caused damage to the threatened species," Professor Zylstra said. "Then, without waiting to see whether lantana would now increase as expected due to their burn, they said that more burning should really be looked into."

Mr McHugh said lantana was "a tangent" to the research.

"The historic absence of disturbance such as fire (frequency) may allow lantana to persist and invade," he said. "Even if frequent fire doesn't completely eliminate lantana, it may suppress it enough to allow grasses and pioneer native species to develop and persist."

David Lindenmayer summarises research on burning and logging (focus on Central Highlands) in part of this online presentation

https://www.facebook.com/WarburtonEnvironment/videos/905311406917377/

Locating homes to protect others homes

https://theconversation.com/the-nsw-bushfire-inquiry-found-property-loss-is-inevitable-we-must-stop-building-homes-in-such-fire-prone-areas-145028?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20August%2027%202020%20-%201714016554&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20August%2027%202020%20-%201714016554+CID_04b83ce205a186eba0a651eedfd0d677&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=The%20NSW%20bushfire%20inquiry%20found%20property%20loss%20is%20inevitable%20We%20must%20stop%20building%20homes%20in%20such%20fire-prone%20areas

But clearing and burning vegetation will hurt our native flora and fauna, which is still recovering from the fires. Rather than clearing land to reduce the bushfire risk, we must accept we live on a fire-prone continent and improve our urban planning.

Importantly, with fires set to become more frequent and severe under climate change, we must stop choosing to live in bushland and other high-risk areas.

Building homes in high bushfire risk areas requires a combination of land clearing to reduce flammable material such as dry vegetation, and ensuring your home has a fire-resilient design.

But we should not continue to develop into these high risk areas, as the associated land clearing is too significant to our ecosystems and may still result in houses being lost.

Rather than trying to modify the environment by clearing trees, we must plan better to avoid high risk bushfire areas.

While each community should decide how it develops, land rezoning and planning rules should not allow continued expansion into high bushfire risk areas.

Tentative recovery 

https://theconversation.com/need-a-mood-lift-weve-tracked-4-ways-australias-environment-has-repaired-itself-in-2020-144949?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20August%2027%202020%20-%201714016554&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20August%2027%202020%20-%201714016554+CID_04b83ce205a186eba0a651eedfd0d677&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Need%20a%20mood%20lift%20Weve%20tracked%204%20ways%20Australias%20environment%20has%20repaired%20itself%20in%202020

In the central and northern NSW regions which burnt earlier in the fire season and received plentiful rains, recovery was relatively swift – more than 63% of lost leaf area had returned by June 2020.

But in the areas burnt in early 2020, recovery has been slow. The burnt forests in the far south of NSW and East Gippsland did not receive good rains until very recently. Also, much of areas burnt in early 2020 are found in the mountains of the NSW-Victoria border region, where cool autumn and winter temperatures have paused plant growth until spring.

Leaf area recovery is not a good measure of biodiversity. Much of the increase will have been due to rapid leaf flush from fire tolerant trees and undergrowth, including weeds. Some damage to ecosystems and sensitive species will take many years to recover, while some species may well be lost forever.

In the long term, climate change remains the greatest risk to our agriculture and ecosystems. Ever-increasing summer temperatures kill people, livestock and wildlife, dry out soil and vegetation, and increase fire risk. In 2020, high temperatures also caused the third mass coral bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef in five years. 

Bushfire inquiry ignores wildlife and support more burning and clearing

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/nsw-accepts-all-76-recommendations-of-inquiry-into-summer-bushfires-and-admits-link-to-climate-change

Landowners across NSW will be obliged to conduct more hazard-reduction burns on their properties and take an active role in bushfire preparation after the NSW government accepted all 76 recommendations of an independent bushfire inquiry.

Landowners in fire-prone areas of NSW will be required to do their own hazard-reduction burns, and the NSW RFS will be permitted to intervene if they fail to do so.

The report also recommends more hazard-reduction burns in closer proximity to endangered communities and the performance of hazard-reduction burns and water bombing at night.

Indigenous cultural burning techniques will also be examined in greater detail.

Ms Berejiklian admitted climate change had played a major role in the summer's fires, with authorities seeing things "they have never seen before in decades of firefighting".

"There were unprecedented conditions coupled with the drought, the fuel loads in some areas, but moreover that the climate is changing and we have to accept and expect that part of the ferocity we saw was a combination of those things," she said.

https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6184601743001

The report into the New South Wales’ bushfires has been handed down with the state government accepting all 76 recommendations, and while some are practical, many “are just pathetic” says Sky News host Chris Kenny.

“There are recommendations for protocols and training for firefighters on wildlife rescue, I mean please a Koala rescue push stemming from Twitter and the nightly news,” he said. However, there was "little focus on climate change, which is a relief," he said.

“But crucially there's a strong focus on fuel reduction”. Mr Kenny said he has his "quibbles with a few things" in the report, but it ultimately is useful and very practical in focusing on fuel reduction and some of the planning issues.

Governments and Loggers remain in denial

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/23/native-forests-why-a-court-ruling-is-another-blow-to-logging-in-victoria-and-tasmania

Forestry agencies owned by the Victorian and Tasmanian governments have both conceded something they have been avoiding saying: that their logging of native forests isn’t considered up to scratch.

In the space of three days earlier this month, VicForests and Sustainable Timber Tasmania – the former Forestry Tasmania – revealed they had not achieved Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, considered the international gold standard for forest management.

In new orders handed down on Friday, Justice Debra Mortimer banned logging in 67 coupes. Observers said it created a situation where VicForests could be risking further legal action if it attempted to log other coupes in the region, and could set a precedent for other areas covered by regional forest agreements between the federal and state governments.

[Amelia Young] “That message is: get real. It’s 2020. Why are you still logging old-growth and threatened species habitat?” she said.

“The auditors are alive to it, the courts are alive to it, the marketplace is alive to it. The Australian public don’t want to see old-growth forests logged and threatened species sent to extinction.”

[Tasmania] The points of failure were significant. The auditors found it had logged old-growth areas that could have been habitat and nesting trees for the critically endangered swift parrot despite having received expert advice that they should be protected. Scientists have found the parrot could be extinct within 11 years. The auditors found the agency considered the expert advice, but decided not to follow it.

One of the coupes that was logged despite a recommendation it should be protected is listed in the report as BB025A. When Guardian Australia visited this area in the Huon Valley, south of Hobart, in May 2019 it had been clear-felled and the stumps burned.

Suzette Weeding, who is responsible for land management at Sustainable Timber Tasmania, told the ABC the agency remained committed to achieving FSC certification. Its plan included running trials in which large individual large trees critical to the swift parrot would be left standing as the area around it was logged.

https://tasmps.greens.org.au/parliament/native-forest-logging

[This documents the Greens attempts to get a motion up to stop logging, details why the FSC auditors refused to accredit logging of Swift Parrot homes and oldgrowth, process failures and more]

Western Australia simmers

https://www.busseltonmail.com.au/story/6892644/hundreds-turn-out-to-rally/?cs=12

Hundreds of people turned out to the town centre of Margaret River for the Forest Rally on Saturday.

The rally was organised by Margaret River Environment Centre, WA Forest Alliance and South West Forest Defenders to highlight how every day in the South West Region, an area of native forest the size of 10 football fields is to be logged or cleared.

"At the moment we have a handful of people doing a lot," he said.

"We need a lot of people doing a little."

Under the cover of COVID the Federal Government hands environmental laws to States

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/morrison-government-resurrects-abbott-s-one-stop-shop-environment-laws-20200827-p55ptw.html

The controversial "one-stop shop" environment approval system the Abbott government tried and failed to create is being resurrected under a Morrison government bill introduced to Parliament on Thursday.

The Streamlining Environmental Approvals Bill brought by Environment Minister Sussan Ley would create a "one-touch regime" for assessments of major projects, which would hand state governments responsibility for approval and management of major project development impacts on threatened species, habitat and biodiversity as well as World Heritage areas.

Labor, the Greens and several crossbench MPs and Senators havevoiced objection to the bill, but the government is expected to have the numbers for it to pass.

Ms Ley said she is rushing to change the EPBC Act to help business and she would increase environmental protections as she did so. She said more changes would follow to reflect Mr Samuel's final report - which is still deep in consultation with experts.

The Environment Minister said in June she would create national standards to regulate environmental impacts when she announced plans to change the laws, but the bill before Parliament does not contain them.

She said the changes to the EPBC would "reduce regulatory burden, accelerate job-creating projects, promote economic activity and create certainty around environmental protections".

https://www.miragenews.com/environment-bill-a-disaster-for-koalas-bilbies/

As Australia’s wildlife faces an extinction crisis, proposed amendments to the national environment law contain nothing designed to improve environmental protection or save national treasures like the koala and bilby, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.

https://www.catholicoutlook.org/catholic-environmentalist-says-australia-has-failed-as-gods-caretakers-of-earth-following-interim-report/

Professor Graeme Samuel recently released an interim report for his review of Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, saying the act was “ineffective” and “is not fit to address current or future environmental challenges”.

“Australia’s natural environment and iconic places are in an overall state of decline and are under increasing threat,” he said in the interim report.

“The current environmental trajectory is unsustainable.

Ms Remond said Australia needed “a great set of laws that would stop extinctions from happening and to look after God’s Creation here”

Power kills people

The report, titled Lethal Power, was put together by a group of scientists, researchers, and medical professionals, including former Australian of the year Professor Fiona Stanley, coal pollution expert Dr Aidan Farrow, and economist and former leader of the federal Liberal Party, Dr John Hewson.

It finds that pollution from Australia’s 22 remaining black and brown coal power stations is responsible for 800 premature deaths, 14,000 asthma symptoms among children, and 850 cases of low birth weight in newborns each year.

“The evidence is in; Air pollution from burning coal kills,” said Hewson in a statement on Wednesday, accompanying the report’s release.

[Hewson needs to realise that burning wood does too]

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/jakarta-air-pollution-coal-power-plant-covid-lockdown-crea-study/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=5c2cbe37d1-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-5c2cbe37d1-77229786&mc_cid=5c2cbe37d1&mc_eid=c0875d445f

To further narrow down the sources of transboundary air pollution in Jakarta, the researchers focused on pollutants emitted from coal-fired power plants. They found that these pollutants were blowing into the city from plants up to 100 kilometers (60 miles) away.

“What we found is that health impacts of coal-fired power plants’ pollution on the Greater Jakarta population, operating within 100 km of the city, are responsible for an estimated 2,500 premature deaths in Greater Jakarta [annually], mainly from PM2.5,” Suarez said.

The researchers used the same methodology as that in a Harvard study on the burden of disease from coal plants in Southeast Asia.

The negative health impacts include new cases of asthma, asthma-related emergency hospital visits, premature births, increased prevalence of disabilities related to stroke, respiratory diseases and diabetes, as well as increased periods of sick leave.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the impact of air pollution even more pronounced. A study by Harvard researchers shows that people in U.S. counties with long-term exposure to high PM2.5 levels are 8% more likely than residents of less polluted areas to die from COVID-19, which causes respiratory complications.

A study of 324 Chinese cities also linked high PM2.5 and NO2 levels to an up to 22% increase in COVID-19 cases. Another study found that while city lockdowns across China resulted in lower air pollution levels, PM2.5 concentrations were still more than four times higher than what the World Health Organization considers safe. The authors of that study linked the persistently high PM2.5 figures to the burning of coal for heating.

Asia poised for worst combination of fire and COVID

https://forestsnews.cifor.org/67004/a-perfect-storm-fire-haze-and-a-global-health-crisis?fnl=en

Southeast Asian nations are preparing for the possibility of an environmental emergency, exacerbated by the health crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Poised on the brink of the regional wildfire season — which usually peaks in August and September — researchers, officials and civil society groups are concerned that the impact of the pandemic could boost the incidence and severity of uncontrolled fires, if mobility limitations and stretched resources get in the way of prevention and firefighting efforts.

They are also worried that haze could exacerbate coronavirus impacts across the region.

And in America's drier country fire is converting forest to grassland

https://phys.org/news/2020-08-forests-wildfire-recover-grasslands.html

A new University of Colorado Boulder-led study offers an unprecedented glimpse, suggesting that when forests burn across the Southern Rocky Mountains, many will not grow back and will instead convert to grasslands and shrublands.

"We project that post-fire recovery will be less likely in the future, with large percentages of the Southern Rocky Mountains becoming unsuitable for two important tree species—ponderosa pine and Douglas fir,"

And compared to regions that burned in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the more recent burn areas failed to bounce back.

"This study and others clearly show that the resilience of our forests to fire has declined significantly under warmer, drier conditions," said coauthor Tom Veblen, professor of geography at CU Boulder.

"The big takeaway here is that we can expect to have an increase in fire continue for the foreseeable future, and, at the same time, we are going to see much of our land convert from forest to non-," said Veblen.

The tropics are coming

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/hotter-oceans-make-the-tropics-expand-polewards/

LONDON, 27 August, 2020 – The tropics are on the march and US and German scientists think they know why: hotter oceans have taken control.

Across the globe, things don’t look good for places like California, which has already suffered some of its worst droughts and fires on record, and  Australia, where drought and fire if possible have been even worse.

Researchers have observed tropical fish moving into cooler waters; they have warned that some tropical plant species may soon find temperatures too high for germination; they have mapped tropical cyclones hitting further north and southwith time, and doing more damage; and they have seen evidence that tropical diseases could soon advance even into temperate Europe.

The connection was clear: excess heat that had been building up in the subtropical oceans ever since global warming began had driven both tropical edges and ocean gyres towards the poles.

That is, the shift in the tropics wasn’t just one of those slow pulses of expansion and retraction, of cyclic change, that happen in a complex world. And more precisely, the tropics were expanding more clearly in those places where the gyres moved poleward.

Pines are that cool, but rainforests are way cool

https://www.miragenews.com/local-cooling-provided-by-broad-leaved-trees-in-europe/

... broad-leaved trees reduce land surface temperatures during hot extremes more effectively than needle-leaved trees. This finding is based on a statistical analysis of high temporal and spatial resolution satellite remote sensing observations over Europe. Depending on region, the land surface temperatures of broad-leaved forests are between 0.5-1.8°C lower than the temperature of coniferous forests.

[Jonas Schwaab] “This means that broad-leaved trees reflect more sunlight and hence less energy at the earths’ surface is converted into heat”. Several studies have shown that broad-leaved trees evaporate more water during growing season than needle-leaved trees, which leads to further cooling. ...differences between individual tree species could also be substantial”

The recently published results are relevant for climate adaptation measures. For example, it could be useful to increase the fraction of broad-leaved trees in forests or in cities to achieve a local cooling effect during hot extremes.

Fungals monopolies saving forests

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/hidden-webs-fungi-protect-some-forests-drought-leave-others-vulnerable

The future of the world’s flora may depend as much, if not more, on what’s below the ground as what’s above. Beneath 90% of all plants lies an invisible support system—subterranean fungal partners that form a network of filaments connecting plants and bringing nutrients and water to their roots. In return, the plants provide a steady supply of carbon to the fungi. Now, researchers are learning that these hidden partners can shape how ecosystems respond to climate change.

The right fungal partners can help plants survive warmer and drier conditions, according to a study reported earlier this month at the online annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America. But other studies at the meeting showed climate change can also disrupt these so-called mycorrhizal fungi, possibly speeding the demise of their host plants. “The picture is becoming clearer that we really cannot ignore the responses of mycorrhizal fungi to climate change,” says Matthias Rillig, an ecologist at the Free University of Berlin.

These fungal associates come in two forms. Arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM), common in tropical and some temperate forests as well as fields and meadows, invade root cells and extend thin hairs called hyphae into the soil. Ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi, in contrast,... settle on the outside of roots, and their networks of hyphae give rise to the mushrooms that pop up on moist forest floors.

Monitoring conducted by B4WARMED has already shown that the warmer, drier climate of recent years is taking a toll on the boreal forest. What role any change in the EM fungi is playing is not yet clear, but “the alteration of mycorrhizal fungal communities in response to climate change is deeply concerning,” Fernandez says.

 The B4WARMED results “show that there may be some major shifts in both above- and belowground communities in the future,” says Sarah Sapsford, an ecologist at the University of Canterbury. “What we see now we may not see again.”

“We found that ectomycorrhizal fungi played a critical role in drought tolerance,” Gehring reported ...

... The dominant mycorrhizae can help lock a forest into a stable state. Tree measurements taken at 5-year intervals at each plot showed an AM tree was at least 10 times more likely to take root in an AM forest than in an EM forest and twice as likely to survive. Meanwhile, EM trees were more likely to thrive in EM forests.

The fungi may enforce this monopoly by altering the soil in ways that favor specific species—for example by controlling nitrogen levels. A more established fungal network could also help young trees endure heavy shade that interferes with photosynthesis, or older trees withstand drought or diseases. ...

Trees worth more alive than dead

GRUNDY COUNTY, Tenn.—For much of human history, the way to make money from a tree was to chop it down. Now, with companies rushing to offset their carbon emissions, there is value in leaving them standing.

The good news for trees is that the going rate for intact forests has become competitive with what mills pay for logs in corners of Alaska and Appalachia, the Adirondacks and up toward Acadia. That is spurring landowners to make century long conservation deals with fossil-fuel companies, which help the latter comply with regulatory demands to reduce their carbon emissions.

For now, California is the only U.S. state with a so-called cap-and-trade system that aims to reduce greenhouse gasses by making it more expensive over time for firms operating in the state to pollute. Preserving trees is rewarded with carbon-offset credits, a climate-change currency that companies can purchase and apply toward a tiny portion of their tab.

Though the genocide continues

https://www.dailypioneer.com/2020/columnists/importance-of-forests.html

Felling a tree is murder. Felling an entire forest is genocide. People have argued that India has sufficient land under forests and there is no harm in felling some of them to make way for development, particularly when forests can be regrown elsewhere. They are grievously wrong. First, plants are feeling, communicating, mutually caring and benevolent living beings that need to be treated with respect and not cut down to suit human convenience. Second, planted forests can never be the same as the ones existing over the ages.

... Bose held that plants were fully cognisant of changes in their environment and responded visibly to stimuli, including slight fluctuations in light caused by passing clouds. Also, the transmission of nervous impulses determined functions like growth, respiration and motor activity. He also observed spontaneous pulsatory movements in plants like heart beat in animals...

Wohlleben further points out that trees “communicate by means of olfactory, visual and electrical signals.” Trees are social beings. Those belonging to the same species communicate with one another through an intricate network of fungal threads connected to their root systems by means of which they exchange carbon and other nutrients among themselves. This, Wohlleben says, “leads to the conclusion that forests are superorganisms with interconnections, much like ant colonies.”

Besides what forests do for individual trees they comprise, they contribute in critical ways to human survival. They induce rainfall. They capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and transform it into biomass through photosynthesis and accumulate it in the form of biomass, deadwood and litter and in forest soils. Deforestation and harvesting fires, besides respiration and oxidation, release carbon from forests and increase atmospheric pollution. Further, deforestation destroys the habitats of wild animals, which not only enhances the rate of extinction of species — which stands roughly at an alarming 3,000 of them every year globally — but increases human-animal conflicts.

The argument that all the losses listed above can be compensated for by the planting of new forests does not hold.

David Attenborough has had enough

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8662633/Sir-David-Attenborough-says-need-rewild-world-vegetarian.html

Sir David Attenborough has said we need to 'rewild the world' by planting more forests and switch to a vegetarian diet in order to save the Earth.

Speaking ahead of his new Netflixdocumentary film A Life On Our Planet, the 94-year-old naturalist warned it 'cannot support millions of meat eaters'.

Calling on his decades of experience chronicling the natural world, he called for action to be taken immediately to save the global 'pristine' ecosystem that is 'heading for disaster'.

'If we had a mostly plant-based diet we could increase the yield of the land. We have an urgent need for free land. Forests are fundamental to recovery - bio-centres of diversity.

'The wilder and more diverse the more effective. We must grow palm and soya on deforested lands. Nature is our biggest ally.'

'If we act now, we can put it right. This pristine of ecosystems is heading for disaster. Our imprint is global.

'There's little left for the world. We have completely destroyed it. That is my witness statement, the story of global decline during a lifetime. If we continue on our current course the damage will be eclipsed by the damage that comes next. 

'Scientists predict by 2030 the rainforest turns into a dry savanna, altering the global water cycle. The Arctic becomes ice-free, global warming increases, frozen soils release methane and accelerate climate change dramatically.

'By 2080 global food production enters crisis, soils overused, weather more unpredictable. The planet becomes four degrees warmer, large parts of the world uninhabitable.

'A sixth mass extinction is well underway. Our garden of Eden will be lost. I wish I wasn't involved in this struggle. I wish I wasn't there.

'We must rewild the world. Rewilding the world is easier than you think. A century from now our planet could be a wild place again.

 

21 August 2020


NEFA proposes Sandy Creek Koala Park

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/08/nefa-proposes-7000-hectare-sandy-creek-koala-park/

The North East Forest Alliance is proposing that 7,000 ha of public land south-west of Casino, on the Richmond River lowlands, become the Sandy Creek Koala Park. The primary aim would be to restore koalas, but this would also help to protect another 39 threatened species, nectar yields, tree hollows, carbon storage and stream flows.

‘Given the prognosis that koalas are likely to become extinct in the wild by 2050 if we continue “business as usual”, and the devastating impact of the 2019 fires on the Banyabba Koala population, protecting known significant habitat to allow koala populations to recover is more important than ever,’ said Mr Pugh.

‘Protecting this forest offsets the CO2 emissions of a medium sized town such as Kyogle or Maclean.

‘Similarly protection will recover the 14,000 megalitres per annum of streamflows into the Richmond River lost by past logging, which now has a minimum value of $7 million per annum.’

Mr Pugh argues that the proposed park would provide a major economic boost to Casino and the region, noting that for every 10,000 visitors attracted, that would generate $1.3 million per year in regional spending, and 10.6 jobs.

The complete 212 page proposal for the Sandy Creek Koala Park can be viewed here.

Red Rebels focus attention on Myrtle

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/08/are-the-forests-koalas-and-wildlife-worth-saving-red-rebels-say-yes/

Logging koala habitat that was severely burnt out during the recent and devastating Black Summer fires appears to be in opposition to the NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean’s statement that, ‘Koalas are the most iconic example of our mismanagement of the environment, and we’ve got to say “enough is enough”.’

Bearing witness to both the devastation of the fires and to the future devastation that the planned logging will have on both the forest and the koala population Northern Rivers Red Rebels (NRRR) joined with other Australians last Sunday to mark their concern.

‘We were there to bear witness,’ said Cindy Lou Vallet of the NRRR .

‘We go in and are part of the forest; sending love and peace into the forest. We were there to make a statement about the [forest’s] importance and how needed these trees are. This forest has been logged and then ravaged by fire. There is so little left. We go in and walk in slow motion and express our feelings in the hope that some decisions will be changed.’

Marie Reilly from Extinction Rebellion highlighted how fragile the ecosystem in this area is as a consequence of the drought that was then followed by the unprecedented Black Summer fires.

‘With drought, bushfires and decades of logging – the Banyabba koala population is barely hanging in there. This forest desperately needs regeneration and care, not logging,’ she told The Echo.

‘It is reprehensible that the EPA approved this logging without first assessing the fire impacts on the Banyabba ARKS or the koalas within the logging areas,’ said Mr Pugh.

They are shutting down the south

14 August 2020, Media Release

Logging ceased  in bushfire affected operations in the Southern Region of NSW yesterday following suspension of logging operations in Mogo Compartment 173/161 on Thursday 13 August. 

This follows the 23 July 2020 EPA Orders Stop Work on Forestry Operations in South Brooman State Forest.  Both logging operations were subject to bushfire affected operations and site specific conditions to retain all hollow bearing trees.

And the courts are (hopefully) shutting down logging:

Nicola Rivers & Elizabeth McKinnon, Enviro Justice Aust report:

The Federal Court just delivered final orders for our historic win for Friends of Leadbeater's Possum that protects the forests subject to the case from logging!

Justice Mortimer’s orders today grant final injunctions to protect the 66 areas of forest home to the threatened Greater Glider and critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum subject to the case. 

The judge also made formal declarations of unlawful logging by VicForests in those 66 areas and ordered VicForests pay Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum’s costs of running the case.  

This is huge and sets a national precedent!

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/aug/21/bob-brown-launches-legal-challenge-to-native-forest-logging-in-tasmania

The former Greens leader Bob Brown has launched a legal challenge to native forest logging in Tasmania, claiming it is inconsistent with federal environment law.

The case by the Bob Brown Foundation, lodged in the federal court on Thursday, challenges what has been seen as an effective exemption from environment laws granted to state-sanctioned logging under regional forest agreements between Canberra and the states.

It argues the Tasmanian regional forest agreement is not valid as it lacks a legally enforceable requirement that the state must protect threatened species.

The foundation says if the case were successful it would consider similar action against federal-state forest agreements in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia. It said the current rules “essentially allows the state government to make up the rules as it suits, and gives no guaranteed protection for our wildlife and environment”.

The Australian Forest Products Association described the legal action as a “callous attack” on forestry workers by an “extremist activist group”.

The federal court on Friday make its final orders in the VicForests case, which was brought by the Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum, a community conservation group. It issued an injunction to prevent logging in 66 central highlands forestry areas, known as coupes, and ordered the agency to pay its opponent’s costs.

Danya Jacobs, a senior lawyer with Environmental Justice Australia, which represented Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum, said the order meant VicForests should put a stop to logging in any areas where the possum and the endangered greater glider were found and to protect surrounding habitat.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/bob-brown-foundation-launches-legal-action-against-native-forest-logging-in-tasmania

The challenge, lodged with the federal court on Thursday night, argues the Tasmanian regional forest agreement does not comply with a federal act.

The Bob Brown Foundation said the agreement doesn't ensure the protection of endangered species and lacks proper enforcement mechanisms.

Koala day of action

newsofhearea.com.au

Local participants were unanimous in expressing in expressing their dismay at declining koala populations and urged the state government to urgently address the issue.

Bellingen organiser, Kevin Evans said "Koalas are the emblem of our forests and you can't have a successful economy without a healthy habitat".

http://www.pittwateronlinenews.com/Call-for-Pittwater-Support-to-Save-Koalas.php

Environmentalists are calling on the Pittwater community to join today’s state-wide actions to save koalas from extinction in NSW - a fate experienced by our local population.

To put pressure on the NSW government to protect that habitat from development and logging, one of the actions staged by koala activists and environmental organisations will be a COVID-safe rally outside NSW MP Rob Stokes’ office at 11am today.

Koala survival is a poignant issue for many in Pittwater, where long-time residents can remember the marsupials living in their gardens. 

However, a 1970 survey discovered the population had declined to 123 animals and only about six were recorded in 1989. The last known sighting was in Avalon in 2006. 

Ecologists say their demise was due to increasing development fragmenting their habitat and forcing them to face dangers on the ground - such as cars and dogs – while they moved between trees.

https://www.begadistrictnews.com.au/story/6881455/day-of-action-for-koalas/

Wildlife carers at Potoroo Palace including founder Alexandra Seddon took part in the Save our Koalas day of action on Sunday, August 16.

"The inquiry found that the biggest threat to the koala's survival in NSW was the loss and fragmentation of habitat.

"The time has come for the government to draw and line in the sand and say enough is enough. We know that to save the koala we have to protect their habitat so that's what we're going to do.

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/08/a-sunday-to-save-koalas-in-new-south-wales/

From banners and signs to dressing up as our much-loved tree-dwelling marsupials, yesterday was a day to stand up for koalas.

Local residents, koala activists and environmental organisations, including the Bob Brown Foundation, Bellingen Environment Centre, Total Environment Centre, Extinction Rebellion and Save Sydney’s Koalas, staged a statewide Day of Action yesterday to save our koalas.

‘This Sunday hundreds of people across NSW hosted COVID-safe pop-up and virtual protests to demand action from the Premier as well as her Planning Minister Rob Stokes and Environment Minister Matt Kean.

‘The Premier has said she wants to save the Koala. Well, the world is watching Premier, and the only way to save them is to protect their habitat from further destruction now.’

Port Macquarie pulls Koala Plan of Management, while others move forward

https://www.portnews.com.au/story/6884132/planning-to-help-protect-coastal-koalas-hits-another-hurdle/

Significant legislative changes had a knock-on effect when it came to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's draft Coastal Koala Plan of Management.

Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann said there were difficulties regarding the hierarchy of legislation and also the change to the koala SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policy).

Therefore, the council will not proceed to the finalisation of the draft Coastal Koala Plan of Management in its current form.

The council will review its adopted Koala Recovery Strategy, and in due course, consider a recommended work plan which will include the development of a koala plan of management.

https://www.macarthuradvertiser.com.au/story/6890154/campbelltowns-koala-management-plan-approved/

Four years after Campbelltown Council submitted its Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management to the state government, the plan has finally been approved.

The council will now work to align the final version of the plan with the government's Koala State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), which was released in March.

Campbelltown mayor George Brticevic said it was great news to finally have the plan approved.

"This plan of management provides clear planning guidance for residents living in areas of koala habitat while ensuring its preservation is a priority in the planning process," he said.
https://www.miragenews.com/koala-plan-of-management-approved/

First Victoria, now Tassie, what are the green ratbags in FSC up to?

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/northtas/programs/drive/sustainable-timber-tasmania-fsc-certification/12567014

A 2019 Sustainable Timber Tasmania application for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification has been rejected.

The audit report has identified issues with the management and protection of the critically endangered Swift Parrot and old growth forests.

[podcast]

Mercury, August 18, 2020

GOVERNMENT-owned forestry company Sustainable Timber Tasmania has again fallen short of meeting the standards for Forest Stewardship Certification.

The Greens have called for a complete end to native forest logging in Tasmania after the result.

The FSC audit report said STT fell short in the management of swift parrot habitat, the retention of habitat trees associated with harvested areas and assessing the impact of fire and other disturbances on old growth.

[Greens leader Cassy O’Connor] “What we know from the auditors, is that there is no way, Sustainable Timber Tasmania will ever get FSC so long as it keeps logging old growth forests which provide critical habitat,” she said.

“This is on Forests Minister Guy Barnett, who has overseen the government’s forestry GBE’s absolute incapacity to get Forest Stewardship Certification, the acceleration of logging during the COVID months, and the continual driving of Tasmania’s marvellous, native species towards extinction.”

https://tasmps.greens.org.au/media-release/fsc-failure-confirms-liberals-must

Late on Friday, under the cover of a Budget update, so-called ‘Sustainable’ Timber Tasmania finally released the FSC audit report – which they received six months ago, in early February. 

The audit report is damning of the government’s forestry GBE.

In State Parliament this week, the Greens will again move to end native forest logging in Tasmania. 

Protection is the only way, in a climate and biodiversity emergency, to manage Tasmania’s biodiverse, carbon-rich forests.

https://tasmaniantimes.com/2020/08/responses-to-stt-audit-report/

[Podcast and transcript of interview with Greens]

Reptiles hit hard by wildfires

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/15/land-of-the-lizards-victorias-east-gippsland-was-a-refuge-for-threatened-reptiles-the-fires-changed-that?utm_term=5bbd739802c410ca257ee1d41eb5d8fa&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayAUS&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTAU_email

As the Guardian revealed last month, an interim report from 10 scientists estimated that almost 3bn animals were in the path of Australia’s bushfires. More than 2bn of those were squamates – also known as lizards and snakes.

But what does it mean to lose millions – perhaps billions – of reptiles from Australia’s landscape?

[David Chapple] “They occur across every single different type of environment and habitat. They’re a part of every food web of every ecosystem.”

[Prof Rick Shine] “These reptiles are incredibly important in a wide range of Australian ecosystems. Taking them out through threats like bushfires will have a strong impact on our ecosystem function and a huge impact on biodiversity.”

The research found Australia had 1,020 species of lizard and snake, of which 96% exist nowhere else in the world.

About 7% of Australia’s species are considered threatened and among those the research found one in five existed entirely outside protected areas such as national parks.

“These creatures are pretty resilient, but the difficulty comes when we add multiple threatening processes,” Shine says. “It reaches a point where the sum total of challenges becomes too much.”

[Clemann] “If we are genuine about wanting to stop the obvious decline and extinction trajectory of some of these species, then we first need to stop doing harm,” he says.

“If we want them to have the resilience to cope with climate change and disease and fires, then we need to ease all the other pressures that are within our power.”

Smoking is bad for your health

https://horizon-magazine.eu/article/four-times-more-toxic-how-wildfire-smoke-ages-over-time.html

Prof. Nenes is principal investigator of the PyroTRACH project, which is attempting to find out how emissions from wildfires – along with other types of biomass burning, such as domestic wood fires – change in the atmosphere and the impact this has on human health and climate.

One of the key findings the team has made since the five-year project began in 2017 is that particles released from burning vegetation in forest fires become more toxic over time.

Smoke from forest fires can linger in the atmosphere for a couple of weeks as it spreads. While in the air the smoke particles chemically react with trace radicals – molecules with unpaired electrons – to undergo a process known as oxidation. This converts the compounds in the smoke particles into highly reactive compounds. When they are breathed in, these reactive compounds – known as free radicals – can damage cells and tissues in the body.

‘We know that breathing in smoke when you are close to a fire is not good, but we have seen that over time it gets worse – up to four times more toxic a day down the road,’ said Prof. Nenes, referring to some of their experiment results. These results showed smoke samples taken from the air more than five hours after they were released from a fire were twice as toxic than when they were first released and as they aged further in the laboratory the toxicity increased to four times the original levels.

But reactive compounds from wildfire smoke are thought to have a number of short and long-term health effects. 

‘They can make people more prone to infections, can lead to breathing difficulties and leave some people more prone to heart attacks,’ said Prof. Nenes. ‘At the same time the smoke particles also contain carcinogens – polyaromatic hydrocarbons – which also oxidise and become more carcinogenic, increasing the risk of cancers.’

... some of the soot released by fires – known as brown carbon – plays a considerable role in absorbing heat from the sun, and makes global warming worse.

As is Biomass Burning

https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/renewable-energy-industry-runs-roughshod-over-forests,14217

Burning remaining forests for bioenergy is environmental vandalism, says Al Oshlack, founder of the Indigenous Justice Advocacy Network (IJAN). He is a veteran of many successful legal challenges against governments. 

What we’re seeing is a repeat of what happened in Tasmania and the south coast of NSW: massive wood-chipping operations now on an industrial scale. What’s happening is not just logging but mass clear-felling, taking the destruction of our remaining forests to a whole new level.   

The IJAN is chasing forests operations all over the place. To the best of my own knowledge, ten or eleven forest coupes in northern NSW are being clear-felled to be burned as biomass energy. 

Renewable energy focused on burning forests is creating an environmental nightmare in NSW. Logging and clear-felling forests for electricity is a deadly combination with dire consequences. This industry is the last straw in as a scorched earth policy being driven by the Commonwealth and NSW governments.

This is an astounding scenario. Coastal forests being cleared, wildlife struggling trying to survive are deprived of any future, bushfire mortality ignored and no rights for the public to take legal action.

Although the spokesperson for DPIE did not provide the names of the owners of the two licenced facilities, the plants are at Condong and Broadwater owned by Cape Byron Power Pty Ltd. Former sugar mills, once owned by the NSW Sugar Milling Cooperative, they are now co-regeneration plants owned or capitalised by foreign investment.

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/hobart/programs/breakfast/biomass-energy-peg-putt/12564678

Peg Putt does the sums on burning forests for energy

Wood as a power source is more rapidly replaceable than coal. But are the decades it takes to grow a tree enough to replace what we use? Is wood an efficient power generator? And does old or new growth stores more carbon? The answers may surprise you.

[podcast]

... pressure mounts on Drax

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/protests-against-trains-that-fuels-a-power-station

PROTESTS took place along a railway line between Liverpool and a Yorkshire power station today against the burning of wood to generate electricity.

Twelve campaign groups have formed an AxeDrax group. They include Extinction Rebellion, Liverpool-based Save Rimrose Valley, which is working to defend parkland in the city, and Biofuelwatch.

Today’s protests along the railway from Liverpool’s Peel Dock to Drax included demonstrations at stations and banner drops from bridges.

https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/business/extinction-rebellion-set-hold-protests-against-drax-power-station-2939223

"Campaigners will also call on MPs to transfer around £1 billion in UK renewable subsidies from biomass burning power stations like Drax to genuine renewables."

The spokesperson continued: "Drax is already the UK’s single largest emitter of carbon dioxide, burning more wood than any other power station in the world whilst continuing to burn coal. Drax power station has now been given the go ahead to build the country’s largest ever gas power plant and is asking for substantial new subsidies, in addition to the £2.36 million a day it already receives for burning biomass."

https://www.southernenvironment.org/news-and-press/press-releases/yougov-poll-just-23-of-britons-believe-burning-wood-for-electricity-should-be-classified-as-renewable-energy

LONDON – A new online YouGov poll has found fewer than one in four Britons (23%) think electricity generated by burning wood from forests should be classified as ‘renewable energy,’. Additionally, 55% also disagreed with the Government’s continued subsidies for this dirty source of energy as part of the UK’s renewable energy strategy. Currently, the government gives more than £2 million per day in subsidies to power stations that burn biomass.

Instead, 82% of respondents agree that the UK should aim to preserve recent improvements in air quality by switching to energy sources with no associated air pollution emissions. While the public overwhelmingly backs support for wind (80%) and solar energy (82%), only 3% say the Government should help companies that burn wood sourced from forests overseas, the poll found. Nearly all UK biomass is imported.

... The data shows support for the protection of these natural forests and the wildlife that depends on them, with 85% worried about the impact on wildlife if trees in forests are being cut down to generate electricity.

... Last month, the same coalition of environmental advocacy groups launched Cut Carbon Not Forests, a campaign to remove subsidies from companies that burn trees for electricity and shift the savings to genuinely clean and renewable energy solutions.

... opposition to (non-nuclear) power plant in Springfield

https://www.masslive.com/news/2020/08/springfield-city-councilors-raise-concerns-that-house-climate-bill-helps-biomass-plant.html

SPRINGFIELD — City councilors opposed to plans for a biomass plant on Page Boulevard have urged the state Legislature to eliminate a clause in a climate bill they claim is favorable to the project.

A House version of the bill (H.4993) would grant state subsidies to biomass projects by classifying them as “non-emitting sources,” Lederman said.

“Commercial biomass incinerators are not renewable energy, period, full stop,” Lederman said in a press release on Thursday.

... and its a big issue in Arizona

https://www.wmicentral.com/news/latest_news/corporation-commission-primary-leaves-fate-of-biomass-mandate-up-in-the-air/article_a14ea100-f617-5439-b309-08228fa07906.html

More importantly for northern Arizona, the general election outcome could determine whether the commission will revisit issuing a biomass mandate considered essential to reviving stalled forest restoration efforts to reduce the odds of town-destroying wildfires.

The key issue for northern Arizona remains the refusal of the current commission to support a “biomass mandate,” which would require APS and others to generate perhaps 90 megwatts of energy annually by burning biomass – mostly small trees and slash from forest thinning projects.

The 4-Forests Restoration Project launched by the Forest Service a decade ago has been stalled mostly for lack of a market for biomass, which makes up about half of the material removed. The 90-megawatt mandate would have provided a market for biomass that would have supported clearing 50,000 acres annually.

Studies suggest that burning biomass is cheaper than burning coal, but more expensive than solar or natural gas.

... and the Netherlands may pull the plug

https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/the-dutch-have-decided-burning-biomass-is-not-sustainable/

The Netherlands should phase out the use of biomass for generating electricity as soon as possible, the advisory board of the Dutch government said in a report presented earlier this month.

In the chemical industry, the building sector and agriculture, biological materials are crucial for the transition to a circular economy, the council writes. But sustainably produced biomass is too scarce to keep using it for the production of heat or electricity, for which other low-carbon and renewable alternatives exist, the report states.

Accordingly, the billions worth of subsidies that were intended for biomass combustion plants should be phased out as well, the advisors say, calling however for measures to preserve “investment security” when designing a phase-out plan.

In anticipation of the government’s new policy, Swedish energy company Vattenfall has already decided to postpone construction of a planned biomass plant in Diemen.

The report from the government advisory group has somewhat pacified a heated public debate around the sustainability of biomass which had gone into overdrive in the Netherlands over the past months.

Back in May, Eric Wiebes, the Dutch minister of economic affairs and climate policy, said that biomass was essential to achieve the country’s targets on renewable energy and carbon emissions reduction.

The Dutch debate may well herald developments at EU level, where the sustainability of biomass for energy purposes is coming under review.

As part of the biodiversity strategy presented on 20 May, the European Commission said it was constantly “assessing the EU and global biomass supply and demand and related sustainability” in order to “better understand and monitor the potential climate and biodiversity risks”.

That process will culminate by end 2020, when “the Commission will publish the results of this work on the use of forest biomass for energy production,” the EU executive said in its biodiversity strategy.

http://biomassmagazine.com/articles/17224/dutch-agency-advises-the-netherlands-to-phase-out-bioenergy

In its report, SER recommends that biomass be used for the highest value applications possible and comply with clear sustainability requirements. As part of that recommendation, SER is calling on the government to support the use of biomass in high-quality applications but phase out the lower value uses of biomass, including power and heating. High value applications described in the report include using biomass for the production of chemicals and materials, including bioplastics or biobased concrete.

During a transition to these high-value uses for biomass, the report recommends biomass could be used for energy production, but only temporarily and where no sustainable alternative is available. The report offers heavy road transport, shipping and aviation as areas where biomass would temporarily be used for energy purposes.

The GAIN report filed with the USDA, however, provides counterpoints to many of SER’s biomass claims. For example, while SER claims there is a limited supply of biomass, the GAIN report cites data from the IPCC, EIA, USDA, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Department of Energy that shows the U.S. can likely supply 1 billion metric tons or more of biomass annually.

And of course the world is getting hotter

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/annual-planetary-temperature-continues-to-rise/

LONDON, 17 August, 2020 – Despite global promises to act on climate change, the Earth continues to warm. The annual planetary temperature confirms that the last 10 years were on average 0.2°C warmer than the first 10 years of this century. And each decade since 1980 has been warmer than the decade that preceded it.

The year 2019 was also one of the three warmest years since formal temperature records began in the 19th century. The only warmer years – in some datasets but not all – were 2016 and 2015. And all the years since 2013 have been warmer than all other years in the last 170.

The link with fossil fuel combustion remains unequivocal: carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere increased by 2.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2019 alone. These now stand at 409 ppm.

The study, in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, is a sobering chronicle of the impact of climate change in the decade 2010-2019...

July 2019 was the hottest month on record. ... The Arctic as a whole was warmer than in any year except 2016. Australia achieved a new nationally average daily temperature high of 41.9°C on 18 December, breaking the previous 2013 record by 1.6°C.

For the first time on record in inland Alaska, when measured at 26 sites, the active layer of permafrost failed to freeze completely. In September, sea ice around the Arctic reached a minimum that tied for the second lowest in the 41 years of satellite records.

Drought conditions led to catastrophic wildfires in Australia, in Indonesia, Siberia and in the southern Amazon forests of Bolivia, Brazil and Peru.

Some forests are loosing their ability to absorb carbon

https://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/26921/20200818/forest-seasonal-carbon-flux-location.htm

Trees soak up around 30 percent of the carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. That being said, they are Earth's greatest allies in fighting climate change and global warming.

For several decades, cold-climate forests in the Northern hemisphere have become even more effective in absorbing carbon as carbon dioxide levels and temperatures continue to rise.

The researchers published their study in PNAS on Monday, August 17. The study reveals that Siberian forests are absorbing less carbon dioxide, increasing their contribution to the annual global carbon flux, compared to other forests in the same latitude.

Their study is the first to quantify how the seasonal cycle of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is affected by the carbon emitted from a specific region during the annual carbon flux. Technically, Earth inhales carbon during spring and summer when trees and plants grow and photosynthesize. The planet exhales carbon dioxide during winter when vegetation is not present.

Researchers noted that changes in the annual seasonal carbon flux have increased over the past decades. The intensity of flux in the Northern hemisphere has gone up 30 to 50 percent since the 1960s, which suggests that a widespread ecological changed happened.

"Siberia has been greening, strengthening its carbon sink and driving increases in seasonal CO2 exchange, but Arctic-boreal North America is showing much more browning under worsening stresses like fires, pests, and droughts," Rogers said.

He added that carbon budgets and models should include forests in Alaska and Canada as they are not usually included in models, and soon they might turn from a carbon sink into becoming a source.

... because forests are dying

https://www.bloombergquint.com/global-economics/mountain-pine-beetle-infestations-are-killing-forests-could-worsen-emissions

A plague of tiny mountain pine beetles, no bigger than a grain of rice, has already destroyed 15 years of log supplies in British Columbia, enough trees to build 9 million single-family homes, and are chewing through forests in Alberta and the Pacific Northwest. Now an outbreak of spruce beetles is threatening to devour even more trees in North America just as similar pests are decimating supplies in parts of Europe, creating a glut of dead and dying logs.

The bugs are thriving as climate change warms winters that would normally keep them at bay, destroying a swath of the world's timber supplies.

... scientists like Carroll say increased climate variability and warmer temperatures are going to boost the number of outbreaks of beetles and other insects in the decades to come. The bugs are able to thrive as forests become stressed ...

Signs of hope ... rewilding Europe

https://au.news.yahoo.com/rewilding-europe-letting-nature-no-034613667.html

The Grand Barry nature reserve in France's southeastern corner is undertaking one of Europe's largest experiments in rewilding.

At a time when reforestation projects -- planting new trees -- are growing in popularity, rewilding aims to let nature do the work by simply leaving ecosystems alone to recover, free from human influence.

Kun says that the goal of rewilding is to create "ecosystems that can work without human intervention".  

This means no tree-planting, no forestry clearance, and no or very little species reintroduction. Just standing back, and letting nature do its thing.

... and replanting rivers in India

Read more at:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/77604187.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/after-ganga-forestry-interventions-to-help-rejuvenate-13-other-major-rivers/articleshow/77604187.cms

NEW DELHI: On the lines of the ongoing programme for river Ganga, the centre has decided to use "forestry interventions" as one of the tools to rejuvenate 13 other major rivers across the country.

Idea behind this move is to grow forests along both sides of these rivers to increase groundwater recharge and reduce erosion. Forests have capacity to hold water and discharge it slowly into rivers - an important component of ensuring uninterrupted flow of water in the rivers and improving the overall hydrological cycle.

 

14 August 2020


Great Koala National Park passes another milestone

Coffs Coast Advocate 11 August

After weeks of negotiations, NSW's Lower House has voted to support a motion to investigate the establishment of the Great Koala National Park (GKNP) in the Coffs Harbour hinterland.

This motion moved by Greens MP Jamie Parker also included the 41 other recommendations made in the recent inquiry into the state's koala population.

The University of Newcastle is currently conducting an economic study into the GKNP to determine the potential for job creation, as well as the impact on job losses in the forestry industry.

Targeting unburnt Koala habitat

https://www.ladbible.com/news/latest-koala-habitats-that-survived-summers-bushfires-are-now-being-logged-20200813

About six months ago, the world was watching in horror as large swathes of Australia were being burnt to a crisp in some of the worst bushfires in decades.

Billions of animals were wiped out over summer and many were heartbroken to see images of koalas in tiny casts being treated for terrifying burns.

Now that the threat of fire has eased, koalas are now facing a new threat: logging.

Kai says state-owned logging agency Forestry Corporation has been logging unburnt koala habitat for months in northern New South Wales and it's unclear what impact this is having on the surviving koala population.

"I went to Lower Bucca State Forest because I knew this was happening and I believe if people see this, they'll do what they can to help keep koalas safe," he said.

Kai has told Vice News: "The fact that there's just been no pause or stocktake from the NSW Government to be like 'let's just see whether this is going to cause impact' is worrying.

https://www.indiatimes.com/trending/environment/koala-habitats-cut-down-australia-bushfire-520237.html

Now there’s a new concern that has cropped up among Climate scientists and conservationists. After the fires that ravaged acres of land, Australian state governments are continuing to log unburned forests that are home to vulnerable koala populations.

In June this year, Stuart Blanch, manager of land clearing and restoration at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Australia, requested the government to protect the animal's habitat saying,“WWF calls on the NSW Premier to rewrite weak land clearing laws to protect koala habitat, greatly increase funding for farmers who actively conserve trees where koalas live, and a transition out of logging koala forests and into plantations.”

Central Coast looking for Koalas

https://coastcommunitynews.com.au/central-coast/news/2020/08/counting-koalas/

Coast Environmental Alliance (CEA) founder, Jake Cassar, has welcomed news that Central Coast Council will progress its Koala Survey program with field surveys scheduled to be completed during the koala breeding season this spring.

The surveys will occur between September and November, when koalas are vocal and able to be detected through passive recording devices.

“There have been over 70 registered sightings of koalas in our area over the past 20 years, and the sightings have been surprisingly widespread.

“The Central Coast can play a pivotal role in the overall survival of this iconic and extremely vulnerable native animal, but our elected leaders need to act now and put a stop to development in or around koala habitat before it’s too late,” he said.

Port Macquarie breeding Koalas

https://www.camdencourier.com.au/story/6868046/program-planning-advances-with-firm-focus-to-rebuild-koala-numbers/

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is making good progress as it sets the foundations for a wild koala breeding program after an international outpouring of generosity.

A GoFundMe campaign launched in response to bushfire devastation raised $7.9 million to fast-track the introduction of the wild koala breeding program and buy and distribute wildlife drinking stations.

Some 140 wildlife drinking stations are in place across NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

The aim is to create a world's best practice wild koala breeding program which other organisations can use as a blueprint.

The koala hospital redevelopment project is in the preconstruction phase.

The redevelopment will be funded through a $5 million grant from the state government and a $1.25 million contribution from the koala hospital.

... while their habitat is cleared

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/aug/07/sussan-ley-urged-to-save-port-stephens-koala-habitat-set-to-be-destroyed-by-quarry

Residents of the New South Wales town of Port Stephens are calling on the federal environment minister, Sussan Ley, to save 52 hectares of koala habitat set to be destroyed by the expansion of a quarry.

The project is on a list of developments the NSW government wants fast-tracked in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and would more than double the quarry’s annual production from 700,000 tonnes a year to 1.5m tonnes to supply the Sydney construction market.

In its decision to approve the quarry expansion, the NSW IPC said the project would have a significant impact on the species but it had accepted the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s assessment that those effects could be managed or mitigated through conditions.

The IPC said the department should reevaluate the policy framework under which the environmental effects of projects on koalas were assessed.

[Parslow Redman] “I’m a mother of three young children and I can’t bear the thought of our kids growing up in a state where we no longer have a koala population,” she said.

“We’ve been talking about koala decline for how many decades? We need to actually start being proactive.”

Koalas can eat eucalypts

https://www.miragenews.com/koala-survival-post-bushfires-given-major-boost-2/

The partnership with Minderoo Foundation will assist researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) examine how koalas recover after fire and how fire impacts their habitat, including if their dietary needs can be met.

“We will examine how fire affects the nutritional quality of koala habitats and eucalypt trees after a fire. Our research is critical for the development of strategies that minimise bushfire impacts on wildlife.

“With koalas facing the very real threats of localised extinctions and widespread habitat loss, as well as reeling from the unprecedented fires we’ve suffered this season in Australia, this is an investment in the long-term survival of one of this nation’s and the world’s most iconic animals.

“We’ve already discovered koalas can digest new, epicormic growth from some of the trees that they usually eat,” ANU co-researcher Dr Karen Ford said.

In addition to examining koalas’ diets, the ANU researchers will track the fate of koalas from fire-affected areas and those that were not taken into care in nearby burnt and unburnt areas. In addition, they will investigate a potential rapid method to provide useful koala heath information from their droppings.

https://www.9news.com.au/national/australia-bush-fires-koala-sanctuary-two-thumbs-money-cooma-air-crash-anu/5244ee42-42c9-4076-aec9-104eac82195a

"The trees grow all these leaves out of their trunk and they're probably quite different nutritionally than the leaves that are normally growing on the trees and we don't really know whether koalas can eat those trees, whether they're as nutritious, whether they're more toxic," Dr Ford said.

"We are seeing that they are finding the trees that have unburnt canopy, and we have seen them eating some of the epicormic growth, so that's the new growth, the new shoots," he said.

"To try and take every animal out, maybe that's not required."

https://science.anu.edu.au/news-events/news/these-koalas-escaped-disaster-now-they-are-getting-second-chance

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/koalas-bushfire-recovery-diet-a-cause-for-hope-20200806-p55j2h.html

But after severe bushfires in the NSW Southern Tablelands, Australian National University research school of biology fellow Karen Ford said she had been surprised to see koalas in burnt forests that appeared to be healthier than many she'd observed before the fires.

"It was a combination of them already being in poor condition from the drought before the fires and the fires taking all their food. And clearly some of them didn't make it in that time. But the ones that did have really picked up."

A big reason for the koalas' good health is now thought to be their diet which, due to the severity of the fires, is currently reliant on green shoots, known as epicormic growth.

Dr Ford and Dr Youngentob offered the 30 koalas recovering at ANU's sanctuary both mature leaves and epicormic growth, and found they preferred the green shoots from certain trees.

"We gave them leaves from eight different tree species and they chose to eat the epicormic growth from half the species from which they normally eat the mature leaves. They also ate epicormic growth from trees where they don't eat the mature leaves," Dr Youngentob said.

The push for Sydney's Koalas grows

https://www.macarthuradvertiser.com.au/story/6876359/council-writing-to-environment-minister-to-seek-support-for-koala-protections/

Campbelltown Council will write to state environment minister Matt Kean requesting immediate support to protect local koala populations.

Councillor Karen Hunt raised the motion at last night's meeting, garnering support from her fellow councillors.

She said she was inspired to raise the motion after reading of Mr Kean's intentions to double the koala population by 2050.

Cr Hunt asked the council to write to Mr Kean requesting "the NSW state government provide immediate support for the preservation and protection of the Campbelltown and south-west koala colonies and habitats by commencing construction of viable, safe and effective crossing points across Appin Road together with the requisite flexi-fencing along Appin Road".

Counting Koalas

https://www.theweek.in/news/sci-tech/2020/08/07/researchers-develop-ai-backed-koala-spotting-system.html

Aussie researchers have published an improved and innovative method for estimating the number of koalas in an area by using drones and an artificial intelligent algorithm.

The study, published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, explains the statistical method that uses the number of koalas automatically detected in infrared images of bushland as a starting point.

VicForests blaming everyone but themselves

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/vicforests-ends-bid-for-sustainability-tick-20200813-p55lhy.html

Victoria’s state logging agency has abandoned its latest attempt to gain sustainability certification from the Forest Stewardship Council Australia, saying it was concerned it would not be fairly assessed because three of the council’s directors are involved in forest activism.

In an online statement, VicForests said it had decided to postpone its attempt to gain certification by the end of 2020, citing concerns over an ongoing Federal Court case and some directors of the council, the local branch of an international sustainability initiative.

“Three directors of FSC Australia ... are leading public activism and advocacy, calling for the complete cessation of native forestry and actively seeking to discredit VicForests," the statement said.

The Federal Court decision prompted hardware giant Bunnings to end its timber supply contract with Victoria's logging agency. Another major customer, Officeworks, has said that by the end of the year all timber for its paper products will come from either FSC-accredited sources or recycled products.

A spokesman for FSC Australia rejected VicForests' concerns over governance.

“As VicForests well knows, all assessments are carried out by independent auditors,” it said. “The FSC itself plays no role in the outcome of the assessment. If they meet the standard, they get the certification.”

FSC under attach from both sides

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/fsc-deforestation-djarum-robert-hartono-pulp-auriga/

  • An environmental NGO that flagged deforestation by two pulpwood companies linked to a Forest Stewardship Council member says the FSC has dragged its feet on carrying out a proper investigation.
  • The companies and the FSC member, a paper mill, are all controlled directly or indirectly by Robert Budi Hartono, Indonesia’s richest person.
  • The complaint was filed last December, but the investigation only began in February this year, and has been put on hold since June because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FSC says.
  • The NGO has questioned the FSC’s delayed response, its non-standard investigation process, and its apparent failure to link the pulpwood companies to the certified paper mill earlier.

Debate continues in the West

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-13/forestry-industry-slams-bid-to-end-native-logging-in-wa/12551382

The peak body for Western Australia's forestry industry has slammed a bid by the state Greens to ban native logging in Western Australia, saying the move is "absurd" and "ill thought-out".

South West Greens MP Diane Evers is expected to introduce a bill into State Parliament today to end native logging in Western Australia and wind up the State-Government run Forest Products Commission.

https://thewest.com.au/news/augusta-margaret-river-times/anti-logging-protesters-rally-ng-b881635405z

Residents concerned over the logging of native forests are urged to attend a rally in Margaret River next weekend.

Memorial Park will host the gathering on Saturday, August 22, at noon.

The rally is endorsed by the Margaret River Regional Environment Centre and the WA Forest Alliance, with some members recently active in protests at the Helms forest coupe east of Margaret River.

Last week, Forest Industries Federation WA executive director Melissa Haslam denied the logging of old-growth forest and said most of Helms was dieback-infested.

Liberals pulling a swift in Tasmania

https://www.miragenews.com/taking-positive-action-to-protect-tasmania-s-swift-parrot/

Guy Barnett, Minister for Resources

The critically endangered Swift Parrot will be better protected with almost 10,000 hectares of potential nesting habitat to be excluded from wood production.

It follows extensive research and consultation between Sustainable Timber Tasmania and the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment, with a Swift Parrot Public Authority Management Agreement (PAMA) to be implemented for the Southern Forests.

https://tasmps.greens.org.au/media-release/liberals-pulling-swiftie-threatened

Minister Jaensch and Barnett’s spinners went into overdrive on a Friday afternoon, with the announcement they will exclude some swift parrot habitat from logging. Yet no real information was provided by the government, and the only named area mentioned by the Ministers is already under a logging moratorium. 

In Budget Estimates last year, we asked the Government to release the maps that designate which forests were to be excluded from harvesting under the proposed Public Authority Management Agreement. The Liberals refused to provide the maps then, and today are still hiding the location of the 10,000 hectares they are claiming will be excluded from logging. 

Like the proposal for the Great Koala National Park on the mainland, Tasmania should be protecting the entire south and eastern forest estate for the swift parrot.

Burning underway

https://www.newsofthearea.com.au/gumbaynggirr-land-and-sea-rangers-first-cultural-burn-of-the-season-57175

LOCAL Gumbaynggirr Land and Sea Rangers have commenced the first cultural burn for the season across Aboriginal owned lands in the Coffs Harbour City Council and Bellingen Shire Council Local Government Areas.

The rangers are trained in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous practices including Advanced Forest Fire Fighting as well as Indigenous fire practice training with elders and knowledge holders.

“Cultural burning is critical, not only as part of a continuous cultural practice, but plays an integral role in community protection and reducing the threat of wildfire,” Mr Brennan said.

“The time restrictions mean there can be 15 years between burns which is too infrequent. It creates too much fuel,” Mr Brennan said.

Ancient Tree Ferns

https://theconversation.com/tree-ferns-are-older-than-dinosaurs-and-thats-not-even-the-most-interesting-thing-about-them-138435

Tree ferns are generally slow growing, at rates of just 25-50 millimetres height increase per year. This means the tall individuals you might spot in a mature forest may be several centuries old.

As a plant group, tree ferns are ancient, dating back hundreds of millions of yearsand pre-dating dinosaurs.

Seeds, such as those of the native (or myrtle) beech, Nothofagus cunninghamii, may germinate in the crowns of tree ferns, and its roots can grow down the tree fern trunks and into the soil.

Decades, or even centuries later, it’s sometimes still possible to see the old tree fern stem embedded inside.

Trump removing protection for old tress (>53cm)

http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2020/08/13/eastside-forest-scam-the-removal-of-the-21-inch-rule/

The Forest Service has begun a 30 day comment period on its proposal to eliminate the 21-inch rule or what is known as the Eastside screens. The plan would remove a prohibition against cutting trees larger than 21 inches in the drier forests east of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington.

The 21-inch rule was implemented in 1994 to protect larger trees larger from logging, partially in response to the realization that big trees have a disproportional ecological influence.

In response to the loss of large trees created by excessive logging, Congress convened a scientific panel to review the issue. However, unlike many such scientific panels that rely exclusively on forestry schools and/or the Forest Service for advice, Congress asked the Wildlife Society, the American Fisheries Society, the Society for Conservation Biology, and the American Ornithologists’ Union to produce the Eastside Forests Scientific Society Panel report.  The panel came out with 13 suggestions, including a prohibition on cutting larger trees older than 150. The Forest Service adopted this policy recommendation.

But times have changed. With the advent of the Trump Administration, there is intense pressure to increase the cut of timber.

Although it is seldom admitted, one of the chief reasons for removing the 21-inch rule is to increase the economic viability of logging projects.

Another forest carbon source

https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2020/08/12/global-warming-makes-tropical-soils-leak-co2-study.html

Tropical forest soil warmed in experiments to levels consistent with end-of-century temperature projections released 55 percent more CO2 than control plots, exposing a previously underestimated source of greenhouse gas emissions, researchers reported Wednesday.

"Even a small increase in respiration from tropical forest soils could have a large effect on atmospheric CO2 concentrations, with consequences for global climate."

The quantity of carbon cycling each year through soils worldwide is up to 10 times greater than human-generated greenhouse gas emissions.

Just a one-percent imbalance -- with more carbon going out than in -- "would equal about ten percent of global anthropogenic (manmade) carbon emissions," noted Eric Davidson, a researcher at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

Extrapolating from the new findings, the study estimates that if all the world's tropical soils warmed by 4C for a two-year period some time before 2100, it would release 65 billion tons of carbon -- equivalent to about 240 billion tons of CO2 -- into the atmosphere.  

"That is more than six times the current annual emissions from human-related sources," Nottingham said.

Up to now, tree cover and the ocean have together consistently absorbed about half of the excess carbon emissions from human activity, but there are signs that some forests may be experiencing CO2 fatigue.

Stored CO2 is also released when trees are cut down. 

Last year, a football pitch of primary, old-growth trees was destroyed every six seconds, about 38,000 square kilometers (14,500 square miles) in all, according to Global Forest Watch.

Climate Chaos - Business as Usual

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-08/whrc-ce073020.php

The RCP 8.5 C02 emissions pathway, long considered a "worst case scenario" by the international science community, is the most appropriate for conducting assessments of climate change impacts by 2050, according to a new article published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ... Long dismissed as alarmist or misleading, the paper argues that is actually the closest approximation of both historical emissions and anticipated outcomes of current global climate policies, tracking within 1% of actual emissions.

"Not only are the emissions consistent with RCP 8.5 in close agreement with historical total cumulative CO2 emissions (within 1%), but RCP8.5 is also the best match out to mid-century under current and stated policies with still highly plausible levels of CO2 emissions in 2100," the authors wrote. "...Not using RCP8.5 to describe the previous 15 years assumes a level of mitigation that did not occur ...

Four scenarios known as Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) were developed in 2005 for the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report (AR5). ... RCP 8.5 assumes the greatest fossil fuel use, and a resulting additional 8.5 watts per square meter of radiative forcing by 2100.

The article also notes that RCP 8.5 would not be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that "we note that the usefulness of RCP 8.5 is not changed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Assuming pandemic restrictions remain in place until the end of 2020 would entail a reduction in emissions of -4.7 Gt CO2. This represents less than 1% of total cumulative CO2 emissions since 2005 for all RCPs and observations."

Cutting down rainfall in Brazil

https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/deforestation-in-the-amazon-is-drying-up-the-rest-of-brazil-report/?utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=dfd5f4bd39-Newsletter_2020_04_30_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-dfd5f4bd39-77229786&mc_cid=dfd5f4bd39&mc_eid=c0875d445f

Over the past two years, drought has severely affected much of Brazil.

Scientist Antônio Donato Nobre, author of the report “The Future Climate of Amazonia,” is emphatic: “South America is drying up as a result of the combined effects of deforestation and climate change.”

Agribusiness has been suffering losses as a result of drought, but it also contributes to the changes in the water regime. Deforesting the Amazon to establish cattle ranches, plantations and logging reduces precipitation in Brazil and other Latin American countries. With deforestation increasing, agribusiness and power generation may collapse in Brazil.

The Amazon Forest works as a cooling system. On a single day, a robust tree with its 20-meter (66-foot) canopy pumps around 1,100 liters (290 gallons) of water into the atmosphere. These masses of air carrying vapor from the forest’s transpiration are called “flying rivers.” They take humidity from the Amazon Basin to Brazil’s center-west, southeast and south regions as well as to neighboring countries. With fewer trees in the forest, there is less humidity in the air. And that leads to drought.

Restoring forests a way forward

https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2020/08/13/exploring-financing-opportunities-for-forest-landscape-restoration/

For centuries, world’s forests have been cleared and removed for agricultural or other land uses, often resulting in degraded lands found in almost every country today. As global population increases and climate change threatens ecosystems worldwide, there is an urgent need for more sustainable management of land to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

As a process of restoring degraded lands and retrieving their economic and environmental productivity, forest landscape restoration is a promising way to achieve desalination of the soils and reduced wind and water erosion.  It also helps filtering drinking water and raising the level of groundwater in restored areas and the storage of carbon dioxide in the newly accumulated biomass. 

So far, countries in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia pledged to restore close to 3 million hectares of degraded land under the Bonn Challenge, a global effort to restore 350 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, which also count under the ECCA30, a regional initiative to restore 30 million hectares by 2030 in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

A helping hand for recovery

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/08/200813142321.htm

The rainforests of Southeast Asia are among the fastest declining tropical ecosystems worldwide. Researchers from 13 institutions studied an area of tropical forest in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo that had suffered heavy logging in the 1980s but was subsequently protected from further deforestation or conversion to agricultural land.

This long-term study paid special attention to the forest's capacity to rebuild biomass. The researchers found that areas left to regenerate naturally recovered by as much as 2.9 tonnes of aboveground carbon per hectare per year. "This quantitatively confirms that if degraded forests get effective protection, they can recover well naturally," says Christopher Philipson, Senior Scientist at ETH Zurich's Chair of Ecosystem Management.

More importantly, the research team found that areas of forest that underwent active restoration recovered 50% faster, from 2.9 to 4.4 tonnes of aboveground carbon per hectare per year.

https://meaww.com/restoring-forests-expedites-ability-capture-carbon-humans-added-atmosphere-50

According to study author Professor Mark Cutler, School of Social Sciences, University of Dundee, UK, the findings emphasize that the protection of existing forests, even those that have been degraded or previously exploited, is paramount for retaining aboveground carbon density, as well as for maintaining biodiversity and other critical ecosystem services. “The protection of existing forests, even those that have been degraded or previously exploited, is paramount from the point of view of retaining aboveground carbon density, as well as maintaining biodiversity and other critical ecosystem services. The implementation of even relatively low-cost active restoration measures can lead to a significant increase in aboveground carbon density in forests that have been previously disturbed,” Cutler told MEA WorldWide (MEAWW).

Thus, the impacts of active restoration to forests enhance their potential contribution to mitigating climate change. Full ACD recovery in a naturally regenerating logged forest would take around 60 years, while recovery for an actively restored forest takes just 40 years,” the findings state.

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6505/838

7 August 2020


Forest action continues on Gumbaynggir country

The Gumbaynggir Conservattion Group media release 3 August

Logging has been stopped at Bagawa State Forest this morning. This is the fourth time logging has been halted on the NSW Mid North Coast over the past six weeks by the Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group (GCG). 

One individual is in a treeattached to two machines, effectively stopping logging in the active Bagawa State Forest operation site, 40km North-West of Coffs Harbour.

Bagawa SF is recovering from the devastating December 2019 Liberation Trail Fire that burnt over 150,000 hectares of land. A GCG spokesperson shares,

“Five million hectares of NSW forests burnt last summer and three billion animals were lost with them. We need every last patch of native forest left to refuge dislocated species, regulate our climate and grow into our future forests.”

Sandy Greenwood, a Gumbaynggirr custodian and spokesperson shares, 

“The hypocrisy of Forestry Corporation using a Gumbaynggirr word "Bagawa" (a family clan name) to name a forest and then log it to the ground speaks volumes to their complete disregard for cultural heritage. They use our language to name our country, then deliberately desecrate it for low-use timber. It is incredibly disrespectful to Gumbaynggirr Custodians and Native Title holders. My Elders are very upset.”

Since the establishment of The Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group in May, they have halted logging by direct action in Nambucca SF, Wild Cattle Creek SF, Lower Bucca SF and now Bagawa.

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/gumbaynggirr-force-halt-logging-nsw-mid-north-coast

“The hypocrisy of Forestry Corporation using a Gumbaynggirr word ‘Bagawa’ [a family clan name] to name a forest, and then log it to the ground, speaks volumes of their complete disregard for cultural heritage.”

On July 18, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) imposed a 40-day stop work order and fine on the Forestry Corporation after an investigation into operations at Wild Cattle Creek State Forest exposed the illegal felling of two giant, old growth trees.

North East Forest Alliance spokesperson Dailan Pugh said there were a further 12 breaches of the logging rules, including more felled giant trees and reckless damage to four giant hollow-bearing trees and six koala feed trees.

“These massive awe-inspiring trees are the height of 10 storey buildings and 300-500 years old,” Pugh said. “They provide the large hollows that many of our iconic animals depend upon for dens and nests. These forests have also been identified as being outstanding Koala habitat.”

Five days later, the EPA issued another stop-work notice and fine to the Forestry Corporation at South Brooman State Forest near Batemans Bay. EPA investigations revealed 26 hollow bearing trees had either been felled or severely damaged.

The Bagawa State Forest is still recovering from the devastating Liberation Trail fire of last December, in which more than 150,000 hectares was burnt. Despite the EPA having issued a new rule to prohibit intensive harvesting in burnt areas, it gave Bagawa an exemption because of “a critical shortage of timber supply”. This exemption overrules the new law that was introduced to protect struggling species impacted by the fires.

On August 3, logging was forced to stop when a forest defender climbed high into a tree while attached to a harvester and a loader. The forest defender said: “This is a recovering forest. It’s recovering from fires and ongoing historical logging from Forestry Corp. It’s already home to koalas, yellow-bellied gliders and glossy black cockatoos. Just imagine what it could become if Forestry Corporation left this recovering forest alone.”

The Northern Star, Ballina Advocate, Tweed Daily News, Coffs Coast Advocate, Byron Shire News, Daily Examiner have all run the paywalled story 'Activists shut down logging in State Forest' , which I assume relates to  Bagawa State Forest. The Coffs Coast Advocate has a follow-up story 'Forestry Corp counters claim of habitat destruction'. The Daily Examiner 'Protester's bold call on naming State Forests'.

https://www.bellingencourier.com.au/story/6863319/letter-barking-up-the-wrong-tree-on-timber-value/

... as we know, some within Bellingen represent an activist group at the pointy edge of stop all timber harvesting, traditional farming, and in fact most extractive industries that supply us, including themselves, with everything they expect as the norm or their god given right.

Back to Wild Cattle Creek, where the crime was committed via the illegal extraction of two brush box trees. Displayed were the stumps of these two trees claimed to be 300-year-old growth.

So they were nothing near 300-year-old growth, but were illegally cut, resulting in the contractors each being fined $2200 with Dominic claiming a slap on the wrist as each tree would be worth 10 times that figure - $22,000.

The combined cubic metre volume of these two logs claimed to be seven cubes. Milled, dried and dressed into premium flooring, the traditional use for brush box, at $6 a lineal metre, would retail at $8400 - a little short of $44,000 as claimed.

https://www.bellingencourier.com.au/story/6865184/letter-lock-timber-industry-out-of-public-forests/

The industry was warned many years ago that to sustain the production of timber products they had to plant all the trees used for this purpose. They have failed miserably and are still demanding that the public subsidies the industry.

We know that the NSW hardwood Industry is a major financial loss to the public. I urge the Government to remove the industry from the public forest and stop the environmental vandalism we see perpetrated towards the habitat of the animals.

Leif Nielsen Lemke, Bellingen

Meanwhile on the South Coast

http://newbushtelegraph.org.au/?p=1004

The mega-fires of last summer which destroyed so much forest in NSW have presented the people of this state with a golden opportunity. There is no better time than now to transition to 100 per cent plantation forestry in NSW. Here’s why.

Locals found an overwhelming amount of evidence to confirm systematic ongoing non-compliance and disregard for the rule requiring hollow-bearing trees to be left alone. In one forest, 97 instances of hollows in the debris on the forest floor were discovered and documented.

Meanwhile, north coast conservationists, also suspicious, found evidence of contractors felling giant trees, something which has been prohibited since long before the fires. The EPA issued a Stop Work Order (SWO) to halt the work in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest pending further investigations and possible prosecution.

Encouraged by what seemed to be an emboldened EPA and a sympathetic state Environment Minister Matt Keen, south coast conservationists began the push for the EPA to issue another SWO. The EPA carried out investigations in South Brooman, confirming widespread non-compliance and miraculously issued another SWO.

In Mogo State Forest where logging is also occurring, tree hollows can be found laying all over the forest floor. Evidence enough for a third SWO to be easily issued, and possible prosecution.

And they are at it in Western Australia again

https://www.busseltonmail.com.au/story/6861366/protesters-take-action-to-stop-logging-in-helms-forest-near-nannup/

Logging has been brought to a standstill by forest defenders in Helms and McCorkhill Forests near Nannup on August 3, 2020.

One protester has locked them self onto a logging machine and another has taken to a platform 20 metres above the ground.

"I am locking on out of sense of desperation. We are facing combined climate and ecological crises and it's essential that we immediately protect native forests," Clarion said.

"Native forests are critical allies in our efforts to avert climate chaos and prevent wildlife extinctions, but we're still chopping them down, and largely for firewood, charcoal and woodchips. It's insane and it has to stop.

Bid to stop importation of illegal timber from Australia

https://www.theage.com.au/environment/sustainability/the-fight-over-australian-logging-goes-global-20200804-p55ijb.html

An Australian environment group has appealed to regulators in the United States and the European Union to crack down on the importation of wood products they say may have been illegally harvested by Victoria’s government logging agency VicForests.

The Wilderness Society has filed complaints with regulators in Europe and the US, saying that there is a serious risk products made from timber harvested by VicForests break local laws against the importation of illegally harvested timber.

According to the Wilderness Society when a similar complaint was filed against another supplier in the Netherlands, the timber trader Boogaerdt Hout was warned that future breaches of EU regulations would result in fines of 20,000 euro ($32,000) per cubic metre of timber illegally placed on the market.

In its complaint to authorities in Germany, Denmark and the US, the Wilderness Society claims that VicForests has repeatedly harvested in areas where it holds no right to do so, has breached legally mandated logging prescriptions, has illegally built roads and that the state regulator has failed to act as a sufficient deterrent or enforce the law.

Baiting turns dingoes into monsters

https://www.newser.com/story/294544/dingo-poisoning-has-unintended-effect.html

Dingoes are getting bigger—but only in areas where long-term poison campaigns against them have been in place. It seems the bait traps have the unintended consequence of making the surviving animals larger, reports Science Daily. "The most likely theory is that dingoes who survive baiting campaigns have less competition for food," says the University of Sydney's Mathew Crowther, co-author of the study in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Another factor is that smaller dingoes are more likely to succumb to the poison, which leaves the bigger dingoes to thrive. 

They found that the skulls in the poison regions have grown roughly 4mm over the last 80 years, which translates to an increase in body mass of between 6% and 9%. Females had the bigger boost.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2020-08-06/inhumane-1080-baits-cause-dingos-to-get-bigger/12526930

The Invasive Species Council has defended the use of 1080 despite concern about the suffering it causes, saying it is protecting native species from foxes and cats.

"The report finds it highly likely that 1080-poisoned animals suffer pain and distress before they become unconscious," Mr Cox said.

Jennifer Pirret took on the West Australian Government and won after losing two maremma dogs, a rottweiler, a border collie and five goats to 1080.

https://www.beefcentral.com/news/baiting-link-to-dingo-size-increase-unsw/

https://vetpracticemag.com.au/dingoes-have-grown-and-pesticides-might-be-to-blame/

National Parks are good for pandemics

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/good-for-the-soul-visits-to-nsw-national-parks-soar-amid-covid-19-20200805-p55iu8.html

The state's national parks are reporting a surge in visits as people seek out nature to dispel the blues brought on by the constraints of coronavirus on normal life.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service reports overnight stays at campgrounds across the state were up by more than a third in July compared to the same month last year.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said the uptick in visits was proof nature was "good for the soul".

"While we go through this pandemic, it so important to have areas, close to where people live, where people can exercise and enjoy nature," Mr Kean said.

Clearing is good for pandemics too

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200806/Human-encroachment-into-forest-land-caused-bat-CoV-spillover-and-COVID-19-emergence.aspx

A new study published on the preprint server medRxiv* in August 2020 discusses the root causes underlying the emergence of such infectious diseases following their crossover of the line separating animal viruses from human.

Nonetheless, it is quite clear that a growing number of contacts between animals in the wild and humans are driving the entry of animal viruses into the human community. The researchers in the current study point out that this is the effect of several linked factors that decrease the distance and increase the rates of contact between humans and wild animals, as well as between humans themselves.

The entry of humans into areas formerly inhabited by wild animals, the pursuit of hunting, the clearing of forests to create pastureland for livestock to graze or for animal farming, may all encourage animal viruses to enter the human community. And in addition, the loss of old forest and breaking up of a single forest into smaller, nonviable fragments causes niche animal communities to die out while favoring the survival of generalist species.

“These results demonstrate that China exhibits stronger signs of human encroachment, livestock density, and forest disturbance of SARSr‐CoV hosting horseshoe bat distributions than other regions. Regions close to forest fragments exhibit lower forest and cropland cover.”

In other words, China is one of the significant hotspots bringing all these factors together - fragmentation, livestock density, and human settlement, some others being in eastern Nepal, Bangladesh, North-east India, and Kerala. The researchers use this knowledge to identify spots of future potential virus spillover. This could occur if one or more of these factors cross the boundary between minor change and a hotspot state.

The researchers call attention to the need to counteract these dangerous tendencies seen in the threatening or potential hotspots, such as by maintaining or rebuilding forests, removing livestock pastures and farms much further away from forest borders and reducing the density of human activity in these buffer zones.

https://www.eco-business.com/news/save-wildlife-save-forests-and-avoid-pandemics/

If the world wants to avoid pandemics like Covid-19 in future, it has a lot to learn. This coronavirus outbreak is likely to cost the world somewhere between $8 trillion and $15 trillion.

It might have been 500 times cheaper, say US scientists, simply to have done what conservationists have sought for years: control trade in wildlife and stop destroying tropical forests.

And this has happened, they argue in the journal Science, most often directly after people have handled live primates, bats and other mammals, or butchered them for meat, or indirectly after such viruses have infected farm animals such as chickens or pigs.

And human exploitation of the world’s last remaining wildernesses – the tropical forests – and pursuit of exotic creatures for trophies, medicines or food can be linked to the emergence of most of them.

He and 17 other experts argue that at a cost of somewhere between $22 billion and $30 billion a year, the transmission of unknown and unexpected diseases could be significantly reduced: chiefly by controlling logging and conversion of rainforest into ranch land, and limiting the trade in wild meat and exotic animals.

https://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2020/08/to-prevent-future-pandemics-invest-in-forests/

https://www.ehn.org/wildlife-habitat-loss-and-coronavirus-2646885121.html

"The global expansion of agricultural and urban land that is forecast for the coming decades—much of which is expected to occur in low-and middle-income countries with existing vulnerabilities to natural hazards—has the potential to create growing hazardous interfaces for zoonotic pathogen exposure," the authors wrote in the study published today in Nature.

"The way humans change landscapes across the world, from natural forest to farmland for example, has consistent impacts on many wild animal species, causing some to decline while some others persist or increase," said Rory Gibb, lead author and PhD candidate at the UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, in a statement.

"The animals that remain in more human-dominated environments are those that are more likely to carry infectious diseases that can make people sick," Gibb added.

They found the proportion of animals that host pathogens harmful to humans is anywhere from 18 percent to 72 percent higher in agricultural or urban areas. And the total abundance of such animals is anywhere from 21 percent to 144 percent higher in human-disturbed areas compared to non-disturbed habitats.

Northern Forests Climate Pests

https://phys.org/news/2020-08-climate-pest-threat-europe-forests.html

And the threat posed by insects and pathogens appears to be growing. Climate change is allowing some native pests to breed more frequently, while international trade is spreading exotic insects and pathogens more widely.

On average, six new species of tree pests are being introduced to Europe every year, up from two a year in the 1950s, says Dr. Jactel. They arrive in potted plants and wooden products or packaging.

The emerald ash borer, for example, spread from Asia to the United States where it killed more than 150 million trees and may have cost more than $10 billion in the last decade. It is now knocking at Europe's door.

Many threats to Europe's forests, however, are closer to home. A warming climate in many regions is helping some native pests to become more common.

This is largely because warming temperatures have allowed the beetles to breed more frequently.

"Some 20 years ago, we'd have one breeding cycle per summer, but nowadays we have up to four breeding cycles of bark beetle in the Czech Republic and southern Germany," said Dr. Yagüe.

Warmer, longer and drier summers also mean trees are more vulnerable to attack because the conditions leave them less able to cope with pests, she says.

 

31 July 2020


Trouble at Lower Bucca

https://www.echo.net.au/2020/07/a-local-has-locked-onto-a-logging-harvester-in-lower-bucca-state-forest/

A member of the public has taken the day off work to lock onto a NSW Forestry Corporation harvester in the Lower Bucca State Forest this morning to stop logging and desecration of sacred sites. He says this is to protect one of the few remaining unburnt areas in this region. 

This follows on from the Forestry Corporation recently being issued with several ‘stop work’ orders following illegal logging. The EPA (environment protection agency) issued a 40 day stop work order on 18 July following investigations into operations at Wild Cattle Creek that exposed the illegal felling of two giant, old growth trees.

‘We are the Gumbaynggirr people, sovereign custodians of Gumbaynggirr Country, land and waters and we demand an end to logging in these irreplaceable and incredibly ancient publicly-owned forests. Logging must be stopped immediately and they must be conserved for all beings to enjoy,’ said Gumbaynggirr custodian and spokesperson, Sandy Greenwood.

‘This is the beginning of the end for those that log our native forests. The Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group promises that this will continue if the ongoing desecration of sacred sites and ecocide of our native habitats continue.’

[also had a run in Daily Telegraph 30/7/20]

Keeping the pressure on Wild Cattle Creek