Silvicultural practices

Hon. Diane Evers MLC (left) with the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance’s Jane Fuchsbichler.

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Extract from Hansard — Thursday, 11 October 2018

SILVICULTURAL AND AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES

Statement

HON DIANE EVERS (South West) [5.21 pm]: This morning, I had the opportunity to move a motion during non-government business.  It reads — That this house recognises the important role and enormous potential of forests and agriculture in taking carbon from the atmosphere to address the increasing need for action to slow the rate of climate change; and that this house calls for —

(1) An independent review of current forest silviculture practices and the role of silviculture in — (a) increasing forest resilience and increasing areas of healthy forest cover; (b) mitigating climate change; and (c) regenerating economic activity in the regions.

(2) An independent review of current agriculture practices and the role of soil microbiology in — (a) producing nutrient-rich food; (b) mitigating climate change; and (c) regenerating economic activity in the regions.

(3) A moratorium on new contracts for the supply of jarrah or karri sawlogs until the 2024–2033 forest management plan is written.

(4) A thorough review to ensure that all safeguards to protect the long-term viability and resilience of the remaining south west forests are in place prior to the renewal of the regional forest agreement.

It is not the Greens’ intention to end timber harvesting. We love wood just as much as everyone else, but the idea is to plant it and grow it in plantations where we intend to cut it.

The intention is that we will continue mining through Alcoa, Simcoa and others in that area. We will continue to get timber in that way. If we make good use of it through smaller mills, with more people involved, not only would we have more jobs, but we would get more usable timber from that resource.

But the interesting thing with forests that I wanted to go through is their role in fighting and mitigating climate change, in helping to keep the rain on the planet and in the soil, and in helping to make even more rain. They are vitally important and I really hope that we get a chance to look at that sometime soon.

I was thinking about forests and climate change, and the other side of the story is that our soil also provides us with a really strong opportunity to draw back down through the plants all these greenhouse gases that we are putting into the atmosphere. I sometimes doubt that either side of politics will ever address climate change and start to find ways to quickly reduce the amount of fossil fuels that we are burning, which is putting carbon back into the atmosphere.

Rather than fighting that side of it, perhaps we can fight it by taking carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it into the ground, and not by using some technologically new method when we have plants that do it naturally. We do not need a technological solution; the solution is right there in front of us.

The third point refers to contracts. We already have contracts with 36 different mills and we have contracts for hundreds and thousands of cubic metres of jarrah. Why enter into another contract now when we do not have the need for it, when it is not earning us any money and when it is not creating more jobs?

This is something that governments on both sides, again, have not done too well. It seems like most of the state agreements that I have seen go through this place are very one-sided and not in favour of the state. Something really needs to be done about the way in which we look at the contracts that we sign to make sure that we are signing them for the benefit of the residents of Western Australia.

The fourth point is about the Western Australian Regional Forest Agreement. There are 10 agreements across the country. One agreement in Tasmania has been renewed. In Victoria they are looking for further information about the five agreements there so that they can make sure that they will be doing the right thing. In New South Wales there are three more agreements and, again, they are laying down the renewal process because they want to make sure that they do the right thing.

Then there is the one agreement that we have here. In my book, we do not need this regional forest agreement because although it sounds like it was a good thing and it was made to support the environment, it was actually made to support the logging industry.

All it does is to allow those who are logging in this state to not have to go through the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to get approval, which means that the environment is hurt even more. If members can, they should keep this in mind.

There are many steps to this process, but it is for the good of Western Australians and it is for the good of the planet. Financially we will be a lot better off as well. That is three strikes, so it seems like the right thing to do. Thank you for your time.

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