Changes needed to address Victorian forest wars

Friday 26 Nov 2021

 
The professional association for forest scientists, growers and managers in Australia has expressed its concern at the escalating Victorian forest wars, saying changes are desperately needed in the way the State’s forests are managed. Forestry Australia Vice President Dr Michelle Freeman said the escalating situation in Victoria shows the State’s current approach to forest management is simply not working.

“The worsening forest wars in Victoria that have been playing out in the media and in the courts over recent months highlight an untenable situation for state forest management in Victoria,” Dr Freeman said. “Our communities are being let down and the very health, future and sustainability of our forests is being put at risk by policy failures and lack of decisive Government leadership.

“Two years ago, the Victorian Government announced its policy to end native forest timber harvesting in public native forests by 2030. The Victorian Forestry Plan was pitched as providing a pathway forward for a sustainable future for our forests, renewable timber supply and communities who rely on them. However, since the release of the Plan, conflict between the industry and environmental groups has only intensified and there remains no clear vision for the future of our forests”.

“It is beyond time for the Government to clearly explain to stakeholders and the community how they will deliver the Victorian Forestry Plan amidst the current media furore, the use of lawfare and broader community concern. Genuine and effective dialogue is needed to break the current impasse, and Traditional Owners, whose voices are being drowned out by the acrimony between environmental activists and industry, must be heard.”

Dr Freeman said Forestry Australia, the professional body for forest scientists, managers and growers, strongly advocates for active management, as vital to ensuring the future health and resilience of native forests and the communities who rely on them. “Forestry Australia’s position is that active management, including timber production, is vital to the sustainability of native forests and provides many benefits to Australian society,” Dr Freeman said.

“We need new approaches and a new dialogue around forest management to deliver all forest values, including carbon, biodiversity, water and community needs, such as connection to country, climate change adaptation, fire risk mitigation and local timber supply.

“Our members work in National Parks and conservation agencies, fire services and with multiple use forest managers and we are uniquely placed to help develop landscape solutions to better manage forests. We stand ready to work with the Victorian Government to help achieve solutions that secure these outcomes in Victoria’s forests”.

“The Government must continue to focus on and be guided by the science, including traditional ecological knowledge, to secure the future of our forests. They must step up with strong leadership that works to break the cycle of forest wars and create genuine change, working with regional communities, to ensure our forests are properly managed for all their values. The very future of our forests depends on it.

“As the only professional association for forest science, growing and management in the country we stand ready to work with Government towards reaching a solution.”

Forestry Australia’s (formerly Institute of Foresters of Australia and Australian Forest Growers) Position Paper on Native Forest Harvesting is available here.

Source: Forestry Australia

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