City councillors lack climate change understanding
Friday 21 Oct 2022A lack of understanding based on misconceptions and misinformation continues to impact Australian native forestry. Greens’ councillor for inner-city Melbourne suburb Marigyrong, Simon Crawford tabled a motion at the recent the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) conference to end native forestry earlier than the Victorian Labor Government’s phased 2030 Victorian Forestry Plan.
The MAV provides inner-city councils voting rights 2:1 over their regional counterparts. “This voting system is a clear imbalance of power providing inner-city councils with decision making over regional areas that actually provide essential commodities such as produce, meat, fibre and energy,” state AFCA General Manager Carlie Porteous.
Mr Crawford stated his reasoning for the motion as “we’ve declared a climate emergency, so we need as much native forest around the world as possible”. However, his statements appear contradictory to the recommendations of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which supports the active management of our forests for carbon sequestration and timber supply.
Fires pose one of the highest risks to meeting much needed carbon sequestration goals. A report by Nature Journal quantified the devasting impact on carbon dioxide emissions from the 2019-2020 bushfires at more than 715m tonnes into the atmosphere. Much of it burning through unmanaged National Park areas.
In Victoria during the 2019-20 bushfire season, 34 forest contracting businesses provided over 137 days of critical aid to the Victorian Government and threatened communities. This required the skill and experience of 284 full time employees with using 190 pieces of specialised equipment.
“Many Victorians do not support the end of native forestry in Victoria. Particularly as demand for products has not diminished and there are no identified resources to fill the gap besides importing from overseas,” explains Ms Porteous. “This shortened timeframe is also a concern from a bushfire management perspective. Should we assume the councillor and those supporting the motion have a plan to protect Victorians from the next catastrophic bushfire?” questioned Ms Porteous.
Given the motion has been passed, the MAV is now obliged to lobby the Victorian government for an early phase out of the industry. “I would encourage all councillors, considering voting yes, to meet and speak with the men and women who saved communities during all of the historic and catastrophic fires in Victoria’s history and who continue to manage the forest for generations to come”. Stated Ms Porteous.
AFCA General Manager, Carlie Porteous
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