MP at loggerheads over forest agreement

Toby HusseyAlbany Advertiser
The Greens' Diane Evers.
Camera IconThe Greens' Diane Evers. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Greens MP Diane Evers has called out the State Government’s new forestry agreement, claiming it continues to put endangered species under threat from loggers.

The 20-year Regional Forest Agreement was signed off by Premier Mark McGowan and Prime Minister Scott Morrison this month, establishing guidelines for wood harvesting across WA until 2039.

However, Ms Evers said the Australian Labor Party’s 2018 pledge to review all RFAs if it won this year’s election offered the chance for broader protections in the new agreement.

“There has been 20 years of evidence to demonstrate how the RFAs have failed,” she said.

“With the Premier admitting a new agreement was rushed through prior to a Federal election, a fair scientific outcome for the sustainable management and conservation of our native forests has been prevented.”

The State Government claimed RFAs provided certainty for industry, while environmental groups like the Wilderness Society have called to prioritise protecting native species.

The western ringtail possum and Carnaby’s black cockatoo are under threat from habitat destruction, according to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, and can be found in areas marked for logging including forest west of Walpole.

The Forest Industries Federation WA said logging played a key part in the South West’s economy, and in a 2016 report claimed growing international demand would see Australia’s forest industry triple in size by 2050.

FIFWA chief executive Matt Granger said the agreement gave security for WA’s forestry jobs.

“The extended WA RFA provides stability to the regulatory framework that is essential for investment and employment in WA’s $1.4 billion per year (forest) industry,” he said.

“In WA, forest industries ... underpin numerous regional communities and economies.”

The agreement protects rare or depleted old forests, and less than one per cent of State forests are logged a year, according to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the agreement gave “long-term stability to protections for biodiversity and heritage, and surety of resources access for industry”.

“Well-managed forests support industry, communities and recreation, and provide employment across a long supply chain generating jobs in forest management,” he said.

“Western Australia’s forestry industry supports employment for more than 6000 people, generates around $1.4 billion for our economy and ensures healthy forests for future generations.”

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