State Government protection for native forests leafs logging industry stunned

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Karri trees along Silver Road near Denmark
Camera IconKarri trees along Silver Road near Denmark Credit: Tourism WA

Native logging will come to an end in WA by 2024, with the McGowan Government announcing a plan to save at least 400,000ha of karri, jarrah and wandoo forests.

But while yesterday’s announcement was welcomed by many, the Forest Industries Federation WA was left stunned, calling the move “heartbreaking” and saying it came with no consultation.

Under the plan, almost 2 million hectares of vegetation will be preserved, with 9000ha of high conservation value karri forest set to receive immediate protection.

However, the move is also expected to cost 400 timber industry jobs in a blow to the industry and some regional communities.

Mr McGowan said $350m would go towards new softwood plantations in the South West over the next decade to help ensure ongoing supplies for the timber industry.

And $50m would fund a “transition plan” to support affected workers and communities, he said.

Some existing projects, including those being run by Alcoa, would not be affected, the Premier said. WA Forest Alliance campaign director Jess Beckerling hailed the historic decision but emphasised the need to remain focused on the details of the plan. “This is an historic moment,” she said.

“I immediately think of some of the areas close to home in the Walpole Wilderness Area ... which missed out on protection in 2001.”

Jess Beckerling of the WA Forest Alliance.
Camera IconJess Beckerling of the WA Forest Alliance. Credit: Victoria Baker/Victoria Baker

“We need people to really stay focused and involved in the detail of how the management practices are set out for the next 10 years so those issues are dealt with.”

While the Government’s $50m transition plan would help workers find new employment, FIFWA said it was not enough.

“We are shocked at this rushed and bizarre decision, which came without any consultation,” FIFWA executive director Melissa Haslam said.

“The irony is this does not even protect our forests — forest management protects our forests.

“This will now come at a huge cost to taxpayers where previously the costs were offset by timber production.

“Right now, we need more detail about what comes next for these businesses, who have been shattered by a reckless decision.”

Opposition Leader Mia Davies also slammed the move.

“If you’re the agriculture sector, or forestry, the Government has confirmed you don’t matter,” she said. “It’s a populist policy that will cost jobs in a sustainable industry.”

Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the WA National Party Mia Davies.
Camera IconLeader of the Opposition and Leader of the WA National Party Mia Davies. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The Sunday Times, Jackson Flindell

Former South West Greens MLC Diane Evers echoed calls for more information on the plan.

Last year, Ms Evers introduced a Bill that proposed banning logging in native forests, but it was not supported by the McGowan Government.

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