NEFA Weekly Forest News: Forest Media 6

From NEFA [North East Forest Alliance]:

We did well with our Kill the Bill demonstrations, with good stories on Prime and NBN, though the National Party’s standard response is that we are ignorant and misguided. Bangalow Koalas also organised a successful event with 50 kids from the Byron Community Primary School. The hypocrisy of Gladys granting 0.06 ha to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital at the same time the Feds backed up her Government’s decision to clear 50ha for a quarry at Port Stephens was noticed. Finding a collective noun for Koalas may not be an issue soon, when a zoo will do. Paddy Manning gives a detailed summary of forest issues in southern Australia, highlighting its economic absurdity. Millers want a domestic reservation policy for plantation timber, so they should be happy with China’s ban.

The Bushfire Royal Commission’s finding that climate heating exists, and is getting worse, caused a flurry of inaction. Our bushfires injected a smoke cloud 35km into the stratosphere that travelled 66,000 km over 3 months – at least it cooled the earth. You may hope that Deloite Access Economics’ assessment that continued inaction on climate change will cost us more than $3 trillion over the next 50 years would be listened too.

Meanwhile record fires, droughts and introduced pests continue to devastate forests around the world. Despite reafforestation commitments we continue to clear them and reduce logging rules to obtain dwindling timber. True to form the Morrison Government has asked for 5 Australian Biosphere Reserves to be delisted. The benefits of forest bathing are being increasingly recognised in the unfolding apocalypse.

The likely defeat of the meglomaniacal Trump (assuming his coup fails) ) heralds a far better future for action on climate chaos and environmental care, leaving Morrison increasingly isolated.


NEFA weren’t the only ones trying to kill the bill today:

Local environment groups are joining forces to hold a protest in Taree on Friday, November 6.

Midcoast Knitting Nannas, Extinction Rebellion Midcoast, North East Forest Alliance and Save Bulga Forest say the theme of the protest is ‘Koala protection is going backwards’ and they are protesting the weakening of bushland and koala protections legislation.

This morning saw around 50 kids from the Byron Community Primary School up to the age of nine out in Byron making their voices heard in support of koalas.

‘We should look after koala habitat because they need a home just like us,’ said Mimi, aged 7. This was supported by Tommy, aged 8, who said ‘koalas need trees to live and the trees also clean the air for us!’

‘I think it’s important that we do not cut down eucalyptus trees because that’s the only habitat they can live in.’ Willow 7

‘We should stop destroying koala land because it’s alive like us.’ Bodhi 7

‘We urge people to email members of the Legislative Council in the Upper House and voice your concern now.’

In the face of widespread criticism, the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who had overseen these failed polices and increased land clearing and development where koalas live, announced that she wanted to be “known as the Premier who saved the koala”.

Well it WAS pretty simple after all. Basically you identify areas where koalas are known to live and breed, and protect the trees they use. A new koala State Environment Planning policy was put in place.

While publicly acting as though she had stood up to the National Party leader, it wasn’t long before the Premier agreed on a compromise. It’s the Local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill 2020. It contradicts all previous public statements by the Premier, and will reduce current protections for koalas, and see MORE of their homes cleared in NSW.

The same old routine of say one thing publicly, then do another. Introduce one policy to media applause, then undermine with country polices and exemptions.

Repercussions of Koala killing spree spread:

Hanson, the quarry operator, has now satisfied all the regulatory licenses to go ahead and clear critical koala habitat. But do they have the social license to operate? A social license for Brandy Hill can only be achieved once the project has the ongoing approval and broad acceptance of the local, national and international community.

Minister Ley’s decision to approve the project could signify to the international community that the Australian federal government does not really value koalas. This comes at a time when our most respected naturalist, Sir David Attenborough has said: “We should be in no doubt. Biodiversity loss, the destruction of nature, is as grave an issue as climate change. They both work together to destabilise the world we rely upon”.

Many people say this project does not pass the pub test, and for me personally, I drink at this pub. If you had seen what I have in my research, you’d know we don’t have that many koalas left. If you had walked through Port Stephens listening for the call of a male koala as I have, you would understand why this decision was gut-wrenching. If you ask Save Port Stephens Koalas, or other conservation scientists, clearing koala habitat will always fail the pub test

The public outcry to the quarry expansion decision has inspired local action groups to continue campaigning and are currently working on strategies to stop the loss of this koala habitat.

Chantal Paslow, a key local spokesperson for the Save Port Stephens Koalas campaign, told News Of The Area, “The Minister has chosen rocks over koalas.

“This fight isn’t over yet, we have commenced a petition on

“The minister’s statement says this area didn’t burn—that’s the whole point. This is koala habitat,” Parslow Redman said. “This just shows that nothing will stop this government from destroying koala habitat.

“It’s a heartbreaking decision,” she added.,14483

IN WHAT MUST SURELY be the most egregious act of hypocrisy, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian gifted Port Macquarie Koala Hospital with 6,000 square metres of land to help the hospital expand.

The same day, as a result of her government fast-tracking approval of the Brandy Hill Quarry Expansion Project in Port Stephens, Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley approved the development.

The reality of koala survival in NSW is becoming grimmer every day. Every square foot of koala habitat needs to be protected if koalas are to survive in the state.

Koalas are going extinct now. The species is dying by inches as one inappropriate development after another is given the go-ahead by state and federal governments.

Meantime, back in Berejiklian’s corner, Deputy Premier John Barilaro has described koalas as “tree rats” according to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald. As Minister for the Department of Resources, logging of koala habitat continues in spite of massive public protest.

So, Gladys comes to town to gift the Koala Hospital the land it currently occupies.

While she is being photographed, State Forest continue to decimate habitat that survived bushfires, quarry expansions into koala habitat proceed and her team rush the Koala Kill Bill through Parliament, for a vote in the Upper House next week.

So, one day, a multi-million dollar Koala Hospital might be the only place to see a koala.

Changes made to the Koala Habitat Protection State Environmental Plan (SEPP) and a local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill were passed in the NSW Legislative Assembly, (the Lower house) this week and will be put before the Upper House in November. These changes were demanded by the State National Party and overturn laws and regulations designed to increase protections for declining Koala populations here on the Mid North Coast.

The laws and policies needed tightening not relaxing. The government is taking us backwards many decades, to extremely weak and ineffective regulation, well short of providing the protections needed for koalas.

According to analysis undertaken by WWF and the office of Independent NSW MLC Justin Field, a mapping analysis of the NSW Government’s plan to allow rural landholders to clear 25 metre fire breaks around properties, threatens tens of thousands of hectares of bushland on the NSW North Coast, including significant areas of koala habitat.

Mr Field said the analysis, conducted in four local Government areas across the state including the Clarence, Port Stephens, Shoalhaven and Wollondilly, showed more than 44,000 hectares were at risk, including almost 12,000 hectares of known koala habitat. ‘This analysis implies that hundreds of thousands of hectares of bushland will be at risk across the state as a result of this policy.

‘The Government has indicated it will bring legislation to Parliament in November to implement the changes.

‘It looks to me that this is just the latest in an anti-science ideological response from some in the Government who are taking advantage of the bushfire crisis to push their agenda to clear more land.

What to call a horde of Koalas?:

Koalas, on the other hand, well … that’s it. There is no word. Kangaroos have mobs, foxes have skulks, but koalas: the cupboard is bare.

Robina Dwyer highlighted this vacuum, writing to say, “There are collective nouns for almost all animals and I see no reason for koalas to miss out. With this in mind, may I suggest a cuddle would be appropriate.”

Yet early colonial journals spent more time quibbling over how to spell the Dharug word, the Anglo-manglings ranging from koolah to cullawine, just as the animal itself was dubbed a native bear, an Australian monkey (or sloth) and Billy Bluegum.

… Doze, for one, was another hit, honouring the leaf-muncher’s lethargy, in league with torpor, inertia, repose, session (‘’because they’re stoned during waking hours’’), kip and coma.

Koma too was tendered, the improvised K popular among responses, appearing in kollection, kuddle, koalaboration and koalition. …

Barilaro was another eponym, a wink at NSW’s National Party leader, John Barilaro, who’d lobbied in September for more logging inroads, despite several areas being valued as prime koala habitat.

Paddy Manning gives a detailed summary of forest issues in southern Australia:

The Imlay Road twists inland from the southern coast of New South Wales, between Eden and the Victorian border, through a string of state forests: Timbillica, Yambulla, Nungatta. As on many stretches of highway in 2020, the landscape is thoroughly depressing. For more than 50 kilometres, panic growth blurs blackened trunks and limbs as far as the eye can see – a reminder of the flame heights that terrified residents and firefighters through Australia’s horrific Black Summer bushfires. To the casual observer, the epicormic shoots are a sign the trees are alive. To the trained eye, the shoots show what stress the trees are under – a silent green shriek. Recovery will be slow, and is far from assured.

According to federal government figures, NSW lost 880,000 hectares, or 47 per cent of the native forest managed by the state’s Forestry Corporation, along with a quarter of its plantation estate. In the worst-hit area, the South Coast, more than 80 per cent of state forest marked for timber production was fire-affected, much of it heavily. … In the state’s native forests nowadays, says Australian National University forest ecologist, professor David Lindenmayer, “the worst-kept secret in the industry is that there’s no timber left”.

The forestry agencies in both states appear to have badly misjudged the public mood, encountering staunch resistance from activists and residents determined to protect what was left – burnt and unburnt alike. In Victoria, protesters shut down logging across seven state forestry coupes, from Mount Cole in the west to Lakes Entrance in the east. “In a climate emergency, we feel it’s time to transition [into plantation logging] and protect what native forests we have left,” said local spokesperson Nic Fox.

In NSW, the state’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) imposed strict new requirements for post-fire logging, stipulating all giant or hollow-bearing trees must be protected, but reports of breaches quickly emerged. At the Mogo and South Brooman state forests, near Batemans Bay on the South Coast, local citizen scientists recorded well over 100 breaches of the new code of practice, taking legally admissible geotagged photos.

[Eden woodchip mill owner] As he surveyed the fire damage in January, McComb told The Australian there would be a short-term glut of burnt wood, and the longer-term future of forestry in the region required a rethink. “This is a watershed event in terms of forest management in Australia,” he said. “It looks like the entire resource has been wiped out.”

Five months later, McComb hosted Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Eden mill, where Morrison announced some $50 million in funding for the timber industry, including infrastructure grants of up to $5 million. October’s federal budget lifted post-bushfire forestry industry assistance to $65 million.

To get its message out, Pentarch has set up a charitable organisation, Forest and Wood Communities Australia (FWCA), ostensibly to represent timber workers. FWCA is active on Facebook sharing pro-forestry, pro-gun and pro-Trump memes, but with just over 500 followers, the group looks like an astroturf-marketing operation. McComb is a director but will not speak on its behalf.

Forestry has taken a hit from COVID and bushfire, but the industry was already staring at decline. According to a September report by business consultancy IBISWorld, revenue and profits from forestry and logging have fallen by 1 per cent and 7 per cent per annum respectively over the past five years. The sector has a $4.7 billion turnover and employs some 10,100 people directly, but has shed 4000 jobs over the past decade, and the number of enterprises has more than halved. Corporatised state government forestry agencies are the dominant players, alongside a few big private plantation managers, such as Boston-based Hancock. There has been a long-run shift to plantations: native-forest logging now accounts for roughly 15 per cent of industry revenue.

A subsequent state parliamentary inquiry warned this year that koalas were on track to become extinct in NSW by 2050, but a planning policy designed to stop habitat clearing nearly blew up the state Coalition government in September. A compromise was reached, which did away with contentious maps of koala habitat and allowed private land clearing. Animals for Australia is now building a case, although NSW’s Forestry Corporation can’t be sued by third parties as VicForests was.

Field says the native forestry industry was barely making money before the fires, is facing a wood-supply crisis and is almost certainly unprofitable, despite ongoing public subsidies. “It’s a loss-making business,” he says. “It’s costing us, and there’s not that many jobs in it either. If we re-imagine the future of these forests, as ecological reserves, as recreational reserves, even some commercial development to take the pressure off commercial development in national parks, that’s many more jobs, particularly for regional communities”. Field points out that low-cost carbon abatement could be achieved by allowing our state forests to mature. “If you want to hit net zero emissions by 2050 in NSW, and take the pressure off other industry sectors, stopping native-forest logging is one of the best ways to do it.”

From the environment movement has come a new determination to end native-forest logging altogether. But the forestry industry has bipartisan support, and the Greens were on their own in August when they introduced a Senate motion calling on the federal government to immediately protect all high-conservation value forests in the wake of the VicForests case.

The federal assistant minister for forestry is Jonathon Duniam, an ex-staffer of arch conservative Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz. Duniam recently claimed in the Senate that the environmental movement would not stop “until the last chainsaw falls silent”. Today it was native-forest harvesting, he warned, but tomorrow it would be plantations. Not one Greens politician or conservationist I have spoken with has called for an end to plantation forestry.

In some forest types it can take 60 to 100 years before a tree gets to sawlog age. With bushfire risk increasing, there is now an 80 per cent chance that trees will be burned before they reach maturity, says David Lindenmayer. He compares native forest logging with overfishing, as an industry spiralling down the value chain – in forestry’s case, from taking high-value species to ever-lower-grade timber suitable only for use as woodchip or (the worst fear of conservationists) burning as biomass. There could be far more jobs in saving forests – letting them mature and managing them to reduce fire risk, produce clean air and water, store carbon, protect endangered species and be enjoyed by tourists – than there are in cutting them down. “All we’re talking about here is the ideology of continuing to log native forests,” he says. There may be a need for a small proportion of native forest to be harvested for high-value uses such as furnishing and construction, but the days of sending the vast bulk of native timber off to be woodchipped are surely coming to an end. The Black Summer fires have changed the debate about native-forest logging, and there are worse fires to come as the planet heats up. From here on in – whether burnt or unburnt, old growth or regrowth – every patch of native forest matters.

Plantation and job losses raised at inquiry:

A public hearing of the House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources inquiry into timber supply chain constraints in the Australian plantation sector took place on October 23.

Chair of the Committee, Rick Wilson MP, said that the evidence they’ve heard so far is that accessing product is getting harder and harder.

“Obviously here particularly, in Tumut, we’ve got an issue with the fires, which has created a very dire short-term prospect,” he acknowledged.

… I guess the existing mills are getting fewer and fewer as the capital requirement gets bigger.”

[CEO of AKD Softwoods Shane Vicary] … “There will be 70 to 80 jobs lost sometime between now and probably June or July next year, when the harvest level reduces. That’s an outcome from the bushfires,” he said.

… Sawmills have had to get larger to scale up to reduce their processing costs and be able to compete with export pricing.”

“That’s what I would like to see—some form of mechanism that enables free market to work but ensures that we look after Australia’s domestic supply chain first and foremost, but that it doesn’t impinge on the rights of the commercial owner of the plantation.”

A ROYAL Commission into the sale of the South East forests is key to understanding the current log export issues, a parliamentary committee into the timber industry has heard.

The Legislative Council committee toured the region on a two-day trip this week as part of an inquiry on issues relating to the timber industry in the Limestone Coast.

At a hearing, veteran forestry consultant Jerry Leech said the committee was likely to conclude the problems underpinning the inquiry are with the clauses in the sale contract, which has never been made public.

“With the lease it is very obvious in my mind there are very obvious forestry management type flaws in the lease.

Doctors call for forest protection:

The Greens welcome the call by 250 doctors and medical students to end native forest logging in lutruwita/Tasmania. It is a critical step in tackling the climate emergency, and protecting the health of Tasmanians.

Climate change is a health emergency – as has been made clear by the Australian Medical Association and eight national medical college bodies. The doctors who signed the letter to the Premier understand all too well how intrinsically linked the health of the planet and its people are.

Bushfires fan the flames of climate action:

The bushfires that scorched vast tracts of Australia in late 2019 and early 2020 were just a glimpse of what’s to come as global temperatures rise, a landmark report made public on Friday warned.

“Australia will have more hot days and fewer cool days. Sea levels are also projected to continue to rise,” the inquiry, led by a former chief of the Australian Defense Force, a former federal court judge and a climate policy expert, found. “Tropical cyclones are projected to decrease in number, but increase in intensity. Floods and bushfires are expected to become more frequent and more intense.”

But Morrison has argued that there is no direct link between Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and the severity of the fires. “To suggest that with just 1.3% of global emissions, that Australia doing something differently, more or less, would have changed the fire outcome this season,” he told an Australian radio station,

That ignores the fact that Australia is one of the highest per capita emitters of carbon dioxide in the world, according to Climate Analytics, an advocacy group that tracks climate data. It is also one of the world’s leading exporters of coal. Accounting for fossil fuel exports increases the country’s footprint to about 5% of global emissions, equivalent to the world’s fifth largest emitter, according to Climate Analytics.

The bushfire royal commission’s final report is a stark warning of a future marked by extreme weather impacts of climate change.

“Extreme weather has already become more frequent and intense because of climate change; further global warming over the next 20 to 30 years is inevitable,” they say.

“Catastrophic fire conditions may render traditional bushfire prediction models and firefighting techniques less effective,” they say.

The report notes there’s essentially nothing we can do about “locked in” warming set to occur over the next two decades.

But what happens after that is up to us. Warming “beyond the next 20 to 30 years is largely dependent on the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions”, it says.

“The Bushfire Royal Commission has laid out the facts in no uncertain terms: climate change drove the Black Summer bushfires, and climate change is pushing us into a future of unprecedented bushfire severity,” said Greg Mullins, former commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW and founder of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action.

Australia has warmed by approximately 1.4°C since 1910.

The commission says that the 2019–20 fires started in Australia’s hottest and driest year on record. Much of the country that burned had already been impacted by drought and the forest fire danger index was the highest since national records began.

‘We heard from CSIRO that even under the low emissions scenario, which goes to net negative emissions, the climate does not return to a preindustrial or recent baseline type climate immediately’, the commission says. ‘It takes a very long time for that to occur, and would require CO2 to be removed from the atmosphere.’

As if neglect and omission in the face of the fire threat were not enough, Coalitionpoliticians and their apologists then hastily encouraged lies about the causes of the fires, declaring that they were started by arsonists and that greenies had prevented hazard-reduction burns. Yet these fires were overwhelmingly started by dry lightning in remote terrain, and hazard-reduction burning is constrained by a warming climate. The effort to stymie sensible policy reform after the fires was as pernicious as the failure to plan in advance of them.

For the beleaguered Coalition government, Covid seemed to provide the escape it wanted from climate politics.

The fires and the plague are both symptoms of something momentous that is unfolding on Earth: a concentration and acceleration of the impact of humans on nature. As the environmental scientists Inger Andersen and Johan Rockström argued in June: “Covid-19 is more than an illness. It is a symptom of the ailing health of our planet.”

Doing something about it means more than finding a vaccine; it means urgently addressing the causes of the climate emergency and the biodiversity crisis. It means understanding how dire the current rupture is in the long-term relationship between humans and nature.

The Australian Institute of Architects has called on governments to act urgently following the public release of the bushfire royal commission report.

The Institute’s submission to the royal commission highlighted research that suggests up to a million existing houses in bushfire prone areas across Australia have little or no bushfire protection, with 2.2 million people living in high or extreme bushfire risk areas.

“This means we need to consider other approaches like the use of private and public shelters, such as they have done for decades in the United States as protection from hazards like wildfires and tornadoes,” Bell said.

The Institute also reiterated a call on the government to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2030 …

Cambage said, “Resilience must include a commitment to net zero emissions in our buildings and responsiveness to our new climate reality because it is critically important to ensure that all rebuilding projects following natural disasters look to enhance the standard of our built environment.

… how fires mitigate climate change:

… a global team that has found that the smoke cloud pushed into the stratosphere by last winter’s Australian wildfires was three times larger than anything previously recorded.

The cloud, which measured 1,000 kilometres across, remained intact for three months, travelled 66,000 kilometres, and soared to a height of 35 kilometres above Earth. The findings were published in Communications Earth & Environment,

“We’re seeing records broken in terms of the impact on the atmosphere from these fires,” said Bourassa. “Knowing that they’re likely to strike more frequently and with more intensity due to climate change, we could end up with a pretty dramatically changed atmosphere.”

However, when aerosols—such as smoke from wildfires or sulphuric acid from a volcanic eruption—are forced up into the stratosphere, they can remain aloft for many months, blocking sunlight from passing through, which in turns changes the balance of the climate system.

… money talks, and a $3.7 billion cost shouts:

Climate change is set to have a greater impact on the economy than the COVID-19 lockdowns, according to a new report from Deloitte Access Economics.

The report, A new choice: Australia’s climate for growth, found if climate change goes unchecked, Australia’s economy will be 6% smaller and have 880,000 fewer jobs by 2070.

However, in contrast, delivering net zero by 2050 and consistent with keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, could add $680 billion and grow the economy by 2.6% in 2070.

“All of these numbers are sobering. By 2050 Australia will experience economic losses on par with COVID every single year if we don’t address climate change. That would compromise the economic future of all future generations of Australians,” Philip said.

“Whatever Australia does or doesn’t do, the global warming which has already taken place will hurt our lives and livelihoods. This cost is locked in – it is the cost of delay,” Philip said.$3-trillion-climate-change-inaction/12837244

The Australian economy will lose more than if climate change is not addressed, according to a new report from Deloitte Access Economics.

… as the world continues to burn:

Over 400,000 ha. of forests were destroyed by fire in 2019, the worst year the world has known in recent times in terms of such disasters, the European Commission’s joint research centre noted in a report released on Friday.

The report, which provides an inventory of the devastation wrought by forest fires in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, notes that a record number of protected natural areas were affected throughout the European Union in 2019.

“Part of the answer to ensure that this does not happen at such a devastating scale lies in protecting and managing the forests in a way to reduce their vulnerability to fires, allowing nature to also protect itself,” Sinkevicius stressed.

Droughts are altering forests:

High on the list of the threats forests face due to climate change is tree mortality following droughts, which are becoming longer and more severe.

This could trigger extensive ecosystem changes according to an international team of nearly 40 scientists, writing in the journal PNAS.

Overall, they found limited regrowth of key forest and woodland species. Just 21% of pre-drought trees grew back and 10% of forests and woodlands shifted to non-woody growth such as grasslands.

In more than two thirds of sites, dead trees were replaced mostly by shrubs, “pointing to important post-drought alterations of ecosystem structure and function”.

In 10% of sites there was no replacement by woody vegetation, which the authors say suggests “at least a transient loss of forest and woodland cover promoted by drought-related mortality”.

Tree species that resprout, such as cottonwoods (Populus spp), eucalypts (Eucalyptus spp) and oaks (Quercus spp), more successfully replaced themselves than trees that rely on seeds to propagate, such as pine trees (Pinus spp) and fir trees (Abies spp).

Ecosystems dominated by trees that favour moist conditions, for instance, showed shifts towards more drought tolerant plants. … Corymbia calophylla superseding Eucalyptus marginate in Australia.

“The ultimate temporal persistence of such changes remains unknown,” they write, “but, given the key role of biological legacies in long-term ecological succession, this emerging picture of post-drought ecological trajectories highlights the potential for major ecosystem reorganisation in the coming decades.”

The result: Trees suffered most in warm, dry regions, where it was even hotter and drier than the long-term average, especially if they tended to be small to medium-sized and stood on steep terrain and shallow soils. In future, such locations and tree characteristics can thus be classified as risk factors for drought damage

In the summer of 2018, central Europe experienced its most extreme period of drought and heat wave since measurements began. It has had a greater impact on forests than any other dry spell in the last 60 years. “If such events occur more frequently, beech and spruce will probably have difficulty surviving in the longer term in the regions affected in 2018,” says study leader Niklaus Zimmermann

We are super spreaders:

Ash dieback is devastating forests across England, with the National Trust this week warning it will have to fell thousands of dead trees this winter for public safety.

Ash trees make up about 20 per cent of woodland in Britain, but up to 90 per cent of these trees could be lost in the next 30 years to the disease. The fungal disease, which arrived in Europe from Asia about 30 years ago, causes the leaves of a tree to drop off and the crown to die back, eventually causing the death of the tree.

The good news, he said, is that older Ash trees appear to be more resilient to the disease, with felling largely confined to younger trees planted in the 1990s.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. —Since the emerald ash borer’s introduction to the United States at the beginning of the 21st century, forest ecologists and government officials have striven to stem its destruction of ash forests. Despite those efforts, the invasive pest may be winning the war.

Mining 16 years of U.S. Forestry Service Forest Inventory Analysis data for 960 counties, Purdue University professor Songlin Fei has shown that in impacted areas, young trees are dying before they can reach their reproductive stages. Unable to compete with larger trees or resist the emerald ash borer, American ash trees may be doomed to functional extinction.

The Penan still battling to save their dwindling forests:

Intensive forest clearing has caused an ecological disaster in the Malaysian state of Sarawak where both numerous critically endangered species and indigenous ways of life are at risk of disappearing for good unless all large-scale deforestation ceases in already badly fragmented and much-thinned forests.

“[Further] logging will destroy our forests,” Komeok Joe, a leader of an indigenous semi-nomadic ethnic group known as the Penan, has warned in an interview with Al Jazeera.

“It will destroy our rivers and medicines and prevent us from satisfying all of our needs in the forests on which we depend for our lives. We Penan communities reject any logging activities in our Baram territory,” he added.

“A century ago, most of Borneo was covered in forest. But the region has lost over half of its forests, and a third of these have disappeared in just the last three decades,” the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) explains.

“Only half of Borneo’s forest cover remains today, down from 75 per cent in the mid-1980s. With a current deforestation rate of 1.3 million hectares per year, only peat and montane forests would survive in the coming years,” the WWF warns.

We know what to do to save ourselves, and some have committed to do it (not Trump or Morrison) , but its not happening fast enough:

Global salvation requires the world’s nations to do simply what they have already undertaken to do: restore 15% of cultivated land to natural forest, grassland, shrubland, wetland and desert ecosystem.

If such restoration happened in the highest priority zones, then almost two-thirds of the wild things now threatened with imminent extinction could survive.

And the restored wilderness that would protect them would also start absorbing atmospheric carbon at an accelerating rate: it could sequester an estimated 229 billion tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2). This is almost a third of all the CO2 spilled into the atmosphere by coal, oil and gas combustion in the last 200 years.

All that would be possible if the world’s nations delivered on vows made 10 years ago in Japan, to restore 15% of ecosystems worldwide. If the 196 nations that signed up went further, and restored a carefully chosen 30%, they could save more than 70% of the million or so species sliding towards extinction, and absorb 465 billion tonnes of CO2: almost half of all the extra atmospheric carbon loaded into the atmosphere by human societies since the Industrial Revolution.

Researchers have repeatedly argued that simply planting more trees could have a dramatic impact on global heating; that a switch towards a plant-based diet could help stem biodiversity loss and reduce emissions; and that without concerted global action, precious ecosystems could collapse altogether.

An international team led by Brazilian researchers recently published a study in the journal Nature showing that restoring habitats that are currently degraded by agricultural activity is key to mitigating climate change impacts and avoiding animal species extinction.

This research sounds the alarm for policymakers and citizens at a time when the world is entering the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration starting next year as defined by the United Nations, …

Durigan told Mongabay that “it is important to heal Earth’s wounds where they are deepest, where natural areas are degraded the most and where there is more pollution and water scarcity — and these areas do not always match with what the study found.” The areas Durigan highlights are mostly in the global north. Restoring areas at fountainheads and riverbeds are of special importance for the maintenance of water in volume and quality, but this isn’t mentioned in the study, she adds.

Recovering forest areas is crucial to mitigating the effects of climate change, but many forest areas in priority regions such as Brazil are seeing their areas shrink instead of expanding.

… meanwhile in America:

Nov. 5 (UPI) — Proposed amendments to a 1994 law preventing the logging of trees with diameters greater than 21 inches could undermine the protection of the region’s largest trees.

New research, published Thursday in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, suggest the widest trees dominate carbon storage in the forests of Oregon and Washington State.

When scientists surveyed the population of wide-diameter trees in study plots on national forest lands in the Pacific Northwest, they found trees with diameters in excess of 21 inches accounted for just 3 percent of the tree population, but stored 42 percent of the total above-ground carbon.

The findings are only the latest to highlight the ecological services provided by bigger, older trees.

Forests with bigger, older trees are also more resilient to wildfire.

“Large trees are the cornerstones of diversity and resilience for the entire forest community,” Mildrexler said. “They support rich communities of plants, birds, mammals, insects, and micro-organisms, as well as act as giant water towers that tap into groundwater resources and cool our planet through evaporation.”

In the Pacific Northwest, a 21-inch diameter rule was enacted in 1994 to protect large trees in national forests. However, legislative amendments have been proposed that could potentially allow the harvesting of trees up to 30 inches in diameter. The current study was focused specifically on trees with a diameter of at least 21 inches across national forests in Oregon and Washington.

The research is among the first of its kind to investigate how a proposed policy could affect carbon storage in forest ecosystems. If passed, the legislation would contribute to huge releases of carbon dioxide and would disrupt entire ecosystems.

The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change.

Trust Australia to be world leaders at something:

UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme today added 25 new sites, one of them transboundary, in 18 countries to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, which now numbers 714 biosphere reserves in 129 countries around the globe.

Four Member States requested the MAB – ICC to withdraw 11 sites from the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Australia requested the withdrawal of five sites: Uluru Ayers Rock-Mount Olga, Croajingalong, Riverland (formerly Bookmark), Kosciuszko, and Unnamed (Mamungari). …

UNESCO biosphere reserves seek to reconcile human activity with the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. They are a central element of UNESCO’s research and awareness-raising work to foster innovative sustainable development practices and combat the loss of biodiversity supporting communities and Member States’ understanding, valuing and safeguard the living environment.

Take a deep breath while you can:

Since 2016, the Kite family and others eager for a dose of Mother Nature have gathered in the shady forests around the Tri-Lakes area for guided forest bathing sessions: immersive sensory journeys into nature and mindfulness.

In their new book, “Forest Bathing: The Rejuvenating Practice of Shinrin Yoku,” co-authors Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles describe how phytoncides—airborne chemicals emitted from plants—affected human health. During forest bathing sessions, scientists observed that breathing in these substances from the trees greatly reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol while also improving other vital physiological functions, like heart rate variability and blood pressure. Even natural killer cells, which help fend off viruses and cancer, increased after study participants spent time in the forests.

“In Japan, shinrin yoku has been classified as a preventative therapy, to help protect against illnesses, as well as reinforcement from operations or disease,” write Garcia and Miralles. “Scientists now have irrevocable proof that trees are medicine, something different traditions had instinctively known for millennia.” Reduced stress and psychological well-being continue to be the biggest benefits a walk through the woods can offer. In a 2019 review published in Global Advances in Health and Medicine, researchers found that forest therapy increased feelings of relaxation while minimizing feelings of tension and anxiety. Another recent study published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine by Japanese researchers suggested day-long sessions of shinrin yoku could be used to improve the moods of people who struggled with depression.

Meredith Berry, an experimental psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Florida, says nature exposure generally reduces anxiety while increasing happiness and attention. “Taken together, spending time in nature, like green spaces, has a host of benefits for our cognitive, physiological and biological systems,” she says. “The additional focus on mindfulness may enhance the therapeutic benefits of this practice and nature (or) forest exposure, although more research is needed in this area.”