New South Wales:
On Monday morning the Government’s private native forestry bill, aimed at removing protection for core Koala habitat, gained attention, with Climate 200 regarding it as an election gift, the ALP opposing it, and speculation that Liberals Felicity Wilson and Leslie Williams, and Nationals Geoff Provest, could cross the floor or abstain. By Monday afternoon Fred Nile had declared he wouldn’t support the bill, killing its chances of getting through the upper house, Liberals Felicity Wilson and Leslie Williams, and Nationals Geoff Provest, firmed up their commitments to vote it down, and to cap it off millionaire Geoff Cousins threatened to run an advertising campaign targeting the premier. It was the living dead, the Premier had to bury it for the second time, to rise again in the next government. Catherine Cusack accused the Liberals “screwing up” on the issue of protecting koalas and that the Nationals deserved to be “removed from power” because of it.
Sue Arnold argues NSW Premier Perrottet has shown complete ignorance towards the plight of endangered koalas, and has diminished his chances of re-election next year by reigniting the Koala wars. Dailan Pugh thanks Geoff Provest for following Catherine Cusack’s lead and threatening to cross the floor over the same draconian legislation, though warns that it is likely to rise from the dead for the third time if Perrottet is re-elected.
On the same day Koalla-killing Bill II was withdrawn, in an apparently politically co-ordinated move Kyogle Council voted to scrap the dual approval process for native forestry on private land, leaving approvals entirely in the hands of Local Land Services (LLS). It transpired that while Council requires consent, none of the 133 current PNF operations have ever applied. In an ABC north-coast radio interview Andrew Hurford said they have been working on these legislative changes for at least 6 years, and promised them for 2 years, maintaining logging is good for Koalas. He claimed he wasn’t aware of the necessity to get council approval until recently, while the industry pretended that in Kyogle “200 applications are awaiting approval”.
On Tuesday, in Olney State Forest, west of Morisset, a person used a suspended tree sit over the access road to block forestry from entering.
The Forestry Corporation only lost $9 million last financial year through logging public native forests, as well as getting massive subsidies for roads, transport, bushfire recovery and community service obligations, leading some to question why we still do it. The South East Timber Association have commissioned their own economic report to counter the ANU/Frontier Economics report that found stopping logging in south-east NSW would produce a net economic benefit to the state of approximately $60 million, while also reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by almost 1 million tonnes per year over the period 2022-2041, compared to logging, instead claiming it would cost -$252.43 million. Echo Voice focusses on the Frontiers Economics report on transitioning out of NSW’s public native forests, concluding “now is the time”.
The Sydney Review of Books has a lengthy article on Kate Holden’s The Winter Road, that traces a history of relationships to the Australian soil to explore how in 2014, Ian Turnbull, an 80-year old farmer with several properties to his name, came to murder Glen Turner, an environmental officer trying to protect the brigalow.
Country mayors and MPs are calling for the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme to be dumped, claiming it strangles development and jobs in regional NSW, making some developments cost prohibitive. Hornsby Shire Council recently voted to lobby the NSW Government for “standards to ensure native wildlife found on development sites are given the best possible chance of survival”, though on a similar motion, The Hills Shire Council quashed an attempt to introduce enforceable and consistent standards for the handling and management of wildlife on development sites.
One of the largest ever flood responses in NSW’s history was under way on Tuesday morning, with 17 flood warnings in place and eight major warnings affecting 25 locations. Spring 2022 is on track to be the wettest on record for south-east Australia. With catchments sodden, flooding is happening rapidly. As Forbes was cut in half, deputy mayor, Chris Roylance, said it “will be the biggest we’ve ever seen”. Condobolin was entirely isolated as it suffered its biggest recorded flood. As the atmosphere warms it can hold more water, supercharging atmospheric rivers, requiring a rethink of floods. With the floods come the mosquitos, big ones, small ones, benign ones, and plagues of disease ridden biting ones, attacking livestock, with water persisting long after the rains so will they.
When the Victorian Government made its announcement that logging would be phased out by 2030, they announced that “90,000 hectares of Victoria’s remaining rare and precious old growth forest…will be protected immediately”, what they didn’t say was that they would allow Vicforests to review the mapped oldgrowth to decide whether it qualified, and mostly they decided it didn’t, as exemplified by a coupe aptly called Duped which had mapped oldgrowth that they were logging at the time and continued to log. Now the Flora and Fauna Research Collective (FFRC) has a legal case currently before the Victorian Supreme Court claiming enough is enough.
A study of Victoria’s Central Highlands by right-leaning Blueprint Institute finds preserving trees generates more in tourism, water supply benefits, and carbon credits than cutting them down, protecting them now would generate $487 million in benefits, with a net profit of $59 million between 2022/23 and 2030.
Victorian federal teal independent for Kooyong MP Monique Ryan, supported by Zoe Daniel, moved for an end to the RFA exemption for logging from EPBC Act, particularly to address climate change. They have been joined by NSW Teals Mackellar MP Sophie Scamps and Warringah MP Zali Steggall.
Mining company Magnetic South cleared 218 hectares of land at Dingo in central Queensland, 130 kilometres west of Rockhampton, without requiring approval for either the clearing or their mine, adjoining land that protects the only significant population of the bridled nailtail wallaby.
As well as coronaviruses, flying foxes are hosts to a variety of diseases which can spread directly or indirectly to humans, such as rabies, Nipah and Hendra, which can have limited impacts on the bats due to their supercharged immune systems. Researchers have found that it is winter nectar shortages that force flying foxes into urban areas and closer contacts with people, thereby increasing the risk of disease spill-overs, notably increasing the risk of Hendra virus, their solution being more plantings of nectar feed trees in rural areas (away from horses) – I think the best first step is to stop cutting down mature nectar feed trees, as the older trees flower more prolifically and regularly.
The Conversation has an article about the plight of urban wildlife in deluges, pointing out that prolonged rain may confine microbats to their roosts, and sometimes starve, while in deluges Brush Turkey mounds can become saturated and their eggs drown, meanwhile exotic cockroaches can revel in the humidity inside your house.
The Green’s Forestry Amendment (Koala Habitats) Bill 2022, which was introduced on 9 November, makes “it a requirement of an integrated forestry operations approval that forestry operations are not carried out in koala habitats”, continues to garner attention, though won’t be voted on until after the election.
A reminder that Satin Bowerbirds like the blue-rings from milk and cream bottle tops and can get them stuck around their necks, it helps to snip them – some years ago some school kids ran a campaign and got Norco to stop using blue, though corporate memories are short.
ABC have an article about the insect relationships of Tasmanian orchids and sundews, with some orchids mimicking the scent and visual appearance of wasps to fool them into trying to mate, and sundews having the dilemma of avoiding eating their pollinators.
Researchers have concluded that the 2015 die-off of nearly 10 percent of mangrove forest along northern Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria was a result of extreme low tides associated with a 18.6 year moon wobble cycle, amplified by El Niño, that creates regular, sustained periods of unusually high or low tides n certain places.
The Deteriorating Problem
This year, the world is projected to emit 40.6 billion tonnes of CO₂ from all human activities, leaving 380 billion tonnes of CO₂ as the remaining carbon budget for a 50% chance the planet will limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5℃, at current rates there is a 50% chance the planet will reach the 1.5℃ global average temperature rise in just nine years. Ocean and forest sinks continue to take up around half of our emissions. While discounted by claimed reforestation, deforestation remains a significant driver.
A bevy of scientists express profound concern for the future of many species of insects that are declining rapidly across many parts of the biosphere primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation, chemical and organic pollution, invasive species and other human-mediated changes to the environment, which are now being amplified by climate change, notably extreme events, threatening an insect apocalypse.
As another example of mismatching resulting from species responding at different rates to climate heating, in north America, deciduous trees are leafing-out earlier while understorey wildflowers are not flowering earlier, resulting in more shade and less sunlight for photosynthesis which could lead to wildflower declines.
A new report has shown at least 27% of undisturbed rainforests in the Congo Basin present in 2020 will disappear by 2050 if the rate of deforestation and forest degradation continues at current rates.
The Boreal forest which encircles the arctic and stretches across Canada, Scandinavia, Russia and Alaska has in recent times been weakened by forest fires, the melting of permafrost, an insect infestation, warming temperatures and drifting trees, as the tipping point approaches. Across Europe’s northern forests clearcutting of older, natural forest appears to be widespread but oldgrowth hasn’t been mapped, a Swedish study found that almost a quarter of the few remaining forests of this type were lost between 2003 and 2019, and are expected to be cut-out in the 2070s. As Alaska warms twice as fast as the rest of the U.S., once frozen land is now thawed out and up for grabs as boreal forests are carved up, sold off and cleared for agriculture in an Alaskan land rush.
Turning it Around:
The big issue of COP 27 is whether the big polluting countries who have caused climate heating should be compensating the poorer developing countries who are bearing the disastrous consequences. Australia, as the highest per capita polluter, and one of the top 20 polluters, is responsible for $200 million worth of damage to other countries. Developed countries have pledged just over $250 million for a global fund for “loss and damage” to help developing countries adapt to climate change, though the recent commitments fall drastically short of the $200 billion in annual funding for “climate reparations” that the U.N. says is needed this decade alone to adequately address the issue. Meanwhile rich countries and companies’ efforts to address the problems with carbon credits and offsets, rather than real emissions reductions, are plagued with poor management and regulation, while delaying meaningful action. Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen thinks the world is unlikely to come to an agreement over contentious calls for wealthy nations to pay loss and damage compensation for climate impacts on developing countries.
An analysis blamed the slow progress at COP27 in part on continuing misinformation by right-wing media, singling out Fox News as the principal organisation misleading millions of Americans. Others consider the 600 fossil fuel delegates at the meeting as a significant problem.
The U.S. Center at the COP27 climate talks hosted a panel Monday focused on ending global deforestation by 2030, with some panelists expressing concern that high carbon mature and oldgrowth forests continue to be logged, some stressed and overheated forests could soon emit more carbon than they store, and some argued we need to move beyond failed market-based carbon offsets and start actual protection. In welcome news, Brazil’s new president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced he would seek an end to the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest by 2030. Fashion accounts for about 10 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, leading to an announcement by 33 brands, printers and producers, timed to coincide with COP27, they will purchase over half a million tonnes of non-forest alternative fibres for clothing and packaging to help reduce global emissions.
As talks at COP27 enter the final stretch, government ministers and negotiators from nearly 200 countries are scrambling to build consensus on an array of issues critical to tackling the climate emergency based on a 20-page first draft released on Thursday that has left some profoundly disappointed as we continue “on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.” Principal concerns are the failure of wealthy nations to agree to pay loss and damage compensation for climate impacts on developing countries, or mention taking action on oil and gas due to over 600 fossil fuel industry delegates.
Some think the debate over whether humans can physically survive climate change is misguided, we should be looking ahead with more interest to next month’s COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the treaty aimed at saving the planet’s wild species, because we are sustained by a disintegrating intricate living system.
In New Zealand the conflict between graziers and carbon farmers grows as more pasture is bought-up by overseas investors and converted to trees, with graziers now pooling their resources buy farms approved for carbon forests.
Dailan Pugh, NEFA.
For further details and links to articles see: https://www.nefa.org.au/forest_news