New South Wales:
At the south coast Upper House hearings into the ’Long term sustainability and future of the timber and forest products industry’ concerns were raised about the frequency of logging breaches, the slow investigations, the lack of third-party enforcement, the logging of burnt forests and the pitiful returns on native forest logging, whereas the industry was concerned about restrictions on logging big trees.
Susie, Greg and Jane ventured from Elands to set up a soup kitchen in Lismore called Trees not Bombs, a collaboration between the old NEFA liberation cafe and Food Not Bombs in Newcastle, serving 300 to 400 hot meals a day and unlimited hot drinks.
The first wave of fish kills in the Richmond River were massive as inundated exotic pastures on river banks and floodplains rotted and deoxygenated waters, suffocating millions of fish. Another wave is expected to result from runoff from activated acid sulphate soils (in drained wetlands) with high levels of sulphuric acid and metals. Though the good news is that all our streams have had a thorough flush-out of fine sediments and toxins deposited by our activities.
Last week Bob Brown and three other protesters had their charges suddenly withdrawn in court in relation to protests in the Eastern Tiers in 2020, and then two other protesters also had charges dropped this week regarding Wentworth Hills protests. Since the mid 1980s the Government has been approving logging illegally, and they can’t retrospectively fix it for over a month. Bob Brown said the decision called into question the legality of native forest harvesting in Tasmania spanning decades, stating “The government should prepare to compensate hundreds of good people who have been wrongfully charged, convicted and even sent to jail for obstructing this illegal logging.”
The Morrison government has launched its Farm Forestry: Growing Together strategy which aims to encourage tree planting for loggers, which can be double counted as carbon storage until they log it. They are antithetic to the concept of planting trees for the environment or the future.
Two men have been convicted and fined $25,000 each plus costs in the Mildura Magistrates Court for the destruction of more than eight hectares of wildlife habitat near Mildura.
The National Koala Recovery Plan has finally been released, with the Commonwealth, NSW and ACT signing onto it, and Queensland refusing to. There are promises of a new national koala recovery team to oversee and co-ordinate recovery efforts, with the plan “implemented through regional-scale implementation plans” (covering anywhere from whole bioregions to Council KPoMs). So while the goal is to protect and recover Koala populations, it seems to be business as usual, with more committees and buck-passing as Koala habitat continues to be logged and cleared while Koalas decline.
The NSW Government has purchased 73ha for Koalas adjacent to Cudgen Nature Reserve in the Tweed. This was likely already zoned for protection, though this entrenches protection and improves management, though Provest is gilding the lily by claiming it significantly increases their habitat area and decreases their risk of extinction (particularly given he supported the Koala Kill Bill). Sue Arnold bemoans media focussing on politicians kissing Koalas while they ignore track records and lack of any pre-election policy focus on biodiversity loss, let alone koalas. Now you can experience Allen’s Chew’Ems Gummi Koalas fruity flavoured fun or get zapped with the tanginess of Chew’Ems Sourz Gummi Koalas, while helping fund a new WIRES online National Koala Rescue Training Course.
A company claims its trials were able to reliably identify an individual koala with 94 percent accuracy from its call and are now applying for Phase 2 of the NSW Small Business Innovation and Research Program, which will allow tracking of individual animals through their bellows using multiple recorders.
Recent research found that revegetation can help restore populations of some woodland birds in farming landscapes, though remnant vegetation was far more valuable for increasing the diversity of woodland birds, with many dependent on the resources provided by older trees.
The Deteriorating Problem
The issue of the week was the IPCC’s release of Working Group III’s report ‘Climate Change 2022 Mitigation of Climate Change’. From 1850 to 2019 we released 2,400 billion net tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, though it is truly frightening that 42% of these emissions occurred since 1990, after we were meant to begin curbing our emissions. Average annual GHG emissions during 2010- 2019 were higher than in any previous decade, while the rate of growth has slowed we are quickly burning through our carbon budget, the chance of limiting warming to below 1.5℃ is rapidly disappearing and we are on track to over 3℃ (2.5 to 4℃) heating. THE KEY MESSAGES ARE THAT ITS NOT YET TOO LATE – BUT SOON WILL BE – AND IF WE TAKE URGENT AND DRASTIC ACTION WE CAN STILL DO IT. Even if we do reduce our carbon emissions we still need to remove carbon from the atmosphere, and while unjustified reliance is been placed on pumping a proportion of emissions underground, it is clear we need the proven ability of forests. Protecting forests, changing diets, and altering farming methods could contribute around a quarter of the cuts we need by 2050.
The European energy crisis accentuated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine has biomass companies touting their wares, leading to warnings from conservation groups of the folly of burning more forests.
A new study highlights hotter-drought conditions are causing instances of mass tree dieback around the world across the full range of environmental variation. It is estimated that under +2 °C and +4 °C scenarios, mortality-year climate condition frequencies increase by 22 and 140%. Forests will have to change to adapt to the changed conditions with losers and winners, unfortunately it is oldgrowth forests that evolved in more stable climates that are likely to be the biggest losers.
An experimental study that increased soil temperatures and water supply found that climate change reduces the abundance of wildflowers and causes them to produce less nectar and fewer and lighter seeds.
Bird Populations have been quietly declining for years in Panama’s forests due to climate change. 35 species of birds have declined by more than 50 per cent and 9 bird species declined by 90 per cent or more.
Turning it Around
While NSW attempts to construct carbon balances of its forests using an assumption that all forests originated in 1920, often dubious logging history data and assumptions about storage off-site in wood products (see previous forest news), there are actual measurements being taken using lidar, even from the orbiting space station.
In America they are resolving a logging debate by generating carbon credits from protection, generating tens of millions of dollars in the coming years to help fund public schools and county services, while also protecting a major watershed.
For further details and links to articles see: https://www.nefa.org.au/forest_news