News - 21 August 2023

Wilderness Society response to the Albanese government’s forest resolution at the 2023 Labor national conference

While it is deeply concerning that the ALP refused to commit to end native forest logging, the Wilderness Society welcomes the review of Australia’s National Forest Policy, which is now over 30 years old. We also welcome the reiteration of the commitment to apply the National Environment Standards that are currently under development to projects that affect Australia’s forests; for instance, the government has previously stated that the Standards will apply to Regional Forest Agreements. Applying the Standards to all forestry activities without loopholes and exemptions is a critical step towards stemming the rapid destruction of Australia’s native forests.

While the Wilderness Society supports greater emphasis on plantations for timber supply, we urge the government to focus on the effective use of existing plantation estates, rather than immediately resorting to the expansion of plantations, which will increase land use pressures and the risk of threats to biodiversity, while undermining efforts to protect and regenerate native forest and other important areas. Following the devastating 2019-20 bushfires across the country, native forests with high conservation value must be protected now more than ever from industrial logging. Logging and clearing of native forests reduces forest resilience against future bushfires and also destroys species habitat. Intact, green, unburnt habitat acts as a refuge for native species during bushfires, so it is vital that these areas are protected.

The best way for the government to support regional communities—and ensure there are decent, safe and secure jobs in the wood and pulp sector—is to rapidly transition from native forest logging to credibly certified timber plantations and recycled fibre economies. The government must support the creation of conservation economies in important areas like the Great Forest National Park, Emerald Link and the Great Koala National Park.

Australia’s native forests must be managed for the benefit of all, not just for a select number of vested interests. Communities across the country benefit when governments heed their calls to protect and nurture native forests.