WA bans commercial native logging to save forest

The conclusion of unsustainable commercial logging in Western Australia has the potential to preserve nearly 20,000 square kilometers of forest, according to the state government. Effective Monday, the harvesting of native karri, jarrah, and wandoo hardwood in the state’s southwest is prohibited.

Reece Whitby, the state’s environment minister, hailed this as a historic moment for Western Australia, making it one of the first in the country to cease native logging, with the aim of advancing conservation and resilience in the natural environment.

The newly introduced forest management plan for 2024-2033 stipulates that native timbers can only be harvested for ecological thinning to enhance forest health and resilience against droughts and bushfires. To facilitate a shift away from native logging, the government has committed $350 million to softwood pine plantations, ensuring a timber supply for the construction industry.

Additionally, an $80 million native forest transition plan has been implemented, providing financial support to eligible sawmills for restructuring.

As a result of these measures, WA’s largest commercial mills have ceased operations, and timber-dependent towns have received substantial grants for community development initiatives, business diversification, and the attraction of new industries.

Jackie Jarvis, the forestry minister, emphasized that this decision aligns with evolving community attitudes, marking a new era for the southwest. She expressed pride in being part of a government that prioritizes forest health while actively supporting local industries to diversify and flourish.

The cessation of unsustainable logging in Western Australia is seen as a pivotal move in promoting environmental conservation and adapting to changing attitudes within the community. The state government’s commitment to ending native logging aligns with a broader vision for fostering resilience in the natural environment.

The implementation of the forest management plan, which restricts the harvesting of native timbers to ecological thinning, reflects a proactive approach to ensuring forest health and safeguarding against the increasing challenges posed by droughts and bushfires.

In recognizing the need for alternative sources of timber, the government’s substantial investment of $350 million in softwood pine plantations is a strategic move to support the construction industry while mitigating the impact on native forests.

Simultaneously, the $80 million native forest transition plan demonstrates a commitment to assisting sawmills in adapting to the changing landscape, emphasizing a balance between environmental conservation and economic considerations.

The closure of major commercial mills signifies a shift in the economic landscape of the region, prompting the need for diversified and sustainable industries. The government’s provision of significant grants to timber-dependent towns for community development projects underscores a commitment to facilitating a smooth transition and fostering local growth.

This approach not only acknowledges the importance of safeguarding the environment but also prioritizes the well-being of communities that have historically relied on the timber industry.

Jackie Jarvis, the forestry minister, aptly characterizes this moment as a new era for Western Australia’s southwest. By prioritizing forest health and supporting local industries in their efforts to diversify, the government aims to set a precedent for responsible environmental stewardship and sustainable economic practices.

The decision reflects an understanding of the evolving perspectives within the community and serves as a model for balancing ecological preservation with the imperative for economic development.

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