At its February meeting, Midcoast Council agreed to advocate for the permanent protection of parts of the Bulga State Forest, but more importantly, it supported a just transition from native forest logging to ecologically sustainably managed plantations and farm forestry.
In doing so it stepped into the future. Logging of our native forests, like whaling, belongs in the past, to an era where resources seemed limitless. Now we know the value of the older trees and the huge contribution they make to sustaining water flows, nectar and pollen production, storing carbon, cooling the land and providing the life support system for the unique animals and plants that call the forest home.
To those who say, but this forest has been logged for a hundred years, the answer is yes, and that is why the trees being left are skinny little things with no canopy and no habitat for the hundreds of animals that depend on a complex forest dominated by big old trees. It is also why there is almost no rainforest left in the entire local government area and why koalas are hard to find, when once they were common.
There is no doubt councillors were swayed by the plight of the animals, eloquently outlined in a letter from the children of Elands, but equally they recognised that healthy communities depend on healthy catchments and healthy catchments depend on healthy forests.
With each truck load of logs, goes another patch of forest that has delivered our region a bountiful supply of water since long before Europeans arrived. But the reliability of that water supply is jeopardised by logging. Instead of forests of old trees that store the rain that replenishes the creeks, the forests are now young and thirsty. It will take decades of no logging to restore river levels to what they once were. As the climate warms and we move into another El Niño cycle, that lack of water may well become catastrophic.
Council rightly supported a just transition. It’s not about protecting logging jobs, it’s about protecting workers and making sure they aren’t left in the lurch. Plenty of work for big machinery drivers in repairing the State’s roads that have been smashed by devastating floods.
Midcoast Council has recognised that we are in a climate emergency. Seeking a transition from the forests is entirely consistent. Remember that the deserts of the Middle East were once the Garden of Eden. If we don’t stop the logging soon, we will have converted paradise into a degraded and eroding weed-scape and our descendants will curse our stupidity forever more.