Western Australia’s peak environmental and forest groups are marking National Threatened Species Day today by calling on the State Government to end special exemptions that allow the native forest logging industry to destroy threatened species habitat.
Conservation Council of WA Director Piers Verstegen said, “Right now, the WA Government’s logging agency is completely exempt from both State and Commonwealth laws designed to protect endangered wildlife such as numbats and black cockatoos.
“This leaves us in the appalling situation where the logging industry can clear fell whole forests with no legal protections for the endangered wildlife that depends on them for survival.
“The numbat is WA’s state mammal emblem and yet there are fewer than 1,000 left in the wild, which is around half the number of surviving giant pandas. We can’t afford to lose any more numbats or black cockatoos to the highly destructive logging industry.”
The WA Government’s draft 10-year Forest Management Plan released for public comment recently proposes increasing logging of several key tree species, including a 38% increase for marri trees. Mature marri trees are rare in the landscape and critical for black cockatoos, which rely on the species for nesting hollows and food.
Mr. Verstegen said, “Under existing laws, other industries are required to seek approval before impacting cockatoo nesting trees and are required to put in place expensive ‘offsets’ where the impact is unavoidable.
“In contrast, with no such controls in place, the native forest logging industry is allowed to destroy thousands of cockatoo habitat trees and thousands of hectares of numbat habitat without even monitoring the damage they’re causing.
“Even the government’s own forest monitoring program, ForestCheck, does not address the impact of logging on threatened species.
“On National Threatened Species day we are calling on both State and Commonwealth Governments to end the exemptions from threatened wildlife laws the logging industry currently enjoys.”
WA Forest Alliance spokesperson Jess Beckerling said, “We welcome the extra funding for wildlife impacted by foxes and cats Environment Minister Bill Marmion announced today, but it is like trying to stop a freight train with five cent piece. If he cares for WA's threatened wildlife, he should be protecting them with decent legislation.
“As it stands, we are facing a crisis situation. The next decade is going to be vital to some of our most threatened wildlife. We can't afford what the government is proposing, which is another decade of logging that is exempt from our laws to protect our most vulnerable wildlife."
For further comment:
John McCarten – 0403 900 193