Statement – Mark McGowan, Premier of Western Australia, 8 September 2021

McGowan Government’s historic move to protect native forests

  • South-west native forests to be protected from logging from 2024
  • Forest Management Plan 2024-33 to end logging of native forests
  • All two-tier karri forest immediately protected
  • Record $350 million to expand WA’s softwood timber plantations – creating and supporting sustainable jobs in the south-west
  • Sustainable supply of softwood to support the state’s timber and construction industries for decades to come
  • $50 million Just Transition Plan to support affected workers and communities

The McGowan Labor Government has made the historic decision to protect the state’s native forests from 2024, and will invest a record $350 million to expand Western Australia’s softwood timber plantations to create and support sustainable WA jobs.

The decision to end logging of native forests in the upcoming Forest Management Plan 2024-33 will preserve at least an additional 400,000 hectares of karri, jarrah and wandoo forests.

This means nearly two million hectares of native forests will be protected for future generations.

About 9,000 hectares of high conservation-value karri will also receive immediate protection, with other high value forest areas to be recommended for national park status.

From 2024, timber taken from our native forests will be limited to forest management activities that improve forest health and clearing for approved mining operations, such as Alcoa.

The ever increasing impacts of climate change, the importance of maintaining biodiversity and forest health, the need for carbon capture and storage, and declining timber yields mean that it is essential that we act now to protect WA’s forests.

The 2021-22 State Budget includes a record $350 million investment over 10 years in new softwood plantations across the south-west, which will create and support WA forestry jobs.

This record investment will provide at least an additional 33,000 hectares of softwood timber plantation. Up to 50 million pine trees will be planted, sequestering between 7.9 and 9.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

It will also create about 140 timber industry jobs, protect about 1,980 existing jobs, mostly in the South-West timber industry, and support the many thousands of jobs in the state’s construction industry that depend upon the reliable supply of softwood timber.

The McGowan Government will support workers, businesses and communities in the south-west with links to the forestry industry through a $50 million Just Transition Plan. This plan will provide support to affected workers and businesses, drive further diversification of local economies and assist in identifying and securing sustainable job opportunities.

A Native Forestry Transition Group will be established, to assist in the development and implementation of the plan, and will be comprised of local industry, union and government stakeholders.

Work will now formally commence on the preparation of the next Forest Management Plan 2024-33, with extensive consultation with stakeholders.

Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:

“This is a historic moment for the protection of our magnificent forests and the creation of sustainable WA jobs.

“This builds on the legacy of the Gallop Labor Government’s decision to end old growth logging in 2001.

“By transitioning more of the forestry industry to sustainable timber products like softwood, we are investing in WA’s future – supporting the construction and forestry industries, and our regional communities.

“Protecting this vital asset is critical in the fight against climate change.”

 Comments attributed to Environment and Climate Action Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:

“The McGowan Government is committed to preserving our beautiful south-west forests for future generations by ending large-scale commercial logging from 2024.

“This will not only ensure this important asset can be enjoyed for its beauty, Aboriginal cultural heritage, and ecotourism for years to come, but it is an important step in the fight against climate change.

“WA’s south-west native forests are storing approximately 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or roughly 116 years’ worth of annual emissions for every car in Western Australia.”

Comments attributed to Forestry Minister Dave Kelly:

“Climate change has significantly contributed to a decline in the harvest yield of native timbers, with volumes of harvested sawlogs currently below that anticipated in the current FMP.

“Pine is a critical resource for Western Australia’s building and construction industries.

“The McGowan Government’s record $350 million expansion of WA’s softwood estate, will create and secure local jobs, and ensure a strong, sustainable timber industry for the future.”

Media release – Bob Brown Foundation, 8 September 2021

Tasmania should follow WA on forests

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein should match his WA counterpart and immediately announce an end to native forest logging in the island state, Bob Brown Foundation’s Campaign Manager Jenny Weber said in Hobart today.

“WA is following New Zealand which went entirely over to plantations in 2002. Victoria has committed to ending old growth logging by 2030. There is a real danger of Tasmania being held up to ridicule as the last state swinging chainsaws in native forests. As this age of mass extinctions of wildlife and the climate emergency grips the world, this will threaten Tasmania’s brand like no previous forest issue,” Jenny Weber said.

“Just two weeks ago our foundation joined 60 other environment groups calling for a nation-wide end to native forest logging and polls show that’s what most Australians want.”

“Meanwhile, instead of taking a leaf out of WA’s book, it looks like the Gutwein Government is ramping up the future likelihood of jailing peaceful forest defenders. Gutwein can follow McGowan’s lead on recognising ending native forest logging is important in the fight against climate change,” Jenny Weber said.

“Our Foundation is campaigning for an end to native forest logging across Australia for their critical role in mitigating the inextricably linked climate and biodiversity crisis. Governments, both Federal and State should take immediate action to stop the ongoing destruction and begin the restoration of Australia’s unique native forests that are home to many rare and endangered species,” Jenny Weber said.