(IMAGE: Caitlin Collins hiking in WA's South-West forests.)
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 announcement includes the following provisions:
- 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 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.
Caitlin Collins, MLA for Hillarys, said the announcement was a historic moment for the protection of WA’s magnificent native forests.
“With declining rainfall and an increased international urgency on climate change, it simply makes sense for us to protect the old-growth forests which are so important for emissions reduction.”
“Sustainable timber products, such as softwood, will deliver safer future jobs to the South West’s regional communities.”
“This decision is also great news to defend and further develop Western Australia’s amazing eco-tourism industries, cultural heritage and our climate action credentials.”