Regional conservationists recently met at Bermagui to discuss the public native forests in South East NSW.
“Our forests are Australia’s finest asset; they are the heart and lifeblood of our country and need protection,” the National Parks Association of NSW’s (NPA) Kim Taysom said.
Members of the South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA), the NPA and the National Trust Far South Coast branch agreed that making state forests designated protected areas would maximize environmental and financial outcomes.
This initiative would safeguard 400,000ha of public native forests from further logging for woodchips under the current Regional Forest Agreements (RFA).
“The RFA process fails economically and environmentally and is out of step with current climate pressures,” Bronte Somerset of SERCA said.
“The value of carbon in the forests could be accounted for; to fund jobs in forest landscape restoration and increase jobs in eco-tourism.”
The Great Southern Forest (GSF) website states the 20-year RFAs are due to expire between 2019 and 2021.
At the meeting, Rosemary Beaumont said the GSF will safeguard forests, foster Indigenous involvement in forest management, lift regional employment and protect biodiversity and wildlife.
Grahame Douglas of NPA NSW applauded the principles of the GSF campaign, saying there are cultural reasons why people want to protect areas.
“The South Eastern forests and elevated landscapes represent important and unique refugia for biodiversity,” he said.
“Climate change requires adaptation and mitigation; this means forest protection.”