A flying koala
On Sunday I was invited to tour forests near Toolangi, northeast of Melbourne to witness firsthand the destruction that VicForests, a state-operated logging company is reaping on Victoria’s Native Forests. During my visit, I learned a great deal about the Greater Glider, essentially a flying koala that floats along a forest highway living on gum leaves.
Many Victorians are unaware that forests in our own backyard are being logged on an industrial scale.
For the glider, logging is a death sentence. When their passage through the trees is disturbed, greater gliders starve to death. Gum leaves are not nutritious and they do not have the energy or reserves to establish a new home. And logging is not just bad news for gliders.
Just two days before touring the forests I joined 150,000 other proud Melburnians marching for the #GlobalClimateStrike. The people here shared a sense of urgency and everybody seemed to understand what needs to be done to stave off the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Including 100% renewable energy, no new coal or gas and a fair transition for workers.
That’s why witnessing the devastation being reaped upon our native forests not far from Melbourne so soon after was incredibly hard. Trees are the best technology we have in the fight against climate change. These forests store enormous amounts of carbon. They take the pollution from burning coal and gas, suck it out of the air and store it in their trunks and branches.
The value of Victoria’s native forests in fighting climate change has been acknowledged by the government’s very own reports and expert panels. Including the comprehensive ‘Independent expert advice on interim targets’, also known as the ‘Combet report’ released earlier this year.
The report explains how rethinking native forest management can reduce Victoria’s carbon emissions.
Given expert advice, it’s even more disappointing that Australia is ranked among the top ten countries in the world for logging. And we’re the only “developed” country on the list. What’s more, Victoria has the highest rate of logging in all of Australia. Five MCG’s worth of native forest is being logged in Victoria every single day.
There’s nothing developed about logging natural climate solutions or the home of endangered species. That’s without even mentioning the role forests play in providing our clean drinking water and lowering temperatures.
Our state government must rethink its logging agenda. We cannot afford to continue destroying high-value forest so corporations can make paper, pallets and profits.
Any government serious about protecting our native animals and limiting the climate crisis would end logging in Victoria’s Native Forests.
And when parliament resumes in a couple of weeks, that’s exactly what I’ll be fighting for.