Victoria will phase out the logging of native forests under the largest environmental protection policy in the state’s history, the state government announced Thursday.
While the reduction of native timber harvesting will be gradual until 2030, logging in 90,000 hectares of Victoria’s oldest forests — home to trees over 600 years old — will be instantly enforced. The new policy will cut 1.71 million tonnes of carbon from the environment annually over the next 25 years — equal to eliminating the impact of 730,000 cars each year.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said she was “proud” of the landmark policy.
"This is the largest environmental protection plan in our state’s history,” she said in a press release. “We’re taking this step to protect our precious natural gifts for generations to come while striking the right balance between the environment and jobs.”
I’m proud to announce the largest environmental protection policy in Victoria’s history.— Lily D'Ambrosio MP (@LilyDAmbrosioMP) November 7, 2019
Native forest logging will be phased out by 2030 and 186,000 hectares are immediately protected, the equivalent of 100,000 MCGs. pic.twitter.com/xhC7C9Byl8
The state’s new environmental plan also includes the Greater Glider Action Statement.
The statement defines a further 96,000 hectares of logging-free land, which will afford immediate shelter and refuge for the iconic, and threatened, small marsupial species — as well as many other native, vulnerable animals.
“By ending the destruction of our old-growth forests immediately, we’re protecting the habitat of our greater gliders, Leadbeater’s possums, and many other threatened species,” D’Ambrosio added.
While the policy has been widely welcomed, it has not been without criticism.
The National Party of Australia says the move will have a “devastating” impact on jobs, with Nationals leader Peter Walsh claiming that over 20,000 positions in the timber supply sector and 2,500 jobs within harvesting will be lost.
“It will be devastating,” he told the Australian. “Less than 5% of native forest is ever being logged in Victoria across a 30-year rotation. I can’t describe how angry I am.”
Premier Daniel Andrews, however, said the government intends to help all sectors shift to a plantation-based paper supply.
“It’s not good enough for us to merely cross our fingers and hope for the best. We need a plan to support workers and support jobs,” Andrews told reporters at a press conference in the state’s south. “With a 30-year plan for transition, we’re providing much-needed certainty for workers and their families.”
The government has allocated $120 million AUD to support the transition.