Updated: Oct 26, 2020
How great are our forests?
When you spend time in and love forests it’s reassuring to remember that preserving the world’s forests is an essential solution to solving the climate crisis. Saving our forests is a “green solution” to climate change, that means it’s a win-win for the climate, the environment at large as well as people and communities.
In addition to protecting our forests, we also should be planting more trees and helping to regenerate forests that need our help. To address the climate crisis, we must take advantage of the carbon-storing abilities of forests. To address the ecological crisis, we need to help forests persevere and provide habitat for species.
But to preserve habitat for animals, many of whom desperately need it, we need to not only plant new forests, we also must protect the healthy forests that we already have. Mature forest is superior in storing carbon and protecting species compared with replanted land. It doesn’t make sense to continue logging and clearing native forest and vegetation, whilst we’re busy planting trees elsewhere.
And with more frequent severe fires in Australia as a result of climate change, impacting our bush, there’s no better time to take logging machinery out of native habitat.
These issues were recognised by the Victorian government when it announced its plan to end native logging by 2030. Although it should be noted that Victoria is currently allowing logging of fire affected forests.
It’s well known that Australia has a land clearing and deforestation problem. We need to see similar commitments from other governments in Australia.
What can we do to help?
As always, we can be responsible consumers.
1. Reduce unnecessary consumption of paper and wood products. For example, by swapping paper towels for cloth napkins and making sure to have ‘no advertising material’ plaque or sticker on your mailbox.
2. Choose recycled paper products (like recycled Who Gives a Crap toilet paper) over virgin paper products.
3. Buy used wood and paper products (like furniture and books) instead of new. Sell or donate your paper and wood products when your finished using them. Why keep novels you’ve read on your shelf when they can be loved by others?
4. Likewise, borrow and share paper and wood products where possible. Visit your local library or street library.
If used or recycled aren't available:
5. Seek Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wood and paper. The Forest Stewardship Council sets environmental and social standards for forest products and independently certifies that these standards have been met before bestowing their label on qualifying products.
6. Ask suppliers where their wood or paper products come from. If you don’t like the answer, don’t buy their product. It’s amazing what this can achieve. For example, Bunnings Warehouse has made clear that it will not source or sell wood from Tasmania’s ‘Future Potential Production Forests’ because of sustainability issues.
7. Switching to a less-meat heavy, vegetarian, or better vegan diet can help reduce deforestation.
8. If buying a product with palm oil palm ensure it's certified under any of the CSPO supply chain options. Palm oil is key contributor to rainforest deforestation.
Groups protecting Australian forests, nationally and locally
In addition to a responsible lifestyle, we need to promote active work protecting our forests and become politically engaged.
Get involved with and/or donate to groups who protect our native forests like these key environmental NGOs with active forest protection campaigns:
Even just signing up to receive emails from or following forest-protecting groups on social media will keep you in the loop about important forest matters and give you access to impactful actions you can take to defend our forests.
There are a multitude of groups protecting our forests, look them up or keep an eye out.
Find out if there is a local group in your area taking action. Here are a few local grassroots groups.
Blue Derby Wild in North-East Tasmania
Goongerah Environment Centre in East Gippsland
Manyana Matters in Manyana of the Shoalhaven region, NSW
North East Forest Alliance in North-East NSW
South West Forest Defenders in South-West WA
Great Forests National Park in the Central Highlands of Victoria
Do you know any other fantastic groups, big or small, defending forests? Did we miss anything we can do to protect forests? Let us know in the comments.
Vicki Adams is a keen climate activist and has worked throughout
Australia as an outdoor educator, coordinator and
bushwalking guide. She is passionate about nature,
especially native plants, and loves long walks.