Once again we are faced with the unedifying spectacle of Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull both playing political football with Australia's forests.
Kevin Rudd has just fully endorsed John Howard's forest policy which supports the destruction of remnant majestic old growth forests in both Tasmania and South East Australia. He has done this to curry favour with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union in the run up to the federal election.
Deforestation and land clearing accounts for around 10 per cent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, yet Kevin Rudd is doing nothing to stop this, despite the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report which identifies protection of forests as a key global strategy for combating climate change.
Malcolm Turnbull says he recognises the importance of forests as carbon stores, yet he also supports the ongoing destruction of Australia's forests and the resulting export of 4 million tonnes of woodchips from Tasmania and 1 million tonnes from Victoria each year. The Howard government is allocating $200 million to protect forests in South East Asia, but is unwilling to protect Australian forests that store up to 1200 tonnes of carbon per hectare.
Carbon dioxide emissions from logging in Victoria in 2004-2005 were almost 10 million tonnes which is equivalent to emissions resulting from an additional 2.4 million cars onto Victoria’s roads each year.
The solution is remarkably simple. We need to protect all remaining old growth forests to preserve both their intrinsic value and the carbon they store.
Unfortunately, Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull can only see woodchips rather than our trees.
This was published as letter in the Heraldsun and The Age newspapers on Wednesday July 25, 2007