Renewables Not Australian Native Forest Furnaces – GetUp

589,000 member strong independent political action group GetUp has launched a campaign against Independent MP Rob Oakeshott’s motion to remove provisions that prevent the burning of native forests for energy from being counted as renewable energy.
     
Mr. Oakeshott’s motion was seconded by another Independent, Tony Windsor.
   
GetUp says that if Mr. Oakeshott’s motion is successful, this would undermine investment in renewable energy projects such as solar power and endanger native forests and wildlife.
   
While waste from plantation timber can be classed as renewable and related energy production eligible for Renewable Energy Credits; waste from native, old growth forests is excluded. 
  
“It’s a crucial difference for our environment, and a victory for common sense worth protecting,” states GetUp, which has launched a petition concerning the issue.
  
The group says removal of the provision would create a new market for logging native forests, one that will go beyond a few small operators.
   
“Today between 80 and 95 per cent of Australia’s sawn timber and wood panels are plantation-based. The last thing we want is to reverse this trend and use taxpayer money to make logging old-growth forests more profitable again.”
  
While Labor is apparently against the motion, GetUp believes the Coalition will vote in favour of it and other Independents are undecided.
  
Australian Greens Deputy Leader Christine Milne has written to Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott to urge them to reconsider what she terms their “breach of the carbon package agreement”.
  
“The forest furnaces now being proposed in several states would become a driving force for destruction of Australian forests, woodlands and wildlife habitat, much the same as the export woodchip industry did after its establishment in the 1970s,” Senator Milne said.
  
According to Judith Ajani, an economist at Fenner School at Australian National University, native forest logging waste hardly exists currently.
  
“..sawn timber stopped driving Australia’s native forest logging in the 1980s and woodchip exports are no longer driving native forest logging. And so evaporates the “waste”. Opening native forest wood to the energy market will turn the economically and environmentally desirable trend decline in native forest logging into increasing logging levels.”