News.net.au: Timber producers are facing an unprecedented shortage of natural wood due to rising carbon emissions from burning the wood, according to the Federal Government’s first-ever assessment of the impact of logging on the environment.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) said it has found that more than half of the country’s major timber producers have fallen short of their targets and more than 20% of the remaining timber supply could be lost over the next 20 years.
The latest analysis found that between 2017 and 2020, the amount of timber consumed by the industry fell by 10.5 per cent, while total emissions from wood products increased by 4.5 times.
The analysis also found that over the same period, emissions from non-wood sources rose by 30 per cent and land clearing and clearing operations rose by 28 per cent.
In a statement, the EPA said that it was undertaking an unprecedented review of logging to identify areas of concern.
“We’ve seen unprecedented demand for wood for its energy and wood products, and we’re working with the timber industry to develop a sustainable approach that protects and conserves forests and wildlife,” said EPA chief executive Heather Nash.
“This report shows that the industry has made great strides, but there is still a long way to go to meet our goals.”
She said it was critical to ensure that the timber sector was doing its fair share to reduce the impact on the natural world.
“As the nation continues to transition to a greener economy, we need to do our part to ensure the country has the highest quality timber for the future.
The report highlights the need for increased logging, increased forestry and forestry products supply, and better information and education to support the timber supply chain.”
According to the EPA, there were 1.2 million trees planted on the Australian continent in 2016.
Of that, more than a third were planted in Tasmania, the Northern Territory, the South Australian, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, the ACT and the Northern Rivers regions.
The EPA’s assessment of logging practices found that the use of toxic and hazardous materials was common.
In the past decade, more logging has been conducted on forests than in the previous 10 years.
In Tasmania, there have been more than 500 fires in the last five years.
“While the increase in logging has led to a greater impact on forests, this is due to the large number of timber concessions that were granted, which have resulted in a higher number of fires,” said the EPA.
“The number of forest fires has increased dramatically, which has led some to question whether there is a link between the number of logging concessions and fires.”
The agency has called on the timber industries to implement a “zero emissions approach” to reduce their carbon footprint.
“If timber products are to meet the needs of future generations, it is essential that they are managed in accordance with the best environmental practices,” the EPA stated.
“At the same time, we recognise that the Australian timber industry has not always been able to take the necessary steps to comply with these environmental guidelines.
This is why the Government has made the decision to take action to provide greater certainty to the timber and forestry industry.”
The EPA also urged the timber companies to implement the following actions: Ensure all permits and licences for logging in Australia are renewed annually.
The Australian Forestry Commission (AFFC) has launched an audit of all logging operations conducted by all logging companies in Australia.
The audit will identify any areas of significant environmental and social impacts and take the industry to task for the failure to address these.
Ensure that all timber products used in the production of timber are certified in accordance to Australian Forestry and Forest Products Standards (AFFPSS) which are the most stringent and comprehensive environmental standards in the industry.