The Beeliar Group and Leeuwin Group statement on expanding the forest conservation estate
It is twelve months since the Premier announced the end of native forest logging and the saving of at least 400,000 hectares of Karri, Jarrah and Wandoo forests that otherwise would have been logged. The Western Australian government has committed to preserving these biodiverse forests for future generations, with the Premier acknowledging that “Protecting this vital asset is critical in the fight against climate change.”
For this permanent protection to occur, extensive additional Class A Conservation areas, such as National Parks and Nature Reserves, will need to be included in the next Forest Management Plan. The next FMP must pivot from consumption forestry to conservation, recognising the impacts of a drying climate on the unique biodiversity of the south west. It is also important that spatial commitments are made now to ensure that the intent of the declaration to end native forest logging is not eroded by competing demands in the future.
Mapping of the 2,518,782 hectares of remaining forests, woodlands and associated ecosystems in the south west by Daniel Jan Martin using government datasets revealed that 57% is still outside formal conservation. Further, there is uneven representation of regional forest systems in the conservation estate. Our Southern Forests are 88% protected, but only 23% of the Northern Jarrah Forests. The Greater Donnelly forest region, which contains one of the last wild rivers in WA, is only 27% protected. Martin’s mapping of WA native forests has revealed opportunities to preserve connectivity between forests and to expand the size and viability of existing protected forested areas. This is an urgent task given that the majority of WA forests and woodlands have already been cleared or logged.
A survey into the value and use of Western Australia’s native forests conducted by the WA Biodiversity Science Institute in 2021 received 16,944 responses. A clear majority (95%) felt that more areas of native forest should be protected and 72% felt there should be no further native forest logging. The top three values determined by this survey were old growth forest areas, threatened species and communities, and biodiversity. Given this clear public support for increased forest conservation, the projected 400,000 hectares announced by the Premier in 2021, along with the more than 200,000 hectares proposed for conservation in previous FMPs and carried forward, are commitments that must be delivered.
Mapping using government datasets demonstrates that there are sufficient appropriate forest areas available for reservation to enable the government to meet its commitment, and to protect the many values of native forests for current and future generations.
Parliament must hold the Executive accountable for the state’s greenhouse gas emissions
The Beeliar Group of Professors for Environmental Responsibility have written letter to every Member of the Western Australian Parliament asserting that Parliament needs to respond to the close links between the WA Government and the gas industry. This has come from an awareness that it is 30 years since the Royal Commission into WA Inc emphasised the central role of Parliament in securing the State Government’s accountability to the public and the consequences when Parliament does not perform that function.
The story has been set out by Claire Moodie on ABC News online: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-06-16/closing-coal-plants-only-part-of-the-answer-say-scientists/101149050
See also the ABC News item at 6.54: https://iview.abc.net.au/show/abc-news-wa/series/0/video/NU2208W142S00
The need to respond to the climate crisis is now very obvious and the State Government have shown with their strategy to phase out coal that they can enable a just and equitable energy transition.
However the letter asserts there are seven areas with respect to natural gas and greenhouse gas emissions from industrial, mining and electricity generation facilities where Parliament must hold the State Government to account:
- We are the only state growing in emissions.
- The State’s emissions are driven by the combustion of natural gas for energy in industrial, mining and electricity generation facilities.
- We must align with the Glasgow Climate Pact objective of reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030. This requires a whole-of-economy 2030 emissions reduction target for the State consistent with that objective.
- We can achieve this if industrial, mining and electricity generation facilities decarbonise at source this decade. This requires the phase out of fossil fuels, especially in LNG production facilities.
- The cumulative emissions from the five LNG production facilities in the State are globally significant, and become ever more as their emissions soak up more and more of the dwindling global carbon budget to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.
- Parts of the State Government are too close to the LNG industry, such that LNG industry lobbyists and company representatives have special access and influence within government.
- Carbon offsets do not support rapid, deep and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the Glasgow Climate Pact, and must be reserved for genuinely hard-to-abate industrial and agricultural processes.
The Beeliar Group suggest that Parliament must hold the State Government to account by:
- Establishing an Independent Review of Ministerial Conditions and Regulatory Arrangements for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Industrial, Mining and Electricity Generation Facilities in Western Australia, and
- Enact a Climate Integrity Act for Western Australia
A vision for conservation and public enjoyment of the Greater Brixton Street Wetlands and an eventual Yule Brook Regional Park
This document presents and argues in more detail themes introduced in the Group’s 2017 Statement The Greater Brixton Street Wetlands/Bush Forever 387: Causes for concern related to the Maddington-Kenwick Strategic Employment Area (below), and presents its vision for a Yule Brook Regional Park based on the Greater Brixton Street Wetlands, and Yule Brook and its floodplain. It argues the case for a beneficial coexistence of the Maddington Kenwick Strategic Employment Area (MKSEA) with the globally-unique natural values of the Yule Brook Regional Park, provided that basic principles of conservation of the adjoining natural environments are followed in the MKSEA development. You can download the vision here.
State of the Environment Reporting
Western Australia was among the earliest of the Australian states and territories to embark on State of the Environment (SoE) reporting. Its first publication appeared in 1992, and its second and third reports followed in 1998 and 2007 respectively. Once a leader in the field, WA now lags well behind the rest of Australia in this respect. In contrast to all other jurisdictions except the Northern Territory, it has no legislative requirement for regular SoE reporting and there has been no evident activity since its last (excellent) report was published in 2007. As well as failing our local environment, this policy shortfall means WA is unable to make a significant contribution to the development of a comprehensive national program. In this context, John Bailey, Patricia Harris and Philip Jennings prepared a discussion paper on behalf of The Beeliar Group. setting out the current status of SoE reporting in Australia and considering how it might be revived in WA in a way that follows best practice. The paper has been published in the Australasian Journal of Environmental Management.
Sustainable Transport Implications of Murdoch Drive Connection to Kwinana Freeway and Roe Highway
Main Roads WA’s Information Sheet dated 17th August 2017 provides a rationale for the Murdoch Drive Connection and briefly outlines the project timetable, land impacts and noise management. The Beeliar Group has critically analysed MRWA’s plans for the Connection and its alignment or, in reality, lack of alignment with major, relevant WA Government policy directions. Options are proposed that will meet present and future local sustainable transport needs and minimise adverse impacts on nearby precious natural wetlands. Sustainable Transport Implications of Murdoch Drive Connection to Kwinana Freeway and Roe Highway
The Greater Brixton Street Wetlands under threat
The Greater Brixton Street Wetlands (Bush Forever Area 387) in Kenwick/Wattle Grove, south of Welshpool Road, is the single most significant and irreplaceable floristic biodiversity and rarity repository of the Perth Metropolitan Region. The enormous biodiversity of this 143 hectare site includes more native carnivorous plant species than can be found in the whole of Europe. An extraordinary total of over 558 flora taxa, 11 listed Threatened Flora Species (three of which do not occur elsewhere), 27 Priority Flora Species,three listed Threatened Fauna Species, and four listed Threatened Ecological Communities are known from this Bush Forever Area. Nine of the Threatened Species and four of the Threatened Ecological Communities above are listed under the Australian Government EPBC Act as “Matters of National Environmental Significance”. The Greater Brixton Street Wetlands are clearly of national significance and arguably also of international significance. This statement outlines the values of these wetlands and the threats posed by the Maddington-Kenwick Strategic Employment Area which is an industrial estate that is proposed to surround the wetlands. Statement on GBSW GBSW figures, tables, bibliography
The Perth Freight Link: Facts and Fiction
The supporters of Roe 8 and the Perth Freight Link (PFL) have been spreading misinformation and half truths about the developments. Their aim is to discredit alternatives by the selective use of the facts. This analysis of the Roe 8 and PFL myths provides a more complete picture. It has been prepared by Peter Newman and Philip Jennings for The Beeliar Group – Professors for Environmental Responsibility.
The report can be accessed here: the-perth-freight-link-fact-and-fiction. And in booklet form: 10-myths-on-roe-8
Urgent need for action: The Beeliar Group speaks out
The Beeliar Group takes a strong stand against the destruction of precious West Australian wetlands and woodlands (the Beeliar Regional Park), and calls for an immediate halt to work on Roe 8, a major highway development that will traverse them. In so doing, we propose an alternative long-term agenda. Our rationale is set out in this paper. Further papers will follow and be posted on this website.