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Rudd must end destruction of Australia's biggest 'Green Carbon' banks, native forests : Greens

The Australian National University's report on the role of natural forests as Australia's biggest carbon banks underscores the horror of logging in an age of climate change, Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown said today.

"Native forest logging is the Rudd government's biggest blind spot in tackling climate change. It is three times worse for climate change than previous assessments estimated (640 units of carbon, not 217) and in tall eucalypt forests like those of Victoria's central highlands or Tasmania's Styx, Weld and Florentine valleys, it is 10 times worse (over 2,000 units of carbon)," Senator Brown said.

"The Rudd government should be leading the charge in Copenhagen to ensure the green carbon in the natural forests of both developed and developing countries are recognised and protected."

The ANU report says logging 'is equal to 24 per cent of the 2005 Australian net greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors; which were 559 million tonnes of CO2 in that year'.

"That is more than the whole of the transport sector," Senator Brown said.

Senator Brown said that Prime Minister Rudd approving Gunns' pulp mill in Tasmania will be a culpable act, worse than approving a new coal-fired power station.

"Ending logging costs nothing but a transition package for workers and has a huge bonus in protecting wild flora and fauna, as well as water storages. However, Mr Rudd has, quite perversely, already offered $100 million of taxpayers' money in transport infrastructure largely aimed to get Gunns' pulp mill up and going."

Senator Brown said that the blind spot on the destruction of Australia's biggest carbon banks by the export woodchip industry was facilitated by the widespread placement of forestry aficionados in government agencies, including the Australian Greenhouse Office.

"The AGO's failure to produce this analysis years ago is deliberate and inexcusable. It has undermined the Office's own mission," Senator Brown said.

1.      Native forests and other native vegetation store massive amounts of carbon. Logging carbon rich native forests greatly exacerbates global warming.

2.      Protecting and restoring native forests and their stored carbon is a central and positive part of the solution to the climate crisis -- in Australia, as well as globally.

3.      Emissions (not net emissions) from native forest logging and clearing exceeded 90 Mt CO2 in 2006 (the most recent figures available), compared with 80 Mt CO2 for transport.

4.      All emission sources should be reduced, including from native forest logging and clearing of native vegetation (not necessarily via emissions trading). Currently native forest logging is ignored in the proposed CPRS and there is no serious attention to reducing emissions from land clearing.

5.      Emissions from native forest logging and clearing are largely avoidable.  The simplest way to deal with them is through regulation and a transition package to assist affected workers and industries.

6.      The only aspect of 'forestry' proposed to be covered by emissions trading is new plantations (planted from 1990), boosted by existing tax deductions.  These compete with agriculture for land and water.

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