KOALA PROTECTION COULD BE A MONEY SPINNER

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Conservation groups are calling on the federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, to contribute funds from the Federal Government’s $2.55 billion carbon emissions reduction fund to protecting the Great Koala National Park.

This comes after revelations (The Age 21.1.15) that federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, commissioned a report which found that ending logging in the highland forests north-east of Melbourne, would save about 3.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year which could reap Victoria $30 million a year and achieve 5 per cent of the emissions cuts needed to meet Australia’s carbon reduction target for 2020.

North East Forest Alliance spokesperson Dailan Pugh said that “Koalas prefer larger trees for feeding, these are trees that have been taking up and storing carbon in their wood for decades or centuries.

If allowed to remain these trees will continue to provide food for the Koalas while taking up increasing amounts of carbon the older they get. Protecting these trees is not just good for Koalas, it is part of the solution to climate change and of direct benefit to all of us.

We have just had the warmest year on record and the increased temperatures are already having profound affects on our forests, our wildlife and us. For all our benefits urgent action is required to curtail our emissions by increasing the carbon take-up and carbon storage in our forests. We can do this just by stopping logging and protecting Koalas,” Mr Pugh said.

NCEC Vice-President Susie Russell said “NSW taxpayers are currently paying $8-15 million a year to subsidise logging of public forests, in return for this the logging is threatening the future of numerous species, causing erosion, silting up our rivers, decreasing stream flows, spreading weeds and causing dieback of our publicly owned forests. 

We can turn this massive loss into a profit simply by stopping logging. If the Federal Government invests in avoiding emissions from logging, taxpayers stand to make a fortune just from protecting Koalas, and we can invest some of this into providing meaningful jobs in restoring degraded forests and increasing their carbon take-up and storage.

This can be a win-win for the community and Koalas, while helping to redress our burgeoning carbon emissions.

We call on Minister Hunt to urgently investigate the carbon benefits of protecting the Great Koala National Park and identify what the Federal Government would be prepared to pay to avoid the carbon emissions from continued logging”, Ms Russell said.

Photo by Sharon McGrigor

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