26 March, 2008

MEDIA RELEASE: Treetop Conservationists Remain

Twenty conservationists remain in two old growth logging coupes this morning south of Bendoc on the Errinundra Plateau.

Two 30 metre high tree platforms remain in place and are preventing logging from commencing.
The logging coupes are in the headwaters of the Bonang River and one of them borders the Errinundra National Park.

Both of the coupes are in a controversial area of iconic old growth forest, that has been the subject of protest actions for many years. Both include habitat for the endangered Spot Tailed Quoll and Long Footed Potoroo.

Conservationists on an ecology camp over the weekend surveyed one of the logging coupes and believe to have found rainforest, which is to be checked later this week by government scientists.

Media Comments:
Emily Black or Lauren Caulfield
Trunk Phone (in the logging coupe) 03 9416 2129, wait for tone then dial 8384620
or 03 51540174

07 March, 2008

THE AGE: Deal struck with PNG on carbon trading

Chris Hammer, Port Moresby
The Age, March 7, 2008

Australia and Papua New Guinea have laid the groundwork for carbon trading between the two neighbours, even before either country has developed a domestic emissions trading scheme.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed the Papua New Guinea-Australia Forest Carbon Partnership with his counterpart Sir Michael Somare in Port Moresby yesterday.

The partnership aims to help save PNG rainforests by enabling the sale of carbon credits through future national, regional and global emissions trading schemes.

After signing the partnership, Mr Rudd said it would encourage PNG to "do its bit for the world" by avoiding deforestation.

"It's far better we start heading in that direction together rather than heading in different directions," he said.

The two countries will consult each other on greenhouse strategies and Australia will help PNG measure and monitor the carbon locked away in its forests. They will also help each other enter international trading schemes.

Australia will provide its neighbour with technical assistance such as satellite monitoring. The deal holds out the possibility that other countries will join the partnership.

"I think Australia, ourselves and Indonesia are like a triangle on this particular issue of carbon emissions and in relation to forests," Sir Michael said.

Australia's principal adviser on greenhouse emissions, Ross Garnaut, has called for Australia to enter a regional carbon trading agreement with its two northern neighbours. Professor Garnaut has suggested Australia could make radical but relatively painless cuts to its emissions by giving domestic polluters such as electricity generators the ability to buy off-setting carbon credits from forestry projects in neighbouring countries.

This would work in much the same way that stopping domestic land clearing has helped Australia stay on track to meet its Kyoto targets.

It would have the advantage of giving PNG land holders an alternative source of income to logging.

PNG has one of the world's four great rainforests, covering an estimated 29 million hectares.

Mr Rudd also unveiled a blueprint for relations between Australia and Pacific Island countries. The Port Moresby Declaration promising increased aid and practical co-operation from Australia.

While largely lacking in concrete measures, the declaration was warmly welcomed by Sir Michael, who had a sometimes strained relationship with the Howard government. "The relationship was more or less deteriorated for a while," Sir Michael told journalists. "That's all water under the bridge. We are talking of a new beginning."

Article source

02 March, 2008

ARTICLE: Forest Service chief faces jail over fire retardant study

Matthew Daly, Associated Press Writer
North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, March 2, 2008

Makes no apologies for timber policies.

WASHINGTON (AP) - He overhauled federal forest policy to cut more trees - and became a lightning rod for environmentalists who say he is intent on logging every tree in his reach.

After nearly seven years in office, Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey still has a long to-do list. Near the top: Persuade a federal judge to keep him out of jail.

Rey, a former timber industry lobbyist who has directed U.S. forest policy since 2001, also wants to set up state rules making it easier to build roads in remote national forests and to restore overgrown, unhealthy forests by clearing them of small trees and debris that can stoke wildfires. And he wants to streamline cumbersome regulations that can paralyze actions on public lands.

But a Montana judge, accusing Rey of deliberately skirting the law so the Forest Service can keep fighting wildfires with a flame retardant that kills fish, has threatened to put him behind bars.

Judge Donald Molloy says the Forest Service violated federal law when it failed to go through a public process to analyze the potential harm from using ammonium phosphate, a fertilizer that kills fish, as the primary ingredient for retardant dropped on wildfires.

For Rey, who faces a court date today, the prospect of jail time is daunting.

"It is something we take seriously," he said. "We are doing everything we can to comply with the judge's order."

But it's just one more obstacle as he attempts to rid federal policies of pesky paperwork and endless litigation that slows forest managers from cutting down trees.

Rey's signature accomplishment - passage of the 2003 Healthy Forests Restoration Act - quickened approval of projects to thin overgrown forests so they can be completed within months rather than years.

The law, the first major change in forest management in a quarter-century, has helped restore healthy forests after decades of neglect and mismanagement, supporters say.

"We are now treating four times as many acres as we did when this administration came into office," Rey said in an interview, "and those treatments are showing the desired effect."

Devastating wildfires in California last fall on about 800 square miles killed 10 people and burned about 2,200 homes - half the number of homes destroyed in similar fires in 2003, Rey said.

Rey's critics say talk of "treatment" and "thinning" is code for Rey's real goal: cutting more trees in service of his former timber industry cronies.

Article source