Native forests in Western Australia are an extremely important part of our natural landscape. They provide the WA communities with benefits in all aspects of life. The South-West of WA has approximately 2.25 million hectares of native forest of which 1.4 million hectares is in national parks and reserves. This includes all old growth forest that has been since 2003.
Of the 2.25 million hectares of native forest in WA, less than 1% is harvested every year, with all forest that is harvested being regenerated through correct sustainable management.
Our native forests also support vibrant communities living in and around the forests. In addition to the direct employment benefits are the flow-on effects throughout the community as the industry generates jobs in areas such as manufacturing, construction, education and contracting.
Contrary to popular belief, the harvesting of native forests is also good for the forest itself! Areas in the South-West of WA have suffered from reduced rainfall in recent years meaning increased competition for water in some dense native forests. Forest thinning can assist in reducing the density of these forest helping reduce competition for water reducing tree deaths and improving the water quality flowing into our dams.
The continued growing, thinning and regeneration of our native forests also helps combat climate change. As we know, growing trees stores carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in its timber for the life of the wood. If our native forests are left untouched they will eventually reach a state of equilibrium where as one tree dies and releases its carbon, another will grow in its place. This results in no net reduction in CO2 in the atmosphere. However, if trees are harvested and then regrown the CO2 is locked in that piece of timber. This is an important process in combating climate change as up to half the dry weight of timber is stored CO2.