Nev Madsen

Conservationists say koala park could bring carbon win

FORESTRY workers have slammed a NSW Labor plan to create a 315,000ha koala national park near the Coffs Coast, but conservation groups say the move could bring millions of dollars to the state through carbon offsetting.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt recently commissioned a report that found ending logging just in forests north-east of Melbourne would save about 3.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions this year.

It found the move would bring in $30 million in carbon offsets and achieve 5% of the emission reductions needed to meet Australia's 2020 carbon cut targets.

North East Forest Alliance spokesman Dailan Pugh said the findings could be translated to northern NSW and the proposed koala national park.

"Urgent action is required to curtail our emissions by increasing the carbon take-up and carbon storage in our forests," Mr Pugh said.

"We can do this just by stopping logging and protecting koalas."

The Australian Forest Products Association has said creating the no-logging zone could destroy 3000 timber industry jobs in an area where unemployment is already at 9.6%.

But North Coast Environment Council vice-president Susie Russell said NSW taxpayers already subsidised public forest logging to the tune of $8-15 million a year.

"We can turn this massive loss into a profit simply by stopping logging," she said.

"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."

-APN NEWSDESK



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