The NSW Government has opened the door to convert native forests into national parks but will only do so if the Australian Government introduces a new emissions trading scheme “applicable for the NSW economy.”
That is according to NSW Premier Chris Minns, who responded late last month to a question from NSW Greens member Sue Higginson.
Ms Higginson strongly supports locking up NSW’s State Forests and, in May 2023, submitted a Private Members Bill titled ‘Forestry Amendment (Koala Habitats) Bill 2023’, which pushed to prohibit forestry operations from being carried out in koala habitats.
Premier Minns was answering a question at the 25 October Budget Estimates Committee. He claimed that “many industries, companies and governments are desperate for carbon offsets and would be looking at jurisdictions like NSW.”
However, “you have to have a system up and running before you can quarantine a park or an area to allow for that area or that zone to be eligible for the carbon transfer.”
If you do it in reverse, he said, “then you can’t retroactively go to that national park or that forest and say, “This will now apply to carbon offsets in the future.”
It is not the first time the NSW Government has pushed to change the carbon rules, with the former Liberal State Government pushing for the Federal Government to consider carbon credits generated by ceasing harvesting in state forests – a proposal that was ultimately rejected.
The proposal saw the then Environment Minister, James Griffin, and Energy Minister, Matt Kean, write to Tanya Plibersek and Chris Bowen seeking the creation of new credits under the Emissions Reduction Fund.
An “improved native forestry methodology” would generate “significant carbon abatement” and create an important revenue stream, the document written in December 2022 said, with funds invested to manage existing national parks, create new ones and develop plantations.
It said this would create “major ecological benefits for species such as koalas, greater gliders and other threatened species as well as significant economic benefits for regional Australia.”
Now, Wood Central can reveal that the NSW Government is working closely with the Federal Government.
“I don’t have an announcement today,” Premier Minns said, “but we are looking at all those initiatives closely.”
“We need an established market that is independently audited if you like, that companies and governments worldwide have confidence in,” he said.