In 1996 the Howard government implemented the Green Corps program which employed young people in environmental projects including the propagation and planting of over 14 million trees. Now the Abbott government is creating a similar body, a Green Army of 15,000 young people that will engage in a range of environmental projects including tree planting and weed eradication.  So far so good!

Trees are a great means of storing carbon and BCCAN has been fighting for increased tree planting in urban areas of Bathurst to reduce temperatures in the CBD, improve the aesthetics and absorb carbon.

However, at the same time as it spends $525 million over four years on this project, the government made a reckless attempt to reduce high conservation value forests in the Tasmanian wilderness. Whilst its bid to open up to logging the Tasmanian Forests listed as protected World Heritage was shot down with a stinging international rebuke this week, the Coalition is still threatening to undo the Tasmanian Forests Agreement. 

These forests have outstanding significance as the last expanses of temperate rainforest in the world. Unesco’s world heritage committee took just eight minutes to reject the Government’s request to strip 74,000 hectares (50%) of this forest from the internationally protected area. Portugal’s delegate to the UNESCO committee said our government’s justifications for the reduction were “feeble” and would represent an “unacceptable precedent”.

Australia has also attracted international criticism for other of its environmental policies. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee “noted with concern” the proposed coal port project at Abbot Point in Queensland. That project will involve dumping three million cubic metres of material from the dredged ocean floor onto the Great Barrier Reef, as the first stage in the construction of five proposed “megaports” along the reef’s coastline.

Mr Abbott’s hope of building a coalition against carbon pricing among the former Commonwealth nations – Britain, India, New Zealand and Canada – was also quashed when Britain’s centre-right Prime Minister, David Cameron and NZ National Party PM, John Key, rejected the idea.

Nontheless the Abbott government is continuing to disband Australia’s emissions reduction infrastructure and is preparing to tear down support for the renewable energy sector. The Government’s attacks on our own natural heritage are unfathomable and have earned Mr Abbott the disparaging title as “the global ambassador for coal” from US environmentalist Bill McKibben.

To learn more about native forests in the Bathurst region (protecting and enjoying them) come to Green Drinks at Rahamim on Friday night . Details from 63329950.