Forests are Australia's hidden treasure. Entering our forests, it is invigorating to breathe in the fresh air and hear cascades of clear water, clean enough to drink straight out of the creeks and rivers. Plus, they are some of the most carbon-rich forests in the world.
But Australians have been failed by the way our forests have been managed. Over the past 20 years, areas designated for logging have been exempted from Australia's environment laws. Even open-cut mines do not get that level of exemption. These logging laws, known as Regional Forest Agreements, were meant to protect jobs and protect the environment, and they have failed on both counts. They are wrecking communities.
Take Heyfield in Victoria. My thoughts are with the people whose lives are changed by the decision to close the Heyfield mill. The Heyfield mill crisis has come from mismanagement by successive governments at both the state and federal levels, and calls into question the entire native forest logging industry across Australia. This unsustainable business is failing communities and failing our environment, our water supplies and our climate. We do not need to be in native forest logging any more. We already have 85 per cent of the wood products industry in plantations. We just need that little extra push to get it to 100 per cent.
The Greens have a vision for Australia's wood products industry, for our wood product needs to be met through sustainable plantations. This will future-proof jobs and ensure that our native forests are protected. The first step is to scrap the failed Regional Forest Agreements in favour of a 21st century forest management plan, with wood products coming from plantations. Then our native forests will continue to be there for all to enjoy. Happy International Day of Forests!