Spread the word

Lock up and leave approach is killing our towns and our environment


FWCA latest news and post

In recent years, there has been a concerning trend observed in Labor-led state governments in Australia—the locking up of productive state forests. These forests, which could be utilized for sustainable timber harvesting – alongside healthy and productive past times such as hunting, fishing, prospecting and horse-riding etc – are increasingly being placed off-limits to everyday Australians. This policy shift raises questions about the relationships between bureaucrats, inner-city Labor MP’s and the activist class – and the poor understanding they have of rural communities.

One of the key issues at hand is the impact on local economies that heavily rely on the sustainable native forestry and timber processing sectors. These industries have long played a vital role in supporting employment and local businesses. However, the tendencies for state Labor governments to convert productive state forests into National Parks has been disastrous. Whether it is the attempt to lock-up many of the most productive parts of the New South Wales public land estate with the “Great Koala National Park” or the signalled move of Victorian Labor to lock up a further 335,000 Hectares in poorly managed National Park – the potential immense harm to regional, rural and remote communities is deeply concerning.

These poorly managed parks also contribute significantly to out-of-control wildfires across the landscape and terrible outcomes for biodiversity – as well as posing significant threats to small at risk rural and remote communities that often are surrounded or nearby parks with almost unmanaged fuel loads.

The argument here is not against real environmental conservation. It’s about finding a sustainable middle-ground that does not include the biased voices of a few elitist activist academics that currently pervade the national public land management conversation – alongside the willingness to actively manage the public land estate.

Sustainable forest management practices have been developed to ensure the long-term health of ecosystems while supporting the economic needs of communities. By locking up productive state forests, we risk neglecting the potential for a harmonious coexistence between conservation and industry.

Moreover, it is disheartening to observe that some environmental “charities”, through public donations, are supporting actions not necessarily focused on saving endangered species or rehabilitating environments. Instead, these actions are engaging in green lawfare cases against honest, hardworking Australians – with the end aim to destroy their sustainable industries, families and communities. While environmental protection is crucial, it’s essential to distinguish between legitimate concerns and cases that are driven more by extremist ideological agendas rather than actual ecological preservation.

A call for transparency and accountability is necessary, urging governments to ensure that public funds and donations directed towards environmental causes genuinely contribute to the betterment of our ecosystems – this includes supporting initiatives that focus on real practical environmental outcomes and community education rather than solely fuelling legal battles that do not align with reality.

As we navigate the complexities of environmental conservation and economic sustainability, it’s important to foster open dialogue and inclusive decision-making processes. Stakeholders from all sides—scientists, industry representatives, and community leaders—should be invited to participate in constructive discussions that lead to policies reflecting the diverse needs of our society. Unfortunately this is often not the case – with the NSW Labor Government refusing to allow Forest and Wood Communities Australia a seat at the table on the Great Koala National Park Industry Advisory Panel.

While striking a balance between environmental outcomes and economic prosperity is a delicate task – locking up productive state forests without considering sustainable management practices will harm both local economies and the environment. By promoting transparency, accountability, and inclusive dialogue, we can work towards policies that address the concerns of all stakeholders, ensuring a more sustainable and harmonious existence for all Australians – alongside a future that does not rely on foreign imports from countries with much poorer environmental records than our own.


For further comment, please contact
FWCA executive officer Michael Harrington;

Spread the word