Should WA change how it defines old growth forest?

A Busselton woman had a marri log sitting in a South-West timber mill carbon dated which found the log to be between 230 and 290 years old.

The woman, Aileen, who trespassed onto private property to measure and take a sample of the log said she noticed them when she drove passed.

While there was no way to identify if the logs came from forest or private property, or what its use would be, Aileen said she did not understand the need to cut down old growth trees.

She said the problem was how old growth forest was defined because it allowed the Forest Product Commission to log areas of forest depending on the number of stumps it found.

Native forests coupes are identified by the FPC in their Forest Management Plan as areas which will be harvested for timber.

"It depends on what type of forest it is, if it is a karri dominated forest like the one at Leuwin, the FPC mark out their coupe in two hectare blocks," she said.

"If they walk through the two hectares and find two stumps from previously cut down trees, then it is disqualified as old growth," she said.

"They say it has been logged before so it is regrowth and they can go in and log it, that is based on two stumps in two hectares, in Jarrah dominated forests it is six stumps in four hectares

"To me it is ludicrous that we take a living, thriving ecosystem and base a classification on the number of dead stumps in there, we have something alive and we classify it by what is dead.

"It is ecocide knowing what we know, what has been done in the past is in the past. This is not law, it is policy, we can change this."

A spokesperson from the timber mill said they received timber from the FPC and private landowners and that timber from private land was regulated by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

"The timber industry is highly regulated and old growth forests have not been harvested in WA since 2001, old growth forests are actually part of an ecosystem," the spokesperson said.

A DBCA spokesperson said the FMP was a robust policy framework that struck a balance between conservation and other activities, including native forest timber harvesting, honey production, tourism and recreation.

The spokesperson said nearly 62 per cent of forest ecosystems on public land in the area were in existing or proposed conservation reserves or otherwise protected areas.

"All old-growth forest, around 334,000 hectares, continues to be protected under the FMP, and there will be no harvesting of old-growth forest," the spokesperson said.

"The FMP details measures to minimise the effects of timber harvesting.

"This includes retaining trees with hollows or the potential to develop hollows for use by native animals, together with habitat logs, midstorey vegetation and long-lived species, such as grass trees.

"The FMP introduced additional requirements to keep habitat logs for numbats and large marri trees for black cockatoo habitat.

"The assessment, identification and demarcation of areas of old-growth forest has been conducted since 2000.

"The latest procedures for assessment, identification and demarcation of old-growth forest were finalised in 2017 in consultation with the Conservation and Parks Commission."

South West MLC Diane Evers said the methodology to determine if a forest was old growth had many issues.

"If a predetermined number of stumps are found, or if an area has dieback, forests that may have very many very old trees can be excluded," she said.

"There are many forests currently listed for logging with very strong justification for conservation.

"These include reasons such as biodiversity, habitat, honey production, recreation and more - these high conservation value forests should also be restricted from logging.

"Very old trees are significant carbon sinks that continue to draw carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it not only in the tree but also underground.

"These very old trees provide habitat and help to create rain through transpiration, making them very valuable to the entire ecosystem."

A technical report form the Environmental Protection Agency titled Carnaby's Cockatoo in Environmental Impact Assessment in the Perth and Peel Region was released in May.

The report stated that Baudin's cockatoos were largely restricted to the west forest regions of the Lower South-West and had adapted to feed on Marri nuts as its primary food source.

It was estimated in the report there were 15,000 birds remaining, numbers had declined greatly in the last 50 years, and roosts had declined by 90 per cent since 2009.

Loss of nesting habitat was a result of forestry and clearing, competition with bees and other birds for nest hollows, vehicle strikes and illegal shooting by orchardists threatened the species.

Nannup's Jamarri Cockatoo Rehabilitation Centre carer Deidre Patterson said the hallows in old marri trees were vital for breeding.

"The cockatoos live up to 70 or 80 years old with a partner for life, they do not mature until they are about 4 years old," she said.

"The red tails lay one egg a year, Carnaby's lay one egg a year and the Baudin's cockatoo only bred every second year.

"At the moment I have around 76 birds at my centre, I have a breeding program and rehab as well, any cockatoo which comes in injured I can rehabilitate and release.

"If the birds are injured in a logging area, the birds and babies get bashed in the hallows and the birds come in blind or with damaged wings or legs.

"If we lose those marri trees it will decline those breeding habitats. We just have to stop logging old marri trees."