Keywords: environmental protection, jobs, forestry policy, pre-election politics, transition strategies, Australia, forest felling, job losses, old growth logging, Tasmania
Old growth logging: does it matter if environmental protection costs jobs?
This paper examines the assertion that 'environmental protection costs jobs', a point that is thematic in the Australian state of Tasmania where banning clear felling of old-growth forests is vigorously resisted because of associated job losses. The debate between 'jobs' and 'environment' protagonists often originates in disagreements about political power, economic growth, distributional impacts, and the valuation of the environment. Although the loss of jobs due to environmental protection initiatives is typically portrayed as unreasonable by affected parties such as industry workers, unions, businesses and some governments, the conclusion drawn in this paper is that these job losses are no less legitimate than losses attributed to technological change or shifting consumer demand. What needs to be emphasised is that we would normally expect jobs to be created and lost in a dynamic economy. The real jobs argument is about making the transition now when there are still options to consider about forestry jobs. A key policy problem is the development of transitional strategies to aid community and individual adjustment.