Real Public Consultation

Real Public Consultation on Weakened Logging Rules

Gov't -nil Conservationists -7

The North Coast Environment Council has accused the NSW Government of trying to keep the public in the dark and attract as little attention as possible for its proposals for public forests to increase logging intensity, zone 140,000 hectares for clearfelling, remove the need to look for and protect most threatened species before logging, reduce stream buffers and open oldgrowth forest up for logging.

“The Government is trying to hide their intent by holding NO public consultations. So the NCEC, North East Forest Alliance and local conservation groups are collaborating in organising public meetings across the region to explain what is proposed to interested community members.

“The first meeting will be on Wednesday May 30, in Port Macquarie at 6.30pm at the CWA Rooms at 11 Horton St.,” said Susie Russell, NCEC Vice-President.

“In the weeks that follow, there will be meetings in Bellingen, Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Kyogle, Byron Bay, Murwillumbah and Nimbin.

“While the Government has documents open for comment, we know the destructive outcomes are already pre-determined. Conservationists were explicitly barred from being able to provide information or comment to the Natural Resources Commission during the drafting phase. And now, unlike the fanfare about the koala strategy a few weeks ago, there is minimum publicity being sought by Government Ministers about the weakening of the logging rules.

“If the proposed rules are implemented, every population centre on the north coast will see its water yields drop as intensive land clearfell logging dries out the catchments. There will be increased erosion and sedimentation of streams from decreased stream buffers. The extinction cliff for many of our native animals and plants will be reached faster as there will no longer be a requirement to look for them prior to logging. The carbon storage capacity of our forest estate will be greatly diminished as logging intensity increases and the dense, young regrowth is more flammable than the mature forests it replaces.

“All this at a time when climate change is accelerating and the planet's temperature is rising. We need now to be protecting our future by maximising the shade, natural water and carbon storage, while connecting habitats to enable animals to move to more suitable areas,” she said.

“As well, our earlier predictions that areas of forest that have been off-limits to logging for the last 20 years will now be logged was correct. Areas of oldgrowth, stream protection buffers, high quality koala habitat are to be sacrificed to meet wood contracts. The logging industry is now engaged in a last gasp hunt for the few remaining bigger trees. Most of the smaller logs it has to clear to get to them, are the new export woodchipping industry. But this time they are for fuel in wood-fired power stations, rather than pulp for paper.

“When it comes to forestry in NSW and across Australia, we are going backwards. We are seeing more intensive logging for lesser value products. This is the modern equivalent of whaling. Only a social movement will stop them. Government is well and truly in their pocket,” Ms Russell said.

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