EPA Assurances Rejected

Assurances by NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) that ‘all is well’ in the region’s native forests have been rejected, as “not believable, nor based on reality”, North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson Mr John Corkill, said today.     The comments are the latest in a major public dispute over the EPA’s support for proposed logging “trials” at massively increased levels of intensity.

“The EPA is more interested in delivering 'lite' logging conditions to allow more intensive logging, than ensuring the protection of the environment. Current timber quotas are at unsustainable levels, way above realistically achievable volumes, as we warned governments they were in the past. By assisting the logging industry to recover these excessive volumes the EPA is weakening environmental protection rules and allowing more damage to the environment,” Mr Corkill said.
The EPA’s plans to allow Forestry Corporation to trial logging at massively increased intensities, including large areas of clear-fell, with a view to ‘locking-in’ new forestry approvals for decades, have led to conflict with one of the region’s major public interest environment groups, who have carried a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the EPA and vowed to oppose the ‘trials’ and further logging in the region’s publicly owned native forests after current approvals expire, at the end of 2018.
Mr Corkill said that the plan - to intensify logging in publicly owned native forests, to facilitate the industry's and Forestry Corporation's conversion of native forests into ‘plantations’, for ‘harvest’ every 10 years for wood fibre to be burnt as renewable energy - was “an obscene policy initiative”.
“Anyone who understands the dangers of climate change sees this idea as sheer lunacy... It is going in entirely the wrong policy direction: not towards a low or no carbon future, to mitigate climate change impacts, but instead it will significantly increase carbon outputs via more logging, and then more burning of forest resources as 'renewable' (sic) energy,” Mr Corkill said.
“That this 19th century approach is being enabled by NSW EPA, shows that the EPA has been ‘captured’ by the logging industry and has abandoned the larger “public interest” in protecting the environment and mitigating climate change to avoid disastrous impacts,” Mr Corkill said. He said that the EPA had shown itself to be “part of the problem, not part of the solution” to the vexed issues of the long term management of publicly owned native forests and responding to climate change.
Last Sunday the ABC Radio National Background Briefing program A burning question, revealed that millions of dollars of carbon credits could be available if native forest logging ceased.
“This sensible proposition, to end logging in publicly owned native forests, and realise the economic value of allowing them to recover, store ever increasing volumes of carbon as they mature, (and provide long term secure water supply, Threatened species habitat and public recreation resources) is the key to genuine "public interest" native forest policy and the protection of the environment. We have no confidence the EPA or the Baird Government ‘gets’ this or will adroitly manage the tail-down of the native forest logging industry, in publicly owned forests at the end of the current approvals, to deliver this essential public policy outcome.

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