The North East Forest Alliance, North Coast Environment Council and local groups are hosting a series of public meetings to inform the community about the New South Wales and Commonwealth Government's proposals to change the rules governing logging of public lands to remove protections for most threatened species, open up protected oldgrowth forest for logging, allow intensified logging, establish a clearfelling zone, and reduce buffers on headwater streams.
"Because they have allowed logging to remove more sawlogs that can be sustained, and the spreading logging dieback is rendering forests increasingly unproductive, the State and Commonwealth Governments have cut environmental protections to the bone and are now intending to start logging oldgrowth forests protected for the past 20 years" NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
"They are removing the need to look for Koalas before logging and protect high use areas.
The North East Forest Alliance is shocked that NSW Government agencies have cancelled an inspection of State Forests along the Richmond Range to be shown the dire consequences that their new logging rules will have for logging dieback, Koalas, logging intensity and oldgrowth forests.
Image-Logging Dieback the Premier's Department didn't want to see.
SLASHING OF LOGGING RULES
-A DISASTER FOR OUR FORESTS
NEFA has described the Government's announcement today that they intend to drastically weaken the logging rules (Integrated Forestry Operations Approval) to remove numerous protections for NSW's threatened species, Koalas, oldgrowth forest, rainforest and fish as tragic.
"The logging industry has almost denuded the public forests allocated to them 20 years ago of sawlogs. This is all about making more trees available by opening up areas protected over the past 20 years as habitat of threatened species, Koalas, oldgrowth forest, and stream buffers for logging, while increasing logging intensity and legalising clearfell logging along the coast", NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
The North East Forest Alliance considers that the Koala Strategy has failed Koalas as its identification of priority Koala Reserves on State Forests are a sham.
Koala populations on the North Coast have collapsed by 50% in the past 20 years and this strategy will do little to redress that decline, said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
"If the objective is to stabilise and then increase koala numbers over the longer-term the highest priority has to be to identify and protect the remaining core habitat for Koalas on publicly owned State Forests from further degradation.Read more
Following the NSW Government's latest assessment that logging is the primary initiator of Bell Miner Associated Dieback and their mapping of 46,000 hectares as badly affected north from Taree, the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is calling for an immediate cessation of logging of forests affected by, and susceptible to, this logging induced dieback.
"The Forestry Corporation has to stop killing our forests, they have known for over 20 years that by opening up the canopy and promoting lantana, logging is the primary cause of this dieback, and their own trials in 2005 and 2007 showed that relogging affected stands makes it dramatically worse" said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
"This is deliberate and wanton vandalism. It is sickening to see the seas of lantana, with scattered sick and dying trees, left behind by these environmental vandals. We need to start rehabilitating these degraded forests by manually removing the lantana.Read more
The North East Forest Alliance is alarmed that Byron Shire Council is currently seeking Expressions of Interest for the construction and operation of bioenergy plants that may include the burning of trees obtained from native forests.
"We expected a lot better that this from Byron Shire Council. NEFA does not consider that they have a social licence to burn native forests for electricity.
"We are requesting that they immediately change their prospectus to explicitly and clearly exclude the use of material obtained from the logging or the clearing of native forests from their proposed bioenergy plants", said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
"Cutting down forests to generate electricity doesn't make sense, we lose the tree's ability to take in and store carbon, and when they are burnt they release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than burning coal" Mr. Pugh said.Read more
The North East Forest Alliance will be boycotting the DPI's sham consultation process on the Government's intent to extend Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) for another 20 years.
"The government claim that they "are working closely with all parties" but their media release was the first we were told of their intent to "evergreen" NSW's RFAs, which means they will be automatically rolled over every five years with no more that a token desktop review", said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) considers the intent of the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) $750,000 project assessing the North Coast private native forest north from Newcastle appears to be to identify private forests for loggers to target for sawlogs as supplies from public lands continue to rapidly decline.
DPI surveys of both millers and logging contractors attest to the degraded nature of north-east NSWs public and private forests due to over-logging, with supplies of high quality sawlogs rapidly declining across the forest estate, according to Dailan Pugh, spokesperson for NEFA.
"Regrettably 80% of private landowners are reported as having little understanding or interest in the logging rules, with 67% of contractors believing most landowners are only interested in maximising short term income.
"The Government needs to do more than just help loggers identify and flog the best stands remaining, they have a responsibility to identify and protect oldgrowth forests, the habitat of threatened species, endangered ecological communities and other special values. These too need to be mapped.
"This time the NSW Government is targeting the best Koala habitat left on private land for intensified logging, with the promised Koala strategy nowhere to be seen.
"There is nothing sustainable about forestry as currently practiced, and the Government's current proposals to increase logging intensity while slashing the few protections for threatened species and stream buffers on both public and private lands will just increase its unsustainability.
"For those landholders who want to do the right thing the Government should be providing incentive payments for management of forests to protect threatened species, improve stream quality, enhance rainfall, and store ever increasing volumes of atmospheric carbon as they age. This is to the benefit of all of us.
"For those landholders that don't care the Government needs to ensure that the logging rules for private lands are improved to limit the ongoing degradation, introduce meaningful protection for threatened species and improve protection for streams." Mr. Pugh said.
The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) has described the Environment Protection Authority's (EPAs) reasons for dropping legal action against the Forestry Corporation for roading and logging endangered Lowland Rainforest and damaging hundreds of habitat trees at Cherry Tree State Forest as preposterous.
"The reasons the EPA have given NEFA for dropping the promised legal action against the Forestry Corporation are patently absurd and will stop the EPA being able to effectively enforce NSW's logging laws into the future, it was a political decision executed in a political manner ", said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
"NEFA informed the Minister for the Environment of thousands of breaches of logging laws in Cherry Tree State Forest (on the Richmond Range west of Casino) on 14 December 2015. In December 2016 the EPA found the Forestry Corporation guilty of 66 breaches of logging laws, involving hundreds of individual offences, though only issued the Forestry Corporation with an meaningless official caution.
"The EPA now tell us they had made a decision to never again issue Penalty Notices and fines to the Forestry Corporation for breaches of the Threatened Species Licence.
(Image: Damaged Habitat tree at Cherry Tree State Forest)
The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) has described the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) proposal to increase logging intensity in north-east NSWs forests to provide up to one million tonnes of trees each year to generate electricity as sheer madness.
Forests are the lungs of the earth, they take in our carbon dioxide, storing the carbon and giving us back oxygen, left standing they are part of the solution to climate change, cut down they become part of the problem, according to NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.