MEDIA RELEASE 15 September 2022
While not agreeing with all its findings, NEFA welcomes the report of the ‘Inquiry into the long term sustainability and future of the timber and forest products industry’ released this afternoon as making a contribution to the debate over the future of public native forests, and making some worthwhile findings and recommendations.
“Given the narrow industry-focussed terms of reference for the inquiry it did not give due consideration to the impacts of logging on public native forests and alternative uses“ NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
“Though its recommendation for a cost benefit assessment of the native hardwood forestry sector to consider the most beneficial use of public native forests is supported.
“There is no doubt that there are far greater financial and societal benefits to the community from protecting public forests for carbon sequestration, recreation, tourism, water supply, and habitat.
“Logging also increases fire risk and reduces water yields, which we can ill afford as droughts become more intense.
“We would welcome an inquiry that considers all these aspects.
“NEFA also supports the recommendation that the NSW Government releases and acts on the suppressed June 2021 Natural Resources Commission’s urgent recommendations for fire affected forests, and reviews the logging rules for both public and private forests in light of the fires and the findings of the 2021 NSW and Commonwealth State of the Environment Reports.
“NEFA also welcomes the recognition that the current timber supply crisis is related to a shortage of pine, and supports the proposal that there needs to be a domestic reservation policy that requires timber to be processed into products domestically rather than being exported.
“We also support a renewed focus on plantation establishment provided it is for the domestic market, and assistance for workers transitioning away from native forestry to other parts of the industry” Mr. Pugh said.
NEFA welcomes these outcomes from the inquiry:
Recognises that the building industry has largely transitioned to pine plantations which now supply 86% of sawn wood needs, and that the current housing supply crisis is primarily related to pine
Recommends the NSW Government identify and implement as a priority a long term funded strategy for the expansion of both softwood and hardwood timber plantations in New South Wales.
Recommends the NSW Government provide long term support to workers in the timber and forest products industry transitioning away from native forestry to other parts of the sector, and provide investment and incentives to encourage new economic opportunities in publicly owned forests.
The committee shares the frustrations of those stakeholders who question why timber and forest products are being exported for processing only for the finished products to be returned and sold to back to the country.
Recognises the evidence of decline of hollow-bearing trees
Recognises the breadth of evidence from many inquiry participants detailing the impact of forestry operations, particularly within native forests, on the environment. The committee notes the views held by these stakeholders that native forest harvesting aggravates the effects of climate change, contributes to biodiversity decline, and has an adverse impact on the survival of various wildlife, like the koala, swift parrot and other hollow-dependent species.
The committee accepts that forestry operations can be a catalyst for heavy infestation of weeds and other invasive species.
Recommended the NSW Government provide ways to support local government, including but not limited to funding, to ensure that local roads impacted by significant heavy motor vehicle use are adequately maintained.
Recommended the NSW Government publicly release and respond to the findings of the Natural Resources Commission’s Coastal IFOA operations post 2019/20 wildfires final report on post bushfire logging in public native forests before the end of 2022.
Recommended the NSW Government review the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval with regard to the impacts of the 2019/20 bushfires and the findings of the 2021 NSW and Commonwealth State of the Environment Reports.
The committee acknowledged the work of private citizens in holding FCNSW and relevant contractors to account.
Recommended the NSW Government conduct a review of the Private Native Forestry Codes of Practice, released in May 2022, in 12 months to assess its operation and effectiveness.
Recommends an independent, comprehensive study is conducted to assesses the full impact of the Great Koala National Park proposal, including its environmental, economic and social impacts.
Recommends the NSW Government consider commissioning a cost benefit assessment of the native hardwood forestry sector to consider the most beneficial use of public native forests.