DECISION TO LOG OLDGROWTH AND RAINFOREST BASED ON FRAUDULENT CLAIMS
The NSW Government is using grossly inflated timber commitments to fraudulently justify logging oldgrowth forest and rainforest protected in the Comprehensive Adequate and Representative reserve system, according to the North East Forest Alliance.
With revelations that the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) has based its justifications for logging oldgrowth and rainforests, and other environmental wind-backs, on a 33% increase in timber commitments, NEFA is calling upon the Environment Minister, Gabrielle Upton to honour her predecessors promises by' intervening to direct the agencies to renegotiate an environmentally fairer set of logging rules based on existing wood supply obligations rather than the NRC's grossly inflated volumes.
"Since 2013 a succession of NSW Environment Ministers have repeatedly reassured environment groups that the new logging rules (Integrated Forestry Operations Approval) would result in no erosion of environmental values and no wind-back of the reserve system", NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
"With the NSW Government now proposing to log oldgrowth forest and rainforest, increase logging intensity, introduce clearfelling, reduce buffers on headwater streams, and remove protections for most threatened species on public land in north-east NSW, it is clear that they lied to us.
"The Government justified all these environmental wind-backs on the grounds that they promised the industry that they would not impact on existing wood supply obligations, and it is clear that this took precedence.
"Even after the EPA had agreed to major wind-backs, the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) intervened to side with the Forestry Corporation against the EPA to further increase logging intensity, increase the size of clearfells, slash retention rates for Koala feed trees, and increase the size of old trees that can be logged, all on the grounds of resource shortfalls.
"Even then the NRC claimed that there would be a shortfall in commitments from north-east NSW of 7,600 to 8,600 cubic metres of high quality sawlogs per annum. To make up this claimed shortfall the Government decided to log oldgrowth and rainforest protected in the reserve system.
"Nowhere in their documents do the NRC say what timber volumes they base these conclusions on. So I asked them and they replied that their considerations have been based on high quality hardwood sawlog commitments from north-east NSW's public forests of 237,000m3 per annum.
"It was then that I realised that something was very rotten because the existing high quality sawlog obligations given in Wood Supply Agreements for north-east NSW are 177,700 m3 per annum. The NRC has based all its claims about resource short-falls on a 59,300m3 (33%) increase.
"It is totally outrageous that the NSW Government has been attempting to defraud the people of NSW of their precious oldgrowth forest based on falsified figures.
"All my requests for the EPA, NRC and Forestry Corporation to explain these differences have been met with obfuscation. It is a cover-up.
"For a start Ms Upton must state whether she was in on this scam and now that it has been exposed she must immediately rule out any logging of oldgrowth and rainforest".
"An inquiry needs to held into why NSW Government agencies were allowed to fraudulently use increased supply volumes to justify this massive wind-back in environmental protections" Mr. Pugh concluded.