The North East Forest Alliance has described the NSW Government's "NSW Forestry Industry Roadmap" as just another ill-conceived PR exercise that repackages their failed 2012 commitment to rewrite the rules for logging on public lands.
"Katrina Hodgkinson claimed they were going to release their new Integrated Forestry Operations Approval in mid 2014, now they are saying they won't release it until next year", said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
"They have obviously lost their way, though a new map won't help them until they address the abject failures of their regulatory system and their gross over-commitment of resources from public forests.
"While the Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair and Minister for the Environment Mark Speakman give lip service to Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management, they have failed their duty to make the Forestry Corporation abide by the rules.
"They have refused to intervene to stop the Forestry Corporation's illegal clearfelling of vast swathes of forests in contravention of the rules, and done nothing to stop the alarming spread of dieback throughout our public forests in the wake of logging. They won't even intervene to protect core Koala habitat.
"We are extremely concerned that they are saying that next year they intend extending the Wood Supply Agreements given to private loggers for public native forests, presumably for another 20 years. These have been an abject failure, causing gross over-logging of public forests, distorting the market and generating low returns for public resources. These agreements were given to the loggers for free but have cost taxpayers many millions to buy back because much of the timber never really existed. They have been an abysmal failure. (1)
"The 'NSW Forestry Industry Roadmap' is right to emphasise that 'Forests deliver many important services on which society depends, including clean water, biodiversity, carbon storage, recreational values, as well as wood products'. The trouble is that logging is extremely detrimental to all the other services.
"Plantations already provide most of our timber needs, there is no need to continue trashing our native forests. Rather than paying to subsidise the logging of our forests we need to rehabilitate them, so that we can restore their health, carbon storage capacity, water yields, biodiversity and aesthetic appeal. The Government needs to rethink its roadmap", Mr. Pugh said.
(1) It has so far cost NSW taxpayers at least $12.9 million to buy back timber committed in Wood Supply Agreements given to sawmillers for no cost. These payouts have not rectified the overcutting and often generate perverse outcomes. For example, in 2014 the NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, announced the decision to pay Boral $8.55 million to buy back 50,000 m3 of timber allocations committed annually for the next nine and a half years, reducing their WSA to 116,000m3 p.a. At the same time the Government extended Boral's WSA for an additional 5 years. This means that the Government paid $8.55 million to buy back a total of 465,500 m3 of sawlogs (9.5 years), while giving the company an additional 580,000 m3 of sawlogs for free.