The North East Forest Alliance is calling upon the public to demand that all candidates for the March State elections declare where they stand on the Berejiklian Government's proposal to open up over 100,000 hectares of protected oldgrowth forest and rainforest on public lands for logging.
"A keystone of Premier Berejiklian's draconian changes to the logging rules for public forests is that some 58,600 ha of High Conservation Value Oldgrowth and 50,600 ha of rainforest in north-east NSW may be made available for logging ", NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
Image- photo of mapped oldgrowth in Clouds Creek State Forest that the Natural Resources Commission has remapped as no longer being oldgrowth, this is rejected by NEFA.
"These forests were protected over 20 years ago as part of NSW's reserve system because they are the best and most intact forest remnants left on State Forests. As logging intensity has increased around them their environmental importance has escalated.
"North East NSW's forests are one of the world's centres of biodiversity and now Premier Berejiklian wants to extend her increased logging intensity into the jewels that the community saved.
"The community stood up and stopped this 20 years ago. We are asking the community to stand up for our forests again and make it clear that they will not vote for any candidates who support a return to oldgrowth and rainforest logging", Mr. Pugh said.
"Back in 1998 the NSW Government went through a process involving all stakeholders and expert advice to map oldgrowth forest and rainforest. The Government then used a multitude of environmental values to identify a subset of oldgrowth forest as High Conservation Value (HCV).
"The Government then protected 103,000 ha of HCV Oldgrowth and 81,567ha of rainforest on State Forests in north-east NSW in Special Management Zones requiring agreement of parliament to revoke their protection. These were counted as part of the State-Commonwealth Comprehensive Adequate and Representative reserve system, with those oldgrowth forests north of Coffs Harbour included on the NSW Heritage List.
"On behalf of this Government the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) has undertaken a comprehensive attack on oldgrowth, reducing their reserve targets and reserve status to identify 67,000 ha of protected oldgrowth as potentially available for logging.
"A trial of the Natural Resources Commission's sham remapping criteria and methodology resulted in 88% of HCV oldgrowth and 62% of rainforest being wiped from the map.
"The outcome of applying the NRC's new targets, criteria and methodology is that 58,600 ha of HCV Oldgrowth, and 50,600 ha of rainforest, on public lands could have their protection revoked to allow them to be logged.
"This is just the latest of a multitude of attacks on NSW's natural environment, though it is the most audacious. NEFA is asking people to demand that their local candidates, of all political persuasions, give unequivocal public pledges not to allow currently mapped and protected oldgrowth and rainforest to be logged" Mr. Pugh said.
"Irrespective of definitions, those forests mapped as oldgrowth and rainforest are of immense value as the most intact stands of forests left on State Forests as they have escaped the intensive logging of the past 20 years,. The eucalypt stands have a high number of hollow-bearing trees that provide the nests and dens essential for a plethora of hollow-dependant animals and numerous mature trees that provide the abundant browse, nectar and seeds that are essential food resources for a multitude of species.
"Our rainforests are of world heritage value because of their Gondwanan heritage, outstanding biodiversity and a profusion of unique plants and animals.
"These forests are irreplaceable assets of immense importance for the maintenance of populations of forest dependent species throughout State Forests. They provide important refugia and stepping stones between our national parks", Mr. Pugh added.