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.
LOGGING OF PUBLIC NATIVE FORESTS HAS LOST ITS SOCIAL LICENCE
The North East Forest Alliance maintains that submissions to the NSW Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) show that the logging of public native forests has lost its social licence and that the community do not support the NSW and Commonwealth Government's proposals to extend the RFAs for 20 more years.
Of the 5,425 submissions to the RFAs only 23 supported the Government's proposal to extend the RFAs for 20 years and give additional five-year rolling extensions after each future five-yearly review, and nearly all these were from the industry.
The so-called 'Independent Review' of NSW's Regional Forest Agreements was tabled in the Commonwealth Parliament on 25 June 2018.
The review notes 'The majority of submitters would like the State to cease native forest logging on public land, indicating it damages biodiversity, environmental values and environmental services such as water, carbon capture and amenity, and provides a low economic return'.
"The Regional Forest Agreements have no credibility, their only purpose is for the Commonwealth to avoid its legal obligations for threatened species and heritage under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.", said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.Read more
The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is calling on the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries to require the Forestry Corporation to comply with its Fisheries Licence and immediately stop illegal logging of headwater stream buffers in habitat of the Endangered Purple Spotted Gudgeon and to prosecute Forestry for the hundreds of steam buffers unlawfully logged over the past year.
NEFA is holding a march in Coffs Harbour at 10 am today (Wednesday) from the Forestry Corporation office to the Fisheries office to demand that both Government bodies comply with their obligations to protect the Endangered Purple Spotted Gudgeon in accordance with the terms of the Fisheries Licence issued under section 220ZW of the Fisheries Management Act, 1994.
The Forestry Corporation's contribution to International Day of Forests has been to write to NEFA auditor Dailan Pugh threatening him with a $2,200 fine if he returns to meet with the EPA or audit Gibberagee State Forest.
When attending Gibberagee State Forest on 10th of March, at the invitation of the Environment Protection Authority to show them breaches he had identified a month earlier, Mr. Pugh was ordered to leave by the Forestry Corporation.
"The Forestry Corporation threw me out of the forest without allowing me to show the EPA any of the breaches they had asked me there to show them", NEFA auditor Dailan Pugh said.
Mr. Pugh said the Forestry Corporation have since written to him saying the forest was closed when he initially identified the breaches, and threatening that if he returned "Entering this area without proper authorisation is not permitted and if detected, Forestry Corporation may issue a Penalty Infringement Notice or pursue prosecution".
"Now the Forestry Corporation are threatening to fine me $2,200 if I return to Gibberagee to meet the EPA or do anymore auditing. They must have a lot to hide.
"It is no coincidence that currently the only two native forestry operations in NSW subject to closures for logging are the two closest to me at Gibberagee and Bungawalbin.
Dailan Pugh in the forest at Gibberagee
Following the finding of yet more widespread and ongoing breaches of logging laws, the North East Forest Alliance is calling on the Baird Government to restore the rights of the public to take the Forestry Corporation to court to enforce environmental laws,
"If the Baird Government refuses to enforce the logging rules, then let us do it" said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
"For years we have been finding the same sorts of logging offences, time after time after time. The Forestry Corporation are being allowed to flout environmental laws with impunity. The Environmental Protection Authority's (EPAs) lax regulation is clearly not working".
“Stand up for koalas or they won't survive in the wild” is the warning call from the North East Forest Alliance.
“The NSW Government is carrying out a koala extermination program. It really can't be seen as anything else. It is gutting protections for koalas in all the relevant legislation” said Dailan Pugh, NEFA spokesperson.
Outcomes of a recent study by the Environmental Protection Authority prove that Koalas have a significant preference for larger trees and more mature forest, with Koala populations found to be collapsing in recently logged areas.
“The Government now has the evidence that logging is bad for Koalas and needs to take immediate action to identify and protect the remaining Koala colonies that are in public forests threatened by logging. Every day that the Forestry Corporation is allowed to go on logging Koala's preferred feed trees brings them closer to extinction. It has to stop now. We call on Premier Mike Baird to urgently intervene to save NSW's Koalas", said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
SOS: Virtual Protection for Virtual Koalas Won't Save a Species
"It beggars belief that money is being spent on models for koalas that ignores whether an area has been logged or not, and the age of the trees in the area concerned. Virtual habitat might be good for virtual koalas, but we want to see actual koalas protected"
Conservationists meeting over the weekend at Bellingen agreed to support calls by Australian Solar Timbers boss Douglas Head, for an inquiry into Wood Supply Agreements for public lands in North East NSW.
The North East Forest Alliance and the North Coast Environment Council have serious concerns that the people of NSW have been misled on the wood contract issue.
"When the then Minister Katrina Hodgkinson announced the decision by the NSW Government in 2014 to buyback 50,000 cubic metres of sawlogs a year from Boral Timber for $8.55 million she said 'we have focused on reducing demand rather than trying to increase supply'", NCEC Vice-President Susie Russell said.
"Nowhere in the media announcements was the information that while the contracts had been reduced between 2015 to 2023, they had also been extended for a further 5 years, to 2028.
Ending logging of our public forests is part of the solution
With the climate emergency rapidly escalating, north coast conservation groups are calling on the NSW and Commonwealth Governments to immediately end the logging of public forests to allow them to maximise their carbon sequestration and storage.