AFTER 30 YEARS NEFA NEEDED MORE THAN EVER
MEDIA RELEASE 6/6/2019
On 5th June the North East Forest Alliance celebrated 30 years since its inaugural meeting at the Big Scrub Environment Centre in Lismore on World Environment Day in 1989.
"Over 30 years NEFA has made significant progress in its aims to protect oldgrowth, rainforest, wilderness and threatened species, unfortunately these wins are beginning to be wound back at a time when the necessity of protecting forests to avoid climate heating is more important than ever" NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.Read more
The community fought hard in the late 1970s and early 1980s to protect rainforest and in the late 1980s and 1990s to protect oldgrowth forests. These were mapped in the Comprehensive Regional Assessment under the supervision of all agencies and key stakeholders in an open and transparent process involving an Old Growth Expert Panel in 1998.
Those oldgrowth forests on State Forests, above high thresholds for a combination of ecosystem, fauna, flora and Centres of Endemism reserve targets (called 'summed irreplaceability'), were identified as High Conservation Value (HCV) Oldgrowth and included in informal Reserves as part of the Comprehensive Adequate and Representative reserve system in 2000. They were counted as contributing to reserve targets for oldgrowth, forest ecosystems, and national estate in the 2000 Regional Forest Agreement.
Mapped HCV oldgrowth forests in the Upper North East are also legally protected as a heritage item under the NSW Heritage Act 1977. An additional 20,000 ha of oldgrowth was included in Special Management Zones in 2003.
As part of their new Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA) the NSW Government is intending to subject mapped oldgrowth forest and rainforest protected for the past 20 years to a review process that is intended to make large areas of oldgrowth and rainforest on State Forests available for logging. They have changed the criteria and methodology for identifying oldgrowth and rainforest.
The outcome from these multiple revisions is that of the 103,000 ha of protected oldgrowth on State forests, in the order of 58,600ha (57%) may be wiped from the map and made available for logging, with some narrow strips and patches retained within these areas. Of the 81,567ha of mapped rainforest in the order of 50, 571 hectares (62%) of mapped rainforest could be opened up for logging.
The justification for this is a claimed shortfall of 8,600 cubic metres of high quality sawlogs per annum on the north coast. This is fraudulent as the contribution of hardwood plantations to yields was removed from the calculations, turning a claimed surplus into a deficit. The claimed need to log rainforest and oldgrowth protected for the past 20 years is based on a lie.
Forestry Corporation's yield projections are so grossly and deliberately over-stated that once oldgrowth logging resumes, claims of yield shortfalls will be used to log ever-increasing areas of oldgrowth to avoid compensation claims. This does seem to be the deliberate intent.
NEFA intends to focus on this issue in an effort to stop oldgrowth and rainforest being opened up for logging.
Mapping of Oldgrowth and Rainforest on the chopping block to be logged.
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.
Conservation groups have thanked NSW Minister for the Environment, Mark Speakman, for making the time to accompany them on a brief tour of north-east NSW's forests, for listening, and for showing interest in their concerns about our ailing public native forests.
On Saturday representatives of the North Coast Environment Council and the North East Forest Alliance took the Environment Minister on a tour of forests at Royal Camp and up the Richmond Range, west of Casino.
Forests are the lungs of the earth. They play a vital role in sequestering and storing carbon. Carbon storage has been significantly diminished in vast areas of NSW’s forests due to logging. As trees grow their carbon storage increases. By simply stopping logging of regrowth forests will allow trees to mature and increase their carbon storage. (See: Sequestering and Storing Carbon in Forests)
Protecting degraded forests is part of the solution to climate change, continued logging is part of the problem. Allowing regrowth forests to mature will avoid significant releases of CO2 and allow carbon to be sequestered and stored in the tree trunks and soils of the regenerating forests. The regenerating forests will continue to store carbon in ever increasing volumes as they mature over decades and centuries.
Climate change represents a significant environmental, economic and social cost to the people of NSW. Increasing carbon storage in forests and avoiding emissions represents a significant economic benefit to all people in NSW.