Timber Fraud


The North East Forest Alliance has accused the NSW Government of fraudulently claiming a shortfall in high quality logs available from State Forests in north-east NSW to justify their wind-back of environmental protections and intention to log oldgrowth forest and rainforest.

NEFA today released a review of timber yields and modelling for north-east NSW over the past 20 years that has identified a number of serious problems with yield estimations and allocations from the region that will be referred to the Auditor General.

Photo: oldgrowth tree -one of thousands to be made 'available for logging' under the new logging rules.

Clouds Ck ogf tree

"The most significant issue revealed is that the Government has removed hardwood plantations from yield calculations to concoct a yield shortfall to justify removing environmental protections, while apparently intending to reallocate plantation timber to low value products for export" says report author Dailan Pugh.

"According to the Government's data there is absolutely no need to log oldgrowth forests, or to remove other existing environmental protections to satisfy current timber commitments.

"The Natural Resources Commission (NRC) turned an identified surplus of 37,000 cubic metres per annum of high quality sawlogs from State Forests in north-east NSW over the next hundred years into a claimed deficit of 8,600 cubic metres per annum by simply excluding hardwood plantations from their calculations.

"The NRC's claim that 'it is not possible to meet the Government’s commitments around both environmental values and wood supply' is based on a lie. Nowhere do they identify that they excluded plantations. They did this to create the pretence of a shortfall.

"Plantations already provide some 30,000 cubic metres(14%) of high quality hardwood log commitments per annum, with yields projected to increase up to 75,000 cubic meters of high quality logs per annum into the future.

"NSW Taxpayers have spent $27 million just since 2000 establishing hardwood plantations explicitly to provide high quality logs to take the pressure off native forests.

"It is outrageous that the Government has excluded plantations to concoct a shortfall in timber from State Forests in order to justify increasing logging intensity, reducing retention of habitat trees, removing protections for numerous threatened species, halving buffers on headwater streams, as well as now opening up oldgrowth forest and rainforest protected in the Comprehensive Adequate and Representative (CAR) reserve system for logging.

"The Government recently issued an Expression of Interest for 416,851 tonnes per annum of low quality logs from north-east NSW, of which 219,000 tonnes (53%) is apparently to be obtained by downgrading all timber from the 35,000 ha of north-east NSW's hardwood plantations to low quality logs and committing them in new Wood Supply Agreements aimed at the export market.

"Three NSW Environment Ministers (Parker, Stokes and Speakman), along with the Environment Protection Authority, repeatedly promised that the new logging rules (Integrated Forestry Operations Approval) would result in no net change to wood supply, no erosion of environmental values, and no reductions in the CAR reserve system.

"Instead of honouring their promises, in a blatant ploy the Government has changed the wood supply, by surreptitiously excluding plantations, to justify erosion of environmental values and reductions in the reserve system.

"NEFA calls upon the NSW Government to honour their promises by reinstating the intended role of plantations in providing high quality sawlogs to take the pressure off native forests, and to use the resultant timber surplus to reinstate the environmental protections they are intending to remove", Mr. Pugh said.


The report "A Review of North East NSW Timber Predictions and Yield from Public Forests over the Past 20 Years" is available at: https://www.nefa.org.au/logging_industry

Then Minister for the Environment, Robyn Parker (29/10/2013) assured environment groups that:

Then Minister for the Environment, Rob Stokes (2/6/2014) again promised:

Then Minister for the Environment, Mark Speakman (31/7/2015) reiterated this promise to NEFA:

The EPA (2014) state:

The objectives of the IFOA remake are to reduce the costs associated with implementation and compliance and improve the clarity and enforceability of the IFOAs. The NSW Government is committed to delivering these objectives with no net change to wood supply and no erosion of environmental values. 

The key principles that will guide the remake of the coastal IFOAs and underpin the new IFOA are:

  • The IFOA remake will not affect commitments made under the Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) and NSW Forest Agreements.
  • The new IFOA will not change the Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative reserve system.


The broad landscape-based habitat protection network established by the RFAs and previous licence conditions will be retained. This includes:

  • Existing RFA commitments to the protection of old growth, rainforest, rare noncommercial forest types and the Forest Management Zone (FMZ) layer will be maintained unchanged.

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