Around 100 north-coast environment activists converged on the Coffs Harbour office of the NSW Forestry Corporation (NSWFC) this morning, using International Forests Day to highlight the proposed intensification of logging in NSW public native forests.
North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) and the North Coast Environment Council (NCEC) joined forces to serve a ‘revocation notice of social licence’ on the government-owned corporation, which recently avoided fines for significant environmental breaches at Whian Whian by exploiting a statute of limitations loophole.
NEFA spokesperson John Corkill told Echonetdaily at around 11am that the protest had been peaceful, the revocation notice had been served and there had been ‘no police interference’.
Mr Corkill said that NSWFC proposed to re-zone ‘most of the coastal forest between Grafton and Taree for broad-scale clearfelling, halve stream protection buffer widths and drop many threatened plant and animal species protections’.
He said that in the area south of Grafton and north of Taree NSWFC proposed an ‘intensification of logging’ adding that current forest practices ‘are [already] excessive’.
‘In 2016 when forests have been internationally recognised as a key mechanism for combatting climate change, it is beyond belief that the Baird government wants to increase clearfelling and reduce environmental protections,’ Mr Corkill said.
To add insult to injury, he added, the environmental destruction was being paid for by the taxpayer.
‘Not only are public native forests being savagely over-cut, to meet inflated wood contracts, the NSW taxpayer is subsidising this destruction by $8-15m per year. Between 2009 and 2012 Forestry Corporation lost $85 million,’ he said.
Fellow NEFA spokesperson Lyn Orego said FCNSW wanted to do away with pre-logging surveys and most exclusion zones designed to give the endangered species at least some protection.
‘Koalas in NSW have declined by 33 per cent between 1990 and 2010 and other forest dependent animals such as the Yellow-bellied glider, Spotted-tailed quoll and Powerful Owl all have less than a quarter of the habitat they need to survive into the future,’ Ms Orego said.
North Coast Environment Council spokesperson Susie Russell said that mature, intact forests ‘keep landscapes moist, mitigate against fire and release approximately twice as much water to downstream farms and towns as young thirsty forests’.
‘They also filter water as it runs down into watercourses, yet NSWFC now wants to log to within five metres of stream banks. Water quantity and quality will be further degraded by such excessive practices,’ Ms Russell said.
‘International Day of Forests 2016 is about forests and water. Here on the driest inhabited continent on earth, much of our population depends on forested catchments for our water. The very survival of those forests is threatened by climate change. We need to recognise the irreplaceable public service they provide and nurture and respect them. Like us, and the wildlife that inhabits them, they have a right to grow old in peace,’ Susie Russell said.
‘The writing has been on the wall for the native forest logging industry for more than 50 years. It says… plant your own trees. Time’s up,’ Ms Russell said