The North East Forest Alliance has damned the decision of the NSW Legislative Council to inquire into the past conversion of crown lands and state forests in northern NSW into national parks, chaired by the Shooters and Fishers Party.
The group believes the inquiry is a thinly disguised attempt to justify opening up National Parks for logging and shooting under the guise of ‘sustainable use’.
NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said that ‘all national parks in northern NSW are up for grabs, though we expect the Coalition will be targeting the 50 per cent of national parks created since they were last in power.
‘The fact that the inquiry is chaired by the Shooters and Fishers Party and dominated by the Coalition leaves little doubt that the outcome has been pre-determined.
‘There is currently a timber supply crisis in northern NSW. In 2004 the Labor government gave 20-year guarantees of large sawlogs from state forests to millers at levels that simply did not exist.
‘The government has not been able to provide the committed volumes any year since and the situation is rapidly worsening, with only 60 per cent of commitments supplied last year. The government has already had to buy back commitments and compensate millers, and is now liable for massive compensation payouts.
‘It is now becoming apparent why the coalition government has not heeded our call to reduce timber commitments. They appear to have a different solution.
‘The National Party was well aware of the supply crisis before the election and some members expressed their preference for opening up national parks for logging, though the coalition denied they had any intent to do so.
‘The government should be urgently reducing logging down to sustainable levels rather than removing the protection afforded to national parks.
‘The Nationals need to realise that the community has moved on and no longer accepts the widespread logging of rainforests, oldgrowth forests, wilderness and threatened species habitat that occurred when they were last in power.
‘We are calling on people to contact their local State government member and ask them for personal commitments that they will not support the revoking of national parks or opening them up for logging and shooting’ Mr Pugh said.