Parts of Whian Whian, Wollumbin and Bungawalbin state conservation areas, together with a swag of national parks including Goonengerry, Nightcap and Wollumbin would be revoked or reopened to logging if the state’s peak forest industry body gets its way.
The submission, which calls for removal of protection of 43 national parks, state conservation areas and nature reserves, was made in September but has only now been discovered as the negotiations have been conducted under the cloak of ‘cabinet in confidence’.
Many of the forests were preserved from logging by the previous state government in the early 2000s following hard-fought campaigns by environmentalists to protect their rapidly dwindling endangered ecological communities.
But, having now used up most of its allocated resource, the industry has been calling on government to reopen reserves to allow its members to achieve promised timber targets despite the lack of proven sustainability and the certain further destruction of koala habitat.
Now two environmental groups, North East Forest Alliance and North Coast Environment Council have joined together to ring alarm bells over the industry’s intentions.
‘In response to a question from the chair of the Public Land Use Inquiry as to what areas of north coast reserves they wanted for logging, Russell Ainley, executive director, NSW Forest Products Association (FPA), identified “a little more than one million hectares”,’ according to North East Forest Alliance spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
The FPA represents sawmillers logging public lands in northeast NSW, except Boral, which is running a separate campaign for more access to trees from publicly owned land.
‘In their submission to the Inquiry the FPA identified 43 national parks and other conservation reserves in north east NSW for initial revocation, stating that they also want whatever other reserves are necessary to maintain current yields in the long term.
‘The national parks proposed for revocation by the FPA include forests identified as qualifying for World Heritage Listing, areas of core koala habitat, and irreplaceable stands of old-growth forest, such as those at Chaelundi described by Justice Stein as “a veritable forest-dependent zoo, probably unparalleled in south-eastern Australia”.’
He added that the group is also seeking initial removal of protection over 20,000 hectares of old-growth forest together with the winding back of ‘environment prescriptions’ to allow for more intensified logging.
In evidence to the Public Land Use Inquiry sited [cited or sighted ?] by Echonetdaily, Russell Ainley, executive director of FPA NSW, said in September, ‘we would need a little more than one million hectares to be returned’.
North Coast Environment Council president Susie Russell said, ‘we are concerned that the NSW government is currently undertaking a review of timber yields, which is assessing yields available from some national parks, and a review of environment prescriptions aimed at reducing environmental prescriptions to get more timber’.
‘While the marine reviews were open scientific processes, the forest reviews are claimed to be “cabinet in confidence” and are being undertaken secretly by bureaucrats.’
Among other recommendations in the group’s application were:
- return to forest management those areas of regrowth forests necessary to substantiate legislated forest yields and maintain those yields as sustainable in the long term (including north coast, Eden and Brigalow); and
- amend Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals to ensure at least 70 per cent of harvesting areas are accessible for timber production.
‘Given the opening up of national parks for shooting and grazing, making them available for logging seems to be next.’
The groups are asking people to contact north coast state members to ask them to intervene and stop national parks being revoked or logged
Reserves explicitly identified by Forests Products Association for revocation:
Black Bulga State Conservation Area, Bongil Bongil National Park (part), Bungawalbin State Conservation Area (part), Butterleaf State Conservation Area, Chaelundi National Park (part), Chaelundi State Conservation Area (part), Columbey National Park, Copeland Tops State Conservation Area, Dorrigo National Park (part), Ghin-Doo-Ee National Park (part), Gir-um-bit National Park, Gir-um-bit State Conservation Area, Goonengerry National Park, Gumbaynggirr State Conservation Area, Guy Fawkes River National Park (part), Hunter Estuary National Park, Jilliby State Conservation Area, Karuah National Park, Karuah Nature Reserve (part), Lake Innes State Conservation Area, Lake Macquarie State Conservation Area (part), Mebbin National Park (part), Medowie Nature Reserve, Medowie State Conservation Area (part), Myall Lakes National Park (part), Nightcap National Park (part), Nowendoc National Park (part), Nymboi-Binderay National Park (part), Sugarloaf State Conservation Area, Queens Lake Nature Reserve (part), Queens Lake State Conservation Area, Sherwood Nature Reserve (part), Sugarloaf State Conservation Area, Tilligerry National Park, Tilligerry Nature Reserve (part), Tilligerry State Conservation Area, Tomaree National Park (part), Tuggalo Creek Nature Reserve, Watagans National Park, Werakata State Conservation Area, Whian Whian State Conservation Area, Wollumbin National Park, Wollumbin State Conservation Area.