A NSW government plan to allow burning of wood from native forests for electricity generation will not only severely degrade public and private forests in the state’s northeast but add to global warming, conservationists fear.
Environmentalists say the move belongs to the past and have urged north coast communities to write submissions against the plan when it goes on public exhibition soon.
Just last month, the export of woodchips from northeast NSW finally ended after 30 years and ‘now the NSW government wants to burn our forests to generate electricity’, spokesperson for North East Forests Alliance (NEFA), Dailan Pugh, said.
‘With the prospect of furnaces being established throughout northeast NSW and the Hunter Valley this could lead to the unprecedented degradation of native forests,’ Mr Pugh said.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) announced yesterday that the government plans to amend the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 so that logging residues, sawmill residues, and ‘trees that might otherwise be made into pulp’ can be used for electricity generation.
The EPA will shortly be putting the draft regulation on public exhibition. http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/epamedia/EPAMedia13071101.htm
Mr Pugh said, ‘our native forests are most important as homes for native plants and animals, for provision of stream flows, as storehouses of carbon and for passive recreation’.
‘Our forests sequester significant volumes of atmospheric carbon and store it in their wood.
‘They are worth far more left standing as carbon storehouses to generate carbon credits than they are for logging and release of their stored carbon.
‘Burning our carbon storehouses for electricity is one of the worst things we can do for global warming.
‘The NSW government should use the opportunity provided by the cessation of woodchipping to stop the ongoing degradation of our native forests by limiting logging to specialty purpose high-value products,’ Mr Pugh said.
Susie Russell, the president of the North Coast Environment Council, said there were no positives in the move to allow forests to be logged to feed in to power stations for electricity.
‘Sawmill waste can already be used as a fuel. What is being proposed here is that trees that were being exported as woodchip (pulp) should now be burnt,’ Ms Russell said.
‘The end to export woodchipping provided the NSW government with an opportunity to decrease logging quotas and the intensity of logging that is trashing the state forests. Instead, they have chosen to opt for an even more destructive industry that won’t pass the sustainability test of time.
‘The future demands innovation and clean forms of energy. This move belongs to the past.
‘The proposal will be on exhibition for 28 days. We urge the community to take this opportunity to say No!’ Ms Russell said.