The North Coast Environment Council (NCEC) and North East Forestry Alliance (NEFA), together with two other NSW conservation groups, are threatening to withdraw from a government consultation process it describes as deeply flawed.
Representatives from the four groups, including the NSW Conservation Council (NCC) and the South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA) yesterday wrote to environment minister Rob Stokes advising him they were withdrawing from the government’s review of Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs), vital controls that reduce impacts on soil, streams and threatened species during logging operations.
The group says the government had agreed the conservation movement and the industry could appoint scientific experts to work on a draft Coastal IFOA with the Environment Protection Authority and the NSW Forestry Corporation.
But the EPA and NSW Forestry Corporation have been working alone on the draft, and the group says the government has strictly limited the involvement of independent experts until after the agencies have decided what to do.
The environmentalists say the entire process is flawed and they will boycott it if it appears the government is working towards a staged outcome.
NCEC spokesperson Ashley Love said, ‘Unless we perceive a genuine commitment for an open and transparent process aimed at resolving the serious conflict between environment protections and maintaining wood supplies that is at the heart of the IFOA remake, we shall consider withdrawal from the whole remake process.’
NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said, ‘It is essential that prescriptions intended to limit logging impacts on threatened species streams are based on the best available science and are subject to independent peer review rather than being decided in secret backroom political deals.
‘The process has become a farce. It is now up to the government to demonstrate it is genuine about seeking and incorporating our input,’ Mr Pugh added.