Conservation groups have called on NSW environment minister Mark Speakman to intervene and stop logging of core koala habitat in state forests near Casino.
On Saturday, representatives of the North Coast Environment Council (NCEC), the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) and Nambucca Valley Conservation Association took Mr Speakman on a tour of forests at Royal Camp and the Richmond Range, west of Casino, and thanked him for showing interest in their concerns about ‘our ailing public native forests’.
NEFA’s Dailan Pugh said the minister was shown one of the koala high use areas at Royal Camp State Forest that ’we stopped the Forestry Corporation illegally logging’ in 2012 and ‘asked him to intervene to stop the EPA removing this essential protection’.
‘On the Richmond Range we showed him how widespread and serious the growing problem of logging dieback is,’ Mr Pugh said.
‘Given the seriousness of the problem and the EPA’s refusal to deal with it, we asked him to intervene to stop the Forestry Corporation logging affected forests and spreading lantana and dieback,’ he said.
Lyn Orrego, of Nambucca Valley Conservation Association, said the assurance Mr Speakman gave that the proposed controversial steep land cable logging trial was not expected to be included in new logging policy was welcomed.
‘We thank him for this, it rules out this damaging practice in the short term and is a victory for commonsense,’ Ms Orrego said.
‘We asked him to go further and stop the new extreme logging proposal by the Forestry Corporation and EPA to rezone 150,000 hectares of public forests from Grafton to Taree into an intensive logging zone where clearfells of 50-60 hectares, with only a few trees required to be protected, will be allowed with a return time of 7-10 years, turning these public native forests into pseudo-plantations and devastating the wildlife.’
NCEC’s Susie Russell said Mr Speakman ‘listened, engaged with the issues, and asked pertinent questions. We hope we gave him a lot to think about in his new portfolio’.
‘We urged the minister to recognise that the highest public interest values of our public native forests are the provision of clean water to farms and towns, as habitat for threatened plants and animals, and the trees ability to breathe in and store ever increasing volumes of carbon as they age,’ Ms Russell said.
‘Forests provide one means of removing significant volumes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and mitigating the impacts of climate change, provided we stop cutting them down,’ she said.
John Corkill, from NEFA, said the minister was shown case studies ‘that clearly demonstrate the EPA’s proposed new logging rules will dramatically reduce the protection of streams and water quality, and weaken or remove the protection for many threatened species’.
‘We made it clear that government attempts to find the timber to fill grossly over-committed and clearly unsustainable wood supply agreements were probably futile, and would inevitably lead to increased pressure to wind back environmental protection measures.,’ Mr Corkill said.
‘We need him to stand strong against that pressure,’ he said.