The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) has hit out at calls from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) for up to 18,000 North Coast farmers to consider logging their properties.
Last week’s call from the DPI followed a $750,000 project that surveyed more than 600 landholders, wood processors and contractors, and mapped more than five million hectares of North Coast forests.
According to a department media release, ‘three quarters of the private native forests (PNF) on the North Coast are commercial forest types that can be sustainably managed for timber,’ but it added that ‘forest productivity is well below what it could be’.
The project team has developed a model that rates larger blocks of forested land according to their forestry importance. The model takes account of forest size, type and productivity, terrain roughness and distance to wood processing facilities.
Prime sites identified
On the far north coast the principal areas targeted for logging are: in Byron Shire Upper Main Arm, Goonengerry and Broken Head; in Ballina Shire the high quality koala habitat near Wardell and Coolgardie; in Lismore LGA the Mackellar and Koonorigan Ranges; and in Tweed Shire around Mount Warning and Doon Doon.
NEFA argues the motivation for the project appears to be to identify private forests for loggers to target for sawlogs ‘as supplies from public lands continue to rapidly decline’.
According to NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh, ‘DPI surveys of both millers and logging contractors attest to the degraded nature of north-east NSWs public and private forests due to over-logging, with supplies of high quality sawlogs rapidly declining across the forest estate.’
‘Regrettably 80 per cent of private landowners are reported as having little understanding or interest in the logging rules, with 67 per cent of contractors believing most landowners are only interested in maximising short term income,’ he said.
‘The government needs to do more than just help loggers identify and flog the best stands remaining, they have a responsibility to identify and protect old-growth forests, the habitat of threatened species, endangered ecological communities and other special values. These too need to be mapped.’
Koala habitat targeted
Mr Pugh said the NSW Government is ‘targeting the best koala habitat left on private land for intensified logging, with the promised koala strategy nowhere to be seen’.
‘There is nothing sustainable about forestry as currently practised, and the government’s current proposals to increase logging intensity while slashing the few protections for threatened species and stream buffers on both public and private lands will just increase its unsustainability,’ he said.
‘For those landholders who want to do the right thing the government should be providing incentive payments for management of forests to protect threatened species, improve stream quality, enhance rainfall, and store ever increasing volumes of atmospheric carbon as they age. This is to the benefit of all of us.
‘For those landholders that don’t care the government needs to ensure that the logging rules for private lands are improved to limit the ongoing degradation, introduce meaningful protection for threatened species and improve protection for streams.’ Mr Pugh said.