Logging is not only decimating North Coast forests in its own right but is also the primary cause of lantana infestation, which is directly correlated to Bell Miner Associated Dieback, ensuring a second wave of forest destruction.
This is not just the view of environmental lobby group the North Eastern Forest Alliance (NEFA) but ironically also the government itself.
Its recently released assessment reveals that logging is the ‘primary initiator of Bell Miner Associated Dieback’ and government mapping shows 46,000 hectares north from Taree is ‘badly affected’.
But NEFA says that figure is a substantial underestimate and is calling for ‘an immediate cessation of logging of forests affected by, and susceptible to, this logging-induced dieback’.
‘The Forestry Corporation has to stop killing our forests; they have known for over 20 years that by opening up the canopy and promoting lantana, logging is the primary cause of this dieback, and their own trials in 2005 and 2007 showed that relogging affected stands makes it dramatically worse,’ said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
‘This is deliberate and wanton vandalism. It is sickening to see the seas of lantana, with scattered sick and dying trees, left behind by these environmental vandals. We need to start rehabilitating these degraded forests by manually removing the lantana.
‘NEFA have reviewed the government’s latest data for the Border Ranges region and from comparisons with previous studies concluded that the new mapping is under-estimating the extent of logging dieback by 40-60 per cent.
‘To obtain a realistic, but still conservative, estimate NEFA combined the recent mapping with earlier mapping to identify 37,000ha of native forests in the Border Ranges region as affected by logging dieback, with most concentrated on and around the Richmond Range, and pockets extending through to Byron Shire.
‘It is estimated that it will now cost over $12 million to rehabilitate the 13,400 ha of State Forests and 12,500 ha of National Parks in the Border Ranges Biodiversity Hotspot variously mapped as affected by dieback.
‘Most of the dieback on national parks was left behind by the Forestry Corporation from when they were transferred to parks in 1995-1998. It is a logging legacy.
‘There is probably three times as much dieback across north-east NSW. Given that the Forestry Corporation is responsible for recklessly creating this mess they should be responsible for paying to fix it.
A dieback levy of some $5 a cubic metre on all sawlog sales from north-east NSW over the next 20 years would be required to pay to repair public forests,’ Mr. Pugh said.