Are the states forests, protected for the last 20 years, still worth protecting? This is the question that the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is asking. If you think they are then NEFA is asking you to hold your elected politicians to account.
NEFA is calling upon the public to demand that all candidates for the March state elections declare where they stand on the Berejiklian government’s proposal to open up over 100,000 hectares of protected old-growth forest and rainforest on public lands for logging.
‘A keystone of premier Berejiklian’s draconian changes to the logging rules for public forests is that some 58,600ha of high conservation value old-growth and 50,600ha of rainforest in north-east NSW may be made available for logging,’ NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
‘These forests were protected over 20 years ago as part of NSW’s reserve system because they are the best and most intact forest remnants left on state forests. As logging intensity has increased around them their environmental importance has escalated.
‘North East NSW’s forests are one of the world’s centres of biodiversity and now premier Berejiklian wants to extend her increased logging intensity into the jewels that the community saved.
‘The community stood up and stopped this 20 years ago. We are asking the community to stand up for our forests again and make it clear that they will not vote for any candidates who support a return to old-growth and rainforest logging’, Mr. Pugh said.
Revoking parliamentary protection
In 1998 the government, with expert advice, identified and protected protected 103,000ha of HCV old-growth and 81,567ha of rainforest on state forests in north-east NSW. These were counted as part of the State-Commonwealth Comprehensive Adequate and Representative reserve system, with those old-growth forests north of Coffs Harbour included on the NSW Heritage List. They were identified as Special Management Zones requiring agreement of parliament to revoke their protection.
‘On behalf of this government the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) has undertaken a comprehensive attack on old-growth, reducing their reserve targets and reserve status to identify 67,000ha of protected old-growth as potentially available for logging,’ said Mr Pugh.
‘A trial of the Natural Resources Commission’s sham remapping criteria and methodology resulted in 88 per cent of HCV old-growth and 62 per cent of rainforest being wiped from the map.
‘The outcome of applying the NRC’s new targets, criteria and methodology is that 58,600ha of HCV old-growth, and 50,600ha of rainforest, on public lands could have their protection revoked to allow them to be logged.
‘This is just the latest of a multitude of attacks on NSW’s natural environment, though it is the most audacious. NEFA is asking people to demand that their local candidates, of all political persuasions, give unequivocal public pledges not to allow currently mapped and protected old-growth and rainforest to be logged’ Mr. Pugh said.