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Byron Shire
November 27, 2022

Are you prepared to stand up to protect old-growth forests?

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Mapped old-growth in Clouds Creek State Forest that the Natural Resources Commission has remapped as no longer being old-growth, this is rejected by NEFA. Photo supplied.

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.

Intensify logging

‘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.

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  1. Of course there will be protests. Old growth is growth about to die and fall, why not make the best of it. The plant kingdom will still regenerate, there’ll be new growth. But let’s not confuse the matter with logic, let’s get signatures and Green votes. If there’s enough slogans it filters through: ligging, bad, forest, good. I worked with the ACF once and it was all PR, how best capture the next day’s headlines. I also knew someone in Premier Jo’s time who carried the bail money in her shoe. Protestors deliberately taunt the police to get a reaction. Because that makes the nightly news.

    • It seems your bad experiences working in PR have coloured your perception and ability to understand ecological sustainability and basic science. Old Growth protection is not some “feel good” aspiration or political whimsy, it is best practice sound ecological and science-based management that eventually (and finally) filtered through to management of public forests – albeit in a weakened form. These remaining habitat and watercourse protection buffers of old growth have already been whittled down to arguably below minimum threshold sizes and are already below scientific-based recommendations. Numerous old-growth reliant fauna species are already listed as threatened through habitat loss and decades of forest mismanagement applying your logic, with ongoing habitat loss now legally recognised as a key threatening process to the future viability of those species.

      If felling old growth is about promoting “new growth” in the plant kingdom, isn’t there enough already already with the vast areas of clear felling currently occurring in NSW forests? Your comments and references to slogans remind me of another – “stupid is a condition, ignorance is a choice”…..there is plenty of factual information available on their importance – unless you are philosophically opposed to learning, or have chosen to ignore peer-reviewed, replicable evidence. Unless you’re just a troll, what has this issue got to do with a long-dead, corrupt, ex-premier of Queensland anyway?

  2. Old-growth forests contain individual trees upto 600 years, in ecosystems that have evolved over tens thousands of years. They contain amazing diversity, with markedly different composition and structure to logged forests.
    It would be a terrible shame to see old-growth forests lost to prop up an industry that is about to fall over and die anyway.

  3. As a resident of Clouds Creek State Forest directly negatively impacted by decades of HCVOG logging adjacent to where I have lived for 40 years, I can confirm the existence of genuine old growth forest and rainforest still remaining here in our precious informal reserve system.
    This is the very last of the NSW old growth heritage not protected in national parks and the NSW government intends to push hard to gain access to these heritage trees in order to prop up an unsustainable native forest timber industry.
    The proposal to log HCVOG reserves will cause untold damage to threatened species survival, threaten the long term health of local forests by removing this intact, moist wet sclerophyll forest which provides a bushfire buffer to local residents from the north west.
    The Clouds Creek state forest forms the western part of the proposed Great Koala National Park and would create an ideal corridor for wildlife adapting to changing climate extremes. These currently mapped reserves are primarily in headwater streams that feed the Nymboida catchments and filter the water supply of over 100,000 people residing in the Coffs Coast and Grafton/Clarence catchments.
    To log them for corporate profits and at cost to taxpayers would be a criminal act and against the public interest.

  4. Iwill visit the library to look for the book. My cynicism may be misplaced: I have seen plenty of environmental science fall over and die. But I have an open circuitry.

  5. My plain speaking take on this issue is that it crys out for us to urgently apply “The First Law of Holes”.

    The first law of holes, or the law of holes, is an adage which states that “if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging”. Digging a hole makes it deeper and therefore harder to get back out, which is used as a metaphor that when in an untenable position, it is best to stop carrying on and exacerbating the situation.

    We’ve already cut down more forests than we should have so it’s time to draw a line in the sand. Let’s stop digging, no more fudging forestry rules, ok?

    And putting this into a planetary context I believe it was a good thing that the United Nations got together back in 2015 and agreed upon 17 SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals) for humanity to aspire to.

    Check out Goal 15 here.
    Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

    Point is… we’re not Robinson Crusoe here. People all over the world are now having to come to grips with the brutal reality that we urgently need societal transformation; and that business as usual scenarios are a recipe for our species extinction. In many respects the most endangered species on the planet, and the one that matters most to me, is our own.

    So let’s do the right thing and let our pollies know that if they want a job (aka, us electing them), they need to ensure that what is scientifically required becomes politically possible. After all, they’re our forests and we’re paying these people to manage them wisely on our behalf.


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