The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) has accused the NSW Government of ‘fraudulently claiming a shortfall in high quality logs available from State Forests in north-east NSW’ to justify their wind-back of environmental protections and intention to log old-growth forest and rainforest.
NEFA today released a review of timber yields and modelling for north-east NSW over the past 20 years that has identified a number of serious problems with yield estimations and allocations from the region.
NEFA said it will refer the matter to the auditor-general.
‘The most significant issue revealed is that the Government has removed hardwood plantations from yield calculations to concoct a yield shortfall to justify removing environmental protections, while apparently intending to reallocate plantation timber to low value products for export’ says.
The report’s author and NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said that, ‘According to the government’s data there is absolutely no need to log old-growth forests, or to remove other existing environmental protections to satisfy current timber commitments.
Resources Commission ‘lied’
Mr Pugh said the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) ‘turned an identified surplus of 37,000 cubic metres per annum of high quality sawlogs from State Forests in north-east NSW over the next hundred years into a claimed deficit of 8,600 cubic metres per annum by simply excluding hardwood plantations from their calculations’.
‘The NRC’s claim that “it is not possible to meet the Government’s commitments around both environmental values and wood supply’’ is based on a lie. Nowhere do they identify that they excluded plantations.
‘They did this to create the pretence of a shortfall,’ Mr Pugh said.
‘Plantations already provide some 30,000 cubic metres (14 per cent) of high quality hardwood log commitments per annum, with yields projected to increase up to 75,000 cubic meters of high quality logs per annum into the future.’
Mr Pugh said NSW taxpayers have spent $27 million since 2000 to establish hardwood plantations ‘explicitly to provide high quality logs to take the pressure off native forests’.
‘It is outrageous that the government has excluded plantations to concoct a shortfall in timber from State Forests in order to justify increasing logging intensity, reducing retention of habitat trees, removing protections for numerous threatened species, halving buffers on headwater streams, as well as now opening up old-growth forest and rainforest protected in the Comprehensive Adequate and Representative (CAR) reserve system for logging.
All plantations downgraded
‘The government recently issued an Expression of Interest for 416,851 tonnes per annum of low quality logs from north-east NSW, of which 219,000 tonnes (53 per cent) is apparently to be obtained by downgrading all timber from the 35,000 ha of north-east NSW’s hardwood plantations to low quality logs and committing them in new Wood Supply Agreements aimed at the export market,’ Mr Pugh said.
‘Three NSW environment ministers (Parker, Stokes and Speakman), along with the Environment Protection Authority, repeatedly promised that the new logging rules (Integrated Forestry Operations Approval) would result in no net change to wood supply, no erosion of environmental values, and no reductions in the CAR reserve system.
‘Instead of honouring their promises, in a blatant ploy the government has changed the wood supply, by surreptitiously excluding plantations, to justify erosion of environmental values and reductions in the reserve system.
‘NEFA calls upon the NSW Government to honour their promises by reinstating the intended role of plantations in providing high quality sawlogs to take the pressure off native forests, and to use the resultant timber surplus to reinstate the environmental protections they are intending to remove’, Mr. Pugh said.