The North East Forest Alliance has called the process used by the Commonwealth and State Governments to adopt new Regional Forest Agreements as a superficial sham simply intended to lock-up public native forests for private sawmillers at significant environment cost.
North East Forest Alliance spokesperson Dailan Pugh says there has been no attempt to assess or review environmental, industry or social data, instead they are relying on incomplete and out of date assessments undertaken 20 years ago.
’The Governments chose to ignore the recommendation of their own reviewer for a contemporary review that included an assessment of the effects of climate change,’ he said.
‘By rejecting the recommendation of their own review and proceeding on incomplete and out of date assessments the National Party have once again proven that their intent is to lock up public resources for private companies irrespective of the environmental costs and community interests.
Mr Pugh says NEFA are disgusted that the Governments have not publicly released their new RFAs, so it is not possible to know what changes they have made. ‘They are keeping us in the dark,’ he said. ‘The only document they have released is their resource commitments which show they are increasing the cut of high quality logs in north-east NSW by at least 10,000 cubic metres to 230,000m3 per annum, at the same time they are fraudulently claiming a shortfall of 8,600m3 per annum to justify opening up protected old growth and rainforest for logging.’
‘Due to their increased logging intensity they are intending to more than double the cut of small and low-quality logs from 320,000 tonnes per annum to 660,000 tonnes per annum.
‘The increased logging intensity and significant reductions in protections for most threatened species and streams is an environmental crime.
Mr Pugh says that out of more than 5,400 public submissions on the proposed new NSW RFAs, only 23 supported the RFAs. ‘There is no social license to continue the degradation of our public native forests.
‘Plantations already provide 87% of our sawntimber needs, it is time to complete the transition to plantations and establish more plantations on cleared land, while we actively rehabilitate our public native forests to help them recover from past abuses and restore the full suite of benefits they can provide to the community.
‘Despite the rapidly escalating environmental costs, the National Party are hell-bent on ignoring climate change, increasing land clearing and increasing the degradation of our public native forests.
Mr Pugh says that with State elections in March, and Federal elections likely in May, it’s time to speak up and make your voice heard. ’It is time to make a difference and vote to stop this accelerating assault on our environment and our children’s