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Byron Shire
September 27, 2021

More logging, more water, more scare campaigns

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Extreme BMAD (Bell Miner Associated Dieback) in a re-logged section of Yabbra State Forest. Photo NEFA.

Aslan Shand

For anyone who is yet to work it out, if you don’t have enough water in a river – it collapses. Likewise if you don’t have enough trees in a forest – it collapses. The result of this is that you have, as we have seen, enormous fish kills in the Murray-Darling and you have forests dying as is currently taking place in many of the heavily logged areas of state forest etc.

So what can we do? Firstly, for farmers to have irrigation they need to have a healthy river, so the argument shouldn’t be about how much water they can have to irrigate their crops – first and foremost it should be how much water does the river need to function at its healthiest capacity. Once you have a healthy river, only then can you talk about how much extra water there is available and how that can be distributed.

The same goes for logging our forests. First we need to say how much timber do we need to keep in our forests to ensure they and their supporting ecosystems are surviving but thriving? It is not until we answer that question that we have the right to say ‘can we take any timber from this forest’. This should then be followed by ‘and how do we do that in a way that doesn’t damage the forest and the ecosystems that support it’, and ultimately us (humans) in the long term.

The reality is we currently approach the whole debate upside-down and back-to-front. We need to turn our thinking on its head and look at how we create healthy systems before we even think about what we can take from them.

This has been highlighted by North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) who are stating that that Timber NSW’s claims of job losses due to the creation of the Great Koala National Park are inflated more than six fold and are insignificant compared to the 7,400 jobs they have shed in the past decade.

The more habitat that is lost for koalas the greater risk for disease and death. An image from the media campaign that is blitzing the North Coast. Photo supplied.

Koala populations dying out

Koala populations have declined by more than 50 per cent in the last 20 years and the proposed Great Koala National Park would contain the largest population of koalas left in NSW if it went ahead.

‘For the survival of koalas it is essential that this park be created and rehabilitated to restore degraded koala habitat,’ said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.

‘It is outrageous that Timber NSW is using grossly inflated employment and economic impacts as part of their scare campaign to stop koalas getting the protection they urgently need.

‘The Department of Primary Industry’s (DPI)own employment data indicate that the logging of the Great Koala National Park only supports some 300 direct and indirect jobs, far less than Timber NSW’s claims of almost 2,000 jobs.

‘The DPI (2018) North Coast NSW Private Native Forest Primary Processors Survey Report identified that the native timber primary processing sector on the NSW north coast (from Gosford to the Queensland border) employs some 1,284 people, with 288 of these jobs due to private property resources.

‘As proposed by the National Parks Association (NPA) the Great Koala National Park encompasses 175,000 ha (19%) of north-east NSW’s 921,200ha of state forests, on a pro-rata basis this suggests that it accounts for some 190 of the native timber primary processing jobs.

‘The use of multipliers is a contentious issue, though the DPI (2018) adopted an employment multiplier of 1.617 to account for production and consumption flow-on into the regional economy, meaning that 190 direct jobs would result in a total of 307 jobs in the regional economy.

‘It is not known how Timber NSW derived an estimate that the Great Koala National Park would result in the loss of almost 2,000 jobs, though by any measure this is a greatly inflated estimate and represents more jobs than would be lost if the whole of the north coast’s public native forests were protected.

‘Employment in the forestry sector is on a downward trajectory with ABARES (2018) identifying that 7,396 jobs have been lost in NSW in the past 10 years alone due to consolidation of processing into larger facilities with higher labour efficiencies, and restructuring of the sector.

‘Timber NSW is not claiming dire consequences from their own far more significant job shedding.

‘Any short term job losses will be rapidly replaced by alternative jobs generated in park management, environmental repair, increased tourism, and population growth which will in the medium term far surpass any job losses due to the Great Koala National Park,’ Mr Pugh said.

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