Calls for moratorium on logging after bushfire devastation

Old growth forest in Clouds Creek SF remapped and proposed for logging in the NRC trial. Photo supplied.

Aslan Shand

The devastation on people, forests, and animals of the recent bushfires season cannot be overstated. The question is why can’t the NSW state government see this and take the right action on preserving the future forests for the people of NSW?

While they have been praised for finally cancelling the remapping of old growth forests to facilitate future logging it should not have taken the unprecedented burning of native forests to achieve this.

‘Logging protected old growth forests should never have been on the table and it is disappointing that it took devastating bushfires which affected over 60 per cent of these protected old growth areas to see this process stopped,’ said Independent NSW MP Justin Field.

The decision to cancel the old growth remapping process was announced yesterday by the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) who determined that the project could no longer be implemented, largely as a result of over 60 per cent of old growth forests on the North Coast being severely impacted by last season’s bushfires.

Industry already compensated

North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson Dailan Pugh pointed out that, ‘We fought for 20 years to get old growth forests mapped and protected as part of the national reserve system in 1998. It was disgraceful that this government was intending to log these hard won reserves after millions of dollars had been paid in compensation to the industry.

‘The 2019–20 fires burnt 62 per cent of the 1.7million hectares of old growth forest left in north-east NSW. While most old growth forests will recover over time, many large old trees have been burnt down.’

Tooloom National Park was burnt out in the recent bush fires. Photo supplied.

Bushfire impact still being assessed

According to Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment Cate Faehrmann the NSW government must go further and declare a moratorium on native forests logging while post-fire threatened species assessments are still underway.

‘While this is great news, the report that led to the Government to suspend the remapping program found that over 100,000 hectares of old growth forest was burnt. This is extremely concerning and should be the catalyst for the Government to declare a moratorium on logging in public native forests,’ said Ms Faehrmann.

‘This assessment by the NRC should confirm to the government that we’ve lost significant areas of irreplaceable forest including threatened species habitat and it cannot, in good conscience, continue to allow logging in native forests during this early post-fire recovery period.

‘There is still extensive work being undertaken to assess the loss to our national parks, forests and wildlife, including threatened species and their habitat, as a result of the devastating bushfires.

‘If the government now accepts the need to preserve Old Growth Forest as a result of this bushfire season then it must also accept the need to pause logging operations while other critical assessments are undertaken.

‘Given our public native forests are operating at a loss, I cannot see how any independent assessment could justify their continued logging, particularly for low grade products such as paper when so much wildlife and threatened species habitat were lost in the fires.’

Myall Creek, Bora Ridge Fire, November 14, 2019. Photo Ewan Willis.

Major habitat loss

According to NEFA there has been a significant loss of the large old growth trees and the essential hollows they provide for a plethora of our native wildlife across the forest.

‘In NSW at least 174 native species (46 mammals, 81 birds, 31 reptiles and 16 frogs) are reliant on tree hollows for shelter and nests, and many more are reliant upon the abundant nectar provided by older trees,’ said Mr Pugh.

‘Over 2.4 million hectares of north-east NSW’s forests were burnt in the 2019–20 fires, including 59 per cent of national parks, and over half the burnt forests suffered full or partial canopy loss.

‘Over 350 million animals were killed. Given the scale of this wildlife tragedy it is essential for the NSW Government to reconsider continued logging of public lands.

‘Most importantly, with the loss of so many large hollow-bearing trees across north-east NSW, both in old growth and other forests, we call upon the NSW government to immediately stop logging all trees over 80cm diameter across State Forests as homes, and potential homes, for hollow-dependent wildlife.

‘The old growth remapping was based on“an estimated shortfall of 7,600 to 8,600 cubic metres of high quality timber per year” before the fires, and numerous fire and drought affected trees have since died, so it is essential that there is an independent reappraisal of resources and an immediate reduction in logging using the “force majeure” clauses of the Wood Supply Agreements,’ said Mr Pugh.

EPA assessment questioned

The fact that the NSW Forestry Corporation has been allowed to recommence logging at near pre-fire rates in 65 state forests areas has also been questioned by Mr Fields.

‘There remains serious questions about the adequacy of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) approval process for these bushfire affected logging sites and how the fires have affected wood supply forecasts into the future,’ says Mr Fields.

‘No new bushfire affected logging approvals should be granted until the Natural Resources Commission has undertaken this wood supply assessment and the EPA can demonstrate no negative impacts of wildlife and forest recovery.’

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10 responses to “Calls for moratorium on logging after bushfire devastation”

  1. Rossco Phillips says:

    As we see everyday, our politicians are about as much use as, well, a politician.

    Why don’t you guys just come out and say”, I don’t give a shit about the forests, oceans and all the critters that live there!”

    At least you could score a point for honesty.

  2. Ken says:

    All that you say Aslan, is self-evident,
    THE question is, how is it even possible to find a government that is responsible and performs the function that is obviously required, to protect the people from multi-national economics gone mad ?
    It is the next dollar, not the last living organism , that concerns our politicians.
    Cheers G”)

  3. Mary Grant says:

    One problem is that we now have “seven countries” all of which are called Australia.

    One person called a “premier” makes all the decisions for a particular state.

    Now we have a kind of “dictatorship” for each state.

    Affects are clearly visible – see what each “premier” did during this pandemic COVID19!!!

    Most “premiers” make decisions that have no relevance to protection of Wildlife and preservation of the natural environment in NSW {and all of Australia}

    Most of them do not give a rat’s rissole about the environment and NOBODY ELSE GETS TO TALK OR ACT.

  4. Joachim says:

    Ken, blame the voters that keep voting in Coalition governments. Rewarding destruction, how sicko is that!

  5. john jennings says:

    We’ll consume the whole planet for the God of economic growth and then find there’s nothing left to grow.

  6. Prudence says:

    After the bushfires, the devastation on people, forests, and animals is left standing there and is not a koala-like statement barking up the wrong tree. It is a statement of ruination crying in the wilderness. While we turn to our politicians with their eyes blinded by the smoke and mirrors of politics, they, the NSW state government, sitting in their polished wooden, timbered desks in their foolishness need to be lit up to the facts to take the right action to preserve the future forests for the people of NSW and our koalas.

  7. BornxRaised says:

    Gladys is staying true to form #KoalaKiller

  8. lindy stacker says:

    RE native forest logging, this propaganda & crap has been allowed to continue for decades & decades.The Aust public is soooooo unaware of the facts…like the shortfall of almost 9,000 cubic metres of high quality timber (trees) HELLO! this is due to over logging/Govt corruption/ incompetence/a totally unsustainable industry and a complete waste of billions of dollars of tax payers money. Even though announcement yesterday was great (re protection of previous mapping areas destined for logging to be halted )THIS ONLY OCCURRED DUE TO UNPRECEDENTED BUSHFIRES, not to mention some billion and half innocent/helpless and vital wildlife creatures that were killed. These obscene logging operations WOULD have continued & this breaks my heart & does my head in.

  9. Multi National Economics’ is …. nuts-ville & the
    money-jar’s a delight to our rulers. I’d like to
    take each member of parliament – Fed ‘n State
    & tie the useless buggers to a tree for at least
    a month. One glass of water [only] each day &
    two dried dog biscuits for the evening meal.

  10. Willow says:

    A moratorium on logging after the Black Summer bushfire devastation is the least that should be done to conserve the precious crumbs of what’s left of our biodiversity. We should be planning extensions to our existing state and national parks; areas where we should begin madly planting the future forests that species can migrate to as the climate changes; corridors linking as many natural areas as possible which will strengthen the viability of existing and future state and national parks; paying more landowners more to regenerate degraded bushland and forests to provide buffer zones for state and national parks and to de-fragment areas of existing forests as much as possible.
    A moratorium on logging old growth forest is just the first in a long list of steps that we need to take immediately to mitigate the 6th Mass Extinction event which is unfolding before our very eyes and will only accelerate if climate change continues unmitigated.
    The fact that that the NSW Forestry Corporation has been allowed to recommence logging at near pre-fire rates in 65 state forests areas beggars belief. Do the politicians who allow this not understand that we are living through what is only the beginning of a huge extinction event, and that the small areas of old growth forests that we have left are priceless ecological and scientific relics which should be conserved for future generations, not to mention their intrinsic value?

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