NSW Farmers has welcomed the changes to the State government’s changes to private native forestry codes (PNFC) that were announced last week. However, Nature Conservation Council, North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) and Independent MP, Justin Field, have all expressed serious misgivings over the reduction of protections to the habitat of endangered species, especially koalas.
NEFA considers that that the new Private Native Forestry Code of Practice is a step backwards, that will increase the extinction risk of our most imperilled species of plants and animals NEFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh, said.
‘In general they are allowing increased logging intensity, reduced retention of old hollow bearing trees essential for the survival of a plethora of hollow-dependent species, and reducing protections for most threatened species.
‘Under this code most threatened species of plants and animals will get no real protection whatsoever. The only improvement is an increase in the exclusions around headwater streams, though at 10m this is still dramatically less than the 30m identified as necessary in numerous reviews.’
Phase out logging in public forests
Mr Fields said that changes to NSW private logging rules have locked in an uncertain future for NSW koalas, increasing the allowable intensity of logging across 750,000ha of private land in a major win for the National Party in the ongoing ‘Koala Wars’ that caused chaos last year within the NSW Coalition government. He has warned that NSW koalas will face yet more loss of critical habitat as a result of the rule changes, and restated calls for logging in the State’s public native forests to be phased out to offset the potential losses on private land.
‘At a time when there are warnings that the koala faces extinction in NSW in the next few decades, the Liberal Party has again caved to the Nationals on koala protections’, Justin Field said.
‘Let’s be clear – these new rules are a backward step for koalas in NSW. Without taking logging out of significant areas of public native forests to offset the impacts of increased intensity on private land, koalas will face the ongoing loss of habitat and further declines in populations.
‘The NSW Government is yet to respond to a report by the Natural Resources Commission into post fire logging which recognised substantial areas of NSW State Forests were at risk of serious and irreversible harm from the dual impacts of fire and logging
‘These new private logging rules further increase the importance of public native forests for the future of the koala. If the government is going to expand the capacity of logging on private rural landholders, they must get logging out of the public forests, especially those areas on the north and mid-north coast that include high quality koala habitat.
‘I want to see private native forestry work in NSW. It will be a critical part of an inevitable transition out of public native forestry, but this increase in intensity of private logging, without removing logging from areas of public native forests, means the health of our forests and the animals that rely on them, especially the koala will continue to suffer,’ Mr Field said.
Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said, ‘The Coalition in NSW has a record of putting the interests of sawmills and logging companies ahead of big old trees, koalas and other wildlife, so it is reasonable to be skeptical.’
‘It doesn’t matter how the government describes its codes – if they don’t protect koalas on private land they will have failed.
‘The government has let industry log and flog public native forests for decades, even after the Black Summer fires. Now the timber supply from public forests is drying up, the industry is turning to the almost nine million ha of private forests. The conservation movement has a very real concern that these new codes may accelerate the loss of some of the best forests we have left.’
Mr Pugh has said that ‘hundreds of logging plans already approved in core koala habitat will be allowed to continue with no changes. For koalas they are maintaining the exclusion on logging of core koala habitat where already identified in a Council Koala Plan of Management, though this will not apply to core koala habitat identified in future plans.’