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Byron Shire
May 22, 2024

NSW government ‘irresponsible’ in extending logging

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Call to stop clearing koala habitat. Photo Dailan Pugh

Koalas in NSW are now listed as endangered and expected to become extinct in NSW by 2050. Yet the NSW government has repeatedly failed to take action to protect them and is actively taking steps to reduce their habitat by extending Wood Supply Agreements for public native forests for another five years. This, coupled with the impacts of the Black Summer fires and their recent vote on 7 June against the proposal to establish a Great Koala National Park on the mid-north coast means that little effective action is being taken to support keeping koalas in the wild.

49 per cent of north-coast State Forests burnt in the Black Summer fires of 2019-20 including this koala habitat in Ellangowan State Forest. Photo Dailan Pugh

On 3 June the NSW government extended the agreements to supply wood from NSW State Forests which North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) has called ‘an act of gross irresponsibility because of the massive loss of resources in the 2019–20 fires’.

‘It beggars belief that the NSW government has today gifted a guarantee of millions of dollar’s worth of sawlogs from public native forests to select sawmills at pre-2019/20 fire levels as if nothing happened,’ said NEFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh.

‘In the 2019–20 wildfires 49 per cent of north-coast State Forests burnt, causing the deaths of millions of trees and animals.

‘According to the Forestry Corporation’s own guesstimates, across the north coast over 9.4 per cent of sawlogs (trees greater than 30cm diameter) and 24.5 per cent of future sawlogs (less than 30cm) were killed in the 2019–20 fires, with losses increasing to around 15 per cent of sawlogs and 35 per cent of future sawlogs north from Coffs Harbour.

‘Well before the fires, in 2017 the Department of Primary Industries recommended that Wood Supply Agreements should be reduced by 15 per cent. The cuts now need to be far deeper to accommodate fire impacts.

‘While the sawmillers pay nothing for these guarantees of sawlogs from public native forests, taxpayers are liable for millions of dollars in compensation if the promised timber can’t be found, or if the government belatedly decides to protect the trees needed by koalas or the multitude of hollow-dependent animals.

‘Extending Wood Supply Agreements at pre-fire levels is clearly unsustainable in multiple ways and an act of gross irresponsibility,’ Mr Pugh said.


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