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September 26, 2022

NSW Government fails to listen to community on native forest logging

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Sue Higginson MLC. Photo Tree Faerie.

NSW Greens MP Sue Higginson says the NSW Government’s response to the 21 thousand signatories on a petition to end native forest logging has failed to recognise the considered calls for a transition plan that makes economic and ecological sense.

This response, rebased on Thursday, came on the same day as the tabling of the report into the Long term sustainability and future of the timber and forest products industry.

Response is embarrassing

Ms Higginson said the response from the Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders is embarrassing in light of the report that was tabled today. ‘It relies on questionable facts and disregards the legitimate social and scientific concerns about the future of the industry and all of the workers and communities that currently rely on it.

‘The Government response to this petition has completely failed to address the looming and unavoidable end of public native forestry in NSW. The claims made by the Minister about the sustainability and lifespan for native forest logging are misleading and run completely contrary to community experience and independent science.

Ms Higginson said Minister has claimed that he is balancing the interests of more than seven million NSW residents in disagreeing with the petition but that claim falls flat when the true interests of residents are considered.

Significant effect on downstream water quality

‘From a purely fiscal perspective NSW residents pay $441 per hectare of native forest that is logged, this added up to $20 million in 2021 alone. The likely cost of the native hardwood industry is much higher as the destruction of native forests has a significant effect on downstream water quality and the agricultural and fisheries industries.

‘Although only 1 per cent of state forests are logged each year, this adds up to 30 per cent of the public native forest estate being logged on a recurring basis that permanently degrades the ecology and sustainability of these environments.

‘These areas are vital for biodiversity and recurring logging operations diminish the number of species in logged areas, permanently reduce the number of habitat trees and leave vast areas vulnerable to catastrophic bushfires.’

Forestry Corporation failing to comply with operating conditions

Ms Higginson said Forestry Corporation is clearly failing to comply with their operating conditions with multiple successful prosecutions against them by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for logging critical habitat in the last several years.

‘The record number of species added to the threatened species list is further evidence that the public native forest estate is not being maintained for the core purpose of providing habitat and abating the extinction crisis.

‘The claims by the Government that public native forest logging is providing climate change mitigation through carbon abatement is absurd. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that forest carbon stocks should be maintained or increased in order for managed forests to mitigate climate change; in NSW, Forestry Corporation is degrading native forests in the long term without increasing capacity for the forests to capture carbon. More than1 third of logged native forest in NSW is exported to be burnt for energy in other countries, increasing the emissions from native forest logging rather than reducing.

1,000 people directly employed by native forest logging industry

Ms Higginson said around 1,000 people are directly employed by the native forest logging industry in NSW. ‘The petition is calling for a transition plan that allows for these people to remain in work while the industry transitions to a truly sustainable model. The governments of Western Australia and Victoria have both taken steps to ensure that workers and communities are taken care of as the industry is phased out. The NSW Government is more committed to sticking their heads in the sand meaning that communities will be left without a plan and with no work.’

The report into the Long term sustainability and future of the timber and forest products industry found that:

The NSW Government has failed to substantially deliver on the four priority pillars outlined in its NSW Forestry Industry Roadmap:

·       Regulatory modernisation and environmental sustainability
·       Balancing supply and demand
·       Community understanding and confidence
·       Industry innovation and new markets.

The report has recommended that:

That the NSW Government provide long-term support to workers in the timber and forest products industry transitioning away from native forestry to other parts of the sector with access to worker transition services, training and retraining support, relocation support, and counselling, and;

That the NSW Government consider the impact of a transition away from public native forestry on communities where native forest logging currently occurs and provide investment and incentives to encourage new economic opportunities in publicly owned forests.

Minister is out of touch

Ms Higginson said the Minister’s response shows just how out of touch he is with the reality for the forestry industry in communities. ‘Workers, their families and those that do business with them are calling for the Government to intervene and help them plan for the future after public native forest logging comes to an end. This report directly contradicts the marketing spring that the Minister has taken part in as part of his response.

‘The Government response to this petition is insulting in the extreme to the more than 20 thousand NSW residents that have asked for the Government to prepare for the future and to protect our native forests as a valuable natural resource.

‘The legitimate concerns of many NSW residents have been completely disregarded by the Government in this response. It is clear that the Minister and this Government are not up for the job of taking us into the future.’

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  1. The ‘Tree Butchers’ / NSW Govt, they play the John Williamson song ‘Rip Rip Woodchip’ as they go about their chopping ways.
    Get onto the Youtube an dial it up for a listen and singalong

    Rip Rip Woodchip lyrics by John Williamson –

    What am I gonna do, what about the future?
    Gotta draw the line without delay
    Why shouldn’t I get emotional, the bush is sacred
    Ancient life will fade away

    Over the hill they go, killing another mountain
    Gotta fill the quota, can’t go slow
    Huge machinery wiping out the scenery
    One big swipe like a shearer’s blow

    Rip, rip woodchip, turn it into paper
    Throw it in the bin, no news today
    Nightmare, dreaming, can’t you hear the screaming?
    Chainsaw, eyesore, more decay

    Remember the axemen knew their timber
    Cared about the way they brought it down
    Crosscut, blackbutt, tallowood and cedar
    Build another bungalow – pioneer town

    I am the bush and I am koala
    We are one, go hand in hand
    I am the bush like Banjo and Henry
    It’s in my blood, gonna make a stand

    Rip, rip woodchip, turn it into paper
    Throw it in the bin, no news today
    Nightmare, dreaming, can’t you hear the screaming?
    Chainsaw, eyesore, more decay
    Rip, rip woodchip, turn it into paper
    Throw it in the bin, don’t understand
    Nightmare, dreaming, can’t you hear the screaming?
    Stirs my blood, gonna make a stand

    Rip, rip wood chip, turn it into paper
    Throw it in the bin, don’t understand
    Nightmare, dreaming, can’t you hear the screaming?
    Stirs my blood, gonna make a stand
    Rip, rip woodchip, turn it into paper
    Throw it in the bin, don’t understand
    Nightmare, dreaming, can’t you hear the screaming?
    Stirs my blood, gonna make a stand

    Rip, rip woodchip, turn it into paper
    Throw it in the bin, don’t understand
    Nightmare, dreaming, can’t you hear the screaming?
    Stirs my blood, gonna make a stand

    Thank you, John Williamson

  2. Sue Higginson and the Greens are not in a position to complain that other parties don’t listen when they don’t listen themselves.

    No matter how many times they are informed of the fact that we need a sustainable forestry industry to use our vast timber production capacity to phase down/out the use of steel, aluminium, fibre-cement, bricks, etc for construction materials – because of the irreversible burning of fossil fuels involved; the biggest ecological risk to our forests in a climate emergency – they refuse to listen and push on with their extremist agenda to “end native forest logging”. Despite the consequences for the forests and most of the species in them, should humanity be stupid enough to turn our backs on timber as a resource for construction needs.

    To then call for more tourism, as an alternative way to use the forests, is a sick joke from people that call themselves “Greens”, given that this tourism then means even more irreversible burning of fossil fuels.

      • No, that is ONE point. Not THE point as you suggest.

        And not a very good one to use whilst ignoring all other relevant points – especially the one that the industry CAN BE made sustainable. Or the one that we need a sustainable industry for the reasons I gave earlier.

        Trying to base an argument on consideration of only one factor is not sensible – and not a viable pathway to sound decision-making.

        I am glad the government is capable of considering more than one factor at a time, even if you cannot Susie

  3. Shane re-read the article please. Your response seems triggered by deep ideological confusion. Climate Change is the most extreme reaction to the rise of the Anthropocene Age. Native Forests are invaluable in so many ways…..but consumer culture is always thus blind to Science.

    • I have read it Jo.

      Your response in no way rebuts the point I made, which is very relevant, pertinent, and critical to the survival of our forests and the species in them. It is just patronising and hollow.

      So it missed the point that Greens culture is blind to the science – notably the fact that the climate science says climate change is caused by burning of fossil fuels, not by forestry (or even clearing if forests for agriculture). This is why anthropogenic climate change has been happening since the mid-1800s – when humanity started burning significant amounts of fossil fuels – not for 10000 years since we started clearing land for agriculture. That is what science calls evidence, and, sadly, it is the Greens acting out of ideology so ignoring this evidence.

      This is why the government is ignoring them

  4. Sue Higginson and the Greens should concentrate their efforts on promoting excellence in sustainable forestry in public native forests, not banning it. Habitat for animals is not the only reason for the existence of these forests, and banning the timber industry will actually increase the rate of extinctions because carbon emissions will increase due to more mining being necessary.

    The Greens promote what they call eco-tourism which is actually a form of green over-consumption.

    • We tried promoting ESFM- Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management and failed. FCNSW broke the rules and then changed them. Without healthy forests there can be no healthy catchments.

      • Yes, which is why we need to keep fighting for forestry to be made sustainable. Not fighting to have it replaced with pine plantations, and left devoid of human management until it all burns down in a hot fire

  5. Thanks for reporting on this incredibly important issue.
    To the nay sayers – the evidence is in the appalling state of our deteriorating environment as demonstrated in the latest State of the Environment Report.
    Stopping native forestry doesn’t mean the end of wood production, there are plenty of cleared areas that can be utilised for timber plantations to invest in a more sustainable timber industry.

    • Katie, we need timber products now. We don’t need to lose the societal practice of working with wood (the skills) by transferring the construction sector further towards high-CO2 emissions materials while we grow plantations from scratch. On top of the problem I outlined earlier

      • If the industry hadn’t squandered so many trees by woodchipping them, they would have had a future. But logging today is like mining, just another form of extractavism that will bring on the collapse of natural ecosystems… and then our own society. More than 90% of the construction sector uses pine, not native forest.


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