Last night’s 7.30 report exposing plans to legalise ‘regeneration’ harvesting highlight how the NSW government is putting timber extraction over wildlife protection says the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA).
New logging laws (called Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals), currently being considered by the NSW government, promise sweeping changes to logging regulations. They depart completely from the original intent to balance timber production with conservation, as highlighted on 7.30 by former NSW Environment Minister, Bob Debus, who oversaw changes to logging in the 1990s.
Among the changes are proposals to legalise ‘regeneration’ logging in 140,000ha of coastal forests between Taree and Grafton, reduction of streamside buffers by 50%, and opening-up protected areas of old-growth and rainforest to make up projected timber shortfalls.
“As the 7.30 report showed, logging operations in NSW were already breaching environmental protections, and it has required diligent oversight over many years from community members to highlight these breaches”, said NPA CEO, Ms Alix Goodwin.
“It’s extraordinary that the clearfell logging exposed last night, previously brought to the attention of the former Environment Minister Speakman, and which the EPA said in writing was outside the current rules, is now to be legalised.
“Unsurprisingly Forestry Corporation welcomed the changes in their statement to 7.30. Effectively the new laws are a reward from the NSW government for years of logging in contravention of existing regulations.
“These new laws strip all pretence of sustainability away from logging in NSW. An industry that is clearfelling koala and glider habitat can no longer claim that it’s ‘world’s best practice’.
“By proposing to remap and rezone old growth and rainforest the new laws effectively end the deal made between the industry and conservationists in the late 90s. These areas currently form part of the CAR reserve system designed to protect environmental and conservation values and which will be diminished as a result.
“The last vestiges of the social license of the logging industry are being swept away by these changes. The logging industry provides very few jobs, and the environmental destruction it causes is disproportionate to its contribution to society.
“It’s time to stop native forest logging and use our precious forests for what they do best: provide homes for wildlife, clean water supplies and the carbon stores that we so urgently need.”