On Wednesday 20th June at 6.30pm, the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) will release an economic case for change for its Forests For All plan that seeks to end industrialised logging on public land.
Stand Up For Royal
It has been a hectic time for Royal National Park, our oldest national park and one of our most beloved (let’s face it, 3.6 million visitors every year can’t be wrong). Not only has the State Government set aside money to explore options to extend the F6, including slicing off at least 60 hectares of this wonderful park ($15 million in the 2017-18 budget for planning work on the F6 and a further $20 million to carry out geotechnical testing and other development work in relation to the project – announced in December 2016), it has also blithely attacked the NPA for sticking up for this precious icon.
Despite rapid reassurances from the Government that no route has been determined it would appear that slicing off another section of Royal is well and truly the intent of this government. Why else did the then Minister for the Environment, Mark Speakman, state that “if there was a need to use any part of the Royal National Park it would be compensated for by additions to the park.” And from where?
Southern Sydney Branch will remain vigilant, watching what geotechnical tests are carried out, monitoring what is offered as “compensation” and holding this Government and its representatives to account. This will be a lengthy campaign but Royal is too important for us to lose that campaign. #Standup4Royal
The Great Koala National Park
In July NPA staff took a trip to the north coast of NSW to build support among the local community for the Great Koala National Park (GKNP). Media coverage was huge which reflects the depth of concern for koalas. Our Senior Ecologist was on local TV, and NPA made the front page of the Bellingen Shire Courier Sun.
Our (now retired) CEO, Kevin Evans, found scats from a mother and joey koala in an area of the GKNP scheduled for logging. This led to widespread calls to stop logging, and all the coverage provoked the Member for Oxley, Melinda Pavey to claim, bizarrely, that a national park would not help koalas! Needless to say we responded, as did others. Local, state and federal Greens have now joined Labor in expressing strong support for the GKNP.
Forests For All
In June, NPA State Council formally approved our plan for a better future for public native forests. The plan, called Forests For All, had input from many experts within and without NPA and is a document we can be proud of. It seeks to protect all native State forests in a variety of NPWS reserve categories, and increase public access to forests for recreation, education and nature-based tourism.
The Regional Forest Agreements begin to expire from 2019 in NSW. They have failed to protect forests or forest industries, so we should change tack. Forests For All offers the NSW Government an economically and socially viable alternative use of valuable public property. We believe that by implementing Forests For All while simultaneously incentivising plantations and the NPWS, we can generate a net jobs gain and make forests a key part of regional communities.
We are in the process of building partnerships among other groups who have an interest in seeing forests protected, and together we will urge the Government to change the use of our public native forests.