2021 update... the case to end
native forest logging builds momentum
The findings of the Natural Resources Commission report into post fire logging didn’t sit well with the NSW government. So it labelled the report “cabinet-in-confidence” and has sat on it ever since. Even now that it has been leaked to the Guardian it is still deemed secret. Consistent lobbying by various upper house MPs along with community pressure finally resulted in the leak.
So what didn’t the government want to hear in the very report itself commissioned? That of course the science backed what community members on the ground had been saying ever since the wildfires impacted 80% of south coast state forests: Leave these ecosystems alone so they can recover. Don’t push threatened species closer towards extinction by imposing a second major impact of logging on top of wildfire damage.
Indeed 2 areas around Narooma and Nowra were deemed by the report as at “extreme” risk of ecosystem collapse and should be left alone for at least 3 years. Meanwhile Forestry Corporation is proposing “harvesting” in 3 separate compartments near Narooma.
The state forests ecosystems near Eden and Batemans Bay including the lower Shoalhaven were deemed as at “high” risk of collapse. The NRC recommended that if logging was to proceed then 75% of the landscape should be set aside under protection leaving only 25% for logging. In the Batemans Bay management zone there are three active logging operations (as of December 2021) which are completely non-compliant with this recommendation – Mogo, Currowan and Shallow Crossing. In Mogo compartment 146 for instance only 27% has been set aside for protection leaving 73% available for logging. This is almost exactly the reverse of the NRC recommendation. Incidentally there are 20 proposed logging operations between Batemans Bay and Ulladulla
At the very least all current harvest plans should be torn up and re-written to align with the findings of the NRC. However as the NRC states it is almost impossible for the objectives of the 3 year old Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Agreement (CIFOA) to be met because the fires changed everything. At the time the CIFOA was written there was no acknowledgement of the increasing severity and frequency of wildfire impacting our native forests. The report states this trend will only increase into the future with climate change.
This implies that not only existing harvest plans should be torn up but the whole CIFOA needs to be withdrawn and re-written. In the meantime the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) should step up and admit that current logging is not compliant with the existing CIFOA objectives. All native forest logging in NSW should be suspended.
Indeed, as the community has been saying for almost 2 years this is the perfect time for NSW to pivot away from native forest logging as Victoria and WA are doing. Any government with backbone would announce a restructuring and retraining package so that no forest dependent families are affected. Indeed the nature-based tourism and carbon abatement potential for our forests by far eclipses the economics of cutting them down.
Our trees are worth far more standing.
To hammer home this point Frontier Economics partnered with ANU to produce a report which showed that stopping native forestry in the Southern and Eden RFA areas would produce a net economic benefit to the state of approximately $60 million, while also reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by almost 1 million tonnes (Mt) per year over the period 2022-2041.
And as if this wasn't enough, Forestry Corporation just posted an annual loss of $20 million in the hardwood division. So the NSW taxpayer is actually paying for the privilege of ongoing logging in our State Forests!
Eurobodalla Greens will continue to work with Coastwatchers Association in this shire and the southern Shoalhaven to promote citizen science activity and political advocacy to highlight the lunacy of the continued logging of the public native forests of NSW.