Town hall style public meetings at Bellingen on Sunday 3 June (3.00 pm at the Bellingen Memorial Hall) and at Coffs Harbour on 14 June (6.30 PM Cavanbah Centre) will be told that state forests of the Coffs Harbour and Bellingen regions will be hardest hit by the State Governments recent proposals to intensify logging to meet unsustainable logging contracts.
The Governments proposed intensive harvesting zone of 140,000 ha between Taree and Grafton is heavily centred on the Coffs Harbour and Bellingen regions. The proposals allow for clearfelling of coastal forests in individual clearings of up to 45 ha .
Clearfelling in the intensive coastal zone each year will extend to over 3,000 football fields per year and will absolutely devastate our beautiful and unique coastal forests. The aim is to convert the attractive and biological rich mixed aged forests into equivalent of blackbutt plantations said a Bellingen Environment Centre spokesperson.
What we are seeing in the plantations of the Bellinger valley such as at Tarkeeth State forests would become standard fare for most of our the forests.
The Governments also proposes to wind back protection for oldgrowth forest. The recognition of the need for protection of old growth forest goes back to the late 1980’s when a national inquiry by the Federal Government found they were irreplaceable and should be protected.
Forestry interests have never fully accepted protection measures for oldgrowth forests and this is the most serious attack on these unique forests in almost twenty years. Local examples given in the Natural Resources Commissions reports* shows 88 % reduction of the oldgrowth in Clouds Creek State Forest and 100% removal in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest The oldgrowth designation of these areas will be wiped away at the stroke of a pen and the areas made potentially available for logging .
Rainforest protection goes back even further in New South Wales with protection first introduced in 1979 . It is extremely disappointing that after almost forty years of protection the Natural Resource Commission is floating a process that could reduce by 30 %. protected rainforest on state forests
With the NSW Government not conducting any public consultation sessions on the proposals the only way the community can find out about these and other proposals to strip further timber from ourlocal forests is to attend the at Bellingen on Sunday 3 June and at Coffs Harbour on 14 June the BEC spokesperson said .
Press Release from Bellingen Environment Centre