A new New South Wales forestry agreement could intensify logging in an area described as a ‘global treasure’, but a young boy wants the timber industry to come clean about the true impact of logging.
By Wiriya Sati
The new rules governing native forestry operations on public lands were finalised and released this month after extensive public consultation.
But there are some concerns from community and environmental organisations who have seen the already-released draft of the forestry approvals.
They say the changes allow more access to areas for logging and with less environmental protections in place.
Some of the areas in the Coffs Harbour hinterland, which could face increased logging, form part of what is known as the Great Koala National Park proposal, the subject of a campaign to turn 175,000ha of state forest into a national park.
So when 12-year-old Morrow Taplin learnt that the forest backing onto his own bush property could be the next intensive logging zone, he was compelled to make a film.
I’m hoping that if people learn that making energy from forests is being considered in this area, they’ll be able to put a stop to it,” Morrow said.
“I’m making a video to raise awareness about a whole bunch of new forestry regulations that are going to have so many consequences and impacts on our local area, and our future.”
The forestry approvals state that the koala protections proposed by the Natural Resources Commission will remain unchanged because they were carefully designed to balance environmental outcomes and wood supply.
But the National Parks Association (NPA) has warned that there is no way koalas can handle an increased intensity of logging.
“I live in the Pappinbarra valley, and right next to us is Mount Boss State Forest which is one of the areas the proposed logging schemes will take place,” Morrow said.
“So many people want truly renewable energy solutions. And this isn’t one of them,” he said, referring to a report put out by the Department of Primary Industries on forestry residue relating to making energy from burning forest biomass.
“My movie has already had over five thousand views on Facebook, and it’s being shared in the UK and other countries where timber is being shipped in from overseas to fuel their wood-fired power stations.
“Also we put it on Vimeo, and my school and other schools around here have been sharing it around.”
According to the spokesperson, the NSW Government is committed to ensuring the new agreement has no erosion of environmental values or net change to wood supply.
It also seeks to manage native forestry for natural regeneration, creating a continuous self-renewing and sustainable source of timber.
The National Parks Association disagrees.
“The new forestry approval clearly favours industry over environmental protection,”
“It’s an industry where the wood, taken from public land at huge environmental cost, ends up with a couple of big players.”
The draft was open for public consultation from May until July this year. The consultation gathered feedback from key stakeholders and the wider community.
About 3,000 submissions were made, which are informing consideration of the proposed conditions that will balance environmental values and the needs of industry, according to the Minister’s spokesperson.
But the NPA said that none of the serious concerns had been addressed.
“The intensive harvesting zone still goes ahead. The koala settings are unchanged, intensified logging in the ‘selective zone’ remains unchanged, the ability to log giant trees remains unchanged and there is still the intention to ‘remap and rezone’ old-growth,” the NPA spokesperson said.
Wild animal populations in decline: WWF
The World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Living Earth report showed the decline of wild animal populations at around about 60 per cent globally in the past 30 years.
“In that context, to accelerate the rate and intensify logging in the habitat of some really threatened species like koalas, greater gliders, swift parrots and regent honey eaters is completely contrary to what is a logical response to a global biodiversity crisis,” the NPA spokesperson said.
In the current system, Forestry Corporation of NSW has to go out and physically look for species.
But now this check is being abandoned, instead moving to a new model of ‘protected clumps’ where, depending on the mapped quality of that habitat, a number of trees have to be left per hectare, according to a spokesperson form NPA.
The main concern raised with that model is that there is no ecological basis to their ‘clumping’, making it uncertain it will work to protect endangered species.
“One of my main concerns with these new regulations is that it doesn’t require checks for endangered species,” said budding videographer Morrow.
“They can just leave patches of forest and hope for the best without even checking if the species are in there in the first place.”
Here is the link to Mathhews Vimeo clip
First published at the ABC – Coffs Coast. Wednesday 28 November 2018