Conservationists hit Forestry Corp over “illegal practice”

NORTH Coast conservationists are calling on the Minster for the Environment, Mark Speakman, to enforce the state's logging rules and direct the NSW Forestry Corporation to cease their "unacceptable and illegal practice of clearfelling in the public native forests across the NSW north coast".

North East Forest Alliance spokesperson Lyn Orrego said the FCNSW was clearfelling huge swathes across north coast public native forests and "has been doing so since 2009, in a clear breach of the conditions of the logging approval called the Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA)".

"FCNSW misleadingly call these large clearfelled areas - some over 100 hectares in size - 'Single Tree Selection' (STS)," she said.

"The Minister has now acknowledged, through a letter written by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) on his behalf, that this type of harvesting 'practiced by the FCNSW, is not consistent with the definition and intent of STS (Single Tree Selection) in the Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA) as well as FCNSW's own silvicultural guidelines'."

"So we have an acknowledgement from the regulator that FCNSW is operating outside their approval conditions yet the Minister will do nothing about.

"The so-called solution put forward in the EPA letter is to wait for the new IFOA the State Government is planning to put on public display at some time in the future.

"We know the government's intent is to authorise the clearfelling (with just a few trees to be retained) across 140,000 hectares of public forests between Grafton and Taree and to increase logging intensity elsewhere.

"This just rewards FCNSW for their illegal logging practice and is an unacceptable 'solution'."

North Coast Environment Council's Susie Russell said this was "yet another appalling example of the Baird government's failure to regulate logging operations, but on a scale that dwarfs all other examples".

"NEFA has been complaining to a succession of Environment Ministers for the past seven years about the intensification of logging and asking them to intervene because they have the legal responsibility to enforce the requirements of the IFOA. It is shameful that they have done nothing to stop this," Ms Russell said.

"As the current intensive practice of broadscale clearfelling continues to destroy our public native forests the NSW public is footing the bill by subsidising the logging to the tune of $79m over the last seven years.

"People only have to look on Google Earth and click on the history button to see that the State Forests across the north coast of NSW are being hammered as they never have been before.

"It's vandalism pure and simple.

"This is why the North East Forest Alliance is campaigning for a transition out of logging of our public native forests.

"They need to be left to grow old and managed for public benefit, which includes increasing water supply and supporting the unique animals and plants that depend on them.

"Now that the EPA, writing on the Minister's behalf, has admitted that the clearfelling is 'not consistent with' the IFOA the Minister has no excuse to allow such intensive logging to continue.

"He must order this illegal logging to stop now as it contravenes the law and the promise of Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management (ESFM) which the IFOA was written to deliver."