NEFA is outraged at the bias of the Federal House of Representatives report ‘Inquiry into the future of the Australian Forestry Industry’ and its refusal to consider the timber supply crisis and the over-logging of north-east NSW’s public forests.
NEFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh, said that most of the evidence presented in NEFA’s 111 page submission was ignored by the inquiry on the grounds that it “criticised the industry”. “What they didn’t ignore they misrepresented. This pretend inquiry was a sham” he said.
“The Commonwealth is party to the North East Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) and claims that it satisfies its national and international obligations for the protection of world heritage, national estate and threatened species.
“While national heritage values were meant to be addressed as part of the RFA, they were not, so the Commonwealth gave the NSW Government an extra two years to complete the process. A decade later and there has still been no assessment and the Federal Government does not care.
“Similarly the RFA was meant to provide protection for nationally threatened species. The evidence we presented, such as the illegal trashing of a population of the nationally endangered fern Lindsaea incisa at Doubleduke, that was meant to be protected by a 50m buffer, was ignored because we were being ‘critical’.
“What is most astounding is that the inquiry refused to consider the evidence we presented on the current timber supply crisis due to the over-commitment of wood from north-east NSW’s public forests.
“Ever since new Wood Supply Agreements for timber from public land were given to sawmillers in 2004 Forests NSW have not been able to supply the committed volumes,” Mr Pugh said.
“The NSW Government’s recklessness in issuing these new Wood Supply Agreements has already cost taxpayers millions of dollars to buy back committed volumes and to compensate BORAL for Forests NSW’s failure to supply. As the crisis worsens, taxpayers exposure to multi-million dollar compensation claims grows.
“In vain efforts to meet shortfalls and reduce their payouts Forests NSW have been over-logging plantations, cutting trees before they mature, increasing logging intensities, logging stream buffers, and logging trees and areas required to be retained for threatened species. They are cutting out the future of the industry and causing immense environmental harm in the process.
“It is appalling, that an inquiry dealing with forestry has completely ignored this crisis and recommended that the Commonwealth Government condone and support this grossly unsustainable and irresponsible logging.
“Local Page MP, Janelle Saffin features in the inquiry’s report despite her electorate being one of the worst affected by the timber supply crisis, rampant illegal logging and widespread forest dieback.
“We call upon Janelle to please explain why the Commonwealth continues to ignore the gross over-logging, fails to identify and protect national heritage values, refuses to take action on the illegal logging of the habitat of nationally threatened species and refuses to consider the dieback of tens of thousands of hectares of public forests in her electorate. She needs to tell her constituents what she is going to do about it”” Mr. Pugh said.
For further comment: Dailan Pugh 66 807 063
Inquiry documents are at: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/arff/forestry/index.htm
To see the court documents proving Forests NSW’s inability to supply: http://nefa.org.au/resources/Summons_Boral_v_Forestry_Commission.pdf