The NSW Upper House “Management of public land in New South Wales Inquiry” reported on the 15 May. The Inquiry was dominated by Government members and chaired by the Fishers and Shooters Party. It recommends immediately opening up national parks in north east NSW for logging, swapping logged out state forests for national parks, and placing a moratorium on new national parks.
The anti-park majority considered that conservation outcomes can be achieved alongside other land uses, that public lands should not be separated into distinct tenures and that all Crown lands should be managed for multiple uses. They call for the Government to establish an inquiry into the management of all public lands in New South Wales, with a view to reviewing the inquiry’s recommendations for effectively abolishing national parks and freeholding western leasehold lands.
The Management of Public Land in New South Wales Inquiry (MPL Inquiry) report is at:
We need to convince NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell that this is not on. Write to NSW Premier Barry O’Farrel now to ask him not to open up NSW’s national parks for logging: email@example.com.
NEFA CALLS ON MINISTER FOR FORESTS TO COME CLEAN ABOUT THE STATE OF TIMBER RESOURCES
MEDIA RELEASE 19/5/2013
NEFA is calling on the Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, to come clean about the state of public timber resources in north east NSW following demands from the loggers and the Government dominated Upper House inquiry to meet shortfalls by opening up national parks for logging.
NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said that the loggers have been intentionally over-logging state forests for the past 14 years, and now that they claim to have almost exhausted the supply of large sawlogs they want over a million hectares of national parks to log. (i.e. see paragraphs 13.74 and 13.75 of the MPL Inquiry report – below)
“Last year the Minister established an interdepartmental steering committee comprised of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Treasury, Department of Trade and Investment, Forestry Corporation and the Environment Protection Authority to review the supply of hardwood timber on the north coast of NSW up to and beyond the current wood supply agreements which run to 2023.
“The Committee commissioned URS to undertake a timber supply assessment that was completed months ago, though the Minister is still refusing to make it public.
“The evidence of the Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Corporation of NSW, Nick Roberts, to the Upper House inquiry was that opening up national parks for logging “would be good”, “has the potential to deliver what is required” and that the Minister’s 2023 Steering Committee may be assessing the area of national parks required. (i.e. see paragraphs 13.78 and 13.79 of the MPL Inquiry report – below)
“It is assumed the 2023 Steering Committee has already provided its advice to Minister Hodgkinson. It is revealing that one member of the Minister’s Committee is publicly advocating the logging of national parks.
“The Minister must come clean with the people of NSW by releasing the URS timber supply assessment and her 2023 Steering Committee’s review of north coast timber supply. These are public lands and public resources, so the public have a right to know what her reviews found”, Mr. Pugh said.
Extracts from The Management of Public Land in New South Wales Inquiry (MPL Inquiry)
6.40 Further, the NSW Forest Products Association have asserted that industry commitments are not being met, stating that ‘in 2010-11 Forests NSW, in the Upper and Lower North East regions, was only able to produce a total of 172,150 m3 of both large and small high quality sawlogs, 78 per cent of committed Wood Supply Agreement volumes and less than 50 per cent of commitments of Forest Agreements’
6.46 Serious concerns over the sustainability of current logging practices have been raised by inquiry participants from the timber industry with particular concerns over future resources. Greensill Bros Pty Ltd expressed that the view that ‘under the current regulations restricting access, the small area of forests is being overcut’.489 Newells Creek Sawmilling Company similarly said that ‘we are overcutting the bush because we are limited to a small area for sustainable forestry while vast areas have been locked up for timber production and placed under the management of National Parks’.490 Mr Notaras highlighted the long term implications for the industry, contending that ‘they will not have high quality large logs in the future’. 491
13.25… However, doubts over the ability of Forestry Corporation to meet these wood supply agreements have been raised by Inquiry participants from both the north coast and the Pilliga, with many asserting that already, Forestry Corporation is failing to deliver promised quotas.
13.27 However, Mr Nic Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of Forests NSW (now Forestry Corporation of NSW), disputed these assertions and told the Committee that the contractual obligations ‘can be met in total volume terms’. 1215 He said that ‘there is no shortage of logs at the moment’ and that timber is in ‘plentiful supply’. Mr Roberts added that he has ‘had to lay off crews recently’ because ‘log yards are full’. Mr Roberts attributed industry comments on restricted supply primarily to ‘cost pressures and preferred species’1216 but did acknowledge that there are pressures on the supply of large sawlogs, saying, ‘the difficulty we have within
the 270,000 cubic, if I just talk about high-quality sawlog, and the volume of preferred species that will be available. That is the tricky bit’.1217 While the figures quoted by Mr Roberts refer specifically to the agreements for the north coast, the Committee heard that sawmillers in the Pilliga are also experiencing a reduction in the supply of large quality sawlogs.
13.45 Mr Roberts responded to comments from Inquiry participants that the current rate of logging is unsustainable. He said that the drop off was planned for and envisaged at the time the wood supply agreements were made, commenting that ‘the resource estimates have been consistent since about 2003’.1244 He explained that ‘if you interpret sustainability as being even flow, then we are not cutting at an even flow rate’ and that this is determined by an ‘operating environment…where the log harvest rates are determined by the contracts and the area that we have to harvest’.1245
13.74 In relation to the timber industry on the North Coast, Mr Conley said that releasing land from reservation would provide the industry with resource security, particularly following the end of the current wood supply agreements:
RFA [Regional Forest Agreements] indicated there would be a drop in supply of merchantable timber after the conclusion of the current wood supply agreement. That was what the RFA was predicated on. Certainly it would assist the commission’s ability to supply timber, or the agency at that time, if they had other areas available and more freedom to harvest areas and regenerate them.1279
13.75 In relation to the amount of additional land required to make the industry sustainable on the North Coast, Mr Ainley gave evidence that: ‘At a guess, I would suggest that we would need a little more than one million hectares to be returned. However, it depends on which hectares, where they are and how the regulations may affect them’.
13.78 In response to questioning, Mr Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of Forests NSW, agreed that reopening areas of reservation would relieve current industry pressures by making available more areas containing large trees for harvesting, remarking that: ‘If the exchange as is being proposed were to go ahead and deliver them what they are looking for … that would be good’. He added that ‘some verification work’ would be necessary but that it ‘certainly it has the potential to deliver what is required’.
13.79 Mr Roberts was also questioned on how issues of supply on the North Coast would be addressed following the expiry of the wood supply agreements in 2023. Mr Roberts told the Committee that the Hon Katrina Hodgkinson MP, Minister for Primary Industries, had convened a ‘so-called 2023 Steering Committee’ to investigate these issues and make recommendations to the NSW Government.1285 In answers to questions taken on notice, Mr Roberts told the Committee that the 2023 Steering Committee may choose to investigate the size of the areas of harvestable land required to meet industry needs.1286
13.83 The Committee supports the call for access to additional harvestable areas to increase timber supply. The Committee considers these measures to be necessary in order to provide resource security and ensure the future survival of the timber industry in New South Wales. Therefore, the Committee recommends that the NSW Government identify appropriate compartments for release to meet the levels of wood supply needed to sustain the industry, and that the NSW Government take priority action to release these compartments, particularly in the Pilliga.