On Thursday last week, representative for the Friends of the Mongarlowe River, Harry Laing and Alison Sexton-Green, together with John Studholme from Capital to Coast: a Journey on Foot, had a brief but promising meeting with Deputy Premier and local member John Barilaro to discuss concerns about current logging operations in compartment 517 on the historic Corn Trail.
The harvest of the 294 hectare compartment is about half way through and the Friends of the Mongarlowe River are calling urgently for a stop work moratorium. John Studholme representing the interests of eco-tourism explained that there is a lot of support for a walk from the Capital to the Coast and that the current logging operations poses a significant threat to the Corn Trail and the Buckenbowra River. Harry Laing went on to describe how the current logging operation is not economically viable with a return to NSW Forest Corporation estimated at being between $150,000 and $200,000. Harry has advised the Beagle that John Barilaro agreed that “It’s not worth it” in particular when he learnt that 60% of the harvested timber will go for wood chips and firewood. “It’s not worth the destruction of this forest and while there isn’t a carbon price as yet, it’s coming shortly and these trees will be worth more as stored carbon” Harry Laing said. “It’s not worth the grief you’ll get from this community either and that’s not just the greenies, it’s people who take their horses down the trail, bushwalkers and campers who are asking why is this happening on the Corn Trail.” Harry advised that the Deputy Premier, John Balilaro agreed then and there to look into this and John Studholme and Friends of the Mongarlowe River representatives both left him with more detailed information about our call for an immediate stop work moratorium on logging the Corn Trail Forest. At a meet-the-candidate forum organised by ACF in Merimbula on Friday 22nd February, Mike Kelly the member for Eden Monaro stated that the Eden Monaro region required a big investment in hardwood plantations if it was to meet growing demand. Dr Kelly said that E. nitens (Shining gum) was the preferred species and that the AFPA (Australian Forest Products Association) had estimated 250,000 ha of land in Eden Monaro was available for establishment of plantations. Plantations currently supply 40% of the Eden chip mill’s requirements. Dr Kelly said he would prefer to see logging scaled back in our native forests and these maintained as carbon sinks or stores.