Independent NSW MP, Justin Field, has slammed the Deputy Premier and Forestry Minister, John Barilaro, for allowing Forestry Corporation to log burnt forest on the NSW South Coast, blatantly flouting advice from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) that such logging could breach NSW law and despite his own office agreeing to a review of post-fire logging that has only just been commissioned.
Today, Forestry Corporation revealed it will begin logging in the South Coast and Eden Regions. Locals have reported logging activities have already commenced in Nadgee State Forest, south of Eden.
This is the first time Forestry Corporation will log burnt forests after media reports revealed escalating tensions between the EPA and Forestry Corporation over post-fire logging rules. Negotiations over ‘site specific conditions’, rules designed to minimise damage from logging burnt forest, broke down last year when the EPA advised that any logging of burnt forest without such rules would be inconsistent with principles of ecological sustainable forestry management as required under the Forestry Act.
Mr Field said, “To go directly against the best environmental advice and the advice of the regulator is bullish behavior by Forestry Corporation and the Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, should be condemned given the devastating impacts of the Black Summer fires.
“John Barilaro is goading the NSW EPA to take legal action to uphold environment law in NSW. Environment Minister Matt Kean needs to back up the EPA and stand up to the Nationals leader on this issue.
"Forestry Corporation has been guilty of systemic breaches of logging rules on the South Coast which led to stop work orders and numerous investigations last year. These breaches triggered the agreement to seek an independent assessment of what rules should apply in these burnt areas by the Natural Resources Commission.
“To start logging while that review is underway is a gross act of bad faith which should be condemned.
“The most egregious part of the logging that has commenced at Nadgee is that over 85% of the timber that will be taken from this forest is for woodchip. To log our burnt and struggling forests for wood chips is a gross act of environmental vandalism.
"Restarting logging now has all but destroyed what little social licence Forestry Corporation has left on the South Coast and will ultimately destroy the resource they rely on.
“After 80% of South Coast forests were burnt from bushfire, the community expects the Government and Forestry Corporation to act responsibly and listen to the experts, yet Forestry Corporation think they are a law unto themselves” Mr Field said.
Above: Justin Field is a Member of the Legislative Council in the NSW Parliament.