Renewed calls for South Coast logging moratorium as Parliamentary Inquiry holds timber industry hearings at Moruya
Independent NSW MLC Justin Field has renewed calls for a moratorium on logging of public native forests on the NSW South Coast as a Parliamentary Inquiry looking into the future of the timber industry in NSW is set to hold hearings in Moruya tomorrow*.
Calls for a moratorium have grown after a leaked Natural Resources Commission report into post fire logging in NSW warned that forests on the South Coast were at risk of “serious and irreversible” harm from the combined impacts of the 2019/20 fires and ongoing logging.
The report warned that almost all native forests on the NSW South Coast were at “extreme” or “high” risk of unacceptable environmental impacts from ongoing logging and recommended a moratorium in the most impacted sites and logging restrictions in others. Despite the significance of the report, the NSW Government has continued to refuse to respond, claiming the report to be Cabinet-in-Confidence, and Forestry Corporation has continued logging across the region.
Independent NSW MP and South Coast resident Justin Field said, “people who lived through the fires instinctively know that the fires changed everything and business as usual for the timber industry is simply not possible.
“I’m glad the committee is touring the region and it is important that the Parliament is thinking about the future of the industry and our precious forests, but the Government should be acting now to avoid the “irreversible“ and “serious” harm they have been warned will occur without changes to logging rules across the South Coast.
“I’m calling for a moratorium on logging in all ‘extreme’ and ‘high’ risk sites identified in the NRC report until the NSW Government has responded with a plan to address the risks and give the industry certainty for the future.
“The facts are that the forests are worth far more standing than on the back of a truck heading to the woodchipper for export for paper products.”
A recent study by Frontier Economics found stopping native forestry in the Southern and Eden areas would produce a net economic benefit to the state of approximately $60 million, while also reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by almost 1 million tonnes per year over the next 20 years.
Justin Field said, “There is an opportunity for long-term reform to reimagine our state forests as ecological and recreational reserves, to unlock the economic opportunity for nature-based tourism while managing the forests for their immense carbon potential as well as their intrinsic importance as critical habitat for wildlife.
“There needs to be an honest conversation with the community, including the timber industry, about a restructure of the sector to exit native forest logging and transition the industry to plantations and high-value private native forests.
“There will be ongoing jobs in the timber industry and in forest management, but it needs a plan to be sustainable in the future. Just relying on logging the guts out of our native forests is no plan,” Justin Field said.
*Note: Due to Covid restrictions, the hearing will not be open to the public however the proceedings will be broadcast on the Parliament’s website.
VIDEO: Justin Field asks "What does it take for the NSW Government to care about forests?"
"The NSW Government's approach to our precious burnt forests is infuriating. Everyone knowns business as usual is not possible, but Forestry Corporation is pushing ahead with trying to sign new contracts at pre-fire levels on the North Coast. It would be a disaster for our forests. So I asked the Finance Minister about it in Parliament as one of the Shareholder Ministers of Forestry Corporation. He barely seemed aware, never mind interested. Watch through to the end to see my question and his answer. The first bit of this video is my response to the ordinary answer!"