Local News

Leaked government report signals an end to native forest logging

tantawangalo burnt forest

The NSW government has reportedly been keeping secret a report that would effectively stop logging on the south coast.

The report, “Coastal IFOA operations post-2019-20 wildfires” by the Natural Resources Commission was completed in June but kept from the public by having it designated “Cabinet-in-Confidence,” said Harriett Swift, spokesperson for the Chipstop campaign against woodchipping.

The report was apparently commissioned as a way to resolve a stand off between the Forestry Corporation and the Environment Protection Authority over the future of native forest logging after the Black Summer bushfires.

In spite of the government’s best efforts to keep it under wraps, the report was leaked this week.

"The report has particular relevance to the south coast where 80 per cent of all native forest available for logging was burnt in the bushfires," Ms Swift said.

burnt forest2

She said: "The forests of the Nowra and Narooma zones were found to be at "extreme risk" with a recommendation that all logging should cease for three years."

The remaining south coast zones of Eden, Batemans Bay and Badja were found to be "high risk" if "normal" logging resumed.

The Forestry Corporation said following the 2019-20 fires they have taken a range of steps to ensure hardwood timber harvesting continues to be appropriately managed and delivered. 

Ms Swift said that the government and the Forestry Corporation have ignored the report and have continued to log native forests as if the bushfires had never happened.

"It is delusional and bordering on criminal that they have just sat on this report for almost six months and continued to allow logging,” Ms Swift said.

"Now that the report has become public the Government can no longer dodge responsibility for what is happening to our forests," she said.

"If the forests and the wildlife are to have a future there should be an immediate halt to all native forest logging."

Forestry Corporation has replied with the following statement: 

Forestry Corporation has a statutory obligation to balance multiple objectives including environmental, social and economic considerations.

Following the 2019-20 fires Forestry Corporation has taken a range of steps to ensure hardwood timber harvesting continues to be appropriately managed and deliver the balance Forestry Corporation is required to strike between environmental considerations, supporting regional communities reliant on timber industry jobs and supplying renewable timber products.

On the north coast, harvesting in native forests has been reduced by moving the majority of operations into hardwood plantations for the past two years.

Operations on the south coast, where there are no hardwood timber plantations, reduced to around a third of the normal rate and operations in fire-affected forests have only taken place with additional environmental safeguards over and above the standard ruleset including additional landscape protections, extra flora and fauna ecology and soil surveys, retaining greater numbers of habitat trees and establishing larger buffers on environmental protection zones.

These environmental safeguards are based on the best available information and were informed by environmental assessments in line with the precautionary principle.

Forestry Corporation has also reviewed the long-term sustainable yield of timber to ensure the amount of timber harvested and the stocks of timber in the forests remain stable over the long-term.

Image Credit:  Harriett Swift