• North Coast Environment Council

    Formed in 1976, we are the peak umbrella environment group in northern NSW. We cover the area from the Hunter to the Tweed and west to the New England Highway. We also actively support other campaigns further afield. We receive no government funding and have no paid staff or central office. Our members and office-bearers work around the region, often travelling large distances to assist others as we organise in our defence of the environment and the communities it sustains. We rely on donations and the efforts of our members and volunteers, to remain effective. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to assist us with our work, we guarantee plenty of bang for your buck. Post us a message to this site and we will get back to you.
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COALition continues forest rampage…

Following hot on the heels of yesterday’s speech by Prime Minister Abbott who called the logging industry “the ultimate conservationists’, the NSW Government today made a regulation allowing native forest to be burned in power stations opening the way for it to be classed as a ‘renewable energy source’.

 

“The government wants environmentally conscious consumers to pay for the destruction of endangered species habitat,” said NCEC President Susie Russell.

 

 

“It will also allow the already heavily subsidised mining industry to burn native forests and woodlands to generate their electricity and seek renewable energy credits.

“COALition Governments have no respect for forests. They can’t see the trees for the wood. It seems they will stoop to any depths to pursue their anti-green anti-environment agenda. Claims that this will not increase logging and will be overseen by the EPA are farcical.

 

 

“The Government is in the process of winding back a whole raft of forest protection measures in the name of efficiency.

 

 

“The EPA has been shown to be a toothless tiger that has failed to act on evidence of breaches, and when it has been roused to action only manages to deliver pathetic slaps on the wrist such as letters or paltry fines. The community has no confidence in the EPA being able to regulate forestry.

 

 

“There is plenty of scientific evidence to show that older trees store more carbon, provide better habitat, produce more water of higher quality, provide more nectar and honey, are more resilient to fire and have greater appeal to humans on aesthetic and spiritual grounds.

 

 

“Everything this taxpayer subsidised logging industry is doing compromises all of those positive values.

 

 

“This will be another nail in the coffin of the renewable energy industry that is being sabotaged by COALition Governments at both State and Federal levels determined to prop up an energy sector based on either fossilised wood or now, living wood,” Ms Russell said.

 

NSW Government rules out logging in North Coast National Parks

The NSW Government’s long-awaited response into the Public Land Inquiry has finally ruled out logging in northern NSW National Parks in order to make up timber shortfalls.

“This is a decision for common sense and we are pleased that Premier O’Farrell has decided to quell the speculation,” said NCEC President Susie Russell.

“There is little doubt that the Government has seen the support and love that National Parks enjoy from a wide spectrum of the community. There has been overwhelming opposition to his decision to allow hunting in National Parks. Logging was clearly a bridge too far.

“We know that there were some inside the Government who actively promoted the Inquiry’s recommendation for ‘tenure swap’ : swapping logged State Forest for unlogged National Park; as a means of shoring up the logging industry. By clearly rejecting that proposal the Premier has taken action to rein in some of the more anti-environment forces that inhabit the Government benches,” Ms Russell said.

North East Forest Alliance spokesperson, Dailan Pugh said that now that the timber industry’s proposal to open up a million hectares of north-east NSW’s national parks for logging has been rejected, the NSW Government must urgently slash timber commitments from State forests down to a sustainable level.

The timber industry has been intentionally logging north east NSW’s public forests well in excess of the identified sustainable yield for the past 15 years. They have been cutting out the future of their own industry.

If the NSW Government wants a hardwood sawlog industry in north east NSW in 10 years time it must immediately reduce logging quotas down to a sustainable level. We expect this will require cuts of more than 50%. The longer the Government waits the deeper the cuts will have to be.

The Government must come clean with the public by releasing last year’s timber review and acting urgently to stop the gross over-logging of publicly owned lands” Mr. Pugh said.

NCEC AGM Stands with Jono

NCEC AGM Stands with Jono

FORESTRY CORP MASSACRES THREATENED SPECIES… GOV’T DOES NOTHING

The failure of either the Environment Minister Robyn Parker or the Forestry Minister Katrina Hodgkinson to prevent the destruction of habitat for threatened species such as the Koala, Marbled Frogmouth, Masked and Sooty Owls and the Pouched Frog on a property near Nightcap National Park in far north east NSW is an environmental crime, said NCEC President Susie Russell.

“The logging of the private property is being done by the Forestry Corporation. The Forestry Corporation needs to log private land because it is unable to meet it’s timber commitments from public land and the Government has failed to renegotiate wood supply contracts.

“It is being done under approval from the Environment Protection Authority. But it is being logged according the appallingly lax Private Native Forest Code of Practice.

“However even this Code is being breached,” she said.

“When there are confirmed records of the species listed above, protection measures should be triggered. First Forestry Corporation failed to survey for threatened species that were likely to occur in the area, but now they have been identified by a respected fauna expert, Forestry have gone on logging habitat that is required by the code to be protected. The plight of these species can no longer be ignored.

“It is shameful that neither Minister intervened to stop this unlawful logging after they were informed of the new records. For the Ministers to sanction the ongoing destruction of habitat legally required to be protected for species known to be in the area can only be a sign that the NSW Government is prepared to literally run the environment into the ground.

“The NCEC supports those community members who have attempted to stop this unlawful logging activity, but it should not be up to volunteer community groups to undertaken surveys in areas being logged by the Forestry Corporation because they refuse to, and then be up to community groups to have to force the required prescriptions to be applied.

“This is only the most recent example of many cases where the Forestry Corporation have failed to look for threatened species and gone on logging habitat that is meant to be protected until caught out by community groups. The Ministers must do something about this because the Environment Protection Authority will not.

“We call on Premier O’Farrell to immediately require his Ministers to uphold the law with respect to threatened species,” Ms Russell said.

ONE STOP CHOP REPORT- DAMNING SNAPSHOT OF NSW FORESTRY

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A national report on Australian forestry “One Stop Chop: How Regional Forest Agreements streamline evironmental destruction”, released today, makes it clear that State Government forestry agencies, including in NSW are not managing Australia’s forests for the long-term.

The report, was prepared by Environment Defenders Offices in Tasmania, Victoria and NSW, and edited by Lawyers for Forest.

“The current regulatory system for management of NSW’s public forests is clearly inadequate” said NCEC President Susie Russell. “Cumulative impacts are killing the possibility of much of our unique wildlife surviving into the next century. The regulations are no protection because they aren’t followed anyway. There is little auditing and virtually no monitoring of impacts.

The Mining and Coal Seam Gas industry is running an advertising blitz calling for environmental decision-making, assessment and regulation to be taken away from the Commonwealth and handed back to State Governments. The Regional Forest Agreements are and example of all the problems with that approach.

“In the 21st century with our rivers, oceans and forests all suffering from over-extraction and pollution, and our iconic plants and wildlife under increasing threat, it is not the time to minimise environmental oversight. This Report sounds a warning and if we don’t heed the message we will repeat all the mistakes,” Ms Russell said.

NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said the Commonwealth has used the Regional Forest Agreement as its excuse for doing nothing, as the NSW Government has removed and ignored protections for federally threatened species.

The Commonwealth did nothing when the area required to be protected around records of the nationally endangered Hasting River Mouse was slashed from a maximum of 200ha down to 12ha, despite this being in contravention of the federally adopted Hastings River Mouse Recovery Plan.

The RFA has been the Commonwealth’s excuse for refusing to improve logging prescriptions for the nationally vulnerable Koala, or to do anything when existing requirements are routinely ignored.

The Regional Forest Agreement should not be an acceptable excuse for the Commonwealth to ignore its obligations to protect nationally threatened species”, Mr. Pugh said.

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Some quotes from the report: The report’s findings state that “the site-specific and unforeseen cumulative environmental impacts of logging within areas covered by RFAs are never assessed and managed.” p.13

And “There are serious concerns that the oversight of forestry activities is not effective as there are historic and ongoing breaches of forestry regulations.” p.14

It also suggests major problems with threatened species management, “There is an inherent conflict of interest in State forestry agencies having a significant role in implementing threatened species regulations at a site-specific, on-the ground level, without the requirement for government approval. State forestry agencies, who all have commercial objectives, seek to maximise the resource they are able to exploit and thereby maximise their returns. This objective is in direct tension with environment and threatened species regulations, which limit the amount of forest that can be cleared.” p.17

and “There is considerable evidence in both NSW and Victoria of systemic failures to comply with prescriptions designed to protect threatened species.” p.27

The report quoted a recent judgement of the NSW Land and Environment Court about the Forestry Corporation “Given the number of offences the Forestry Commission has been convicted of and in light of the additional enforcement notices issued against it, I find that the Forestry Commission’s conduct does manifest a reckless attitude towards compliance with its environmental obligations.” p.25

BURNING TO REPLACE WOODCHIPPING

North Coast conservationists are fearful that a NSW Government proposal to allow burning of wood from native forests for electricity generation will result in extensive degradation of north-east NSWs public and private forests if successful.

The EPA announced yesterday that the Government proposes to amend the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 so that logging residues, sawmill residues, and “trees that might otherwise be made into pulp” can be used for electricity generation. The EPA will shortly be putting the draft regulation on public exhibition. http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/epamedia/EPAMedia13071101.htm

Spokesperson for NEFA, Dailan Pugh, said that it was only last month that the export of woodchips from north-east NSW finally ended after 30 years. “Now the NSW Government wants to burn our forests to generate electricity.

With the prospect of furnaces being established throughout north-east NSW and the Hunter Valley this could lead to the unprecedented degradation of native forests”.

Our native forests are most important as homes for native plants and animals, for provision of stream flows, as storehouses of carbon and for passive recreation.

Our forests sequester significant volumes of atmospheric carbon and store it in their wood. They are worth far more left standing as carbon storehouses to generate carbon credits than they are for logging and release of their stored carbon. Burning our carbon storehouses for electricity is one of the worst things we can do for global warming.

The NSW Government should use the opportunity provided by the cessation of woodchipping to stop the ongoing degradation of our native forests by limiting logging to speciality purpose high value products” Mr. Pugh said.

Susie Russell, President of the North Coast Environment Council said there were no positives in the move to allow forests to be logged to feed in to power stations for electricity.

Sawmill waste can already be used as a fuel, what is being proposed here is that trees that were being exported as woodchip (pulp) should now be burnt” she said.

The end to export woodchipping provided the NSW Government with an opportunity to decrease logging quotas and the intensity of logging that is trashing the State Forests. Instead, they have chosen to opt for an even more destructive industry that won’t pass the sustainability test of time. The future demands innovation and clean forms of energy. This move belongs to the past,” she said.

The proposal will be on exhibition for 28 days, we urge the community to take this opportunity to say NO!” Ms Russell said.

Export Woodchips: Good Riddance

The North Coast Environment Council welcomes the decision announced today by Boral Timber, to exit the export wood-chip business.

This decision has been a long time coming. For more than 30 years, conservationists have worked to end this destructive activity which has seen millions of trees from north coast forests taken to be wood-chipped and shipped to the paper mills of Japan.

However these days the Japanese paper mill operators want to be able to sell their paper with a label proclaiming that it has come from responsibly managed forests or plantations, and ‘business as usual’ forestry in Australia is no longer acceptable to them. They now require woodchips to be certified under the Forest Stewardship Council scheme as ‘not damaging high conservation values’.

Boral had recently applied for its wood-chipping operations to be certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label and audits were conducted of forestry operations on the north coast.

Conservationists mounted a strong campaign in opposition: organising submissions, commissioning expert opinion, and taking the auditors to a number of sites to demonstrate the environmental damage caused by logging.

“We believe we were able to effectively demonstrate that high conservation values ARE definitely being damaged by forestry activities in the public forests of NSW,” said NCEC President Susie Russell.

“While the audit and certification results have not been released, we can only speculate that Boral and the Forestry Corporation failed to convince the auditors that their logging is not harmful. Being unable to sell woodchips with the FSC label, Boral had no option but to close down this component of their business.

“This gives the NSW Government an opportunity to dramatically reduce the intensity of logging that is trashing north coast forests,” she said.

“Our forests are worth more standing. They provide food and shelter to species of animals found nowhere else in the world. They protect our catchments and downstream water quality, and, if left to grow old act as a reservoir, providing water in times of low rainfall.

“Our question to Premier O’Farrell is this “Will he give our forests a reprieve and let them grow older so they can provide future generations with valuable environmental services? Or will he subsidise another wood-chipping industry that props up a handful of logging and trucking jobs at the expense of environmental benefits for all?”, she asked.

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