• 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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WORST FEARS REALISED: OLDGROWTH FORESTS APPROVED FOR LOGGING ILLEGALLY

Environment groups say their worst fears have been realised, with new evidence that the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW) has approved large areas of oldgrowth forests for logging illegally and in breach of the Native Vegetation Act 2003.

The evidence is contained in a report released yesterday by DECCW, which documents the results of an independent review of the oldgrowth forest assessment procedures employed by them when issuing approvals to log private native forests1.

The report concluded that “The implementation of old-growth is highly variable and problematic and has apparently resulted in some areas of old-growth being potentially available for harvest”. A briefing note on the report and its implications are set out in Attachment 1.

For three years environment groups have been raising concerns about DECCW issuing approvals to log oldgrowth forests across large areas of northern NSW” said Carmel Flint, spokesperson for the North East Forest Alliance.

Those concerns have been ignored and this long-promised review of the process was delayed by a year whilst logging approvals went full-steam ahead.

Now this report has confirmed our worst fears – that DECCW have approved areas of oldgrowth forest for logging contrary to their own laws and guidelines, including the Private Native Forestry Code of Practice. We believe the approvals are both invalid and illegal” she said.

The impacts of oldgrowth logging are severe and long-lasting – it destroys large old trees and the hollows they provide for birds, bats and gliders to make their nests and take shelter; it leads to invasion by weeds and feral animals; and it pollutes creeks and rivers” said Pepe Clarke, Chief Executive Officer of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

The review assessed a sample of 12 properties where logging had been approved, and extrapolating those results across all approved blocks, we estimate that as much as 75% of mapped oldgrowth on those blocks (8,490 hectares), has been illegally approved for logging” he said.

Unfortunately, we consider that the changes that DECCW have made in response to the report are completely inadequate. Therefore, we intend to explore all the legal avenues that are available to us to redress this appalling environmental mismanagement.” said Susie Russell, vice-president of the North Coast Environment Council.

The results of this report, in conjunction with the recent revelations about illegal logging approvals for core koala habitat, suggest that DECCW has been heavily captured by the industry they are supposed to regulate” she said.

1 http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/pnf/OGRFreviewGeneral.pdf

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