• 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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Public can have no confidence in so-called logging ‘trial’

“The public can have no confidence that anything beneficial for the forests will come from Forestry Minister Niall Blair’s logging ‘trial’”, claimed NCEC spokesperson Susie Russell.

“As always, with State-run forestry, this process lacks transparency and scientific rigour. We believe the whole process is solely aimed at intensifying logging and cutting costs, mainly jobs.

“We call on the Minister to release the ‘trial’ conditions and the exact locations where it will take place before logging commences. This will at least provide some opportunity for independent scrutiny, as we have learnt from long experience that neither the Forestry Corporation or the EPA are effective at identifying breaches of logging licence conditions.

“The reference to ‘coupes’ suggests that what is being planned is clearfelling as practiced by the Forestry Corp around Eden, where the forests have been fed to the woodchip mill and now there is hardly a koala to be found. We are deeply concerned about what this means for the endangered species managing to keep a toe-hold in State Forests,” Ms Russell said.

“The ‘trial’ was not mentioned in the stakeholder consultation process. We have now been provided with a list of 66 potential areas where the trial could take place, and yet our analysis shows that logging had commenced in 43 of those areas before this announcement, so 65% of them are presumably ruled out.

“Of the remaining 21 that are on the logging schedule (2 are not), the average net logging area is 77 ha. So we think the Minister’s claims that not more than 200 hectares will be logged as part of the trial is misleading, and will certainly be attempting to keep him to that figure of 200 hectares.

“Allowing more intensive logging so the very wealthy can have solid blackbutt floorboards should not be the prime concern of Governments in 2015. They would be far better looking at the benefits accrued to the public by allowing our forests to recover from decades of mismanagement. We will be seeking a meeting with the Minister to discuss these issues,” Ms Russell said.

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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.

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.