$37m funding misses forest for trees

A NORTH Coast environment group is accusing the State Government of missing the forest for the trees, after last week's announcement of $37 million to assist the private native forestry industry.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Carmel Tebbutt said the $37 million reform package is to assist the industry in adjusting to the Private Native Forestry (PNF) code of practice, which regulates forestry operations on private land.

“The Code provides a balance between the protection of environmental values and the sustainable harvesting of native forests on private land,” Ms Tebbutt said.

But North Coast Environment Council (NCEC) vice president Susie Russell claims the government must re-think its use of taxpayers' money to subsidise the private land logging industry.

“The Code allows destruction of stream-side vegetation and habitats of threatened species, and provides little protection for rainforest and old growth trees,” Ms Russell said.

“Worst, the advisory committee set up to oversee the funds is for logging industry 'insiders' only, it doesn't include ecologists, anyone from the conservation movement or even anyone from the wider community.”

Ms Russell said the NCEC had been contacted by residents concerned about logging companies buying up land and the 'secrecy surrounding logging operations'.

“There are many in the community worried about the effect on their water supply, the quality of their river water, damage to local roads and destruction of local wildlife and habitat,” she said.

“This $37 million for the logging industry just looks like more money for nothing.”

Minister Carmel Tebbutt said the Department of Environment and Climate Change had already issued more than 600 approvals for PNF covering more than 170,000 hectares of forest.

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