A meeting discussing the State Government's forestry policy was held in Coffs Harbour on Thursday night, a meeting is planned next week at Parliament House.
A meeting discussing the State Government's forestry policy was held in Coffs Harbour on Thursday night, a meeting is planned next week at Parliament House. Contributed

Coffs Coast residents 'Stand Up For Forests'

A MEETING in Coffs Habour has aired concerns over the State Government's management of forests on the North Coast.

More than 100 people attended a town hall meeting at Cavanbah Hall on Thursday night that heard of NSW Government proposals for North Coast forests.

Dailan Pugh from the North East Forest Alliance told the meeting the NSW Government's Natural Resource Commission had confirmed the government was proposing to increase the harvesting of North Coast forests by 35%.

This is despite numerous industry and government reports over the past 15 years indicating the current harvest level was unsustainable and yields would collapse in the next five years, Mr Pugh said.

Ashley Love from the Bellingen Environment Centre told the meeting that the NSW Forest Corporation currently had an expression of Interest out for a 10-year contract for 58% of the timber production for the native forests and plantations of the North Coast and Tablelands.

"The expression of interest, for predominantly lower grades of timber and available for export, was scheduled to be finalised before the Government's current public consultation for North Coast forests was completed,” Mr Love said

The meeting heard the NSW Government proposals to formalise the process of clearfelling of up to 140,000 hectares of North Coast forests between Taree and Grafton, as well as to open up currently protected oldgrowth forest , threatened species habitat and streamside buffers for logging.

Conservation groups say within the Coffs Harbour state electorate the Government proposals would potentially open up 29,000 hectares of state forests to clearfelling and another 12,000 hectares of state forests to a doubling of logging intensity .

"The opening up of local forests to clearfelling would include the iconic Orara East, Orara West , Bagawa and Conglomerate state forests,” Mr Love said.

"With Andrew Fraser recently announcing his retirement this shameful decision would overshadow any of his claimed achievements over a long career in parliament.

"Further south, where local member Melinda Pavey has previously claimed there was no clear felling occurring in her electorate, the government proposes to legitimise the practice for almost 70,000 hectares.”

The meeting joined 10 previous town hall meetings held to date in unanimously passing a resolution that :

"We the undersigned call on the NSW Government to:

  • Recognise that the Regional Forest Agreements (RFA's) have failed to deliver environmental protection or industry security;
  • Recognise the benefits of non-timber forest values are vital for the future of regional economies and ecosystems;
  • Establish the Great Koala National Park as an immediate priority

  • Commit to a just transition out of native forest logging on public land and the transfer of public forests to protected areas when the RFA's expire"

The meeting was told more town halls meeting are planned, along with a proposed a meeting at Parliament House on June 20.



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