Logging threat to local forests

THE forests of the North Coast could once again be turned into battlegrounds with local environment groups planning to use the focus of the United Nation’s International Year of Forests to highlight regional forestry issues.

The North Coast Environment Council and North East Forest Alliance say top of the agenda are old growth logging and koala habitat.

“Forests on private and public land aren’t managed to best advantage,” NCEC’s Susie Russell said.

“It’s in the interests of the entire community that the benefits forests provide to all of us – reliable and clean water supplies, biodiversity conservation, carbon storage and spiritual well-being – are considered alongside their timber values.”

She said that last year the NSW Environment Department facilitated the logging of old-growth forests and in core koala habitat on private land.

“On public land our organisations exposed that Forests NSW were logging rainforest and endangered ecological communities and that in each logging operation inspected there were dozens of breaches of licence conditions.”

“The Environment Department has failed to develop a culture of compliance, and logging contractors think they can get away with anything.

“We are not going away, we will continue to blow the whistle on the diminishing protection being given to the State’s endangered species and high conservation value forests.”

Dailan Pugh, co-founder of the North East Forest Alliance said governments need to take decisive action in 2011 to stop the spread of bell miner associate dieback.

“Bell miner dieback is now affecting tens of thousands of hectares of forests in north-east NSW, is rapidly expanding and is a threat to millions of hectares of native forest,” Mr Pugh said.

“What happens is that after logging, lantana invades the degraded forests, the open over storey and dense lantana understorey provides perfect habitat for bell miners, these aggressive birds then chase away other birds and allow populations of sap-sucking insects to explode, the insects then slowly kill the remaining trees while the lantana suppresses regrowth.

“For 20 years we have been raising our concerns that Forests NSW is facilitating the spread of bell miner dieback by continuing to log affected forests and adjacent areas. Yet they still do it.

“In this International Year of Forests we need to reverse the spread of dead and dying forests. In this region, Forests NSW need to immediately stop logging bell miner dieback affected forests, and adjacent areas, and actively control the lantana to restore forest health.

“Logging of bell miner dieback affected forests hastens their death, destroys fauna habitat, destroys forest productivity, releases carbon into the atmosphere, and is in contravention of ecologically sustainable forest management goals. It is well past time to stop,” he said.

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