Environment groups walk away from NSW forestry negotiations
GOOD working relationships stretching back more than two decades between the NSW Government and two key environment groups are on the point of collapse.
The NSW Nature Conservation Council (NCC) and NSW National Parks Association (NPA) have both walked away from stakeholder consultations on the extension of the state's three Regional Forest Agreements (RFA).
These agreements were struck in the late 1990s and early 2000s and delivered a fragile peace in the forests wars that had raged for decades through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
NCC chief executive Kate Smolski said the relationship now teeters on the edge as her organisation and the NPA walk away.
"The government is putting threatened forest wildlife and an historic 20-year peace deal at risk by pushing ahead with a sham consultation process designed to lock in unsustainable logging indefinitely,” she said.
"We will not be party to a process that perpetuates the reckless mismanagement of our precious forests.
"Koala populations in NSW forests have plummeted over the past 20 years during which these agreements have been in place.”
Alix Goodwin of the NPA said far from achieving ecologically sustainable forest management, the RFA's have permitted extensive destruction of public forests.
"Logging under the agreements is not subject to scrutiny by Commonwealth law,” she said.
"As a result,many of our forests are in a worse condition now than when the agreements were struck two decades ago.”
However, Forestry Minister Paul Toole said the government remained committed to RFA's and would hold open the door to dialogue.
"RFA's represent the most effective framework for the sustainable management of forests,” he said.
Minister Toole added the public submission process remained open until March 12.