A VOCAL group of environmentalists gathered outside Bulahdelah Bowling Club last week, protesting against the Government’s Regional Forest Agreements (RFA).
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The 20-year North East Regional Agreement is due to expire, and the Federal and State Governments are seeking community input on shaping its renewal.
But the noisy protesters say last week’s ‘drop-in’ session was a “sham”.
“Both Governments failed to complete the reviews of the original forest agreements that were required to occur every five years,” North Coast Environmental Council spokesperson Susie Russell said.
“They have belatedly cobbled together a ‘review’, also out on public exhibition, but they aren’t waiting for the results.”
Myall Lakes MP Stephen Bromhead said the timber industry plays a vital role in the Bulahdelah district, supporting local jobs and driving growth in the economy.
“It is an industry that is sustainable, and an industry that we want to protect,” he said.
The recent public consultation session was hosted by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) who say the RFA’s are in place to ensure the sustainable management and conservation of native forests.
“The community meeting was an opportunity for people to learn more about the forest agreement and have some input into the process,” Forest Policy team member Trudy Glasgow said.
“We had people come in and ask about forestry and environmental concerns and others who wanted to learn more about the agreement.”
But conservation groups are calling for the agreements to be scrapped, saying they are putting native wildlife and water quality at risk.
“We know both Governments are promoting intensification of logging, the introduction of clearfelling across most of the Mid North Coast, and weakening environmental protections for threatened species and headwater streams,” Susie said.
DPI Forest Research and Policy Director Paul Wells told News Of The Area there is “no clearfelling in NSW”.
“The RFA’s are all about ensuring a sustainable forestry,” he said.
“It is about how you harvest the forest and how you manage and perpetuate it.”
The DPI encourages industry, environmental groups and the wider community to have their say on issues or changes that need to be captured since the agreements were developed nearly 20 years ago.
Submissions can be made online on the DPI website up until 12 March.