Bellingen Shire Votes To Protect Forests, Soils And Water

Bellingen Shire councillor Dominic King (right) says that Bellingen residents want to protect the Shire’s natural environment, soils and water supplies.

BELLINGEN Shire Council passed a motion at its 28 September meeting, six votes to one, to advocate for an end to logging of native forests to protect soils, water supply and the natural beauty of the area.

Bellingen Shire councillor Dominic King moved the motion, which asked the Council to note significant aspects of native forest logging and to advocate for an end to it.

The Council agreed to note scientific evidence about the severity of bushfires being increased in logged forests and the decline of threatened species including koalas, glossy black cockatoos and gliders.

It also agreed to take account of residents’ concerns of the need to “support nature-based tourism enterprises, recreational usage, threaten species habitat protection and carbon sequestration” and noted that native forest logging “is incompatible with our states investments in nature based tourism enterprises, climate change mitigation and the protection of biodiversity”.

The motion also mentioned a successful prosecution of Forestry Corporation NSW (FCNSW) by the Environment Protection Authority in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest and allegations of regulation breaches.

The Council agreed to advocate to the NSW Government to develop a plan to move to ecologically-sustainable plantations and farm forestry to ensure protection of existing jobs in the sector and ensure a reliable supply of high-value native hardwood timber products into the future.

Council also acknowledged that the water quality/security depends upon stable soils and stable ground cover, which are affected by current logging practices.

The motion listed a range of NSW politicians, from all parties, to be contacted for their support.

Cr King told News Of The Area, “There has been a build up of concern by local residents, but the Federal State of the Environment report was a real trigger.

“I wanted to have the conversation at Council level about the science behind forestry practices and what we do in a changing world.”

Cr King wants the motion to encourage people to reflect on what is the truth behind native forest logging.

“We have to accept that times change and we can’t keep doing what we did 50, 20 or even ten years ago.

“The people in Bellingen Shire have made it clear that they value their native forests, biodiversity and waterways,” he said.

Cr King said jobs in forestry have been disappearing since before there was any Green influence in government, driven by economics, and that Council is also concerned about a just transition of workers in the industry to more sustainable jobs.

“We’re not saying don’t cut down trees, but we are concerned about external contractors coming in, who have no connection with the area, and carrying out industrial scale logging.”

By Andrew VIVIAN

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