Letter to the Editor: A response to ecologist’s forestry claims

DEAR News Of The Area,

IT is obvious from Mark Graham’s letter in NOTA of 15/3/24 that he fails to read anyone’s response to his false assertions.

As I have previously responded, of the $15M “loss” Mr Graham refers to, only $2M was associated with timber harvesting of native forests and was due to extended wet weather, inflationary pressures, particularly a spike in fuel prices and investment in compliance assurance.

The balance related to the cost of delivering community services across the State, such as delivery of services including road construction and maintenance for community purposes, firefighting and prevention for community purposes, recreation and tourism activities, community and government engagement, research and development and management of the parts of State forest not available for timber production (Annual Report 2022-23, Forestry Corporation of NSW, Pg. 26).

Rather than losing money as claimed, FCNSW paid a dividend of $13.5 million (FY22: $0.4 million) to NSW Treasury for the 2022-23 financial year and their balance sheet shows their cash position remains robust at $128 million (FY22: $101 million).

Contrary to Mr Graham’s claims, the fire that impacted Nymboida was the Liberation Trail fire, which originated in National Park and was being managed under Section 44 of the Rural Fires Act, i.e. a localised State of Emergency.

Control strategies, including the use of back burning, were planned and under direction of the RFS, part of a multi-agency response, including RFS, NPWS, SA CFA, FCNSW et al.

To claim that FCNSW undertook backburning and caused the destruction of Nymboida is not only false but disrespects all FCNSW staff and contractors who put their lives on the line to protect others.

In regards to Mr Graham’s claims about the impact from timber harvesting on water quality, the dominant land use in the Nymbioda and Orara River catchments is public forested land.

The dominant land tenure is National Park.

State forest is a distant second.

Less than fourteen percent of the public forested land in these catchments is available for sustainable timber supply and in any given year less than 0.3 percent of these forests are subject to disturbance from timber harvesting.

In State forest there is a very high level of catchment protection.

For example, there are over 2,000 operating conditions with over a hundred relating specifically to the protection of soil and water.

All waterways and drainage lines that flow into them are protected and buffered by undisturbed filter strips.

This information is all publicly available.

What is occurring on state forests is best management practice.

Forest researchers have been monitoring the effects of harvesting on water quality and quantity for many decades.

A desktop review of this research was recently completed by the Natural Resource Commission and the report is on their website.

The biggest issue impacting water quantity and quality is bushfires.

The effect of wildfires on water quality and quantity is ten-fold greater than any other forest disturbance impacts.

A recently released report by the Dept of Environment found that over 75 percent of the areas that were burnt at higher severity in the 2019-20 bushfires had large to extreme increases in vegetative cover. In simple terms these fires have had a very large impact on water quantity.

Kind regards,
Jamax Forest Solutions.

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