Letter to the Editor: Greenwashing of logging in NSW public native forests

DEAR News Of The Area,

I REFER to the letter on 1 March by Steve Dobbyns: ‘Don’t put all your conservation eggs in one National Park basket’.

Although some of the author’s points seem reasonable at first glance, when you take a closer look, they display an alarming lack of logic, or scientific backing.

The most outrageous assertion is that the creation of extra National Parks over the last twenty years is the reason for our native animals heading closer to extinction.

This is just as ridiculous as saying that since solar and wind generation has increased massively over the last twenty years then they must be the REAL cause of climate change, and not burning fossil fuels.

What else has changed in the last twenty years or so?

How about increased logging intensity to meet wood supply agreements that were far too high and scientists warned would lead to entrenched unsustainable logging practices?

How about climate change and mega fires?

How about logging in key Koala habitat, and taking over 90 percent of potential feed trees in good areas?

The quoted 0.2 percent logging in any given year is not true in our local forests with far higher intensity in the Great Koala National Park area.

Koalas prefer to live in the very forests that are preferred for logging, and where clearing occurs for residential development.

Existing National Parks do not cover enough of their habitat and are not adequate to keep them from extinction.

Likewise for many other endangered animals.

For example, the powerful owl has only fourteen percent of the area it needs.

The author claims that no one knows how species are faring in the current national park estate as no one is willing to look, (just in case it’s not working).

But then goes on to say that “when someone does look, the results are not very flattering”.

So I am confused; have they looked or have they not looked?

Let’s assume they HAVE looked because he then lists species that have declined “as a direct result of the creation of new national parks.”

E.g. the Hastings river mouse.

However, according to Dr Ingleby, of the Australian Museum, who has a PhD in the ecology of Australian species, the main threats to this animal are land clearing, grazing, LOGGING, frequent fires and predation by foxes and cats.

Strangely, no mention of National Parks!

The author states that native forests “have evolved in response to active management over the last 60,000 years”.

True, but then are we to assume that management by the Forestry Corporation is like historical Indigenous management.

Quite a stretch!

Modern methods of industrial logging with huge machinery cause erosion and damage waterways and aquatic animals.

Scientists have estimated that streams need a buffer zone of 30m, but in 2018 these were reduced from 10m down to 5m.

They also cause weed infestation and Bell Miner associated dieback by opening the tree canopy.

Since climate change is causing an increase in bushfires, let’s listen to what experts from the Griffith and Australian National University have to say.

The Bushfire Recovery Project finds that logging and thinning can make native forests more flammable and lead to greater fire severity for decades.

Also the likelihood of severe burning is seven times higher in logged than in old growth forest.

In the mega-fires of 2019/20 it was mature forests that resisted burning, and provided a safe refuge for wildlife.

Some of these forests, such as Clouds Creek near Dorrigo, are now targeted for logging.

The claim that certification by the PEFC means that native forest logging is sustainable means little when you consider that several Supreme Court judges have found that companies overseen by the PEFC have failed to “maintain and conserve biodiversity” .

The EPA regularly fines Forestry Corporation for breaches of correct practice.

The author states: “All old growth forest in New South Wales have been protected with more than 90% of the old growth forests in National parks.”

This sounds nice, sustainable even, but is hardly a win for the animals depending on old growth forests for their homes, since only ten percent of the original old growth forest still exists!

Many endangered species, such as the once common Greater Glider, depend on hollow bearing trees to survive, and these hollows take over a hundred years to form.

There are far fewer of them left.

Due to repeated logging, remaining trees in native forests are getting smaller.

You can see this in State Forests; the size of the old logged stumps have much larger diameter than remaining trees. Koalas and many other species need larger, older trees to feed on.

The author criticises the use of emotive phrases by others, yet makes free with them himself, referring to “the failed lock-it-up-and-leave-it or wilderness strategy”.

“Facts: The Great Koala National Park has plans for long bushwalking’s trails and mountain bike tracks, and will need active management for fire, weeds, and feral animals the same as State Forests.

Public native forests do not need to be logged for housing.

Houses are built with pine frames and there are composite material alternatives to hardwood for decking etc.

Northeast NSW obtains about a third of hardwood logs from private forestry anyway.

With Australia having the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world, we need to urgently protect the remaining habitats of our unique animals and plants AND allow them to regenerate.

Kind regards,
Valla Beach.

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