Forestry Corporation will resume logging on the South Coast for the first time since last summer’s bushfires, against the advice of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
- Forestry Corporation says it will resume logging in new sections of forest within weeks
- The EPA says talks to set site-specific operating conditions to help protect fire-affected areas have ended
- Forestry Corporation will implement its own measures it says will help protect the environment
The corporation had been in talks with the EPA about what environmental protection mechanisms should be in place, however it has withdrawn from those discussions.
In a statement, the EPA said it had been working to negotiate site-specific conditions for logging based on the impact of the fires.
It also said it was trying to implement a long-term approach to manage the risks posed by timber harvesting in the post-fire landscapes of coastal NSW.
“FCNSW has now withdrawn from those discussions around logging on the South Coast,” the statement said.
Daniel Tuan, Forestry’s general manager of hardwood forests, said it had been negotiating for 15 months.
“Progress has been too slow to avert the imminent closure of the timber industry on the South Coast and Eden and the loss of jobs in local communities, which will occur if timber harvesting does not recommence,” he said.
Forestry Corporation to self regulate
In response to the decision, the EPA said it would increase its regulatory oversight of Forestry’s future operations.
The corporation said it would leave a greater number of habitat trees in each operation, exclude large areas from harvesting, conduct additional ecological surveys and put additional buffers on environmental protection zones.
Takesa Frank from the Brooman State Forest Conservation Group said self regulation would not work.
“Their job is to go out there and get as much wood and as much money and profit as they can out of the forest,” she said.
“I don’t think them regulating their own policies is going to work.”
She also vowed the conservation group would keep protesting and fighting against any further logging operations.
Rules need to be ‘torn up and re-written’
The NSW Nature Conservation Council said it accepted the Forestry Corporation model was under a lot of strain, but chief executive Chris Gambian said many businesses were under strain as a result of fires or COVID-19.
“A lot of businesses have had to change over the past 18 months, but we can’t just scrap regulations because business needs to find a way,” Mr Gambian said.
“Nobody else gets that benefit.”
Mr Gambian said the council believed the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals, which are the rules that govern logging in coastal areas, needed a complete overhaul following the bushfires.
He said the old rules were not adequate for any fire-affected areas, particularly on the North Coast where there were large koala populations and sensitive river systems under threat from logging.
“The Coastal IFOA needs to be torn up and re-written,” he said.
This week Forestry Corporation was issued with a $15,000 fine from the EPA for failing to mark up a protected zone in the Olney State Forest on the Central Coast which was a breach of the IFOA rules.
Forestry Corporation has not given an exact date as to when it will restart operations on the South Coast.