NVCA is campaigning for an end to the logging of public native forests and a transition to a 100% plantation-based NSW timber industry.
We stand strong with other regional and state wide forest conservation groups on this position in light of the failed Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs). These RFAs promised to deliver a Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative reserve system for threatened species, ecologically sustainable logging practices and sustainable timber jobs, but over the past 20 years they have spectacularly failed to deliver on any of these promises. Threatened species critical habitats are under reserved, current industrial scale logging and clear felling are NOT ecologically sustainable and jobs in the native forest timber sector continue to decline due to over logging and mechanisation.
From 2006 until 2016 direct employment in the NSW forestry industry (including softwood plantations) declined by 15% from 1,694 to 1,441. Yields of large hardwood sawlogs from north-east NSW State Forests have declined by around 50% since the original RFAs were signed 20 years ago, due to resource over-estimates and over-allocations, as well as market downturns. So far $13 million taxpayers’ dollars have been spent buying back timber over committed in Wood Supply Agreements, timber that actually never existed. As the remaining large sawlog resource is now being rapidly depleted, significant job downturns are expected.
Over the six financial years from 2009 to 2015 the Hardwood Division of the Forestry Corporation made an average loss of $11m per annum. NSW taxpayers pick up the bill for this loss every year. No private sector business would survive under such a flawed business model. We as taxpayers, are effectively paying to have our north coast native forests destroyed under the current intensive logging regime.
Yet the State and Federal Coalition Governments have extended the RFAs for another 20 years! They have done this without the required Comprehensive Regional Assessment. They intend to increase logging intensities significantly and clearfell 140,000 ha of public coastal native forest between Grafton and Taree including the habitat of identified critical koala hubs.
Protection of public native forests (State Forests) is needed urgently to safeguard their many inherent values that far outweigh the dollar value of the timber. These are values which would create far more jobs than the current approximately 600 in the NSW public native timber (not plantation) sector. Mature native forests are valuable for: carbon storage and sequestration for climate protection, water quality and quantity for downstream users, biodiversity including iconic species like the koala, recreational and tourism opportunities and amenity for lifestyle and inspiration.
The recreational use of forests in national parks and reserves is growing, with NSW’s tourism industry experiencing a growth rate of 5.1% over the past decade. Nature-based experiences are a key attraction for international visitors and Australians.
Our forests are worth more to us left standing. Public native forests provide only 14% of NSW’s timber needs, the rest is coming from plantations and private logging. It’s time to call an end to logging of our remaining public native forests and a transition to a 100% plantation-based NSW timber industry. As part of our campaign we are also pushing for a funded exit or transition strategy for affected timber industry workers.
For more information and resource material visit North East Forests Alliance www.nefa.org.au