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Logging intensity to increase six-fold as Forest Corp pledges to maintain wood supply

The NSW Forestry Corporation’s determination to supply the same volume of timber after the devastating bushfires will see logging intensity increase six-fold in forest on the South Coast and double on the North Coast. 

Forestry Corporation documents released through parliamentary process show for the first time the full extent of damage to native forests in the corporation’s portfolio. [1] 

The data shows 85% of the native forest on the South Coast and 44% of those on the North Coast that were designated for logging were burnt during the bushfire crisis.

 Despite the extent of fire damage, the state-owned logging company has told wood supply contract holders that it is confident it can maintain supply.

“This can only be done by increasing the logging intensity in viable forests, which will be devastating for koalas and other forest species,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.

“Maintaining supply from the southern forests where only 15% of the public native forest estate was unscathed will require a six-fold increase in logging intensity in those unburnt areas.

“On the North Coast, where about 65% of the public native forest estate was unburnt, this would require a doubling of logging intensity in those unburnt areas.

“Even before the fires, our native forests were being logged too hard and too often to allow them to recover between harvests.

“If the Forestry Corporation insists on supplying the same volumes of timber after such devastation, our forests will be stripped and will take generations to recover, if at all.”

The Federal Government announced in December that 30% of the Mid-north Coast’s koalas died in the fires, yet the NSW Government continues to log koala habitat as if nothing has changed. [2]

“Right now, we know that koala habitat is being logged in unburnt Lower Bucca and Nambucca state forests near Coffs Harbour,” Mr Gambian said.

“Koalas are struggling after the worst bushfires on record. Logging their habitat for woodchips and floorboards should not be allowed. This is totally unacceptable.”

 

Mr Gambian said the government must:
pause all native forest logging until the full ecological impacts of the fires are assessed and publicly reported;
Renegotiate wood supply agreements to ensure logging operations do not exceed the intensity of pre-fire levels.
 
The Nature Conservation Council supports a government assistance package for the forest industry and its employees during this very difficult time. Any such assistance package must require a commitment to the transition from native forests to sustainably managed plantations and a just structural adjustment package for contractors, mill owners and employees.
 
References 
[1] Forestry Corporation Letter: RE: Force Majeure Notice – Type A, B, C, D Wood Supply Agreement (WSA), Parcel Sale (PSA)  
[2] Australia’s environment minister says up to 30% of koalas killed in NSW mid-north coast fires, The Guardian, December 27, 2019

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