Forests and the biodiversity crisis
The NSW State of the Environment 2021 Report, released earlier this year, shows how dire it is for the natural world in NSW and indicates that further deterioration is very likely. Examples of the problems highlighted include the fact that land clearing has increased three-fold in the last decade and 62% of the state is now under threat from too much fire. A further 18 species are under threat of extinction since the 2018 report, bringing the threatened list to 1,043.
Obviously, the biodiversity crisis is accelerating.
One area of increasing concern about habitat degradation and biodiversity loss is our publicly owned state forests.
The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) has for years been drawing attention to the mismanagement of the public forests in our region. In recent times authorities have made some improvements to dealing with flagrant breaches of logging regulations but the destruction of important habitat for koalas, gliders and other vulnerable species continues.
Speaking of logging breaches in the Wild Cattle Creek State Forest, NEFA President Dailan Pugh said, “With forest animals becoming increasingly endangered, logging of the habitat of Yellow-bellied Gliders, Greater Gliders and Koalas must stop right now if we want to save them.
“Last year it cost taxpayers $20 million to log public native forests, with an additional $10 million paid in transport subsidies and $60 million in road upgrades for loggers. It is time to stop paying to log public native forests as they are worth far more to the community for habitat, carbon sequestration, tourism and water,” he said.
Last year the NSW Legislative Council initiated an inquiry into the long-term sustainability and future of the timber and forests products industry. The Inquiry received submissions from industry, conservationists, and community members and followed up with hearings in Sydney in 2021 and at Tumut, Moruya and Coffs Harbour this year. Local conservationists were amongst those attending the Coffs Harbour hearing and were urging that logging be phased out in our public forests.
Many people will find the Inquiry’s report of interest.