Apparently not our problem!
Local councils have a wide range of responsibilities, some of the more important being to maintain roads for safe travel and to provide the community with clean drinking water. Councils also have a responsibility to maintain or improve biodiversity levels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Unfortunately, councils have no control over some of those having the greatest environmental impact, particularly logging that is destroying biodiversity across the one million hectares of state forest that is logged in NSW every 25 years.
It’s also having major impacts on water flows and quality, with the Natural Resources Commission reporting statistically significant decreases in flows over the past 30 years. Locally, turbidity levels in the Nymboida River, which supplies the Coffs – Clarence region with drinking water, has steadily increased in recent years, with ratepayers needing to pay many millions of dollars to construct and operate water treatment facilities.
The deteriorating water quality comes after logging rules were relaxed in 2019, allowing for more intense logging, and reduced buffer widths along waterways.
It seemed logical therefore, for council to ask the state government to cease logging those forests, a suggestion that provoked a furious backlash from the timber industry, claiming such a move would see the collapse of the industry, and with it, the local economy.
Perhaps it was the fact that council has no authority over logging, or the formidable presence of industry workers at last week’s council meeting, that not a single councillor chose to question the above assertion.
With an acknowledged 80% of Australia’s timber needs already coming from plantations, and perhaps 10% more from private properties, there is no way that the short-term loss of 10% of the timber resource would lead to an industry collapse.
Disappointingly, despite a credible survey of over 1000 valley residents, by Southern Cross University, showing less than 15% support for logging in state forests, the motion was defeated, 8 to 1.
However, the unsustainable nature of forest logging will be the final arbiter, and council will find itself on the wrong side of history.