As it turned out the meeting about the Private Native Forestry (PNF) regulations was only held in Narooma. The first person I recognised at the meeting, and I’m sure he remembered me, was FNSW’s former “soil scientist’ Charlie Bell. He is now a compliance and enforcement officer for PNF from Sydney to the Victorian border.
Unfortunately the power-point presentation didn’t want to work, so Charlie filled in time repeating himself until Michael Hood from the EPA took over and answered questions. Although it wasn’t explicitly mentioned, the idea seems to be to remove existing ‘red tape’ so the industry can access more timber from private land, given they’ve over cut State Forests.
Apparently important is the newish due diligence approach to Aboriginal heritage, an outcome of the complaint about illegal logging of Biamanga Aboriginal Place and koalas, because the Guv want everyone, particularly Coffs Harbour, Port Stephens, Kempsey and Lismore Councils to define ‘core’ koala habitat, as they think they have around here.
Having pointed out that removing part of the Sydney Basin Bioregion from the South Coast koala recovery area reduced koala populations to one and that SEPP 44 does not and never has applied to the SEC bioregion, I suggested soil landscapes, rather than trees, as an easier way to define local koala habitat, but acknowledged the EPA’s deal with FNSW to ignore soil science is a big impediment.
Also that it was unlikely the granting of $7million+ from the Biodiversity fund was on the basis that it wouldn’t help koalas, the implication being that the Southern Rivers CMA was either misled or at worst, lied about the potential to grow primary koala feed trees.
Submissions on the regulation changes are due by 24 August, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, they do before then.