Our environment – our future – subject to interpretation and neighborly exploitation

In preparation for next year’s election , a coalition of NSW conservation groups including the Nature Conservation Council, have released a wish list titled ‘Our environment – our future, policies for the 2015 NSW election and beyond’. Although focused on the states ‘most pressing problems’, for down here, an inordinate importance has been placed on turning current national parks into ‘Wilderness areas’, so horse riding will be excluded.

Thankfully  in the fine print, there is a call for a ‘Firm commitment and clear timeline for a transition from native forest logging into sustainable plantations.’, where ever they may be. Also proposals for ‘ … an immediate moratorium on clearing and logging in areas of Bell Minor (sic) dieback and areas recognised as at risk of Bell Minor dieback; there must be an immediate moratorium on clearing and logging of recognised koala habitat.”

In the absence of an interpretation, areas at risk of Bell miner dieback could be all coastal bio-regions in NSW, or filter strips. Similarly,  there is some uncertainty about interpretations of recognised koala habitat, given the various opinions of south coast conservationists and government agencies.

There are also calls for “Mandatory requirements for genuine and meaningful public participation in decision-making”, so one trusts the coalition will come to some agreement on definitions, for local, and broader application.

Although not likely to be recognised as either at risk of Bell Miner dieback, or being koala habitat, the public did have some meaningful input, on the wombat issue, in compartments currently being logged Glenbog SF.

Despite the Wombat Protection Society expressing concerns about the ‘attitude’ of FCNSW and the loggers, it’s possible that  FCNSW decided to take some liberties, on the basis that the consultation had gone beyond what is legally required.

In this case,  areas of rain-forest in the compartments, as indicated in the map above, are not identified in the Harvesting Plan. As this omission represents a potential breach of the IFOA, I sent an email to the OE&H’s ‘Enviro-line’, asking if the original rain forest layer had been changed, and if they could confirm there is no rain forest in the compartments.

There was an automatic response, giving a reference number. Yesterday, three days later, another email arrived, indicating the request had been passed on the forestry division and they were ‘taking steps’. Then last night, after business hours, another email arrived, with a different reference number, indicating ‘an environmental incident report has been created’.

So it seems likely that after exploiting the community’s good will, FCNSW have logged in the rain-forest. Whether planned, or just  to ‘even things up’, they really are very poor neighbors, and it’s unlikely whatever the OE&H/EPA does, will act as a future deterrent.


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