Threatened species and forest management – sound, well understood, or imagined?

A report in today’s SMH indicates  the federal government, via its new threatened species commissioner, Gregory Andrews, is working to prioritise threatened species ‘in order to better inform funding allocation’. Holding a different opinion, and one I share, the ‘Australian Wildlife Conservancy says that if funds are invested correctly then everything can be saved.’

In Victoria 20 species have already been prioritised, including the Tasmanian devil, and it’s not clear whether federal priorities will lead to the NSW government making changes to its Save our Species program.

Of course if savings were the driving force, the significant, ongoings costs associated with propping up an unsustainable logging industry, and the unaccountable Forestry Corporation, would be high on the agenda.

In that regard the North East Forest Alliance have produced a comprehensive submission for the Parliamentary Inquiry, into the EPA’s performance regulating logging in Royal Camp State Forest. At 86 pages and with 16 recommendations, the submission details a litany of forestry breaches, and the EPA’s generally pathetic, and mostly inadequate responses. It would be difficult to read the submission and retain confidence in the EPA’s ability to regulate FCNSW, but as the Shooters and Fishers party’s Robert Brown is chairing the inquiry, the outcome remains uncertain.

Also at a state level, submissions closed for the review of the legislative framework for threatened species and native vegetation management. In a brief submission, I suggest current koala recovery efforts are both unscientific, particularly with regard to soils, and inadequate, and rather than the duplication involved with current arrangements (EPA, OE&H, FCNSW, LLS, NPWS, RFS etc), a single entity, working with traditional owners, landholders, and local government, could be more effective.

Even without ‘radical change’ , life would be easier if FCNSW were removed from the mix, and further to the illegal logging issue, the Department of Agriculture has responded to my complaint. It suggests ‘The RFAs provide a sound and well understood framework for managing the many uses of forests’, and any complaints about logging should be directed to the EPA, which had already been done.

HP3010-11

The issue as indicated in the forest type map (version 1) above, of current logging in Bodalla SF, is a combination of two things. First is defining the ‘net harvest area’, that hasn’t been achieved in this case because, like Glenbog, the legally required rain-forest layer has not been used to produce the map.

The second is a ‘forest inventory’ that as indicated on the map is undertaken with Basal Area sweeps in the areas marked for logging, rather than the methods specified in the RFAs.

There is however, some ambiguity, because while Part 3 of the RFAs is intended to create legally binding relations, ‘in the event that any provision of this Part exceeds the power of either Party or is unenforceable for any other reason, that provision is to be read as not intending to create legally enforceable rights and obligations.’

So I wrote back asking if the Department of Agriculture could advise  whether Clause 95.6, the one requiring ‘forest management’ to ‘develop and implement an inventory system for regrowth forests and review the calculation of Sustainable Yield’, is now to be read as not intending to create legally enforceable rights and obligations.

In the absence of a response, it seems reasonable to assume the RFA’s may not be as sound, and well understood, as imagined.

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