FCNSW schedule critical koala habitat for logging – provides strong argument for an Environmental Ombudsman

Forestry Corporation NSW have released its proposed timber harvesting program for the next year. Employing a new map based format, the schedule includes six compartments in Murrah (map 69), and four in Bodalla SF (map 66).

FCNSW’s ongoing proposals to log critical koala habitat can be expected. However, in this case the compartments proposed for logging, outlined in purple below, have areas within them that were supposed to be part  the 2,800 hectares protected from logging for koalas. The proposed logging will also remove the last unlogged corridor between Murrah and Mumbulla SF’s.

FCNSW’s proposal raises the issue of the $10 million of public funds, given to NSW Government agencies, allegedly to help koalas. Coupled with the inaccurate and inadequate reporting on these projects, it seems reasonable assume that the so-called ‘Corridors and core Koala habitat project‘, has turned into a farce and the funds have been squandered. murrahlogging 2015

 

Next week the NSW Legislative Council inquiry, conducted by the General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5, will report on the performance of the NSW Environment Protection Authority. The Committee is examining six cases, including forestry operations in Royal Camp state forest, to measure the EPA’s ‘ recent performance against its objectives according to section 6 of the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991.’

In response to questions on notice the North East Forest Alliance has argued for an Environmental Ombudsman, certainly a proposal worthy of support.

Also in response to questions on notice about Royal Camp, FCNSW has provided information on timber extracted from three compartments, and two other documents titled ‘The Strategic Review of NSW Crown Native Forestry Regulatory Framework’ and ‘Issuing relating to the regulatory framework for the Integrated Forestry Operations Approval process in NSW – a report to the Chief Executive Officer of Forests NSW’.

The former document is quite detailed and identifies many areas were improvement is required, although it also highlights the fact that all of the agencies, OE&H, DPI etc, have different goals, so conflict is inevitable. In this review FCNSW  complain about the constraints put on logging, suggesting they  ” . . . Do not take into account the growth and regeneration habits of the eucalypts with the consequence that natural regeneration of the forest is discouraged and growth of young trees is limited.” No data is provided.

The latter report also highlights areas were improvement is required and suggests ” . . . many of the resources required to meet the rigid licence conditions for surveys of marginal koala habitat could be better used through a more risk-based, scientific approach to population monitoring and impact studies.”

Alternatively, the public funds could have been spent on buying timber quotas and beginning to address known threats, rather than keeping unaccountable public servants in a job.

It’s unlikely the Committee will question the data FCNSW’s has provided, given the inquiry is focused on the EPA, although it does highlight one of the issues with FCNSW reporting. The products referred to in the harvesting plan, those with an asterix in table below,  are not consistent with the information provided to the inquiry. In this case, and in addition to the original overestimate, the royalties for low quality products are higher than alleged high quality products.  Also, because FCNSW just want to cut down as many trees as possible, the notion that up 40% of what was cut down will be burned, rather that used as firewood for example, is unlikely to be considered.

Product Estimate Actual $ total $m3
High Quality Sawlog* 3752 3254 204680 62.9
High Quality Small Sawlog* 2613 0 0 0
Low Quality Sawlog 0 3263 215815 66.14
Low Quality* 2250 0 0 0
Poles* 1689 1106 94187 85.16
Girders 0 2 141 70.5
Firewood 0 171 7985 46.7
Totals 10304 7796 522808 67.06

 

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