IFOA review update – temporary support for the unsustainable

The NSW government has released three reports associated with its remake of the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOA). The reports provide details of ‘key themes’ from community information sessions, dated April 2014.

A summary of submissions to the IFOA remake discussion paper and a progress report on the so-called ‘multi-scale landscape’ approach for threatened species.

Of course the reasons for the the IFOA remake are essentially that timber supplies are unsustainable, FCNSW timber estimates are a joke and they are broke. Such matters are not being considered, although reference is made to the buy-back of ‘approximately 50,000 cubic metres of timber allocations on the NSW north coast annually for the next nine years’. Thus ensuring ‘the long-term sustainable supply of timber from the forests in this region’.  Although the NSW government set the timber volumes in contradiction to the RFA requirements, any changes to supply allowances will be part of the RFA reviews, in the next few years.

The short term reliance on FCNSW’s expertise also extends to BMAD with the government suggesting ” . . . The IFOA will require FCNSW to assess and reduce the risks to achieving forest regeneration. This will include consideration of BMAD risks where appropriate and effective measures to reduce these risks.”

AS FCNSW have recently stated it sees BMAD as a strategic issue and like the rest of the government, has no effective measures to assess or reduce its spread, this would seem to be another government cop out. A draft of the ‘new coastal IFOA’ will be released for public comment later in the year.

waste timber
Closer to home the Bega District News ran another report on the inclusion of native forest waste into the renewable energy target. South East Fibre Export’s Peter Mitchell reiterated they have no plans to produce electricity, perhaps because the regulation doesn’t seem to provide for integrated logging. However, he did indicate that the wood pellet plant they set up a few years back and subsequently moth-balled, will be leased this year and resume production.

The pellet plant can produce 250 kilograms per hour and when burned in a suitable unit, the pellets are far more efficient than burning solid wood. Hence the technology is supportable but the source of the biomass isn’t.

The shot above is waste timber at the Bermagui tip, part of the Bega Shire. There is another pile of less woody biomass that accumulates a similar volume every month at the tip. These piles are wood chipped and used as mulch.

An alternative use, that includes an element of cost recovery is arguably more appropriate for this biomass. Regrettably the Bega Greens, led by Greens councilor Keith Hughes, are totally opposed to such ideas, even though it could help reduce the number of trees FCNSW cuts down for fire wood.

Speaking of Bega Shire Council, last week they were kind enough to grade just over a kilometer of road Sindals road in Mumbulla State Forest. FCNSW haven’t maintained it for many years and the large quantities of soil and sediment it produces go almost directly into Wapengo lake. This may have been a reason for Council’s intervention, but of greater  interest is the quite different and arguably more environmentally friendly methods employed by Council’s gravel road maintenance team. Relative to FCNSW’s less friendly methods, approved by the EPA.


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