The National Parks Association and the Nature Conservation Council have recently released a report titled ‘Regional Forest Agreements – have they achieved their aims’. Not surprisingly, the report focuses on how the RFA’s have failed to achieve their aims. Consequently, the groups are ” . . . calling on the government to (stop) logging in our public native forests once and for all following the expiry of the RFAs from 2019.”
Regrettably, also this week and following a review, the Tasmanian and Commonwealth governments have indicted their intention to ‘roll-over’ the Tasmanian RFA, for another 20 years.
This outcome seems to indicate the conservation movement’s approach is less than effective. Take, for example, the argument in the report suggesting logging is the major factor behind the spread of BMAD, with a reference to a North East Forest Alliance paper on the issue. As I understand it the NEFA argue that logging leads to BMAD and the spread of lantana in north coast forests. The problem is, on the south coast, BMAD can occur without logging and where there is no lantana.
Perhaps to avoid this complication the report suggests ” . . . BMAD has also been detected on the NSW Central Coast (Stone et al. 2008) and, because it can affect drier forests, close to Melbourne (Wardell-Johnson et al. 2006).” Hence there is no reference to BMAD on the south coast, or extensive canopy die-back and I expect this lapse satisfies local conservation groups, who don’t talk about such issues.
Similarly, there is no reference to the evidence indicating BMAD is most closely associated with soil limitations, particularly sodicity and dispersion. While this evidence is clearly something the EPA and Forestry prefer to ignore. It is difficult to escape the perception that the conservation movement’s interest in improving forest management, is largely limited to declaring National Parks.
The report also refers to the illegal logging in Mumbulla SF back in 2010 suggesting, ” . . . Local Koori elders led walks into the prohibited zone, and marches and public rallies were held in Bega in support of stopping the logging and protecting the forest on the mountain. This resulted in Forests NSW issuing an apology to the Chairman of the Biamanga Board of Management.”
This statement is not accurate, because within an within an hour of the OE&H being asked why it had approved logging in Biamanga Aboriginal Place, Forestry stopped logging. I know it was about an hour because it took that long to drive up there, the journey being prolonged by the need to remove all the barriers the NPWS had placed on the road, for its stupid burning. Forestry did apologise, but continued its legal action against protesters, until the prosecutions were thrown out of court.
On koalas, the report makes reference to the Murrah Flora Reserves, that logging and koalas don’t mix and the ” . . . $2.5 million grant from the NSW Environment Trust . . . allocated to subsidise logging contractors.”
In that regard the chart above provides the Forestry Corporation’s response to a question about the additional costs to supply sawlogs from the Southern Region. As indicated, it was pretty cheap back in 2013, only $2.93 per cubic metre, although it’s not clear what grant was being accessed at the time. Since then, costs to Forestry have jumped to $34.78 per cubic metre, although there is no detail on how the costs were derived. So it is difficult to explain why the grant, for the years 2015-19, provides for $62.50 per cubic metre. According to Forestry, the total volume moved from Southern to Eden over the past 4 years is 16,979 cubic metres. This figure represents about 42% of the sawlogs Forestry now claim are in the flora reserves. Alternatively, the volume already supplied from the Southern Region, is about 92% of what Forestry claimed was in the reserves, for the RFA process.
While all this detail may be a clear as mud, perhaps more important is the other $15 million or so spent on regional koala recovery efforts. Particularly given the the grant to Forestry seems to be the only actual benefit for koalas, while they survive.